South School Gang

If you had attended the South School in Hartford, Connecticut during the 1880s, you were eligible to join the South School Association of the Eighties. The concept was not new, and an association for those who attended the school in the 1870s already existed. The eighties group met for the first time, in the Assembly Hall of their old school, on October 28, 1921. Their nickname was soon the South School Gang.

Handwritten meeting minutes were kept in a notebook until 1940. They note attendance at the meetings, who should be included in the membership committee (two members of each class), those who would be arranging the annual assembly for the following year, and similar information regarding the running of the club.

In addition to the minutes, the collection includes financial statements, and a bank book, covering much of club’s existence. Dues were $1 per family each year. This money covered the cost of rentals for gang gatherings, frankfurters, ice cream, and, especially as time went on, bouquets of flowers for families of members who passed away. Additional items in the collection are an address book with member names and addresses, newspaper clippings about gang activities, and correspondence. The gangsters who contributed the most to the collection were Mrs. Grace Kilby, J.W. Tyroll, Raoul W. D’Arche, and William J. O’Brien.

By 1947, the number of remaining classmates was dwindling, their ages ranging from 76 to 85. The gang disbanded that year, donating the remainder of their treasury to the Newington Home and Hospital for Crippled Children (later the Newington Children’s Hospital and now part of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center).

The date of the photo below is not certain, but obviously was taken  in the hey-day of gang activity.

South School gang group photograph, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT (click to view larger image)

South School was later named for its principal, Chauncey Harris. According to Google Maps, a Chauncey Harris Park remains in the area of the school, in the block bordered by Buckingham Street (N), Park Street (S), Hudson Street (E), and Wadsworth Street (W).

This collection is open for research. Come visit!

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