James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 82 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 82 of 125)
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not obtained in the lower grades by this system,
and gradually changes have been made in the
buildings, until at present no class rooms exist
other than in the High School. At present all
pupils of the grammar or lower grades are seated
with and under the exclusive control of the teacher
to whom they recite, the teacher being held
responsible for their conduct and advancement.

Before 1877, the only supervision had of the
Schools was such as the Commissioners personally
gave them. Under an act passed in that year the
Board was enabled to appoint a Superintendent,
who went into office Nov. 15, 1877, and has since
remained in charge. His earnest efforts have ac-
complished much in increasing the efficiency of the
schools, and their present favorable condition is
largely due to his action.

The schools are graded aud designated in pro-
gressive order as — Introductory, Primary, Gram-
mar and High School. The enrollment in 1845,
the first year in which it is indicated, was i,i24j
the average monthly enrollment in 1880 was 2,406.
The average attendance at the schools in 1843,
was 471; in 1845, 912; and in 1880, (average
monthly,) 2,020; the percentage of attendance in
1880 being 83.9. The entire seating capacity of
the schools, exclusive of the Home of the Friend-
less, is 2,930. The expenditures for school pur-
poses in 1880 were $36,461.22.

The following are the members of the Board of
Education : President, A. B. Smith ; Commission-
ers, A. L. Allen, O. D. M. Baker, Henry Bartlett,
G. C. Bayley, Henry Booth, B. S. Broas, C. Du-
Bois, Jr., Edward Elsworth, J. I. Jackson, E. B.
Parker and J. S.VanCleef; Clerk, Russell Osborne ;
Superintendent, Edward Burgess. The office of
the Board is in the Library building, on the corner
of LaFayette and Washington streets.

TAe Public Library of Foughkeepsie was estab-







lished in 1840 in a building on Union street. The
act of 1843, which established the free school sys-
tem in Poaghkeepsie, gave the Board of Educa-
tion control over this library, with authority to em-
ploy a librarian, and under that law it passed to the
Board Sept. 12, 1843. For several years the hbrary
was located in what is now known as the " Library
Building," opposite the Western Union telegraph
office, though now occupied as law offices. Early in
1862, the Board leased the two south rooms on the
first floor of the court house, now occupied by
Judge Barnard, and into these they commenced
to remove the library, April i6th of that year.
There it remained until the completion of the High
School building in 1873, in April of which year it
was removed to the lower floor of that building,
which it still occupies. The building is a hand-
some brick structure, with Ohio stone trimmings,
three stories high, and was erected at a cost of
$40,000, including site, which cost $12,000, some
$13,000 of which was realized from the sale of the
old Duchess County Academy property which was
transferred to the Board of Education in 1870.
The two upper floors are occupied by the High

In 1843, the library comprised less than a thous-
and volumes. It now contains 10,822 volumes of
well selected Hterature. In 1874, Hon. George
Innis presented the Board a sum of money, which
at his suggestion, was expended in the purchase of
carefully selected mechanical and scientific works
for the use of mechanics and trades-workers. The
collection now contains 176 volumes, which are
placed in a part of the library designated "Innis
Alcove." At various times Hon. James Emott, a
former member of the Board, has presented an ag-
gregate of 332 volumes of valuable miscellaneous
works, which are similarly placed and designated
" Emott Alcove."

James VanKleeck was the first Hbrarian in the
old " Library Building," a position he held for sev-
eral years. He was succeeded for short intervals
by Isaac Smith, now Treasurer of the Poughkeep-
sie Savings Bank, and D. W. B. Marsh, the latter
of whom was succeeded in October, 1869, by Rus-
sell Osborne.

Connected with the library, which is open from
10 a. m. to 8 p. m., is a free reading room, which
was established and has been maintained since
April 8, 1872. On its tables are kept the principal
current periodicals and reviews— some forty in
number — published in this country and Europe.
There is a uniform appropriation of $750 per an-

num for the addition of new books — $250 from the
State and $500 from the city.

The pioneer among Poughkeepsie's private edu-
cational institutions was the Duchess County
Academy, which was incorporated by the Regents,
Feb I, 1792, and was the seventh institution char-
tered by that body. The germ of this institution
was started in Fishkill some years previous to the
Revolution, and there Dr. John H. Livingston
and other distinguished men in Church and State
are said to have received their early academic edu-
cation.* It was the first academy in the county,
and shortly after the close of the Revolution was
removed to Poughkeepsie, where it was located on
the corner of Academy and Cannon streets, to the
former of which it gave its name. The site is now
occupied by the residence and office of Dr. Parker
and the Hull block. The first principal of whom
we have any knowledge, says a writer in the
Poughkeepsie Weekly Eagle, 1871, was Rev.
Cornelius Brower, who was then (1794 to 1807)
pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church. His suc-
cessors in that building were Daniel H. Barnes,
John Mcjimpsy, Stephen Hasbrouck, Edwin
Holmes, Eliphaz Fay and R. B. Gregory.

In 1836, an unimproved lot two hundred feet
square, situated on the corner of Montgomery and
Hamilton streets, was purchased for $1,000, and
in that year a brick building, rectangular in form,
sixty-eight by forty-three feet, exclusive of projec-
tion of portico, and four stories high, was erected
at a cost of $10,364.13. The old site was sold to
the late Alexander Forbus. The old building was
removed to the north-east corner of North Clinton
and Thompson streets, and in 1843 ^^^ leased for
a term of years by the Board of Education, and
occupied as a public school.

WiUiam Jenny was engaged as principal in the
new building. His compensation consisted of the
income of the school and the appropriation from
the Literature Fund, except $40oper annum, which
was to be applied to the payment of the debt and
the insurance on the building, which he was re-
quired to keep in ordinary repair, and, under
direction of the trustees, to employ and pay all
teachers required to carry on the school. The
number of pupils then attending the school was
one hundred and twelve, of whom sixty-four pur-
sued classical studies or the higher branches of
English education. Mr. Jenny resigned the prin-
cipalship April 6, 1843, and was succeeded by

* Local Reminiscences in The Sunday Courier^ of Poughkeepsie,
June 1, 1873.



William McGeorge, who was employed on the same
terms. William B. Wedgewood was principal for
a short period. Rev. Raynard R. Hall was the
principal in 184s, and until April 13, 1847. He
was followed by Peter S. Burchan. Mr. Burchan
was the prmcipal until 1851, when Mr. McGeorge
again assumed these duties and exercised them
until 1864. Stewart Pelham succeeded to the
principalship and held the position during the fur-
ther continuance of the school, which, it was
evident, had outlived its usefulness.

August 2T, 1869, the trustees — T. L. Davies,
James Bowne, H. D. Varick, John Thomson, L.
G. Dodge, J. B. Jewett, George Van Kleeck and
C. W. Swift — having received a petition from Will-
iam C. Sterling and others, also from the Board of
Education of the city of Poughkeepsie, by which
many citizens united in asking them to apply to
the Legislature for authority to sell their real estate
at public auction and give the proceeds to said
Board for the purchase of a lot in the central part
of the city, and the erection thereon of a building
for a Public Library and a High School, " resolved,
that in the opinion of this meeting the interests of
the public will be best promoted by a comphance
with such petition." A committee was appointed
to make application to the Legislature, or unite
with the Board of Education in such application^
for authority to pay over to said Board " whatever
funds or moneys we may then have and also to
bestow on said Board the library and philosophical
apparatus, desks and all other personal property of
said academy." The academy building was con-
verted into the Old Ladies' Home in 1871, and is
still used for that purpose.

The decade between 1830 and 1840 was, per-
haps, the period of Poughkeepsie's greatest activity,
and a vast imjjulse was given to its educational as
well as its more material interests. The Duchess
County Academy was not only removed to more
commodious quarters, but three other institutions
of a .similar character were chartered — the Pough-
keepsie Female Seminary, March 19, 1834, the
Poughkeepsie ■ Female Academy, May 10, 1836,
and the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School, May
26, 1836. In 1842, there were no less than twelve
male and female schools in the village, all " of a
superior order."

The Poughkeepsie Female Academy is the
oldest of the present schools in the city. It was
incorporated by the Legislature May 10, 1836, and
by the Regents Feb. 28, 1837. The erection of a
suitable building was at once commenced and was

ready for occupancy that year. Miss Arabella
Bosworth, who had kept a select school for some
years previously in the building on the corner of
Cannon and Mechanic streets, became the first
principal, and continued for several years in that
position. She was followed by Rev. Joseph Wilson,
Mr. Galpin, Miss Curtiss, Mrs. Holt and Dr. C.
H. P. McClellan.

Up to this time there had always been more or
less conflict of authority between the trustees who
had control and the principals of the school, which
interfered somewhat with its prosperity, but when
the next principal, Jacob C. Tooker, was appoint-
ed, the management passed more completely into
his hands. The result of the new plan was shown
in quite a considerable increase in the attendance.
Some additions were made to the building, and
the institution becamewidelyand favorably known.
Mr. Tooker continued at its head until his death,
after which Mrs. Tooker occupied the place for a
short time. In 1858, Rev. D. G. Wright, S. T. D.,
the present rector, took charge. Smce that time
the building, which is a fine brick structure, situ-
ated on Cannon street, near Market, has been fur-
ther enlarged and refitted, and is now one of the
most complete in accommodations and appoint-
ments. The heavy Doric columns of the porch
give it an imposing appearance, and make it an
ornament to that part of the city.

This academy has always ranked among the best
in the State. It has a laboratory, with ample phil-
osophical and chemical apparatus, a skeleton and
physiological charts, and library of more than fif-
teen hundred volumes; also a large and fully fur-
nished gymnasium.

The Poughkeepsie Collegiate School, a classical
and commercial school, perpetuated in the River-
view Academy, a classical, English and military
boarding school, was incorporated by "the Legisla-
ture May 26, 1836, and by the Regents Feb. 9,
1839. It was one of the fruits of the " Improve-
ment Party " in Poughkeepsie, with whose assist-
ance it was founded by Charles Bartlett, a graduate
of Union College, who had' previously conducted
for some six years in Utica, N. Y., a school on es-
sentially the same principles as were embodied in
this. Mr. Bartlett was burned out in Utica about
183 s, when he removed to Matteawan in this
county, and was associated with Rev. Mr. Wick-
ham in the management of a school in that place
for a year. In 1836, having been invited to open
a school in Poughkeepsie, he casually visited that
village and the afterwards classic grounds of Col-



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lege Hill, which he remarked to friends who ac-
companied him, (members of the Improvement
Party,) would be a beautiful site for a school. He
was asked if he would take charge of a school if
one was built for him, and answered that he would.

In 1836, the brick building now on College Hill
was erected, at a cost of $40,000, and rented to
Mr. Bartlett, who opened a school there in Novem-
ber of that year, assisted by eight teachers. The
structure was modeled after the Parthenon, a cele-
brated temple of Minerva at Athens, in Greece.
Mr. Bartlett continued at the head of the school
until his death April 24, 1857, at the age of sixty

On the death of Mr. Bartlett, he was succeeded
in the management of the school by Charles B.
Warring and Otis Bisbee, who conducted the
school for five years, when, in 1862, Mr. Warring
retired and established the Institute of which he is
now the efficient head. Mr. Bisbee continued the
school, and in that year (1862) introduced the
military feature, which is now a prominent one in
the school.

Riverview Academy is one of a number of
schools in the country which have come under the
management, not of a board of trustees who pro-
cure a principal by the payment of a salary and
retain the control and direction of the details
themselves, but which rather in all their appurte-
nances and property relations belong to the princi-
pal. What characterizes particularly such schools
is the personal interest and responsibility for the
management, and the entire freedom from dicta-
tion by any board of direction. The principal
in such a school wins his own reputation as a man-
ager of boys, and stands or falls as he is approved
or disapproved.

Riverview Academy is not a local school. Its
pupils are gathered from all parts of the Union,
and there are but few sections that have not at
different times been represented. Such a school
necessarily involves a large outlay of private means,
and cannot be expected to compete in cheapness
with schools that are endowed. These unendowed
private schools, many of them, are preferred be-
cause of some excellencies and peculiarities either
of discipline or instruction. In the care and over-
sight of pupils as to their moral and physical well-
being, such schools are claimed to excel. The fol-
lowing is taken from a recant catalogue : —

" Riverview Academy is beautifully situated on
an eminence near the Hudson River, in the out-
skirts of Poughkeepsie, and immediately contigu-

ous to the most finely laid out streets and parks in
the city. It occupies an extent of about six acres,
bordered with many hundred forest trees of various
kinds, deciduous and evergreen, circling the entire
place, the grounds rising in a gentle curve to the
summit, which the building crowns with its admi-
rable proportions. It commands a magnificent
view over many miles of river and forest, from the
Catskill mountains on the north to the Highlands
on the south.

"The building was erected in t866, has large
rooms with high ceilings, provided with hot and
cold water on every floor, is heated with steam and
lighted with gas ; and great pains is taken to make
the boys comfortable and happy.

" It is believed that the building is unrivalled by
any in the State for elegance, spacious accommo-
dations, and provision for conveniences of school-
boy life. The study and school-room is a beauti-
ful hall with a fine outlook on either side through
lofty windows and is remarkably sunny and cheer-
ful. The drill and exercise hall is a spacious room
fifty-six by fifty-two feet, heated in cold weather
and easily ventilated. It commands a prospect
over river, field and forest.

" All proper recreations that do not encroach
upon the work of the school, whether furnished by
the city and its life, or originating in the school,
are sanctioned. Care is taken to teach the boys
how to study ; and mere memorizing, unaccompa-
nied by an idea of the reasoning processes, is
treated as a fault and patiently corrected. If boys
begin here young, and continue, a thorough ground-
ing, whether in the classics or in English branches,
is guaranteed. Boys may be fitted here for any
college, scientific school or government academy.
Boys of corrupt moral influences are not re-

Speaking concerning the military training pro-
vided for by the Government in several schools
throughout the country, Adjutant-General Drum,
in his annual report says: —

" I do not think the importance of this early and
partial introduction of the youth of the country to
military studies and habits can be over-estimated.
The course of study does not interfere with the
scholastic duties of the curriculum, nor prevent
them from entering any of the several walks of
civil life for which they are preparing themselves.
It, however, leads them to affiliate in after life with
the militia of their respective States, and enhanc-
ing their value as members of such organizations,
increases immeasurably the capacity of the States'
National Guards to furnish trained officers to the
country in its hour of need.

"Aside, however, from all considerations of mili-
tary service, it is generally conceded that a proper
training in military drill results in an improvement
in the address of the student, in the habit of atten-
tion and readiness, and in neatness of person and
quarters. The instances are many in which the
writer has observed great improvement in the form
of the student resulting simply from military drill



Stooping forms have become erect ; narrow chests
have expanded; an uncertain step has become
positive and elastic, and the whole bearing more

Many young men who have spent a happy por-
tion of their lives at Riverview, stand ready to give
testimony concerning its excellence as a school for
training boys.

Cottage Hill Seminary, was nearly contempo-
rary in its establishment with the latter institutions.
It was founded by Miss Lydia Booth, (who had for
years held a prominent place among the thorough
educators of girls in Poughkeepsie,) in a dwelling
on Garden street, on the northern verge of the
city, purchased for her use by her uncle Matthew
Vassar, who afterwards founded Vassar College.
The building was spacious and surrounded by
ample grounds. It had once belonged to one of
the Livingston family, and had acquired a little
local fame for having sheltered the exiled Bourbon
of the Orleans line, Louis Philippe, afterwards
king of France, who was accompanied by Prince
Talleyrand, the peerless diplomat, and political
Vicar of Bray.* It stands on an elevated knoll
overlooking much of the city and surrounding

Miss Booth was succeeded in charge of the
school by Miss Arabella Bosworth, on her retire-
ment from the Poughkeepsie Female Academy,
and the latter, after an interval, by Prof. M. P.
Jewett. Prof. Jewett purchased and reopened the
Seminary in the spring of 1855, and during the
five years of his management succeeded in placing
it in the front rank of the schools of the time.
Having been made his associate by Matthew Vassar
in the development of his plans for the projection
of a college for the higher education of females on
a magnificent scale. Prof. Jewett sold the Seminary
property and relinquished the school at the close
of the summer term of i860, in order that he
might devote his whole time to that great labor.
Rev. George T. Rider took the Seminary from the
hands of Prof. Jewett, and continued it under the
same name as an Episcopal church school for
young women as late as 1872. He largely increased
the sphere of its usefulness.

The College Preparatory School is the successor
(in location) to Cottage Hill Seminary. It was
established in September, 1878, by John Miley, at
No. 23 South Liberty street. In May, 1879, it
was removed to the Hooker place, in Market
street, and from thence in Ma:y, 1880, toils present
locafion. Cottage Hill, Mr. Miley having reta ined

♦ Vassar College and Us Founder, J8.

its management to the present time. It is designed,
unUke its predecessor, for the instruction of boys,
having classical, scientific, Enghsh and primary de-
partments. The average number of pupils is about
sixty, about one-third of whom are accommodated
with board.

The main building stands on Garden street, be-
tween Mill and Mansion streets, in a very pleas-
ant location, and in its arrangements and that of
its grounds, resembles a large and elegant suburban
residence. Connected with it by a covered way
is another building, which is also used for the ac-
commodation of pupils, and was formerly the resi-
dence of Mr. Benson J. Lossing.

The Poughkeepsie Female Collegiate Institute
now ; CooKs Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies,
was founded in 1848, by Dr. Charles H. P. Mc-
Lellan. Dr. McLellan continued the school in
successful operation for a little more than ten
years, during which time the building was doubled
ill size, and a library, cabinets, and a complete set
of philosophical apparatus added. He retired from
its management on account of ill health at the
close of i860, and died April 2, 1862, aged sixty.
In January, 1861, Rev. C. D. Rice purchased the
property, and again added to its accommodations
for pupils and to its play grounds, making the es-
tablishment one of the most perfect for educational
purposes. Under his management the prosperity
of the school was even greater than before. He
relinquished its charge in 1870, in which year
Prof. G. W. Cook, Ph. D., and Miss Johnson pur-
chased the property. After continuing it one year
in partnership, Prof. Cook assumed and has since
retained its entire management. The average num-
ber of pupils in attendance is one hundred and fifty,
about forty of whom are non-resident boarding
pupils. The school has been very successful under
its different managements.

Eastman Business College was founded in 1859,
by Harvey G. Eastman, who was born in the town
of Marshal, Oneida county, Nov. 16, 1832. He re-
ceived a common school education, but when a
young man became a pupil and afterwards a
teacher in a commercial school taught by his uncle
in Rochester. Mr. Eastman elaborated a system
of business education, and on the 19th of Decem-
ber, 1855, opened in Oswego the first commercial
college of any prominence in this country. In the
spring of 1858, he opened a similar institution in
St. Louis, Mo., and had but just entered upon a
promising business career, when an undesired pop-
ularity, originating in an unpopular course of lee-



tures instituted by him in connection with his
school, which had also been a feature of his school
in Oswego, constrained him to leave that city.

Mr. Eastman then selected the newly constituted
city of Poughkeepsie as the scene of his future
labors, and, having previously directed public at-
tention to his projected
enterprise through the
means of thousands of
circulars sent through
the mails at St. Louis,
arrived in the former city
in October, 1859. He
rented a room in the
old Library building for
seventy - five cents a
week, and with tempo-
rary desks started his
school on the 3d of
November of that year,
with three students in
attendance. He met
with much opposition

and distrust at first from a class of citizens who
regarded him as an adventurer, and were loth to
see merit in him or his system of instruction, but
the school increased in patronage and favor, and
soon required increased accommodations. ' In
,1861, the number of students had increased to

one room to five distinct buildings, used for instruc-
tion alone, and sixty-four teachers were employed
besides numerous assistants. A secretary and six
assistants were required to attend to the official
correspondence, the average number of letters
daily received and answered being from 300 to 500.




returned him

He also distributed

500; in 1863, to 1,200, "every State, Territory
and several foreign countries being represented ;"
while in 1864-65, the daily attendance had reached
the extraordinary number of "more than 1,700

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 82 of 125)