This article appeared in a 1927 edition of The Texas Lutheran Messenger, an organ of the Texas District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It was unsigned but it had to have been written by either Teacher L. O. Kasper or Pastor Herman Schmidt.
Of special interest is the recollection of Mr. John Teinert.
September the 19th marked the beginning of our seventy-second school year with impressive opening exercises in the church. Appropriate addresses were delivered by the teacher, the pastor, and by Mr. John Schautschick. Mr. Schautschick spoke in the name of the school-board pleading with the parents to send their children to school regularly and to work in mutual cooperation with the teachers, and admonishing the pupils to obey and respect their teachers and to make the very best of the time devoted to school work.
The first day of a new school year is usually one of those days in the life of the child that is never forgotten. This opportunity we should utilize and offer the child something that is worthwhile taking along into life. If the parents are invited to these opening exercises, we have a fine opportunity to speak to them in the presence of their children, and to the children in the presence of their parents, about the significance and the great blessings of a Christian training which will not be told in vain. We have opened the school year in this manner for years and have always found the arrangement practical.
The program of this year’s opening exercises contained as a special feature a brief oral summary of the history of our school given by one of the teachers. The hearers’ attention was especially directed (a) to the time when the school was founded seventy-one years ago, (b) to those of the teachers of this school who have already gone to their eternal reward, and (c) to those of the former pupils who have the distinction of having been members of the first classes of over seventy years ago and who are privileged to be still among the living.
The time of the founding of this school in 1856 by Pastor Johan Kilian, dates back to those years that mark the beginning of railroad building in the State and also the opening of the first public schools. What hardships and inconveniences it must have meant for our forefathers when some of them did not possess even a wagon; when the corn crop had to be gathered, and taken home in an apron; when cotton had to be hauled to Mexico before it could be placed on the market; when the nearest post office was over forty mi1es and the nearest railroad station about a hundred miles distant!
Rev. Kilian, the leader of the colony of Wends that settled here in 1854, was in charge of the school from 1856 to 1866. In 1867 he was assisted for a few months by Rev. P. Lehnigk who had come here on account of his health. In the year following the first regular teacher, Mr. Ernest Leubner, a graduate of Addison, was installed. He was followed in 1872 by teacher G. A. Kilian, who taught in this school for over forty years. From 1886 to 1901 teacher Kilian was assisted by teacher H. Werner. Then followed teachers P. Zieschang, E. Traugott, and H. Schroeder in the order mentioned. The school is now in the charge of teachers L. 0. Kasper, H. Weiser and Miss Ruth Schmidt.
As far as cou1d be ascertained, the following are the only persons living who were members of the first classes of the school during the first years it existed: Mr. John Teinert of Copperas Cove, Mrs. Christoph Schulze, Mrs. Marie Miertschin and Mrs. Marie Symank of Serbin, and Mrs. Anna Arldt of The Grove. To the glory of God it may be said that all of these former pupils of our school have all these years been, and are now, active members of the church. They had been invited as special guests of honor to our this year’s school opening exercises. Mr. John Teinert sent us his personal greetings. In a letter written by himself and which was read to the assembly we read:
“I attended Pastor Kilian’s classes already in Germany, but I was not old enough to be confirmed. I resumed instruction for confirmation here in Texas and was confirmed in 1856. This was the sainted pastor’s first confirmation class in Texas. After confirmation I frequently accompanied Pastor Kilian to his preaching places. Some of these places were forty miles away, and the trips had to be made on horseback. On these trips the pastor told me many interesting things of the time when he and Dr. Walther studied at the same college in Germany and of the correspondence that took place between these two men here in America. I shall never forget these conversations.”
The assembly extended to these our fellow Christians and former pupils a rising vote of greetings and good will. To the glory of God and in special memory of these our worthy former pupils the opening exercises of the new school year were closed with the singing of the hymn: “The Lord hath helped me hitherto.” The great majority of the twenty-one pastors and teachers who hail from the Serbin community are former pupils of our school.
To the credit of the congregation it may be said that in spite of general crop failure during the past years our people have, in general been willing and ready to sacrifice considerable time and money for the purpose of raising the standard of efficiency of our school. Some of the changes and improvements made to this end during the last few years are: The congregation has deeded and carried out the recommendation of Synod to employ an additional teacher for about every forty pupils. It has established the rule that our children attend school seven years and that they wait with instruction for confirmation until the seventh school year, or until they have entered the seventh grade. As soon as the District about three years ago commenced to recommend certain text books for uniform use in our schools, our congregation entered upon a carefully arranged plan to introduce these texts gradually. We expect to use all these texts within two or three years from now. Also in other respects we are following the general course of study, or Educational Guide and General Course of Study for Christian Day Schools, Texas District, that is being issued by the District. Our graduates are admitted to the county high school without examination and solely on our recommendation. This arrangement with the public school officials has not been made for the purpose of competing with the public schools, but, first of all, for the purpose of rendering a service to those of our pupils who wish to enter high school, and, secondly, to prove unobtrusively, but at the same time convincingly, that our pupils are not backward as far as their schooling compared with that of the public school pupils is concerned.
Our present enrollment shows 125 pupils of whom there are 14 in the seventh grade. The three upper grades are in the charge of Teacher L. O. Kasper. Teacher H. Weiser, one of this year’s graduates of our River Forest Normal School, teaches the two primary grades, and a few subjects in the upper grades. Grades 4 and 5 are in the charge of Miss Ruth Schmidt.