Early harness maker in De Smet; he was elected mayor in 1896.
“The harness will hold. I had it made to order at Schaub’s harness shop. Every strap is sound leather and it’s double-riveted and wax-sewed…” – These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 21, “Barnum and Skip”
Francis Xavier Schaub was born December 8, 1855, in Baden, Germany, son of Francis Xavier Schaub and his wife Helena. In 1868, Frank and his parents came to America and settled on a farm near Eagle Lake, Minnesota. Frank studied in the public schools of Blue Earth County, then completed his education with a course at St. Mary’s School in Mankato.
At age 16, Frank entered into an apprenticeship with Mankato harness-maker, Henry Guth. After four years, Frank was ready to work on his own, and he applied his craft in Fairbault, St. Clair, and Sherburn, Minnesota. November 30, 1875, Frank married Mary Josephine Perault (often spelled Paro), daughter of Peter and Mary Perault of St. Clair. Frank and Josephine had eight children: Pearl (born 1876), Arthur (born 1879, died young), Helen “Middie” (born 1881), Josephine (died young), Luella Mae (born 1882), Frances Adelaide (born 1888), Carleton (born 1896; died from complications of measles in De Smet in 1905), and Sidney Frank (born 1900).
After running a successful harness shop in Sherburn for four years, Frank decided to sell his business and move to Dakota Territory; the family settled in De Smet on April 25, 1882. Frank purchased Lot 16, Block 2 on Calumet Avenue in the original town of De Smet. Across the street from Wilder Feed, this lot was just south of Carter Sherwood’s De Smet Leader building and in the same block as Wilmarth Grocery, Clayson Drygoods, and Carroll’s Bank. Behind it was Timothy Johnson’s Wagon Shop. In 1883, Schaub built a large harness shop with the family residence above. According to Carter Sherwood, Schaub’s place “overshadowed the Leader office by a respectable majority.” In the photograph at left, the harness shop is the building at right, with two windows upstairs and a wooden awning over the sidewalk on the main floor. The building at far left is Cream City Livery; this was built after the time of the Little House books and is not Peirson’s Livery, which was at the south end of Calumet. The small building in the center was the De Smet Leader newspaper office, a restaurant at the time this photograph was taken.
Although only mentioned once in the Little House books, Frank Schaub was no doubt a person well known by both the Ingallses and Wilders. He sold not only harnesses (priced from $24 to $30, according to an 1893 advertisement in the Kingsbury County Independent), but satchels, traveling bags, valises, and trunks. Perhaps Charles Ingalls purchased Laura’s wedding present of a new trunk (see These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 32, “‘Haste to the Wedding'”) from Mr. Schaub!
In 1896, Frank Schaub became mayor of De Smet. He had not run in the election but was elected by petition, winning by only three votes against the unopposed incumbent. Leaving the harness business in the early 1900s, Schaub purchased the Bradley Drug Store building on Calumet and opened a general merchandise store. He soon sold this business in order to concentrate on public service. He was Kingsbury County treasurer, Register of Deeds, De Smet City treasurer, and financier of the Ancient Order of United Workman lodge in De Smet.
In 1930, Frank Schaub was employed as census taker for Mathews Township, when he died suddenly after suffering a heart attack. His death occurred on April 25, 1930, exactly forty-eight years to the day that he first settled in De Smet. Frank Schaub was buried in the De Smet Cemetery beside his son Carleton. Josephine Schaub died July 21, 1943 in De Smet, and she was buried in the family plot.
The following biography of Mr. Schaub was published in 1898:
FRANK SCHAUB, the mayor of De Smet, Kingsbury county, South Dakota, is a leading merchant of that city and is one of the most prominent citizens. He deals in trunks, harness, and leather goods of all descriptions. Mr. Schaub was born in Baden, Germany, December 8, 1855. His parents, Frank X. and Helena Schaub, were both natives of Germany, where they were born in 1821. They came to the United States in 1868, and settled in Blue Earth county, Minnesota, where both resided until the time of their deaths. There were five children in the family: Robert, Andreas, Lambert, Helena and Frank, the subject of this sketch. Frank received a good education in his native country, where he attended the common and graded schools for six years. He came with his parents to America, and for the next four years studied in the public schools of Blue Earth county, completing his education with a course in St. Mary’s school, at Mankato, conducted by the Sisters of Charity. At the age of sixteen he began to learn harnessmaking in the shop of Henry Guth, at Mankato, Minnesota, and being a bright and apt pupil, soon acquired the trade. In 1875 he went to Fairbault, in the same state, where he worked for a short time at his craft. THe same year he arrived in St. Clair, Minnesota, and opened up a shop for himself. There he remained in business until 1878, when he went to Sherburn, Minnesota. At that point he started up again, anf for four years conducted a very successful harness shop, but in 1882, believing that more opportunities lay in the way of those who went towards the Dakotas, he sold out and came to De Smet. He began his present business in a very small way, and its growth in the past few years has certainly been a most gratifying one. In fact it is already considered one of the leading industries of the city and Mr. Schaub has left no uncertain impression in regard to his ability as a business man. In 1896 Mr. Schaub, in order to better fit himself for the handling of the large and intricate system of accounts necessary with his expanding trade, began a course of private instructions, by correspondence, in the Bryant & Stratton Business college, of Buffalo, New York. He purposes finishing this course during the winter of ’97-98. Mr. Schaub is independent politically, and was elected a councilman of De Smet in 1890. In 1896 he became mayor of the city of De Smet, which office he holds at present. He has made a faithful municipal chief, and his administration has been so far a very popular one. Mr. Schaub is a member of the I.O.O.F. [International Order of Odd Fellows], and several other clubs and societies of De Smet.
Mr. Schaub married Miss Josephine Perault at St. Clair, Minnesota, November 30, 1875. He and Mrs. Schaub are the parents of seven children, Pearl, Arthur, deceased, Middy, Joseph, deceased, Lula, Frankie and Carleton.
— Memorial & Biographical Record, An Illustrated Compendium of Biography (Chicago: George A. Ogle & Co., 1898), 446-447.
Frank Schaub (THGY 21)
Schaub’s harness shop (THGY 21)