In honor of Kimberton Waldorf School’s 75th Anniversary, we are pleased to offer you, our families and community, the history of Kimberton Waldorf School. Over the next few months, we will be sharing chapters of the book, Stories Related To Kimberton Waldorf School, the First Fifty Years 1941 – 1991, by Edward R. Stone. We are so grateful to Ed for the work he did so many years ago that allows us today to learn about our history and keep the magic of Kimberton Farm School and Kimberton Waldorf School alive in 2017.
The Swedish-Russian-European-Argentinian Background of Hjalmar Alarik Wilhelm Myrin – A Founder of Kimberton Farms School
The Myrin family can be traced back to the farmer, Olaf Myrin of Myreberg, Locketarps County in the Province of Vastergotland, Sweden. The name Myrin is a derivative of the town name, Myreberg. 0laf was born in 1628 having a great grandson, Claes Myrin, who moved to the province of Varmland where the Myrin family has since resided. Many generations later Hjalmar Alarik Myrin was born on March 7, 1884. His mother died and his father remarried giving Alarik a beloved half-sister, Ella Eva Charlotta. Alarik’s father was a Crown Marshall, heading the district of Sodersyssle in the Province of Varmland.
Alarik was about five years old when his beloved mother died. His father’s second wife, his stepmother, was extremely strict even to the point of cruelty. Alarik’s ramrod strictness could have stemmed from his stepmother’s actions. His kindness of heart stemmed from his mother and his half-sister Charlotta.
Alarik Myrin received his early education in Arvika, an area surrounded by large farms of the fertile Swedish Varmland. This environment of his youth instilled in Alarik a love of the land, its vegetation, and its many products.
In 1891, Johan Wilhelm Myrin moved his wife and five children to the village of Saffle on the northwestern shore of Lake Vaner where he held office as Law Clerk of the Court of Appeals and also as Crown County Sheriff.
It was while the family lived in Saffle that Alarik received a classical high school education, which required a stringent mastery of subject matter. This formality, strictness, and obedience made him wish that education could be otherwise. He often wondered if the education of children could ever be a joy.
Alarik obtained his military training in Karlsbad on the northern shore of Lake Vaner. It was here that Alarik worked his way up to the rank of Lieutenant in the Varmland Regiment.
Then he served in the King’s Cavalry, and in 1904, Alarik became a cadet in the War School, the West Point of Sweden. While there he became an excellent horseman. Many of his associates described Alarik as giving the impression of a knight of old as he rode.
It was in 1911 that Alarik graduated from Sweden’s General Staff Academy and in the same year met the Nobel brothers. He became closely allied with both of them personally as well as in the realm of international business. On behalf of the Nobel brothers, Alarik went to the Baker Oil Fields in Baku, Azerbaijan on the West Coast of the Caspian Sea. . .an area that was also part of Russian interests.
Out of his headquarters in Baku, Alarik developed oil excavation technology for the Nobel brothers. In addition, A.C. Harwood believed that Alarik developed some of his own oil interests, but this is not substantiated. These interests were in the area of the foothills of the southern Caucasus Mountains. Since early in this century this area was highly industrialized and of vital importance to Tsarist Russia prior to 1919. Hence, due to his exceptional knowledge of oil technology, Alarik became quite well known in Russian ruling circles. This relationship was furthered by their mutual love of horses.
After devoting some years to the practical aspects of oil excavation, Alarik divested himself of his interests in Russia and moved to Europe, entering the University of Berne, Switzerland to master Russian as well as other languages. He intended to return to Russia but when he completed his studies the borders were closed by the rebels and the Revolution held full sway. In fact, Alarik had left Russia just in time.
Alarik continued his study of languages at the University in Geneva and became an accomplished linguist.
Since there was now no foreseeable opportunity for him to return to Russia, Alarik as Director of the Central Organization of the Nobel Brothers’ oil interests outside Russia, headed the Societe Anonyme d’Armement d’Industrie et de Commerce. The headquarters of the organization had moved from Antwerp to London before the First World War stopped the flow of oil from Russia to the Allies. The import of petroleum products from the United States enabled the Society to remain active.
It was while Alarik was guiding these interests that he was invited by the Argentinian government to come to the southern part of their country and help develop Argentinian oil technology. Alarik accepted this offer and moved to Argentina. This was his entree to the Western Hemisphere.
Soon after his arrival in Argentina, Alarik met two American brothers who represented the American Sun Oil Company (Sunoco). These two brothers of the Pew family took Alarik into their hearts almost as a brother. The friendship was immediate and deep. It was then that Alarik bought into the Sun Oil Company, a very family-oriented company at this time (around 1919).
Trips from Philadelphia to Argentina by the Pew brothers were frequent. On one of their trips to Philadelphia, they brought their good friend Alarik, who stayed with them at their family home, Glenmede.
One night at dinner when the whole family was assembled Alarik met Mabel Pew, the younger sister of his two friends. This first meeting was important, resulting as it did in their marriage. This was the meeting between two of the founders of Kimberton Farms School. Their wedding took place in 1919.
This was a happy marriage as they had many interests in common. Alarik was an extremely clear thinker. He was always conscious of world events so he was also a world thinker. When he spoke, he used precise thoughts to briefly state his thinking on any matter. He was a man of few words, but those well-chosen words satisfied his listeners. He was a most careful speaker at all times.
Mabel Myrin, being rather petite alongside her tall aristocratic-looking husband, tended to be bashful, to not prefer the limelight. She was proud of her husband who could so easily handle the limelight. She very much admired Alarik and his confidence in handling all matters. In turn, Alarik loved his kindly, peaceful, calm, quite collected wife who did not hesitate to remind him of this, that, or the other thing. They were a charming couple, popular with all who associated with them. Their friends were numerous.
For six years after their marriage, they traveled to South America, to the area of the Argentine Pampas, and also to Wyoming in the United States, where oil was to be found. Both were accomplished riders, both loved horses, and both loved the wide-open spaces in the world of nature. Both had ancestors who were considered farmers. Both loved the land and both hoped one day to be jointly involved with the working of the land.
While attending the classical secondary school of his youth, Alarik was strictly required to master his subjects. At the War School in Stockholm, he became an excellent horseman and master of horses. While riding he gave the impression to onlookers as being a knight of old. He was noble in bearing. While in Geneva, Switzerland, where he studied Russian and other foreign languages, he became an accomplished linguist. He mastered a number of foreign languages including Spanish, which helped him later in Argentina. Through this great knowledge of oil technology he became quite well known in he aristocratic Russian ruling circles as well as the ruling circles in other European countries. Many of the people within these circles also personally shared Alarik’s love for horses.
Ever since childhood, Alarik had a strong interest in matters dealing with the inner life of man, in the spiritual life of man. The outward difficulties he experienced at the hands of his stepmother resulted in his being inwardly sensitive, to seek that which one can gam in the loneliness of life. This tendency toward an inner contemplation led him to seek solace, to seek a special kind of knowledge that could fulfill his inner longing. He was well read in all forms of eastern philosophy and mythology. This active inner life gave him the strength, interest, and enthusiasm to investigate in a scientific way the chemistry of the earth substances found in rocks, shale, and decayed former plant life basic to oil. It was his love for knowledge, the knowledge that man gains of the earth in his attempt to understand himself and it was this deep inner life, an inner life concerned with the betterment of mankind that drew him into sincere friendship with the Nobel Brothers. It was also their interest to find and develop ways to better man’s life on earth. They shared this impulse together.
Having been raised under the rule of strictness by his stepmother and having been strictly required to master his subjects at all levels of his formal education, Alarik wondered if education could ever be made otherwise. He wondered if it could ever be a joy to learn at levels prior to entry into the university. This question stayed with him all his life.
In 1925, Alarik Myrin became an American citizen. In 1926, Alarik and Mabel traveled to Argentina. There he undertook to develop petroleum and other mineral resources in the province of Mendoza, which is in the foothills of the towering Andes Mountains lying just to the west. To the southeast is the famous Pampas of Argentina. Alarik and Mabel lived only a short distance from the Chilean border but a great distance from Buenos Aires to the east.
It was in these foothills on the Pampas that Alarik and Mabel bought a million-acre ranch. Here they could ride horseback together to their heart’s content. The ranch was so large that it would take many days to ride from border to border by horseback, which was the only mode of travel on the ranch at that time.
From this ranch, Alarik conducted what business matters he had to handle. He was only a short airplane flight from Santiago, Chile; a longer flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a major flight from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – the general area of Mabel and Alarik’s future life together after their years in Argentina.