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Brewster R. Allabough

Picture of Brewster R. Allabough

Brewster Randall Allabough was named after his maternal grandfather, General Brewster Randall. His father, Vermont native Joseph Lowery Allabough, a lawyer in Norristown, Pennsylvania, married Louisa Randall in 1860. Brewster Allabough was born the following year, just one month before the Civil War began.
When General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia invaded Pennsylvania in June 1863, Joseph Allabough temporarily left his law practice and joined the 43rd Pennsylvania Militia to defend his home state. After his discharge from the military, he returned to his family and law practice in Norristown. A bibliophile, he received mention in a local newspaper in 1873 for owning the oldest book in Pennsylvania, a tome aged 503 years.
Brewster Allabough, the oldest of Joseph and Louisa’s three children, was deaf, a condition which directed the course of his life. He attended the National Deaf-Mute College at Kendall Green in Washington, D.C. (later Gallaudet College, then Gallaudet University) and attended the first-ever convention of deaf persons in Pennsylvania, which assembled in Harrisburg in August 1881. He graduated from college in May 1884.
After a brief stint working in the insurance industry in Brooklyn, New York, Allabough moved to Pittsburgh to be a boys’ counselor at the Western Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf. He later became a teacher, remaining at the institute for 25 years. Through his encouragement, his student Agatha Tiegel became one of the first female students to enroll in (what would later become) Gallaudet College in 1888; Tiegel went on to become a teacher at the Minnesota School for the Deaf.
A bicycling aficionado, Allabough competed against more than 120 other cyclists in a Butler-to-Pittsburgh road race in 1894. The following year, he spent his summer vacation bicycling across Pennsylvania, ending up near Philadelphia, where he visited his family.
In 1902, Allabough married Lily Bicksler Delong, another deaf person and graduate of the National Deaf-Mute College, in a ceremony where they exchanged their vows in sign language. Lily Allabough died of cancer in 1909, leaving behind her husband and their two young children. Brewster Allabough remarried in 1911; the bride was deaf teacher Nellie Pierce Pyle of Iowa.
By this time, Allabough had retired from teaching and had been ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church. He was put in charge of the Mid-Western Deaf-Mute Mission, a large mission field covering several states. He and his wife moved to Northeastern Ohio around 1912. They lived on Detroit Street in Lakewood, while Allabough ministered in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and other locations, conducting services and sermons in sign language. He was one of just 12 deaf missionaries in the Episcopal Church who worked full time ministering to the deaf in the United States.

Tribute to Brewster R. Allabough in "The Silent Worker" from June 9, 1919

Allabough, a gifted administrator, served as both treasurer and president of the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf, and treasurer of the National Association for the Deaf. He was one of the chief fundraisers for the Pennsylvania Home for the Aged and Infirm Deaf, which was dedicated in 1902 in Doylestown, Pa. The home was the fruit of more than ten years of tireless planning and effort on Allabough's part.    

Rev. Allabough passed away in May 1919 in Ohio, and was buried in his hometown of Norristown, Pennsylvania. His widow, Nellie, passed away in 1933.

Allabough opened a savings account at Dollar Bank in April 1889.  

Account signature of Brewster R. Allabough