112a: Charles Augustus Schumacher (who loved birds and flowers but never wore his hat)


David Valenta, fine friend and long time follower of these posts, took me up all-but-immediately on the “challenge” issued at the end of Post 112: My hope that one of us would hie to the web to find out something more about the mysterious C. A. Schumacher, last of the three admirers whose marvelous words about the Brantwood Master I had included as part of an homage to Ruskin on the occasion our subject’s 199th birthday.

In his effort, it turns out that David was strikingly successful! (As I readied my post, I had tried, and then tried again, to dig out more about Mr. Schumacher–always failing, as reported. David succeeded handily where I had not. The facility of these younger folk in cyberspace takes not just your breath but your confidence away!) At all events, along his web-sleuthing way, he ferreted out a number of summaries of Schumacher’s good and useful life, an obituary, and–the icing on the cybercake!–a picture! Here is Professor Charles Augustus Schumacher:

Charles Augustus Schumacher

The written documents David found help us “flesh out” our enthusiastic admirer of Ruskin considerably. In light of the information they contain, we find out a very great deal that I did not know about Schumacher when I posted some of his most affecting Ruskin praises of Ruskin some days ago. We learn, for example, that Dr. Schumacher was, as I suggested tentatively, an American who did in fact have his little, privately printed book lauding Ruskin put to type in Oneonta, New York, the town where he lived so fruitfully for so many years. He seems, too, to have been a master teacher who loved both nature and his students and who took his hat with him wherever he went. (For British readers, “Normal Schools” and “Teachers’ Colleges”–see below–were educational institutions, usually State-sponsored, that prepared high school graduates for careers in teaching, usually in public schools. My mother went to a Normal College in Truro, Nova Scotia, nearly a hundred years ago!!) Following for your pleasure (for that it shall surely be!) are some bits (slightly edited) from the obituary David unearthed (“extracted”?):

Dr. Charles Augustus Schumacher, 1868–1963

Dr. Charles A. Schumacher, former Professor of Literature and Language at Oneonta Normal School and Oneonta State Teachers College, was born Dec. 28, 1868 in Clay, New York. He graduated from Yale University, with Honors, in 1892 and received his PhD degree from the same university in 1894. He taught at Oneonta Normal School from 1895 to 1939. Revered by his pupils, Dr. Schumacher was long a unique personage on the campus. He had flowing white hair and had a habit of carrying a hat but never wearing it. A great lover of birds and flowers, he could be seen strolling daily through Wilber Park, usually accompanied by students and youngsters. Perhaps his most endearing trait was his memory for the names of his graduates. Reports indicate that invariably at commencement or alumni exercises, he would greet former students by their first names, even if he had to study previous yearbooks so that he could memorize names and faces. He married the former Elie Katherine Quinby of Morris, New York, a former student, on June 26, 1901.

Dr. Schumacher had an abundant wit and entertaining character, traits which made him a ready speaker at banquets throughout New York State. With his thick shock of bushy gray hair and hat in hand, his tall figure was striking wherever he went. Regularly, when he walked up the steps of the Normal School, he would stop and look back across the valley to the hills and take in the panorama which the altitude had opened to him. When others were with him Dr. Schumacher would say, his eyes feasting on the landscape, “Now we mustn’t be going in without pausing to look carefully at these wonders of God…”

During his long career, Dr. Schumacher taught history, psychology, history of education, rhetoric, literature, and physical culture. He was demanding in how he taught, but many said they learned more from him than any other faculty member. He maintained many contacts with alumni long after he retired. 

Dr. Schumacher is remembered fondly not only by thousands of Oneonta State graduates, but by generations of townspeople. Nobody who ever came under the spell of his remarkable personality could possibly forget him. After arriving in Oneonta in 1895, he taught literature until his retirement in 1939. He was not only a lover of nature, but of human nature. “I love to see young men and women grow into the worthiness of life,” he said. He wrote several books, both prose and poetry. On his retirement in 1942, he moved to Parish, N.Y. 

Ruskin would have loved him–as he loved Ruskin. Kindred souls,  these two!

Thanks, David, for bringing this fine, good person out of his all-but-forgotten room in the cyber world into the light for us!

Apparently I was wrong: it is the case that, if you look hard enough and know how to do the looking, everything is out there on the web!


Until next time!

Be well out there!


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2 Responses to 112a: Charles Augustus Schumacher (who loved birds and flowers but never wore his hat)

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