L to R: Asa Dodge Smith, class of 1826. Helen Peabody, class of 1844, center left, with her seminary students. William Jewitt Tucker, class of 1857.
Kimball Union’s first attempt at creating a complete list of its trustees, faculty and alumni eventually became the General Catalogue 1815-1880. It was managed with some difficulty, as many records from the early years of the Academy were either lost or never compiled. However, we do have many that survived. They, along with the first catalogue, have been a great resource for learning about so many people who were part of the Academy’s first century.
A student statistics page in the first catalogue includes the total number of known graduates (1635), and non-graduates (964), through 1880. One noteworthy statistic is that 533 KUA alumni graduated from Dartmouth College (presumably from the 1282 male graduates). Two hundred and fifty-two students are listed as having attended “all other Colleges” and another 461, “Professional Schools.” Although women didn’t receive graduate status at KUA until the 1840s, the most common profession for graduates, both men and women, was teaching. There were 431 teachers among the graduates. Of those, according to the catalogue, 34 were college professors and seven became college presidents.
L to R: Benjamin Labaree, class of 1824. Samuel Gilman Brown, class of 1827, shown here in a stereodaguerreotype. Peter Clark, class of 1823.
Asa Dodge Smith of Amherst, Massachusetts, class of 1826, was the first of two KUA graduates to serve as president at Dartmouth College; he served from 1863 to 1877. William Jewett Tucker, class of 1857, of Griswold, Connecticut, was the second, from 1893 to 1909. Benjamin Labaree, class of 1824 and a native of Charlestown, New Hampshire, was president of Middlebury College from 1840 to 1866. Samuel Gilman Brown, class of 1827, from North Yarmouth, Massachusetts, was president of Hamilton College from 1866 to 1881. All four men were Dartmouth graduates.
Who were the other three college presidents? Going year by year, through the General Catalogue 1815-1880, I was surprised to find that, in fact, at least 12 other alumni had become college presidents, but not all at schools known to me and some at schools that had changed their names or no longer existed.
Being familiar with Helen Peabody from Newport, New Hampshire, class of 1844, I wondered if the compiler of the 1880 statistics had counted her among the seven college presidents. Though she is not named, Peabody graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1848 and had taught there for five years when the college president encouraged her to establish a “Mount Holyoke in the West.” Consequently, she became founder and first president of Western Female Seminary in Oxford, Ohio, for the next 37 years. At one point, she was offered the first presidency of Wellesley College, but declined as she did not want to leave her seminary. Today, the Western Female Seminary is part of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
Peter Clark of Orford, New Hampshire, class of 1823, became, at age 26, the eighth president of Washington College, serving from 1829 to 1832. The college was founded in 1782 in Chestertown, Maryland, and was named for President George Washington, with his consent. Previously, it had been the Kent County Free School, established in 1723.
L to R: George Cooke, class of 1826. Nathan Jackson Morrison, class of 1848. Ithamar Pillsbury, class of 1819. Homer Taylor Fuller, class of 1859.
George Cooke of Keene, New Hampshire, class of 1826, was president of East Tennessee University, now part of the University of Tennessee, from 1853 to 1857.
Two alumni served as President of Drury College, now a university in Springfield, Missouri. Nathan Jackson Morrison of Franklin, New Hampshire, class of 1848, was one of the founders of Drury, but like KUA, the college was named after the largest donor. However, he was chosen as the first president; the honor of ringing the bell on opening day of classes on September 25, 1873, went to him. Morrison later became President of Olivet College, Olivet, Missouri from 1866 to 1872.
Ithamar Pillsbury, class of 1819, from Dracut, Massachusetts, was co-founder and president of McDonough College, Macomb, Illinois, from 1854 to 1860. The college changed hands and missions several times over the years. It is now part of Western Illinois University.
Homer Taylor Fuller, class of 1859, from Lempster, New Hampshire, was president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1882-1894, before taking the same position at Drury College from 1894 to 1905.
L to R: Judah Dana, class of 1836. The Third Academy c. 1890, was built in 1839 as an extension to the, smaller Second Academy that had been constructed after the fire in 1824 destroyed the First Academy. Myron Winslow Adams, class of 1877.
Judah Dana, of Pomfret, Vermont, class of 1836, was principal of the Normal School of Castleton, Vermont from 1878 to 1881. The school later became Castleton State College and now has university status.
Myron Winslow Adams, class of 1877, from Gilsum, New Hampshire, was President of Atlanta University; since 1988, it has been called Clark Atlanta University. Atlanta University, founded in 1865, was historically a black university. Adams was a professor there from 1891 to 1823, dean from 1896 to 1923 and president from 1923 to 1929.
Herbert Marston Andrews, of Enfield, New Hampshire, class of 1871, was a Presbyterian Missionary in Mussoorie, India before he became President of Woodstock College, also in Mussoorie, from 1898 to 1913.
Four more men are listed as having been presidents of colleges or principals of normal schools that became colleges. David Patten French of Bedford, New Hampshire, class of 1835, was president for a few years, from 1865 to 1867, of Almira College, a women’s college in Greensville, Illinois, known now as Greensville College. The following year, he became President of Illinois Agricultural College serving from 1867 to 1872. Perkins Bass, class of 1848, from Williamstown, Vermont, was president of the State Normal University in Bloomington, Illinois, from 1861-1862. Julius Adelbert Leavitt, class of 1871, of Gouverneur, New York, was Ewing College president in Illinois beginning in 1890. It no longer exists.
The next ranking occupation for KUA graduates through 1880 was Clergymen (333), closely followed by General Business (328), Lawyers (313), Physicians (211), Farmers (112), Editors (36) and Foreign Missionaries (26). Most women at that time were without a profession other than teaching and even those often ended with marriage so her husband and his occupation were usually listed in the catalogue. A few women became missionaries in remote parts of the world, but they, too, were usually married. It is not clear how women who didn’t marry or teach sustained themselves – in all likelihood, they stayed at home and cared for the old folks especially if they lived on farms.
Having a school such as Kimball Union in rural, nineteenth century New England made it possible for young men and women, who otherwise would not have had a secondary education available to them, to succeed at the college level. Many of these young people, in turn, became educators at all levels, from the grammar school teacher in a one-room school house to professors and presidents of universities. Daniel and Hannah Kimball’s mission to have a school in their village has been more of a success in the world than they could have ever imagined.