While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Leon Schmidt
Grave of Jacob Schmidt
Photograph, Grave of Jacob Schmidt in Austin. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

SCHMIDT, JACOB (1889–1965). Jacob Schmidt, clothing merchant, was born on January 30, 1889, in Bartfeld, Hungary (later Bardejov, Czechoslovakia), the son of Juda and Ethel (Reichman) Schmidt. His parents were natives of Bardejov, where his father ran a small restaurant and beer parlor. Schmidt immigrated in 1907 to the United States and worked briefly in a slaughterhouse and at a brewery in New York. He spent a brief period in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Seguin, Texas. At the age of eighteen he began peddling clothing in Central and South Texas from a covered wagon pulled by two mules. He was supplied with merchandise by William Mendlovitz, who operated a small store in Seguin and was a source of supply for several peddlers in the region. Peddlers at the time followed well-known trails and delivered clothing to farmers and ranchers, who considered them an important source of supply. Schmidt traveled several hundred miles to sell merchandise and often slept under his wagon. Most clothing peddlers of that day were either Jewish, like Schmidt, or Lebanese. On June 16, 1912, Schmidt married Bertha Yahr, another immigrant from Hungary, who had come to Texas through the so-called Galveston Movement, which encouraged European Jews to enter the United States through Galveston rather than through New York in order to avoid entrapment in the New York slums. From Galveston, where she landed, Bertha traveled to Seguin, where she and Jacob met and wed. They had one son and four daughters. Jacob eventually moved to Yorktown, where he opened his first store by 1915. Subsequently, he opened stores in Beeville and San Marcos. In 1930 he moved to Austin and opened the Jacob Schmidt Department Store on East Sixth Street. Schmidt died on November 15, 1965, in Austin and was buried in Agudas Achim Cemetery. In 1994 the business that he started was being operated by a second and third generation of Schmidts under the name Yaring's, which owned ten ladies' specialty stores. "Yaring's" is derived from Mrs. Bertha Schmidt's family name, Yahr. The first Yaring's opened on Congress Avenue in Austin in 1936.


Austin American, November 16, 1965. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Leon Schmidt, "SCHMIDT, JACOB," accessed July 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fscjs.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 4, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...