Schmidt (Schmid, Smit, Smet, Schmitt, Smith) family

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Schmidt is a common Mennonite name, particularly among the Mennonites of Prusso-Russian background. The name appears in the early church records of Thiensdorf, Orlofferfelde, Danzig, Elbing, Jeziorka, Przechovka, Konopat and Kazun. The name was transplanted to Russia and North America during the Prussian Mennonite migration. The first records of the name in Prussia date back as early as 1586. Hilchen (Hiltje) Smet (Smid) was elder of the Montau Mennonite Church in 1588. Hans Schmidt, a Hutterite preacher from Moravia, was an evangelizing missionary in Württemberg and died in 1602. From the Przechovka-Alexanderwohl church record we learn that an early bearer of the name fled in 1634 with Tobias Schellenberger from Moravia to Hungary and then to Przechovka. He is supposed to have received the name because he was a master smith. Most of his descendants lived in the villages of Przechovka, Konopat and Jeziorka. Some of them settled later in the Polish-Russian villages of Heinrichsdorf and Michalin.

Several Schmidts from Przechovka joined the group of Mennonite immigrants to the Molotschna settlement, where they established the village and congregation of Alexanderwohl. In 1874 most of this branch of the family moved again and settled in the community of Goessel, Kansas, while those from Heinrichsdorf and Michalin established the congregations and communities of Gnadenberg, Canton and Pawnee Rock, Kansas, as well as Avon, South Dakota. Later the family spread over most of the states and provinces west of the Mississippi River. The name was also transplanted to Canada and South America. In 1954 the Alexanderwohl church had 991 members, 135 of whom had the surname Schmidt. Some of the bearers of the name, particularly of South German background, have changed the name to Smith. As of 1959 the connection between the Schmidt family lines among the Mennonites of South German and Prussian background had neither been confirmed nor fully investigated.

Some Schmidt family Mennonite leaders in Russia were Nikolai Schmidt and Johann Schmidt, both members of the Board of the Gnadenfeld Bruderschule and co-founders of the Friends of Jerusalem (Templers). P. P. Schmidt (1860-1910) of the Molotschna settlement was a co-founder of the Evangelical Mennonite Church. Hermann Schmitt of South Germany was a missionary under the Dutch Mennonite Mission Board in Indonesia. Who's Who Among the Mennonites lists the following notable members: Albert G. Schmidt, minister; August Schmidt, teacher and minister; Augusta Schmidt, missionary; H. U. Schmidt, minister; H. R. Schmidt, M.D.; J. R. Schmidt, M.D.; R. Schmidt, minister. Other well-known members of the Schmidt family were H. B. Schmidt, minister, and John F. Schmidt, professor. John Smith (1843-1906), a prominent bishop in the Mennonite Church (MC) at Roanoke, Illinois, was of Alsatian Amish heritage. His son was the notable American historian, C. Henry Smith. Both Willard Smith, who was a professor at Goshen College, and Tilman R. Smith, who was the president of Hesston College starting in 1959, were grandchildren of John Smith. J. B. Smith (1870-1951), a prominent Mennonite (MC) minister at Elida, Ohio and president of Eastern Mennonite College, was originally a Mennonite from Ontario. His son Paul and nephew Norman were both Mennonite Church (MC) ministers at Elida and Cloverdale, Ohio.


Przechovka-Alexanderwohl Church Record.

Schmidt, J. A. Schmidt Family Record. Vermillion, 1948.

Reimer, Gustav E. Die Familiennamen der westpreussischen Mennoniten. Weierhof, 1940.

Schmidt, P.U. The Peter Unruh Genealogy... Gossel, KS 1941.

Warkentin, A. and Melvin Gingerich, eds., Who's Who Among the Mennonites. North Newton, KS: Bethel College Press, 1943.

Author(s) P. U. Schmidt
Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Schmidt, P. U. and Cornelius Krahn. "Schmidt (Schmid, Smit, Smet, Schmitt, Smith) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 6 Apr 2020.,_Smit,_Smet,_Schmitt,_Smith)_family&oldid=119544.

APA style

Schmidt, P. U. and Cornelius Krahn. (1959). Schmidt (Schmid, Smit, Smet, Schmitt, Smith) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 April 2020, from,_Smit,_Smet,_Schmitt,_Smith)_family&oldid=119544.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 465. All rights reserved.

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