Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Michael Smith

52 Ancestors: #1 Michael Smith

This year, Amy Johnson Crow has issued a new 52 weeks blogging challenge:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

on her No Story Too Small blog.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor. Not only should this get me blogging more, but also to take a deeper look at some of the people in my family tree.

My approach: I plan to make this a Tuesday Theme, and, use it to enhance my WikiTree ancestor profiles. That is, focus on a different ancestor on my WikiTree list of profiles, each week (include possibly adding new profiles), Great idea! Thanks to Randy Seaver's post for bringing this to my attention!

#1 Michael Smith
- my great-grandfather - is the appropriate place to start based on my stated Approach and Plan. During the past year, working with a number of cousins and other relatives, we have learned a lot more about the family he came from and more about the different parts of the family he raised, in both Iowa and Nebraska. Much of what I've learned has been recorded in my database, but has yet to be added to WikiTree. Much has not been recorded here on this blog, as it needs to be. Based on this shared research, we have created a family Facebook Page based on the descendants of this father, Joseph. Little of that has been shared outside the family group. This omission will be corrected in coming weeks of "52 Ancestors" - here, on Tuesdays!

was born 16 May 1829 in Nambsheim, District of Colmer, County Haut Rhin in what we now call the region of Alsace-Lorraine, in France. His father, Joseph was a postal tax collector, and moved regularly around the region. My daughter, Arrion, visited the region in 2012, taking some beautiful photos.

Arrion discovered his arrival in American, in New Orleans, in 1845.

She also found his family living in the St. Louis area in 1845.

Micahel's father was Joseph Schmitt (1802-1874) and his mother was Beatrix (Elsie) Fad (1805-1886). We have identified four younger siblings: 2) Caroline (1831-1919), 3) Elizabeth Beatrice (1839-1913), 4) Dorothea (1842-1923), and 4) Valentine (1846-1912).

Michael was actually living and working as a blacksmith in the area, as well.

We, of course, were well aware that Michael had served in the Civil War as a farrier. The new information was to see a copy of his Discharge paper.

We knew they were living in Hampton, Illinois, in the Quad Cities area, when he entered the war. A cousin shared a postcard from that community.

Michael first married in Rock Island, in 1855, to Madaline (Lena) Harbrecht and they had three children before he joined the army for his Civil War Service. Theses were: 1) Julian A. (Julia) (1857-1888), 2) Mary (1858-1940), and 3) Michael (b. 1862). Lena died shortly before he returned from service.

Michael second married, on 30 Dec 1869, in Hampton, Rock Island, to Margaret Nellie (Maggie) Soderstrom (born in Sweden) (1846-1901).
Here is a post of a new (to me) photo from last summer.

They had nine children, the first being my grandfather, William Emanuel Smith (1869-1939).
The others were 2) Johannah Magdalina (Lena) (1870-1948), 3) John Joseph (1872-1953), 4) Elizabeth Barbara (Lizzie) (1874-1939), 5) Benjamin Mickle (1876-1911), 6) Peter Andrew (1878-1878), 7) Dortha Elsieana (Elsie) (1880-1957), 8) Robert Crittenton (1883-1953), 9) Grant Millington (1884-1885).

Currently (prior to my work here) on WikiTree I have profiles for Michael, his parents, his brother, Valentine, both wives, and one son, William. So, in coming weeks, I will be enhancing their profiles and adding the siblings and children as noted above, with each of these folks as one of the "52 ancestors."

What fun! Great challenge! Great Plan! Thanks, Amy!! ;-)

Family's are Forever! ;-)


  1. Interesting post - and I'm so glad you linked back to the pictures your daughter took. I missed those before and it looks like such a beautiful area.

  2. Great post. I like the WikiTree enhancement idea!

  3. Seems things keep changing... I got a gmail note for each of these comments. I love comments. I answered via reply on the gmail, thinking it would post here... it didn't. Oh, my.
    Thanks for both posts, here. Neat, but unexpected. Please do comment here. I'll remember now, to answer here, unless I want the reply to be personal... is that right? Hope so! ;-)

  4. Very interesting, Bill - I'll be watching, since I've joined this challenge as well. Your daughter's photos are a wonderful addition, I must say. Photos add so much to our understanding of family. Cheers.

  5. Thank you, Celia. The photos, for me, serve to "bring this homeland ALIVE" in living color - since all the records are in black and white, it is easy to think of the place that way - and it is not!.;-)