Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Congrats to Samuel Kilson, Class of...1933!

Happy June! It's graduation season, so it seemed the right time to pull out some genealogical material about graduations past. And since I've begun to write more about the Kilsons in Salem, NJ - starting with this timeline - it seemed appropriate to start with them!

I was lucky enough, a few years ago, to come across a set of Salem High School Yearbooks while researching at the Salem County Historical Society. I didn't know much about the Kilsons or my Great-Grandmother Katherine Sheppard / Shepherd at the time, but I figured I'd search and see what I found. Lucky me, I found two Kilsons, though I didn't find my great-grandmother or the other Kilson siblings.

Here's the title page from the 1933 edition of the Salem High School Yearbook:

And here is the page listing Samuel Dennis Kilson:

Samuel was born in August of 1913, so he would have been 19 years old at the time of his graduation.

Underneath his name, to the left, you can see his educational track, listed as General. Other tracks apparently included Scientific, College Preparatory, and Commercial.Salem H.S was an integrated school and so I wondered if his being in the General was due to his race, but you can see that Sara Clara Jones, directly above him, is in the College Prep track.

To the right, you can see that he was known by the nickname "Sandy." I've seen him referred to elsewhere as "Sandtop," probably due to the color of his hair when he was young. In fact, you can see it a bit in this school picture from two years prior (though lighting surely plays a role as well):

As with today's yearbooks, Salem's Class of 1933 had the opportunity to list their club and extracurricular involvement, as well as favorite quotes or other commentary. It also seems classmates provided a reflection on each of their peers. While Samuel doesn't have any clubs or quotes listed, it seems his classmates regarded him well - he was a "Mighty fine classmate; straight clear through." How neat to get a little insight into his personality, even if it really is just a little bit!

I wonder what Samuel was doing instead of participating in clubs or playing on school teams. Perhaps he helped his father Waymon, who was a laborer, at work, or maybe he was holding down his own afterschool job, possibly at the Fenwick Theatre where we find him later on.

Either way, hat tip to Samuel Dennis Kilson on his graduation as a member of Salem High School's Class of 1933!

If you'd like to see the entire yearbook, apparently it's now available on, if you have an account. If you'd like to see a picture of the school as it likely looked when he attended, click here to see a postcard on sale on (Note: I am not the seller and don't know how long the listing will be up. If I find a public domain picture of the school, I'll edit this post accordingly.)

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