A bit of Vermilion High School history from 1889 to 1919

By: Rich Tarrant

I had to pick and choose to make the composite photo that accompanies this week’s column. I would’ve liked to show the entire booklet.  However, I seriously doubt that everyone would find it as interesting as do I. So I opted to illustrate just a few bits and pieces of a small alumni booklet printed by the presses of The Vermilion News around 1919-20. The ring (inset) is a Vermilion High School class ring from 1918 that belonged to a girl named Audrey Troxel-Folk who was a member of that class. Audrey’s daughter, Vermilionite Jane Smith, loaned the tiny ring to our local history museum.

The ring’s owner, Audrey, was the second daughter born to William and Matilda Troxel of Vermilion in 1900. She had an older sister named Lottie who was eight or nine years her senior. In 1910 the family lived in a home on State Street. Mr. Troxel worked as a foreman on the railroad. After graduating from Vermilion High School Audrey met and married a Norwalk man named Donald Folk. I believe their daughter Jane was born when the young couple lived in nearby Norwalk. Given the size of the ring (It doesn’t fit my little finger) Miss Audrey was obviously a rather slight person. But back to the booklet:

This particular publication, however mundane it may seem to some, is historically relevant as it pertains to both Vermilion at-large and our local education system not to mention family members of various graduates. That is due to the fact that there are – at least to my knowledge – very few records like it that are publically accessible. While this record only spans 30 years – 1889 to perhaps 1919-20, the year it was published – it is quite informative. Aside from listing the names of those who graduated and the years they graduated it also notes where they were living when the booklet was printed; their married names and their occupations.

WHO KNEW: Who knew, for instance that Corrine McConnelly (VHS 1912) eventually married a fellow named J.R. Dall who later operated a well-known Ford dealership in Elyria; and who knew that Inez Williams (VHS 1914), the daughter of long time Vermilion Mayor H.R. Williams was once a stenographer in Washington, D.C? And who knew Wilmer Jump, who later owned and operated a department store in downtown Vermilion, started out as a realtor? Who knew that Albert “Waddie” Stone (VHS 1913) was just a mechanic before he had his own garage and auto dealership? And who knew that there was no graduating class in 1906?

SOME CLASS FACTS: The VHS Class of 1907, comprised of seven students, was the very first to complete a full 4-year curriculum. Four of these students became teachers, one became a commercial fisherman, one became a druggist, and one – Ralph Gegenheimer – died in 1909. Aside of the fact that there were no graduates in 1906 the smallest class to have graduated from our local high school was the Class of 1894. That year only three persons were in the class: Alice Kane-Jones, Albert Krapp and George A. Naegele. George Feiszli (VHS 1913) was the only local graduate to lose his life in France during WW1.

At the very beginning of the booklet someone (I suppose we should assume it was a member of the Class of 1919) wrote at the top of page in longhand: “Little children should be seen & not heard and as we are the youngest ones here I’ll keep still.” I’m not sure if that was written by someone to poke fun at those who preceded them or if it was done out of respect. Perhaps it was a bit of both.

Ref: Special Thanks to: Jane Smith.

Vermilion resident Rich Tarrant has agreed to share many of the photos and stories he has acquired from the former Vermilion News and other local sources with the readers of the Photojournal. Rich is the youngest son and a grandson of the late proprietors of The Vermilion News (1897-1964). Readers may email him at: rnt@twc.com



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