Georgia Normal College and Business Institute

The Ray City History Blog has previously noted the Ray City Alumni of Georgia Normal College and Business Institute at Abbeville, GA.

Georgia Normal College and Business Institute Abbeville GA

Georgia Normal College and Business Institute Abbeville GA

A number of the Clements family attended the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute including Lucius Jordan Clements, William Grover Clements, James Irwin Clements, Joe Clements, Chester Lee (son of Moses C. Lee and Amanda Clements),   Bessie Clements, and Hod P. Clements. D. C. Clements of Nashville, graduated from the business program in 1906.

Another alumnus from Ray City was Charlie Parham, who taught  in Ray City and Berrien County schools over a twenty year period, and served twelve years on the Berrien County School Board.

Samuel I. Watson attended the Institute in the year of its opening, and later served on the State Board of Education. When S. I. Watson arrived at Georgia Normal College and Business Institute in the winter of 1899 he wrote back to the Editor of the Tifton Gazette:

Samuel Irvin Watson attended the inaugural session of the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute in 1899.

Tifton Gazette
March 3, 1899

A Berrien Boy in Wilcox.

Abbeville, GA, Feb. 27. – As I have reached my destination, I take great pleasure in writing an article to your paper from this place, as I have found everything pleasant, both my traveling and place of stopping.
    While there is whiskey of almost every description sold here I have not seen an intoxicated person since I came to Wilcox county.
    I find the people of Abbeville and surrounding country to be intelligent, sober, whole-hearted, enthusiastic, sociable and enterprising, and who give a hearty welcome to those coming to their city.
   The enrollment of the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute is about 300, and it has been in session only about five months; the school ranks among the best in Georgia.  The principal is a plain, unassuming gentleman, whom we all, as students, love;  this however, applies to the entire faculty.
    There are students here from Georgia and Florida, and scarcely a vacant room for boarding students.  This town will surely have to make more arrangements for the accommodation of the latter, if they continue to increase as they have in the very short time the school has been in session.
    There is a great problem that should be carefully and accurately solved by each and every one of us that contemplates attending some high institution of learning.  A great meany of our boys and girls leave their state to obtain a higher education than can be accomplished in our common schools, but we ought to remember that it is an honor to us to recognize our own state, and that we have fully as good schools and colleges as any adjoining state.
    I hope to have some of my Berrien county friends come with me next time.

S. I. Watson.

P. S. Why not the teachers of Berrien have two days in the examination for license this year?

Students at Georgia Normal College and Business Institute. Albany, Georgia, 1911. Hod P. Clements (back row, 3rd from left) later became a banker in Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Foundation

Students at Georgia Normal College and Business Institute. Albany, Georgia, 1911. Hod P. Clements (back row, 3rd from left) later became a banker in Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Foundation

Here added is the 1902 commencement announcement:

The Atlanta Constitution
30 May 1902

Georgia Normal and Business School Ends Successful Year.

Abbeville, Ga., May 29. -(Special.)-The fourth annual commencement of the Georgia Normal College and Business institute closed here tonight. This was the most successful term in the history of the college and the number of graduates were greater than ever before.

The halls of the college were crowded to its utmost capacity at every exercise to hear the speeches of the graduates. Those graduating in the commercial class are Addie Laura Collins, Webster, Fla,; R. F. Dowdy, Vance, Ga; Florence E. Huss, Franklin, Ohio; D. F. Burnett, Jr., Madison, Fla.; Ashley C. Snow, Abbeville, Ga.; Gertrude Blow, Ashburn, Ga.; James C. Story, Abbeville, Ga; A. M. Sykes, Wright, Ga.; Elijah R. Simmons, T. J. Townsend, Lake Butler, Fla.; R. D. Howard, Patterson, Ga.; Lucius J. Clements, Millstown, Ga.; Alvin V. Sellers, Graham, Ga.; Ralph F. Collins, Bushnell, Fla.

Those graduating in the teachers’ class are Mollie Lee Dorminey, Dormineys Mill, Ga.; S.S. Knight, Lake Butler, Fla.; Eunice McCullough, Melrose, Fla.; E. A. Rice, Dupont, Ga.; Myrtle Baker, Abbeville, Ga.; Ida Irene Vause, Edgar, Fla.; W. O. Young, Leland, Fla.; Henry P. Smith, Simmons, Ga.; Lillie May Maynard, Abbeville, Ga.; J. A. J. Pinholster, Brooks, Fla.; Bessie Clements, Milltown, Ga.; R. S. Johns, New River, Fla.; Theola Ruff, Fort White, Fla.; Lola Smith, Abbeville, Ga.; Murrel Futch, High Springs, Fla.; C. L. Cowart, Collins, Ga.; Joseph Coffin, Lake Butler, Fla.; H. D. Warnock, Leland, Fla.

Those graduating in the scientific classes are Carlotta L. Townsend, Lake Butler, Fla.; Sampie Smith, Shepperd, Ga.; M. L. Purcell, Glenville, Ga.; Maude Avant, Patterson, Ga.; E. F. Fender, Griggs, Ga; H. J. Dame, Homerville, Ga.; I. S. Smith, Simmons, Ga.; Louis Smith, Simmons, Ga.; Mary Lizzie Paxson, Abbeville, Ga.; W. E. Carter, Louis, Ga.; N. M. Patten, Milltown, Ga.; W. B. Cornelius, Homerville, Ga.; Mark L. Morrill, Atlanta, Ga.

The commercial graduates are Elijah R. Simmons, Citra, Fla.; John D. Dorminey, Dormineys Mill, Ga.; Mark L. Morrill, Atlanta, Ga.; Helen S. Bomberg, Jasper, Fla.; S. F. Rogers, Abbeville, Ga.; L. M. Carter, Louis, Ga.; B. H. Dorminey, Dormineys Mill, Ga.; B. B. Maynard, Newton, Ga.; J. Louis McLeod, Abbeville, Ga.

When William Grover “Bill” Clements attended Georgia Normal College and Business Institute,

“He stayed at the dormitory which was run by the President of the Commerce Department. The charge for living at the school, including meals, was $9.80 a month which his parents paid for in syrup and bacon from the farm. It was a co-educational school.

Bill said, ‘The ladies lived downstairs and the gents up. I had a Yankee sweetheart. She was the sister of the Principal’s wife. There wasn’t much time for social activities then but I did play on the baseball team. I played first base and sometimes I was the catcher.’  He modestly didn’t want to admit it, but was one of the star hitters on the team.

  …the total enrollment was about 200 students at that time. Bill was graduated with honors, the leader of his class, and he was offered a job on the faculty. He turned it down though, preferring to go back to the farm and help his parents send the twins through school.” – Madison County Carrier, April 16, 1981 

Transcription courtesy of Ron Yates,

The twins were Joe and Irwin Clements of Rays Mill, GA, students at the business institute in 1904:

A personal mention in the September 9, 1904 edition of the Tifton Gazette. Irwin and Joe Clements, and Chester L. Lee headed to college.

Commencement speaker Reverend John W. Domingos, of Tifton, reported this description after his visit to the college in 1905 :

I never had the pleasure of a visit to the delightful little town of Abbeville ’till last Saturday.  When I arrived on the grounds, and went into their school buildings, met the teachers, and examined a little into their fixtures and outfit, I was suprised to find a school of such proportions in the little city of Abbeville.
    There are on the grounds three spacious buildings, standing side by side all of them two-story buildings; two of these are built of wood, and the latest, a new building is of brick.  In the first of these, on the left as you approach them, phonograpy, or short hand, and type writing and telegraphy are taught on the first floor. On the second floor the intermediate classes are taught; and the museaum is also located on this floor.  In the middle and main building, on the first floor, are four class rooms; on the second floor are the auditorium, the music room and the laboratory. In the third, the new building, on the first floor, the work of the business department includes book keeping, banking, etc.  On the second floor is the principal’s recitation room.  This is a fine room, and can accommodate 100 pupils.  The library is also located on this floor.  It now contains between tow and three thousand volumes ans some of these are choice and costly works.  The books are very appropriately arranged, and are kept in splendid book cases.  There are twenty-two of these, four feet in length, with four shelves to the case.  In seventeen of these the books range in sections: Educational, fiction, literature, encyclopedias, language and mathematics, poetry, science, etc.  The other five are devoted to periodical literature, magazines, etc.
    Prof. W. A. Little is the principal of this school.  He is a man of rare gifts, push and energy, and is assisted by an able corps of teachers.  This is the listed course of study: Scientific course, teachers’ course, complete commercial course, accountants’ course, music course, shorthand, telegraphy, penmanship, post-graduate business course.
    They have had in the school this year, I was told, some 200 boarding pupils; but they have no dormitories; the pupils board in families in the town.  The principal told me that they have matriculated this year, in all, nearly 300 pupils…
    I give you these facts, Mr. Editor, for — people to think about a little.  The phenomenal success of this school is simply due to a few things.  First of all, of course, to the efficiency of the teachers, but very largely to two other things; first, they have good work-shops, or good buildings in which to do their work, and good material and implements with which to work; in the second place, they have the hearty co-operation of the people.  The school is the pride of the town.  Give a teacher or preacher your sympathy and co-operation and you can expect something of him;  withhold it, and you cannot get the best result.  Don’t put a man in an ice box, and then curse him for not sweating.
     We have a fine town; why may we not have one of the largest and best schools in all this country?

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