Laura Dewey

July 6, 2017
Category: Submitted Posts

By: Hannah (10/18/16)

On December 21, 1829, in Hanover, New Hampshire, a beautiful baby Laura Dewey was born, and was the third child of Daniel and Harmony Bridgman, two New England farmers. At the age of 24 months Laura became very ill with scarlet fever, and in spite of losing all of her senses, expect touch, she later on accomplished educational goal most with all their senses didn’t in her era. Although she struggled to succeed as an adult, she continued to push through, and do the unexpected. Laura Dewey has taught me that there is no such thing as being over educated; even if sickness, hardships, and other people stand in your way, you can still continue to be made stronger, and accomplish what ever you set your mind to.

As a child Laura was very close to her mother. She helped with house chores and even enjoyed sewing and knitting. Mr. Tenney was a friend of the Bridgmans who had speech and writing that was almost incomprehensible. He helped her communicate, and understood how she felt more so than her family. Mr. Tenney and Laura where very close and Laura had great respect for him. I believe that Mr. Tenney had a large part in helping Laura adapt with her new way of living. Laura developed her own way of living, by creating hand gestures for certain basic needs.  Her family knew her as sweet, and kind, but didn’t know how to handle her when she had her “fits” or seizures. She had always had a temper, as anyone would get frustrated by not being understood and not being able to understand others. Laura fits worsened with age, and made it difficult for her family to be around her. In 1837, Samuel Gridley heard about Laura, and was ready to take on the challenge of educating a Deafblind person. As Lauras family was at a loss of not knowing how to help her, they believed this was the best direction for her.

Laura began schooling at Perkins University in 1837, shortly before she turned eighteen. This sudden change in Lauras environment was startling, and took her around two weeks to adjust. During that time Howe, Lauras teacher, was debating what style of teaching he was going to approach Lauara with. He decided to teach her formal English because simply adding on to the signs she had made to communicate, would make it much more difficult to express her thoughts. He would present to her letters, that where risen for her touch. He then put those letters together into words, and began to label items. Howe also taught her to finger spell, which Laura liked a lot more than the risen letters. Laura places a large importance on socializing with others in Perkins school. She had a certain sound she made to identify every student she interacted with. When ever she passes a girl her own age, she hugs them and holds their hand. Her teachers, especially Howe, enjoyed seeing her flourish at Perkins, and couldn’t wait to see what the future held for her at the school. Her teachers then continued teaching her algebra, history, and more. During that time Laura became very close to Howe, she even lived with him and his sister. When Laura was thirteen he married and moved to Europe for two years, and she did not take it very well.During this difficult time in Lauras life she grew closer to God.

Even when Lauras schooling was over, she still continued to have an urge to learn. She spent her time enjoying her hobbies and practicing her religious values. A hobby Laura took up through her schooling was fashion. I assume she found all the different textures interesting, and how it was made. When ever she was introduced to a female she would inspect their dress and accessories. It probably helped her understand what the persons personality was like. She found unique ways to learn more about people. Laura enjoyed sewing and knitting, and her work was a reflection of her wonderful taste. When it came to religion, Howe instructed all of Lauras teachers to not answer any of her questions about the Bible, so that he could answer them all when he got back. All of her teachers respected Howes request, and left Laura infuriated. A group of evangelical believers visited Laura with out any of her teachers knowing and answered all of her questions. She then believed of the rest of her life in God, respecting, and obeying the information the group had told her. Howe was disappointed by this news, and distanced himself from her. When Laura turned twenty she went back to her family farm, and lived with them. While her family was busy tending to their farm, they had very little time to answer Lauras questions, and spend time with her. This began to affect Lauras health, so she moved back to Perkins. Laura was very happy to be back at Perkins, where she then lived out the rest her days. Even though Laura had technically finished her schooling, she continued to live her life safer to learn more.

Laura Dewey has taught me that there is no such thing as being over educated; even if sickness, hardships, and other people stand in your way, you can still continue to be made stronger, and accomplish what ever you set your mind to. Laura Dewey was an extraordinary women, who set a terrific example for anyone who is overcoming hardship. She did the impossible, and showed the deaf, and blind communities that they can do the same. She paved the way for those communities. Even though her schooling was difficult she continued to stay loving, kind, and eager to know more! I personally believe that she wouldn’t have been able to get through this with out God, because that is someone she had by her side through her whole journey. That alone, is beautiful in my eyes. The being that made her into the driven lady she was, was the one topic she was most interested in. This also shows me that Laura was respectful. Laura Dewey beloved in God, and she believed in herself.