The ancestry of Charles H. Doerflinger
(Condensed into brief extracts. Possibly refer to the whole paper.)
The ancestry of Charles
H. Doerflinger is not without significance in tracing his career and in
considering the development of his character. On his father’s side he claims
descent from sturdy woodsmen and farmers in the lack Forest, near the Rhine.
His father, man of university training, was imprisoned in 1848 for participation
in the revolutionary movement. He was liberated though the agency of his
wife, and his deliverance under cover of night and escaped across the Rhine
had in if all the elements of romance. From these particular forbears,
Mr. Doerflinger derives a large and sturdy physique, his indomitable energy,
his practical views of life, and his plutonic love of independence. Though
his mother, he is descended form the families of Le La Chandelle of Aldeck-
Lorraine, and of Guillbert of Normandie, and to this infusion of French
blood is traceable his lofty idealism and his devotion to the cause of
human freedom and human progress.
The family settled in Milwaukee in 1848. Mr. Doerflinger was 2 [riunets] in his early education. Attending “Engelmann’s School,” then the “Carman English Academy,” he came in contact with a great educator, Peter Engelmann. The latter was more than a great teacher, who brought his skills under the inspiring influence of his personality; he was one of the earliest among the educators in this country to adopt modern and rational methods of education, and the school founded by him was in fact the pioneer institution of rational education in Wisconsin and in the Northwest. He has also a scientist of Norman order, and from his inspiration Mr. Doerflinger drew his interest in natural history and the sciences.
From 1857 to 1860, Mr. Doerflinger was an architect’s apprentice: when seventeen years of age he made a tour on foot form St. Joseph to Denver and the gold diggings. In 1860 and the following year he was engaged in farming n Wisconsin and Missouri.
The outbreak of the Civil War found the young man in no doubt as to the duty of the hour. For a time he acted as Orderly Sergeant of a Home Guard Company, in a locality but forty miles removed form a column of rebels northward bound. Retuning to Milwaukee, he enlisted in the 26th Regiment, Wis. Volunteers infantry, as did many of his schoolfellows. It was with this regiment that Mr. Doerflinger, then twenty years of age, and of the rank of first lieutenant, took part in the battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. With four other regiments, a total of 2500 to 3000 men, forming part of a division under Gen. Carl Schurz, the 26th Wisconsin assisted in holding in check some 15,000 to 16, 000 of the troops under the command of Stonewall Jackson, preventing the rout of the federal army. Mr. Doerflinger was in command of the center of the skirmish ling near Hawkins farm, covering Gen. Krzyzanowski’s brigade in the first, and receiving the first attack of the enemy. Reporting to the regiment in line of the battle, and finding that his captain had been shot and taken to the rear, he immediately took command of the company. The conduct of the whole brigade, in holding the rebels at bay for nearly half and hour, under heavy fire, was heroic, and its losses were simply appalling. Mr. Doerflinger was severely wounded, and was removed to Washington, where it was found necessary to amputate his left leg. His bravery received appropriate recognition. Col. Wm. H. Jacobs, in a dispatch to the “Milwaukee Herald” stated that “the palm of the day belongs to the young hero Doerflinger.”
Though he was maimed for life, and much of the time was enduring great suffering as a result of his wound, Mr. Doerflinger’s life has been a most active one in business, journalistic and educational fields. From 1864 to 1866 he served as a teacher in the German and English Academy, and as a private and substitute teacher for many years before and after that time. In 1847 he became the publisher of the “Krzichungs Blastter,” and later of the “New Education,” into which Miss Elizabeth Peebody merged her “Kindergarten Messenger,” as the considered it the best representative of her cause. He further published “Onkel Karl,” a juvenile monthly, and, in co-operation with Dr. W. M. Hailmann, a large number of books, pamphlets and tracts, devoted to the same progressive educational ideals.
From [1883 to 1886?] he was custodian of the Public Museum. Thereafter he was engaged in the business of manufacturing artificial limbs, developing a number of valuable inventions, which his won suffering had suggested. From 1898 to 1990 he served as Chief Examiner and Secretary to the Civil Service Commission of Milwaukee. In 1994 and the following year he traveled extensively in Mexico, for the purpose of studying the cultivation of coffee, coca, rubber, vanilla and other products. These travels involved great physical hardships. It was no easy task for a man of Mr. Doerflinger’s age, with a wooden leg, to cross the Sierras on mule-back at a height of 10,000 feet, and to no one but a man of great energy would it have been possible. Mr. Doerflinger made a thorough study of the situation and of the opportunities offered for investments of his character. He returned with copious information, and with offers of large tracts, and of haciendas under actual cultivation. He opened offices in Milwaukee and Chicago and sought to interest financiers and investors in the matter. As throughout his business career he made no exaggerated representations, and sough but a fair profit. Others, less scrupulous, took advantage of this, and parties, with whom he had opened negotiations, robbed him of the fruits of his labor, and reaped gigantic profits there from.
Throughout life Mr. Doerflinger has retained an active interest in the natural sciences. Among his contributions in this field may be mentioned the following: In 1869 he discovered the Wisconsin sicerite meteorite. In 1870, in a series of publications, he began the agitation for forest protection and for scientific culture, which is now receiving practical recognition at the kinds of the f federal government, though in these early days resistance and ridiculed by the lumbermen. In 1869 to 1897, while traveling in Switzerland and elsewhere, he took up the study of prehistoric archeology, with especial reference to the cave dwellers and pile dwellers of Switzerland and France. As early as 1872 her proposed the establishment of a public Museum in the city of Milwaukee, a suggestion which bore fruit with the transfer of the [Engelmann ?] collection to the city in [1852?], as a nucleus for such a Public Museum. Mr. Doerflinger was the first custodian of the same; it has grown to be the finest museum of natural history in the United States, supported exclusively by public taxation, and is now housed in the magnificent Museum and Library Building. Mr. Doerflinger has been a member of the Wis. Natural History Society for some forty years, and was for a long time its secretary.
A like interest has been shown by Mr. Doerflinger in the realm of economic, political and social science. While residing abroad for the purpose of recovering his health which had broken down as a result of overwork, he devoted much time to study of the large and successful profit sharing establishment in Guise, Paris and Angoulne. On his return he embodied the results of his research in a series of articles and lectures, in the English and the German Language, under the title of “ Industrial Peace versus Industrial War,” as his contribution to the solution of this burning question confronting the nation. Mr. Doerflinger’s suggestions on these lines, though admitted by men of learning and intelligence as sound in principle, were considered premature. It was but another instance in the life of this pioneer, that he found, that all he was permitted to do, was to blaze a trail for others to follow.
While Chief Examiner and Secretary to the Civil Service Commission Mr. Doerflinger earned the highest commendation of his fellow citizens by his impartial and intelligent administration of that office. The annual reports of the Commission embody his views of the benefits of the merit system, and of the defects of existing laws and civil service rules.
Mr. Doerflinger has been identified with all progressive movements for the betterment of our municipal, state and federal government. Years ago he pointed out, that the country government of Milwaukee County was one of the hotbeds of political corruption, and urged the consolidation of the densely populated parts of the county into a “Greater Milwaukee.”
On national questions Mr. Doerflinger has always stood with the advocates of a strong, efficient government, and of sound fiscal policies and honest money. The writer hereof recalls being present at a great meeting held in this city in October 1896, in the midst of the free silver campaign. The Speaker of the evening was none other than Carl Schurz, now deceased, and a great audience had assembled, to hear this orator and thinker, who had the independence of mind to advocate what he deemed right and true, apart form all party consideration. As Mr. Schurz stepped upon the platform, the tall, rugged form of Carl Doerflinger was seen to arise from the audience, and addressing his comrades of the 26th Regiment who were part [peated?] about him, proposed “Three Cheers for our Old Commander.” Mr. Schurz was overcome with emotion, and when at length he spoke, voicing his thanks in the simple lucid words of which he was the master, the great gathering was moved as is seen on but rate occasions.
Mr. Doerflinger’s favorite sphere of activity, and the one to which he himself assigns the greatest importance, is the realm of education. From the time of his early manhood he has recognizes that it is the educator who has in charge the molding of the citizen of the future, and thus of the future of the nation.
He began his observations as a practical teacher. At varying times several thousand public have served under his tutelage. They would no doubt all testify to this consociations gratification to oly, his interest in their welfare, his just, impartial and kind, though strict, discipline. A man of deep seriousness, he regarded the children as sacred objects. So writes one of his former students: “ Nature encountered him with artness to teach. Earnestness and perseverance were strong elements in his life and character, and his influence for good was felt by every student coming in contact with him. He is a man of progress. Professor Engelmann, principal of the German and English academy, entrusted educational work of Mr. Doerflinger that could only be done by one who considered pupils and school as sacred objects of trust. I can safely say, that Mr. Doerflinger devoted the greater part of his life to educational causes for which he received little or no compensation, this on though being to the furtherance of education.”
Recognizing at once the possibilities of the kindergarten system, he was, in the early seventies, prominent in the agitation leading to the establishment of the first four private kindergartens in Milwaukee, and later did much to secure the adoption of the kindergarten in the public schools of the city, the first in this country to incorporate this system in ALL of its district schools. Again, he succeeded in the introduction of kindergartening the State Normal Schools after a long struggle, in which he was faithfully supported by one of America’s great educators, James McAllister. An interesting monograph on the history f the kindergarten movement in Milwaukee from the pen of Mr. Doerflinger was recently published in the Kindergarten Magazine.”
He was equally impressed with the importance of physical training as an integral part of a system of education. In 1860 and in the succeeding years unsuccessful attempts had been mad under the auspices of the “North American Gymnastic Federation” to maintain a gymnastic normal school for the training of teachers in this branch. Finally, in 1874, the Milwaukee Turner Societies took charge of the institution. Mr. Doerflinger was the first secretary of this board of trustees, and for five years was the president of the board. Since its establishment it has supplied schools and gymnastic societies in all parts of the United States with instructors, and it is today continuing its work in the magnificent gymnasium of the “North School (Lehrar Seminar) on the “National German American Teachers Union” in the city.
In the establishment of the latter institution as well, Mr. Doerflinger played an important part. The German and English Academy had for a long time made efforts to secure the necessary funds for such a seminary. Finally the teacher’s union mentioned, which was organized in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1870, took up the matter. The subject of this sketch became on of the most active promoters of the enterprise. Through his impetuous imitative, supported by the celebrated Kindergarten Apostle Dr. W. N. Hailmann, the convention of this association which met in Milwaukee in 1877 resolved to pen the [sealmery?], although but a small part of the required funds had been subscribed. The institution has been a prosperous and successful on in every sense of the word.
As another element of the “New Education” the introduction of manual training has had in Mr. Doerflinger a consistent advocate. After some years of strenuous effort he and his associates of the “Milwaukee Manual Training Association” succeeded in creating a public sentiment that resulted in the introduction, throughout the graded school of the city, of various phases of manual training, and in the appointment of a special Assistant Superintendent to supervise the work of the teacher in reference to the same.
Wheresoever, Mr. Doerflinger went on his extensive travels, and educational system of the country was of profound interest to him. Thus he called attention to the excellent work of Professor Enrique Robsemen, in Mexico, who, with the [cold?] reaction of President and Mrs. Diaz has established seven model normal schools on modern educational principles.
Indeed it is largely to the normal schools, properly reorganized, and in connection with his “Advance Common Schools” that Mr. Doerflinger looks to the solution of the whole problem of education. Here again he is no mere theorist, but his views are based upon personal experiences. He was a regent of the State Normal Schools from 1877 to 1881. While in this portion he carried through, among other important measures, the introduction of kindergartening referred to, and the establishment of an officially organized department of education in the State University, as supplementary to the work of the Normal School. This is believed to be the first so established in such a state institution. Against the opposition of a coterie of the regents of the university he carried through resolution calling for a joint conference of both boards, which resulted in great harmony of action between these institutions.
Mr. Doerflinger is at present engaged in perfecting an ambitious educational project, of the most far reaching consequences, which he has been maturing for many years. As an initial step in contemplates the establishment of a “People’s Advanced Common School,” which is to serve as a model in re-organizing the entire public school system. Such school is designated to incorporate the kindergarten, the elementary school and the high school, into a single, unitary institution. Its aim will be to place the pupil in vital touch with the achievements of the race, in its varied scientific, cultural, economic and ethical development. Founded upon modern educational principles, and training all faculties of the student, physical, mental, esthetic and moral, it is further to reach out in its activity and influenced to the parent and to the adult citizen, thus removing the school from its isolation form home and state, and making the same, the very center of the social, intellectual and civic life of the community. In this phase the project is in full harmony with the tendency of the times, as evidenced by the university extension movement, college settlements, mothers’ clubs, parents’ associations, popular lecture courses, and other isolated and unsystemized movements in the same direction. To this great aim Mr. Doerflinger hopes to devote his best efforts. His plans have been communicated to some of the foremost educational authorities in America, and have their sanction.
If a life of plain living and high thinking be a life well spent; if a life of “labor and struggle, of effort and strife” for the right, be preferable to on of “ignoble case,” if unremunerated labor in the public interest, to the neglect of private gain, be commendable; if patriotism consist in devotion to the common weal of the field, in the council chamber and in the equally crucial test of daily life, the subject of this sketch deserves high rank in the noble order of American Citizenship.
C. H. K.
Author/Creator: Wisconsin History Commission.
Title: Papers, 1861-1865, 1884-1918.
Quantity: 1.6 c.f. (5 archives boxes)