There is a large, heavy, vintage guest book that has been passed on for over 100 years for Georgia School for the Deaf alumni, faculty, and friends to sign at major celebrations. We brought the book out for signatures only twice, the 50th and 100th anniversary celebrations. The book was forgotten during the 150th and 160th celebrations.
We must cherish our history and make sure the stories are passed on.
Who signed the guest book at the 50th anniversary celebration, the first major celebration of the opening of GSD? Angeline A. (Prior) Potts Payne did! Her signature was 11th in the book.
According to an article on page 3 of The Atlanta Constitution July 6, 1899, edition, Angeline, just shy of 68 years old, was “among the most notable of the pupils” as she was the oldest GSD alumni who attended. She was one of the few students of GSD when the school began in a one-room log cabin. There is a group picture of people at the 50th celebration in GSD’s newsletter, The School Helper’s special edition, Centennial Celebration: One Hundred Years of Education for the Deaf in Georgia, 1848-1948. The only other picture in that book is a headshot of Angeline.
Angeline’s sister-in-law, Mary Teague (Hoge) Prior, the late Lucius A. Prior’s wife, and her brother John W. Hoge were educated in that log cabin, too. Mary and John did not attend the 50th Celebrations, but their Deaf brother, Jehu did. His signature is 34th in the guest book. The Centennial Celebration lists Jehu A. Hoge as one of the notable participants.
In our research, we see many confusing mistakes that we must sift through to make sense of people’s life stories. Did you know that most sources say John's death date is unknown? However, there is a picture of him that exists with his death date of 1893 written on the back at the Polk County Historical Society. Census records place John in Cedartown, Georgia.
Jehu A. Hoge, of Rockmart, Georgia attended the celebrations, but is not listed as a GSD alumnus or in the guest book. According to the article on page 2 of Our Mountain Home from Talladega, Alabama, on May 24, 1911, and other sources, Jehu was a GSD alumnus. He entered GSD under Joseph H. Johnson as his teacher, then Alabama School for the Deaf under Johnson as the state-recognized founder of the school. When Jehu finished his studies at ASD, Johnson hired him to become a teacher and he stayed for many years.
Another article on page 3 of the July 7, 1899, edition of The Weekly Advertiser from Montgomery, Alabama, mentioned that Henry V. Owens of Montgomery and his sister Mary Laura (Owens) Hughston of Greenville, Alabama, attended the 50th Celebrations. Henry’s signature is second in the guest book, and his wife, Willie (Harris), is third. (Mary) Laura’s signature is 13th.
Henry and Laura entered GSD in 1855 while Willie went to Alabama School for the Deaf. The Deaf Owens siblings were first taught by James A. Watterson at their home when he became the true founder of ASD in Montgomery in 1849.
Other notable people that attended the 50th Celebrations include the seventh signature, Emma W. (Edwards) Morris, an alumna and a daughter of the first Deaf teacher at GSD, the late Josephus B. Edwards; and her husband, Henry S. Morris, an alumnus and a teacher of shoemaking at GSD, sixth in the guest book.
Emma entered GSD in 1869 and Henry entered in 1867. Their daughter, Myrtle, attended the 50th Celebrations, too. Her signature is 23rd. She entered GSD in 1885 and went on to study domestic science at the Montana State University in Missoula, Montana. Myrtle went to Cuba as a missionary to the Deaf. She, then, taught at several Deaf schools: Tennessee School for the Deaf, Montana School for the Deaf, a private school in Lebanon, Tennessee, and GSD.
There have been four major celebrations since the opening of GSD’s doors on May 15, 1846.
The first celebration was in July 1899. A reunion was held in September 1927. The second major celebration took place in May 1948. The third occurred in August 1996. The fourth celebration was in October 2006. The fifth celebration will take place this coming September — but we will have several ceremonies during the summer before the big celebrations.
I am very much looking forward to adding my “John Hancock” in the vintage guest book at the 175th Celebrations! I was the fourth to register and I wonder what my number in the guest book will be … probably 506th?! And in the very same book Angeline A. (Prior) Potts Payne was the 11th to sign! I feel very honored.
Note: This report has been updated to correct the name of Jehu A. Hoge.