Principal Charles Alden Tracy, 1893 senior class portrait.

Principal Charles Alden Tracy, 1893 senior class portrait.

Principal Ernest Roliston Woodbury

Principal Ernest Roliston Woodbury

The Kimball Union student paper sadly carried the story of Principal Woodbury’s departure from KUA for a new Academy. “Early last June it was rumored that Mr. Woodbury would not return to us in the fall. At first everybody considered it as a rumor only, but as Commencement drew near, we all knew that such a thing was being seriously considered by our beloved principal. Not because he did not like the old school, but because the outside world knew his worth and offered him a position of greater influence, and where he could receive better advantages for his family…. We all felt grieved to have Mr. Woodbury leave us, for he and his family had won a place in the hearts of K.U.A. students and the people of Meriden that will be hard to fill.”

Having successfully served as principal in schools in his home state of Maine and at KUA (1900-1905), the trustees of Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine, approached Woodbury and offered him the position of headmaster at their school; he had been highly recommended for the position by the faculty at Bowdoin College, his alma mater. According to Thornton Academy school legend, Woodbury “… told the trustees that he was provided with a house for his young family in his current position” at KUA. Annie Thornton, a trustee and granddaughter-in-law of the founder of Thornton Academy, is reported to have told her fellow trustees, “Tell Professor Woodbury to come. He shall have a suitable house in which to live.” She promptly, having previously donated a library to Thornton in her husband’s name, built a campus home for him and all future headmasters. It must have been a grand home that lured him away from KUA for he stayed at Thornton as headmaster for 32 years.

The Kimball Union trustees once again were looking for a new leader for the Academy. They found the right man in Charles Alden Tracy, a man who was very familiar with the Academy and the surrounding area, as he was not only a member of the KUA class of 1893, but had been born on November 16, 1872, in the Tracy Homestead in nearby Cornish, NH. The homestead had been in the Tracy Family since 1793 and remains so to this day having been owned by Charles’ son Stephen and  his wife Dorothy, both graduates of the class of 1923, and now owned by their daughter Anne Tracy. Tracy’s career of 30 years as headmaster of Kimball Union is the second longest in the Academy’s history and has been noted as one of strong leadership and faithful service by his many associates and students.

Next Time: The Life and Times of Headmaster Charles Alden Tracy, 1905-1935.

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