MATHIAS AND EMMA KATHRYN KLEIN SCHMITT
Martin and Emma Schmitt were tenant farmers, and very good
Martin was born in Hunolstein,
Rheinland, Germany (now West Germany, WG), September 7, 1887.
parents were John Schmitt and Barbara Flach. Barbara died in
Martin was 8 months 11 days old. Martin came to the United States
father and stepmother, (who was also his aunt), Magdalena Flach
Schmitt. They came on the sailing vessel RHYNLAND embarking from
Antwerp, Belgium and arrived in New York May 18, 1889. Anton
Magdalena's father came with them on the ocean journey. The family
in Mendon about a month later, having gone to Chicago where John
was said to have had a brother. John was a carpenter and farmer in
but was a farmer in his new country, living on several different
near Mendon before
farm south of Mendon which extended to the St Joseph River where he and
Magdalena lived the rest of their days. John died Aug 19, 1916 at
Magdalena died Feb 10, 1930 at age 74. Both are buried in St
Martin attended school through the fourth grade and later worked
for his Uncle William and Aunt Maryann Flach who farmed near
of his jobs was "Breaking New Ground.". Martin used to have
several rattles from rattlesnakes that he had killed. (Have any of
rattles survived?) He depended on the horses to warn him. The
simply refuse to move forward if a snake was ahead. Then Martin
proceed very cautiously until he could locate and kill the
was never bitten by a rattler. Martin earned fifteen dollars a
his board and room at this time.
Emma was born May 22, 1889 on her parents farm 1 mile or so
Mendon at the top of the hill. Her parents were Mathias Klein
and Catherine Stermer. Her father died March 3, 1900 at age 55
He used to sleep in their Morris Chair (similar to a Barcalounger)
he had difficulty breathing, and so that he could elevate his
and legs. (These are symptoms of congestive heart failure.) His
death certificate lists heart failure as the cause of death. Her
died Feb 27, 1902 at home at age 51 years. It was said that she
on icy steps or from the porch and was said to have had internal
Her death certificate lists fractured hip as the cause of death.
13 at this time. Her sister Mary was 22 and was the legal guardian
the children. Martin was 19 and Rose was 16.
Mary Klein and Mathias Banner were married at St Edwards,
8, 1906. Emma continued to make her home with them.
Emma graduated from Mendon High School in 1908 and
State Normal School in Kalamazoo where she received a
Teaching Certificate. She taught in the Cupp School District south
Mendon on the Prairie for fifteen dollars a month and room and
the Norman Cupp family. The school year was 6 or 7 months long.
Martin and Emma were married in St Edwards Roman Catholic
Mendon February 13,1912 by Father Henry Kaufmann who had helped
build the beautiful field stone church . Both had an active part in
the construction of the church. It was said to have been 13
below zero at wedding time. Emma lost her citizenship at this time
marrying an alien. Emma's citizenship was restored September 18,
in Kalamazoo County and Martin became a naturalized citizen on
1943 in Kalamazoo County.
Their first home was the 40 acre Luther Langdon farm 3 miles
of Mendon. Their possessions at the time included a team of
Chub and Oliver, a wagon and a buggy. Oliver, the peppier
younger of the team usually doubled as the buggy horse also
driving horse. Their first child, Francis
Mathias, was born on this farm in 1912. [Editors note: exact
birth are available upon request from email addresses at the end of
document.] Aunt Mary Banner, Emma's older sister, was there at the
and it was said that Dr. Barnager, the local M.D. was asleep on
at the time. They would have called him if they had needed him.
Gilbert John was born on the 35 acre David Riley farm 2 '/2
of Mendon in1914. This was about one mile north of the Klein
The sisters Emma and Mary and brothers Martin and Mathias
services and worked closely between the two families.
Stanley Joseph was born near Elmira,
on an 80 acre farm Martin and Emma had bought when they went
"North" with Francis and Agnes Flach. Francis was interested in
timber and they purchased farms near by but not adjacent to each
Stanley was born there in 1916, the same day, almost to the hour
grandfather, John Schmitt, died at his Mendon farm home.
Mary Kathryn was born on one of the Herbert E. Custard Farms
west of Mendon, in 1918. The buildings no longer stand.
Lucille Eleanor was born in 1920 on the second Herbert
E. Custard Farm
40 rods east of the one where Mary was born. The farm extended
east to the
Mendon Village limits and was 125 acres. The St Joseph River was
southern boundary. We had swimming holes in the river. One of the
broke through the Ice in the river one winter. The buildings are
good repair today. Lucille Dillon and Francis visited this farm a
years ago. One of Herbert Custard's granddaughters,
Dagmar Horning, now
lives there. She and Lucille were both impressed by the visit.
bought his first Model T Ford on this farm. It came without
a starter, but
he soon added one so that Emma could also drive it. In one
of Emma's photo
albums is a picture taken in a school yard. This was on a trip to Williamston,
visit Emma's Aunt Mary Van Buren. Aunt Mary Banner and one or two
boys are also in the picture.
Donald Eugene was born on the 140 acre John Haas farm 3 1/2
miles northeast of Mendon in1922. This was a good farm and
there 9 years. Martin bought a Fordson tractor. Francis and
to drive this tractor when they were too small to crank it when
cold. Martin would crank it the first time in the morning and
and the boys did their best to keep it from stalling. In 1924
bought his 2nd Model T. One good year peppermint oil brought 25
pound, the usual price was 3 to 5 dollars a pound, and as a reward
children who worked hard that year, Martin and Emma bought a Robin
Blue 1926 Pontiac 4 Door Sedan. This was a classy car and it would
than 70 miles per hour. This was also a fun place to live. Often
Sunday one or more families of cousins would come for dinner and
the Martin Klein's from Kalamazoo, Leon and Gladys Happel, Mathias
Mary Klein, Mathias and Mary Banner and Peter and Clara Schmitt.
one picture that includes all the above families on the same day.
that was! These families also reciprocated and more often it was
families at one time. The Happel's were especially good at making
made ice cream.
One hot summer afternoon when Donald was about 2 1/2 years old
gagging and coughing. No one knew what he had in his throat.
before the days of the modern emergency rooms. Martin and Emma
in desperation took him to Kalamazoo
where they were able to find a nose and throat specialist who
removed a 2
1/2 inch bearded barley head. (It could have been Dr. Fast.) When
about 5, the children were playing with an old buggy used to coast
the small grade toward the water tank and cow barn. Don was riding
back and fell off and fractured his left femur. He spent a long
bed that summer with leg traction supplied by a pulley system with
can in which the load was adjusted by placing stones to get the
amount of traction. He became a great contortionist before the
The school for the Haas Farm was south at the end of the road,
less than a mile. The School Board met annually and would vote to
the school another year and send the only kids in the district,
and Emma Schmitt children, to the Mendon Schools. Martin and Emma
also seemed to be the only people interested in the contract to
kids. The Model T and later the Pontiac was the usual mode of
transportation. If the snow was too deep for the car, sometimes used
bobsled or even a cutter if some of the kids were ill and the
riders was down.
In the muddy roads of Spring, sometimes it was the surrey.
Norberta Jean was born in 1931
200 acre Albert J. Sprinkle Farm 3 miles southeast of Kalamazoo on
now Sprinkle Road. The buildings were south of the present Knights
some of the maple trees from the yard still stand. The move was
in March 1930 and Stanley, Gilbert and Francis were able to
school year in Mendon. This was a dairy farm which the folks
cash rent. This was the nicest house in which they had ever lived.
a full two stories with full attic and basement. It had a Delco
plant, indoor plumbing, a big room with pool table, dumbwaiter,
heat and other fine features. this was an ideal place for a large
to live and it was a real fun place, especially when our cousins
friends would visit us.
The big kids went to St Augustine's High School in Kalamazoo,
smaller kids went to the one room country school 1/2 mile south.
Reddy family lived a mile away and they matched our family just
child for child. Vincent Reddy was the best friend Francis ever
still fives a mile away but in the opposite direction since he
Margaret Beckwith and their home has been a Centennial Farm for
years. A John Deere Put Put tractor was added to the equipment of
farm but later was returned to the seller. Things were going well
the Depression Years came along and the bottom dropped out of the
milk market. The $200 per month rent payment could no longer be
the opportunity came to move a mile away to Cork Street.
Cork Street Farm
The Gilbert Farm on Cork Street was the most fertile land Martin
and Emma worked. Vern Gilbert, the owner, was also a horse trader,
very ambitious man used to turning a profit on every move he made.
liked Martin and Emma with all their strong, wiry, easy to
and beautiful daughters. This farm was 200 very fertile acres.
rented every vacant piece of land as far as Martin would agree to
to make the spread in acres very much greater than the 200. They
Martin's beautiful Guernsey herd with Vern's ugly, giant, heavy
Holsteins. The combined herd reached as many as 60 milkers. The
tractors came in these years. Vern furnished many horses and
was a runaway team on occasion. The association was good for Mr.
and for Emma and Martin and their family and it continued for over
years. All their children were married while they lived there and
their grandchildren enjoyed visiting The Farm.. At about age 45
Martin developed a heart condition which was diagnosed by their
whom they were very proud, Lawrence R. Banner, M.D. Larry treated
so successfully that Martin outlived Larry by many years. Meanwhile
Mr. Gilbert had died and the farm was inherited by Mel Stevens,
he died, by one of Mel's relatives who lived in Detroit who never
see the folks about continuing the operation of the farm. Martin
was 66 at
this time so they decided they should retire. In 1953 they had a
dispose of the possessions they would no longer need and moved
in 1954 on a neat 3 acre parcel with lots of planted evergreen
a very generous garden space on M 89, half way between Otsego
Their retirement home was the only property they really owned.
They enjoyed 17 peaceful years and their children and
visited them often. Martin died August 26, 1971 in his own bed at
Emma continued to live at 1316 West M-89 and later lived with Mary
short time. She died at Ridgeview Manor Nursing Home in Kalamazoo
9, 1976 at age 87. Martin and Emma had 59 1/2 years of marriage.
had 62 grandchildren and at the time of Emma's death 61 were
are buried in St Margaret's Cemetery, Otsego, on M-89 a half mile
All names mentioned are those of real people.
A sincere effort has been made for accuracy. If you discover any
wish any deletions, or have further information to contribute, please
communicate them to the writer.
First draft, June 15, 1987 by Francis
2nd draft, July 9, 1987 includes suggestions
offered by: Norberta Schmitt Renauld
and Father LaVern
3rd Draft, August 17,1987
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