Sunday, February 23, 2014

Escaping the Holocaust: Letters from an Austrian Jew

         James Lobell was a prominent businessman in the footwear and shoe polish industry in the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s. I wrote my master's thesis about his experience as an entrepreneur. I was very fortunate, because I am in possession of all of his personal papers: photographs, business plans, financial reviews, personal letters, etc.  He started Cavalier Shoe Polish Company; this was later purchased by KIWI in 1961.  Found in the trove of papers is a grouping of letters from an Austrian Jew, written in 1939. Hitler's Nazi armies invaded Austria in 1938, and thereafter did his best to make life short for most Jews in lands he ruled. 
         So, I have these letters, and I am wondering what happened to this Austrian Jew and his family? Did they survive? The letters will be of use to teachers and students concerned with the Holocaust. I have scanned in the letters below in the order that Mr. Lobell had them grouped. If any of you can help me find information about Sigmund Schmahl, please comment or email me at 

Here is information I have uncovered: 
1. From the US Holocaust Museum
2. List of Jews that the Nazis gathered with Sigmund Schmahl's correct name, DOB, and address.
Mystery SOLVED; I received this from the HOLOCAUST MUSEUM in Washington, DC, after I inquired about Sigmund Schmahl:  A preliminary search of the newly-arriving records of the International Tracing Service (ITS) seems to indicate that while Mr. Schmahl survived the War, he died in Italy on December 15, 1949, possibly in Naples.  The surviving members of his family, his wife Hilde (born July 18, 1903) and daughter Herthe (born September 14, 1935) later emigrated to the United States via Bremen, Germany on September 23, 1950.

Letter One

Letter Two 

Letter Three

Letter Four

Letter Five

Mr. Lobell kept the envelope and glued it to the back of this letter

Letter Seven

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wahl-Coates School: Greenville, NC

        This school is named after two people: Frances Wahl and Dora Coates. What is now Wahl-Coates School in Greenville, North Carolina, was formerly known as the “Model School.”  It served as laboratory for East Carolina education students and functioning grade school for children of Greenville. The elementary school was a place where educational theory met the real classroom. In collusion with East Carolina Teachers College, now East Carolina University, The Model School opened in the fall of 1914.
        As leaders of the Model School, Wahl and Coates’ philosophy shines through in the documents they have left behind. The East Carolina Teachers’ College Bulletin for The Training School of 1939 states: “We [The Training School Staff] have tried to avoid current (or future!) popular educational jargon, believing that latest popular –isms tend to obscure clear thinking in the profession, encourage fades, and advertize quacker.”   . . . “It does seek to help those who are concerned with childhood learn how to study the child objectively. It tries to stand for certain principles which its teachers believe, in light of study, experience, and observation, to be fundamental to child welfare. It seeks to develop teachers who are intelligent, who grow, who are professional in the highest sense, who believe in democracy, and who, with courage, stand for the welfare and rights of children.”
        During the 1953-1954 school year, the school’s building was renamed by ECU to the Wahl-Coates School in honor of two faithful benefactors: its principal Frances Wahl and primary teacher Dora Coates. Coates was also an ECU faculty member in the School of Education. A new Wahl-Coates School was built in January in 1972 and hosted grades K-6. As of 2009, grades Kindergarten to grade five are taught. Since its inception, Wahl-Coates provided educational opportunities for the children of Greenville as well as the students at East Carolina University studying to become teachers.

author: Steven A. Hill

W.H. Robinson

W.H. Robinson
        The William. H. Robinson school in Winterville, North Carolina, was named after its dedicated principal in 1948. Many school generated histories measured school progress in the number of rooms in the school created and teachers employed; because of the scant amount of biographical information available about the man, W.H. Robinson, the author offers the following biography of the school:

1900 – known as the Winterville Colored School, it had one room school with one teacher teaching all grades
1914 – a new building constructed with three rooms and three teachers
1921 – four teachers in the same three rooms
1927-1931—P.T.A. purchases a bus for the children
1936 – a new four room brick building constructed
1939-1940—an adjacent building housing the high school was added along with a foreign language curriculum. There were eight teachers total.
1948—school renamed after principal W.H. Robinson; soon thereafter a new cafeteria was added, along with a library, and an industrial arts program.
1958-1959 – the North Carolina Department of Public of Instruction officially accredits W.H. Robinson.
1971-1972 – full integration of W.H. Robinson School completed

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (School produced History obtained by the author from the W.H. Robinson School in Greenville, North Carolina.)

G.R. Whitfield

George Roscoe Whitfield
        George Roscoe Whitfield was born near Stokes, NC, Dec. 10, 1879. He attended Elizabeth City State College and Lincoln University, graduating third in his class from the latter. He lived in Stokes, North Carolina, and later Grimesland, North Carolina, where he was the first principal of the only African American High School in Pitt County. As the longtime supervisor of Black Schools in Pitt County, Whitfield was a proven leader. An example of this can be seen when he began yearly testing of all seventh-grade students under his authority throughout the county in order to better measure progress among the students he desired to assist.
        Whitfield was an active supporter of community organizations and was member of the Masons, as well as Sycamore Hill Baptist Church. Whitfield was known as a “Builder and an Educator” because he provided hope for those who sought to improve themselves through education. The school named after him in Grimesland, North Carolina was formerly known as the Pitt County Training School in Grimesland. It was re-dedicated in Whitfield’s name in 1967. His gravesite is at Brown Hill Cemetery in Greenville, NC.

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (“Digest: The Pitt County Teachers Association” Friday, October 6, 1961.”) (Interview with Mrs. Ella Harris, retired Pitt County Schools Educator)

CM Eppes

Charles Montgomery Eppes 
        Charles Montgomery Eppes was born into slavery on December 25, 1857 in Halifax County. His collegiate education was obtained at Shaw University in Raleigh where he studied to become a teacher. After receiving his degree, he returned to the east and became a principal in Wilson and Wilmington school districts. In 1903, Eppes came to Greenville and became the principal of the Greenville Industrial School located at the time at Nash and Fourth streets in west Greenville. The latter was renamed in honor of Eppes soon after his death on September 30, 1942.
       While the original school burned down in 1970, an alumni organization still exists to celebrate Eppes’ efforts. Eppes’ decades of diligent care in teaching in Greenville yielded great rewards for many students who recall their experiences at the segregated school with fondness and pride. As an educational leader, Professor Eppes’ vision fostered a learning environment that required discipline and academic performance. In so many ways, Eppes’ passion raised the quality of living for African Americans in Greenville.

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (The Daily Reflector January 15, 2003 by T. Scott Batchelor “Eppes Event Honors Man, Legacy”)

Sam D. Bundy Elementary School

Sam D. Bundy
          Bundy spent forty years working for the North Carolina educational system, including time spent as principal of Farmville High School from 1947 to 1965. His education included 1923 graduation from Farmville High School, an undergraduate degree from Trinity College (now Duke) in 1927, and in 1948 a Master’s Degree from East Carolina Teacher’s College.
         Following his career in education, Bundy in 1970 ran for and won a seat in the North Carolina State Legislature. Known for his skillful ability to mollify tense debates in the State House with his witty rhetoric, Bundy was described by some who knew him as a cigar chomping Democrat: a vivid and colorful “character.” Jesse Joyner knew Bundy as a high school student in the 1950s. His recollections of Bundy were fond: fine gentleman, a great principal. Mr. Bundy would stay out and play softball, pitch and umpire for us kids. We got the impression that he did not take any backtalk because if you did, he would know how to handle you.
           A vigorous and lifelong member of the Democratic Party, Bundy died while serving his seventh term as an elected State Representative in 1983. He was on the board of trustees for Mount Olive College, a Mason, a member of Kiwanis, as well as the Disciples of Christ Church in his hometown.

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (“Rep. Sam D. Bundy dies of heart attack” News and Observer January 20, 1983 author “staff Reporters” and Daily Reflector February 12, 1970. “Bundy to Seek Seat in House” ) (Interview with Jesse Joyner of Farmville in Pitt County who knew Sam Bundy)

E.B. Aycock: Greenville, NC

Edwin Burtis Aycock 
            Dr. Aycock was a Medical Doctor and general practitioner for 26 years. Born in Fremont, North Carolina August 13, 1909, he was greatnephew of Governor Charles B. Aycock. Dr. Aycock’s education included an undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina in 1930, and then his M.D. from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Aycock arrived in Greenville, North Carolina in 1939. During World War II saw Dr. Aycock serve in the U.S. Army Medical Corps he was discharged in 1946. Aycock’s career as a general practitioner in Greenville was marked by an unending devotion to assisting young people, as well as others throughout Pitt County.
            Throughout his career, Dr. Aycock would attend J.H. Rose athletic events in order to look after High School athletes at their games. The J.H. Rose High School Monogram Club established a annual award for the citizen who had done the most for high school athletes. The initial award was given, Dr. Aycock; thereafter it was known as the Aycock Award. But Dr. Aycock’s legacy is not limited to assisting his patients on and off the football field. Dr. Aycock used his influence in the community to have lighting installed for the first time at both the Eppes Football Field as well as lighting at Guy Smith Stadium. Additionally, Aycock also worked to raise money for the construction of Ficklen Stadium at East Carolina University. Other positions of leadership that Aycock held included being on the Greenville City Schools Board and also time spent as the Chief of Staff of Pitt County Memorial Hospital.
            As a physician, Aycock bemoaned the already apparent decrease in the number of general practitioners in the medicine. Aycock said: “The fracturing of the human body into more and more specialties tends to destroy the doctor-patient relationship that is so important. It takes time for a patient to build confidence in his physician, time isn’t there when he has to go from one physician to another. Too often, too, the specialist fails to see the whole human being because he is so engrossed in his speciality….”
E.B. Aycock School dedication was on December 7, 1969. It was said at the ceremony that “Every child, parent and teacher through the years will look with pride at the new E.B. Aycock Junior High School and will remember proudly the notable contribution of Dr. E.B. Aycock for whom the school is named. . . for his work for the betterment of all people.”

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (Dr. E.B. Aycock: Pitt County General Practitioner by Jane Hall News and Observer, Raleigh May 3, 1964. “Dedication of E.B. Aycock, pamphlet. Dec. 7, 1969)

H.B. Sugg School: Pitt County NC

Herman Bryan Sugg 
      The son of slaves, Herman Bryan Sugg grew up hearing stories of his father’s escape from slavery in Greene County to link up with General Sherman’s Union Army as it marched through the Carolinas. Sugg heard of how his father was forced to sleep outdoors, like a dog, and how his mother was fortunate enough to have been taught to read by her masters. From this, H.B. Sugg rose from poverty to become a successful leader and molder of future generations.  Stories of his parents’ experiences as slaves doubtlessly colored the imagination of H.B. Sugg as he struggled to attain an education. With the shadow of slavery’s injustices still fresh in the minds of many in the South, H.B. Sugg was able to rise above the challenges that faced him through hard work, dedicated study, and personal initiative to become an educational leader in Farmville, North Carolina.
       In the post-Slavery United States, H.B. Sugg’s life experiences were varied. He was born and reared on a farm in Greene County near Snow Hill. His early life consisted of farm labor and occasional elementary schooling. Sugg’s formal education was obtained at the Mary Potter Memorial School at Oxford, NC, and later at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania.  As a youth, Sugg commented that work on the farm often superseded the demands to be at school for most kids. But Sugg loved going to school so much that he found ways to be there. Sugg stated: “I’d do my share of the work. I’d get up early and feed the stock or do whatever else I was told. After school and on Saturday’s, I’d have to do big jobs like hauling wagonloads of firewood for the coming week. I’ve picked cotton many a time by moonlight so I’d be free to go to school the next day.”
      In his mid-twenties Sugg attended Mary Potter School in Oxford, North Carolina. Sugg lived in a dormitory on campus while pursuing his studies at Mary Potter, and he continued to work before and after school and during the summers to pay for tuition and books. “In the summers I worked in the tobacco factory in Durham and also did some gardening there.” Following graduation from the Mary Potter School, Sugg went to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and earned his B.S. degree in teaching. During his time as a student in Pennsylvania, Sugg continued to work to pay his way. Sugg: “[I] milked cows, fed stock, and cut wood to pay my way there. I also worked summers as a waiter on a passenger steamship which ran from New York to Massachusetts . . .”
      Upon graduation from Lincoln, Sugg worked for six years in Lillington, North Carolina as well as serving as principal-teacher in Greene County for only a brief period of time. Military service during World War One interrupted Sugg’s teaching career. Folllowing his military service, Sugg began a career as principal of the school in Farmville. From 1918 to 1959, Sugg served as a teacher and principal in Farmville, North Carolina. Additional work outside of the classroom did not cease once Sugg came to Farmville: “I’d have to do odd jobs at night and go to Durham to work in the tobacco factory just to support my family."
      Sugg’s leadership in Farmville saw the Farmville Colored School grow from a four-room make-shift hotel hall school house into a brick and mortar building consisting of thirty-two rooms and thirty-four teachers.  Sugg said that in 1918 “there were 54 different colored schools in Pitt County. All of these were little frame shacks and were one, two, and three teacher schools. The successful growth of what became H.B. Sugg school is an inspiring one in itself.  Sugg recalled that in 1922, he and his students helped construct the new location of their school: “ The new school was built on State land which had been cleared of woods by Sugg and ‘his boys’ after school hours and on Saturdays. [Tree] stumps which were too large to be dug or chopped out were dynamited by farmers whom Sugg hired with his own money.” Besides continuously reinforcing the 3 R’s,  the Farmville Colored School -- renamed after H.B. Sugg in 1951 --  grew to include a Home Economics Department, Industrial Arts course, a “52 piece band,” as well as a “gymnatorium.”
      Sugg achieved success because of his never faltering faith in the dignity of man and the value of education for all children. The most fruitful years of his life were dedicated to the advancement of a constantly expanding Farmville community. Success has crowned his efforts. A picture and caption in the Daily Reflector on January of 1974 clearly captures a moment in time that displayed the level of respect children had for him: In the picture an impeccably well dressed H.B. Sugg, clad in suit jacket, tie, and hat stands amid four young, and smiling, middle school aged African American children: “ARE YOU THE REAL MR. SUGG?”

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (From “Digest: The Pitt County Teachers Association” Friday, October 6, 1961.” “Daily Reflector January  27, 1974, “He Loved Learning and He Shared It” “Daily ReflectorSugg Watched, Helped School Growth (undated, found in Sheppard Memorial Library)

DH Conley High School: Pitt County, NC

Donald Hayes Conley  
      Donald Hayes Conley was born on November 2, 1902 in Caldwell County close to Lenoir. Of six children in his family, three sisters became teachers. While attending high school, he worked on the family farm until he reached college age. In addition to working on the farm and attending high school, Conley’s mother made extra efforts to instill a solid educational base in young Donald: “My mother taught me Latin and Algebra by lamplight when I was going to high school. Even though she had not been to college or high school, she’d pick it up and taught it to me. I owe my inspiration and commitment to my mother and my father and to my teachers,” Conley recalled in a 1987 interview with Kimberly Dale. Attending Duke University, he graduated Cum Laude in 1923.”
      In 1923, Mr. Conley arrived in Winterville High School to teach, and in 1924 he assumed the duties of principal of the school. By 1932, Conley was named superintendant of Pitt County Schools. For 33 years he energetically worked to improve Pitt County’s school system, notably consolidating the number of schools operating in the county from fifty-four to thirteen. Never one to rest on his laurels, Conley worked for a number of years as Pitt County’s Attendance Officer following his retirement as County School Superintendent. 
      People who knew and worked with Conley noted that his personal demeanor affected the outcomes of challenges that he faced; Pearl Frizzel, secretary at the D.H. Conley in 2009, said that Mr. Conley was a reserved man not given to rage or anger. He was to the point, honest, and fair. When there were problems, Conley was not afraid to seek advice from those whose opinion he valued. Observers said that Conley displayed a real ability to remain calm when tense situations might have caused others to mad, and he knew how to listen. As a leader, Mr. Conley was open to suggestions when confronting problems. Ultimately, Conley’s educational belief was motivated by his desire to help each person to grow on his own. Longtime teacher Brenda Gatlin Hawkins remembered Conley for his desire to steer kids in the right direction. As someone who cared about the children of Pitt County, Conley made the effort to get to know students and their parents in order to facilitate a healthy learning environment. 
 The present day high school named for him was dedicated on May 23, 1971

author: Steven A. Hill

(Sources: “D.H. Conley Honored As New School Bearing His Name Dedicated Sunday” Daily Reflector May 24, 1971, by Blanche Hardee) (“Mr. D.H. Conley: The Man Behind the Name” Greenville Times August 19-Sept 1, 1987 by Kimberly Dale) (Interviews with Brenda Gatlin Hawkins and Pearl Frizzel, June 2009)

Sadie Saulter: NC educator in Greenville, NC

Sadie Saulter 
      Sadie Saulter School was known as the Fleming Street School until it was renamed after Ms. Saulter on September 17, 1967. A native of North Carolina, Sadie Irene Saulter came to Greenville during the early years of the Great Depression. At first she was a teacher in the Third Grade and then a teacher at the Greenville Graded School. Later she became principal of the Fleming Street School.  She was an educational leader who was resolute in the educational development of those students she lovingly taught and supervised. 
      One former student and later educational professional recalled her Fourth Grade teacher, Ms. Saulter: “She was a stern woman who loved social studies. She loved to wear big sweaters that had pockets and laced up high heeled shoes. She was doing classroom activities in the 1950s and 1960s that today we’d still consider innovative and engaging to students; for example, I recall making a scrapbook of our world travels. As students in the Fourth Grade, most all of us have barely been out of the county. So it was fun for us to learn and imagine our travels by cutting out pictures from magazines of places we would envision ourselves visiting. She was that kind of teacher. I still have that scrapbook.” 
            As a teacher, Ms. Sadie Saulter came to Greenville in 1924. She was made principal of the Fleming Street School in 1942 and remained at this position until her retirement in 1962. The Fleming Street Elementary School was renamed in her honor September 17, 1967. 

author: Steven A. Hill

Sources: (Dedication pamphlet of Sadie Saulter School Sept. 17, 1967) (June 22, 2009 Interview of Mrs. Ella Harris who was a former student of Saulter’s. ) 

J.H. Rose High School: Greenville, NC

Junius Harris Rose
      Junius Harris Rose was born in 1892 and was Superintendent of Greenville City Schools from 1920 to 1967. He earned his undergraduate degree from Trinity College (now Duke University) in 1913, and his Master’s degree from Columbia University in 1926. During World War One, Rose served in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant. In 1913, he was a principal in Kinston schools for two years and then served as principal in Bethel until 1917. After his stint in the US Army, Rose came to Greenville at first as principal of Greenville High School in 1919 and on July 1, 1920, became Superintendent of Greenville City Schools, a post he held for forty-seven years. 
      In addition to educational leadership, Rose was active in promoting veterans’ affairs and civil defense in North Carolina: from 1939 and 1940, he served as American Legion Commander for the State of North Carolina; during the Second World War he was the assistant State director for Civil Defense in Eastern North Carolina; in 1945, Rose helped form the North Carolina Veterans Commission. Throughout his career he served to promote the betterment of North Carolina’s citizens in numerous administrative capacities that included the Governor’s Commission on Employment of the Physically Handicapped, Governor’s commission on Library Resources, North Carolina Conference Board of Christian Educators, and more. 
People knew the name, and people knew the man. Mr. Rose was an active and personable leader who often interfaced with students, teachers, as well as other community leaders. One teacher commented that “Mr. Rose always went out of his way to personally congratulate students and teachers for their accomplishments.” Often, students would gather at the bulletin board to read a hand written note tacked there by their superintendent. Recently retired from Pitt County Schools, Mrs. Ella Harris knew Mr. Rose as a student and later as a colleague. She recalled that Mr. Rose was a stately man who was kind and who believed that all kids deserved to be educated. Mr. Rose had a history of finding money to get students into of college, if they so desired, regardless of race. He was not afraid to talk to students and show his support; everybody knew him. Rose’s presence made people feel good. Generations of students felt directly his influence. Mr. Rose’s leadership and demeanor encouraged and empowered students to be good and do good things. 
      Because of his long and dedicated service in Greenville, there exists plenty of documented evidence of Rose’s efforts as an educational leader, some in his own words: In a Daily Reflector article dated March 28, 1967, Rose admitted that he was a self described non-conformist who “never failed to stick his neck out when such a gamble seemed to be in the interest of youth.” Furthermore, Rose was described as having “An intense belief in getting down to essentials, whether in an administrative office or in the classroom,[which] has resulted in his dislike for red tape, long meetings, and unnecessary paper work.  Equally strong is his belief in an open-door policy for superintendents, principals, and teachers.”  And from a 1964 article in the News and Observer, Rose quipped: “I don’t believe in pampering school children, he said firmly, I believe in working them hard.”
       Junius Harris Rose died March 29, 1972, at age 80.  

author: Steven A. Hill

Wisdom from the mind of Junius Harris Rose:
JHR on Student Motivation: 
--“We believe that a large number of children need to be gently, but firmly compelled to do work in school. We believe in hard work. We believe in citizenship and scholarship.”
JHR on Unruly and misbehaved Students
--“We believe we should give every child as much individual help as possible, but we do not believe that we should spend the great portion of our time working with children who dare you to educate them. We believe we have an obligation to America to do all we can for those children who are going to be worth something to America and who America needs and will need in the future.” 
JHR on Student Discipline
--“We believe in discipline. We believe that every child as a right to be disciplined in the home and in the school. We believe that freedom comes only to those whose minds and bodies are disciplined.”
JHR on Parent Involvement
--“ We know that schools cannot do the job alone, but that both parents and teachers should present a consistent, unyielding, and united front demanding that children put education first in using each 24 hours.” 
JHR on Homework
“We believe in homework and we believe, therefore, that the school children should use school nights for studying, studying in a quiet place with no radio or television set turned on and no visitors. We know that it is necessary for the home to provide a comfortable and quite place in which to study.”
JHR on Ethics
--“We further believe that real happiness comes only with the full development of one's powers, and that with the full development of one's powers there follows the ability to think straight and to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
JHR on Education in General
--“We do not want a soft educational program. Already there are too many soft spots in the scheme of things in the modern world.”
--“ We want our educational program in Greenville to make people unafraid of the hard spots in life.”
--“Those of us who are attempting to give direction to the school program in Greenville believe that the chief function of education is to make people happier.”
JHR on Proper Attitude
--“We believe that the attitudes of the home towards education is the most important thing in the education process, and we are grateful to the parents of Greenville for the fact that more and more we find that the homes are emphasizing homework and good study habits.”
JHR on the Role of Teachers and Parents
--“Teachers and parents, however, must give them [students] the vision, encouragement, and inspiration for their task. A climate for the learning, a vision for personal growth, a personal responsibility.”

 Source: Daily Reflector, November 12, 1959. “City Schools Supt. Cites Philosophy of Program”
 Sources: ( Daily Reflector 23 June 1960… “Schools are Year ‘Round Job for Rose.” The Daily Reflector   March 28, 1967 article by Dr. V.M. Mulholland. News and Observer, Raleigh, March 15, 1964, “Greenville School Head Believes in Working.”Ella Tyson Harris interview on June 25, 2009. “Rampant Lines”  April 25, 1972. Daily Reflector article “City Schools Supt. Cites Philosophy of Program.” East Carolina University’s Joyner Library, Special Collections and North Carolina Room) Student Handbook Greenville High School, PUBLISHED BY 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Art in US History Class: 2014

I teach US History in a North Carolina public high school. Each semester I use art; however, this semester, I am taking pains to keep track of each and every piece of art and image that we analyze in class.  This link will take you to the page I am using to document this effort. It will be updated throughout the Spring Semester of 2014: Enjoy ! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Barbary Wars: using ThingLink

Click HERE and you'll be directed to how I use THINGLINK to marry up all that the WorldWideWeb has to offer about the Barbary Wars. I start class off with a VTS about this image and let the students try to make sense of it. This is a visual method of introducing the Barbary Wars. THEN, I'll use the Thinglink Tags to broaden our discussion about the Barbary Wars. After exploring the image and talking about the Barbary Wars, I will engage students in a grammactical treatment of the topic.