George Vanderschmidt

GEORGE VANDERSCHMIDT was a prominent early pioneer citizen of Leavenworth. He came to Kansas in 1868, nearly fifty years ago. Leavenworth is still the home of his daughter, Emma, and of his two progressive sons, Louis and Fred Vanderschmidt, both of whom are prominent merchants of the city.

The name Vanderschmidt was originally spelled Von Derschmitt. The late George Vanderschmidt was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, July 11, 1839. He grew up in Germany, attended the public schools, and was between sixteen and eighteen years of age when he left his native land and came to America. An older married sister was living in Jefferson County, New York, and she had advanced the money necessary for his passage across the Atlantic. Upon his arrival here he paid back the money by day labor and farming for his brother-in-law in Jefferson County. When this obligation had been paid George Vanderschmidt continued working as a farm hand, and having an eye to the future and being naturally thrifty he saved a considerable part of his earnings. From those earnings he bought a farm of his own in Northern Jefferson County.

He left his farm to go to New York City and marry Pauline Stemker. Her father was a man of considerable importance in Osnabrueck, Germany, where he held the position of Government toll gate keeper and was also what would be called in America a postmaster. George Vanderschmidt finally sold his farm in Jefferson County and removed to New York City, where he established himself in the business of importing foreign cheese and manufacturing domestic cheese. He had a successful business and acquired some city real estate.

Through the arguments presented by Frederick W. Wulfekuhler Mr. Vanderschmidt finally disposed of his property in the East, and with his wife and three children came to the City of Leavenworth, where he arrived on the Fourth of July in 1868. He was soon prosperously embarked in the retail grocery and general merchandise business, and he continued along those lines steadily with growing prosperity and influence until a year prior to his death, when on account of ill health he sold his business. His death occurred in Leavenworth in 1892, and his widow passed away in 1896.

George Vanderschmidt was a devout member of the German Evangelical Church, and was strict in the observance of his church duties and brought up his family in the same faith. In character he is remembered as having been honest to the penny, a man determined in his actions, and extremely charitable. His books show large amounts that were credited to the needy and that were never paid back. He and his wife were the parents of five children: Emma; Edward, who died at the age of eleven; Louis; William, who died when twenty-two years of age; and Fred.

Louis and Fred Vanderschmidt are now associated in business under the firm name William Small & Company. Louis Vanderschmidt was born in New York City October 25, 1867, and was brought to Leavenworth when an infant. Fred was born at Leavenworth in February, 1873. Both the sons were educated according to the advantages afforded by the public schools of Leavenworth. Louis began his business career as clerk for L. Lowenthal, and was afterwards with the firm George H. Weaver, Bruns & Company. For three years he was in business for himself under his own name, and in 1892 he acquired an interest in the business of William Small. William Small & Company is one of the prominent firms of Leavenworth, and has had a prosperous existence for fully a quarter of a century. Fred Vanderschmidt was clerk in the store until 1895, when he also acquired an interest.

Louis Vanderschmidt was married to Ada F. Burrell, daughter of Dr. D. D. Burrell. They are the parents of two children: William Willies and Louise. Fred Vanderschmidt married Daisy Gardner of Fort Scott, Kansas. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas and was an instructor in the high school at Fort Scott at the time of her marriage. They also have two children, George Frederick and Gretchen.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, November 6, 1998.

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