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This Day in Georgia History

June 18, 1841

Wesley O. Connor Born

Wesley O. Connor, known as the father of education for the deaf in Georgia, was born near Anderson, South Carolina. As a youth, he moved to Cave Spring, Georgia in 1849 to live with a married sister. Here, in 1857, he began working at the Georgia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Cave Spring in order to learn how to teach to the deaf. He taught there until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he joined the Cherokee Artillery, a volunteer unit from Rome, Ga. He fought in numerous battles, including the Atlanta Campaign and the battles of Franklin and Nashville. He was captured by and sent to a Union prison in Ohio, where he stayed until the end of the war. After he was released, Connor returned to Cave Spring to manage the farm of his sister, whose husband had been killed in the war. In 1867, he was offered the position of principal of what would become known as the Georgia School for the Deaf, a position he held for 49 years. Conner became nationally recognized for his work with deaf students and was elected president of the American Convention of Instructors for the Death in 1895. He also associated with others in the field, most notably Alexander Graham Bell and Helen Keller. Connor died in Cave Spring on Feb. 18, 1920.