Thursday, September 1, 2011

100 Years Ago #2

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

F.W. Eggers placed in St. Louis, MO who was then serving in Norfolk, NE.

One score and five years ago the honorable faculty of our dear Alma mater graduated a class of eighteen young, enthusiastic, and hopeful men to be sent out in due time to all corners of the United States, to serve in the Lord's vineyard, feeding His lambs.

How well I recall the evening when our beloved and sainted Director Weller read the names of the different class members and stated the place to which each had been called.

As I hailed from the "wild and woolly West" I expected to get a call somewhere out in that region. But imagine my consternation when he said: "Eggers: St. Louis, Missouri". Oh, boy! Still farther away from "Home Sweet Home."

Since then a quarter of a century has gone by, and by the grace of God we are still counted among the living ones of our class.

On August 13, 1911, I was installed as teacher for the lower grades, (1 and 2) at Trinity Lutheran Church, Rev. Adolf Hanser, pastor. On that same day Rev. Oberschultz was ordained as assistant pastor of that congregation.

I went to work almost immediately. A long list of names of prospective pupils for our school was handed me. These I was to call on before the opening of school. Oh boy, did I sweat, as I was not used to a semi-southern climate, having been born not far from the Canadian border. Neither was I used to a large city like that of St. Louis. I had a difficult time of finding my bearings at first. The majority of people were foreigners.

WIth the help of God I opened that fall with an enrollment of fifty-six pupils. Before the ending of that school-year I had sixty-eight. The next year I had an enrollment of seventy-four in the two lower grades. In this enrollment I had seven nationalities represented. It is needless to say, that they kept me on the jump. But I enjoyed the work of teaching these youngsters the "One Thing Needful".

In the summer of 1914 I accepted a call to Pierce, Nebraska. The main reason for accepting this call was on account of the climate of St. Louis, which did not agree with me nor my wife. The congregation after three meetings reluctantly let us go with their blessings.

In Pierce I had a mixed school with all eight grades. This meant much unaccustomed work for me as I had never had the upper grades before. But the Good Shepherd also blessed my meager efforts at this place. The first year there I taught school in a wing of the church, which was separated from the auditorium by sliding doors.

Shortly before the close of school the next spring, the trustees of the congregation came to me with the surprising statement that they thought the time opportune to recommend to the congregation to build a new school house. At their next meeting they almost unanimously decided to do so. During that summer they build a modern two-room brick school house with full basement and furnace.

That same summer they also renovated the church and installed a two-manual, eight stop Hinner's pipe organ.

The third year there our enrollment had increased so much that they employed a lady teacher to take the four lower grades.

God indeed had been good to us and blessed my meager efforts wonderfully during our six years stay here at Pierce. Yet, in the summer of 1920 I felt obliged to accept a call extended to me by my present congregation, a member of the Wisconsin Synod, of which Rev. J. Witt is the pastor and also president of the Nebraska District.

Here I was called to take charge of the intermediate grades. At the time of my calling they had three teachers here. But during the so-called "Depression" they disposed of the lady teacher for the lower grades, although we had over a hundred pupils. But I still teach the intermediate grades as my colleague, who has been here twenty years, has the two upper and two lower grades, following the arrangement they have at the Seward Training School.

During the first year that I was here this congregation installed a nine thousand dollar Reuter, three manual, electro-pneumatic pipe organ in our church. A wonderful instrument indeed! Wish to God I could perform on it more efficiently to His praise and glory.

One wish that I have had for the sixteen years that I taught here, the good Lord did not see fit to grant me. That is a modern up-to-date school building. We have been sadly in need of one all these years, but the congregation does not think that they have the means to build one. But I am not giving up hopes that God will answer my prayer in one way or the other.

Now something about my family! God gave me a loving, faithful, and Christian wife and a wonderful mother to my children. You all know her and she knows all of you, too. She is the former Miss Selma Gans, daughter of the now sainted Pastor Gans of Middle Creek, Nebraska. The good Christian training and nurture she received in the parsonage she now applies in daily life as a teacher's wife and mother of his children. She has faithfully shared with me all the joys and tribulations during the twenty-four years of our married life.

God has wonderfully blessed our union with five healthy, sturdy, and God fearing children; three boys and two girls.

Edmund, now twenty-two years of age, was born in St. Louis. He is now employed at the Nash & Finch Wholesalers here in Norfolk.

Ruth, who will be twenty-one in August; born at Pierce, graduated from Seward Normal last spring and is now teaching the four lower grades at the Emmanuel School of St. Louis, Missouri.

Lois, who will be nineteen in June, born at Pierce, is now employed at the Bell Telephone Company here in Norfolk. She also finished the high school course at Concordia Teachers College at Seward. But because her two younger brothers were old enough to go to the Seward College, she was willing to sacrifice her chance. She now holds a very lucrative and desirable position.

Bernard, who will be seventeen in October, born in Pierce is a Junior in the high school department at Concordia Teachers College at Seward.

Now comes our "baby", Fredric Jr., who will be fifteen in June, was born here at Norfolk. He also is attending Concordia Teachers College at Seward and is a sophomore in the high school department.

My wife and I must truly confess that our dear Lord and Savior, God the Father our creator, and God the Holy Ghost our Sanctifier, has graciously and wonderfully us poor and unworthy sinners. Yes, we feel constrained to join in with the author who wrote: "Praise to the Lord who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee; Health hath vouchsafed, and when heedlessly falling hath stayed thee; What need or grief Ever hath failed of relief? -Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

F.W. Eggers

Image: School Desks, DQmountaingirl, uploaded via Flickr October 5, 2008, Creative Commons License

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