I wish I could claim credit for discovering this little nugget, but an archivist friend dug it out and passed it on to me. Jackson may still seem a small town to some, but as you’ll read below, back in 1888, it was a really small town. This is just one of several similar “reports” I’ve encountered in Mississippi newspapers in which a visiting businessman or politician from somewhere else in the state visits the various institutions in Jackson and reports back about his findings. This seems a low-cost way to keep tabs on our public institutions, but it’s never done anymore, I suppose, in this bigger, more modern world.
I’ve added a few images from my own and other collections, but couldn’t find one of the College Green school our correspondent spends so much time on. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll enjoy this “ramble” up State Street and back as much as I did.
The New Mississippian, Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, May 15, 1888
RAMBLES AROUND TOWN
The morning opened bright and clear and every way favorable to my proposed ramble. So as soon as I was joined by my companion we turned our steps toward College Green–I believe it is called–where we found the public school for white children of the city. This was a two-story brick building with one story wing, and one would judge that it was built “when old time was young”; but the grounds were ample and beautifully located on a wooden eminence overlooking the city, and offering a fine view to the east. By the kindness of Prof. Fry, I was soon placed in possession of all he knew about teaching the young ides [?] how not to shoot, and as far as I could judge his plans and purposes were faultless. I learned that he was also in charge of the colored schools, and fearing that I should not be able to get round to-day he very kindly informed me that they were doing well. I consider myself fortunate in making the acquaintance of Prof. Fry, for I found him the very prince of good fellows, and will certainly move on to a bright and happy future so soon as he can get some one to share it with him. This I am persuaded will work no ill to the school, but might in other years require the building to be a little enlarged, or to be a little more densely crowded. I was informed by my companion that the beautiful grounds of College Green would be sold at auction on the 15th, and that the proceeds of the sale added to the other funds were to be used in a public school building that will be the pride of the city.
We next visited the Asylum for the deaf and dumb, which comprises in its various appointments several acres, constituting altogether the loveliest spot on earth. What it has been my good fortune to see [sic]. It is almost a perfect level, and shaped in front by a long line of graceful old elms. The lawn in front is beautiful with a choice selection of evergreens, and trailing vines and flowers and ferns, and all so artistically arranged and cared for that it seems a perfect Eden of lovelieness, and a fitting place for the multitude of song birds which have made it their home.
The buildings are all that could be desired for the comfort and convenience of the inmates. And as I stood and gazed on the lovely scene before me, I said, I am glad that Mississippi has provided such liberal things for the unfortunate.
A short walk brought us to the Asylum for the blind. This is a fine three story brick building, located on a gently rising piece of ground ornamented with a circling carriage way, passing through some fine shrbubbery and flowers, and vines, but these were not so artistically arranged or cared for as those at the Asylum for the deaf and dumb. The inmates seemed to be as happy and contented as the blind can be.
Another short walk brought us to the Asylum for the Insane, another lovely home for the unfortunate, with a farm attachment of several hundred acres which makes the institution self-sustaining, the products of the farm constituting a large item in the report of the superintendent.
And now that my ramble on this line is ended, I am free to say that but few of any of the States in the Union have made such magnificent provisions for the comfort and happiness of the unfortunate of their people as the State of Mississippi has done, to her lasting honor be it said, for it certainly speaks well for any people who so kindly care for the afflicted.
But we are admonished by the setting sun, that we should turn our steps homeward, which we did. Passing by the home of our friend Seutter–who stands a head and shoulder above his fellows in his line of business–a glance at his ample grounds, but assured me that he had an eye for the beautiful. It was here that I saw for the first time in my life roses blooming at least forty feet from the ground, and the blossoms seemed to be playing “hide and seek” with the rich foliage of the grand old oak whose sturdy arms supported the feebler flowering vine. [Note: for more on E. von Seutter’s house, see “The Glorious Evolution of Messeur Elisaeus von Seutter’s pleasure grounds at Ivy Cottage, Jackson, Mississippi“]
This is certainly a city of flowers, and I suggest that they be put to noble purposes. Let the ladies of the Monument Association get up a flower festival during the week of the fair for the benefit of the Monument fund. There will be a large number of persons in the city on that occasion as the fair itself will bring a goodly number; and the immigration convention will bring many more, and the laying of the corner stone of the monument will bring still many more.
When the corner stone is laid let it be known that the monument complete, made in flowers (as it ever should be) can be seen at night, and there is not a man, woman, or child that will not go in to see it. Get the largest hall in the city, ladies, (for you will need room) and there arrange the [illegible] . . . what the legislature denied you.
Besides the admission fee at the door you have a large number of young ladies in the city, more beautiful than the flowers, any one of whom in charge of a Boutonnierre Booth would sell a thousand boutonnier during the festival. What say you ladies?
Now, Mr. Editor, I hope you will second the motion and urge upon the ladies the importance of improving the opportunity offered.