Denison Alumni Association 1909 Minutes Found by District Employee

By DONNA HUNT

Herald Democrat
 

Did you ever clean house and throw away lots of "stuff" thinking you would never need it again, then in a couple of days start looking for what you had discarded? It happens to me every time I clean out my desk or my file cabinets.

Something happened to me recently that is similar, but different in a good way. One morning recently I got a call from Denison School Superintendent Henry Scott who said he had a notebook he thought I would like to look at. This was enough to tweak my curiosity and I wasted no time heading for the school administration offices in the former Peabody Elementary School building.

Dr. Scott had a Genius Composition book that Phillip Bernardin, a DISD maintenance department employee had found and saved from the Denison High School attic. Phillip knew by looking at the outside of the book that it was old and could be important.

Barely readable were the written words Denison High School Alumni Association minutes, 1909-1919. What a find and what an eagle eye Phillip had in noticing that it might be a valuable piece of history.

Dr. Scott already had read the minutes from cover to cover and it wasn't long before I was reading them too. The 1909 minutes evidently were written with a pencil by Anna Mosse, secretary. Miss Mosse had graduated from DHS in 1907. There also were Misses Edna, Eunice and Blanche Mosse who graduated in those early years. I know that at least two or three of them went on to teach in Denison, but after seeing the names of so many, I don't remember who taught what. Maybe someone can help me out here.

First thing I did after reading the minutes was type those 1909 minutes so I could read them. That was the eighth annual meeting of the Alumni Association and it was held in the XXI Club Building on June 10, 1908. That building was located on the southwest corner of Gandy Street and Fannin Avenue and also contained the public library in those days.

A festive air was created by the liberal use of palms and cut flowers in class colors and red and white and "a bevy of girls served punch" in the library. The meeting was a social event and reunion for many students who had graduated in the last 20 years.

Miss Birdie Kirk was president and about 150 members attended.

Here's the part I wish I had known a couple of years ago when Dr. Mavis Anne Bryant and I were writing our book, "Two Schools on Main Street..." That group unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing "the plan of building a modern and efficient high school building by means of a special tax: and that this association collectively, and individually, use its good officers in calling the attention of the people of Denison to the need of the new high school building."

We could have used that in our history of the 1914 high school that was just demolished in 2007.

Officers were elected with Miss Abbie Cobb from the class of 1900 named president. Other officers were Miss Roberta Hoyle, '08; Miss Josephine Brumbough, '04; Miss Norma Nagle, '03 and Charles Sullivan, '06.

Musical tributes were extended at every meeting and toasts were made at the close of the meetings. None of the minutes say what was in the glasses that they toasted with. One big toast in 1909 was to welcome the '08 class as "the newest members." It was noted that "each and every one of the toasts abounded in wit and humor and were enjoyed by everyone present." The meeting closed with singing "Auld Lang Syne."

At the 9th annual meeting held in the same location. A discussion was held on the fountains that the Alumni planned to purchase for the new high school. No details were discussed.

During new business, Mrs. Walker told the alumni that they had been asked to take up the drive for the Raynal Monument Fund. That monument stood for many years in the median north of the high school until a few years ago when it was struck by an automobile and broken apart. After a discussion the Alumni decided to appoint a committee to help the people of Denison in their undertaking. As usually the custom that the person who brings up a project gets to head the committee, Mrs. Walker was elected.

At the end of a musical program the group went to the banquet hall, where Miss Ollie Bird, class of '95 (that's 1895) acted as toastmistress. They really believed in toasting back then.

This meeting closed with the singing of "Goodbye Dear Old Classmates."

One hundred and twenty-five graduates attended the 10th annual meeting. Miss Olive Clifford asked that funds not used for the social part of the association be used in some way beneficial for the high school. Another committee was appointed to see what might be done.

By the 11th annual meeting a committee was named to write a constitution and by-laws for the Alumni Association. Named were Selma Regensburger, chairman, Grace Hastings (another future teacher) and Carl DeVault.

Ben Munson, class of '04, was toastmaster for that year's toastings. The constitution and by-laws were unanimously adopted at the 12th annual meeting in 1912. Miss Jennie Jackson was made an honorary member of the association.

In 1913 at the meeting a committee was appointed to arrange for preserving some reminder of the old high school when the new building was to be constructed. This was the year that the school was built.

A special meeting of the alumni was held on May 1, 1914, at the Chamber of Commerce to arrange for preserving some reminder of the old high school when the new one was completed. The Association decided that a cast of the old high school would be made and presented to the new high school and that a committee be appointed to investigate the cost and to raise money to make the purchase. It would be interesting to know what that cast was if it was ever made and where it is today.

At the 1914 meeting Miss Carrie Johnson moved that the association buy some piece of statuary to be placed in the new high school building. Could this be one of the statues in the old high school study hall?

At the 15th annual meeting another committee was appointed to purchase a piece of statuary for the new high school with the price limited to $50. Miss Olive Clifford chaired the committee.

By 1918 roll call was answered by members and their graduation year. And names of attendees were listed. Attendees had graduated as far back as 1887.

The last meeting in the book was held June 10, 1919. in the high school auditorium. Bertha Knaur, class of 1915, who later became Bertha Johnson, the high school typing teacher, was elected president. As usual, following a musical program, members adjourned to the banquet hall where refreshments were served and yes -- toasts were given.

Being secretary of today's Denison Alumni Association, I was entrusted with the book to place in the Alumni Archives stored at the school administration building. It makes me wonder if sometime in about 2100 someone will be reading my minutes and wondering what school was like in 2010.

 

 

 

 

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