Minnesota’s biggest baby was born on July 16, 1936. At birth, the baby boy–later named Jacob Schmitz, Jr.–tipped the scales at 15 pounds 15.2 ounces and was 24.5 inches long. His head measured 16 inches and his chest was 17 inches. Although Schmitz was overdue by two weeks, when he finally decided it was time to join the world, he didn’t delay.

On a hot and humid prairie evening, Veronica Schmitz labored for around three hours before the baby arrived. It took three doctors and three nurses to safely deliver the huge baby and a few tense minutes of work before he started breathing on his own. His mother fed him four ounces of the hospital’s nursery mixture (made of corn syrup, water, and milk) before they both settled in for a nap. Neither realized that within days they would be featured on the front page of newspapers across the region.

The Schmitz family lived on a 200-acre farm in Dumont near Graceville. Neither Jacob Schmitz, Sr. or Veronica were considered small. Jacob stood 6’4” and Veronica was 5’11”. So it was no surprise to anyone that their children were also substantially larger than what was considered normal at the time. The smallest of the Schmitz’s 16 living children at birth was their twins who weighed in at 11 pounds 15 ounces and 9 pounds 15 ounces at birth. Sadly, another 14-pound baby boy died during childbirth when doctors couldn’t arrive in time to help. Veronica gave birth to another son in 1938 who “only weighed 12 pounds.”

After giving birth to Jacob, who the family nicknamed Junior, Veronica was anxious to get back to her garden and chickens. She told reporters that she was feeling fine, albeit a little tired, but was worried about skunks getting into the chicken coop while the family was with her at the hospital. She lamented that she would have liked to give birth at home, but that her doctors believed it would be safer for her and the baby to deliver at West Central Minnesota hospital in Graceville since the baby was overdue.

At the age of five, Junior contracted polio and was left with a jitter in his hands from the illness. The handicap didn’t stop him from helping out on the farm. He was known for being very handy and fixing machinery. After high school, Junior attended the State School of Science in Wahpeton, SD for two years. He wanted to be a teacher but didn’t have the funds to continue with school. He found work with the county highway department as a maintenance worker.
At the age of 30, Jacob Schmitz, Jr. died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home. The close-knit family was devastated by his death but remembered him as a kind-hearted man who always shrugged off the little bit of fame he found on the day he was born.