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Edmond J. Schmitt Papers

Identifier: SCT

Scope and Content

Correspondence; historical and religious writings; and research and reference files on Bishop Simon Bruté, Father Stephen T. Badin, Girolamo Savonarola, early missions in Mexican America, Indiana Catholic history, and the Benedictine order in the United States. Also Schmitt's collection of autograph letters, calling cards, and signatures of authors, British and American legislators, presidents of the United States, archbishops, and cardinals (1777-1893).

The papers of Father Edmond J. P. Schmitt have been arranged in three categories which reflect various aspects and activities of Schmitt's life. These are: Correspondence, Historical and Religious Writings, and Research and Reference. Conspicuously missing from this collection are Schmitt's parochial records; other than miscellaneous correspondence and news clippings in Schmitt's scrapbooks (see especially Indiana History Scrapbook, biographical clippings, pp. 203-23, Box 12 Folder 6), no detailed record of Schmitt's activities as pastor of St. John's Church exist here.

Original order has been retained where files have been defined. Father Schmitt had developed a personal filing system for his correspondence, placing letters in individual folders by correspondent. This system has been retained in the present arrangement; however, items within these folders have been arranged chronologically, and the folders have been arranged alphabetically according to surname of each correspondent. Schmitt's Research and Reference files were organized in a similar manner and have been arranged alphabetically by subject.

Although family correspondence as early as 1857 exists in this collection, Schmitt's own correspondence does not begin until 1873, the bulk being written between 1890 and 1901. Schmitt's notes are mainly undated but also fall roughly into this period. Records in this collection are mainly in English or German, with some notes in Spanish or French.

Although the Schmitt collection does not provide much insight into the parochial activities of a 19th century priest, this collection nevertheless supplies information on early Catholic history, especially as it relates to Indiana and Mexican-America. Of particular interest are the first hand accounts and photographs of the fire of St. Meinrad's College [see: Correspondence--Martin Mueller, 6 September 1887 (2 pages), 6 September 1887 (7 pages); Andrew Schaaf, 7 September 1887 (4 pages); and Charles Wagner, 2 September 1887 (2 pages). See also, "Edmond Faber's" description from the New Albany Ledger , 5 September 1887, Volume I. Essays, pp. 21-23, and the letter from Father Isidore, 17 September 1887, the description and photographs located in Volume IX. The Very Rev. P. Isidore Hobi and Volume I. Essays].

James Edwards had negotiated with Schmitt in 1896-1899 to purchase his collection of books, manuscripts, stamps, and relics but could not raise the funds to meet Schmitt's price (which varied from $600 to $900). Father Schmitt would have liked to have sold his collection to Notre Dame, but he was anxious to have its sale resolved and his debts paid before his death. He presented most of his papers to Bishop Camillus Maes of Convington, Kentucky. Bishop Maes in turn passed them over to Bishop Chatard of Vincennes, who subsequently donated the collection to Notre Dame.

Schmitt's folders, which were highly acidic and damaging to the correspondence and notes contained within them, have been photocopied and the originals discarded. Loose newspaper clippings have also been photocopied. Several empty book bindings, used by Schmitt to keep his folders together, have been recommended for disposal.

RESTRICTION: Box 17 contains many oversized maps which are extremely brittle due to mold (now apparently dormant) and high acidity. These should be examined only with archivist's approval. Many of Schmitt's notes on Mexican-America are also brittle from the same causes; careful use of these documents without restrictions is permitted.


  • Creation: 1777-1901 (bulk 1890-1901).


Language of Materials

English, German, Spanish, and French.

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted: fragile maps of Texas and Mexico.


Catholic priest; pastor of St. John's Church in Weltes (Warrick County), Indiana; bibliographer and historian.

Rev. Edmond John Peter Schmitt was born 16 March 1865 in New Albany, Indiana. He was the third child of Peter and Magdalena (Mouth) Schmitt, German-speaking immigrants from Lorraine, France. Schmitt spent most of his childhood in New Albany and attended the parochial schools of St. Mary's Church in that town for over eight years. Because of his father's pecuniary losses, young Edmond left school to work in a dry goods store (Scott's Blue Front store) and as a druggist. Anxious to complete his education, Edmond continued to study privately during the next five years and also began to collect a library.

After his eighteenth birthday, Schmitt entered St. Meinrad's College, a school run by the Benedictine Fathers in Spencer County, Indiana, with the intention of entering the priesthood. Schmitt's parents somewhat opposed his vocational goal, fearing that their son's health was too delicate for such strenuous work. However, Edmond's purpose was serious and, after condensing the five-year classical course into two years, he entered the theological seminary at St. Meinrad's in 1885-86. There he completed a two-year course in philosophy and a three-year course in theology.

During his years at St. Meinrad's, Schmitt became interested in historical research and began to write on various topics. He was a frequent contributor, under the pen name "Edmond Faber," to local newspapers and periodicals, including The Catholic Record , The Fredericksburg News , New Albany Ledger , Louisville Courier-Journal , The Catholic World , Katholische Glaubensbote , The Alma Mater , Poor Soul's Advocate , Literarischer Handweiser , (published in Muenster, Germany), Studien und Mitteilungen aus dem Benediktiner- und dem Cistercienser-Orden , (Brünn, Austria), and several others. During this time, Schmitt concentrated his research efforts on the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, emphasizing the stories of pioneers of the Catholic faith.

On 31 May 1890, Father Schmitt was ordained as a secular priest by the Right Reverend Francis Silas Chatard, D.D., Bishop of Vincennes (Indianapolis). He said his first Mass on 8 June at St. Mary's Church, and was temporarily engaged at St. Matthew's Church, Mount Vernon, Indiana. On 27 July 1890, Schmitt received his first assignment as pastor of St. John's Church, Weltes, Warrick County, Indiana. He also served for a time in the missions of Boonville, Newburg, Petersburg, and Yankeetown (Indiana). In December 1893, Father Schmitt presided over the building of a new brick church for St. John's, which was not completed until May of 1895. On 19 May 1895 the new church was dedicated by the bishop of the diocese, F. S. Chatard, and a large celebration was held in honor of the event.

During the early 1890s, Father Schmitt continued his research. His first major work, Lose Bläter aus der Geschichte der Deutschen St. Marien Gemeinde von New Albany, Indiana, im Zusammenhange mit der Diozesan-Kirchengeschichte , published in 1890, recounts the history of German Catholic pioneer days in the vicinity of New Albany. Two other longer works written during this time include Dismas, or The Good Thief (1892), translated from the French of the Abbe Cros, S.T.; and Bibliographia Benedictina; oder, Verzeichnis der Schriftesteller der Benedictiner-Ordens in den Vereinigten Staaten Nord-Amerikas (1893), a bibliography of the Benedictine order in the United States.

Father Schmitt also authored several serialized articles while he was pastor at St. John's, including "The Complete Words of Girolamo Savonarola," "The Life of Father Badin," "The History of Catholicity in Warrick County," "The Catholic Story of Indiana and the Founding of Vincennes," and "The Very Rev. P. Isidore Hobi." He also began his research on the life and times of Bishop Simon William Gabriel Bruté de Remur, D.D., first bishop of Vincennes. As a result of his efforts in Indiana Catholic history, Father Schmitt became the first Catholic priest to be elected a member of the Indiana Historical Society and the first resident of Indiana to be elected to the American Catholic Historical Society.

Father Schmitt performed his last baptism at St. John's on 29 December 1895, after which deteriorating health, caused by a delicate constitution and overwork, finally forced him to seek a drier climate. His mother had died earlier in 1895 from tuberculosis, and Father Schmitt also suffered from severe hemorraging. He eventually settled in San Antonio, Texas, first at the Brackenridge Villa and then at the Santa Rosa Infirmary. In Texas, Father Schmitt continued his research of Catholic history, becoming interested in the early work of the Franciscans in the area. He contributed several articles for the Texas Historical Association Quarterly and other local journals, including "Ven. Maria Jesus de Agreda: A Correction," "Sieur Louis de Saint Denis," "The Story of the Alamo," and "A Catalogue of Franciscan Missionaries in Texas (1528-1859)." Published posthumously was his bibliography, A Collation of Kingsborough's Antiquities of Mexico . An elaborate and ambitious bibliography of Texas and his book on Bishop Bruté remained incomplete at the time of Father Schmitt's death.

Father Edmond Schmitt died on 5 May 1901, age 36, at the Santa Rosa Infirmary in San Antonio from a tubercular condition. His body was transported to and buried in New Albany, Indiana.

[Information for this biography was found in Volume VI. Essays, Box 8 Folder 1; Volume IX. Essays, Box 9 Folder 1; The Ave Maria , November 1901, pp. 671-72; Catholic Columbian Record (Indianapolis, IN), 25 May 1901; and "Father Edmond John Peter Schmitt," by I. J. Cox, Texas Historical Association Quarterly (Volume 5, 1902), pp. 206-211.]


7 linear feet.

Edmond J. Schmitt Papers
University of Notre Dame Archives
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Archives Repository

607 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame Indiana 46556 United States
(574) 631-6448