Left: As a young man of 22, Daniel Kimball, future founder of KUA, enlisted on February 8, 1776, as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He kept a journal during his “march to Quebec Feb. 8, 1776 – May, 27, 1776.” The original document, a page of which is shown above, was submitted to the government as proof of his service when he applied for a war pension, and is kept at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
Below: This transcription of the page on the left, was made from one of 15 pages of photocopies of the diary acquired in 1940 by KUA’s archivist at the time, Ernest Sherman.
The Rev. Henry A. Hazen, class of 1850 and a KUA trustee, 1870-1887, wrote a brief biography of Daniel and Hannah Kimball for KUA’s first General Catalogue 1816-1880. It is one of a few sources available to us that depict their daily lives as citizens of Meriden. We know that gaining an education was always important to Hannah Kimball and her Chase Family, but what drove Daniel to devote so much of his time and fortune to founding an academy? Perhaps it was because of his own lack of an education – when he arrived in Meriden in 1769 at age 16, Hazen tells us, Daniel could not read. We are not sure whether he received instruction, perhaps by his wife Hannah, or taught himself in order to be able to keep a journal by 1776, but learning to read and write certainly helped him in more ways than as a successful farmer, merchant and business man. Hazen added that Daniel served as a representative and senator in the New Hampshire State Legislature, and was the Town Clerk, a Selectman and a Justice of the Peace in Meriden/Plainfield “before he was 30 years old and for the rest of his life.” He added, “He had a strong mind, quick in perception, and was able to express himself with ease and force; thoughtful and taciturn.”
Above: Mill Cemetery, Colby Hill Road, Meriden. Left: The two gravestones in the foreground belong to Daniel Kimball’s parents; his mother, also named Hannah, died in 1783 and was the first person to be buried in Mill Cemetery. His father Benjamin died in 1796 shortly after a tragic fall from the dam at his gristmill located below the Meriden covered bridge. Right: The Kimball Union trustees gave this monument in 1849 in honor of Daniel Kimball. It stands over the graves of Daniel and Hannah Kimball and near those of his parents.
Sadly, Daniel Kimball did not have long to enjoy his new Academy. Hazen wrote that while Daniel was away from his home in Meriden “on a visit to northern Vermont, ‘he was seized with an affection [sic] of the lungs accompanied with fever.’…He was very anxious to see his home again, and the favor of a kind Providence gratified his desire.” Daniel died soon after returning home on February 17, 1817 age 64.
Daniel’s estate was finally settled in 1822. It was estimated at the time that, including his earlier gift of $6,000, he had given approximately $40,000 to the Academy. The grateful trustees voted to add the name Kimball to Union Academy, as allowed by the KUA Charter: “Sec. 13: And be it further enacted, That the board of Trustees may, and they are hereby empowered, once to alter the name of Union Academy by prefixing thereto the name of the principal donor.” Without Daniel and Hannah Kimball’s monetary gifts and their personal care, KUA could easily have closed during difficult financial times as the Academy established itself. We are ever thankful to their pioneering spirits in choosing to invest in education for all, men and women.
Question of the week: We know why the name Kimball was added to Union Academy, but does anyone know why it was originally called Union Academy?
Answer to last week’s question: The first “KUA couple” were Harriet Wines of Deer Island, ME, and Weston Bela Adams of Plainfield, NH, both class of 1816. Harriet was born in Newport, NH; her father, Rev. Abijah Wines, was an early KUA trustee. They married on August 27, 1821 and both died in 1841 while living in Maine, where Weston was a teacher and a part-time preacher.