PART FOUR: Dr. Hoge Is Instrumental In Church Establishing
Ohio’s First Free Schools
In the early 1820’s Dr. Hoge began to campaign for free public schools. He appeared before the legislature again and again to plead his case, and was aided by Cutler of Marietta, Gifford of Cincinnati and Atwater of Pickaway County. In 1825 the legislature passed a bill providing for funds from taxes for educational purposes. Two schools were opened in Columbus, one for advanced pupils and one for small children, and free public schools had a beginning in Columbus, largely through the work and influence of Dr. Hoge.
Dr. Hoge also became interested in an experiment being tried in Hartford, Connecticut. Deaf people were being trained in a special school. He wanted these advantages for the deaf in Ohio. From 1824 he never ceased to work for that end. At last the legislature authorized Dr. Hoge to try the experiment with the Ohio deaf. As one legislature said, “I have no faith in the scheme but I have faith in Dr. Hoge.”
In 1829 the first Ohio State School for the Deaf was opened in a rented room at the corner of Broad and High streets where the Deshler-Hilton Hotel now stands. The school grew until a permanent site became necessary. Dr. Hoge, Peter Sells and John McDowell offered to sell 10 acres of land for the nominal sum of $300. This land became the location of the School for the Deaf located on Town Street. The first building was erected on this site in 1834. To learn more about the School for the Deaf he helped establish go to their website at www.ohioschoolforthedeaf.org.
Dr. Hoge received many calls to other churches and was offered the professorship of theology at Hanover College in Indiana. He refused them all. In 1827, Miami University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. For several years he was a trustee there as well as Ohio University in Athens. Dr. Hoge and President William McGuffey, author of McGuffey Readers were fast friends.
Dr. Hoge was a great reader and a profound scholar. His knowledge of state craft was so great that lawyers and legislators of the state consulted him and his influence over legislation was such that much of the Ohio law at that time was affected by him. One eminent jurist of that day said; “I believe Dr. Hoge to be the best statesman in our commonwealth.” Dr. Osman Hooper in his “History of the City of Columbus,” writes, “No man in the city was more instrumental in shaping the charitable and educational policy of the state than Dr. Hoge.”