Margarethe Meyer Schurz (1832-1876)

Watertown, Wisconsin has its claim to fame by being the home of the very first kindergarten in America.  It was successfully established in 1856.  Margarethe Schurz was born 27 August, 1832.  She had an older sister, Berthe, and an older brother, Adolf.  Their father was a liberal wealthy manufacturer living in Hamburg.  Amongst the many family friends was an educator by the name of Froebel who was later to influence not only Margarethe, but her other brother and sister.  In 1848, Berthe and a group of German women invited Froebel to Hamburg to give a course on the kindergarten.  Margarethe and her siblings took the course and Margarethe made very detailed notes which she later sent to Froebel.  He analyzed the notes and stated that they were the best ever taken.  Unfortunately the notes were lost in the mail when he returned them to her.  At about this time the Revolution of 1848 forced several young patriots to England, amongst them, Carl Schurz whom Margarethe would later marry.  Carl fled Germany that same year.  In England, Carl sought out his friend Johannes Ronge who was married to Berthe.  By this time Margarethe had joined her sister to help in the "Infant Garden."  It was here in Hampstead that Carl and Margarethe met.  Carl was so struck by Margarethe that he goes into a description of her in his book Reminiscences.  "A girl of about eighteen years entered, of fine stature, a curly head, something childlike in her beautiful features and large dark, truthful eyes.  This was my introduction to my future wife."  It was just a few months, and Carl and Margarethe were married on 6 July, 1852, in the parish church of Marleybone, England.  Not long after their marriage, the Schurz couple set sail for America in August 1852, and landed in New York in September.  They spent two years in the East living amongst the poverty and wealth of New York City.  They decided to move westward, with their little daughter, Agathe.  They decided to move to Watertown where many of their German friends had already settled.  It was here where Margarethe started the first kindergarten.  She often accompanied her husband on many of his trips, taking notes on his speeches and activities.  While he served in the army during the Civil War, Margarethe visited him at his camp in Middleton, Virginia.  On this particular occasion Carl entrusted her with a letter to give to president Lincoln.  The Schurz's were very close friends with Lincoln.  In 1867 Margarethe's patrimony was exhausted, and the mortgage on their home was foreclosed.  As a result they moved back to Hamburg in June of the same year.  Again they returned to the United States and this time settled in Missouri.  Margarethe is best known not only as a companion to her husband but as the first kindergarten school teacher.  On 15 March, 1876, Margarethe died giving birth to a son.  She was only forty-three.

Here are three links to Margarethe Schurz!

Link 1 to Schurz

Link 2 to Schurz

Link 3 to Schurz