The Schmidt Sisters
Post Submitted by Karreen Busch
In today's society, there are many single women who live successful and happy lives without marriage—but in the early 19th century, most women got married.
Anna and Flora Schmidt were not like most women. The two sisters who lived in the historic Schmidt House of Grants Pass, Oregon, shared their thoughts in personal records on their unmarried statuses:
Anna (in a typewritten document to her niece, Mildred):
That was something always thought to be what all young folks automatically ended up doing. Sameas in your time, the boys had their girl friends and the girls their boy friends. During school days this was particularly so. Going to and from school together, to parties or entertainment, etc. Only, our transportation was our own feet. I had to be home at a reasonable hour, and could go only on Friday evenings, not on a school night.
Flora (in a typewritten document to the Josephine County Historical Society, for their records):
As for the boy-friend situation, that was practically nil, in my case. I never even had a boy-friend in school. I think I was born a confirmed old-maid. I remember when I started to work for Mr. Blanchard, one of mother’s friends said to me, “Oh, you’ll just work a year or two, and then get married, like all the girls do, and I told her: “Take a good look, this one won’t.” One of the highest compliments Anna ever paid me was when she said, referring to the four Obers girls and me, “Flora is the only one who never was boy-crazy.” In my 20’s, I did go to some grange dances, and a picnic or two, with Eugene Moore (and his folks), but that was the extent of my fall from grace.
The Schmidt House in Grants Pass, Oregon, is a historic building that was built in 1901 by European immigrants Claus and Hannchen Schmidt. In the house, they raised their four children: boys Reinhold and Herman, and girls Anna and Flora.
Anna and Flora inherited the home in the late 1920s, and continued to live there for most of their lives. Both sisters were career woman, as well as active within their community. A few years before they moved into a retirement center, in 1978, they donated the Schmidt House to the Josephine County Historical Society. The Society transformed the house into a public museum, to continue the Schimdt sister’s practice of hospitality.
The Schmidt House Museum is open for tours, and visitors can witness original furnishings and items from the lifetimes of Flora and Anna, who passed away in 1981 and 1987. For more information on the Schmidt House, visit www.josephinehistorical.org. For tour information, call (541) 479 7827.
Original documents and photos for this article are courtesy of the Josephine County Historical Society.