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Hanson, Susie Schmitt, (1860–1956)

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Black and white photograph of Mrs. Schmitt and family, c.1895.

Mrs. John Schmitt and family. Mrs. Schmitt sitting on chair in center with children all around her. Susie Schmitt Hansen, row two, far right, c.1895.

A prime example of entrepreneurial spirit, Susie Schmitt Hanson was a pioneer for Minnesota women in business. As the owner of one of Waconia's longest-running businesses, she remains a prominent figure in the history of that town.

Susan "Susie" Schmitt was born on August 13, 1860 in the village of Chaska. She was one of eight children of John and Rosina Schmitt. The others were Andrew, Casper, Anna, Caroline, Bernice, and twins Joseph and Josephine.

Schmitt was a talented seamstress from a young age. She turned that gift into a career spanning nearly seven decades, working on quilts, dresses, hats, hat pins, and more. Susie Schmitt first entered the millinery (hat making) business in 1888 as an apprentice for four years in the city of St. Paul. Afterward, she returned to Chaska to run a dressmaking business. That business operated for twelve years.

In 1898, Schmitt opened her own dressmaking and millinery shop in Waconia. Four years later, she moved the shop to a prime location on Main Street after purchasing the A. Ed. Kauder property for $2,300. At this new location, the store focused on millinery. Schmitt operated the business for forty-eight years, until she sold it to Mrs. Elva Ellison in 1946. She continued making and remodeling hats in a smaller shop. Schmitt also maintained scrapbooks of newspaper clippings of weddings, obituaries and key events, which are now in the Carver County Historical Society collection along with many of her photographs and examples of her work as a milliner.

In July, 1912, Susie Schmitt married Charles Hanson, a local carpenter born in March 1861. The couple never had children of their own, leaving Susie Schmitt Hanson to care for and spoil her nieces and nephews. After her husband passed away on June 16, 1932, Susie Schmitt Hanson outlived him by twenty-three years, until her own death on October 7, 1956 at the age of ninety-six.

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© Minnesota Historical Society
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"Miss Susie Schmitt Married." Waconia Patriot, July 5, 1912.

"Mrs. Hansen a Milliner 40 Years." Waconia Patriot, July 12, 1928.

"Mrs. Hansen Sells Millinery Store." Waconia Patriot, June 13, 1946.

"Purchase Property." Weekly Valley Herald, January 29, 1903.

"Waconia's Oldest Citizen Died Sunday." Waconia Patriot, October 11, 1956.

Related Images

Black and white photograph of Mrs. Schmitt and family, c.1895.
Black and white photograph of Mrs. Schmitt and family, c.1895.
Black and white portrait of Susie Schmitt Hanson, c.1885.
Black and white portrait of Susie Schmitt Hanson, c.1885.
Black and white photograph of Susie Hanson Smith With Button Collection.
Black and white photograph of Susie Hanson Smith With Button Collection.
Black and white photograph of Susie Schmitt Hanson pictured at age eighty-five with a birthday cake, c.1945.
Black and white photograph of Susie Schmitt Hanson pictured at age eighty-five with a birthday cake, c.1945.
Black and white photograph of Susie Schmitt Hanson's  millinery store, on the corner Main and Olive in Waconia.
Black and white photograph of Susie Schmitt Hanson's  millinery store, on the corner Main and Olive in Waconia.
Black and white photograph of Susie Schmitt Hanson is seated wearing a light-colored long-sleeve floor-length dress.
Black and white photograph of Susie Schmitt Hanson is seated wearing a light-colored long-sleeve floor-length dress.
Black and white Triple exposure of Susie Schmitt Hanson seated at a table.
Black and white Triple exposure of Susie Schmitt Hanson seated at a table.

Turning Point

In 1888, Susie Schmitt enters a millinery apprenticeship in St. Paul, beginning a lifelong career in that industry.

Chronology

August 13, 1860

Susan "Susie" Schmitt is born to John and Rosina Schmitt of Chaska.

March 20, 1861

Charles Hanson is born.

1888

Schmitt enters an apprenticeship in millinery and dressmaking in St. Paul where she remains for four years.

1892

Schmitt returns to Chaska and opens a dressmaking and millinery business.

1898

Susie Schmitt moves to Waconia and opens a dressmaking and millinery shop.

July, 1912

Schmitt marries Charles Hanson in Waconia.

June 16, 1932

Charles Hanson dies.

June 1946

Susie Schmitt Hanson sells her Waconia business to Mrs. Elva Ellison.

October 7, 1956

Susie Schmitt Hanson dies at age ninety-six.