The History of Taylor County Chapter 265

St. Augustine’s Commencement, 1902

 The annual commencement of St. Augustine Catholic school was delayed until June 23,1902, in order that the exercises might occur on the 25th anniversary of the accession of Reverend Father John McElligott to the pulpit of St. Augustine church, which was arranged by the Sisters and members of the commencement classes as a Jubilee occasion in his honor.


A Jubilee chorus was arranged with Miss Anna Dorsey given the solo parts which was very beautifully rendered by Miss Dorsey and the ensemble. John Turner, a student, gave the Jubilee address, in which he lauded the good Father for the great Christian work he has accomplished in the quarter of a century’s labor among his parishioners and hoped that he spared for untold years to continue his great work for Christianity. His great effort to provide the pupils of St. Augustine school with the magnificent building fitted with all the modern conveniences and aids for education.


At the insistent calls of the audience, Father McElligott came forward and standing on the beautifully decorated stage prepared for the commencement, feelingly acknowledged, the kindly sentiments expressed toward him and thanked them for their many kindnesses and good wished. He spoke feelingly of the first settlers of Grafton whose intense devotion to their faith led them to break the wilderness and erect a little house of worship to come to and offer up their devotions on whose site stands this school in which the youth of this day enjoys educational advantages their forebears never knew but who came forward willingly with what they could give toward the erection of this temple of education so that children and their children’s children for untold years to come might enjoy the educational advantaged they themselves were denied and he trusted that the precept and example they left as a legacy to those who follow them will be ever kept in mind and practiced and the same intense love for their religion and their church of their fathers will never depart from their hearts.


At the conclusion of Father McElligott’s talk the exercises began with the entrance march given by Misses Mildred Burke and Rose Burns, Miss Mabel Lent and Mary Gail Durbin, followed by a chorus of little boys’ voiced. Miss Katie Turner gave a reading entitled “Jack Creamer” and another reading by Miss Mamie Judge entitled “Guilty or Not Guilty.” Miss Mary Gocke and Mildred Burns, Stella Eccles, and Mamie Judge gave a piano quartette arranged for four hands, followed by a class recitation entitled “Arnold at Stillwater” and another reading by Miss Grace Flanagan, entitled “In Our Mother’s Keeping.” Daniel Cornwell followed with a reading “The Ride Of Paul Revere.” A piano solo entitled “Fei Foilet,” was brilliantly rendered by Miss Clara Flanagan, followed by a reading by Miss Mary Gocke entitled “How He Saves St. Michael’s,” Miss Nora Cannon recited “The Painter Of Seville.” The finale of the first part of the commencement was a piano duet arranged for two hands entitled “Valse Brilliante” by Misses Gertrude Brinkman and Anna Dorsey.


The second part of the commencement, the curtain was raised on an operetta entitled “Lost Among The Fairies” in which Miss Mary Gail Durbin was cast for the part of the “Fairy Queen.” Her attendants were Elizabeth Smith and Bernadette Shields. Miss Mamie Judge was cast for the part of Nellie, a very disobedient little girl. Misses Rose Burns, Katie Hussion, Mary Rauscher, Annabelle Burns, Nellie Daughtery and Antoinette Heckmer were the fairy subjects of the Queen whose voice blended beautifully in the chorus “We Are Merry Sunbeams.” The students showed careful training and executed the parts assigned them in a manner that did credit to themselves and their mentor and the tableau “Good Night” at the finale was a beautiful piece of staging.


The First National Bank advertised the sale of part of the lands known as the Dillion land and containing 171 acres and the adjoining tract containing 113 acres recently the holdings of the late Reuben Davidson who served as 8th Sheriff of Taylor County from 1860-66 and considered one of the wealthiest landlords in Taylor County in his day. He erected the finest mansion on this land west of Webster in the 60s and suffered the loss of this home by fire, which was the beginning of the misfortune that reduced him to want in the last years of his life. Sheriff of Taylor County during the period of the Civil War, he appointed William Morris, jailer at Pruntytown who was forced by the order of President Lincoln to release all slaves confined in the historic old jail as contrabands of war who were confined by their masters to keep them from escaping behind the lines of the Federal Army.





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