November 26, 1837 – April 29, 1921
UPDATED September 5, 2021
As faded as this tombstone is, the research presented something of a challenge, and while I’m still missing some pieces, I do have a picture and I believe I know who is buried here besides Liesette.
Liesette was born in Germany to a German mother (name unknown) and Danish father (Lars Peterson). She and her first husband Herman (also known as Fritz) had two children — Lars (b. 1862) and Ernst (b. 1864) while living in Prussia and emigrated to the US at some point between when Ernst was born and 1871 when their daughter Sophie was born as her place of birth is listed as Chicago.
The couple had one more child together, William, in 1878 who is listed as one year old on the 1880 census. The lost 1890 census is much missed here as its absence leaves us once more in the dark about the next twenty years of this family. There are no additional records about Herman or Fritz and no matching findagrave.com record at Concordia, but it seems he must have passed away at some point between the 1880 and 1900 censuses because at the dawn of the new century, Liesette is remarried to August Schatz, a man ten years her junior. Other records clarify that Fritz’s passing happened at some point between the 1880 census and 1884. (More research turned up Herman’s death record and he did not die until 1895.)
Liesette and August had two children together, both sons – Joseph in 1885 when she was 45 and August Jr. in 1893 when she was 54. August and Liesette married around 1897 and had no children together. The younger children listed on the 1900 census were August’s with his first wife. In 1900, Liesette and Fritz’s youngest William is still living with his mother and her new husband. The census lists him as August’s stepson. At this time, August is a mason and owns his own business. They also own their own house (free and clear) in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood.
August passed away a few months later on August 11, 1920, and he’s buried at Forest Home. Liesette died a few months after her second husband, in April 1921, but she is buried in Concordia in a grave marked “L. Schmidt.”
While I am not 100% sure who the L is, I would hazard a guess that it is her eldest son Lars, because it turns out that Lars and his family also lived just down the same street from his mother and her second husband, and he was an undertaker. He was already a working undertaker in 1900 and perhaps he stumbled into this profession due to the untimely death of his father. It might also be the case that he had already taken up the profession and sadly had to bury his own father.
Whatever the scenario there, it seems likely he erected this lovely tombstone in his father’s honor and Liesette chose to be buried with her first husband in Concordia.
The headstone appears to have been originally set for Liesette’s mother. The three bolsters in front of the headstone say FATHER, MOTHER, and GRANDMA. Knowing that, you can actually just make out the remnants of the last name “Petersen” at the top of the headstone, indicating that it was the first name inscribed, and the subsequent inscriptions for Friedrich (known in life as F. Herman or Fred) Schmidt and Liesette Schatz are each relatively more readable as they’ve had less time to melt away.
Liesette was a midwife and had her own separate professional listing in the city directory for several years which is how I as able to triangulate back to get more information on her first husband and narrow down his death date.
RIP Liesette, your husbands, and your many children.
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