Schmitz, John B. (1858–1941)

By: David Minor

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

John B. Schmitz, businessman and politician, was born on September 18, 1858, in Durand, Illinois, son of John and Mary A. Schmitz. Hoping to take advantage of the opportunities Texas provided, he left his birthplace at the age of twenty and traveled to Dallas. In the spring of 1878 he moved to Denton, where he opened a furniture business that specialized in selling and repairing pianos and organs. Two years later he received an undertaker's license. He combined his funeral home with the furniture store, a common practice in Texas during that time. By the mid-1880s his business operations had established Schmitz as a prominent businessman in Denton. For the next thirty years he worked to build and promote the young North Texas community. As a founding member of the Denton Board of Trade, the forerunner of the Denton Chamber of Commerce, Schmitz helped organize the town's first fire department, assisted in bringing two railroad lines to the community, served on a committee that persuaded the state legislature to establish the State Industrial School for Girls (now Texas Woman's University) in Denton, and was a member of the city's school board for twelve years. Schmitz's civic concerns resulted in his decision to become active in state politics. From the late 1880s until the turn of the century, he was an influential member of the state Republican party. As local chairman for his party, he represented North Texas three times at national conventions. In 1890 he was the Republican candidate for state treasurer. In 1892 the party split into two factions, "reform" and "regular," and Schmitz was the reform candidate for state comptroller. Two years later he was the reform candidate for governor. During 1896 and 1898 Schmitz helped to reunite the two Republican factions in support of William McKinley. In 1900 the united party ran Schmitz for lieutenant governor. He finished fifth in the gubernatorial race with slightly over 5,000 votes. Although he was never elected to office, his loyalty to the party was rewarded when Theodore Roosevelt appointed him postmaster of Denton around 1902. He was reappointed by William Howard Taft in 1909 and served until 1911. In 1922, in an attempt to benefit from the Republican national victory in 1920, Schmitz unsuccessfully sought a seat in Congress in that year's mid-term elections. After this defeat Schmitz never again entered the political arena, partly because of his wife's death in 1924. Schmitz was married to Emma Frances Miesenbach of Mendota, Illinois, in 1882. They had seven children, six girls and one boy. From 1924 until his death on March 10, 1941, at the age of 93, Schmitz concentrated on business and community affairs.

Edward Franklin Bates, History and Reminiscences of Denton County (Denton, Texas: McNitzky Printing, 1918; rpt., Denton: Terrill Wheeler Printing, 1976). C. A. Bridges, History of Denton, Texas, from Its Beginning to 1960 (Waco: Texian Press, 1978). Denton Record-Chronicle, February 3, 1957. E. W. Winkler, Platforms of Political Parties in Texas (Austin: University of Texas, 1916).
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

David Minor, “Schmitz, John B.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995