"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN
Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.
SCHMID, Titus B.
Educated in the Dubuque public schools, Schmid showed the signs of his future financial success by being able to save some of his allowance. This he invested around 1911 through Reverend Wolters of the First German Presbyterian Church of Dubuque in real estate in western Canada. The six hundred dollar investment within about a year appreciate to seventeen hundred dollars. Schmid's interest in studying law at Marquette University declined. He suggested to Reverend Wolters that a contact they had in Canada and several ministerial friends should form a company to pursue other real estate investments. The resulting Equitable Land and Investment Company listed as officers Rev. Rabenberg, who by then was involved in real estate full-time, president; Rev. Wolters, vice-president; and Schmid, secretary-treasurer. (1)
He entered Harvard around 1912 as a "Special Student" who would be regularly listed when his work proved satisfactory. This never came to pass as a telegram was received from their company's president asking if he could move to Saskatoon to begin his job as secretary. He was also involved with operating a custom thrashing crew and a livery stable. The outbreak of WORLD WAR I finished the all the Canadian business prospects and he returned to Dubuque after borrowing two hundred dollars. He repaid this with a loan from his father. (2) He traded his stock in the Equitable Land Company for a farm in Windom County, Minnesota. In 1916 he traded that property for a farm in Sand Springs, Iowa. He handed the deed to that property over to his father to repay loans. Out of the two farm transactions, Schmid was able to retain three thousand dollars. (3)
Taking a tip that the Lowe Electric Company was looking for a loan, Schmid approached the owner in 1916 with an offer of purchasing a half-interest in the company. Once this was arranged the company was renamed the Schmid-Lowe Electric Company, a contracting firm at 1734 Central with the compensation for each of the partners being thirty-five dollars each week. (4) With the increased use of electricity, the new firm found a lot of business. By 1917 the partners had agreed to raise their salaries to fifty dollars weekly.
Schmid had become irritated at the difficulties involved with obtaining electrical supplies for work needed at MORRISON BROTHERS COMPANY which was working on a government contract. (5) Supplies had to be shipped on the MISSISSIPPI RIVER from either Minneapolis, Minnesota or St. Louis, Missouri. "Industry experts" of the time believed that Schmid's plan to start an electrical wholesale establishment in Dubuque was doomed to failure. There was the distinct belief that such a business could not succeed because there was very little or no use of electricity on farms or in small communities. As the growth of electricity spread, the prediction was proven wrong; the company thrived. (6) The business was incorporated in 1928. (7) In 1944 he headed Venture Manufacturing Company which was capitalized at $100,000 to manufacture and fabricate metal, wood and plastics. (8)
Active in the community, Schmid served as chairman of the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce in 1937 when it announced a three-year program including the establishment of an industrial development fund. Schmid pointed to the competition among cities throughout the United States to attract and retain industry. He remarked that those with an economic stake in Dubuque "must fortify their interests with an even more aggressive Chamber of Commerce." The three-year plan called for the development of all the city's resources "along industrial, commercial and civic lines." (9)
Plans for developing an annual exposition "in character with the upper MISSISSIPPI RIVER region" which would "acquire some of the importance of the Mardi Gras on the lower river" was the goal of the Tri-Stater's Annual Celebration Association formed in 1938. The celebration was planned to "stimulate the industrial and cultural development of Dubuque" on a grander scale that the old TRI-STATE FAIR. There were to be four classes of membership: sustaining ($50), contributing ($25), supporting ($25), and regular ($1). Schmid was among those working on developing the contributing memberships. (10)
Titus was acting chairman of the newly organized Knife and Fork Club of Dubuque in 1939. The goal of the organization was to bring to Dubuque outstanding and business and professional speakers of America. Organizations of the same name had been organized throughout the United States. Initially the plan had been for the organization to start with fifty members, but interest was so large seventy-five had accepted membership. (11) He served as chairman in 1942 of a unique program to sell $500 War Bonds. For the purchase of a $500 bond (actual cost $376.00) and one dollar for lunch, an individual could have lunch at the MASONIC TEMPLE with Edward Arnold and Miss Frances Dee, two Hollywood stars, and receive an autographed program. (12) He was among Rotary Club members in 1944 who created a service flag honoring their sons or daughters who were serving in the armed forces during WORLD WAR II. The same year he served on the industrial development committee of the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce. He served as chairman of the group in 1948.ELKS CLUB, he was able to see three of his sons initiated. A fourth son was only twenty and not yet eligible. (13)
In 1969 Titus B. Schmid was presented a bronze bust of himself during General Electric Company's tribute to Crescent Electric Supply Company's fifty years of service. The occasion also marked the dedication of the company's new headquarters in East Dubuque, Illinois. In paying tribute to the company, Donald D. Scarff, vice-president of GE Consumer Products Group remarked:
From four persons working out of one office to 450 persons working out of 29 branch offices serving over 30,000 customers in nine states... that is 50 years of successful performance. (14)
An interesting historical note is that in 1945 Titus B. Schmid and his family owned the home built by Lucius Hart Langworthy at 205 Hill Street. (15)
1. Schmid, Titus B. History of Crescent Electric Supply Company, Self-published, p. 5
2. Ibid. p. 7
3. Ibid. p. 15
4. "Crescent Firm Started in '19," Telegraph-Herald, August 31, 1958, p. 31
5. Schmid, p. 15
6. "Crescent Firm..."
7. "Corporation Notice," Telegraph-Herald, October 11, 1928, p. 16
8. "Two Dubuque Firms are Incorporated," Telegraph-Herald, October 5, 1944, p. 10
9. "Chamber Lists Three-Year Plan," Telegraph-Herald, January 7, 1937, p. 14
10. "Tri-Staters' Association," Telegraph-Herald, June 21, 1938, p. 7
11. "Knife and Fork Club Organized," Telegraph-Herald, January 5, 1939, p. 35
12. $500 Bond Will Admit You to Film Luncheon," Telegraph-Herald, September 3, 1942, p. 1
13. "Father, Elk 29 Years, Welcomes Sons into Order," Telegraph-Herald, March 6, 1946, p. 3
14. "Electric Firm Founder Feted," Telegraph-Herald, November 2, 1969, p. 17
15. "Old Mansion is Doomed," Telegraph-Herald, March 25, 1945, p. 3