In 1880 Kimball Union published its first alumni directory called The General Catalogue 1815-1880. Included was an historical sketch of the Academy by Dr. Cyrus S. Richards, retired fourth principal, who wrote brief, but honest, descriptions of the first seven principals, including himself. Here, in his words, are the first three men as he saw them. Remember, that in the 19th century they were also full time teachers.
Of the first principal, Otis Hutchins, Dartmouth College class of 1804, he wrote, “Mr. Hutchins was a man of undoubted ability and superior scholarship; greatly respected by the citizens of Meriden, and beloved by all his pupils. The reason assigned by the trustees for his early dismissal was, that he lacked organizing ability. His classifications and general arrangements were often sadly at fault; so that he and his teachers were often working at a great disadvantage. Still, his administration, of four years, was very useful, with an encouraging patronage.”
John Parkhurst, Brown University class of 1812, was elected principal in 1819. Richards reflected, “His administration of three years was conducted amid great embarrassments, perhaps without fault of his. Much of this time there were no regular sessions of the school; only private recitations of a few scholars.” The trustees had found it difficult to bring Daniel Kimball’s estate to a final settlement resulting in financial hardships for KUA. When it was finally completed in 1822, it “immediately gave new life and promise to its future prospects.”
In 1822 Israel Newell, Bowdoin College class of 1819, became the third principal and was described by Richards as “a remarkable man; dignified and prepossessing in personal appearance, a prudent manager, strict, and sometimes severe, in his discipline, he soon gave to the school a high and commanding position among the schools of New England. Though a scholar of moderate attainments, as a teacher, he had rare abilities in arousing and stimulating the mind, and enkindling an earnest and healthy ambition in his pupils…The patronage of the school up to this time, had never been large, averaging perhaps a little over one hundred…Still, many very excellent, and some very distinguished men fitted for college here during this time…”
Photograph: Otis Hutchins, First Principal of KUA 1815-1819
Next week: The fourth and longest ever tenure of a KUA Head of School, Principal Cyrus S. Richards 1835-1871.