Greetings from the Class of 1914!

Researching local history means fascinating finds from in and around the South Orange - Maplewood community.

Greetings from the Class of ’14!

That’s 1914, by the way.

As readers may know, I gather local history and sometimes I’m lucky enough to gather artifacts, as well. On one fall day, I had a phone call from the South Orange Public Library. A long mailing tube had arrived with my name on it.

I hurried over to find that a diploma issued to Mary Louise Gill of South Orange by the Dearborn-Morgan School in Orange, NJ, was in the tube. Gill, explained a relative in a note, was born and raised in this community and graduated from high school in June of 1914. The diploma came to light as family was preparing to move.

The Oranges were home to a number of small, private schools, some, such as Morristown-Beard, familiar today. Dearborn-Morgan was a merger of three small schools, those run by Jane Dearborn, Abby Morgan, and the Rev. Charles H. Mann of the New Church in Orange. The school, which has a number of listed addresses, was co-ed when founded in the late 1870s. In 1901, when Carteret Academy was founded for boys, Dearborn-Morgan became girls-only.

So what might Mary Gill have learned at Dearborn-Morgan? A 1937 New York Times story noted that the school “trained young ladies in the social graces and its diploma was a mark of social distinction.”

The engagement of Mary Gill, of South Orange, was noted in the New York Times that same year. She married William Sterling Roby, Jr. of the Hotel Delmonico, Manhattan. Was it the same Mary Gill? I'd love to know.

I suspect that the Dearborn-Morgan experience taught other lessons, too. The 1937 story in the Times described how the school was auctioned, its sale ordered by the receiver of the old Orange National Bank. When headmaster George L. Shelley announced the school’s closing, he blamed the bank failure – one of many Depression casualties.

Have an artifact or question? I’d love to hear it or see it – and if you can fill in the gaps in the story of Dearborn-Morgan or Mary Gill, please get in touch. MarciaW@Patch.com

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