Governor Dummer Academy History, 1763-1963

By John W. Ragle | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VII
Henshaw, Albee, John S. Parsons, and Foster

WEST NEWBURY, July 14, 1858. . . . In later years the advantages of classical education having been extended to the inhabitants of every city and many towns, the number of scholars at "Old Dummer" has diminished until a few years since it was scarcely an institution. But the Trustees wisely held on to the fine farm left by Gov. Dummer, and a few years since they were fortunate enough to secure the services of Marshall Henshaw, M. A., as Preceptor. Under his able and fostering charge, "Old Dummer" is rising, phoenix-like, and parents are beginning to avail themselves of this rare opportunity for giving their sons a thorough course of study, in a healthy and charming locality, entirely free from contaminating influences. There is not even a candy-shop or a "depot" within two or three miles. A distinguished Essex County official, who was a scholar there some thirty years ago, could find nothing to invest pocket-money in but a pailfull of milk at a neighboring farmer's -- his son, now a scholar, was fortunate enough to purchase a setting hen and a dozen duck's eggs, which were duly incubated.

So, in part, read a dispatch in The Boston Journal following Commencement Day in 1858. The writer was Samuel Perley, a student at Dummer under old Nehemiah; his father had studied under Abiel Abbot, and his grandfather had attended the Academy under Master Moody. The salubrious and retired setting of the Academy, "free from contaminating influences," is a familiar theme, running through descriptions of the school from the earliest days. (It is to be assumed that the absence of such worldly institutions as candy-shops and depots represented a recommendation more acceptable to the parents than the scholars.)

The tone of the dispatch is typical of all others that have come down from this period. The school under Marshall Henshaw, Preceptor since 1853, had been thriving. On the average, between thirty and forty boys had been in attendance each term for some years. The report of commencement proceedings for the previous year, too, serves to reflect this healthy condition in the Academy:

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