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Half-Century Annalist Letters

Class of 1844 Letter

David Ambler Holbrook

Delivered: June 1894

This half-century annalist’s letter as such as I am to write for the Class of 1844 has been steadily growing in importance and comprehensiveness until, in 1891, Dr. Edward North and, in 1893, Dr. DeLoss Love seemed to have reached the climax. It was the custom in the early days to fit up the deep windows with luxurious cushions and then to study a language during the summer terms. In 1844 the campus was on an uncultivated field like a cow pasture. There was no Silliman Hall, no observatory, no gymnasium, no library hall, no airy bedrooms. As I compare the small dingy catalogues of my day with the pamphlets of the present, I feel proud of my alma mater’s progress. In our day Professor North had become President Simeon North. The other members of the faculty were: Charles Avery, natural history and chemistry, Henry Mandeville, moral philosophy and belles-lettres; Marcus Catlin, mathematics and astronomy; John F. Smith, Greek and Latin; T.T. Bradford and Benjamin W. Dwight, tutors. Dr. Paul M. Hastings was the lecturer on anatomy and C.L. Feber teacher of modern languages.

In those days the country was poor. Students lived on $150 a year. There were but two inhabited buildings. North college was unfurnished. The students mostly boarded in clubs at an expense of less than $1.50 a week. The Classes of 1844 and 1845 had no College honors. Through the influence, as we students understood, of Tutors Bradford and Dwight the honors of valedictorian and salutatorian were abolished, as furnishing an unhealthy stimulus. This streak of consciousness lasted ten years. In 1855 they were restored. Loren E. Havens would have been valedictorian and Leonard Lathrop salutatorian of our class.

There were in the forties several excellent boarding houses on the Hill. At Mrs. Cadwell’s, where the library hall stands, the aristocratic students boarded at $1.75 a week. In 1842, Mr. Quinn, a farmer living a mile north of the college, offered board for seventy-five cents a week, and sixteen of us went to his house for our meals. For the price of board was good.

The literary societies of our day were an attractive feature of our College life. Of the 37 members of the Class of 1844, 20 graduated. Of these just one-half have died.