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Twenty-one year old Horace Wood entered Kimball Union in the fall of 1831, a few months after Cyrus and Jonas Richards had left for Dartmouth College. Horace was another poor and pious young man from a large family who were “…hard-working, provident, highly respectable, and withal poor in this world’s goods.” His parents were ill and Horace was needed at home, but he felt compelled to approach his father about his “…high calling of God to him to enter the Christian ministry.” His father listened to “…his son’s confession with a sinking heart” but upon much reflection, gladly consented to Horace’s “high purpose” and sent him to Meriden to study. Many years later, a nephew, Gilbert Wood, found a letter from Horace in which he described his life as a KUA student. It was printed in April 1945 in the magazine, Old-Time New England. Although Horace’s family lived not far away in Alstead, NH, news was scarce and traveled slowly; a letter home, carried by passing friends and neighbors, relieved many an aching heart. Here is part of what he wrote, just as he wrote it.
Meriden, New Hampshire, October 17, 1831
perhaps you will want to know something about my living. I will tell you a little about it. I Board my self, room half a mile this side of the Academy A Mr Stearns from Reading, rooms and Boards with me now. I roomed alone 3 weeks have bought a few dishes a bushel wheat & half bushel of corn & a few crackers, we have butter & milk 12 1/2 for butter 3 cents per qt for milk, give 12 1/2 per week for room, 12 1/2 for washing & our provisions cost us about .50 per week. the tuition for instruction .31 per week. So the whole cost is $1.06 per week besides wood and lights for wood we pick it up by the side of a large brook on widow Robert’s place (the one that we have our room of) for nothing; as you all want to know how we live I will begin tonight & tell you how we have lived today and so on thrug the week. Monday the 17th got a qt of milk in the morning; made a hastea pudding had pudding and molasses for Breakfast cold pudding & milk for dinner & supper with a little cracker & butter to top off with, & it is now ten o’clock 18 Tuesday evening, we had this morning for breakfast roasted potatoes & butter, for dinner wheat & butter, for supper & warm Indian cak & butter 19 Wednesday, for breakfast we had boiled potatoes & butter, for dinner bread & butter, & for supper warm cake & milk, I have been very much prospered in my studies to day yesterday I could not study much on account of my head & eyes I caught a bad cold (as it is said, but I hardly know whether I catch that or that me) but it affected my eyes so I have had to wear spectacles a most of the time much better than I was afraid they would, I find that studying does not effect them so bad as hard work, I have bought me a pair of second handed glasses & have sold my other ; I have bought a peace of velvet & Mr. Dimond a sadle, harnis, trunk maker is a going to make me a collar I pay him in work, have saw’d some wood this after noon, am a going to saw a cord, it is now ten oclock & I must close for to night I do not alow my self to set up much after nine verry often on account of my eyes –
Image: This 1808 map of the Meriden Hilltop was drawn from memory by Dr. Elias Frost in 1853. On the far left is Daniel and Hannah Kimball’s home and, center, south of Main St. is Kimball’s sheep barn, affectionately known by many 20th C. alumni as the “Snack Bar.”
Next Week: Horace Wood describes his classes.