Early Days of Greenbush: The Greenbush Academy



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In the year 1851 the citizens of Greenbush and vicinity began to talk about erecting a building for a high school or academy, but there was nothing definite done until early in January, 1852, when notices were posted calling for a meeting.

The minutes of that meeting are here given:

Pursuant to notice, the citizens of Greenbush and vicinity met at the schoolhouse in Greenbush, Tuesday evening, January 27, 1852, to take measures for building a house for a high school or academy in Greenbush. On motion of J. C. Bond, Alfred Osborn was appointed chairman and F. H. Merrill secretary. When, by the request of the chairman, J. C. Bond stated the object of the meeting, enforcing its laudableness in a brief and interesting address. When Dr. N. B. McKay offered the following, viz:

Proposition for a building in Greenbush for a high school, to be from 26 to 30 feet by 40 to 48 feet or more, two story, one room, to be used by different denominations for religious meetings, when the school in not in session, subject to the same rules as observed in cases of district houses. The whole to be under the control of trustees elected by the stockholders, each share having a vote in the election. Shares to be ten dollars each. In consideration of the above we, the undersigned, agree to pay to the said trustees the sums set opposite our respective names in installments, as follows: One quarter of each share by the first day of April next, and as much at the expiration of every three months from that time, till all is paid to be offered for subscription.

Wm. B. Bond moved that the following words be erased from the above proposition, viz: ‘‘subject to the same rules as observed in cases of district schoolhouses,’’ which, after an interesting discussion, was carried, when the above proposition was adopted and submitted for subscribers.

Elijah Lieurance advocated the building of a house worth $1,500. Stephen Lieurance motioned that we organize when $1,000 of stock should be subscribed, but not to commence building until $1,500 shall have been subscribed. J. C. Bond offered as an amendment that we commence building when $1,000 of stock is subscribed, which was carried and the original motion lost. On motion of Stephen Lieurance, the chairman appointed the following persons to solicit stock, viz: John C. Bond, John M. Hoisington, N. B. McKay, A. W. Simmons, and Stephen Lieurance.

On motion of J. M. Hoisington, the chairman appointed the following persons to draft a constitution and by-laws to present for adoption at the next meeting of the stockholders: J. C. Bond, John Butler, and N. B. McKay. Adjourned to meet next Tuesday evening at the schoolhouse at early candle light.

At a meeting of the stockholders held February 3, 1852 a subscription of $1,042.50 was reported, and the constitution and by-laws were adopted and the following-named persons were elected by ballot for trustees: John M. Hoisington, Eliphalet C. Lewis, and Alfred Osborn for the term of three years; Dr. N. B. McKay, Julius Lathrop, and Andrew W. Simmons for the term of two years; Hanson H. Hewett, John C. Bond, and Stephen Lieurance for the term of one year; Squire J. Buzan, treasurer; Frederic H. Merrill, secretary.

The academy building was erected in 1853. The contract was let to Levi Lincoln. He was assisted in the work by his brothers Clinton and Oscar. The building committee were N. B. McKay, J. T. Lathrop, and Alfred Osborn; John M. Hoisington was afterwards added to this committee.

Very heavy timbers were used in the construction of the building, and on the day of raising many persons gathered to assist in raising the timbers. Levi Lincoln first began to give orders but his voice was not strong enough; so David Armstrong took his place and gave orders both loud and strong. After the building was finished, it was decided to dedicate it with a grand supper. So everybody was invited and nearly everbody came, and they came prepared, many of them bringing baked chickens. After the tables were all set, David Young was appointed carver. Clinton Lincoln, who was present on the occasion, says David dispatched his work swiftly and dextrously.

During the year of 1853, the legislature granted a charter to the school under the name of The Greenbush Academy.

The first teacher employed as principal in the Academy was W. W. Happy of Jacksonville, Illinois. He was assisted by Miss Margaret Gaines. They received the tuition fees for their services.

In January, 1854, Mr. Happy reported to the trustees that there were only about twenty students and that he wished to resign at the expiration of the term, but the school gained in attendance and was for a long time in a prosperous condition. At one time, when Daniel Negley was principal, there were nearly one hundred students attending.

In 1854. the Academy bad a belfry but no bell. The women of Greenbush and vicinity took an active part in procuring one. Miss Jane Mather, Mrs. Alfreda Crissey, Mrs. Mary Buzan and. others were engaged in soliciting subscription. They found it a difficult business as the people had been often called on for subscriptions in the building of the Academy. But the women were persistent and the bell was procured. Year after year it was heard by the people, sometimes at a distance of three or four miles, as it rang for school, literary society, Sunday school, and entertainments of different kinds. Different religious denominations used this bell to call the people together, where the minister exhorted them to a better life. Often as the years went by, it toiled the years of departed ones in tones that were received in sadness and sorrow. In 1855, Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Christian church, preached in the Academy. It was here that Luccoc and Westfall held their debate on endless punishment.

The school has been abandoned for many years, and the building is going to decay.

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