Part two of the transcription from the draft of Rev. Herman Emil Studier’s “The Story of My Life.”
- Square brackets [ ] denote handwritten additions made in the draft.
- Draft of “The Story of My Life” by Rev. H.E. Studier is available. (PDF, 2.5MB)
The Story of My Life (Part 2)
by Rev. H.E. Studier
In the year 1862 my parents bought a piece of ground inside of the city wall in the northeastern part of town at a place where Jaegerstrasse (Huntsmanstreet) makes a turn to the southeast, the larger part of the drilling-grounds of the soldiers. This property was on the south side of the street. In the gackground to the south stood the Lutheran church, a new brick building, the congregation of which belonged to the Breslau-synod. The large old church of the Prussian state is in the northwestern part of town. Here also was the school house for boys, the one for girls being some distance away. In the Prussian public schools religion was taught the same as in the parochial schools in this country. The boys and girls did not have any classes together except with the poor. There was a special arrangement made for those who had to work and who therefore could not attend school at the regular hours. Early in the morning the boys and girls were given instruction together before the other school work commenced for the day.
The discipline was very strict in the schools. The pupils were hardly allowed to move and the teachers did not hesitate to use the reed whip even on the boys in the first year if they did not know their lessons. My second grade teacher was also the Physics and Chemistry teacher and he used to get his instruments ready and try some of his experiments on us. There I learned about an electric current produced by friction. I held on to the machine much longer than the other pupils and Lehrer Schultz turned a glass wheel for some time to cause the friction before I felt it.
On the ground father bought he head a large two-story brick building erected to serve as dwelling house and weaving shop. The divisions on the west served as our home while the south part was used for the shop.
The shop was perhaps thirty by fifty sixty while the dwelling house was probably not so long. In the shop stood two rows of big looms, I think five in each row, and a number of spooling wheels. The dwelling house must have been large as all the workman roomed and boarded with us and mother cooked for all of them.
East of the shop there was a little house on our land where two soldiers roomed, as there was no barracks for the soldiers. I often saw them eat their hard brittle ration bread and clean and polish their guns (Zuendnadelgewehre) and their many bright brass buttons and buckles.
Father to the east there was a barn and from there a brick wall extended to the picket fence which was built on the north side along the street. The whole place thus enclosed was our large garden, a pump in the center, somewhat nearer the house.
In the neighbor’s garden to the west there were large walnut trees, known in different countries a German, English and French walnuts, and the limbs of the tree reached over our flat tar paper roof. We could climb upon the roof from inside and pick nuts.
South of the workshop there was a larger open space, to the east of this the new Lutheran church, and further south across the street was a garden in which were found the most delicious pears of all kinds. East of the church lived the Executioner, Schley, who did the beheading of the murderers in the Province of Brandenburg. He was at the same time the scavenger. Mrs. Schley was good to us boys. She often gave us horse-meat and we liked it, for it was so sweet and tender.
My mother was a good cook, and for seven years did the cooking for a minister’s family. In Germany the ministry is one of the higher classes of society. Mother also cooked for a family of the nobility, but I do not know for how many years.
In the workshop it was a busy time when the workman were sending back and forth and raising and dropping the beams off top of the looms. This caused a continuous clacking, which was mixed in with the calling of the men for spools. Often I had to run to take a new supply of spools to them when their boxes were empty, while my older brothers and sisters made the spools.
Our family did not attend church close by our house, but went to the large old church in the opposite part of town, known as the Prussian-state-church. This congregation was also Lutheran and had two Lutheran pastors, Lutheran (hymn books) hymnals and the Lutheran catechism, which was also taught in the state-school. I remember having been in the Lutheran church near our house only once at a wedding. I liked it there very much, because it was so still and solemn in there.
One Sunday afternoon when I was in the big old church with my father, it came over me as an inspiration, that of all the professions the noblest and worthiest of all was the calling of being a pastor, having to do not with earthly transient things, but with spiritual, eternal matters.