Friday, June 17, 2011

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."   -Mark Twain

     Thomas Braidwood was a teacher whose school was located in Edinburgh, Scotland then he relocated to London,England.  Mr Braidwood changed his vocation from teaching the hearing to teaching the deaf and renamed his building 'Braidwood's Academy for the deaf and Dumb'.  This was the first deaf school in Britain and taught the combined method which was speech and sign.
     Colonel William Bolling of Cobbs,Virginia was influenced by his father to begin an American school for the deaf.  His siblings (two deaf brothers and a deaf sister) were educated at the Braidwood's school and he had a son who was deaf.  John Braidwood, grandson of Thomas and also a teacher for the deaf came to America to start a school in one of the larger cities such as Baltimore or NY.  When Colonel Bolling heard that Mr Braidwood had come to America he invited him to his home in Virginia.  The colonel established the very first deaf school in the United States in March of 1815 in Cobb,VA which was located near Petersberg. Mr Braidwood ran the school and also ran into debt with the local merchants in Petersberg. He fled to the north and the school closed in the fall of 1816.
     While Colonel William Bolling was starting a school in Virginia, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet at the request of Mason Fitch Cogswell was headed to Europe to learn a method of teaching deaf students.  Mr Cogswell's young daughter, Alice was deaf and he had asked Mr Gallaudet to help her.  Mr Gallaudet studied under Laurent Clerc and in 1816 they returned to America.  Thomas Gallaudet, along with Laurent Clerc and Mason Cogswell co-founded an institution for the education of the deaf in North America.  The 'Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of deaf and Dumb Persons' located in Hartford, CT opened its doors in April of 1817.  Mr Gallaudet was the principal of this school which became the first permanent deaf school in America and over time had its name changed to the 'American School for the Deaf'.  Mr Laurent Clerc was America's first 'deaf' teacher of the deaf and was responsible for bringing OFSL (Old French Sign Language) to America, where it would play a large part in the development of American Sign Language (ASL).
     On the 10th of September in 1851, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet died.  In 1853, the New England Gallaudet Association of the Deaf was founded to address concerns regarding the eduction of deaf children, discrimination, and a general lack of public understanding about deafness.
     In 1864, Bernard Engelsman, a teacher from Vienna, founded the 'Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes' located in Manhattan, NY.  This was the first pure 'oral' school in America.  Oralism is a method of speech training and lipreading which forbids the use of sign language.  Alexander Graham Bell was in support of oralism rather than the manualism (sign language) method of teaching.
     On the 11th day of December in the year 1894, my maternal great-grandmother, Josephine Duper was born.  Josie was born healthy but at some point in her very, very young life (before age 5) was afflicted with Scarlett Fever causing her to lose her hearing.  According to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, at the age of 5, Josephine Duper is listed as a 'pupil' of the Institute for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes.  Ten years later, she is still in that school but the wording on the census is different.  In 1910, my great-grandmother is an 'inmate', not a 'pupil'.  Although Josie was in a school that focused on oralism, she also knew sign language.
     In January of 1911, a fire broke out in the school but luckily no one was hurt and everyone remained calm.
Another tragedy struck this school 15 years earlier. In February of 1896, an artist named Max Eglau was murdered.  I will write about that in an upcoming post.  I recently discovered a book by Victoria Thompson entitled 'Murder On Lexington Avenue which takes place at this school. I just ordered it and can't wait to read it.
     The Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes is now the Lexington School & Center for the Deaf and is located in Queens, NY.  The school that was located on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan was beautiful.  They don't make buildings like that anymore.
     After researching and writing this blog post I seriously want to enroll in a sign language class.

Bolling Hall
Built before 1799. Organized education for the deaf in America had it's origins here when William Bolling brought Scottish teacher John Braidwood in to teach his two deaf children. His success led to the establishment of the nation's first formal school for deaf children. It is on the Virginia Landmarks Register.
Photographed 16 Oct 2007 and Contributed by George Seitz

The Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons, Hartford,CT

American School for the Deaf, Hartford, CT

This is the school that my great-grandmother, Josephine Duper attended. Isn't it beautiful? I love the architecture.

The Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes- NYC 1883

The Manual Alphabet

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Solid as a Rock

     In the rural hamlet of Rifton, in the Town of Esopus, Ulster County, NY sits the Rock School, a one room schoolhouse.

     Stepping back in time to 1811, the Town of Esopus is formed.  Nine years later, in 1820, the first school in that town is built at a cost of $100.00.  In 1866, the Old Rock School is built, replacing the old stone building with a red frame structure at a cost of $848.92.  This school housed grades 1-8.  Improvements were added such as a porch, shutters and a separate outhouse for boys and girls.
     In March of 1888, Anna Devine, my great-great-grandmother's cousin was born in Rifton, NY.  She grew up in this small town and attended the nearby New Paltz Teachers College located in New Paltz, NY.  She graduated in 1911 and began teaching in the quaint little one room schoolhouse.  In 1946, Anna Devine was inducted into the Alpha Chapter, pi State, Delta Kappa Gamma, international Society honoring outstanding teachers.  This outstanding teacher, Miss devine, along with her students in 1953, wrote and published a book about the history and development of their community.  the students divided into groups and interviewed the residents in their town.  This book which I am lucky to own is entitled 'Rifton, Our Past and Present'.
     Backtracking just a few years to 1948, the overcrowding of the one room schoolhouse made it necessary to use the Rifton Fire House for grades 1-3.  Miss Joan Lynch was hired at this time.  A few years later, due to increased enrollment, in 1954, a brick building, now the library and art room, was built as two classrooms.  continued overcrowding re-opened the Old Rock School for grades three and four.  In 1959, Rifton became part of Kingston City Schools Consolidated.
     Ten years later, in 1968, construction began on a new 14 room school building which was completed in 1971.  The new school which had been named in the great teacher's honor was dedicated to Miss Anna Devine on April 30,1972.  She died 15 days later.
     During her 48 years of teaching, Miss Devine started a drum corp and was active in the 4-H Club for at least 40 years.  She also directed operettas and even made the costumes for those operettas.  even after her retirement, she continued to work, substituting as needed.  She truly was a dedicated teacher.

                                            Anna Devine  11 March 1888 - 15 May 1972


" The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go"  -Dr Seuss

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


     Gregory's Pre-School Graduation was Today and it was great.  ♥ My little boy will be in Pre-K come September.  ♥

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

~ There is Hope ~

~ for those who have little, for those who have none, for those who need help,  there is Hope.

     Hope Farm was located in beautiful Dutchess County, NY in the town of Millbrook.  it was founded in 1906 as a home and school for disadvantaged children in Dutchess County, NY in the town of Millbrook.  The first high school class graduated Hope Farm School in 1932.  In 1940 the school was renamed Greer School in honor of David Hummel Greer, a former Protestant Episcopal Bishop of NY.
     Uncle Billy was a student at Greer from September 1941 - January 1944.  I have a 'report card' from this school which is basically just his grades typed on a sheet of paper.  I don't know why Uncle Billy attended this type of school which was located about half-hour away from his family's home in Poughkeepsie.  If I had to guess, I would say that his home life was unstable.  The unhappiness started before he was even born.  Uncle Billy came into this world amid tragedy.  My great-grandmother, Josephine was pregnant when her 3 year old daughter died.  I don't know what day God intended Uncle Billy to be born but I guess the trauma that his mother endured brought on his birth, the day after his sister died.  This was in 1927.  His eldest sister (my maternal grandmother) was 9 years old.  According to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, my grandmother, at 12 years old, was living with her grandmother instead of her parents.  I don't know where her younger brothers were living.  I wonder if they were living with their father?  and where was their mother? I cannot find her (or her husband and the boys) in the 1930 census.  I wonder if my grandmother was sent to live with her grandmother immediately after the death of her sister.  The death occurred in Brooklyn and little Dorothy was transported up to Poughkeepsie to be buried in the family plot.  Did her brothers stay in Poughkeepsie with their father?
     When I found Uncle Billy's report card years ago among some papers in a clutch belonging to my great-grandmother, I had no idea who William Davis was.  My mother told me that he was my grandmother's youngest brother and that he hadn't been in touch with the family for years.  My mother didn't know anything about her uncle and her mother had been dead for quite a few years.  I contacted my grandmother's cousin, Geraldine (on her mother's side) who couldn't tell me anything about Uncle Billy other than the family hadn't seen him since the 1950's.
     I called a high school in Millbrook to inquire about the Greer School.  The person I spoke to directed me to a town historian who told me that the school had been closed and is now a retirement home.  I was determined to find out more about this school and my great-uncle.  I called the retirement home and luck was on my side.  The woman who answered the phone was a former student of the Greer School.  She attended years after my uncle graduated so she never knew him but that's okay because luck was once again on my side.  There was a reunion to be held soon and Jan was going to ask around and see if anyone remembered my uncle.  In the meantime, she sent me two alumni newsletters so I could read about what life was like at Greer.  I read the newsletters then was hit with an idea...   I called Jan at the alumni association to ask if she would mind printing (in her newsletter) a letter that I wrote the alumni.  She was more than happy to assist me on my quest.  My grandmother's cousin, Geraldine had sent me photos of a young Billy looking so handsome in his navy uniform.  I sent a copy of one of these photos along with a letter identifying myself and asking if anyone remembered my Uncle Billy.  I received two replies to my letter which Jan was kind enough to print.  Both gentlemen who replied sent a photo of my uncle. Herb, the baseball pitcher, said that "Bill was younger and in a different cottage" and didn't have anything else to say about him.  Joe remembered Bill during the 1941-44 period. He said that he didn't remember much about the old days at Greer but that he remembered Bill as a "likable and cheerful guy, always full of fun".  At the reunion, there was one gentleman who remembered that Uncle Billy moved to Dover,DE and worked in a car dealership.
     The Greer School Alumni Association has a website which also features the yearbooks from Greer. The following is an excerpt from the 1937 yearbook:
History of Hope Farm
      Those interested in Hope Farm will find that its origin, growth and purpose form a colorful history.

      In 1906, Bishop Greer, then head of the Diocese of New York, Dr. Russell A. Hibbs, and Miss Florence Rapallo, who were interested in opening a home for children, purchased a tract of land near Millbrook, New York, from the Brothers of Nazareth, who had started a school for boys on this land called Priory Farm. Already standing was Main House, the old monastic building erected in 1896 and used at the opening of Hope Farm for all purposes.

      In 1907, Hope Farm was officially opened with the Reverend Thomas R. Hazzard as Superintendent. The original Board of Directors numbered ten.

      The first cottage erected on Hope Farm was Daisy cottage, named "Daisy" after Bishop Greer's daughter. Work was started on this build-ing in 1910. The beatiful rock found all over the Farm served excellently in its building. It was built for little children and the head of the nursery department was Miss Misner, who is still here today as assisstant-to-director. With the completion of Daisy, sixty small children were cared for. After many years it was remodeled into a cottage for boys from ten to eighteen, and remains so today. Thirty boys and a number of staff are housed there. 

 here's the rest:  (note: I did Not correct any misspelled words in the excerpt above)


     By 1963, Greer had eight cottages housing students from 6-19 years of age.  the cottages were home away from home.   Besides the fun activities such as fairs and dances, school plays and sleigh rides; there was a school newspaper, banking and vocational programs to prepare students for life after high school.
     After so many years of no contact with his family, I found Uncle Billy living in Delaware.  He sent me a letter telling me that the only people who truly loved him were his sister (my maternal grandmother) and his cousins (on his father's side).  I met Uncle Billy's cousin Pat who told my mother and me that her mother (Billy's father's sister) wanted to adopt Billy but her father didn't approve of the Davis family so poor Uncle Billy lived his unhappy life in his broken home until he became a student of the Greer School at the age of 14.
     After he graduated high school, Uncle Billy enlisted in the navy and served three years.  While attending college, he was recalled to duty in Korea.  He served a short tour then returned to college taking advantage of the G.I. Bill to further his education.  Uncle Billy received a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering and retired after 30 years with Chrysler Corporation.  Uncle Billy had been living in California for many years then decided to move back to the east coast.  I was once again lucky to have found him back in Delaware.  He did not want anyone to know where he was living, he had his reasons. I respected his privacy.

     A little boy with nothing had Hope and became something...

                                    William Howard Davis  29 January 1927 - 21 February 2010

Hope Farm:
Greer School Photos:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child

     Spare the rod, spoil the child.  Was that the Golden Rule in schools about a generation or more ago?

     The rod was not spared in catholic schools.  My maternal grandmother as well as her two daughters attended St. Leonard's Catholic School located in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, NY.  My father attended St. Stanislaus Kostka (est. 1896) in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.  I had heard stories about the harsh treatment of the students in catholic schools so I asked my parents to confirm this.  My mother said that the boys were treated worse.  Their hands were slapped with double rulers and heads banged against the wall.  My aunt said that a boy in her class had his head shoved in a closet and struck a coat hook.  My mother had her hair pulled a few times and chewing gum put in her curls in the center of her forehead (her bangs).  One day my mother forgot her cap and had to walk home to get it.  She was not allowed to stay in school with an incomplete uniform.
     When St. Leonard's first opened, the parishioners were primarily German immigrants. By the time the church closed its doors in 1973 (or might be '78, still trying to find out the exact year), the Germans had moved out and were replaced by Italians and then Hispanics.
     St. Leonard's Church was demolished in 2001 and that area is now occupied by St. Leonard's Scalabrini Apartments.

     St. Barbara's still stands as the tallest most beautiful of all churches is Brooklyn.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

3 R's

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
                                                      -- Dr Seuss   {Theodor Seuss Geisel 1904-1991}

     My 4 1/2 year old son loves books, loves learning, speaks very well with a great vocabulary for his age and he's very creative.  Gregory is a smart little boy which is why I removed him from daycare and enrolled him in a private school.  This school has an infant section (but no openings when I needed them four years ago) starting at six weeks and going up to 6th grade.  Gregory's class is considered 'Pre-School' and when school starts in September, he'll be in Pre-K.  As smart as my child is, he cannot go into kindergarten because of his birthdate.  The cut off date is sometime in December and he was born in January so he'll be almost 6 years old when he starts kindergarten.  I hope he won't be bored.  Greg's pre-school graduation is this Wednesday.  I'm so excited.
     Gregory's ancestors attended different types of schools and even worked in the education field.  My mother attended catholic schools and recently retired from the school system. She was a guidance counselor in a middle school in Queens,NY. I never attended 'middle school', it was elementary,  junior high, high school then college.  My great-great-grandmother's cousin graduated from New Paltz Teacher's College in 1911 then taught in a one room schoolhouse in rural Rifton,NY.
     Many different schools for many different reasons.  Education is the theme this week.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

♥ Happy Birthday MaMa ♥

     My maternal grandmother, Eleanor was born on this day in 1918.  Happy Birthday in Heaven to the best grandmother in the world !  I miss you...   ♥