Helbling Family Home & School, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Part 2

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Franz Xavier Helbling and Maria Barbara (Helbling) Helbling, c1860s? Family portraits and reprinted in St. Augustine (Lawrenceville, PA) Diamond Jubilee pamphlet, page 40.
Franz Xavier Helbling and Mary Theresa (Knipshield) Helbling, c1880s? Family portraits and reprinted in St. Augustine (Lawrenceville, PA) Diamond Jubilee pamphlet, page 40.

[For the first part of this story, see “Helbling Family Home & School, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, Part 1.“]

After the loss of the eccentric “Teacher” at the Helbling school, efforts to continue the Catholic education of local children were reinforced. Father Hotz provided another teacher to board at the Helbling home as well, Mr. George Rutland.

From St. Augustine’s Parish History 1863-1938, page 13:

By this time news of the primitive school had spread and many parents applied for the admission of their children. The room, however, was too small to accommodate all who applied, hence, like the good soul he was, Mr. Helbling fitted out his unused storeroom for a school room. A goodly number of pupils attended especially children by the family name of Kalchthaler, Stein, Bischoff, Fleckenstein, Burckhardt and others. The first scholastic year might have started a little late in the fall of 1854 and had but a short interruption between the departure of the first teacher and the arrival of the second. On the third Sunday after Easter, April 29, 1855, the following announcement was made in St. Philomena’s church:

Some months ago a Catholic school was opened in the home of Xaver [sic] Helbling, near the cemetery [Allegheny] in Lawrenceville. Since a larger and more suitable accommodation has been now provided by the same Mr. Helbling, we admonish all the parents of Lawrenceville and the neighborhood who have children of school age, to send them to this school so that they may be trained to be good Christians. We ourselves shall take interest in this school and shall visit it from time to time.
Sometime around September, 1855 saw the beginning of the next school year. An announcement by St. Philomena’s Church stated,
 “Since the Catholic school of Lawrenceville has already commenced and a good opportunity is offered the children of school age to acquire virtue and knowledge, the parents living there are requested to send their children as soon as possible.”

With the addition of neighboring German children, the school had outgrown the facilities that could be provided by the Helbling family. Additionally, it was too far for the short legs of younger children to travel, and had no heat, so was far too cold in the long Pennsylvania winters. The school was thus moved to “Squire Nickel’s Mansion” which was more centrally located at 4016 Butler Street. This big stone mansion had a first floor that could be used for the school, and a second floor that was used as a hall for meetings, dances, etc. The school was sometimes called “Rutland Hall” after its teacher, but then became known as “The Lawrenceville Academy.”

Mr. Rutland probably resigned in 1856.

“Rumor had it that his resignation hinged upon disappointed matrimonial aspirations to the hand of one of Mr. Helbling’s daughters.”

The school continued with a female teacher who may have been Alsatian, as she was fluent in both German and French. (The Helblings hailed from Endingen, near to the German border with France, and family lore was that they were from Alsace-Lorraine, so it is ~correct.) She did not last the year and Teacher Mertz arrived to take over her duties.

To be continued…

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) St. Augustine’s Parish History 1863-1938. Personal copy from a cousin, but the entire history may be found online at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~njm1/StAugJub-TC.html. Accessed 1-22-2014. Please see this history for detailed references to specific items in the narrative.

2) Helbling Family Home & School, Part 1: http://heritageramblings.net/2014/01/24/helbling-famil…e-pennsylvania/

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