The History of Middlesex County 1635-1885
J. H. Beers & Co., 36 Vesey Street, New York
[transcribed by Janece Streig]
Middletown has always exhibited a liberal spirit in offering encouragement to such enterprises as were likely, directly or indirectly, to advance the prosperity of the town, and to such institutions as would tend to elevate society, morally, or intellectually.
In 1824 efforts were made to secure the location of Washington College in this city, and the following record shows the action of the town in the matter:
"At a town meeting held on the 21st of April 1824, it was Voted, That upon Washington College being locate din this town, this town will at the request of the Trustees of sd College, take the proper and legal steps to obtain a partition and division of the interest of said town from the interest of the town of Chatham in the Quarries, lying in the sd Quarries in severalty & that the Selectmen for the time being, be, & they are hereby appointed and empowered by this Town as a Com'ee to procure & obtain sd Partition & division in such manner as they shall judge best & proper & that any controversy that now exists or thereafter may exist regarding the right of this town in said Quarries may be carried on and maintained in the name & at the expense of this Town.
"Whereas by a Vote of this Town passed on the 30th March last, the use of the Town's interest n the Two Quarries belonging to it was granted to Washington College if located & continued in this place, untill said use shall nett the num of $20,000 (twenty thousand dollars) therefore Voted That the Town in case it should be preferred by the Trustees of Washington College to the terms of the former vote, will pay over annually to said college, the nett profits & rents of its interest in the two Quarries belonging to said Town, untill the nett profits & rents of said Quarries shall amount to $20,000 on Condition that said College be located and continued in said Town."
This institution (now Trinity College) was finally located at Hartford. In the same year arrangements were made for the removal of Captain PARTRIDGE's American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy, which was established at Norwich, Vt., in 1820, to this city. To accomplish this desired result the following action was taken:
"At a meeting of the Inhabitants of the town of Middletown held on the 2d day of August, 1824, by special warning from the Selectmen of said town for the purpose of considering whether it would proffer any aid in procuring Capt. PARTRIDGE's School to be removed and established in this Town & making such grant from the Quarry or otherwise as the inhabitants may deem proper. Nehemiah HUBBARD being chosen Moderator it was
"Voted, That in the opinion of this meeting it is an object of great importance to the interests of this town to procure the removal of Capt. PARTRIDGE's Scientific and Military Academy to this place.
"Whereas by virtue of sundry ancient grants of the proprietors of the Common and Undivided lands in Middletown and Chatham, and the uniform and uninterrupted usage in pursuance thereof, confirmed and regulated by recent votes & conveyances, and a resolve of the General Assembly in relation thereto, as appears of record, said town of Middletown has a legal and unqualified right to get stone for the general use of said town and for the particular use of its inhabitants in either of the Town Quarries in Chatham & Middletown, and whereas, the removal of Capt. PARTRIDGE's School to, an its establishment in Middletown will be manifestly advantageous to said town, and its inhabitants, and said Town are desirous of promoting the establishment of the same, which cannot be obtained without the aid of the Town by furnishing stone to be taken from said quarries.-Therefore it is Resolved, and the Town in consideration of the premises, and of our interest in the land to be purchased, and the buildings to be erected for the purpose aforesaid, in proportion to the net value of this grant, the evidence of which is to be furnished to the Town by persons hereinafter named who have been appointed to purchase said land, & erect said buildings, in like manner as to the subscribers for said land and buildings, do hereby grant to said persons hereinafter names, full right & authority for in the name & behalf of this Town to enter upon said Quarries, or either of them, personally or by their agents, and to raise, dig & remove therefrom stone in such manner and quantities, from time to time within five years from the 1st day of January next, as they may deem necessary to be used in the erection of said buildings & to defray the expenses of raising & transporting the stone, not exceeding in value at the cash price Ten thousand dollars clear of the expenses of raising and transporting the same, and should the quantity of stone so to be raised within said term, exceed the quantity used in erecting said buildings & appurtenances the excess shall be, by the said persons sold, applied & expended in completing the aforesaid buildings, & the town doth hereby appoint, authorize, empower and direct Nehemiah HUBBARD, Joshua STOW & Alexander WILCOTT, or either of them, for & in behalf of said town, to make, execute & deliver to Thomas MATHER, John HINSDALE, George W. STANLEY, Elijah HUBBARD, John L. LEWIS, John ALSOP and Samuel D. HUBBARD, the Committee herein before refereed to, or to such person or persons as they or a majority of them shall name or request, a lease or leases for the aforesaid term of Five years from said 1st day of January next, in pursuance of the foregoing Vote, which lease shall vest in the Lessee or Lessees, all the right of said town to enter into & upon s'd Quarries, and to dig, raise & remove therefrom stone, & to do any lawful act for & in behalf of said town in relation thereto during the term & for the purposes aforesaid.
"Test. Wm. H. FISK, Town Clerk Protempore."
A site for the building was secured, and the corner stone of a large and substantial edifice was laid "according to the forms of the Masonic order, by the fraternity." This building and the chapel were so nearly completed that the institution was opened in 1825, and its fifty anniversary was celebrated in September of that year. At that celebration more than two hundred cadets, from nineteen States and the District of Columbia, were present.
The institution was designated to meet the wants of the American republic at that time. Its course of instruction was literary and scientific, as well as military, and in its organization and discipline it was strictly military; the students were called cadets, and were dressed in uniform. It was the aim of the conductors of this institution to gratify different tastes, talents, and attainments, by permitting students to advance according to their ability, instead of being detained by those less able or industrious, regard being had alone to thoroughness n their acquirements.
Captain PARTRIDGE retained exclusive control of the discipline of the institution, and instruction was given by himself and the teachers whom he employed until 1828, when a board of trustees was appointed and the faculty was increased. At one time the cadets numbered 243. Many of the students were from the Southern States, and by standard of scholarship in all was very creditable.
Of those who were students in this academy, many have acquired distinction as statesmen, authors, engineers, or military officers.
The institution ceased here, and in 1829 the buildings reverted to the original proprietors.
WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY.* [BY PROF. C. T. WINCHESTER.]
Of the various public institutions that adorn the city of Middletown, no one occupies a more beautiful situation than Wesleyan University. Its line of imposing buildings crowning the summit of the hill on the side of which the city lies is the first object to catch the eye of the visitor who approaches Middletown over that most pleasant road, the river. If, on landing, he take the middle one of the five streets that climb this hill, it will lead him straight to the college gate. A nearer view of the college and its surroundings only discloses more clearly the charm of its situation. No other New England college can boast a more beautiful. A large and admirably kept campus, planted with noble elms and maples; a line of five handsome brown stone buildings, three of them comparatively new; glimpses of other buildings behind them and of smooth green lawns and playgrounds stretching off in the rear to meet the slopes of the higher Indian Hill-this is what the visitor may see when he reaches the college gate. And if he will take the trouble to climb the tower of Judd Hall and look off on the green and rolling landscape that surrounds the pleasant city of Middletown he will see the finest view to be had in the Connecticut Valley south of Mt. Holyoke. It would be difficult, indeed, to find a place, in most respects, better fitted to be the sit of an institution of learning than Middletown, within easy distance of the large cities and itself combining most of the conveniences of city with all the healthfulness and rural charm of the country.
About the time when Captain PARTRIDGE's school was closed, the Methodist Episcopal church began to give earnest and general attention to the cause of higher education. One or two attempts at college building, at the close of the previous century, had failed somewhat disastrously; and in 1795, when the buildings of Cokesbury college, Baltimore, were burned to the ground, Bishop ASBURY wrote to a friend, with an evident sense of relief, "Its friends need not mourn: the Lord called not the Methodists to build colleges." But during the years between 1815 and 1825, academies and schools of similar grade, under the direction of this denominatior, had been established in good numbers throughout most of the Eastern States. Some of these, like those at Kens Hill, Maine, and Wilbraham, Massachusetts, achieved an immediate and lasting popularity. The success of these schools revived the interest in collegiate education, and determined the leaders of the church to found some institution in which the education begun in these secondary schools could be carried on and completed. Propositions of this sort chanced to come to the ears of some of the trustees of Captain PARTRIDGE's defunct American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy. At a meeting, held early in 1829, one of them casually remarked that if the Methodists were thinking of founding a college, it might be possible to dispose of their empty buildings to them, and that for such a purpose they might well sell the property for $4,000. Rev. Laban CLARK D. D., then presiding elder of the New Haven district, happened shortly after to be in Middletown; and being informed of this remark, he at once notified them that he would be one of ten to purchase the property, and would promptly secure the other nine. This led to the serious consideration of the matter; and at the ensuing session of the New York conference, May 1829, Dr. CLARK presented from the trustees proposals for the transfer of the property in due form, and urged their acceptance upon the conference. A committee, consisting of James EMORY, Samuel LUCKY, and Heman BANGS, was appointed to consider these proposals. The New England Conference, being invited to unite in the project, appointed Timothy MERRITT, S. MARTINDALE, and Wilbur FISK to act in conjunction with the New York committee. The first act of this joint committee was to issue proposals inviting the several towns within a specified region to compete for the location of the college by the offer of subscriptions. Liberal offers came from Troy, New York, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Wilbraham, Massachusetts; but those from Middletown were now so modified that the committee had no hesitation if preferring them. The trustees of the academy, with the consent of the stockholders, offered the entire property, valued at about thirty thousand dollars, to the conferences, on the two conditions, that it should be perpetually used for a college or university, and that a fund of forty thousand dollars should first be raised for the endowment of the college. About eighteen thousand dollars of this fund were promptly subscribed by citizens of Middletown. The report of the committee recommending the acceptance of this offer was adopted at the session of conference in May, 1830, and the forty thousand dollars endowment was soon raised. A board of trustees was elected, one third by each of the two conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church-the New England and the New York East-that had intrusted themselves in founding the college, and the other third by the trustees of the Military Academy; and application was at once made to the legislature for a charter for "The Wesleyan University." This first charter provided that the power to elect a faculty, arrange courses of instruction, and determine all matters of administration should be vested jointly in the trustees and in an equal number of "visitors" to be elected annually by the two above-names conference, and by such other of the conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church as might afterward be admitted to such representation. This awkward division of governing powers continued until 1870, when, by an amendment to the charter, the board of visitors was abolished. At present the trustees are elected, a part by the board itself, a part by the conferences of the Methodist Church, and a part of the alumni.
At the first meeting of the joint Board of Trustees and Visitors, August 24th 1830, Rev. Willbur FISK, D. D., then principal of Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, was elected first president of the Wesleyan University. In October of the same year, a prepatory school was opened in the buildings, under the superintendence of Rev. W. C. LARABEE. In May, 1831, the charter was granted the University; and on the 21st of the following September its halls were opened to students. The faculty consisted of President FISK, Professors Augustus W. SMITH and John Mott SMITH, and Tutor W. MAGOUN. The catalogue for 1831 registers forty-eight students; the first class graduated in 1833 numbered six; and in 1836 one hundred and twenty names were on the college rolls.
Those early years were, however, a time of constant struggle. The $40,000 was but a very slender foundation for a college, and additional contributions were, as President FISK said, "as meager as the leakage of a miser's purse." The new college was in want of libraries, museum, apparatus-in short, of all education appliances whatever. But by untiring exertions the endowment was slowly increased, a few books were got together to begin a library, and President FISK went to Europe to purchase apparatus. In its early days of poverty and struggle the institution had many faithful and helpful friends, among whom Rev. Heman BANGS, D. D., and Rev. Laban CLARK, D. D., deserve especial mention. It was Dr. CLARK who first determined that the college should be planted in Middletown, and in all its early difficulties it had no more earnest and prudent helper. A Methodist preacher in those days, when to be a Methodist preacher meant tireless energy and indomitable persistence. Although he enjoyed in his youth only a most slender educational advantages, he had not only trained his naturally shrewd and penetrating intellect in the hard school of experience, but broadened and ripened it by wide and careful reading. His enthusiasm, tact, and prudence were of great value in the early counsels of the college, and he has been into inaptly called the father of Wesleyan University. His knapsack, saddle-bags, and homespun suit deposited in a chest made from the wood of the first Methodist church in America, are religiously preserved in the college library.
But to no one was the college so much indebted in those early days as to its first president, Willbur FISK. A sound scholar, a thinker and writer of acknowledged reputation both within and without his own denomination, he was almost the only one of the founders of the college who had any very clear ideas of what a college ought to be or to do. The course of instruction, the plan of administration, the methods of discipline, all were largely of his deciding. Upon him, too, devolved most of the labor of enlarging the slender endowment. From the day of his arrival in Middletown, in the December before the opening of the college, to the day of his death, his time and his care were all given to the Wesleyan University. He endeavored by extensive correspondence to increase the general interest in the institution; he traveled through the Northern and Eastern States to collect moneys for it; though always in feeble health, he attended personally to most of the minute details of its administration; and, almost with his last words he commended "this poor university" to the friends of education.
It was a pet notion of Dr. FISK that the rigid plan of a four years' course of study and the corresponding division of students into four classes fostered traditional college jealousies and impeded the progress of the abler students. In accordance with these peculiar views-which were afterwards entertained by Presidents WAYLAND of Brown, and MASH of the University of Vermont-the proficiency of the student was, at first, made the only basis of classification; and any student, able to pass the requisite examination, received a diploma, without regard to the time he had spent in college. The plan, however, soon fell into disuse; diplomas were, in fact, given only at the close of the college year, and students naturally arranged themselves in classes from the start. In the catalogue of 1836 we find the ordinary distinctions of Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen. It is worthy of note, also, that, at the suggestion of President FISK, the Wesleyan University anticipated some of the most important features of the new education, by giving much more attention to the modern languages than they commonly received at that time, and by establishing, very early in its history, a scientific course, to meet the wants of those who wished to obtain advanced literary and scientific training, but whose tastes or circumstances forbade the ordinary classical course. But perhaps President FISK is remembered most of all for the rare beauty of his character and his personal influence over his students. To them he was like a father; while his pure and lofty piety, his gentle and saintly temper endeared him to all who knew him. He died in 1839. His widow survived him forty-five years, living in pathetic seclusion alone, in a house* on one corner of the college campus. [*At the present writing (September 1884(, this house is just being removed.]
At the death of Dr. FISK, Dr. Stephen OLIN, then in Europe, was elected president. On his return from Europe, the following year, Dr. OLIN found himself too feeble to assume the duties of the presidency, and consequently resigned it early in 1841. In February of that year, Dr. Nathan BANGS was elected to the vacant post. Dr. Bangs, then in the midst of a long and honorable career, felt that the sphere of his greatest usefulness lay elsewhere; he accepted the position with reluctance, and in July, 1842, willingly resigned it to Dr. OLIN, whose health had now so improved as to justify his acceptance.
Dr. OLIN's fame as a pulpit orator, and his previous success in a similar situation, caused him to be greeted with an enthusiastic welcome. He was thoroughly prepared for his work. He had filled the chair of belles letters for seven years in Franklin College, Athens, Georgia, and for four years had been president of Randolph Macon College. He was a thorough and enthusiastic classical scholar, and inclined to be rather more conservative than President than President FISK in his views of a college education; it was during his administration that the modern languages disappeared altogether, for a time, from the curriculum. He was a finished and graceful writer; but it was only in the pulpit that is greatest power was seen. Here he was supreme. In his power of sustained and commanding eloquence he was unapproached by any other preacher I his denomination, unsurpassed by any. While he was president, his health was so feeble as never to allow him to devote himself as he wished to the work of instruction. He was, however, very successful in improving the financial condition of the university, and extending its reputation; and his noble and commanding character was itself an inspiration to all the students under his charge. He received very efficient aid in the general administration of the college from professor Augustus W. SMITH, LL. D., who for several years filled the office of vice-president.
Dr. OLIN died in 1851. After an interval of a year, Dr. SMITH, who had been connected with the university from its foundation, and had won high reputation as professor of mathematics, was elected to the chair of president. During the administration of President SMITH the permanent existence and prosperity of the institution was insured by the raising of an endowment fund, which, for the first time, placed the university upon a solid financial basis. About one hundred thousand dollars were subscribed to this fund; and although, as is usual in such cases, the full amount subscribed never realized, yet, by the persevering labors of President SMITH, ably aided by Professor H. B. LANE, more than eighty thousand dollars was at this time invested for the endowment of professorships. Isaac RICH, of Boston, was the chief donor to this fun, making at this time the first of his princely donations to the university.
Upon the resignation of President SMITH, in 1857, Rev. Joseph CUMMINGS, D. D., LL. D., President of Genesee College, was elected to the vacant post. The personal force and energy of President CUMMINGS, his tireless industry, his hearty devotion to the welfare of the college, together with his skill and popularity as an instructor, combined to make his administration, in many respects, a very successful one. It was particularly marked by the growth of the material interests of the institution, in which President CUMMINGS always took especial concern. To his labors the college is principally indebted for the line of noble buildings that now crown the hill.
During the Commencement week of 1868, a new and tasteful library building, capable of containing one hundred thousand volumes, was dedicated. This building was erected by the late Isaac RICH, at a cost of forty thousand dollars. During the same week, the contributions of Mr. RICH to the Endowment Fund were increased to one hundred thousand dollars. In the fall of 1868 the old "Boarding Hall," was remodeled and transformed into "Observatory Hall," by the addition of a handsome tower, in which was placed one of Alvan CLARK's finest refracting telescopes. In 1866, the centennial anniversary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, an appeal had been made to the friends of the college to contribute moneys for the erection of a new chapel. The civil war had then just closed; one hundred and thirty-three Wesleyan alumni and students had seen service in the Federal armies during the struggle, and thirteen of them had fallen. It was proposed that the new chapel should be a memorial to those thirteen, and that a memorial window should bear their names. In response to this suggestion $60,000 were contributed, and the graceful Memorial Chapel was erected. It was dedicated during the Commencement season of 1871, and the lower floor of Captain PARTRIDGE's old south building, which had formerly served as a chapel, has thenceforth been devoted to the humble purpose of a coal bin.
The Commencement week of 1871 saw the dedication of another noble building, the Orange JUDD Hall of Natural Science, erected during the years 1869-71, at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars, and believed to be one of the most complete and elegant structures of its kind in the country. For this building the University is indebted to the munificence of Orange JUDD, Esq., of New York, who will ever be remembered as one of the most faithful and generous friends of his Alma Mater. The basement or first floor is devoted to the department of chemistry; the second floor to the department of natural history; while the third and fourth stories contain the museum of natural history.
It was during the administration of President CUMMINGS that provision was made for the regular increase of the library and the scientific collections of the college. During the years 1864-5, a library fund, amounting to twenty-seven thousand six hundred dollars, was raised by the Alumni. This fund, although original none too large, and since somewhat depleted by unfortunate investment, has secured for the library a continuous, if not a very rapid, growth. The whole number of volumes now (1884) in the library is about 33,000. An increase of this fund is at present one of the most urgent needs of the college. The completion of the Orange JUDD Hall of Natural Science, in 1872, provided ample accommodations for the proper care and arrangement of the scientific collections of the University; and in the years immediately following, large additions were made to these collections, chiefly by the endeavors of Mr. G. Brown GOODE, then curator of the museum. Since that time the growth of the museum has been constant and rapid. The department of mineralogy contains a nearly complete series of the minerals of Middlesex county-one of the richest fields for the mineralogist in New England-mostly collected by the late Professor John JOHNSTON. The botany of the county is also fully represented. The most extensive collections, however, are in the department of zoology. The SHURTLEFF series of shells comprises 8,000 species, from all parts of the world. The vertebrata of North America, especially the reptiles and fishes, are represented by a collection which ranks among the first in the country. The whole department of zoology contains over 1,300 distinct species. Probably no other New England college has so extensive a museum actually used to illustrate instruction in its under-graduate departments.
In 1872, important changes were made in the curriculum of the college. Increased provision was made for the study of the modern languages and the physical sciences, and the plan of the course was materially changed by making the studies of the last two years largely elective. It was in the fall of this year that the college was for the first time opened to ladies. Four ladies were admitted September 1872, and were graduated in 1876. Comparatively few ladies have, since then, availed themselves of the privileges of the college; not more than eight or ten have usually been in attendance at any one time, though the number seems now to be slowly increasing. At the date of the present writing (1884) only fourteen in all have been graduated. The experiment of co-education (for it must still be considered an experiment) can hardly have been of injury to the college; no changes have been made in the course of study to accommodate it to the ladies, and there has been no lowering of the tone of scholarship, for the young ladies have shown themselves able, both mentally and physically, to perform the intellectual labor of a college course quite as well as the gentlemen who sit in the class with them. It is probably, however, that there are still many of the alumni who have some doubts as to the wisdom of the measure, and it has never been very popular with the undergraduates.
President CUMMINGS resigned his position in June 1875, though he continued in charge of the department of philosophy until January 1878. At a special meeting held July 28th 1875, the trustees elected as the successor of President CUMMINGS, Rev. Cyrus D. FOSS, D. D. President FOSS entered upon his duties at the commencement of the fall term, and was formally inaugurated October 26th 1875. He found it necessary to give immediate attention to the enlargement of the permanent funds of the college. The growth of the endowment during the previous ten years had by no means kept pace with the growth of the unproductive wealth of the college, in buildings, collections, and other material facilities. The increase in the number of buildings, and the needful enlargements of the course of study rendered the annual expenditures, of necessity, greater than ever; while, on the other hand, in the stagnation of business and general financial depression that followed the panic of 1873, the productive property of the college had depreciated greatly in value. In March 1876, a committee of the trustees decided that only about one-half of the bills receivable reported in the previous Commencement could be any longer considered good. A Debt, allowed gradually to increase for twenty years, had reached the sun of sixty thousand dollars; while the total amount of funds from which income was available was only one hundred and forty thousand dollars. In these circumstances, it was evident-to quote the words of President FOSS in his report to the conference in 1876-that "only large and generous help, promptly given to the institution, could save it from disaster." Never, perhaps, was the University in a more critical position. It is gratifying to be able to record that the generosity of its friends soon removed it out of urgent danger. A committee appointed by the Alumni Association appealed for aid to all the graduates of the college. In response to this appeal about forty thousand dollars was subscribed, of which the greater part has been paid. Still more largely liberal was the response to the untiring personal efforts of President FOSS. The inevitable annual deficit, while it yet continued, was met by generous annual subscriptions, in advance, chiefly from the trustees. The debt of the University was paid. And, during the five years of President FOSS's administration, nearly two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was added to the permanent funds. If the needs of the college were still great, the danger of immediate disaster was past. Of the group of generous friends whose liberality brought this timely aid, the largest giver was Hon. George I. SENEY.
But it was not financial success alone that marked the administration of President FOSS. A character so noble, a kindness and courtesy to unvarying, an enthusiasm for goodness so inspiring, a piety so high and pure-these could not fail of their effect upon all who knew him. His influence was itself an education of the best sort. No president of Wesleyan University was every more respected; none was ever better beloved.
In May of 1880 President FOSS was called by the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church to fill the highest office in the gift of the church. At the annual meeting of the trustees in June following, the chair of President, thus made vacant, was filled by the election of Rev. John W. BEACH, D D., who at present occupies the position.
The permanent endowment funds of the Wesleyan University now amount to about $800,000; the whole property of the college may be estimated at about $1,250,000. The faculty at present numbers eighteen members, of whom all but one-the librarian-are officers of instruction. The number of students enrolled upon the last catalogue is 201. There has been a slow but steady increase in the attendance for the past few years.
The college has graduated, in all, about 1,400 students-the exact number, if we mistake not, is 1,370-of whom about 1,100 are still living and at work, many of them in the most influential positions in school, church, and State.* [* For many interesting statistics of the alumni the reader is referred to the Alumni Record of Wesleyan University, edition of 1881-3, J. C. BURKE, S. B. GOODE, and C. W. SMILEY, editors. It is believed that no other college has co complete a record of its alumni. From the "Historical Sketch" (by the present writer) in this record this article is chiefly taken. A few facts are also drawn from an article prepared by the present writer for "The College Book," Boston, 1878.]
Wesleyan University has always been under the direction and patronage of the Methodist Episcopal church; but it has never been a sectarian institution, still less-as it is sometimes curiously thought to be-a theological school. It gives no theological instruction whatever; some of its trustees and faculty, are usually, as at present, members of other churches then the Methodist; and its students are of all religious denominations and of none. It is probably true, however, that the general tone of morals among the students is higher, and the scholarly purpose more pronounced in Middletown than in most other colleges. Student life is, indeed, much the same thing here as everywhere else, with its odd mixture of seriousness and gayety, its conviviality and occasional nonsense, its stubborn adherence to traditions not always reasonable. But most Middletown students belong to the class who go to college and not to the class who are sent; many of them are not wealthy, but they have the better wealth of thrift and energy, and are not likely to waste the privileges of a college course. The average expenses of students in Wesleyan are probably somewhat less than those of students in most other eastern colleges, but it is very doubtful whether there is in any college community a quicker intellectual life, or more genuine social refinement. A word of commendation ought here to be given to the college chaptered fraternities. Whatever they may be elsewhere, their influence in Middletown seems to be only good. Each one owns or leases a large "club house," which contains lodge room, dining room, and parlors, and which affords to young gentlemen the comforts and some of the social amenities of a home. Three of these club houses have been erected within a few year, the "Psi Upsilon," on Broad street, the "Eclectic," on College Place, and the "Alpha Delta Phi," at the corner of High and Cross streets. The last two are perhaps the best specimens of domestic architecture in the city.
Wesleyan University is one of the youngest of our New England colleges, having but just completed its first half century. The man who received its first diploma, Daniel H. CHASE, LL. D., of Middletown, is still living; and at every meeting of the trustees is still seen at least one man who was present at that meeting in the "Lyceum of Captain PARTRIDGE's Academy" where the Wesleyan University was born. Its friends confidently believe that the college has passed the days of embarrassment, and that its career has but just begun. In the beauty of its location, its buildings, apparatus, and all other material facilities, in the wise adaptation of its course of study to the needs of the student, and in the ability and energy of its faculty, Wesleyan University may compare favorably with other eastern colleges; and in the next score of years it will doubtless greatly increase its influence and attract many more students to its halls.
BERKELEY DIVINITY SCHOOL*
*BY REV. FREDERIC GARDINER, D.D.
The Berkeley Divinity School is situated at the southwest corner of Main and Washington streets, its property extending on Main street, to the land of the Episcopal church. The buildings are: (1) a large three story brick house on the corner, formerly the residence of Rev. Dr. Samuel F. JARVIS. A part of this is occupied by the Bishop of the Diocese (who is also the Dean of the school) as a residence. The library and class rooms are in the second story, while the third floor and the attic furnish rooms for students. (2) A two story students' dormitory extending on a north and south line from the rear of the first building to the rear of the chapel. This contains twelve students' rooms. It was built in 1860, of brick, but was intended only as a temporary structure and it will be hereafter removed. (3) The chapel, a beautiful structure of Portland stone, erected by the liberality of Mrs. Mary W. A. MUTTER, in 1861, and restricted in use to religious worship. Besides the seats for the faculty and students, it contains about 60 sittings which are free. (4) The so-called "WRIGHT House," a two story brick dwelling house, purchased in 1868, and used for students; commons, the second story and attic containing also about seven rooms for students. There is also a wooden gymnasium behind the first building.
The origin of the school was in this way: when the then Rev. Dr. WILLIAMS was rector of the church in Schenectady, New York, he had gathered about him several theological students. In 1848 he removed to Hartford, Conn., as president of Trinity College, his students following him, and, on October 29th 1851, was consecrated as Assistant Bishop of the Diocese. Several eminent divines being then connected with the faculty of the college, or with the parishes in the city of Hartford, it was thought wise to organize a theological department of Trinity College. The instructors were Bishop WILLIAMS, the Rev. Dr. COIT, then a professor in Trinity College, the Rev. A. C. COXE, now bishop of western New York, having been consecrated in 1865, and the Rev. E. A. WASHBURN, afterward rector of Calvary Church in New York. Sixteen young men had already been graduated, when the increasing numbers and importance of the school made a more permanent and independent organization desirable.
At the meeting of the General Assembly in 1854, a charter was granted constituting a Board of Trustees, eleven in number, of whom six should always be clergymen and five laymen of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Connecticut; vacancies occurring in the board to be filled by election by the convention of the diocese. The trustees were authorized to meet for organization whenever the sum of $40,000 should have been subscribed for endowment. The original trustees were: the Rt. Rev. T. C. BROWNELL, D. D., Bishop of Conn.; Rt. Rev. John WILLIAMS, D, D., Assistant Bishop of Conn.; The Rev. D. R. GOODWIN, D. D., president of Trinity College; The Rev. F. G. GOODWIN, D. D., rector of Church of the Holy Trinity (then called Christ Church), Middletown: These being trustees ex-officio. The Rev. Thomas C. PITKIN; Rev. Jacob L. CLARK, D. d., of Waterbury; Edward S. HALL, of New York; Ebenezer JACKSON, of Middletown; William T. LEE, of Hartford; Charles A. LEWIS, of New London; Leverett CANDEE, of New Haven.
Bishop WILLIAMS, having resigned the presidency of the college, removed to Middletown and it was decided to locate the new Divinity School in that city.
In August 1854, the trustees met for organization at the residence of Bishop Williams. The organization was effected and the Rev. William JARVIS was elected secretary and treasurer.
At a subsequent meeting, on the 19th of January following, the course of study was arranged and negotiations were entered into for the purchase of a site for the buildings of the school. At a special meeting, April 19th 1855, it was unanimously decided to accept the offer of Mr. E. S. HALL of so much of the property now occupied by the school as belonged to the estate of the late Rev. Dr. JARVIS for the sum of $10,000. Negotiations on the subject were continued for some years, the school having rented the building, and finally Mr. HALL presented the property, and also an additional $10,000 to the school on condition that it should never be removed from Middletown.
In 1856 Rev. Edwin HARWOOD, nor rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, became the first resident professor, beside the Bishop, and was the only one until the election of Rev. T. F. DAVIES, as resident professor of Hebrew, in the same year.
In October 1857, the professorships were as follows:
The Rt. Rev. J. WILLIAMS, D D., LL. D., professor of doctrinal theology and ritual.
Rev. T. W. COIT, D D., LL. D., professor of ecclesiastical history. Dr. COIT was then pastor of St. Paul's Church, Troy, N. Y., but spent several weeks in each year lecturing to the students. He became a resident professor in 1873.
Rev. Edwin HARWOOD, M. A., professor of the literature and the interpretation of Scripture. Dr. HARWOOD had become professor, as above, in 1854, and continued until 1859, when he resigned to become rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, where he still remains.
Rev. F. J. GOODWIN, D. D., professor of the evidences of Christianity. Dr. GOODWIN was then rector of Christ Church (now the Church of the Holy Trinity), Middletown, where he remained until his death, in 1869, but gave instructions in his department until compelled by ill health to relinquish it, in 1867.
Rev. A. M. LITTLEJOHN, M. A., professor of pastoral theology. Dr. LITTLEJOHN was then rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, but cam weekly to the school for his teaching until his removal to Brooklyn, L. I. Where he was consecrated bishop, January 27th 1869.
Rev. E. A. WASHBURN, M. A., professor of the polity of the church. Dr. WASHBURN was then rector of St. John's Church, Hartford, but came regularly to the school until his removal to New York as rector of Calvary Church. He died in that position, February 2d 1881, one of the most eminent and respected divines of what is known as the Broad School of Churchmen.
Rev. Francis T. RUSSELL, professor of elocution. Professor RUSSELL was then rector of the church in New Britain, but afterward settled in Waterbury, where he became and still remains the first principal of St. Margaret's School, an eminently successful institution for the education of young ladies. He still continues his valuable instructions in the Divinity School, to which he makes frequent visits.
Rev. Thomas F. DAVIES, M. A., professor of Hebrew. Dr. DAVIES was an alumnus of the school, and his professorship has ever since been filled by alumni. In 1861 he resigned to become rector of St John's Church, Portsmouth, N. J., from which he removed to St. Peter's Church, Phiiladelphia, where he still remains.
Bishop WILLIAMS was the dean of the school, as he still is, and was authorized to appoint a librarian.
January 12th 1858, Mr. JARVIS resigned his office of secretary and treasury, and A. J. JACKSON, M. D., of Middletown, was chosen in his place and continued to discharge its duties until his death.
The Rev. Dr. HARWOOD resigned his professorship in March 1858, and was chosen non-resident professor of ethics, but new took further part in the teaching of the school. A committee was appointed to provide for the instruction during the rest of the year, and to nominate a successor.
The Rev. Frederic GARDINER, of Maine, was selected, but was unable at the time to accept the position. On June 15th 1859, the Rev. Samuel FULLER was elected and continued to discharge the duties of the professorship until, on account of his increasing age, in 1882, at his own request, he was retired from active service and became Professor Emeritus.
By death and resignation the board of trustees was gradually changed, Bishop WILLIAMS and Mr. E. S. HALL being the only original members now remaining. The Rev. Dr. TODD, now dead, of Stamford, became a trustee in 1857; Mr. John H. WATKINSON, of Middletown, was elected in 1860, and others have since been added, until the present board consists of the following persons, the first three being ex officio:
The Rt. Rev. John WILLIAMS, D. D., LL. D.; the Rev G. W. SMITH, D. D., president of Trinity College; the Rev. J. Lewis PARKS, M. A., rector of Church of Holy Trinity, Middletown; the Rev. Francis T. RUSSELL, M. A.; the Rev. Francis GOODWIN, M. A.; the Rev. STORRS O. SEYMOUR, M. A.; Edward S. HALL, Esq.; John H. WATKINSON, Esq.; Lyman W. COE, Esq.; Charles E. JACKSON, Esq.; Henry B. HARRISON, Esq.
In 1860 an offer was received from Mrs. Mary M. MUTTER to build a chapel for the school, on condition (1) that seats not occupied by the students should be free, (2) that daily service should be celebrated in it during term time, (3) that the services, when held on Sundays and holy days, should not be so fixed as to interfere with the hours of service of the parish church, and (4) that the chapel should be under the immediate charge and jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese. This generous offer was thankfully accepted, and the beautiful chapel, now standing on the grounds of the school, was subsequently built and conveyed by deed of trust, containing the above conditions, to the trustees, who formally accepted the same. The SHALER and HALL Quarry Company, of Portland, generously furnished gratuitously the necessary stone.
When the Hebrew professorship became vacant, in 1861, Mr. Wm. H. VIBBERT, then a student in the school, was appointed instructor ad interim, and after his ordination, in 1862, was made professor of Hebrew. His instructions continued twelve years, and he then resigned to take charge of St. Luke's Church, Germantown. Dr. VIBBERT subsequently became rector of St. James Church, Chicago.
Meantime the increasing number of students made more room necessary, and in temporary dormitory of brick with twelve additional rooms was added and is still standing, known as "the wing."
In June 1865, the Rev. Henry DE KOVEN, D. D., who had already been discharging the duties for some time, and who was residing in Middletown, was appointed professor of Homiletics without salary, and also chaplain, and a vote of thanks was recorded by the trustees for his previous valuable and gratuitous services. Four years later he resigned, on account of ill health, and subsequently went abroad, settling near Florence. He died in Switzerland, in 1884.
At the same time it was left discretionary with the Bishop to employ the Rev. H. A. YARDLEY as his assistant in instruction. He decided to do so, and Mr. YARDLEY afterward became a regular professor and the chaplain of the school. He continued his instructions until within a fortnight of his death, in April 1882, but increasing illness had compelled him to give up his chaplaincy some years earlier, in 1876.
Although the school had been founded as a school for the Diocese of Connecticut, so many were attracted to it from other dioceses that more accommodation for students was imperatively needed, and the dwelling house known as the "the WRIGHT house," then belonging to Dr. BLAKE, and adjoining the grounds of the school, was purchased in 1868 for a students; boarding house and dormitory. This was effected chiefly by the liberality of the ALSOP family, the frequent benefactors of the school. A word should be said of this house, since it was the first one built in Middletown of American brick. The late Mr. GLOVER's house had already been built of imported brick. The WRIGHT house was built between 1745 and 1750 by Joseph WRIGHT, of brick made in Newfield district, and was occupied after his death by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren until 1816 or 1817. In 1820 it was again occupied by them. In 1846 it was sold to Dr. CASEY and by him, after several years, to Dr. BLAKE, and by him to the Berkeley Divinity School. No other buildings have since been acquired or erected, though a library building has long since been in contemplation and is greatly needed. The school is also greatly in want of more convenient rooms for the students.
In 1869, in consequence of the death of Dr. A. H. JACKSON, his brother, Mr. Charles E. JACKSON, was chosen secretary and treasurer, and now fills those offices.
In 1868 the Rev. Frederic GARDINER, D. D., then connected with the parish church, as added to the list of professors, and in the following year terminated his connection with the parish to become professor of the literature and interpretation of the Old Testament. He was subsequently appointed librarian, and on the resignation of Dr. FULLER, in 1882, his department was changed to that of the literature and interpretation of the New Testament, while his former duties were transferred to the professor of Hebrew.
In February 1873, the Rev. T. W. COIT, D. D., LL. D., who had from the beginning given instruction in the school in ecclesiastical history, removed to Middletown and became one of the resident professors. About 4,000 volumes of his large and valuable library had been deposited for many years with the school, and soon after his coming to Middletown the remaining 10,000 were acquired by the school. The whole library is now somewhat above 17,000 volumes. In January of the following year, 1874, the Rev. John BINNEY became professor of Hebrew, giving instruction also in Chaldee and Syriac as electives. In 1876 he became chaplain of the school, and in 1882 his department was enlarged by the addition of the literature and interpretation of the Old Testament.
At the beginning of January 1883, the Rev. William A. JOHNSON entered upon his duties as the professor chosen to fill the place of Mr. YARDLEY. The list of the faculty at present is as follows:
The Rt. Rev. John WILLIAMS, D. D., LL. D., Dean and professor of doctrinal and pastoral theology and the prayer book. The Rev. Thomas W. COIT, D. D., LL. D., professor of church history. The Rev. Samuel FULLER, D. D., professor emeritus. The Rev. Frederic GARDINER, D. D., professor of the literature and interpretation of the New Testament, and librarian. The Rev. John BINNEY, M. A., professor of Hebrew and the literature and interpretation of the Old Testament, and chaplain. The Rev. William A. JOHNSON, M. A., professor of Christian evidences and homiletics. The Rev. Francis T. RUSSELL, M. A., professor of elocution.
The whole number of alumni in 1884 is 293, of whom 15 are deceased. Although, as already said, the school was designed as the theological training school for the diocese of Connecticut, many of these have come from remote parts of the country, and they are now distributed everywhere from China to Oregon, three of them being missionaries in the Indian country, and some of them are to be found in most of the dioceses of the United States. The number in the school in the session of 1883-4 was 34.
The school year begins about the 20th of September, and continues until the first of June, with a short recess at Christmas, and another at Easter. During term time and sometimes in the vacations also, many of the students are employed on Sundays as lay-readers in the neighborhood and some in feeble parishes in distant parts of the diocese.
The library, containing, as before mentioned, over 17,000 volumes, is almost wholly theological; but its books are lent freely to any body who may wish to use them. It is at present stored in the class rooms, but a special and fire proof building is urgently needed, as well as funds for its care and for the purchase of new books. Its only means of increase at present is from the donations of friends.
The endowment of the school, though still very far from sufficient, has gradually grown by the liberality of many generous friends, conspicuous among whom have been Mr. E. S. HALL, of New York, the last Mrs. Mary W. A. MUTTER of Middletown and other members of the ALSOP family, the late Miss Margaret BELDEN of Norwalk, the late Mrs. F. A. RUSSELL, of Middletown, and especially the late Mr. Joseph E. SHEFFIELD of New Haven.
The present endowment, over the above the real estate in Middletown, a small amount of unproductive real estate elsewhere, and a considerable amount of stocks given to the school in their present form, but yielding no income, is as follows:
General endowment fund $118,363.00
BELDEN legacy 14,353.00
MUTTER professorship 25,000.00 $157,710.00
Susan BRONSON Legacy 500.00
ALSOP Memorial Fund 3,000.00
Richard MANSFIELD Scholarship 1,000.00
Chapel Endowment Fund 10,000.00
James SCOVILL Scholarship 1,000.00 $15,500.00 $173,216.00
That so much has been accomplished with so small an endowment is due to the personal activity of Bishop WILLIAMS, the founder of the school. It is hoped that in the near future such further endowments may be obtained as shall fit the school more fully for its work and greatly increase the effectiveness of all that has been already given.
SCHOOLS IN MIDDLETOWN.*
*BY W. U. PEARNE ESQ.
If to any one thing more than another is due the prestige of New England to-day, it is her schools and school system. It is a noteworthy fact that the early settler had scarcely constructed the rude building to shelter his family before the meeting house was voted and built; and regularly, on the Sabbath day, all the people of the little settlement, with the exception of those required by law to be detailed for guard duty against the savages, gathered in this meeting house for worship and religious instruction; and close upon the heels of the meeting house came the school. The church was first and most important because the home could not perform all the functions and supply all the wants of the church-the home could, however, to a considerable extent, supply the need of the school, and so the school came second, and after the little colony had in a measure established itself. The foresight of the fathers in this regard was of inestimable value, not only to the infant commonwealth, but to Connecticut of to-day; and to it the State owes her proud position among her sister commonwealths.
And as the several settlements and colonies helped themselves in this regard, the State assisted and provided for the education of the young, some of the statutes in force at this time, having been enacted as early as 1650. Among these are the statutes requiring parents and those having the care of children to bring them up in a some honest and lawful calling or employment, and to instruct them or cause them to be instructed in the necessary branches of learning, and making it the duty of the town officers to see that the heads of families were not negligent of their duty in this regard.
Throughout the whole history of the State is found the enactment of wise laws as they became necessary, and the appropriation of large sums of money, the income of which is to be used for the support of schools, and the use of which for any other purpose is punishable by severe penalties, so that do-day the State is provided with good schools, which are also free schools, and no one, be he rich or poor, can be deprived of a good common school education if he will take it, and if he refuse, then the State interferes and insists under certain penalties that he shall take some advantage of the benefits provided.
The settlement of the town of Middletown dates as early as 1650. In February 1652, it was voted to build the meeting house and the vote was speedily carried into effect. It must be remembered that the settlers were few and poor, and that whatever could be accomplished by manual labor was quickly and cheerfully done, and that money especially must have been a scarce commodity, since there were but limited means of producing articles of exchange and the market was certainly a small one. In view of these facts and also of the fact that each home must have been the school room for its own young, and faithful mothers the instructors, it is not to be wondered at that the first recorded vote pertaining to school matters is dated April 14th 1675, probably about twenty five years after the first settlement. The following is the vote:
"14 of ye 4, 1675. At ye same meeting ye town granted ten pounds for ye year ensuing towards ye incourigm't of a schoolmaster to teach o'r children to read & write and made choice of Goodman WILCOCK, William HARRISS and Seargt WARD to enquire after and agree with a meet person for that work, and to levy ye remainder of his higher upon ye children schooled to ye summ of ten pounds more."
The vote does not disclose where the school was to be kept, and it is a fair inference that the thing was quite experimental.
The number of householders at this time was between 50 and 60, and probably the schoolmaster's salary, small as it was, was not easily raised, for on November 29th 1676, is found the following vote:
"November 29, 1676. The town voated to entertain Mr. Thomas WEBE as a scoolmaster to teach chillderen to wright and read at least for tryall for the winter season. abought halfe a yeare, finding him meat & dfrink or sum other small incoredgement; at the same time was voated that the watchhous shall be forthwith fitted up for a schoolhous.
In this vote a place is designated for the school to be held-the watch-house. In all probability the sturdy settlers had small occasion to use it for any other purpose.
It seems that Mr. WEBB's "tryall" was satisfactory, because in the following March the town passed this vote:
"At a town meeting ye 12th of March 1676-7 the town granted Mr. Thomas WEB as schoolemaster to ye town twentyfive pounds for his salary for one year beginning ye twentyeighth day of December past; this sum above said to be levied as followeth, ten pound to be paid by the town according to former grant for ye incouragment of a schoole master, fifteen pound to be levied on ye children that have gone, shall goe, or ought to goe to school in equall proportion."
It will be observed that by this vote each child must pay his proportion whether he went to school or not.
That this school was successful may be presumed by the following vote:
"September 7, 1680. The towne voated to a shool hous of twenty six foot long & seaventeen or eighteen foot wide & six foot & a hallfe betweene joints in hight. & secondly that the townsmen shall use the best means they can to get it done if it may be before winter. & thirdly that this hous shall be sett up in some place neare the watch hous.
How does this little first school compare with the more pretentious ones of to-day? And yet this rude log cabin, as it probably was, was of more real interest to that little community than the spacious and comfortable school rooms are to the parents and scholars of the present time:--as witness the following vote, to provide for the maintenance of the public school in addition to the town money and private contributions:
"January 6, 1695-6. Att the same towne and proprietors meeting upon the motion of ye Reverent Mr. RUSSELL it was votted it that if in any time coming there shal be made any lands by way of islands upon the great river, within the bounds of this township, that al such lands shal be improved for ye benefit and encouragement of the public school in this towne."
At the time of the settlement of Middletown there were three separate groups of settlers; one near the south end of Main street, one in the vicinity of the old cemetery, St. John Square, and the third at the present site of Cromwell; "North society," or "Upper Houses" as it was called. The North Society increased quite rapidly in numbers, so that in 1703 they petitioned for and were granted leave to settle a minister.
Whether there was any dispute with regard to the location or management of the town School does not appear; but it is quite reasonable to suppose that, with the large number of inhabitants in this part of the town, there would be a feeling that they ought to have some school opportunities nearer to them than the then town school.
The following grant from the General Court was made in October 1709.
"Upon the consideration of the petition of the inhabitants on the north side the riveret in Middletown, now presented to this Assembly, praying that so much of the school money arising by law as shall be levied on their part of the list of that town, may be ordered to be improved for a school amongst them on the north side the said river; This Assembly grants allows the same, providing they shall maintain a school for reading and writing, for one half of the year, annually; and do order that on default thereof, the said money shall be paid toward the maintenance of the town school as formerly."
In the mean time a settlement had been made upon the east side of the "Great River," and had considerably increased in numbers. "Upper Houses" had been incorporated as a parish in 1704, and the town school house near the watch-house had been built about thirty years before.*
*It seems that both the settlement at "Upper Houses" an on the east side of the River, demanded that the money collected from them should be at least in part expended for schools in their midst. And the matter promised to be quite a serious cause of trouble.
On the 15th of February the school committee submitted the following proposal to the town, although what action the town took, if any, is not shown. It will be noted that the ferry alluded to was a small ferry across what is now called Sabethe River, connecting the "Upper Houses" with Middletown:
"We whose names are underwritten being appointed a Committee for the managing the town schole in Midletown do unanimously agre to make the following proposells to the town for their concurrence and confermation. Imprimis, that a new schoole house be erected for the accomidation of the wholl neighburhood at som place between BOWS, TAPPINS and FOSTERS corner as shall be thought by the said Committee to be most convenient at the charge only of those that inhabit on the south of the ferry, and the west of the great river.
2ly. For the incoridging of learning and supporting of the said town schole. It is agreed that twenty-five pounds be annually raised out of the inhabitants of the whole town, according to their istates, in the gran levy as it shall be approved and passed by the Gen'r'll Assembly, from time to time, until that with the forty shillings upon ye thousand pounds ordered by the Gen'll Assembly with the incomes of other donations shall amount to the som of forty pounds pr annum, and afterwards the said twenty-five pounds raised by the town to abate as the other incomes do increase from time to time, which som shall be improved as followeth, viz., what part of it arises on the inhabitants on the north side the ferry shall be improved among the children there, to enter them in learning, provided thay keep a half year schole amongst themselves; and upon their default it shall be payed to the town schole, on the south side the said ferry, and what of the said twenty-five pounds arises on the inhabitants on the east side the great river, with their part of the forty shillings on the thousand popunds which shall be improved amongst the children there, they obliging themselves to keep a halfe years schole to instruct their children in learning amongst themselves, but upon their default the whole shall be payed to the town schole, on the west side the great river, and if any of their children belong well entered in their spelling want to be perfected in reading wrighting an sifering and their parents or masters will allow them, they may come over and be further instructed at the town schole upon free cost.
"3ly, that the Committee appointed for the schole be standing, and if any of them by the providence of god be removed by deth or otherwise that then the town shall make choice of others won or more to make up the vacancy.
"4ly, that the sd. Committee are hereby impoured and ordered to procure from time to time a sutable and soficient scholemaster to teach and instruct children and youth & to perfect them in learning as the law directs, and to agree with him for price & order him his pay from time to time accordingly, also to demand, receive, and improve all such gifts and donations as are or shall be made to the said schole for the best use and bennifit thereof.
"5ly that no a, b, c, darians be allowed to come to be taught at the town schole, unless it be when there is not a compitancy of others to keepe the scholemaster imployed, and it be with the said master's concent.
"February the 15th 1710-11.
"John WARNER June'r
This proposal contains the history of the first "High School." No definite action is recorded, but from subsequent records it is presumed that the "proposells" were accepted and adopted.
Besides the territory now comprised in the towns of Middletown, Middlefield, Cromwell, Portland, and Chatham, a part of the present town pf Berlin was granted to Middletown in 1609. Settlers had moved in, and the parish of Kensington had been formed. In the May session of the General Court, 1744, the following resolution was passed:
"Upon the memorial of David SAGE and others, Middletown, within the parish of Kensington, and those within the district of that trainband annexed to that company called the Northwest Quarter of Middletown, praying liberty to erect a school among them; Resolved by this Assembly, that the memorialists and the inhabitants within the following bounds (viz.), on the west by Farmingtown east line from Midletown northwest corner; south, so far as the district of that company called Midletown Northwest Quarter; north, by Wethersfield, to extend so far east as the district of said company; east and south by the bounds of said company or trainband; shall and may assemble together, as societies by law are enabled, and form a school amongst said inhabitants, and regulate the same according to the laws of this Colony in such case provided; and also that the memorialists and inhabitants within the bounds aforesaid shall and may, from time to time, draw out their proportion of money, according to their list, as shall and may be granted on the publick list for the support of schools in this Colony; and that the money by them received of Midletown of the sale of the western lands shall be for the use aforesaid; always provided a school be kept amongst said inhabitants according to law."
There seem to be no further records relating to schools for a long time. Probably decent schools were maintained, with periods of success and depression. How they fared when the colonies became involved in the long and tedious war of the Revolution, is not shown; and whether it was due to the war or a lack of interest in the schools it seems that the school was allowed to deteriorate.
But there were men of public spirit who saw the great misfortune of a lack of proper school opportunities, and on the 9th of September 1782, the following memorial which was received with favor was presented to the town:
"Sept. 9, 1782. To the inhabitants of Middletown, to be assembled in town meeting this day, Gentlemen The education of children we look upon a matter of great importance & which in many places too very much neglected, & in order that our children may no longer share in the common calamity, we the subscribers have entered into a written agreement to set up, support & maintain at our own private expense, a school to be steadily kept, both winter & summer, & having no place on our land convenient as that spot on which one was formerly built a few rods west of the meeting house, we therefore earnestly request the favor of this town, to grant us liberty to build a house, on that spot of ground and as it cant possibly, in any degree discommode the public nor any private person, and as our design in its own nature is laudable & cant but meet the approbation of every generous mind, so we flatter ourselves, you will so far countenance our design, as cheerfully to comply with our request.
Com'ee in behalf of the whole.
"Voted, That the memorialists have liberty to erect a schoolhouse as mentioned above, during the town's pleasure."
It would be exceedingly interesting, were it possible, to follow the division and organization of districts, as the population increased, until from one little town school, with its single teacher, and ten, fifteen, or twenty scholars, supported at an annual expense of a hundred dollars, there are now in the territory originally comprising the town of Middletown more than 45 school districts, with 48 schools, 78 teachers, an enumeration of 4,885 children, and a payment of more than $50,000 annually, to support the public common schools, to say nothing of the private schools in the same territory.
The present town of Middletown (exclusive of the city, which will be noticed hereafter) is divided into eighteen school districts, as follows, commending at the north east corner of the town: Newfield, Westfield First, Westfield Second, Westfield Third, Westfield Fourth, Staddle Hill North, Staddle Hill South, Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, West Long Hill, East Long Hill, Durrant, Farm Hill, Millers Farms, Johnson Lane, Bow Lane, Hubbard, Haddam Road, and Maromas. In these districts there were, January 1st 1884, 1,213 persons between the ages of four and sixteen years. Each district has its own school house. In that of Millers Farms are six rooms, five of which are occupied. Durant has a fine brick school house with two rooms, both of which are occupied. The other school houses are ordinary wood buildings, having but one school room each. * School is maintained in each of the districts, except Haddam Road, for at least 36 weeks in each year; in Haddam road District for at least 24 weeks in the year.
* The school house in the East Long Hill District requires more than a passing notice, on account of its antiquity. It is a small one story building, with very thick walls constructed of small stones. No record exists as to its beginning, and it ante-dates by many years the memory of the oldest inhabitant. Whether it was always used for school purposes is not known.
The Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, while being one of the school districts of the town, is fully described elsewhere, and therefore is not included in this statement.
The supervision of the schools is vested by law in a board of school visitors consisting of six members, two of whom are chosen each year for the period of three years, which board is also non-partisan. It is their duty to ascertain the fitness of teachers, to visit the schools, and see that they are properly managed, and to report to the town and State board of education.
The executive officer of the district is the district committee, who is chosen for one year.
For the year ending August 31st 1884, the town schools of Middletown were supported at a cost of $7,162.61, of which $6,761.50 was paid by the town.
THE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT.-Prior to 1839 all the districts in the present town limits, except the four Westfield districts were incorporated into the First School Society, but of the time and manner there is no record. The city proper was divided into four districts, and they were a part of the First School Society.
In 1839 these four districts, upon their own petition, were incorporated into "The Middletown City School Society." Each district, however, retained its old organization, limits, and school. These districts were designated: "The North," "North Middle," "South Middle," and "South."
Shortly after the organization of the City School Society, a high school building was erected on College street.
In 1857, under authority from the General Assembly, the four districts were consolidated, and the "Middletown City School Society" became "The Middletown City School District."
Certain disputes having arisen regarding the western boundary, the following bounds were fixed for the new district:
"The Middletown City School District includes the City of Middletown, excepting that part of the same which lies west of a line beginning at the center of Newfield bridge near the factory on Jackson street, and running thence in a straight course to a point in the southerly line of the city about eighty-one and one-half feet westerly from the center of Babcock street. The location of said line is indicated by four stone bounds set in the ground, each having on its upper face the letters C. S. D., and a goove showing the position of the line.
The affairs of the district are managed by a board of education consisting of nine members, three of whom are chosen each year for the period of three years.
Upon this board are conferred all the powers and duties of school visitors and district committee. The annual meeting of the district is held on the third Monday of September.
For a time the district utilized the four old school buildings, and the new one on College street. In 1868-69 the latter building was remodeled and enlarged to its present capacity, namely: a two-story French roof brick building, with basement. As now used this building has six rooms on each of the first and second floors; two school rooms, an apparatus room, and a commodious hall on the third floor; with ample accommodations in the basement for cloak rooms and heating apparatus, and an extra recitation room if required. The building is well ventilated, furnished with good desks, etc., warmed throughout with steam, and every precaution has been taken with regard to sewage for the attainment of the best sanitary conditions. There are also ample grounds about the building. This house was formally opened in January 1870, and denominated the "Central School." By this change the other buildings were rendered unnecessary, and two of the, on Pearl and William streets, in the two middle districts, with their sites, were sold.
On the night of November 29th 1878, by a fire, the origin of which was never satisfactorily explained, all above the second floor of the central school building was destroyed, and the lower floors were much damaged by water. Steps were taken at once to rebuilt, temporary quarters, in the mean time, having been provided for the school in the town hall, the basement of the Universalist church, and the Union Mills building, corner of Main and Union streets, so that the building was again ready for occupancy before the close of the summer term, 1879.
In the hall of the central school the annual graduation exercises are held, at the close of the winter term, in April, at which time also the promotions are made.
The high school department occupies three rooms on the second floor and two rooms on the third floor; three rooms on the second floor and one on the first floor are devoted to the grammar grades, while the remaining five rooms of the first floor are used for the primary department. The records pertaining immediately to the schools are kept in the office in this building.
The old building in Green street was occupied to the extent of its capacity, and for a time a primary school was maintained in the rooms in the rear of the Catholic church. This Green street building was erected in 1818, but it was not large enough for the increasing wants of the district. Therefore, in 1872, a new brick two-story building was erected on the same site, and formally names the "JOHNSON School," in honor of Edwin F. JOHNSON, formerly mayor of the city, and president of the Board of Education, a gentleman noted for his public spirit and interest in the cause of education.
This structure is well lighted, ventilated, and furnished, has an ample basement, but not extensive grounds. The same care is taken here as at the Central, with regard to the health of teachers and scholars, and in the summer just passed appliances were put in to heat the whole building by steam. There are on each floor three rooms, two of which are occupied by the grammar grade, and three by the primary; one room is at present unoccupied. Scholars are promoted from this school to the next higher grade at the Central.
The school house on South Main street, the only remaining school of the district, was built in 1860, and consisted of a one-story brick structure, with one room. The roof was raised and an additional story, and a school room was built, in 1880. This school is unfortunately situated, and has but little more land than is covered by the building. It is used only for the lower primary grades, promotions being made to the next higher grade at the Central.
The district is divided into sub-districts for each school, so that all the scholars of the grade of the school in the sub-district where they reside are required to attend that school. During a large part of the time, since the formation of the city district the principal of the Central School has been also superintendent of all the schools in the district.
The number of teachers at present employed by the district is 23; the number of scholars attending the schools of the district last year was 974; the number graduated in 1884, 11; the whole number enumerated was 1,424; a large number of whom are in private schools and the parochial schools of St. John's (R. C.) Church. The total cost of maintaining the schools of the district during the year ending August 31st 1884, was $22,455.71.
The schools of higher grade are well supplied with philosophical, astronomical, and chemical apparatus, and books of reference of later date; while a respectable library is owned to which additions are made each year.
While there have been many changes in the Board of Education, there have been comparatively few in the officers. The following gentlemen have filled the office of president of the Board: Rev. Cyrus H. FAY, 1857-58; Rev. J. L. DUDLEY, 1858-59; Rev. F. J. GOODWIN, 1859-60; Edwin F. JOHNSON, 1860-62; Benjamin DOUGLAS, 1862-68; Robert G. PIKE, 1868-74; Rev. Frederic GARDINER, 1874-77; Elisha B. NYE, 1877-79; George W. ATKINS, 1879-80; Robert G. PIKE, 1880-82; George H. HULBERT, 1882-84; George A. COLES, 1884.
The following is a list of the secretaries: Walter S. CARTER, October 1857 to January 1858; Elisha B. NYE, January 1858 to 1859; Patrick FAGAIN, 1859-60; Dr. George W. BURKE, 1860-78; D. Ward NORTHROP, 1878-80; Wesley U. PEARNE, 1880.
The offices of treasurer and clerk of the district are combined in one. Hon. Daniel W. CAMP was elected clerk and treasurer in October 1857, and was annually re-elected until his death, which occurred in August 1877. Charles F. BROWNING was appointed to fill the vacancy, and holds the office at the present time.
SUPPORT OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.-The main sources of support of the schools are: (1) Appropriations by the State, (2) Incomes of State and private funds, (3) Taxes.
As was said in the beginning the State has always been very liberal in her support of the schools, and likewise stringent with regard to the duties required of her subjects.
In October 1700, the State granted to the towns, under certain restrictions, from the funds paid by them into the treasury, forty shillings on the thousand pounds to be used by them for the maintenance of the public schools. This statute afterward with the change of currency was made to read "two dollars upon every thousand." In October 1754, this allowance was reduced to fifty cents per thousand; in October 1766, it was increased to one dollar per thousand, and in May 1767, it was restored to two dollars per thousand. This law remained in force for many years, but was subsequently changed to appropriate a stated sum to the weaker districts whose share of the income of the school fund was small. In 1871 an appropriation of fifty center per capita of the enumeration was made, which was increased in 1872 to one dollar and fifty center per capita. This statute is in force at present, and the appropriation is known as the "civil list appropriation."
In 1733 the State appropriated the avails of the sale of "certain western townships" (being seven townships in the county of Litchfield) to the support of the public schools. Also in 1766 an act was passed granting, for the same purpose, the arrears then due of an excise on liquors and tea, which had been imposed some years before, also the interest of the excise money then collected, and in October 1774, the principal of such excise was granted for the same purpose. The use of these moneys for any other purpose was prohibited under heavy penalties.
The "School Fund," so-called, is a fund arising from the sale of lands in Ohio known as the Western Reserve. By an act passed in May 1795, the principal sum arising from this sale was made a perpetual fund, the income of which was to be divided among the several school societies, in proportion of their respective assessment lists, for the support of schools, and to be forfeited if misapplied. In 1821 the method of distribution was changed to a per capita division of the net proceeds on the enumeration-which method is in force at the present time.
THE TOWN DEPOSIT FUND.-In 1836 the United States Congress, there being a surplus in the treasury, passed a statute providing for the deposit, under certain conditions, of all this surplus except a stated sum with the several States, or at least with such as would comply with the conditions, in proportion to their respective representation in both houses of Congress. Connecticut speedily made such enactments as would enable her to comply with the requirements of the Federal statute, and received her portion of the fund. This money was, in turn, deposited by the State, under similar conditions, with the several towns, in proportion to their respective population. The conditions of deposit were: 1st, That the money should be considered as a deposit in trust for the State; 2d, That at least one-half of the income should be appropriated to the support of the common schools; 3d, That the town should make good any deficiency that might occur through mismanagement or otherwise; 4th, That the town should repay the whole or part of the fund, when called for, to the State.
In 1861 a statute was passed requiring the whole income of this fund to be appropriated to the support of schools. How well this town fulfilled the conditions may be judged from the fact that the original fund long since disappeared, and exists only on paper; the town, however, pays the amount of yearly interest toward the maintenance of the schools.
THE DONATION FUND.-This fund is peculiar to the town of Middletown, and its income is distributed among the districts formerly included in the First Society, i.e. all the present town except the four Westfield districts. The origin of this fund is found in the will of Rev. Samuel STOW, once a preacher in Middletown, who died in the year 1704. This will is recorded in the Probate records at Hartford. The inventory of his estate, which was made by Nathaniel STOW, Ebenezer HUBBARD, and Noadiah RUSSELL, showed that he owned several tracts of land, amounting in the whole to thirteen hundred and sixty-eight (1368) acres.
The will was executed August 13th 1702,--was very long and numerous in its bequests, or directions for the division of his property, among which was the following:
"Item: as to a parcel of land at the Streights Hill containing seven hundred twenty-four acres and a half, more or less, being an hundred and fifty-three rods in breadth and two miles and a half long,--cutting on highway west, and on undivided land east,-on Thomas WETMORE's south, and Mr. Giles HAMLIN's land north:
"I give all this to my sonn and heir Samuell STOW, the sonn of my sonn John STOW, advising him with the advise of his Father or some of his friends to give an hundred acres to some publick good of the Town at one of the corners of it in a square dimention."
The whole of this land was appraised at only thirty-six pounds sterling,--seven hundred and twenty-four acres for less than two hundred dollars!
It is understood that this gift for the public good became the nucleus of the present donation fund, to which was added, in 1734, the estate given by Jasper CLEMENS, as sown in the following extract from the town records, December 24th 1734:
"Voated: That Mr. Geo. BECKWITH or those that shall challenge the estate given by Mr. Jasper CLEMENS to the use and benefit of a scoall for Mid-town shall have all the right given by said CLEMENS in his last will and testament to the said scoall.
"Viz. That for three hundred and fifty pounds money, he or they giving Bonds with surety or sureties for the money for a reasonable time with the interest, If he or they doe not pay the money down and the interest of s'd money to be paid from year to year until the principle be paid, and Giles HALL Esq. and Jabez HAMLIN Esq., with Capt. George PHILLIPS are hereby full empowered to give and execute lawful conveyance of s'd land, and the interest of the money to be from year to year disposed according to the will of said CLEMENS,-passed in the affirmative by a unanimous voat."
The income from the rental of the lands and money which constituted the donation fund belonged to the First School Society of Middletown. In process of time the available assets of this fund were collected and invested in twenty-four shares of the Middlesex county National Bank, in which form the fund has remained for many years. This fund is held by a board of self-perpetuating trustees, originally appointed by the State Legislature, and now consisting of Samuel T. CAMP and Dr. George W. BURKE (there being one vacancy), the latter acting as treasurer, and annually distributing the dividends among the several school districts.
The apportionment of the several funds is made upon the annual enumeration, and both the town and city districts receive their respective shares of each.
A "capitation tax" also furnished some funds for the support of schools. This was an assessment on the scholars, uniform for each grade, and based on attendance. It was discontinued in 1861.
The last source of income is taxes. Each town is required by law to raise a sum equal at least to one dollar on the thousand of its assessment list. This amount is raised in Middletown, but the amount annually paid for the support of schools in excess of the income from State and other funds is more than the tax levied. Since the town has jurisdiction over the territory of the city school district, the tax so raised from property within the district is paid into the district's treasury; in addition thereto the city school district also levies annually a tax of about two dollars on the thousand.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS.-It is difficult, from the nature of private schools, to procure much that is reliable or satisfactory regarding their history. It is doubtless true that during the years when schools were primitive, and the means of higher education more scarce, teaching was a part of the work of the minister; and that as the population increased there arose a demand for instructors in lines of study calculated to prepare young men for college, and to lay the foundation for some special profession or business. At the same time, with the increase of business, and the growth of the town in importance, it became a center whither many youths from other towns and counties were sent to complete their education, under competent instructors, or to prepare for the more complete and extensive work of a college course.
Among the earliest of these instructors was the Rev. Enoch HUNTINGTON, the fourth pastor of the First Church, a graduate from Yale College in the class of 1859, distinguished for scholarship during his college course, and for remarkable intellectual ability afterward. During his long and successful pastorate, there were under his instruction a very large number of youths, who, in after years, gave evidence of the value of his early training. Among these may be mentioned President DWIGHT of Yale College. Others who were engaged in this work were: Chauncey WHITTLESEY, graduate from Yale in 1764, and Jonathan INGERSOLL, Yale, 1766; both of whom were noted for their ability and qualifications. Doubtless others of equal ability succeeded them, whose names are now lost. Prior to 1800, Rev. William WOODBRIDGE opened and carried on for a number of years, a school for young ladies. During the first portion of the present century a school for the instruction of both sexes was opened by Elijah GARFIELD, of Lee, Mass., but later on eh instructed youths only who were desirous of preparing for business or college.
A school for boys was opened in the building on High street, opposite the college, known as the "WEBB House," and later on as the "DE KOVEN House," by Isaac WEBB, a graduate and tutor of Yale College. This school was successfully carried on by Mr. WEBB for a number of years, and until hid death, which occurred in 1842. Among his pupils was Rutherford B. HAYES, afterward president of the United States.
About the year 1825, a school for young ladies was opened and maintained for a number of years in the building on the southwest corner of Court and Pearl streets, know known as St. Luke's Home, by Miss Mary Ann BARTLETT. It seems that this school was quite successful and was extensively patronized.
In 1835, Daniel H. CHASE, LL. D., opened in the city a school which was called "The Middletown Institute and Preparatory School." This school was most successful for many years, and was patronized, not only largely by the people of this town, but numbers of students came here from other places and countries. This school numbered about 80 pupils, including many Spaniards and Cubans. The building on the west side of Main street, below Grand street, formerly known as the "New York Hotel," was the home of the non-residents, and the building, just north and in the rear of this, now used for a swelling, contained the school rooms. The school was well equipped, and had two distinct and extensive courses of study, one preparatory for college, and the other designed to furnish a finished education, second only to a college course.
This school was continued until 1870, when it was closed.
Dr. CHASE also conducted, form 1840 to 1843, the Middletown Female Seminary. He was succeeded by his brother, Sidera CHASE, who continued it until 1848, when it seems to have been discontinued. Probably this "seminary," or "institute" as it was called, was carried on in the same building before occupied by Miss BARTLETT.
About 1850, Rev. Josiah BREWER, then residing in the house now occupied by Hon. Benjamin DOUGLAS, on South Main street, opened "The Middletown Female Seminary." The school was held in a brick building, then standing north of the residence, and it seems to have been a school of more than ordinary facilities for furnishing a complete education for young ladies. Some years later the school was moved to the Union Mills building, corner of Main and Union streets, and about 1856 was discontinued.
Shortly afterward, a school of similar character was opened in the same place by Miss Maria PAYNE. This school was subsequently moved to a new brick building erected on Broad street, near William, by General J. K. F. MANSFIELD. Miss PAYNE continued here, with excellent success, until 1868, when she gave up the control. The school was conducted a year or two by other parties, when it was discontinued.
In 1859, Rev. Henry M. COLTON opened a boys' school in the same stone building on High street, known as the "STARR House." This school was continued until about 1870.
In 1875, James H. BRADFORD, formerly superintendent of the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, opened a quasi military school for boys, called "BRADFORD's Students' Home," in the "WEBB House," on High street. After about two year this school passed into the hands of Rev. B. A. SMITH, and was conducted as a select school for younger children. In 1883, the control of this school was assumed by the Misses PATTEN, who still retain it.
In 1884, Edwin H. WILSON, late superintendent of schools in the city school district, opened a school in the building formerly occupied by Charles R. ALSOP as a residence, corner of Washington and North high streets, for a limited number of boys and youths, designed to furnish an advanced grammar school education. It is known as "The WILSON Grammar School."
Westfield Falls Home School, a church summer boarding school for boys and a day school for both sexes, was opened at Westfield in May 1884. The institution is pleasantly located, and is under the principalship of its founder, the Rev. G. Henry SMITH. A. M.
The parochial schools of St. John's R. C. church, and Captain PARTRIDGE's military school, are not mentioned, because they properly belong to other topics, and may be found in another part of this work.