Douglasville College Class of 1899

The first page of the "will" written by the Douglasville College Class of 1899.

Courtesy of Judge Robert James

As you read this 1,787 graduating seniors from all five Douglas County high schools have received their diplomas.

Congratulations to them all!

My husband and I have experienced the parental joy of watching a child of ours walk across that stage not once but twice. The joy was certainly worth the rushed mornings to get to school on time, the late nights attempting to get a project done, and oh, those algebra agonies!

It’s been a walk down memory lane over the last couple of weeks as pictures have scrolled across my Facebook feed seeing the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of my friends and even some of my former students experience their senior walk, breakfast, prom, etc.

The last few months of any senior year is one glorious memory. Part of that memory includes Last Wills and Testaments, so I thought it would be interesting to share a "will" from the graduating class of 1899. I was fortunate to handle and transcribe this document over a year ago.

The graduating seniors attended Douglasville College, a school that sat on Church Street approximately where the fire station and armory sit today. The school covered all grade levels and offered courses from needlepoint to Greek. It opened in January, 1889 and closed in 1914.

Here’s what the Class of 1899 wrote:

“We, the class of ninety-nine, being about to leave this sphere, in full possession of a sound mind, memory, and understanding, do make and publish this our last will and testament hereby revoking and making void all former wills by us at any time heretofore made.

First, we do direct that our funeral service shall be conducted by our friends and well-wishers, the faculty, only enjoining that the funeral be carried on with all the dignity and pomp our situation in the college scale has merited.

Item One: We give and bequeath to the trustees restful nights and peaceful dreams. We promise them a rest from ninety-nine’s graduating essays and orations.

Item Two: We give and bequeath to the mayor and council of the city of Douglasville that masterpiece of the road makers art, the side walk on the north side of the college campus, with full liberty to walk up and down it every day in the week and to stump their toes against the flinty rocks there on world without end.

Item Three: We give and bequeath to the college as a whole the footprints which we have made upon the sands of time including, also the aforesaid sands which will be found to be less sticky than the mud caused to be deposited on the campus by the winter rains.

Item Four: We give and bequeath to our pert young friends, the sophomore class, and the very good advice that they get rid of the big head and spend more time studying their lessons.

Item Five: We give and bequeath to the little children composing the freshman class the supply of hickory kept in the president’s room with the hope that they will have the President’s aid in duly and frequently testing it’s well known virtues.

Item Six: We give and bequeath to the President and members of the Faculty any surplus demerits which may have credited to monthly reports account with the request that the aforesaid demerits be distributed, next term, where they will do the most good.

Item Seven: We give and bequeath to Albert, the janitor, our supply of dignity as seniors, to be worn by him on Sundays with the plug hat donated to him by the president of the board of trustees in 1863.

Item Eight: We give and bequeath to the world at large the influence of opinions as to the value of this last item: but we have no doubts on the subjects. We feel assured that all future students in the college may follow our example with great profit to themselves, and we are perfectly willing that the world at large shall do likewise.

Item Nine: All the rest and residue of our property, whatsoever and wherever, of what nature, kind, and quality so ever it may be, and not herein before disposed of, we give and bequeath to Dr. Branham, president of the college, for his use and benefit exactly…

Item Ten: We do hereby constitute and appoint the Board of Trustees as executors of this, our last will and testament.

In witness whereof , we, the class of ninety-nine, the testators, have to this our will set our hands and seals, this thirty-first day of May, Anno Domini, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine.”

One hundred and sixteen years have passed since this “will” was written, but I think you would have to agree that the sentiments of graduating seniors stand the test of time. 

My hat is off to the Class of 2015 for a job well done!

Lisa Cooper writes the amazing stories of Douglas County each Sunday. You can also find her Facebook page for Douglas County history under the name “Every Now and Then,” and visit her website at lisalandcooper.com for even more stories.

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