About Bill Schmidt

Rather than update my last post about Pauline Kirsch, I decided to write a new post about her son, William or Bill Schmidt, as information I found might help trace the Kirsch family after the First World War in Europe–after many Germans were deported from Volhynia into Siberia (this is a part of history I want to revisit later).

In my last post, I wrote that Bill, the son of Pauline and an unknown Schmidt, was born in Germany on December 25, 1910. He was left behind in Germany at the age of two or three when his mother went to Canada and was unable to send for him because of the turmoil of the First World War. They were reunited when he was nineteen years old. I was able to find records to both confirm and rectify these facts.

Earlier this week I ordered Bill’s death record from the Provincial Archives of Alberta (which, by the way, was so easy after trying (and failing) to get records from the Provincial Archives of Manitoba). According to the record, Bill died February 7, 1963. I also found the full name of his wife: Ida Kurze.

[“William Schmidt Registration of Death, 1963”], Provincial Archives of Alberta. Digital copy emailed 03 Feb 2021

I thought I had found the name of his father, William Schmidt, and then I thought I had ordered the record for another William Schmidt as his mother is listed as Otla Burg and not Pauline Kirsch. However, I remembered something: his mother’s half-brother (and my great-grandmother’s step-brother) was Wilhelm Schmidt, and Wilhelm had married Ottilie Berger in 1903.[1]

From this I was able to find an immigration record for Bill:

[“Wilhelm Schmidt immigration record, 1929”] from Canada, Arriving Passengers Lists, 1865-1935, accessed 04 Feb 2021 through Ancestry

According to this record, Bill was a German born in Lutsk, Russia. His step-father, Johann Jackel (John Yackel), paid for his ticket to Canada. Finally, Bill’s closest relative is his Aunt Ottilie Schmidt, whose address is Neidenburg, which is now Nidzica, Poland (formerly part of the German Empire).

I can only piece together what I think happened from what little information I can extract from records. From this, I know Pauline probably left her son in the care of her half-brother, Wilhelm Schmidt, and his wife. They likely cared for him through the tumultuous events that followed his mother’s departure–until he was eighteen years old. They are his parents on his death record and Bill kept his uncle’s name.

Lastly, the mention of Neidenburg makes me wonder how many of the Kirsch siblings that stayed behind in Europe found their way back to central Europe after the First World War. We have found one surviving sibling, Wilhelm (or, rather, his wife, Ottilie).

[1] Volhynia Archives Marriage Indexes – 1900-1918, accessed 04 Feb 2021 though Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe [Note: Wilhelm Schmidt and Ottilie Berger married November 18, 1903, in Lutsk parish, Volhynia]

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