Gordon Small's Family & Genealogy

The Schmalz Family

Immigrated ~1879

Some members of the Schmalz family left Baden-Baden, Germany in the later half of the 1800's and their journey took them to Paris, Arkansas where they settled and started a new life. The first German emigrants arrived in 1878 and the Schmalz family arrived in 1879 and 1880. Unknown is the reason for them leaving Germany but there are a number of reasons emigrants left the old country for greener pastures. Some left to escape the hardships in Germany and others left because of lavish promises of a better life. The attraction to Paris, Arkansas is documented in the "Centennial History of Saint Joseph's Parish" (1979). According to that publication the German emigrants were devout Catholics and an important consideration for them was the availability or establishment of a Catholic church in whatever area they settled. In 1878 three monks of German heritage left the Dakotas, came to Arkansas, and established the Benedictine Priory, later known as the Subiaco Abbey and is located in Subiaco, Arkansas. Subiaco is located  about six miles from Paris. The proximity of Benedictine Monastery was an inducement for the German Catholics looking for a place to settle. The enticement of fertile land in the Paris area that was similar to the prime land in the Baden-Baden area was also an attraction. Unfortunately, the lure of the land proved to be a great disillusionment as all the good land had already been taken by earlier settlers. This caused many years of great hardships for the German settlers in the area. Another problem the early settlers faced was discrimination from the local residents. The language of the new settlers, being German, was not welcomed by many and so they became somewhat secluded for a number of years.

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church - Paris, Arkansas

Stained Glass Window
Dedicated to/by Ed Schmalz

In 1879, a year after the first German emigrants arrived, Saint Joseph's church was founded under the guidance of the Benedictine leadership. Many Schmalz family members were active members of the church.

Paris is a German community where the German language was spoken fluently. As a matter of fact, many German publications were printed there for the town's people. Many death remembrance cards and prayer books in the churches were also printed in German.

A story told by Frieda, wife of Otto Schmalz, was that she remembered elder family members talking about how some of the German emigrants to Paris planted vineyards and made their own wine. When they went to work in the fields they would take containers of wine and put them in a creek and then when lunch time came the wine was at the right temperature for having with their lunch.

Felix Schmalz (b:1809) & Maria Kraus (b:1809)

Felix (there are indications that his name may be "Caspar Felix") followed his two sons Gabriel and Adolph to America from Germany arriving on June 24, 1880. The ship, named Labrador, left Le Havre, France with a final destination of New York. Felix made the trip alone as his wife of more than twenty years had passed away in 1872. He settled in Paris, Arkansas until his death in 1896.

Gabriel Schmalz (b:1844) & Luise Hörth (b:1851)

Gabriel and Luise emigrated from Baden-Baden, Germany on the steam ship Maas leaving out of Rotterdam, Netherlands. They and their two children, Conrad and Felix, arrived in New York on March 29, 1880. They continued their journey and settled in Paris, Arkansas where they had an additional five children.

Adolph Schmalz (b:1854) & Katherina Binz (b:1858)

This is the road leading to the former home of
Adolph & Katherina (Binz) Schmalz. (Picture taken September 2006)

Former home of Adolph & Katherina Schmalz.
Clara (Komp) Schmalz also lived there after the death
of her husband Joseph Schmalz.
(Picture taken September 2006)

Adolph Schmalz preceded his brother Gabriel to America emigrating from Baden-Baden, Germany arriving in New York on November 29, 1879. He crossed the Atlantic aboard the ship, City of New York, departing from Liverpool, England. He continued on and settled in Paris, Arkansas eventually marrying Katharina Binz in 1882. Adolph and Katharina had a total of six children.

Conrad Schmalz (b:1876) & Nettie Urness (b:1883)

In around 1910 or 1911 Conrad and Nettie moved to South Dakota. When they arrived they lived in a covered wagon while Conrad built their house. They homesteaded and farmed 80 acres near the town of Belle Fourche on the northern edge of the Black Hills, growing wheat and raising cattle. Conrad went to Texas on occasion and drove a herd of cows back to South Dakota to replenish the herd on his farm. Nettie didn't like being alone for the long time it took Conrad to go and return from Texas so he stopped going and let his farm hands do the trail drives.

During their time in South Dakota Conrad and Nettie were in an auto accident in which Nettie required medical attention not available in the area. They moved the family back to Minnesota around 1920 and lived in the town of Red Wing so they could be closer to the Mayo Clinic and the medical help Nettie needed. Their home in Red Wing was located at 1037 Sturdevant St.

They moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1931. In Cleveland, Conrad owned a restaurant at 17313 Euclid. At that time there was a crooked police chief using extortion to intimidate the local businessmen in the area and the police chief's two brothers regularly threatened Conrad in order to get him to sell his business so that the police chief's cronies could control all the businesses in the area. Eventually the police chief was able to buy all the properties on the block and evicted Conrad from the building where the restaurant was located. Subsequently Elliot Ness came in, ousted the corrupt chief and his gang of hoodlums and cleaned up the corruption in the area. I enjoyed hearing this story... Especially when Lucille Schmalz, who was relating the tale, got a sort of smirk on her face and a gleam of satisfaction in her eyes as she got to the part about Elliot Ness getting rid of that police chief. Conrad was able to open a new restaurant after he was forced to close the old one.

Nettie's mother, Rabaekke (Pedersen) Urness emigrated from Norway to America on July 21, 1880. When Rabaekke was growing up her cheeks were so rosy her family started calling her Rose, which became the name by which everyone knew her. Rose met and married Peter Urness while living in Minnesota. Her mother, Robertine (Brun) Pedersen also emigrated and settled in Minnesota. Robertine's second husband, Nils Pedersen, worked for a the school system in Norway. He was killed in a boating accident while delivering school books. His body was never found.

Joseph Schmalz (b:1884) & Clara Komp (1894)

Joseph Schmalz, son of Adolph Schmalz, stood five feet, five inches tall, had blue eyes and could speak both German and English. Joseph homesteaded forty acres as a single man near Short Mountain and Paris. After marrying Clara Komp they purchased forty more acres with a farm house and had a family of seven; five boys and two girls. Later another twenty acres were added after Joseph and brother Charlie divided a forty acre homestead in a land swap deal. Joseph and Charlie were co-owners of a coal mine called the "Schmalz Brothers & Gack Coal Company". The owners were Joseph and Charlie Schmalz and Anton Gack (I have been told the correct pronunciation of Gack is "Jake"). The mine was on the Gack's property. They lost the mine during the great depression. In the early 1930's there were shipments of coal sent to Wisconsin and Chicago and the companies that the coal was shipped to could not afford to pay for the product, though the brothers did receive some cotton seed meal from one of the companies. The mine was sold to Red Globe Mines because of the deteriorated business conditions.


Thanks to Roman Reith, Bill Schmaltz, Lucille Schmalz and Marie Schmalz for their contributions to the above stories and for contributing other vital information to the Schmalz family tree. Thanks to Carol McCartney, Marilyn Sike, Susan Gregory and Norma & Tom Burgess.