Zumstein Family History: War, School, and Marriage for Robert Victor Zumstein

Robert Victor Zumstein in WWI

In case you missed it, part one of Robert Victor Zumstein‘s story is linked here.

During World War I, more than 628,000 Canadians joined the armed forces. Two-thirds served overseas; 60,661 died. Victor’s enlistment is said to have been in 1913 with his discharge around 1918, If this is the case, he joined when he was 17 and completed service when he was 22. However, his 1917 Particulars of Recruit form is dated Oct 7, 1917 and May 9, 1918. I’m still learning more and more about his service.

Particulars of Recruit: Robert Victor Zumstein

From what I’ve discovered thus far, he served as an interpreter of German prisoners of war, stationed in both France and Germany. What is confusing, is that he also attended school during these years. So it’s important to locate his service records and complete the timeline more accurately.

Victor attended Dunnville High School taking courses in Physics and Chemistry until he was 16 and able to attend the University of Toronto. While in Toronto he was taken in the army.

In June 1914, a seventeen-year-old R.Victor Zumstein took to a set of examinations, in Dunnville, called the Upper School Examination for Entrance into the Faculties of Education. The examinations have two parts and Victor took only Part I. He did not submit papers for the Art section. However, he passed with honors on the subject of English Composition and Rhetoric, English Literature, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Physics, and Medieval History.

This allowed him to graduate from the University. Victor received a gold medallion for having the highest marks in Physics.

According to an Iowa City Newspaper article in 1924, Victor obtained his B.A. in Toronto in 1917. He had written a research paper entitled “Regularities in the spectra of lead and tin” published at the University of Toronto in 1918. Papers are often published after degrees are awarded. So the 1918 publishing date after the 1917 graduation date does coincide.

His next instruction relocated him to the United States of America to a small town in the state of Iowa known as Iowa City. He obtained his M.A. in Physics and Math in 1918 at the State University of Iowa.

1924 Doctorate of Philosophy ~ Robert V. Zumstein
1924 Doctorate of Philosophy ~ Robert V. Zumstein

Victor would continue working towards his Masters and teaching Physics at the State University of Iowa. With his career path established, Victor returned to Canada to marry his childhood sweetheart Clementina Comfort on 3 Jul 1920 at Elcho Church in Gainsborough Twp, Lincoln, Ontario. Her engagement ring was said to have cost $100. They were married under a pear tree at the home of her father, Alonzo Comfort.

On their marriage certificate, Victor and Clementina were both listed as teachers.  It is known that Victor was teaching in Iowa. Clementina was teaching public school in Smithville, Ontario. They both belonged to the Congregational religion.  Their witnesses were Edward Clark and F Almina Comfort. Edward was Victor’s cousin. F Almina is believed to be her sister Florence Almina.

They left by train at Attercliffe Station for Iowa State University where he had received a scholarship. They owned only their clothes and the “Old Colony” silverware she had purchased a few pieces at a time while teaching school.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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