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Early Settlers – Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Cemetery, Edwards, Kansas – Pt. 1


Ten miles north of Kinsley, Kansas, is a German settlement that began to take shape in 1879. A large of immigrants from Limbach, Germany, left their relatives, friends, and way of life to start anew in America. Why? Reasons included a repressive anti-Catholic government, mandatory military service, and economic struggles.


One group of those early settlers was the Straeser/Schmitt families. The matriarch of the family was Katharina Straeser Schmitt. She was born in 1829 in Germany. Her husband, Johann Schmitt, died about 1865. She was a widow with four grown children. Their names were Nicholas Sr. (1856-1930), Barbara (1858-1915), John (1861-1939), and Mary (1863-1944). Nicholas married Anna Siemer and were blessed with 12 children. Neither Mary nor Barbara married. John married Josephine Birsinger and raised seven children.


The Straesers were Katharina’s brothers, Nickolaus (1847-1929) and Peter (1841-1928), and her sister, Maria (1839-1887). The last member of the group was Johann Herrmann. He was married to Eva, who was Katharina’s daughter. She died in Germany leaving Johann a widower with five children.


Of those children, Gertrude (1856-1910) was the oldest. She married another early settler, Nickolaus Oster (1857-1937). They were the parents of five children. Anna died in 1885. Peter (1862-1939) married Catherine Birsinger. They were blessed with eight children. Sons, John and Nicholas joined the Benedictine Order as monks.


Katharina died on January 28, 1908, at the home of her brother, Peter. She is buried in Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery with her brothers, sister, children, and grandchildren.


Note: Next week’s story will be about Katharina’s children.


Note: Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church – North Kinsley 1893-1993 was used as a resource to gather information.

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