The John Schmaltz family of Emmons County: from Ukrainian Steppes to Dakota Prairies

Schmaltz, Eric. "The John Schmaltz family of Emmons County: from Ukrainian Steppes to Dakota Prairies." Emmons County Record, 11 December 2008, 21.
(Editor's Note: This is part fourteen of Eric Schmaltz's history of the John Schmaltz family.)

Setting Up Shop in Emmons County

An early photo of John and Clara (Bullinger) Schmaltz and their children posing in front of the Meat Market in Strasburg, North Dakota, in 1914. The store opened in 1910 and was sold in 1945. In 1926, John expanded the business with a meat market in Linton, which remained in family hands until 2006.

The final destination for John and Agnes was not too surprising. During the 1890s and into the earliest years of the new century, for example, a number of Schmaltz families from Kandel immigrated to the prairies of North Dakota and even Saskatchewan, Canada.

Although the details remain sketchy, it appears that John made his initial stay in Morton County, North Dakota, while his younger sister settled farther south in Strasburg in neighboring Emmons County. The U.S. census records from 1900 do not show John or Agnes Schmaltz residing in either of these counties, lending some credence to the idea that they might have come to North Dakota after 1900 following a short layover in Chicago.

On October 11, 1902, Agnes married Adam Kraft (1881-1935) in Strasburg. Born in South Russia (Ukraine), Adam came from Germans from Russia stock as well. Agnes and Adam produced ten children, one of whom died in infancy. For four years, the Krafts homesteaded three miles northeast of Strasburg, before moving to town. In 1924, they lived on a farm near Winona about 20 miles west of Strasburg. In 1948, the widow Agnes moved to Linton, where her brother John and his wife Clara now resided.

Eric Schmaltz. The author is immigrant Johann Schmalz’s great-grandson.  Born in Minot, North Dakota, in 1971, he is Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where he teaches Modern European and World History.  He expresses his eternal gratitude to old issues of the Emmons County Record as well as various extended relatives by blood or marriage who have assisted him with family history research over the past two decades, in particular Bro. Placid Gross, Mrs. Mary Lynn Axtman, Mrs. Nicole (French) Bailey, Prof. Amy Deibert, and Prof. Michael M. Miller.

John’s wife, Clara Bullinger (1884-1953), was also a German immigrant from Russia. In 1818, her ancestors Johann and Magdelena (Reichert) Bullinger of Herxheim in Landau District in the State of Rhineland-Palatinate heard the tsar’s call to settle in Russia. They made their home in the German-Catholic village of Katharinental in what was called the Beresan Enclave of Ukraine. Clara was one of fourteen children, ten of whom survived into adulthood. Her parents were Adam and Clara, born in 1847 and 1857 respectively. Around 1894, like many other Germans from Russia families in search of land and better opportunities, the Bullingers homesteaded near Yankton, South Dakota. A few years later, the Bullingers trekked to Township 136 in Morton County, North Dakota.

On November 3, 1903, Clara married John Schmaltz in the tiny community of St. Anthony in Morton County, about 15 miles south of Mandan. For the next several years, they farmed in the area.

Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller