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The Souburg Bell / Souburg Floods

Hudson adopts the Dutch town of Wester-Souburg
Picture of Helen and Harrison Kitzmiller next to the Wester Souburg bell in the WRA chapel, ca. 1944. Helen Kitzmiller scrapbooks of Wester Souburg, Hudson Library & Historical Society, MS K325.

The connection of a small town in Hudson, Ohio, to one in Wester-Souburg, Holland, began with a bell. In the summer of 1944, a crack was discovered in a bell that hung in the Western Reserve Academy chapel. The decision was made to replace it with the bell at Evamere Hall, once owned by James Ellsworth (1849-1925). A Latin inscription on the bell revealed it to be cast in 1611 from a foundry in Wester-Souburg. 

During World War 2, the Wester-Souburg area was under Nazi occupation. The allies bombed the areas around the village to drive out the German forces. Wester-Souburg suffered a major flood after Allies had bombed the dikes surrounding the town. Because of the bell’s connection to Hudson, Helen Kitzmiller (1888-1955), Western Reserve Academy historian and Harrison Kitzmiller (1888-1978), a German teacher at WRA, organized an effort in Hudson to send aid to the area. Blankets, rubber boots, and clothing were sent to Souburg well into 1945. 

After the war, the area still had not recovered; Much of the village was still destroyed, and affected by the flooding. To help, Hudsonites established “Wester-Souburg Day” on March 20, 1948. The event, featuring a clothing drive, a tea and bazaar, a performance by the Hudson Players, and a dinner with a 60 lb. Cake, raised $1500 WRA even created a play about the story of the Souburg bell broadcast on Ohio Radio Stations on April 19, 1950, featuring. Headmaster Hayden as part of the cast. 

In 1955, Helen and Harrison Kitzmiller traveled to Wester-Souburg to receive award on behalf of Hudson from the West-Souburg mayor. A street Hudsonstraat, named after Hudson, honors the humanitarian effort and generosity of Hudson’s residents.  

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MANUSCRIPT COLLECTIONS

Helen Kitzmiller scrapbooks on Wester-Souburg

Scrapbooks documenting Hudson’s involvement in assisting the town of Wester-Souburg, Holland, after floods damaged the town during World War II.

OTHER RESOURCES

Summit Memory: 144 Hudson Street

This one-story ranch home with attached garage was built during the 1940s for Harrison M. (1888-1978) and Helen (1888-1955) Kitzmiller. Harrison was a German teacher at Western Reserve Academy and helped establish its newspaper, “The Reserve Record.” Helen, author of “The First One Hundred Years of Western Reserve,” was instrumental in establishing “Wester Souburg Day,” an event that solicited money and donations to help a small town in Souburg, Holland. The Academy first developed a connection with this small town in 1944, when it was discovered that the replacement bell for its chapel had been cast in 1611 in Souburg. During World War II, Souburg suffered from a major flood after Allies had bombed the dikes surrounding the town. To help, Hudsonites sent clothes in 1945. However, in 1948 the town was still struggling to recover. The first “Wester Souburg Day” on March 20, 1948, raised $1500. And in 1953, a street in Souburg was named “Hudson” in the city’s honor.

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