Vintage Views: Academy for professionals opened in Concord

Vice President Henry Wilson received his education at the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary.

Vice President Henry Wilson received his education at the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary. Library of Congress

By JIM SPAIN

For the Monitor

Published: 01-21-2024 12:00 PM

Back in the year 1835, our ancestors listened as the United States Government claimed President Andrew Jackson paid off all of the national debt for the first and only time. Our ancestors then learned of the first assassination attempt of a United States President as President Jackson was assaulted but survived. Many interesting stories were circulating when my great-great-grandfather read in the newspapers about life being discovered on the moon, later known in history as the Great Moon Hoax. With all of the news, the people of Concord were most certainly entertained when they discovered that the great P. T. Barnum finally began his very first circus tour in the United States and would perhaps visit them someday in their very own town. Yes, the information was free flowing in the local newspapers and the educated residents of Concord enjoyed their morning coffee with a healthy dose of entertainment.

With many immigrants arriving in Concord in search of work, there was a desire to educate the young men and women in our community. The people wanted to see the children learning to read and write as well as make good decisions so that they would enjoy a better quality of life. With this very thought in mind, a young man who recently graduated from Amherst College decided to take the stagecoach north in search of a flock of young people seeking a good education. This gentleman was Mr. Timothy D. P. Stone and he was from Andover, Massachusetts.

Mr. Stone arrived in 1835 in search of students, but first he had to establish an institution to practice his skills. As he left the train depot seeking a room for the evening on Main Street, he spoke to many local people in search of an investor who might want to provide him with the funds to build his school. Not long before Attorney Samuel A. Kimball stepped forward and engaged young Mr. Stone in conversation while inquiring about his plans to educate the young in Concord.

Timothy Stone was a very ambitious young man with a great deal of knowledge from his days at Amherst College. He convinced Samuel Kimball to donate a parcel of land on Sand Hill for a new school, to be named the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary. With his donated property in hand, he was able to finance by subscription the sum of $3,500 to build a two-story wooden structure with a very grand cupola. The building itself was only 58 feet by 54 feet. His teaching skills proved to be quite remarkable when he opened the school in 1835 and it was not long before the school found itself very established here in Concord. The school had two departments, one for male and one for female and students traveled from afar to enhance their educations under Mr. Stone. The enrollment included students from all over New England, New York, Ohio and Alabama as well as international students from Greece and Spain. Many local families benefited from the fine education offered at the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary, becoming doctors, lawyer educators and businessmen.

The Mayor of Concord, President of the Board of Trade, and Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Union School District all attended this school that Timothy Stone established here in Concord in 1835.

Two years after the school opened there was a young man named Jeremiah Jones Colbath from Farmington, New Hampshire who found his way to the school. He enrolled himself and studied for it was a grand education that he sought. Young Jeremiah was destined for a fabulous life full of success. You see Jeremiah didn’t like his name so he decided to change it to Henry Wilson. With a good education at the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary, Henry Wilson did quite well for himself. He initially became a teacher, and member of the U.S. Congress, a U.S. Senator, and then the Vice President of the United States on March 4, 1873, under President Ulysses Grant. Vice President Henry Wilson died on Nov. 22, 1875, while in office as the Vice President. He passed quickly as the result of a stroke in the Vice-Presidential suite at the Capitol.

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It was 10 years after establishing the school that Timothy Stone found himself and his school in need of additional funding. There was some dissension with his investors and he found the need to close the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary in 1844. The empty school building was auctioned and Isaac Hill purchased the property. Mr. Hill then took the building down and used the lumber once again to build two tenement houses.

Our ancestors appreciated all that Mr. Timothy D. P. Stone did for our community. This young, educated man from Andover, Massachusetts had established a very well-known and respected academy right here in our little town. This venture told the world that we cared about education here in Concord, this pleased the community and Mr. Stone left Concord for the last time with a shroud of respect.

As the years following the Academy closing in 1844 passed, the people wanted to pay tribute to the little school on Sand Hill. They wanted the future generations to know that the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary did exist on Sand Hill.

It was unanimously voted to change the name of Sand Hill to recognize Mr. Stone and his fine School. The new name voted in by our ancestors was Academy Street. A short street located off Washington Street in Concord. The house that stands at 12 Academy Street to this day is the exact location of the Concord Literary Institution and Teachers Seminary.

When you next pass Academy Street think back to the young men and women from around the world who dreamed of a better life that could be obtained with a fine education there. Think back to the educated journey of Vice President Henry Wilson, from Academy Street to the White House.

Sometimes dreams certainly do come true.