Mendelsohn Siblings

Following his wife’s death from tuberculosis while living in Nashville, Tennessee, Lithuanian immigrant Joseph Mendelsohn admitted his four children to the Home: Louise and Pauline (Polly) arrived in 1911 followed the next year by younger brothers Max and Moses (who picked up the name Murdock during an earlier stay in a Catholic orphanage). 

Although Louise, the eldest, was discharged at age 15 in 1915 before she graduated, she left her mark on Newman School. Two years earlier, she wrote a poem for the school’s Pioneer literary magazine in which, apparently imitating a foreign accent, she described her seventh grade class as “so schmart und fine” that “to leaf dem vill preak mine heart.” Louise later married Robert Horwitz and settled in El Paso, Texas.

Polly, Max, and Murdock remained in the Home, where their father came to visit. After her discharge in 1918 to relatives in Nashville, Polly attended Peabody Teachers College and taught school before marrying and moving to Chicago.

Max distinguished himself in the Home and at Newman School. He served as an officer in the Golden City, the Home’s program of self-government, winning the coveted gold medal in 1916. At his 1919 graduation from Newman School, Max earned the title of class valedictorian and delivered the commencement address. When he was discharged that year to the Nashville relatives, he took his 11-year-old brother with him. Murdock, too, had endeared himself in the Home, winning the following praise from Superintendent Leon Volmer: “Very lovable little chap. Affectionate & bright. Honest & good.”

Mendelsohns with father 1918

Joseph Mendelsohn with his three youngest children (from left) Murdock, Max (in rear, face partially covered), and Polly in January 1918. All photos courtesy of Murdock’s daughter, Joan Mendelsohn Mehlman.  

Max Mendelsohn medallion

Max Mendelsohn’s 1916 Golden City medallion is on display at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience

Mendelsohns Pauline, Max, Murdock

Polly, Max, and Murdock posed for photographs on the Home’s fountain shortly before Polly’s discharge in 1918.

Pauline (Polly) Mendelsohn