Valerie's Family Research Web Page: A Smidt Family History
banner ad

A Smidt Family History
Descendants and Relations of Johann Smidt
from Bremen, Germany

A work in progress ...
Related Family Web Sites


Please leave a message in the
Guest Book

view guestbook

Messages left in the Guestbook may be of interest to other family researchers.

Ode to A Census Taker

What IS a 2nd Cousin Once Removed?

Genealogy Calculator

To Home Page

Information to share? Please contact me at

The banner ads at the top and bottom of these pages are randomly generated by the RootsWeb host in exchange for providing free hosting services.


© Copyright
Valerie Capels


Reports | Documents | Photos | Links
Johann Smidt, 1856
tap on image for larger view
Johann Smidt, 1856

This Smidt family line is descended from Johann Smidt (1773-1857), of Bremen, Germany, though descendents have scattered worldwide.  My grandfather, Arnold Smidt, who was born in Bremen, emigrated to the United States from Berlin in 1926 to seek his fortune and get settled so that his fiance, Jutta GUMPERT, could join him, which she did in 1928.  His overseas journey was believed to have been sponsored by an uncle in Indiana.

The Smidt name originates in the Netherlands and, I'm told, is the Dutch equivalent of "Smith." The vast majority of the information provided here comes from a document titled "Smidt-Stiftung," printed by A. Guthe in Bremen in November 1930, a copy of which was owned by my grandfather and later provided to his children.  Where the original document resides and how many there are elsewhere is not known.  Copied on 19 11"x17" sheets of paper, the original document appears to measure 13" x 9 3/4".  I owe many thanks to Holly Shupe and to Stefan Keller for their help in deciphering some of the German terminologies.  Special thanks to Stefan Keller for his generosity of time and translations, and for introducing me to the remarkable information that has been recorded about Johann Smidt and his venerable place in history. And special thanks, too, to Don Watson for his generous translation of the text of the Smidt-Stiftung.

Johann Smidt
From Stefan Keller in a Nov. 23, 2005 e-mail: "It is very hard to under-estimate the impact that Johann Smidt had for Bremen and the whole region.  This is the Johann Smidt that married Wilhelmine Rohde. ... He was a brilliant pupil, studied at the university of Jena and quickly became acquainted with some of the best brains of his time.  Despite his young age, he became a senator of Bremen and worked for Bremen in diplomatic affairs.  This included a times as an envoy in Paris at the court of Napoleon, in the allied headquarter during the Napoleonic wars and at the Vienna congress afterwards.  He was known by many in the diplomatic world and earned great respect.  He also founded Bremerhaven (which allowed Bremen to use his own port) - and is finally responsible that Bremen and Hamburg retained their independent (dwarf) state status."

A number of books and other materials have been published detailing the life and considerable accomplishments of Johann Smidt.  Most of them are in German.  To see some of the number and variety of books available, go to and type Bürgermeister Johann Smidt in the search field.  Others include:
A short synopsis of his life (German):

A brief history of Bremerhaven and Johann Smidt, with photo (German, translated by Google):

Another, more interesting history of Bremerhaven and Johann Smidt's considerable role, with photos (German, translated by Google):

This appears to be summary of the Smidt famiy holdings (German, translated by Google):

Brief history of Bremen with mention of Johann Smidt (English):

An even more brief history of Bremen with mention of Johann Smidt (English):

The following link is to a genealogical study of Christian Abraham Heineken (1752-1818), Mayor of Bremen, by Heinrich von Spreckelsen in 1985.  Although not directly related to Johann Smidt, it contains references to numerous families and family lines that we recognize from the Smidt-Stiftung document, and provides valuable context of the life and times of Johann Smidt (English):
Smidt Foundation
z. H. Herrn
Johann G. Smidt
c/o Firma J.G. Schütte & Co.
Bornstr. 16-17
28195 Bremen
Tel. (0421) 3042259
The term Stiftung roughly translates to a non-profit or charitable foundation, and the Smidt Foundation is a charitable foundation associated with the Smidt family.  I was surprised to learn that it is still in existance, though I have not yet made an effort to contact them.  According to information I found on a German Web site listing this and a wide range of other Stiftungs, the primary purposes of the Smidt-Stiftung are: a) the promotion of the training of young persons b) the support of needy descendants of the family, and c) promotion of the reputation of the family Smidt.  

The Indiana Uncle
For many years, I had heard that it was an uncle in South Bend, Indiana that helped Arnold come to the United States and wondered who this uncle in Indiana could possibly be.  Was it a sibling of his father or his mother?  In July 2006, the mystery was solved when I uncovered the letter written by Adolph VIETOR in 1926, offering to sponsor his grand-nephew Arnold Smidt in New York.  

There is great risk in reading too much into isolated pieces of information.  Imagine trying to figure out what an elephant looks like with only a toe, an ear, or just the snout as clues.  The further we go back in to time, limited available records--if we're lucky to find any at all--provide only a momentary glimpse into a situation, and often subject to the interpretation or limitations of the person recording it.  

I have tried to be diligent in recording the sources of my information so that it can be judged by myself and others as to its reliability.  Just because a record exists does not mean it was recorded accurately, whether by the scribe or the original provider.  Yet they provide us with clues that could help verify our assumptions or point us in new directions.

Photos help remind us that this is about more than facts and statistics; these were real people of flesh, bone, and blood.  They experienced the adventures of youth, the trials and tribulations of raising a family, the joys of traditions, the sorrows of loss, and the toils of the day-to-day.  Some died young; others lived long, fruitful lives.  Posting photos to the Web is a way to share them with others as well as preserve them in the event the original is later lost.

Any information, corrections, clippings, suggestions, and/or photos offered that will help weave the fabric and reveal the texture of the SMIDT family's history will be greatly appreciated.  All photos or other original documents will be handled with great care, copied, and promptly returned to their owner, unless instructed otherwise.  While I am eager for ANY information, including stories and oral histories, that will help tell our story, I also want to be respectful of people's privacy and to use discretion in matters that may be sensitive.  With the exception of references contained in obituaries, information about living people will not be posted to this page.

This document is only as complete and accurate as the information available to me up to this moment.  No doubt it will continue to evolve over time, as it should.

Information to share?  Please contact me at

WorldConnect Data for Johann Smidt
WorldConnect Descendant Register Report for Johann Smidt
Descendant Outline for Johann Smidt

WorldConnect Data for Arnold Smidt
WorldConnect Descendant Register Report for Arnold Smidt
Descendant Outline for Arnold Smidt

Includes notices for GUMPERT.

Smidt - Stiftung

Family Photos

Gustav & Arnold Smidt
Gustav Smidt, c. 1905
Georg Arnold Smidt, 1927
Georg Arnold Smidt, 1927
Ernst August Smidt, 1927
Ernst August Smidt, 1927

Ernst August Smidt, 1928
Ernst August Smidt, 1928

Arnold Smidt & Jutta Gumpert
Arnold Smidt & Jutta Gumpert
Peter & Irmgard Smidt, 1932
Peter & Irmgard Smidt, 1932
Peter Johann Walter Smidt
Peter Smidt
Tila & Peter Smidt
Tila & Peter Smidt
Tila & Ernst Smidt
Tila & Ernst Smidt
Arnold Smidt & Thea Gumpert
Arnold Smidt & Thea Gumpert

  Smidt photo album, 1904-1906, cover

Smidt Photo Allbum, 1904-1906
Tap on cover to peruse

Surname Message Boards

  • Beck Genealogy Forum
  • Beck Surname Message Board
  • SMIDT Genealogy Forum
  • SMIDT Surname Message Board
  • Gumpert Genealogy Forum
  • Gumpert Surname Message Board
  • Steinmann Genealogy Forum
  • Steinmann Surname Message Board

  • German Genealogy Resources
    z. H. Herrn
    Johann G. Smidt
    c/o Firma J.G. Schütte & Co.
    Bornstr. 16-17
    28195 Bremen
    Tel. (0421) 3042259
    New York State Genealogy Resources
    Translation Resources
    • The Alta Vista Babel Fish translator allows you to translate short passages of text or entire Web sites among more than a dozen pair of languages.
    • SYSTRAN information and translation technologies also has an online language translator.
    General Genealogy Resources
    • (an affiliate of The Generations Network), connects Internet users to hundreds of millions of fully searchable individual records, about half of which is free and other half available by subscription.
    • Cyndi's, a categorized and crossreferenced index, or "card catalog" to the immense library of genealogical resources on the Internet.
    •, a major genealogy reference library and resource center built and maintained by professional genealogists to serve the needs of beginning researchers and experienced family historians.
    • (also an affiliate of The Generations Network), is the oldest and largest FREE genealogy Web site, containing numerous interactive guides and research tools, including the WorldConnect project.

    Posted February 19, 2006
    Updated April 28, 2008

    banner ad