The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3
Charles Frederick Schilling, Jr. was born on September 14, 1891 in Toronto, Ontario. Schilling was the son of a German Lutheran immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1880 and migrated to Canada in 1881. Over the next twenty years, Schilling’s father bounced the family from Ontario to New York, then to British Columbia and finally settled them in Ohio sometime around 1908.
Although born into a Lutheran family, Schilling became a Seventh-day Adventist as a young adult. He served a three-year enlistment with Troop B, 1st Squadron of the Ohio Cavalry before he joined the church. Assuming he could not have begun this enlistment prior to the age of 18, the earliest date Schilling is likely to have joined the Adventist church is around 1912. When Schilling registered for the draft on June 6, 1917 he was a 25-year old telegrapher for the Postal Telegraph Company in Washington, D.C. and a ministerial student at Washington Missionary College. He also married Irma Gerhart in 1917. On his draft registration card, Schilling requested exemption from military service due to his Seventh-day Adventist faith.
Meanwhile, in Vienna, Austria Adolph Maurice Teixler was born into a Romanian Jewish family on March 11, 1887. Whether Teixler was raised a devout or secular Jew is unknown, but by the time Schilling met him in 1918, Teixler was described as a “reformed Jew,” although a newspaper story about Teixler in 1919 said he had recently renounced his Jewish religious heritage. As this story will reveal, that means Teixler was anything but a devout Sabbath keeper and certainly held no sympathy for Sabbath keepers. Reform Jews are known as liberals who follow a strong ethical code, as opposed to conservative Jews who emphasize ceremony. Teixler would prove to be a credit to neither conservative nor liberal Judaism.
Teixler served in the Austrian military for one year before immigrating to the United States in 1907 with his parents and three sisters who all settled in Chicago, Illinois. Teixler became a naturalized United States citizen on January 27, 1915. His immigration records state that he was a portrait painter, but at some point he trained to become a doctor and surgeon. He also married Louise Hirschtritt with whom he had had at least one son. When the United States joined World War I, Teixler applied for a commission in the Medical Reserve Corps. He was made a captain and assigned to Camp Sherman, Ohio where he became commander of the hospital detachment.
Camp Sherman is where the paths of Schilling and Teixler crossed. Schilling was drafted in the summer of 1918 and assigned to the 18th Company, 5th Battalion of the 158th Depot Brigade. But he must have asserted his conscientious objection position because just two weeks later, on August 5, 1918, Schilling was transferred to the Conscientious Objector Detachment.
A Test of Faith
Conscientious objector detachments were designed to test the sincerity of conscientious objectors (COs) and in some cases break them if the observers were not sympathetic. Schilling’s experience in his CO detachment is unknown. But the experience of Verne Kessler, a member of the Brethren Church, is recorded in detail in the book A First-Class Fighting Man (Marion, IN: Blessed Read Editions, 2013). Kessler spent months in a CO detachment at Camp Funston (a temporary camp on the Fort Riley, Kansas reservation). Living in primitive conditions in tents, the men were given no constructive work, recreational activities were restricted, and food was limited. But worse than the harsh treatment, was the utter boredom. From time to time they were visited by authorities who interviewed them. Some were given noncombatant assignments. But eventually, following this stretch of boredom, the remaining COs were taken out and given seemingly innocuous orders, like raking a parade ground. If they obeyed the orders they were deemed insincere and required to return to active duty. If they refused the orders, they were court martialed for disobedience.
Dealing with COs might have been easier for authorities if conscientious scruples had all been alike or if everyone had been honest so that draft dodgers did not hide among COs. But in any group of ten COs there were likely to be ten different positions–from those who refused to put on a uniform or do any type of work to those who were willing to do anything except carry a weapon. Many nuances of conscientious objection were shared among members of particular groups such as Mennonites or Socialists. But among adherents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church there was less consensus. Thus Adventist soldiers in World War I experienced wide differences in their treatment by superior officers, based on both their own actions and the degree of sympathy held by the officers to which they reported.
Schilling’s experience was likely quite different from Kessler’s. Schilling was in the CO detachment only five weeks. Kessler’s time in the CO “tent colony” at Camp Funston lasted several months. Apparently Schilling’s conscientious objection was deemed genuine. After several interviews by authorities evaluating the COs, Schilling was transferred to the base hospital where he began duty on September 13, 1918. There he came under the command of Captain Teixler who was not at all happy to have a Sabbath keeper under his command. In a letter written to Clark Smith in 1970, Schilling stated that Teixler’s rather chilling words upon meeting him and learning he was an Adventist were: “If I had the power I’d tear your jugular vein out.”
At this point the timeline becomes a little fuzzy. Schilling was assigned to Ward 36, the psychiatric unit, where he worked as an orderly. His letter to Smith says that ten days later, while recovering from influenza (remember this story coincides with the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920), he was ordered by Teixler “to police the grounds on Sabbath.” Schilling did not make it clear when he became ill–whether while still in the CO detachment or immediately after his reassignment to the hospital. Either way he was still in a weakened condition when he refused to obey Teixler’s order and was immediately sent to the guardhouse or stockade.
Schilling’s court martial on (or about) October 28, 1918 reached the attention of the local newspaper, the Chillicothe Gazette. The newspaper stated that Schilling was sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labor in the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for “disobeying a lawful command from his superior officer, Captain A. M. Teixler, M.C. to return to his duty.” Although Schilling felt he received an unusually harsh sentence because of his prior combatant service (and there may have been something to that because on February 19, 1918 the Camp Sherman commandant had issued an order to organization commanders requiring them to provide accommodation for religious beliefs), this sentence was not unusual for COs. However, none of those who received this sentence in 1918 and early 1919 would serve the full term, but the treatment each CO received usually depended on how cooperative the prisoner was.
Not the harshest treatment in the disciplinary barracks, but nearly so, included solitary confinement in windowless basement cells (nicknamed “the hole”), being chained to a bar eight or nine hours a day, and bread and water rations. This treatment was generally reserved for those who refused to work or who were otherwise singled out. It usually lasted about fourteen days. Schilling was among those willing to work and should not have received this treatment, except that he was once again ordered to work on Sabbath. He suffered immensely during his fourteen days in “the hole.” But after his return to the prison’s general population he was allowed Sabbaths free of work, in part due to the intervention of Charles S. Longacre, secretary of the Religious Liberty Association. In the end Schilling even considered his prison experience a blessing as he was able to witness to other prisoners. The complete account of his months incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth can be read in “Experience Under Trial” published in the Youth’s Instructor in 1921.
Kessler, not sharing Schilling’s Sabbath observance, found life in the disciplinary barracks bearable, if very rough. He was appalled by the foul language and behavior of many of the guards. But ultimately, Kessler received parole to work in Fort Leavenworth’s dairy, which gave him a good measure of freedom around the post and lessened the feeling of confinement. Both men would have valued the pastoral visits of Mennonite minister Jacob D. Mininger who regularly visited the disciplinary barracks, keeping track of the COs confined there, and bringing them gifts and encouragement regardless of their background.
Integrity and Duplicity
Meanwhile back at Camp Sherman, Ohio, Schilling’s nemesis was receiving his comeuppance. A series of sensational articles in the Chillicothe Gazette outline the arrest of Captain Teixler on June 4, 1919 and his subsequent court martial. The results of an FBI investigation, the dossier is now available on Fold3.com. The portrait these documents paint is far from complimentary.
Teixler’s behavior, unbecoming an officer, included embezzlement and adultery. He had a reputation for drunken parties, soliciting prostitutes, and abuse of authority–including borrowing money from enlisted men with no intention of repaying it. Formal charges during his court martial hearing included “disrespect to the president, misappropriation of company funds, and immoral conduct.” He was found guilty and dismissed from the army. Teixler returned to his family, medical practice, and relative obscurity in Chicago.
Schilling was transferred to the War Prison Barracks at Fort Douglas, Utah on July 11, 1919 and then dishonorably discharged from the army on September 2, 1919. Schilling’s life took a new direction at this point when he decided to enter the medical field. After a year of nurses’ training at the New England Sanitarium, he finished college with a pre-medical course at Washington Missionary College, and graduated from the College of Medical Evangelists in 1925. Following an internship in Scotland, Schilling and his wife accepted a call to India where their work led to the founding of the Jalirpar Missionary Hospital in what is now Bangladesh. Upon his return from the mission field, Schilling practiced medicine in California. He died in San Bernardino on November 7, 1982.
Two Sabbath-keeping traditions. Two immigrants. Two doctors. Two soldiers. But how different the spirit that motivated each of them!
Sabrina Riley is an independent researcher and consultant in Northern Virginia. Her current research interests include the Seventh-day Adventist military experience and her family’s genealogy. She may be reached at The Family Archivist .