Gainesville High School students and alumni are familiar with The Trumpeter, the school newspaper for decades.
The very first such publication was The Pioneer Monthly, which first appeared in November 1902. Gainesville High had been established in 1892.
A rare copy of the first GHS newspaper surfaced this fall when the Class of 1964 held its 50th reunion. The reunion included a tour of Gainesville High School led by school board member Sammy Smith, Superintendent Wanda Creel and Principal LaCrisia Larkin. Alumni visited the three remaining buildings from the 1956-57 construction: alumni gym, lunchroom and band/chorus rooms.
Joe Kinney, a 1964 graduate, produced the original 1902 Pioneer Monthly from the home of his late parents, Bud and Blanche Kinney. He and his sister, Janie Kinney Fortson, who graduated in 1966, donated the paper to the school.
Bessie Harrison was editor-in-chief of that first school paper. Associate editors were Clyde Manning, Zulah Howington and Sidney Smith. Will G. Hynds and George W. Finger were business managers.
The paper contained three advertisements: C.A. Dozier, real estate, in the State Bank Building; Andoe & Bell, apparently a general store selling everything from clothes to groceries, on Main Street; and C.R. Stringer, “expert watchmaker and jeweler,” also in the State Bank Building.
Articles in the 1902 school paper were written by Manning, Ola Bell, Howington, Timothy Oakwood and Hammond Johnson. Manning, for instance, wrote about the origin of names such as Toccoa and Tallulah, and the legend of Sautee and Nacoochee, Indian lovers from rival tribes who supposedly were thrown or leaped to their deaths off Yonah Mountain in White County.
“Our fathers bought our home,” the student wrote about the Indians being driven out of North Georgia.
Ola Bell wrote of the sadness students felt in abandoning their school building, which had fallen into disrepair. They temporarily attended classes at City Hall, then located just off the downtown square at the corner of Main and what was then Broad Street. Limited space required students to attend half day classes.
The building that was abandoned apparently was the original Gainesville College building. The Rev. C.B. Lahatte had begun Methodist College in the building in 1881 before the city founded Gainesville College in 1884.
The cornerstone for the new high school was laid in 1903, so that was what the Gainesville High School students were referring to in their 1902 Pioneer Monthly. Joe Warren was superintendent with an enrollment of 100.
Bell referred to the original Gainesville High School as “our dear old College Building, now lying in ruins, so that her sturdy form seems to stand majestically before us daily, inviting us into the welcome embraces of her classic halls.”
Johnson, who became a prominent Gainesville lawyer and mayor in the 1920s, wrote little snippets of news in his column, “Locals.” He predicted a bright future for GHS alumnus William F. Ogburn, who was excelling at Mercer University. Johnson also regretted the withdrawal from the 10th grade of Lester Hosch, who he said was a promising class member.
Hosch, whose family were prominent Hall Countians, became a well-known businessman himself, as well as local historian and enthusiastic Rotarian. His home stood at the corner of Green and Ridgewood, where Hall County schools’ offices are today. A scuppernong vine he planted there continues to produce.
Johnson’s article also asked the question, “Why is Race Street the best in town?” His answer: “Because it is already paved — with the sentimental utterances of the young men who use it for a promenade.”
Race Street today is a short street between Spring and Broad streets. It used to include today’s Boulevard and was so named for various races that were held there in olden days.
Before the Trumpeter and after the Pioneer Monthly, other school newspapers apparently came and went. William Hosch, who wrote an early history of Gainesville and Hall County, referred to a school publication called “The Scrap Bag” in May 1914. William Hosch was one of 13 members of the first GHS graduating class, 1894.
The new school building writers in The Pioneer Monthly referred to eventually became Main Street Elementary School before it was torn down to make way for a Hall County law enforcement center.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.