Person:Henry Schmidt (2)

Henry Phillip Schmidt
b.17 SEP 1874 Buffalo, New York
d.16 JAN 1944 Buffalo, New York
  • HHenry Phillip Schmidt1874 - 1944
  • WBertha Elwert1878 - 1953
m. ABT 1897
  1. Walter H. Smith1898 - 1928
  2. Parker H. Smith1900 - 1972
  3. Henry Frederick Smith1904 - 1981
Facts and Events
Name[1] Henry Phillip Schmidt
Alt Name Henry Smith
Gender Male
Birth[2] 17 SEP 1874 Buffalo, New York
Baptism[5] 18 OCT 1874 St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, New York
Confirmation[6] 1888 St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, NY
Marriage ABT 1897 Buffalo, Erie County, NYto Bertha Elwert
Census? 1900 48 Cayuga, with the Elwerts
Occupation? BET 1905 AND 1921 Smith Fish Co.
Residence[7] 1906 89 Brookside Dr., West Seneca, NY
Census[8] 1920 36 Archer Avenue
Death[3] 16 JAN 1944 Buffalo, New York
Reference Number? 48
Other[4] Heinrich & Marie SchmidtGodparents Are

1900 census, 18th ward, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY, ED 139; sheet 4A.

1920 census: ED 43, ward 5, sheet 9b: Smith, Henry P., 45, fish market Bertha, wife, 40 Walter, son, 21 Augusta, dau-in-law, 19 Parker H., son, 19 Henry F., son, 15

Continued on with the family Chippewa (fish) or Fassnacht Fish Market, renaming it the Schmidt Fish Market (later the Smith Fish Market). A small energetic man, who became blind (apparently from Glaucoma). Family plot is at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY.

Buffalo Times, July 6, 1924: "Although Totally Blind, H.P. Smith Builds up Successful Market Stall" by Fletcher Pratt

When a man loses his sight, he usually loses his ambition with it, and spends the rest of his life letting other people to take care of him. A blind man in business is a rarity, and a blind man who can do things better than one with his full eyesight, most remarkable.

This being the case, H.P. Smith, the Chippewa Market fish dealer, is most extraordinary. Seven years ago he lost his sight in an accident, and from that time on was totally blind. But any day you care to go to the Chippewa Market, you can find Mr. Smith serving his customers, taking orders, and in general conducting his business as well as a man who can see.

In some respects he conducts it better. His blindness has given him a remarkable development of memory. He carries of roll of bills in his pocket, out of which he makes change. He knows at any moment exactly how many bills he has and what denomination they are. "It's simply a matter of remembering what I have in my pocket," he says. A person with eyesight is always seeing something to detract his attention, and it is hard for him to remember details like that. A blind man has nothing to take his attention off the things he has to remember."

This is the case of rather unusual modesty, for H.P. Smith, with a large and growing business, has seeral things to distract his attention. He takes all the orders, both over the counter and over the phone himself, and remembers all their details, never making a mistake in them. There is not a scra of note-paper in his stall; when he or his son, who assits him wishes to make a note of anything, he memorizes it.

"I handle all the business end of the stallo," he says, "because I have a good memory. I can tell you the exact number and weight of all the fish I have in th eplace right now, and I always do the ordering, because I don't forget just what is needed."

It would be possible for H.P. Smith to conduct his business without assistance, if the business were so small as to require only one man on duty, for along with his memory, he has developed an extraordinary sense of touch. He can tll the weight of a fish, or any other small object, for that matter, with remarkable accuracy, seldom guessing more than a couple of ounzes out of the way.. and keen is his perception of objects he touch that he can identify all the species of fish he handles merely by feeling them.

There are, for instance, five different species of white fish caught on the Great Lakes. The differences between them are so small that untrained people with the best of eyesight cannot tell them apart, yet H.P. Smith, infallibly identifies them merely by feeling of them. This is not all. He can identify coikns, even to the extent of being able to tell a Canadian quarter from an American one, provided it is not worn to the point where it is quite smooth and without any distinguishing characteristics.

Along with this keen sense of touch... an equally unusual sense of [sound?] .. The slightest sounds are [full of] meaning to H.P. Smith [and he can] tell by the voice of a ... whether it is a man or woman, [young] or old. He knows some [...] hundred people by their voice.. and greets them by name when they come to his stall or speak [from] the street. While THE TIMES reporter was at the stall, Smith's sister called him on the telephone. She has been in Florida for a year, and he did not know she was back, and as soon as he heard her voice over the hone, he immediately recognized it. He reocnizes all voices in the same manner, even when their owners make an attempt to disguise them.

"I could conduct the whole business fairly easily if there were not enough work for two," he says. "My son, Parker Smith, has to help me with the scales, for although I can guess teh weight of fish within an ounce or two, they want to see them weighted. I would never think of giving up the business under any conditions. You see, it has been the family for four generations, counting my son."

It was Smith's grandmother who first opened the stand, sixty years ago, before the present market building was constructed. She sold fish from a wagon at the end of the market where the Smith stall now stands. Thirteen years ago, HP. Smith took the business over from his mother (Elizabeth Fassnacht Schmidt/Smith], and after blindness made it difficult for him to carry it on alone, his son joined him in it.

"It is not hard for me to do the work now," says Smith. "I can get around anywhere on the market without assistance, and I knokw practically all the people who have stalls here, as well as the larger proporotion of the customers, by their voices. I could easily recognize yours if you came back and spoke to me again tomorrow, without telling me who you were."

"I never go out on the street without someone to lead me, although I probably could.." [rest of article is cut off] something about learning the blind alphabet, how his son reads him the Buffalo Times each night...

  1. St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, NY Church Records, 1848-1968, Item 5 Baptisms 1866-1890.

    Heinrich Philipp
    Parents: Philipp & Elisabeth Schmidt

  2. St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, NY Church Records, 1848-1968.
  3. John Lincoln Smith.
  4. St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, NY Church Records, 1848-1968, Baptisms.
  5. St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, NY Church Records, 1848-1968.
  6. St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, Buffalo, NY Church Records, 1848-1968, Item 7, Confirmations 1877-1963, Pg. 86 entry 31.

    Heinrich Schmidt, b. 17 Sept. 1874
    Parents: Philipp Schmidt & Elizabeth Fassnacht

  7. Buffalo Times.

    Photo submitted to this or another Buffalo newspaper by the family, indicates that Henry P. Smith and his wife were living at 89 Brookside Dr. in 1906. Given that his son lived there much later, we might assume that Henry continued to live there until his death in 1944.

  8. 1920 U.S. Census - NY, Roll T625_1100, Page 9b, ED 43.