The People of Pancho

At Play In The Archive

Leo’s School Days

My great-grandfather Leo was seven years old when he began school in April of 1897. I feel so fortunate to have a few pictures of him as a schoolboy, even if one of them is badly damaged. I don’t know if Leo’s school was a day school or a boarding school. The paperwork says Hamburgilche Schulverwaftung, but unfortunately, Google Translate was zero help with that one.

Back of photo: "1897" Leo is in the front row, second from the right. He would have been seven years old in this photo

The back of the photo says “1897.” Leo is in the front row, second from the right. I love that the school had a dog; Leo (and all of us who came after him) adored dogs. Date and photographer unknown.

I think Leo must have been in the first row of this badly damaged photograph -- I can't find him among the kids who show. Based on the hairline, my money is on his head being the one right in front of the teacher. Date and photographer unknown.

I think Leo must have been in the first row of this badly damaged photograph — I can’t find him among the kids who show. Based on the hairline, my money is on his head being the one right in front of the teacher. Date and photographer unknown.

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A slightly older Leo is in the top row, second from the left. Date and photographer unknown.

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Leo, age ten. Photographer unknown.

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This is what’s written on the back of the photo directly above. If Leo is ten, then the year must be 1900.

Here’s another shot of a school yard that I found among Leo’s papers, but I haven’t been able to locate Leo himself in this image.

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Date and photographer unknown. I assume that Leo is somewhere on the playground, but I haven’t been able to find him.

I just had to pull out this detail of the two boys in front. What on earth were those guys up to?

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If this is supposed to be fun, it doesn’t look like these two are having any.

My daughter Anna thinks it’s a turn-of-the-century version of the “get-along” shirt. Who knows.

On December 23, 1904, Leo graduated from what appears to be the equivalent of the 8th grade. According to his diploma, which I found among his papers, Leo was graded in the following subjects:

  • Betragen (Behavior)
  • Ordnung (Order)
  • Schulfleiß (School Diligence)
  • Häuslicher Fleiß (Domestic Industry)
  • Schulbesuch (School Attendance)
  • Religion (Religion)
  • Deutsche Sprache (German Language)
  • Englische Sprache (English Language)
  • Geschichte (History)
  • Geographie (Geography)
  • Naturlehre (Natural Philosophy)
  • Rechnen und Algebra (Arithmetic and Algebra)
  • Geometrie (Geometry)
  • Schreiben (Writing)
  • Zeichnen (Drawing)
  • Singen (Singing)
  • Turnen (Gymnastics)

Unfortunately, I’m not able to make out the handwriting, so I’m not sure exactly what marks he earned in those subjects. I can make out gut (good) in many places, but not much more than that. If there are any German speakers out there who are willing to help, please leave a comment and you will have my undying gratitude. Google Translate can only take a girl so far.

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Leo’s 8th grade diploma

Years later, when Leo and Margaret settled in New Jersey and and were answering questions for the 1940 US census, they both indicated 8th grade as the highest level of education obtained. Given the magnificent career that great-grandpa Leo later had with the Hamburg-Amerika line, I found that information to be a real tribute to his natural intelligence and industry.

1940 census

1940 US Federal Census

Notice that my Grandpa Bob’s education level is listed as “C2”, which I assume means he was in his second year of college at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania at the time of the census. Gosh, his mom and dad must have been so proud.

Grandpa Bob Lessiack at his graduation from Bucknell University in 1942. Photographer unknown.

Grandpa Bob Lessiack, far right, at his graduation from Bucknell University in 1942. Photographer unknown.

PS: This is my 50th post. Wow. I had no idea how this blog would go when I started. I’ve learned so much, met such wonderful folks, and feel so good about doing my small part to preserve my family’s history. Thanks for reading, People!

10 comments on “Leo’s School Days

  1. Amy
    October 27, 2014

    I don’t know German, but I’ve had great luck with the German Genealogy group on Facebook. If you are on Facebook, I’d recommend you give it a try. People there have been incredibly helpful.

    Great post! I love Leo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheryl
    October 27, 2014

    The teacher looks so stern the way he has his arms crossed.

    Like

    • Pancho
      October 28, 2014

      He does, doesn’t he? None of the kids look very happy to me, unfortunately.

      Like

  3. Joe Hanneman
    October 29, 2014

    Great photos! What a treat.

    Like

  4. Su Leslie
    October 29, 2014

    What lovely photos; and congratulations. Fifty posts and lots more to come hopefully (since I’m enjoying reading them). Cheers, Su.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Leo at the Opera | The People of Pancho

  6. Clarisa Göthje
    June 11, 2016

    my great-grandfather went to that school too!

    Like

    • Pancho
      June 11, 2016

      Wow–how wonderful to know. Could you please help me with an English translation of the school name? Thank you in advance.

      Like

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