Some Schmaus Family History

I was born years after my father Tony's parents had passed away and knew very little about them until my sister in law sent a copy of Debby Was' Spring 1996 Spallin and related family newsletter. The cover photograph with Mike and Mary Schmaus at the center is below. The children in picture below may be either some of the younger Schmaus children or or may include Thelma, Isabelle, and Fred Scheers.

My own guess, based mainly on birth dates and assuming that the Scheers children are in the picture, is that the picture was taken in the Spring of 1909. It includes, from left to right, Thelma (6), Suzy (10), Isabella (5), Maria (33), Lena (1), Max (3), Michael (58), Anton (Tony) (8), Theresa (25), Fred (3), Lizzie (21), and Rose (5). Admittedly 'Suzy' looks a little tall for aunt Suzy at 10 and 'Lizzie' seems to have a striking resemblance to Matt's daughters so she could be a Pederson. The image is not too clear as it was scanned from a newsprint copy of the original. Some modern day forensic techniques on a better copy might be interesting.

Roy Schmaus December 2002

The following has been reprinted from "Heritage Seekers, Volume 20,Issue #1" with the permission of author Debby Was.

Michael Schmaus Family

The Michael Schmaus Family and Friends

The glass plate negative of this photograph is from the John Scheers collection in the City of Edmonton Artifact Centre.

Michael Schmaus (1851-1915) - Debby Was

The following story is about the family of Michael Schmaus, one of my great-great-grandfathers on my father's side of the family. The name "Schmaus" means "feast" in German. The name is not very common in North America and I have had a fair amount of success tracing related families. I have included information about the known Schmaus family that immigrated from Germany.

Michael was born June 11, 1851 in Nietendorf, Kilham, Bavaria, Germany according to his registration of death. His parents were Sabastian Sr.and Catharina (Stang) Schmaus and his family was Roman Catholic. According to information received from another Schmaus descendant and family researcher, Michael had several older siblings, all born in Germany:

  1. Rosina b. 17 Aug 1841 d. 26 Apr 1907
  2. Sabastian Jr. b. 07 Feb 1847 d. ?
  3. Frank b. abt. 1848 d. abt. 1929
  4. Michael b. 11 Jun 1851 d. 02 Jun 1915

There may have been another sister, Maria. A relative sent me a picture of Maria Thomas with 2 of her grown children. The back of the picture says: "Maria Thomas with daughter Anne and son Joe. in Germany Frank Schmaus sister taken 1948."

According to their "Letters of Intent," signed in Minnesota in Feb., 1878, Michael, Frank and Sebastian Jr. emigrated to the United States on July 01, 1873. I believe the family may have started out in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

Frank met his wife, Katarina Steil in Beaver Dam and married on April 21,1874. Their first two children, Flora and Frank, Jr. were born in Wisconsin. Their next child, Sophia, was born in Cedar Rapids, Idaho. Another three children (George, Mary & Gertrude) were born in Minnesota and the last five children (Katie, Walberga, Joseph, Emma & Edward) in South Dakota.

Michael's first child was a daughter (my great-grandmother) Theresia Schmaus born on May 13, 1884 in Wakefield, Minnesota. His wife's name was Elizabeth (maiden name not mentioned on the birth record). In 1883, Michael and his elder brother, Frank must have left their families in Minnesota,while they traveled to Nutley Township, South Dakota to obtain land. Frank and Michael are mentioned in the local history books for Nutley as being among the first settlers to come to the area in 1883. The families must have come later and between 1885 and 1891 Michael and Elizabeth had four more children:

  1. Theresia (Theresa Scheers): b. May 13, 1884 d. 06 Nov. 6, 1960
  2. Nicholas Joseph (Nick): b. Jun 19,1885 d. Dec. 26, 1947
  3. Mike: b. Jan 1887 d. 05 Feb 5, 1932
  4. Elizabeth (Lizzie Pogue): b. Nov 9,1888 d. Apr 19, 1958
  5. John: b. May 1891 d. ?

In March of 1893, Elizabeth was pregnant with another baby. According to stories related to one of my relatives, Michael had to go into town to get supplies and Elizabeth stayed at home to look after the farm. After feeding the stock, she went into premature labour. Both Elizabeth and the baby died. A cousin found Elizabeth's grave in South Dakota. As near as she could read the words on the worn stone, the grave marker states:

"Elizabeth Wife of Michael Schmaus Died May 17 1893 Aged 33 Yrs Mo"
"O denket es warte der llimmel auf euchl Dann scheide lir gerlie am irdischen oich."

When I had this translated, I was told it meant, "O think if ascension will wait for you, then you will separate gladly to the mortal kingdom." I have found no documentation with Elizabeth's maiden name on it. (Can anybody help me?)

Within a few months, Michael remarried. His second wife was an 18 year old Polish girl named Maria Steppa. By 1899, Maria and Frank had 3 more children:

  1. Frank: b. Feb 1895 d.1939
  2. Mathew (Matt): b. May 15,1896, d. July 13, 1987
  3. Susanna Mary (Susy Wiltzen): b. Mar 15,1899 d. March 17, 1994

The 1900 South Dakota census shows Michael, Maria and 8 children living on a farm in Nutley Township, Day County, South Dakota. By 1901 (1901 Canadian census), the family is living in Ross Creek, North West Territories (Alberta after 1905). On July 7, 1902, Michael applied for a homestead on NW 20 53 18 4.

Six more children were born over the next few years (I am not sure of birth order):
--- Revised December 2002 R.A.S.----

  1. Anton Andreas (Tony): b. 16 Nov, 1901 d. April 11, 1980
  2. Roselea Margaret (Rosie, Rose Wiltzen): b. 14 Mar 1904 d. April 8, 2002
  3. Max Leo: b. September 2, 1906 d Feb. 7, 1999
  4. Lena (Lena Smith): b. circa 1908 d circa 1990
  5. Joseph John (Joe): b. March 16, 1911 d. August 1, 1999
  6. Laura (Laura Hepburn): b. 1913 d 198_

On Feb 8, 1905, Michael became a "Naturalized citizen" of Canada.

In the autobiography, Pioneering in the West by Father Boniface, O.F.M., the Schmaus farm is mentioned on pages 46-47:

"About nine o'clock two box-wagons pulled up to the front of the house. The horses had been well groomed and had their best harness on display. We were to drive to the Church in state! After a drive of a mile and a half we stopped before the house of Mr. Schmaus for the purpose, I thought, of picking up a few more passengers. But no! This was the church! A log building. We entered the "Big room" wherein Mass was to be said. The walls were papered very neatly with extracts from Eaton catalogues as a background for large framed pictures of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart. On the other side of the room was a large display of family photographs, the centre of which was held by that of a young man in a soldier's uniform, Mr. Schmaus as he used to be."

Michael must have been in the German army before he emigrated to the USA. According to a relative in South Dakota, Michael's brother Frank had served in the German Navy before emigrating and was entitled to a pension that he never collected.

This relative was told that Michael was the most handsome of the Schmaus brothers and that he was very mischievous. Apparently, he could play the violin and the mouth organ. He was also Godfather to her husband, Eddie Schmaus (Frank's youngest son).

My grandmother, Thelma Treit, told me that she remembered that her grandfather had lost a leg before he passed away. Michael died on June 2, 1915 and is buried in the Ross Creek cemetery. His marker reads:

"Michael Schmaus Born At Nietendorf Bavaria Germany June 11 1851
Died June 2 1915
Sweet Heart of Mary Be My Salvation."

Among the four known children of Sebastian Sr and Catherina Stang, they had 39 live children. Sabastian Sr and his wife, Catharina were living in Cold Spring City, Minnesota in 1892.

Rosina married George Rappel. They had six children (Joseph, George, Susanna, Gertrude, Catharina & Johann) and were living in Rockville, Minnesota in 1892. Ironically, their oldest child, Joseph, settled on a farm in Spirit River, Alberta after living in the Dakotas and Saskatchewan. Today, there are still descendants living in the Peace Country.

Sebastian Jr. married Theresia Eichhamer and lived in Luxemburg, Minnesota in 1892. They had 8 children (Johann, Anna, Theresia, Joseph, Michael, Martin, Rosina & Peter).

Frank and Katarina settled in Drywood Lake, Roberts County, South Dakota. Some of Frank's descendants live in and around Sisseton.

Some of Michael's children moved to the Barrhead area in Alberta. The Schmaus' are mentioned in the local history books, The Golden Years and Pride In Progress. Unfortunately, I am not in touch with any of these cousins.

I would love to hear from anyone who can help me with research on this family. I am particularly interested in finding the photograph of Michael in his military uniform. I would love to have a copy of this photograph to include in my collection.

You can reach me by email at:

Reunion 1998

September 28,1998

Since the article above was published I have met with Debby and given her some further information. Rosie (Schmaus) Wiltzen, Max Schmaus, and Joe Schmaus are my father Tony's surviving brothers and sisters from the Barrhead area. Rosie and Max were at the Spallin/Schmaus/Scheers family reunion this year. Rosie is still alert at 94 and enjoyed visiting her many great grand children. Max was able to get out of the Keir Care Centre for the day and also enjoyed watching the horshoe tournament and visiting his large extended family.

Debby was almost swamped by genealogical information and some of the results as well as information on the next reunion in 2000 will eventually be on her web page.

March, 2000: Max and Joe passed away last year, leaving Rosie as the only surviving member of my father's immediate family. .

Reunion 2000

August, 2000: The Spallin, Scheers, Schmaus and related family reunion was held again at Sandy Lake and was a great success. Marion Scheers' poem about the reunion is here. Marion is also currently involved with the 2003 reunion of ex-RCAF airwomen in Edmonton.

My cousin Gail Grant (Rose Wiltzen's youngest daughter.) took some very old pictures to the reunion. Michael looked like someone out of 'Lonesome Dove' in his later years and I immediately recognized the bicycle in this picture as my father's as it had hung in an old building on the farm for many years. Gail also mentioned that Rose had been blond as a young child. Could she be the little girl on the right in the top picture if it was taken around 1909?

April, 2002: Aunt Rose Wiltzen passed away at the age of 98 years. 'Rosy' could never stand too many long faces around her so her children placed this picture in the program for her funeral service.

Reunion 2003

2003: Another Spallin, Scheers, Schmaus was held at Mink Lake, Alberta on July 20 to 23rd, 2003. Debby had her usual large amount of Genealogical data in the hall including many old photographs, etc.

Thanks to Ethel and Russ McAuley for sending the picture of Michael and family at the Ross Creek cabin below, and to Laurie Schmaus for finding the picture.

A picture of Michael and Maria Schmaus and family at their Ross Creek cabin 
in 1905
Group Sitting: Michael, Maria
Children left to right: Susie, Rosie, Tony, Matt.
Frank is the right horseman in the group of three.
The others are unknown. Early 1905

At the 2003 reunion
On the beach at the 2003 reunion.
Russ McAuley (Ethel's husband), Leondra Clarke (Lorne's daughter), Barb Schmaus, Ethel McAuley (Matt's daughter), Dawn (Russ and Ethel's daughter) and Arthur Loyie, Lorne Schmaus (Joe's son), Dennis and Maxine Foth. (Max and Barb's daughter)

Thanks to Dawn for e-mailing the correct names.

Ian and Debby Was have moved from Grand Prairie to Edmonton and unfortunately Debby's web page was lost by her isp so this will have to do for now.

A Picture from Antiquity

Debby recently sent the picture below and thought the man in the picture might be one of Michael's brother Sebastien's six sons. We sent copies of it out with Janet's Christmas letter and received a lengthy telephone call from my cousin Laurie who mentioned that Dawn Loyie had a lot of genealogy stuff. Dawn did not identify the people in the picture but did correct "Mathies Studio" to Charles Wesley Mathers who was the photographer in Edmonton fron 1891 to 1904.

Unknown Schmaus picture

A web search for "Charles Wesley Mathers" turned up a great deal of material as well as some of Mathers' photographs including one of the photographer with his somewhat scary looking collection of cameras.

Mathers' second studio opened in 1892 and was sold to his partner Ernest Brown in 1904 so the picture was taken in that time period and probably around 1903.

Sebastien's oldest son Johann was born in 1876 and would have been 27 years old in 1903. Debby's family tree history also shows that Johann was married to Tracy Hillman and then to Ida Would but no dates or locations are available. Johann's brother Joseph William Schmaus was born in Minnesota and would have been 21 in 1904. Joseph died in Edmonton on April 16, 1968. There were a total of twelve children in the family with birthdates from before 1871 and up to 1892.

e-mail from Debby:

"I know the picture is not Johnathan (Johann) Schmaus because he married in Minnesota in 1899 and from the dates of his kids births, it looks like he lived there all his life. I've recently been in touch with his descendants and they are the ones that sent me the photo. It is curious as most of the Schmaus children didn't marry until after Mather's left Edmonton. I'm thinking that I'm going to have to dig a little deeper about the photographer because it clearly is a mystery. Maybe comparing the background will help or maybe the bride is a Schmaus or even a Rappel??? I'll let you know what I find out."

Roy Schmaus January, 2008