On the 3rd of February 1884, Mr. Moses Hirschl died in Vienna, Austria. He missed 94 years of age by a couple of weeks. A sole son, Mr. Samuel Hirschl, our former fellow citizen, and a daughter grieve together with numerous grand- and great-grandchildren the death of the departed who, even when quite aged, remained not just a loving and caring father and grandfather, but also a wise leader and advisor.
Moses Hirschl was born in Arad, Hungary in 1790. He who understands Hungary and its circumstances, not just in the previous, but deeply, very deeply, in the current century, only he knows and can comprehend how the deceased struggled against both the bigotry of the Protestant and Catholic Christians and the zealots of his own religion whom he sought to reform. All the same he undertook as a young man with a glowing fervor the reform of his own coreligionists and achieved through constant work an enhancement in position of the Jews in Hungary and Austria. At the same time he was so vehemently challenged and battled against that he more than once hardly escaped with his life.
During his entire life he was a fervent advocate of public charity without taking into consideration the beliefs of the needy and participated in all gatherings so completely that the Austrian Kaiser recognized his service in this area with a state medal. Even in his last wishes he richly kept in mind all of those charities that he supported throughout his lifetime.
His death was calm and peaceful. During the day he talked with his family and acquaintances in a normal way, with a sharpness of mind that remained with him even at his advanced age. In the evening he went to bed, fell to sleep peacefully and never woke again. After such a nobly spent life, Death gently closed his eyes during slumber forever.
At the first meeting of the first school board in 1858, a petition of 38 names was presented asking for the separation of the colored children from the whites. Mr. Austin Corbin moved that they be excluded. The vote was taken and the names recorded and 12 of the 13, and better or more representative men than these twelve Davenport did not have, voted for their dismissal. One man only, the only German on the board, perhaps thinking with Burns, “a man’s a man for a’ that” voted against their exclusion. This one man was Samuel HIRSCHEL.
Separate schools were now begun for the Negro children. The first one was opened in a room of No. 3 school with Mrs. M.A. Fearing for teacher, in December 1858. It enrolled four pupils, and soon two of them stayed home. The school was then closed. Next Peter Vanoram, of north Davenport fame, was employed to teach a “colored school” in a room rented in the First Baptist Church on Perry and Fourth Streets. He had an attendance of two and three pupils and drew pay for three months.
Four years later Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.