Left: The Reverend Timothy Dwight, 8th President of Yale College, was a delegate to the Council of New England Churchmen who gathered on October 21, 1812 at the home (below) of General Abner Forbes, 38 Main Street, Windsor, Vermont, to found a Theological Seminary.
Benjamin Kimball died in 1796 at age 74 from a tragic fall off the dam at his mill under the Meriden Covered Bridge. He left his large property to his only son Daniel, who was, by then, a wealthy and prominent man in town in his own right. Generous toward causes he believed in and having at age 28, “experienced, as he believed, the new birth, and was ever after warmly devoted to the service and interest” of the church, it is not a surprise that Daniel was a delegate at the Windsor, Vermont, meeting in 1812 of the Council of New England Churchmen to establish a theological seminary. The council’s stated goal was, “To assist in the education of poor and pious young men for the gospel ministry; and such others as may be admitted by the trustees, subject to pay tuition.” The Reverend Timothy Dwight, 8th President of Yale College and also a delegate, persuaded the churchmen, “of the great importance of a liberally educated ministry, for the present and future welfare of the churches and the country, deprecating the establishment of schools with a partial and limited course of studies, even for the purpose of multiplying ministers.” Dwight’s appeal was accepted, whereupon the council christened the new school Union Academy — it being the result of the union of churches. Its location was to be determined by the “highest offer of pecuniary benefactions.”Several offers were made including Woodstock, VT, and Orford, NH, but with his wife Hannah’s encouragement, the following remarkable offer was made by Daniel Kimball.
“The Hon. Daniel Kimball, of Meriden, N.H., arose in the council and said that God had blessed him with a liberal fortune, but with no natural heir to inherit it. He recognized the hand of God in this movement, and was ready to pledge the institution six thousand dollars for immediate use, and the bulk of his property at his decease. This offer, by this noble man…being most gratefully accepted, determined its location in Meriden, N.H., and its full name, Kimball Union Academy, after the decease of Mr. Kimball, in 1817.”
A small, wooden building, built mostly by Daniel’s own hands, was erected across the church green from the Kimball home. This humble schoolhouse, the First Academy, was dedicated on January 9, 1815; classes began the following day with seven pupils.
[Quotes are from the KUA General Catalogue 1815-1880, by Cyrus Smith Richards, class of 1831, Principal 1835-1871]
If you would like to learn more of the founding of KUA, look for the 9/7/2012 story of David Sutherland, KUA Trustee 1812-1820, on this site.