Pump Organ

Artifact Name: Pump Organ

Creator/Manufacturer: Chicago Cottage Organ Company

Location: Home of Roger and Lucy Schmidt, Emmetsburg, Iowa, USA

Material(s): Wood (walnut), ivory, felt, paper

Photographer: Lucille Ann (Barringer) Schmidt

Provenance: Rev. Gustav Heinrich Julius “Henry” Niewoehner (1850-1935) → Anna Marie Henriette (Niewoehner) Schmidt (1887-1942)Gilbert George “Red” Schmidt (1919-1989) & Roland Richard “Dick” Schmidt (1921-1985)Lula Maxine (Christensen) Schmidt (1918-2008) → Kent William Schmidt

Time Period: 1900

DESCRIPTION: Walnut pump organ with parlor-style case, 2 red-felt-backed foot pumps, 61 keys, and 11 stops. The dashboard above the keys has the manufacturer, “Chicago Cottage Organ Co.,” printed horizontally. The back of the organ has the serial number “163602” stenciled onto it in faded white paint. Most of the stop labels are now missing, but they would have been “Bass Coupler,” “Diapason 8,” “Dulcet,” “Principal 4,” “Vox Humana,” “Melodia,” “Celeste,” “Echo,” “Cremona,” “Treble Coupler,” and “Forte”. The façade features carved floral designs with red felt backing. The red felt backing in the upper right quadrant of the façade has partially collapsed inward. The wood shows some minor nicks and scratches, but the organ still functions.

This pump organ was originally owned by the traveling German Lutheran preacher, Rev. Henry Niewoehner (1850-1935), whose second wife, Emilia, played it during services. The instrument was passed down to Henry’s daughter, Anna (Niewoehner) Schmidt (1887-1942), who then passed it down to her sons, Gilbert “Red” Schmidt and Roland “Dick” Schmidt, who continued the running of the Schmidt family farm near Mallard, Iowa. After their deaths, it passed to their sister-in-law, Lula (Christensen) Schmidt of Emmetsburg, Iowa. While in storage in a garage, Lula’s grandson, Rev. Kent Schmidt, rediscovered it and set to work restoring it in the 1990s. The fully-functioning organ traveled with Kent’s family as they moved (Kent was a military chaplain who was restationed several times) from Mallard, Iowa, to Dayton, Ohio, to Spokane, Washington, to Fairfield, California, back to Emmetsburg, Iowa. Kent ultimately installed the organ back in the former home of Bill and Lula Schmidt in Emmetsburg, in which Bill and Lula’s son and daughter-in-law, Roger and Lucy Schmidt (Kent’s parents), currently reside (as of April 2023).

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