« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
Subsequently, Frank H. Hamilton, M. D., succeeded Prof. Mussey in the chair of surgery, and with this exception, the faculty remained as above during the operation of the institution. The last course of lectures was given during the winter of 1839-40. The number of students in attendance was 105, of whom 26 received the degree of doctor of medicine. Since the cessation of medical lectures, the college buildings have undergone material modifications, and have been thoroughly repaired, for enlarging the accommodations of Fairfield academy, for which purpose they are at present appropriated. Lyman Spaulding, M. D., was the first president of the college, and was succeeded in office by Joseph White, M. D., in 1817, who resigned in 1827. The venerable Prof. Willoughby succeeded Dr. White, and held the office until his decease.
This institution was incorporated March 13th, 1803, by the regents of the university of this state, and has been in successful operation ever since. The first board of trustees consisted of Moses Mather, Thomas Manley, Nathan Smith, Samuel Giles, Westel Willoughby Jr., William Griswold, Alvah Southworth, Cyrus M. Johnson, John Meyer, Jonathan Hallet, Abijah Mann, Mathias B. Tallmadge, Samuel Wright, William Smith, Benjamin Bowen, Charles Ward, Clark Smith, Thomas Bennett, Moses Wheeler, Francis A. Bloodgood, Aaron Hackley, John Snell, John Herkimer and Henry Coffin, and the school was opened under the supervision of the Rev. Caleb Alexander, as the principal, and under his care and management of about ten years, the institution became extremely popular, and was esteemed the best academic school in the country. It enjoyed a wide-field of patronage and usefulness, the first twelve or fifteen years of its existence, it being the only school of the kind in central or western New York in which thorough academic instruction could be obtained.
Even at this late day it is not an unfrequent occurrence to hear the members of the legal profession, advanced in years and living in the central, western and northern parts of the state, speak of their having been educated at Fairfield. The same remarks may no doubt be made with truth by many engaged in other pursuits, or have devoted themselves to medicine or divinity. Fairfield Academy has sent out many worthy and excellent men, and some who have distinguished themselves in public life and in the learned professions, and it may well have done this. She had the young and aspiring talent of the country flocking to her halls, and she maintained sound, thorough and enlightened instructors. The trustees and patrons of this institution have just grounds to felicitate themselves on the past success of the school.
At former periods the aid of the state has been bestowed, with sparing munificence, and it may be with as much liberality as justice to other institutions and the ability of the state would allow. It is however gratifying to know that this institution, the oldest in the county, and the first established in a now wide-spread, populous and wealthy region of country, enjoys a permanent endowment which places the successful progress of the school beyond a contingency.
No people ever committed a graver mistake than those who make up their minds that almost any body or thing will do for a school teacher. Those who look for cheap instructors, without inquiry as to qualifications, err exceedingly. The youthful mind is quite as capable of erroneous as rightful impressions when engaged in learning, and all experience teaches us how difficult it is to eradicate error and impress truth in its place in the mind of the pupil; hence the importance of placing in our schools teachers capable, accomplished and experienced. "Set the blind to lead the blind," and what will be the end? The reader will, I hope, bear with me a moment longer. It has seemed to me, we regarded less than we should the permanent endowment of our academic schools. I mean such an endowment as would give a permanent annual income sufficient to carry the institution through all temporary adversities that may overtake it in the progress of years. This enables the trustees to retain an efficient corps of teachers and maintain the usual grade of instruction, and when prosperity returns no changes will be required to meet that fortunate exigency. There are no people within the pale of civilization who practice expediency so much as the Americans in accomplishing proper objects and achieving just results. This may be the mighty lever that has brought the country to its present elevated position; but are the foundations sufficiently strong and adamantine to sustain us in that position? The truths of science can only be reached by keeping on the right tract and within its orbit; and who can lead and direct the neophite save the accomplished master, the experienced teacher and guide?
Caleb Alexander was a native of Northfield, Massachusetts, who graduated at Yale College, and having been admitted to the ministry, settled as pastor over the church at Mendon. He came into Western New York as a missionary in 1801, and I am enabled through the kindness of one of his descendants to consult his journal, from which I have made some extracts:
"August 10, 1801. Having received my commission from the Rev. Nathaniel Emmons, D. D., President of the Massachusetts Missionary Society, having obtained the consent of my church and congregation and committed myself and family to the direction and disposal of God, I began my missionary tour to the people in the western parts of the state of New York."
He visited various localities on the North river, in Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany, Schoharie, Otsego, Madison, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Ontario and Herkimer counties, and finally reached Norway, in this county, November 10, 1801, and remained until 23d, visiting and preaching at Fairfield, Norway and Salisbury. At this period Mr. Alexander says, that Fairfield contained 2065, Salisbury, 1694 souls, and the whole county, 14,503.
While at Fairfield and Norway, on this occasion, he made arrangements for opening a school at the former place. A frame building was erected, and in May, 1802, he returned from Massachusetts with his family, and commenced in good earnest to lay the foundation of an institution which gave birth to the Academy. During the whole period of his engagement at the head of the Fairfield Academy, he preached alternately at Fairfield, Norway, Salisbury and at other places in the northern part of the county.
He left Fairfield in 1812, and took charge of the academy at Onondaga Hollow, where he remained engaged in teaching and preaching, giving a portion of his attention to farming, until he was called home to give an account of his stewardship, at the venerable age of 73 years.
Mr. Alexander was the author of several educational works, and among them were his Latin and English Grammars, which were of high repute in their day, although he sold the copy right of the "Grammatical Elements, or a Comprehensive Theory of English Grammar," &c., to Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews, of Boston, in 1793, for $133"33. His education was as thorough and complete as could well be obtained in this country at the time he graduated, and he evinced no lack of energy and application in subjecting his acquirements to the severe test of writing out an elementary treatise on the English language.
The present trustees of this institution are Charles Willard, Sidenis Teal, David W. Cole, Jarius Mather, William B. Porter, Koswell D. Brown, George Pierce, James Seaman, Thomas A. Bice, Bichard B. Smith, Henry Tillinghast, Lorenzo Carryl, Jeremiah Cory, Varnum S. Kenyon, Ezra Graves, William Lamberson, Parley Arnold, Horace Ford, Jeremiah Smith, Alden S. Gage, William Mather, George