Schmitt, George R. (1809-1882)
George R. Schmitt: minister and farmer; born in 1809 in Mulhausen, Alsace to Lutheran parents. In 1828 he came with his parents and at least one sibling to North America, first living in Welland County, Ontario. In August 1831 he married Salome Becker and they settled on a farm near what became Baden, Ontario. One of his grandchildren was Jacob B. "J.B." Smith, Bible scholar and first president of Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, VA. George R. Schmitt died in an accident on 14 September 1882.
Although of Lutheran heritage, it is said that George Schmitt worked for a time as a farm laborer for Bishop Benjamin Eby, and then embraced the Mennonite faith. For some years he was a farmer and schoolteacher. He was ordained as the first minister for the Shantz Mennonite Church congregation near Baden on 12 April 1840 or in February 1847; the date is uncertain because of conflicting evidence.
George Schmitt was apparently a remarkable orator; one biographical sketch said "his clear ringing tones, with 'silver-tongue' effect could readily be heard by overflow audiences which frequently greeted his public ministry." Others also referred to him as a "forceful" preacher. Because of his oratorical gifts he often spoke in Amish and Lutheran congregations in the area. During the U.S. Civil War, George Schmitt, together with David Sherk, made preaching visits through Pennsylvania and Virginia; and later he made a similar tour through the Central States.
Schmitt died as the result of an accident when in town to fetch a newspaper at the Baden post office. His horses became frightened by a passing train, and threw him from his buggy against a fence. He died of his injuries within three hours.
George R. Schmitt's major service occurred at a time when pastoral activity was not well documented. Nonetheless he had a ministry that extended far beyond his local community. Several times he participated in ministerial delegations from Ontario that sought to bring peace to other parts of the Mennonite Church that were in conflict. This role indicates his ability, and the stature he had within the church's leadership.
Heatwole, L. J. Mennonite Handbook of Information. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1925: 170-171.
Burkholder, L. J. A Brief History of the Mennonites in Ontario. Kitchener, ON: Mennonite Conference of Ontario, 1935: 87, 304.
"Obituary." Herald of Truth (1 November 1882): 333.
Wenger, John C. "Jacob Wisler and the Old Order Mennonite Schism of 1872 in Elkhart County, Indiana." Mennonite Quarterly Review 33 (April 1959): 108-131, esp. 117-123.
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MLA style: Steiner, Sam. "Schmitt, George R. (1809-1882)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2002. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S3553.html.
APA style: Steiner, Sam. (January 2002). Schmitt, George R. (1809-1882). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/S3553.html.