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Gerald Herndon Newspaper Article - 1956

The following is an undated newspaper article from late 1956 by Gerald G. Herndon from an unidentified newspaper, and describes what was perhaps the first Surratts "All Classes Reunion":
 
"Clinton Reunion to Revive Many Surratt Legends.  Surrattsville, as a town, doesn't officially exist.  Soon after they hanged Mary Surratt, postal authorities gve it the name of Clinton.  But mail a letter to Surrattsville today and it will fly like a homing pigeon to the modern community of Clinton, 13 miles from the District, southward along the old Leonardtown pike route that John Wilkes Booth used in his flight after the assassination of Lincoln.
 
Nowhere is the old name more proudly displayed than on the Surrattsville Junior and Senior High School which will mark its 50th anniversary with a party Friday.  The principal, John M. Pryde (a yankee, once), and the students are eager to describe their pride in the school and its name.  A member of the senior class there, a pretty 17 year old girl, said: "We feel that the school is a part of our history."  She added: "No student believes that shae (Mary Surratt) was guilty."
 
In the last few years, historical studies, books, articles, even television dramas, have appeared which support the view that Mrs. Surratt was unjustly executed as one of the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination plot.  The inhabitants fo Surrattsville have believed in her all along.
 
At the gala party the high school seniors are sponsoring, guests will recall the old tales and legends -- Booth's gallop south, his stop at Mary Surratt's house, her visit there earlier in the day carrying a pair of binoculars.  The widow Surratts's century-old house on the Old Leonardtown pike, now Route 381, still stands.  An elderly woman, the sister of the owner of a Clinton supermarket, lives there alone.
 
A combination Christmas party, dance and reunion of the school's 50 graduating classes is planned by the Surrattsville students from 9 p.m. to midnight Friday in the school gymnasium.  There are 84 seniors in the Class of 1957 at Surrattsville.  There was one graduate in the first class of 1907, Miss Blanche T. Hurtt, a Government employee in Washington, who said, with regret that she will be unable to attend the party.
 
The seniors, however, have located addresses for nearly 900 of the school's 1.013 graduates.  Even before 1907 the schoolhouse existed on the present site.  Prior to the construction of the Surrattsville Elementary School in 1953, the old school was the last one in Prince George's County in which all grades were taught in one building.
 
Friday night, when the reanimated legends will be talked of by the old timers in the school corridors, there will be an atmosphere of youthful gayety.  The young seniors, proud of the name they are convinced was unjustly treated, have arranged to provide the returning classes with music, dancing and, if their money holds out, a 50-pound, tiered anniversary cake.

 

 

 

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