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Mt. Pleasant High School - Class of 1884
Tracy Pond Tragedy  

We have before us, sent in by Mrs. Marie Mason Wilson, the program of the graduating exercises of the Mt. Pleasant high school class of 1884, and found at the residence of the late Miss Ida Schliep, which the Mason family recently purchased.  Of course this will not interest the younger people of the community, as the exercises were held away back, on June 5, 1884, sixty-one years ago next June.  At that time the high school was housed on the third floor of old Central, first occupied by classes in the fall of 1858, later torn down and the present high school erected on its site.

As we look over the names of the board of directors, the members of the class, the ushers, the "floral bearers", we find the names of but few still living, although some have children and grand-children still among us.  The program, a handsome four page card-board, gilt edged and tied together with a ribbon, is a fair type of school programs of the day.  We note the class motto was "To-Day".  And we note another unusual feature, of the twelve graduates in the class, all were girls.

The directors of the school board in 1884 were the following: Rev. D. S. Tappan, at the time pastor of the Presbyterian church; A. J. Kauffman of the well remembered grain firm of Bowman & Kauffman, predecessors of the A. D. Hayes Co., and father of Mrs. Fannie Kauffman Gillis; Robert S. Gillis, president of the old National State bank, which was operated in the building now leased by the Spurgeon store, and father of Mrs. James T. Gillis: Charles B. Rukgaber, for some years in the retail business, later clerk of the district court, and later moved away.  Many of the older people will remember his daughter, Emily, who was organist of the Episcopal church.  Then there was Rev. Milo Hobart, at the time pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and a brother of our well remembered King Hobart of Piety Hill; and lastly Charles McMillan, a farmer.

The twelve girl graduates were as follows: Miss Jessie Neal, whom we think was the sister of the late Mrs. William Litzenberg, and for many years a teacher in our schools; Lizzie Perry, whose family home was on West Washington street, and who taught many years in our schools, then to Chicago where she taught until her retirement, now deceased; Sadie McMillan; Etta J. McDonald; Birdie C. Lyon, daughter of Dr. Lyon, of the drug firm of Arnold & Lyon, on North Jefferson, and who later was married to William F. Reinhart, and went out to Colorado to live; May S. Garlick, daughter of the proprietor of the Woolen Mill at Oakland Mills, and operated a store selling the mill's products, on the west side of the square; Katrine F. Todd; Anna L. Dungan, well remembered by the older members of the Congregational church; Ida A. Powell, for many years a teacher in our schools, a handsome woman and the possessor of a fine contralto voice, later going to Chicago, teaching in that city until her voice called her to the musical world, and for some years was a member of a famous quartette; Alice Rowley, daughter of Rev. Rowley, who lived on Broadway in the residence now owned and occupied by John P. Brown, county treasurer; Emma Schliep, sister of Miss Ida Schliep, and Myra Satterthwaite, oldest of the four daughters of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Satterthwaite, the father being one of our well known men and whose residence was on Lincoln street, east of the Junior High.

Rev. O. W. Rogers, pastor of the Congregational church, opened the program with prayer.  The church at that time was where the National Tea store now stands.  The address to the class was by Mr. George McAdam, at the time part owner of the Mt. Pleasant Journal, and postmaster.  Rev. D. S. Tappan presented the diplomas.
The ushers, high school students, were the following girls, and many are still living, a few here.  Here they were: Etta Teeter, Lizzie Davis, Lucinda Miller, Fiora Hobart, Vinton Yocum, Lulu Satterthwaite, Edyth Baugh, Mary Tracy, Teressa Jones, Anna Dugdale, Mollie O'Hare and Jessie Hildreth.

Four of these ushers figured in the greatest tragedy in the history of the town and county.  Two years later, November 1886, occurred the Tracy pond drowning, four lives lost in the overturning of a boat on Tracy's pond [See Note].  Miss Mary Tracy, now Mrs. Mary Firebaugh, and a member of the senior class in our high school, had invited her class and the faculty of the high school to a party at her home, the large two-story frame just north of the pond.  Late in the evening some of the students started for a boat ride on the lake, and the tragedy occurred.  Four lives were lost, two members of the high school faculty, and two members of the senior class, Misses Etta Teeter and Edith Baugh.  Two others, among them, Miss Lulu Satterthwaite, managed to reach the little island, still showing in the lake, and were taken ashore in safety.

In those days all school and college events called for elaborate presentation of flowers, and this called for "Floral Bearers".  When a senior finished her part on the program, down the aisle would march one or two Floral Bearers, carrying armfuls of cut flowers amid the cheering of the audience.  The following young boys and girls were the floral bearers of that June evening, sixty-one years ago: Hansie Houseman, Charlie Sayles, Julius Crane, Charlie Allen, Elmer Bassett, Carl Magdefrau, Leo Shean, May Arnold, Bee Simpson, Alice McCoy, Mable Coffman and Jessie McDonell.  We think that Mr. Carl Magdefrau is the only one of the bearers still living in the town or county.  From bearing posies at graduation, he landed the job of bearing the mails, being for many years one of our city mail carriers, and being retired still carries on at his attractive home on East Madison street.

"The Bystanders Notes", by C. S. Rogers, Publisher
Mt. Pleasant News, March, 23, 1945  

Note: The Tracy pond tragedy occurred on Friday, November 7, 1884, not 1886. Professor J. W. Wolf, Principal and Alice M. Carpenter, Asst. Principal, also lost their lives.

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