THE HONOR BOYS

DONALD H. REYNOLDS. 

Out of the vast group of men and boys who were privileged to sing the Lord’s praises and serve Him at His altar in Grace Church, many were honored for excelling in certain lines.  Anywhere from two to five would receive their priceless medals on Easter Day, each given for some special effort made, ability shown, or duty conscientiously performed.

Reverence, General Excellence, Singing, Attendance, Diligence, Conduct, and Improvement, a medal for one or more of these, was an object at some time in the service of every choir boy.

The desire of my brother to have me in the choir, brought me there one cold rehearsal night, and I took my place in the front pew with a few other auxiliary choir boys.  We remained there about three months before we were allowed to join the regulars, though it seemed like three years before our diligence was finally rewarded.  Then Three long years and one month passed before that most prized, to me, decoration for General Excellence was pinned on my cotta.

“Twas a little hard for a lad of eight years old to sit still and keep his eyes straight before him; hard, too, to keep them open at evening prayer, so it was no wonder that the first, and the second year of service could not be rewarded.  But when Easter Day rolled around in that third year there were several hearts skipped a beat now and then and mine was among them—hopeful, of course, and still half afraid that somewhere there might have been a slip.  You, who have waited for your name to be called, know how excited you were; seemed like the honor roll never would be called—and oh! How your heart jumped when your name was called and you were asked to come to the altar rail.  I know I trembled with joy when I was first called; and the thrill of being honored, was nearly as great each Eater for the next four years.  Then I had received all the honors to be bestowed and others took their turn.

          The medal for general excellence was the most difficult to ear, for it required near perfection in all that was required for the other medals.  One rehearsal missed in the entire year would spoil a perfect attendance record and dim all hopes for that medal.  Inattention or whispering lowered one’s standing; just how much we never found out, but the misdemeanor was down in black and white when the quarter was up, and not only was the grade lowered, but another penalty in the form of a fine of five or ten cents was deducted from the pay envelope.  Just to show a little interest in the congregation would mean another demerit mark, and though one never saw Mr. Holmes or any of his successors, marking down the crime, it was sure to be recorded on the quarterly slip.

          Many other things so easy to do, no matter how trivial, would not be tolerated and to forget just one, might mean the ruination of the record that would have kept the offender in the running.  No easy task to go through a whole year and keep a near perfect record—and it had to be nearly perfect for some one else had his eye on one of the prizes you were after.

Let us refer to the records made by some of the boys in the early choir.  For two years previous to 1899, Harry W. Johnson missed neither service nor rehearsal and his conduct was absolutely perfect; and during seven years of membership, he had an average of only one absence per year.  In other words, out of an estimated number of two thousand one hundred and seventy services and rehearsals, he missed only seven.  With such a record as that there is no wonder that the prized General Excellence medal was given to him.

          Easter, 1899, William C. Johnson and Chester H. Waters who had not missed a service or rehearsal of the choir for three years, and who had been presented with medals on a former occasion, were each presented with a Bible for continued excellence, and on Easter Day, 1903, Harry W. Johnson was likewise remembered.

One of the boys was unfortunate enough to lose his highly prized medal; some time afterwards, on the occasion of his graduation from the Grammar School, the choirmaster remembered him by replacing his medal with a duplicate bearing the same inscription as the original, and was well rewarded when told by the boy, “It was the best thing I got.”

          That these honor medals were prized and cherished not alone by the boys who received them, but by the parents and members of the family as well, was evidenced when friends and companions saw one of these choir medals upon the breast of the faithful chorister, Harry A. Neesley, when he was laid to rest.

          Continued long service records are many.  Heading the list we find our beloved choirmaster, Arthur L. Holmes, with twenty-six years of service—then comes that ever faithful servant, Miss E. M. Rand who was our organist for twenty-six years and eleven months, when she was called to her reward.  Earl F. Mayer with more than twenty years; Carl A. Hensel with nearly twenty; Robert C. Bell, sixteen; Leon G Wulf. Fifteen; Alfred W. Sievers and Charles J. Reusche each with fourteen; Arnold Angell, and Mrs. Blanche L. Leedham our present organist, each with over twelve years; and ever so many more—too many to mention here—with records of from five to ten years; how proud they must be of that service.

          From high soprano, down through the ranges to lowest bass, they passed and remained to sing.  In the record for singing, Harry F. Sievers has and excellent one.  He entered the choir at the ate of nine beginning as a soprano and classed among  the best; later his voice lowered to the alto and he and his brother Alfred W. sang many soprano and alto duets, which caused much favorable comment.  His voice in time developed into a tenor, and later baritone—a vice full and rich that made him the leading soloist of the choir in 1904.

          One of the most beautiful tokens of service given, was the black onyx cross with pearl setting, bestowed on Freeman Louis Tracy for General Excellence while in the choir; the occasion being the twenty-fifth anniversary of the choir.  What a wonderful  surprise it was for him.  I know he cherished it to the day he met his untimely death.

          Two other honors—one, a year’s subscription to St. Nicholas, was given to William W. Langenhagen, who was also rewarded with a gold medal for conduct.  The other, a hymnal, was given to George H. Snell, Jr., on Christmas Day, 1916.  Later he received medals for General Excellence and Singing.

          Proudly were our medals shown, and each Easter, worn on our cottas.  It was hard work getting that first one, and when the group picture was taken two weeks after you may be sure I wanted mint to show.  I was sorry we didn’t have a picture taken in 1919, for I felt better decorated than a General then.

          Soon after the Easter Day presentation service, after every one had had a chance to view the esteemed prize, it was put in the safety deposit box for safe keeping and destined to remain there until the next Easter, when hopes were high for winning another. 

HONOR ROLL

Ninety-one gold medals, one black onyx cross with pearl setting, one hymnal, three Bibles and a year’s subscription to St. Nicholas magazine were awarded to sixty-five boys during forty years—1889-1929, as follows:

GEORGE ARNOLD ANGEL General Excellence, Reverence, Singing, Attendance FREDERICK MORTIMER HESS Attendance   
ROBERT CHARLES BELL Singing, Reverence ALFRED STEARNS HOLMES Singing
HAROLD EDWIN BRANDENBURG General Excellence, Singing, General Excellence ELVIN LOUIS HORST Reverence, General Excellence
WALTER FREDERICK BRANDENBURG General Excellence, Reverence, Singing HARRY WILLIAM HORST Conduct
FRANK BRANDT Reverence FRED VERNON ILLEMAN General Excellence
ARTHUR HOLMES BRAYTON Reverence HARRY WILLIAM JOHNSON General Excellence, Bible
ERNEST ALDWIN HOPE BRIGGS Attendance WILLIAM CARL JOHNSON General Excellence, Bible 
LEONARD GURNEE COE Singing EARL JORGENSEN General Excellence, Singing
SAMUEL SAMPSON COOK Singing and General Excellence HIRAM ROWE KRAUS General Excellence, Singing
JOSEPH DUNLOP COVINGTON Attendance  HENRY WILLIAM LADEHOFF Singing
EGBERT WESLEY COWAN General Excellence WILLIAM WALTER LANGENHAGE Conduct, Year’s Subscription to St. Nicholas
ROBLEY EVANS FELLOWS Attendance DAVID ALBIN LARSON Singing
ROBIN GAGE  General Excellence CARL ALGOT LARSON Singing
MARION LEE GUNDELFINGER Singing, Reverence CHARLES LAURN LEEDHAM Attendance
ALFRED OTTO WILLIAM HENSEL Attendance TOM WILLIAM LEEDHAM Diligence
ERIC HENSEL Reverence GEORGE CHRISTIANSEN LOLLICH Singing
EARL FRANK MAYER Reverence FRANKLIN MANZ Improvement
HOWARD EDWARD MAYER Reverence GEORGE HENRY SNELL., JR. General Excellence, Singing, Hymnal
JONATHAN EARL MEAD General Excellence ELMER HENRY SPAHN General Excellence
ALFRED KARL MEYER Reverence, Attendance  BERTICE EDWARD STADER Singing
LEIGH M. MICHELSEN Conduct WILLIAM EDWARD STOLTENBERG, JR. Attendance
CHARLES WILSON McINTOSH Diligence FREEMAN LOUIS TRACY General Excellence, Cross (black onyx with pearl setting) for General Excellence while in choir
HARRY ALBERT NEESLEY General Excellence, Singing PHILO HOLLIS TUCKER Singing
HERBERT JOHN EDWARD NEESLEY General Excellence RICHMOND BYERS TUCKER Reverence, Attendance, Singing
WILLIAM PETERSEN General Excellence, Singing MARVIN PALMER WADE Reverence
BRYON RUSSELL PINNEY  Reverence, Singing CHARLES BENJAMIN WATERS General Excellence
SAMUEL CURTISS RAND Reverence CHESTER HILL WATERS General Excellence, Bible
CHARLES JULIUS REUSCHE Reverence LEROY HOLMES WATERS Reverence
ROY RUESCHE Improvement  FREDERICK HENRY WIELAGE Reverence, Attendance, Singing, General Excellence and Perfect Attendance 1907-1911
WALTER RUESCHE Attendance 

SUMMARY

DONALD HERBERT REYNOLDS General Excellence, Singing, Reverence, Attendance, Special Five Year 
Singing 25
General Excellence 22
Reverence 20
Attendance 13
Conduct 3
Improvement 3
Diligence 2
Singing and General Excellence 1
Special Five Year 1
General Excellence and Perfect Attendance 1
Cross for General Excellence 1
Hymnal for General Excellence 1
St. Nicholas 1
Bibles 1
Total awards 97
KENNETH KENELM REYNOLDS Singing
GLENN RONALD RUSSELL Improvement
ALFRED WILLIAM SIEVERS  Singing
HARRY FREDERICK SIEVERS Singing
HOWARD DETLEF SIEVERS Singing

 

 

 

 

 

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Clinton County History Books

Many books have been written that include information about Clinton County; indeed, they are still being published today.  Below are some that we have info from online: