19th Century Public Union Schools & Academies
and their Principals

Ontario County, NY

From: Historical and statistical record of the University of the State of New York: during the century from 1784 to 1884, by Franklin Benjamin Hough and David Murray. Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons & company, printers, 1885.


Academies Of The State Of New York.

The following list is intended to include the names of the several Academies that have been incorporated by the Regents and by the Legislature. In case of change of name, the obsolete names are generally introduced without more than a cross reference to the last or present name, where the principal data concerning them are given. In a few instances the names of unincorporated Academies are given, but these were generally in some way connected with those having a charter, either preceding or following them.

At all periods during the century there have been a large number of private Seminaries in the State, but with the exception of very recent years, we have no information concerning their number or attendance. In 1884 the number of pupils attending private schools was 119,952, or about ten per cent of the whole number under instruction.

The list of Principals has been compiled for the earlier years from the original reports. They were first printed in the Regents report of 1850, and from that time to the present these lists have been prepared from these reports. In giving titles the one last used has generally been added, but this is not to indicate that it was held by the person to whose name it is placed during the whole period of service. It is also to be remarked that the absence of a title does not indicate that the person had no literary or professional titles. In a few instances, by the aid of Academies and county histories, we have been able to present series of names with reasonable assurance that they are complete; but of far the greater number it cannot be claimed that a full list is given. The information is presented as the best that could be obtained, and as only approximately complete.

It must be remembered that the latest information available in preparing this list has been the Regent's Report, printed in 1884, but referring to the year ending in 1883. In the few cases where 1884 has been entered it is from recent information by correspondence; and whenever 1883 is entered opposite the name it does not imply that the services of the person named had ended in that year.

[With respect to the lists of Principals in the following pages, it should be remarked that from imperfections in existing records it has been found quite impossible in some cases to prepare perfect lists. They should, therefore, be regarded as only approximately complete. The titles appended are generally those which were reported as pertaining to these persons while employed as Principals, and at the end of the period while so reported. They may have afterward received degrees of higher grade, but of this no notice is taken. As the lists prior to 1850 were prepared from unpublished returns, and by clerks who had not been previously instructed upon this point, many persons may have been mentioned without noticing the literary titles belonging to them in the earlier years of the period embraced.]

CANANDAIGUA ACADEMY. (Canandaugua, Ontario Co.)

On the 28th of January, 1791, Nathaniel Gorham and Oliver Phelps, the owners of vast tracts of land in Ontario and other counties, gave 6,000 acres of land, for the establishing an Academy at Township 10, in the Second Range (now Canandaigua).

On the 4th of May, 1795, the Regents granted a charter to an Academy at Canandaigua, and by a subsequent deed dated January 1, 1799, explanatory of the former, the lands were expressly given to this Academy.

The subscriptions in lands and money, when converted into cash, amounted to $4,581, although the land itself had been estimated by Mr. Oliver Phelps at $25,000. An Academic school was opened in the spring of 1803, in a new building, and from that time onward the Academy has had uninterrupted existence.

In May, 1812, a committee was appointed to memorialize the Legislature and urge the claims of the Academy to be erected into a College, but the journals of that year do not show that the application was made. In 1833-5 the building was remodeled and enlarged, covered with brick, raised one story, and extended by wings east and west, forming a large, finely proportioned and well arranged building for school and family purposes.

This revival of interest was awakened by Mr. Henry Howe, the principal, who remained in charge until 1849. In 1853, Mr. N. T. Clarke became principal, and continued until 1882. In a history of the Academy published in the catalogue of 1876, Mr. Clarke gives many details of the early years of the institution, and statistics of its operations during the long period of his connection with it. He estimated that more than 7,000 persons had been taught in the Academy, of whom more than 500 had gone from thence to College, or to higher professional schools. He presented a summary of the subsequent employments of the seventy-two teachers who had been associated with him, often as a first step to something higher.

The Academy in 1830 first organized a teachers' class, and since that time nearly five hundred young men had entered that department, and four-fifths of this number under Mr. Clarke's instruction.

At the beginning of the war in 1861, the greatest enthusiasm was felt among the students, and so many of them enlisted, that but few young men were left. Teachers and scholars went together, and in one class in particular, but one was left, but only because he was too young for enlistment. In 1866, two teachers and twenty-three pupils were returned soldiers.

Dudley Saltonstall, 1806-77
Rev. Eliphalet B. Coleman, 1808-9
Nathaniel Jacob, Jr., 1810-11
N. Jacob, Jr., and ___ Church, 1812-13
William Howes, 1813
Rev. Ezra Wilber, ___.
Rev. Jas. Stevenson, 1818
Ichabod Spencer
George Wilson
Henry Howe, 1828-49
George Willson and N. T. Clarke, 1849
Marcus Willson, 1849-53
Noah T. Clarke, A. M., Ph. D., 1853-82
George R. Smith, A. M., 1883 -.


A system of reports upon printed blanks, introduced by the Regents in 1804, enables us with aid from letters and other sources of information, to present in detail an exact description of the size and arrangement of the buildings then in use, and the endowments and kind and amount of other educational facilities which they possessed.


"The Canandaigua Academy is possessed of personal and real property to the amount of $30,000 at least. The building is not yet completed, but will be finished next summer. Its dimensions are 50 by 40 feet. No tutor has yet been provided by the Trustees. They intend, as soon as the building is ready and the income from their funds will warrant it, to procure one, and to make him a very liberal compensation. The property given to the institution consists in lands in Ontario county, and sums of money, the interest of which is to be annually paid. Both the principal and interest are secured upon valuable landed property. We do not exactly know the amount of the pecuniary donations, but supposed them to be about $5,000. Those in land amount to upwards of 8,000 acres." (Letter from Charles Williamson and Thomas Morrisy, dated February 7, 1798.)

A schedule of property accompanying the above, shoed the following resources:

"Messrs. Nathaniel Gorham and Oliver Phelps have granted a conveyance in fee to John Smith, in trust, for an Academy at Canadaque, by the name of Gorham and Phelps Academy, 6,000 acres of land in Ontario county.

Oliver Phelps appropriated by subscription in money for the use of the said Academy, L300.
Israel Chapin subscribes L100.
Arnold Potter covenants to convey 200 acres of land in Ontario county.
Nathaniel Gorham, Jr., subscribes L40.
Daniel Penfield is to convey 100 acres of land in Ontario county.
Israel Chapin, Jr., subscribes L40.
Moses Atwater, L40.
Judah Colt, L40."


Incorporated by the Legislature May 11, 1868.

[No further information.]

EAST BLOOMFIELD ACADEMY. (East Bloomfield, Ontario Co.)

Incorporated by the Legislature April 9, 1838. Admitted by the Regents January 23, 1840.

Stephen W. Clark, A. M., 1849-51
J. H. Kellom, A. M., 1852-56
A. H. Wenzel, A. B., 1857-58
Edward D. Bangs, 1859
Seneca M. Keeler, A. M., 1860
Rev. W. D. Taylor, A. M., 1861-63
Charles C. Eastman, 1864-65
Elbridge R. Adams, 1866
John C. Legg, A. M., 1867-69
Elijah W. Plumlee, 1870-71
Isaac Jennings, 1872
Charles E. Eastman, M. D., 1873-75
Miss J. A. Osborne, 1876

GENEVA ACADEMY. (Geneva, Ontario Co.)

Incorporated by the Regents March 29, 1813. Merged in "Geneva College" in 1825.

Ransom Hubbell, 1815
Rev. John S Cook, 1817
Rev. Daniel McDonald, D. D., 1821-24

As this institution became the germ of Geneva (now Hobart) College, the following, document has interest in showing the first effort made in the establishment of an Academy, and six years before an academic charter was obtained:

Petition for the incorporation of Geneva Academy.

To the Honorable the Regents of the University of the State of New York:

The petition and application of the subscribers and benefactors of an Academy in the yillage of Geneva, in the county of Ontario, humbly sheweth:

That your petitioners have erected and instituted an Academy in the village of Geneva, for the instruction of youth in the languages and other branches of useful learning, and that your petitioners have contributed more than one-half in value of the real and personal property and estate collected and appropriated for the use and benefit of said Academy. And your petitioners being fully persuaded that the object of the institution will be essentially promoted by an incorporation of the Academy:

Your petitioners beg leave further to represent, that the real estate belonging to their Academy consists of a lot of land fronting the public square in the said village of Geneva, on which they have erected a building twenty-five feet by thirty-eight feet, and one and a half stories high, and that they have for upwards of two years past employed a gentleman of abilities, regularly graduated at Princeton College, who together with an assistant has the superintendence of upwards of sixty students.

Your petitioners therefore request that the said Academy may be incorporated, and subject to the visitation of the Regents of the University, and beg leave to nominate John Nicholas, E. H. Gordon, William Tappan, Septimus Evans, John Heslop, James Rees, Polydore B. Wisner, Herman H. Bogert, Robert Scot, Robert S. Rose, Robert Troup, Samuel Colt, Walter Grieve, Jedediah Chapman and David Cook Trustees of the said Academy, and that the said Trustees be called and distinguished by the name of "Trustees of the Geneva Academy." And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

John Nicholas, John Woods,
Robert Troup, Robert Norris,
Walter Grieve, D. W. Lewis,
Robert Scot, Jacob Backenston,
John Heslop, David Naglee,
James Rees, David Cook,
Samuel Colt, Ezra Patterson,
Jared W. Hallett, Richard Larzelere,
H. H. Bogert, Polydore B. Wisner,
Robert S. Rose, Septimus Evans,
Elijah H. Gordon, William Tappan.
Charles Gordon,
Geneva, 30th January, 1807.


Incorporated by the Legislature April 15, 1853. Admitted by Regents February 10, 1854. Further provision made in relation to election of trustees March 16, 1869. The Board allowed to borrow money to complete building February 8, 1870.

James C. Dexter, 1853
James E. Dexter, 1854-55
C. M. Hutchens, 1856-57
B. J. Bristol, 1858-69
William H. Vrooman, A. M., 1860-79
Henry K. Clapp, A. M., 1880

NAPLES ACADEMY. (Naples, Ontario Co.)

Incorporated provisionally by the Regents March 10, 1859. Charter declared absolute January 31, 1862. Merged in the "Naples Union School, Academic Department," July 12, 1881.

Melville M. Merrell, A. M., 1862-66
Charles Jacobus, A. M., 1867-68
P. V. N. Myers, 1870
L. G. Thrall, 1871
A. J. Osborn, 1872
C. H. Davis, 1873-77
Hiram B. Farmer, LL. B., 1878-80
Percy F. Bugbee, M. A., 1881

ONTARIO FEMALE SEMINARY. (Canandaigua, Ontario Co.)

Incorporated by the Legislature April 14, 1825. Admitted by the Regents January 29, 1928. After an existence of fifty years, and during much of this time with distinguished success, it gradually declined, and was finally sold for debt and the building used for other purposes.

Rev. Samuel Whittlesey, 1827
Johnson A. Braton, 1828-29
Miss Hannah Upham and Miss Arabella Smith, Associate Principals from 1830 till the death of Miss Smith in 1841
Miss Hannah Upham, 1842-48
Edward G. Tylyer, A. M., 1848-54
Benjamin Richards, A. M., 1854-60
Edward G. Tyler and Benjamin Richards, 1860-63
Benjamin Richards, A. M., 1868-76


Incorporated by the Legislature April 19, 1855. Admitted by Regents January 8, 1857. The Trustees allowed February 17, 1865, to collect by tax in District No. 8, of the town of Phelps, the money needed to make this a free school to all scholars resident in the district.

Lewis Peck, 1856
Wm. M. Crosby, A. B., A. B., 1857-59
Ziba H. Potter, A. M., 1860
Ezra J. Peck, A. M., 1861
Rev. Ferris Scott, 1862
Lockwood Hoyt, A. M., 1863
John S. Cole, A. M., 1864
Ezra J. Peck, A. M., 1865
Hyland C. Kirk, 1871-74
Charles R. Dryer, 1875
Hyland C. Kirk, 1870 -.

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