A German immigrant-turned-professional chef, Heinrich Schmitz meticulously journaled his life’s adventures, as evident by the 22 scrapbooks at the Delaware County Historical Society.
From photographs of snow-covered mountains and German villages to Christmas cards and boarding passes, the scrapbooks have many annotations in both English and German outlining Schmitz’s adventures.
Originally from Spiegelau, Bavaria, Germany, Heinrich Schmitz immigrated to the United States in the late 1950s. He worked a series of jobs, and his work as a cook took him from the Princeton Hotel in Avalon, N.J., in the late 1950s to the Glen Mills Country Club in the early 1960s to the Wilmington Country Club in Delaware, as well as Philadelphia’s Main Line, upstate Pennsylvania, Greenville, Del., and into the Pocopson Home.
Schmitz was also a personal chef for Albert M. Greenfield during the late 1950s at his home in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. In his day, Greenfield was a prominent businessman in Philadelphia.
In the late 1970s, he married Edna Butterworth, and they resided on Buttercup Farm in Glen Mills.
The 22 books in the Schmitz collection are his handmade journals that chronicle his journeys from pre-war Germany to his life in the United States from the late 1950s to 1979.
They include handwritten entries, photographs, drawings, letters, newspapers, articles, stamps, postcards and other memorabilia that represent his life story.
For instance, there are Allegheny Airlines boarding passes, as well as holiday cards, one from 1959 and another with a stained glass window.
There’s even a personal identification card that lists Schmitz as living at 411 Lancaster Pike in Haverford. His telephone number is listed as MI2-2497.
There are many photographs, some as small as 1½ inches by 2 inches. They depict a myriad of scenes — one a portrait of a smiling family with multiple generations depicted; another, the billowing sails of the USCGC Eagle, one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s tall ships to the villages and mountains and scenes of boats being rowed on a lake.
The Schmitz collection is housed at the home of Delaware County Historical Society, located at 408 Avenue of the States in Chester. It is open to the public Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 1 to 6:30 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parking is free in the lot behind the building or across the street in the city’s municipal lot.
For more information or for ways to get involved, call 610-359-0832.