Tag Archives: Marshall Henshaw

The Quotable Sammy

by Rick Teller '70, Williston Northampton Archivist

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[Looking for links to the posts cited in the Spring 2017 Williston Northampton Bulletin?  Please click “Ford Hall Turns 100” and “Worms.”]

Recently one of our better students asked me whether I knew of any good quotes from Samuel Williston that he could insert into a term paper.  “Don’t know,” I responded.  “What’s the paper about?”  “Doesn’t matter,” he said; “I’ll work them in.”  Suppressing my instinct to initiate a conversation about such pedantries as relevance, context, and provenance — the kid was, after all, in a hurry — I dug out a document prepared at the request of former Head of School Brian Wright back in 1991, and in reviewing it, realized that it was good blog fodder.  So . . . here is Samuel Williston (the fodder of us all), in his own words.

415_1125b LR“Whereas God in His Providence has bestowed upon me a goodly portion of this world’s possessions, which I ought to use for His glory, for the dissemination of the Gospel of the blessed Redeemer, and for the greatest good of my fellow-men — and, whereas, I desire to be instrumental in promoting the cause of correct and thorough literary and Christian education, and for that purpose have lately followed an Institution which is established at Easthampton, Massachusetts, and incorporated by the name ‘Williston Seminary’ […]”  Preamble, Constitution of Williston Seminary, 1845

(Williston founded his Seminary in 1841, but it took him four more years to publish his thoughts about what he was attempting.  See “The Constitution of Williston Seminary” for more detail.)

“Believing, that the image and glory of an all-wise and holy God are most brightly reflected in the knowledge and holiness of his rational creatures, and that the best interests of our country, the church, and the world are all involved in the intelligence, virtue, and piety of the rising generation; desiring also, if possible, to bring into existence some permanent agency, that shall live, when I am dead, and extend my usefulness to remote ages, I have thought I could in no other way more effectually serve God or my fellow-men, than by devoting a portion of the property which he has given me, to the establishment and ample endowment of an Institution, for the intellectual, moral and religious education of youth.” Continue reading

F. A. Cannon

By Rick Teller '70, Archivist

Sometimes a document raises as many questions as it answers.  The letter below was found in a file that otherwise contained Samuel Williston’s business receipts from several years surrounding 1870.  We are not even sure of the writer’s name.  My best guess is F. A. Cannon, but it could also be Gannon.  As can be seen in the facsimiles at the bottom of the page, the C or G in the author’s signature is drawn differently than any other capital C or G in the document.  If any reader is expert at handwriting analysis, please feel free to jump in.

Principal Marshall Henshaw (served 1863-1876)
Principal Marshall Henshaw (served 1863-1876)

One surmises that the writer might be a former slave.  He is a railroad worker in Georgia; he has had some education, until the “Legislature countermanded the order.”  In the post-Reconstruction period, many Southern States, including Georgia, actively sought to end the federally mandated programs benefiting African Americans that were imposed following the Civil War.  But we don’t know for sure.  A small number of African Americans enrolled at Williston Seminary as early as the 1870s (see The Center of All Days).  We do not have Principal Marshall Henshaw’s response to the letter.  The fact that it was saved with some of Samuel Williston’s financial records suggests that Henshaw might have referred the request to Williston, who sometimes assisted needy students out of his own pocket. Continue reading