An Immigrant Story - Michael Schmalzel

A stained glass window in a church is labeled with the name "Michael Schmalzel."
Schmalzel window at front of St. Paul the Apostle Church, once St. Joseph's Slovenian, where they were members.

NPS Photo

Michael Schmalzel was 22 years old when he left his home in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1886 and began an immigrant story. Upon arriving in Calumet, he worked for a time as a peddler, then as a teamster. In 1893 he married the former Mary Strutzel and in 1900 they lived with their two young sons Michael J. and Joseph in a duplex at 115 Osceola St., Laurium.

 
A two-story building with a lower level storefront.
The Munroe Building (Oak Street Inn) was once the home of Schmalzel's Saloon and the family's apartment.

NPS Photo

They moved the family to an apartment in the Monroe building (today's Oak Street Inn) in Red Jacket shortly after it was built, and opened Schmalzel's Saloon in the east storefront downstairs. It was one of many ethnic saloons in Calumet at the time, where newcomers gathered to socialize, meet fellow countrymen, find jobs, and adjust to life in the New World. During their time at this location, Michael sponsored a small but prominent stained glass window over the main entrance of the new St. Joseph's Slovenian Catholic Church (now St. Paul the Apostle) across the street, where the family belonged to the parish. Many of his fellow immigrants would have seen his name as they were leaving church, and would perhaps have been enticed to stop in for a drink.

 
Three standing people and one sitting person pose for studio portrait.
The Schmalzel family shortly after their 1911 move to Bisbee, Arizona.

Photo courtesy of the Schmalzel family

The Schmalzel family moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 1911. Bisbee was well-known in Calumet as the location of a number of copper mines, including the Calumet & Arizona Mining Company's mine, in which many influential Copper Country financiers were heavily invested.

Last updated: February 10, 2018

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