Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Half-Orphan

Inspired by this post over at The Research Journal (one of my very favorite blogs), I decided to check out the new SFGenealogy.com database San Francisco Orphans, Half Orphans, Etc. on State Aid, 1903-1910.  I didn't really expect to find anything but I typed in my main San Francisco surnames just in case.   I got no hits and was just about to leave when I decided to just scroll through it a bit and surprise! George von Schmidt!  George von Schmidt was the son of Alfred Waldemar von Schmidt and Jennie L. Spielman.  His paternal grandmother (Alfred's mother) was Frances Everalyn Mott, sister of "Essie," whose memoir I've been transcribing here and my third great-grandmother, Mary Gertrude Smith Mott Healey. 

As I read George's sad story, I learned quite a bit and also have some new questions.  George was born in Fresno on July 10, 1896.  He had three elder siblings: Hazel, Alfred and Frederick; and one younger sister: Isabel who don't appear with George.  George's mother, Jennie, is listed as dying in Los Angeles in 1903.  But George's father was still living... he was an inmate in the insane asylum in Ukiah.  George is listed as being put in the care of the Boys and Girls Aid Society on October 1, 1909.  He was discharged from their care a few months later, on his 14th Birthday. 


I found a little blurb on the society on the SFGenealogy website: 
"Boys and Girls Aid Society. Incorporated September 15, 1874. Rescues homeless, neglected or abused children of California and receives juvenile offenders who (by legal commitment or otherwise) are in danger of being sent to prison; provides for such until suitable homes or employment are found for them, and continues to look after their condition and treatment; maintains reading rooms, libraries, baths, sewing school and class in music. Lodgings and board are furnished at a nominal cost to working boys and girls who have neither homes nor suitable guardianship in the city. The work is free from sectarianism and depends upon voluntary contributions for its support. Office and "Home," corner Grove and Baker streets, San Francisco. Children are also received from parents and others for discipline, so called, to check their gravitation into crime; others for temporary care while parents are ill or pending legal proceedings."

So apparently George was in a pretty rough place.  I'm left to wonder, and research, what happened to Alfred?  This was the first that I had learned he was in an asylum.  I also wonder what happened to George's siblings after their mother died and their father was committed. 

For anyone wondering, George's first cousin was the noted artist Harold von Schmidt (and Harold's son, musician Eric), a contemporary of Norman Rockwell.

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