Excerpt from O’Driscoll

Excerpt from Hyrum Smith: a life of integrity by Jeffrey S. O’Driscoll

In 1811, the Smith family moved to West Lebanon, New Hampshire, where Catherine was born on July 28, 1812.[22] By then, things were looking up for the family. Lucy remembered, “We settled ourselves down and began to contemplate, with joy and satisfaction, the prosperity which had attended our recent exertions.” Hyrum and his siblings had received little formal education to this point, but their parents made arrangements for Hyrum to attend the academy at Hanover and for the other children to attend a “common school.”[23]

The academy, or Moor’s Charity School, was associated with Dartmouth College in Hanover, a few miles north of the Smith home and on the same side of the Connecticut River. Lucy did not explain why Hyrum was chosen to attend, but it may have been simply because his cousin of about the same age, Stephen Mack, was already a student there.
One of the school’s tutors, Andrew Mack, was also a distant relative.[24]

Eleazar Wheelcock founded the Moor’s School in Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1754. Its curriculum extended beyond simply educating students; rather, it focused on preparing them to become teachers and preachers. In 1769, the school relocated to Hanover, New Hampshire, and became associated with the newly founded Dartmouth College. With the establishment of a common school in Hanover in 1808, the academy further refined its focus to prepare able students for additional scholarly education. But it maintained its religious influence, and students attended daily chapel services at the White Church on campus. If Hyrum attended in 1811, as Lucy seems to indicate, he joined a class of thirty-one students, which grew to fifty-six by 1814.[25]

School records are incomplete, but the “Hiram Smith” listed in the August 1814 record was one of the “charity scholars” studying arithmetic.[26] Charity scholars were not merely students with limited financial means. The designation also implied remarkable intellectual potential. School president John Wheelcock personally followed the progress of these student scholars, who were supported from his limited funds. Hyrum’s designation as a charity scholar in 1814 implies that he performed well academically during his previous years there.

The outbreak of “typhus fever” in late 1812 interrupted Hyrum’s education.[27] He came home sick from school, perhaps at the end of the quarter in February 1813. His whole family was eventually infected, but Hyrum, despite his own illness, was determined to do his part to alleviate their suffering. He relieved his mother and sat at Joseph’s side for days or weeks until Nathan Smith—an attending surgeon at Dartmouth College, whose daughter Malvina attended class with Hyrum—operated on Joseph’s leg to eradicate the infection. Whether Hyrum and Malvina’s association was significant or even known to those involved is not recorded.

As Joseph’s leg improved, his family sent him to his Uncle Jesse’s home in Salem, Massachusetts, in hopes that “the sea-breezes would be of service to him.” The rest of the family, financially devastated by a year of illness, moved to Norwich, Vermont. Hyrum’s return to the Moor’s School now required him to travel about four miles east of his home and across the Connecticut River. His youngest brother, Don Carlos, was born in Norwich on March 15, 1816.[28]

The wiles of weather and farming were unforgiving for the Smith family. After three successive years of crop failure, Joseph Sr. set out from Norwich in the summer of 1816 to find a new place for the family in western New York. Saddened by the anticipated separation, Hyrum and Alvin “followed their father with a heavy heart [for] some distance.” After locating a suitable place in Palmyra, New York, Joseph Sr. sent a team and a teamster by the name of Caleb Howard to move his family. Hyrum and his seven siblings, including baby Don Carlos, journeyed with their mother about three hundred miles to Palmyra.

Relevant Footnotes

  • [23] Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches, 59–60
  • [24] Richard K. Behrens “Notes on the Education of Hyrum Smith: The Moor’s School Years 1811–1815,” 12 April 2001. Copy in author’s possession.
  • [25] Copies of school records are in the possession of the author.
  • [26] Documenting Hyrum’s presence from school records is difficult. His name cannot be located in the records of 1811, and the rolls for the school years ending in 1812 and 1813 are missing. Records show a “Hiram Smith” from Lebanon attending the session from August 1814 to August 1815. Hyrum Smith had moved from Lebanon to nearby Norwich, Vermont, by that time, but the record is probably referring to him.

Behrens 2006 JWH article

In 2006, Richard K. Behrens published an article in the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal Dartmouth Arminianism And Its Impact on Hyrum Smith and the Smith Family which gives great background information.

The “preceptor” was Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry was an 1811 Dartmouth Alumni who may have listened to the lectures of John Smith until John Smith’s death in 1809. He “taught at Moor’s charity school at Hanover from 1811 to 1818.”

Description of Moor’s School from worldcat

From the worldcat description of Moor’s Indian Charity School records, 1760-1915.:

Named for early benefactor Joshua Moor, founded by the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock in Lebanon Crank (now Columbia), Connecticut, and receiving much of its financial support from funds provided by the Scottish Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, Moors Indian Charity School relocated to Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1770, along with the founding and establishment of Dartmouth College. Records are primarily financial and document revenue and expenses of the School, the Fund, and include accounts with students, faculty, and merchants.

Professor John Smith in the Annals of the American Pulpit

The Annals of the American pulpit multi-volume set contains biographies and memoirs of well-known religionists. Volume II includes an entry on Professor John Smith with a memoir from the Reverend Roswell Shurtleff, D. D., professor in Dartmouth College

pg 90–92.

  • Born in 1752
  • entered Junior class in Dartmouth College in 1771 (first commencement at Dartmouth)
  • “He was addmitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1773; and immediately after, was appointed preceptor of Moor’s school at Hanover. This appointment he accepted; and, while discharging his duty as a teacher, was also engaged in the study of Theology under the direction of President Wheelock.”
  • College librarian from 1779 until his death in 1809
  • “For two years he delivered lectures on Systematic Theology, in college, in connection with the public prayers on Saturday evening.”
  • “He was a Trustee of the college from 1788 to the time of his death.”
  • “He also officiated for many years as stated preacher in the village of Hanover.”
  • “In 1803, the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Brown University.”
  • “His funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Burroughs of Hanover” and the accompanying footnote states: “He [Burroughs] was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Dartmouth College in 1773, and was one of its Overseers from that year till his death.”

Entry requirements for Dartmouth College

A tnanscript of Dartmouth College’s “Course of Instruction”, c. 1800, is suggestive of the kinds of things that a student at Moor’s School might have been instructed in.

page 1

… For admission into the Freshman Class it is required, that the candidate be well versed in the Grammar of the English, Latin and Greek Languages, in Virgil, Cicero’s Select Orations, Sallust, the Greek Testament, Dalzel’s Collectanea Graeca Minora, Latin and Greek Prosody, Arithemetick, and Ancient and Modern Geography; and that he be able accurately to translate English into Latin. …

page 4

Lectures are delivered in the Chapel, every Saturday, by the Professor of Divinity.

Shurtleff sermons preached “after his death”

The introductory note to the Dartmouth Library Roswell Shurtleff sermons collection states, in full:

The collection contains sermons written by Roswell Shurtleff, which were delivered by him and, after his death, by others at Dartmouth College.

A History of Dartmouth College and Moor’s School

The American Quarterly Register, Volume 5, 1827, pages 281–282 contains a history of Dartmouth College and begins with a history of Moor’s school, out of which branched off Dartmouth College.

Ministers in Hanover

The American Quarterly Register, Volume 6, 1834, lists the pastors in New Hampshire cities and towns and Hanover is listed on page 240.

Settlement dates of those with a “Settlement” date before 1816 and who had not died or been dismissed before 1811:

  • Josiah Towne: 22 June, 1814 (listed as “dismissed.” without date)
  • Roswell Shurtleff: 1809

The chronology of the register suggests that John Smith, D. D. was the pastor of Hanover for the 23 years before Shurtleff (settlement 1786 and died in 1809).

Roswell Shurtleff alumni biography

Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College by the Rev. George T. Chapman, D.D., Cambridge, 1867. page 99:

Roswell Shurtleff, A. M.–D. D. the son of William and Hannah (Cady) Shurtleff, was born at Ellington, Ct, Aug. 29, 1773, and died at Hanover, Feb. 4, 1861, AE. 87. He was tutor at Dart. from 1800 to 1804; studied divinity; was Prof. of Theology from 1804 to 1827; ordained an Evangelist at Lyme, Jan. 1, 1810: was pastor of the Cong. Ch. at Dart. Coll. from that date to 1835; College Librarian from 1810 to 1820; Prof. of Moral Phil. and Political Economy from 1827 to 1838; Prof. Emeritus from 1838 to 1861. The Univ. of Vt conferred the D. D. in 1834. Dr. Shurtleff resided at Hanover to the close of life, retaining in a remarkable degree his social vivacity and mental acumen. He married Anna, dau. of the Rev. Joseph Pope of Spencer, Ms, Sept. 2, 1810.

See also