Schmidt Harness

© Illustration by Lois Lenski from Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

 They went next door to the harness and saddle maker’s shop. There was a tall wooden horse standing in the window. It was almost seven feet tall, dapple gray, with flashing glass eyes and springy mane and tail. Every year the harness and saddle maker let Tib sit on the horse. “If the horseless carriages keep coming to town, I’ll have to take that fellow down,” he said.  (Quote from Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown)


The harness and saddle maker’s shop Maud wrote about was based on the Schmidt Saddlery Company located on South Front Street. When Maud and her friends were young the business was operated by Oscar Schmidt, whose father Gottlieb, a harness maker, started the business in 1859. There really was a wooden horse that stood by the entrance to the shop as evidenced by old photos.

Just as the saddle maker in Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown predicted, automobiles and tractors took the place of horse drawn vehicles and farm equipment therefore forcing the harness department to close. The store changed with the times and expanded to include a camera and photographic department. It finally closed in 1986. (from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley by Julie Schrader)