Sunday, July 11, 2010

August Schmidt

August Schmidt was born on June 15, 1832, in Freiburg, Saxony, Germany, the son of August.

August (younger) immigrated to America and settled in Michigan in 1853, and before the war lived variously in Grand Rapids, Ionia, Ionia County and Holland, Ottawa County. In 1860 August was working as a carpenter and living in Ionia, Ionia County.

He stood 5’4” with hazel eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was a 28-year-old carpenter residing in Holland when he reportedly walked to Grand Rapids in order to enlist in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

He had been promoted to Sergeant by the time he was wounded in the right arm either on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, or August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. In either case, he was subsequently absent in the hospital from August of 1862 and by early September was reported as a recent amputee in Carver hospital in Washington, DC. He was discharged on October 12, 1862, at Carver hospital, in Washington, DC, for loss of his right arm.

Following his discharge from the army August returned to Grand Rapids where he worked as a bookkeeper for the brewer Chris Kusterer from 1865-69, and was residing at 64 Kent street.

He married Prussian-born Josephina Rohlerage (1846-1929) on August 3, 1867 in Lowell, and they had at least one child, Walter K. (1868-1938).

By 1870 August was working as a saloon keeper and living with is wife and child in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward. By 1880 August was working as an insurance agent and living with his wife and son in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward. (Next door lived Ludwig F. Schmidt who had also served in the Third Michigan. Ludwig was born in Wurtemberg.) In fact August lived his entire postwar life in Grand Rapids, much of it in the Fourth Ward.

By 1889 August was working as an insurance agent and residing at 366 Ottawa street in Grand Rapids; by 1890 he was also working in real estate as well and still residing on Ottawa Street. He served several terms as constable and ward tax collector.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, serving as its president in 1888, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic Custer post no. 5 Grand Rapids, a Democrat, and as a young man was active in German music circles such as the Arion Society. August was elected treasurer of the Valhalla Lodge no. 249 of the IOOF in January of 1882, and he was also a member of the German Arbeiter Society, the IOOF Lodge No. 249.

He was also actively involved with the German Veterans’ Association, and on September 16, 1890, the Democrat reported that

A score or so of German veterans of the late war met in the reading room of the Bridge Street House last evening for the purpose of making arrangements for a turn out on German day, October 6. Julius Fenger acted as chairman of the meeting and Julius Caesar as secretary. The following were appointed a general committee of arrangements: August Schmidt, Henry Schnabel, Julius Rathman, Julius Fenger [formerly of Company C], Ely Koehler, A. Rash, Frank Muhlenberg [formerly in Company C], Gustav Landau, Julius Caesar. Ward committees will also be appointed. The intention is to take part in the parade on German day. None but actual veterans of the war of the rebellion and native Germans will be permitted to take part in the parade, and these will be provided with special badges and will march under the United States flag. This is intended as an emphatic declaration of loyalty and patriotism of German citizens. There are about 200 German vets in the city. Veterans from out of town will also be invited to participate. The headquarters of the German Brigade will be at the Bridge Street House. Another meeting will be held next Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock at Arbeiter Hall to further perfect arrangements.

Schmidt provided an affidavit in the pension claim by Jacob Stegg’s widow. August provided an affidavit in the pension application of another former member of the Old Third, Mathias Baeker.

In 1862 he applied for and received pension no. 10,069, drawing $24.00 per month in 1883.

He died of valvular heart disease at his home at 366 Ottawa street in Grand Rapids on Saturday December 23, 1905, and the funeral service was held at the residence at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, December 26. He was buried in Oak Hill cemetery: section 8 lot 20.

The Herald observed that Schmidt “belonged to that progressive and sturdy element of German-Americans that has done much to develop the business growth of Grand Rapids and was honored and respected by all who knew him.”

In January of 1906 his widow was still living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 608833).

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