C. B. Schmidt
Carl Bernhard Schmidt was born September 7, 1843, in Dippoldiswalde, Saxony, Germany, to Carl Gottfried and Carolina Christiane (Goehler) Schmidt. The elder Schmidt was architect to the king of Saxony. C. B. Schmidt attended public schools and graduated from Queen Anna’s College in Dresden. He worked as a foreign correspondent in a Hamburg commercial house. Schmidt arrived in the U.S. in 1864 and settled in St. Louis, where he worked as a music teacher and in the mercantile industry.
Schmidt married Martha Anna Fraim on August 23, 1866. They had four children. In 1868 he moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where he worked in the grocery business. Schmidt maintained his connection with his homeland, serving as a correspondent for German newspapers. In 1873 the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe hired him as commissioner of immigration.
Called the ablest German immigration agent to do business in Kansas, Schmidt distributed brochures in German to every German-speaking community in the United States in the hope of attracting the German speaking populace. He traveled to Europe numerous times to encourage German Swedish immigration to Kansas. Schmidt traveled to Russia to convince Mennonites to leave the Volga region and resettle in the more hospitable state of Kansas. He carried with him hundreds of letters of introduction, many of which were written by the people of Gnadenau. He convinced a delegation to visit the area, giving him the opportunity to showcase Santa Fe land as far west as Great Bend. After visits to areas in Nebraska and Kansas, the Mennonite immigrants selected sections in Marion County and Schmidt earned the appellation “Moses of the Mennonites.” He is credited with bringing 15,000 Germans to Kansas from 1873 to 1885.
In 1885, after he had sold most of the Santa Fe lands in Kansas, Schmidt moved to Omaha and worked for a land trust company. He established the London office of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. For the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Schmidt built and managed the German Ethnographic Exhibition. In the 1890s Schmidt also worked for Rock Island railroad. His family moved to Pueblo, Colorado, in 1895, where he continued to work in land investment. From 1914 to 1916 Schmidt worked to encourage Mennonite immigration to Wyoming. He crossed the Atlantic 37 times in his efforts for immigration. Schmidt died in about 1921.
Entry: Schmidt, C. B.
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: August 2011
Date Modified: January 2016
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