BOYDEN (Walpole-Bridgewater family). For a half century – for fifty and more years: – the name Boyden has stood in the town of Bridgewater, Mass., as a synonym for the highest type of useful, ennobling and elevating citizenship, as exemplified in the life of the now venerable principal emeritus of the Bridgewater State Normal School, Prof. Albert Gardner Boyden, who for the long period of fifty and more years has been identified as student, teacher and principal with the noted institution of learning alluded to, and has reared a son who has taken up the work so recently laid down by the father and is now carrying it forward in a manner worthy of him whose mantle he wears. Reference is made to Prof. Arthur Clarke Boyden.
This Boyden family of Bridgewater is descended from Thomas Boyden, of Watertown, who came in the ship “Francis” from Ipswich, England, in 1634, when aged twenty-one years. He was of Scituate in the following year, uniting with the church there May 17th of that same year. He was made a freeman in 1647. By his wife Frances he had children:
- Thomas, born Sept. 26, 1639;
- Mary, born Oct. 15, 1641;
- Rebecca, born Nov. 1, 1643;
- Nathaniel, born in 1650;
- Jonathan, born Feb. 20, 1652; and
- Sarah, born Oct. 12, 1654.
The father removed to Boston in 1651 and Jonathan and Sarah were born there. The mother of these died March 17, 1658, and he married Nov. 3d, following, Mrs. Hannah Morse, widow of Joseph, and removed in a few years to Medfield. So far as is known only one of the sons of Thomas Boyden went with him to Medfield, Jonathan Boyden, who was born in Boston in 1652, and was there married in 1673 to Mary, born in 1649, daughter of Joseph and Alice Clark, the former one of the earliest settlers of Dedham, Mass., and one of the first thirteen who undertook the settlement of the town of Medfield. Jonathan Boyden became prominent in town affairs; was in full communion in the church prior to 1697; became captain in 1712; was representative in the Legislature in 1715. His second wife, whose Christian name was Anne, died in 1735. He died in 1732.The birthplace and early home of Albert Gardner Boyden, the head of the Bridgewater branch of this Boyden family, and of his parents, Phineas and Harriet (Carroll) Boyden, was in the town of Walpole, Norfolk county, this Commonwealth, which locality for generations had been the home of the Boyden family. Going back to an earlier period, the land in the town of Dedham, in that same county, was granted by the General Court of the Colonies to twelve persons in 1635, for the purpose of founding a settlement there; the settlement began in the year following (nearly all of the settlers coming from Watertown and Roxbury), and was at the time called Contentment. Out of this territory was formed in 1724 the town of Walpole.
Professor Boyden traces his lineage from
- Thomas Boyden through
- Jonathan (2),
- Jonathan (3),
- Phineas and
- Phineas (2). A brief record of these generations follows.
Jonathan Boyden, son of Thomas, had children born as follows:
- Jonathan, July 30, 1674;
- Mary, April 13, 1677;
- Elizabeth, July 22, 1678;
- Mehitabel, July 31, 1679;
- Thomas, March 16, 1681;
- John, April 14, 1685;
- Joseph, Feb. 1, 1687;
- Sarah, Nov. 21, 1690 (married Nov. 14, 1710, David Jones, of Walpole).
Jonathan Boyden (2), son of. Jonathan, and grandson of Thomas Boyden, the emigrant, born in Medfield July 30, 1674, married (first) Nov. 17, 1698, Rachel Fisher, who was born March 24, 1680, daughter of John and Hannah (Adams) Fisher, and died March 31, 1712, and (second) Feb. 12, 1713, Esther Thurston; who was born Jan. 23, 1674. The father died March 3, 1719, in the town of his birth, and his widow married John Turner on Sept. 14, 1727. She died March 10, 1755. Jonathan Boydens children were as follows:
- Jonathan, born March 13, 1700;
- John, Sept. 30, 1702;
- Marah, July 4, 1705 (died July 6, 1705);
- David, Oct. 13, 1706;
- Joshua, Aug. 20, 1709;
- Benoni, March 24, 1712 (died July 16, 1712);
- Silence, March ’25, 1714 (died April 13, 1714);
- Seth, March 19, 1715.
Of this family – Three of the sons, Jonathan, born in 1700, John, born in 1702, and David, all settled in Walpole as early as 1729. And the records of the town bear evidence of the position and influence they and their descendants held in their various communities. On that memorable April day in 1775 when the Lexington alarm was sounded not less than four of the Boyden name were found responding to the call, and John, Jonathan, Joshua and Joshua Boyden, Jr., all marched to the scene under Capt. Jeremiah Smith, and later on through the struggle then begun many of the name were found in the ranks. Later on Hon. Jesse Boyden represented Walpole in the State Assembly, in 1820 and 1821; and Hon. Harvey Boyden, Jr., in 1854. It was from the nearby town of Foxboro that came Seth Boyden, the inventor and benefactor of his race, who was born and reared there and from his early application at the forge was making nails and cutting files before he was twenty-one years of age with improved machines of his own construction. And later came his improved machinery, originally devised by the father, for leather splitting, for use in the binding of books. His most important invention, however, was the cut-off in place of the throttle-valve for steam engines. Urial Atherton Boyden, brother of Seth, who was also a native of the same town, and a product of the Foxboro Boydens, later acquired great mechanical skill, became an engineer and was employed in the construction of the railroad between Boston and Nashua; still later improved the construction of the turbine water wheel, etc. The Boyden Library in Foxboro and the Soldiers’ Memorial building there are evidences of his interest in his native town. This article, however, is to treat specially of the Walpole-Bridgewater family alluded to in the foregoing.
Jonathan Boyden (3), son of Jonathan and Rachel (Fisher) Boyden, was born March 13, 1700, in Medfield, Mass., and there married, on May 31, 1726, Mehitabel Lovell, of Medfield, where she was born March 23, 1706. She was a daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth (Dyer) Lovell, of Medfield. Mr. and Mrs. Boyden resided in Walpole, where she died July 3, 1793. They had four children, all of whom were born in Walpole, Mass.:
- Jonathan, Dec. 4, 1729;
- Benjamin, Nov. 6, 1733;
- Lydia, July 18, 1736 (died July 4, 1815; she married Jonathan Carroll);
- Joseph, April 24, 1741 (died Nov. 16, 1749).
Benjamin Boyden, son of Jonathan (3), was born in Walpole, Mass., Nov. 6, 1733, and there married (first) May 12, 1757, Huldah Armsly, of Medfield, daughter of Joshua and Esther (Cheney) Armsly, and granddaughter of Joshua and Mehitabel (Boyden) Armsly. Mrs. Boyden died Feb. 4, 1784, and he married (second) April 25, 1785, Mrs. Hannah Maxfield, of Walpole. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, a private in Capt. Nathaniel Heath’s company, Col. Jonathan Reed’s (1st) regiment of guards; enlisted April 2, 1778; discharged July 2, 1778; enlistment three months, service three months and three days, at Cambridge; also muster roll dated Boston, May 14, 1778.
Benjamin Boyden’s children were:
- Molly, born March 28, 1758, died July 8, 1777;
- Phineas, born Nov. 2, 1760, is mentioned below;
- Merab, born March 5, 1763, married Jan. 26, 1786, John Smith;
- Anne, born April 7, 1765, married Nov. 22 5 1787, Samuel Smith;
- Cynthia, born Aug. 21, 1769, died Aug. 19, 1778;
- Lewis was born Sept. 17, 1771;
- Jason was born Dec. 4, 1775;
- Esther, born Sept. 7, 1778, died Oct. 3, 1858, married May 31, 1797, Oliver Page, of Walpole.
Phineas Boyden, son of Benjamin, was born in Walpole, Mass., Nov. 2, 1760, and died there April 27, 1828. He married in Walpole Jan. 16, 1783, Lydia Boyden, born April 26, 1764, daughter of Jonathan and Freelove Boyden; she died Dec. 17, 1838. Children:
- Molly, born May 18, 1784, died Aug. 26, 1836, married Jan. 1, 1806, Isaac Alden;
- Harvey was born April 26, 1787;
- Pliny, Nov. 2, 1788;
- James, Aug. 30, 1790;
- Warren, Aug. 5, 1792 (married April 9, 1817, Lucretia Pond);
- Jason, Nov. 18, 1798 (died Aug. 22, 1876, married Feb. 5, 1835, Caroline Fuller, of Dedham, who died June 2, 1886);
- Phineas, Feb. 4, 1801.
Phineas Boyden was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. He was a private, Capt. Timothy Mann’s company, 4th Suffolk County Regiment, under command of Maj. Seth Bullard; marched July 28, 1780; discharged Aug. 7, 1780; served 13 days on alarm at Rhode Island.
Phineas Boyden (2), son of Phineas, was born in Walpole and there attended school. He grew to manhood on the farm of his father, and learned the trade of blacksmith and horseshoer, following that occupation nearly all his life. After learning the trade he bought the business out and conducted it successfully up to his death in the same shop. His place of business was on the Boston and Providence turnpike in the town of Walpole, and he did all the horseshoeing and other work for the stagecoach company. He was a man well known and very highly respected and led a true Christian life. He died May 18, 1874, in Walpole, and is buried there.
On April 30, 1826, Mr. Boyden married Harriet Carroll, born Dec. 23, 1806, who died Nov. 22, 1857, and was buried in the cemetery of Walpole. She was a woman of fine character, who set before her children the ideal of a noble life. Six children were born to the union:
- Albert Gardner, Feb. 5, 1827;
- Ellen Frances, Feb. 20, 1829 (died Sept. 12, 1893);
- Edson Carroll, Feb. 11, 1833;
- Martha Carpenter, Aug. 30, 1835 (died March 2, 1864);
- Edward Augustus, April 26, 1838 (died Dec. 4, 1909);
- Esther Asenath, Jan. 28, 1841 (married Nov. 27, 1862, David Bentley, and died Oct. 28, 1909).
Albert Gardner Boyden was born in Walpole Feb. 5, 1827. From his early boyhood he was required to rise early, and he was actively employed until bedtime. He was a leader in the sports of his fellows, and knew the products of all the fields, woods and streams in the neighborhood of his native village. He attended the district school summer and winter until ten years of age, and in winter until eighteen. At fourteen years of age he decided to be a teacher. Strongly desiring to go to college, but unable to get the funds, he gave his evenings to study, determined to do what he could for himself. He worked on the farm and in his father’s blacksmith shop until, at twenty-one, he had mastered the trade, and in the meantime had taught three winters in the town of Foxboro. On reaching his majority he had good health, good habits, his trade and the assurance of success in teaching.
Having saved some money toward paying his expenses, he entered the State normal school at Bridgewater, earning the remainder by serving as janitor. He was graduated from this school in November, 1849, and taught a grammar school in Hingham during the next winter. He received an appointment as assistant teacher in the Bridgewater State Normal School in July, 1850, and held the position three years, under the wise counsel and sympathetic help of the distinguished founder of the school, Nicholas Tillinghast; was principal of the English High School for Boys in Salem three years; submaster of the Chapman Grammar School, Boston, one year; first assistant again in the Bridgewater Normal School three and a half years, under the able tuition of the second principal, Marshall Conant; was appointed principal of the school in August, 1860, and received the honorary degree of Master of Arts from Amherst College. He was a diligent student, studying under private tutors, and during the time he was assistant in the normal school was called upon to teach nearly all the branches of the course, and to make a careful study of the principles and method of teaching. He started in life with the determination to do everything instructed to him to the best of his ability, and has never sought a position as teacher.
Mr. Boyden filled the position of principal of the Bridgewater Normal School with eminent ability and fidelity. Under him the number of students steadily increased, the course of study was expanded, the building, grounds and equipments of the school materially enlarged, and the professional spirit of the school greatly developed. In the fall term of 1860, when he assumed charge, there were sixty-seven pupils. In the fall term of 1894 there were 253. In 1860 the course of study extended through three terms of twenty weeks each. At present six courses are in operation: a two years’ course, a three years’ course, a four years’ course, a post-graduate course for college graduates, and special courses for teachers of experience.
The first six years of its life the school held its sessions in the town hall. In 1846 it moved into a new building, the first State normal school building, up to that time, erected in America. In 1861 this building was enlarged, increasing its capacity seventy per cent. In 1871 the building was again enlarged, by the addition of a third story. In 1881 a building for chemical, physical and industrial laboratories was built. In 1890 these buildings were removed, and a massive brick structure, 86×187 feet, three stories above the basement, was erected. In 1894 this building was extended, increasing its capacity fifty per cent. In 1869 the boarding department of the school became a necessity, and a residence hall was erected, accommodating fifty-two students and the family of the principal. In 1873 it was enlarged to accommodate 148 students. In 1891 the laboratory building was” converted into a residence hall, accommodating thirty-two students. The present school building, with its equipments, is not surpassed by any normal school building in the country in the adaptation to its purpose. It will accommodate 275 normal students and a practical school of 500 pupils. The grounds have been increased from one and a quarter acres to sixteen acres, including a beautiful park and grove of six and a half acres, and a natural science garden, covering nearly two acres, which was presented by Dr. Boyden.
Dr. Boyden has given his best thought to the study of man, to find the principles of education which should determine the method of all true teaching, and to the application of these principles in coordinating the work of the school to make it a thorough normal training school in all its courses. He has sought, with the more than five thousand pupils who have come under tuition in his school, to set before them a high ideal of what life should be, to awaken their consciences to the responsibilities of the teacher, to give them command of themselves, of the philosophy of teaching, and of the subjects to be used in teaching, and such a knowledge of children that they shall be able to practice wisely the art of instruction.
The school has a national reputation. Its graduates are engaged in all lines of educational work, as teachers in common, high and normal schools, as superintendents of schools, State agents and State superintendents. Some have become prominent as lawyers, physicians, clergymen and in business. Many as wives and mothers exert a strong educational influence. Some are missionaries in distant lands.
As teacher and citizen, Dr. Boyden is held in the highest esteem. He has been president of the Plymouth County Teachers’ Association, of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association, of the Massachusetts Schoolmasters’ Club, of the New England Normal Council; vice president of the American Institute of Instruction; secretary of the National Council of Education; trustee of the Bridgewater Savings Bank; clerk of the Central Square Congregational Society (since 1863); president of the Old Colony Congregational Club; editor of “The Massachusetts Teacher;” and author of numerous educational addresses.
On Nov. 18, 1851, Dr. Boyden was married at Newport, Maine, to one of his classmates at the Bridgewater Normal School, Isabella Whitten Clarke, daughter of Thomas and Martha Louisa (Whitten) Clarke, the former a farmer, born in Wales, Maine, the latter born in Alfred, Maine. Mrs. Boyden was the fourth in a family of eight children. She died Oct. 1, 1895. Three sons were born to this union;
- Arthur Clarke, A. M., now principal of the Bridgewater Normal School;
- Walter Clarke, born Oct. 2, 1854, who died Jan. 19, 1856; and
- Wallace Clarke, A. M., born in November, 1858, now head master of the Boston Normal School.
In August, 1906, Dr. Boyden, after forty-six years of continuous service as principal of the Bridgewater State Normal School and of upward of a half century’s connection with it, resigned his charge, but it was only the removal of the mantle he had worn so worthily for so long a period from his own shoulders to those of his son. The father as principal emeritus continues teaching in the institution.
On Aug. 24, 1898, Dr. Boyden married (second) Clara Adelia Armes, eldest daughter of Rev. Josiah L. and Marcia K. Armes, of Nashua, N. H., one of six sisters and three brothers. She was born Sept. 6, 1843, in Mansfield, and died April 19, 1906, in Bridgewater, Mass. At the age of fifteen years she began teaching in rural schools, subsequently taking a four years’ course in the classics and mathematics at Colby Seminary, New London, N. H. She was graduated in 1869 from the Bridgewater State Normal School. She was for two years master’s assistant in the Claflin school at Newtonville, following which she taught music and mathematics for eight years in the Bridgewater Normal School, and then for a time was assistant or vice principal of the Plymouth (N. H.) Normal School. Her next field of labor was as principal of the high school at Hanover, N. H., and for the last twelve years of her active educational work she was in charge of the commercial department of the English High School at Cambridge. After her marriage to Mr. Boyden she was most heartily one with him in all the interests of the home and normal school, and took a deep interest in the intellectual and moral life of the community. She was deeply interested in the life and work of the church; loved its services; was keenly interested in missions, and was president of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the Church.
“Grove Side,” Mr. Boyden’s home, is one of the most attractive in Bridgewater. The grounds on which he erected his residence were owned at one time by the Hon. John A. Shaw, who was a well known educator in Bridgewater in his day. Dr. Boyden has taken great interest and pride in the house and grounds, which under his care have been most tastefully cared for.
Arthur Clarke Boyden, A. M., son of Albert Gardner and Isabella Whitten (Clarke) Boyden, is a native of Bridgewater, Mass., born Sept. 27, 1852, and here in the town’s schools and Bridgewater Academy received his preliminary education, which was furthered at the Bridgewater Normal School, from which institution he was graduated in 1871. After this event he was for the following year engaged in teaching in the Medway (Mass.) high school. Entering Amherst College in 1872, he was graduated therefrom with honors in 1876. For three years following his graduation (1876-79) he was teacher of mathematics in the Chauncey Hall School at Boston. In 1879 his alma mater (Amherst) conferred upon him the degree of A. M., and in that same year he began his work as teacher in the Bridgewater State Normal School. In 1896 he was made vice principal of that institution, continuing this relation until the resignation of his father, in August, 1906, when he succeeded the latter as principal, the father remaining with the institution as principal emeritus. The relations this change brought about in all their bearings must have been most happy to all concerned, one of rare occurrence, one furnishing a theme for thought; both sons of the institution, with the elder his very life for upward of fifty years and with the younger hardly of less moment through the traditions and memories of the father, surely the arrangement is one highly pleasing to the management of the institution.
The younger Boyden through the summers has taught at various times and places. In 1891 he was one of the educational committee to go with Secretary John W. Dickinson to Jamaica, which for one of his experience was considered an important relation and complimentary to his ability and fitness. He has been especially interested in the study of nature; has prepared and published several books upon the subject; has taught history and nature study in several State institutions, and his services have been sought in various parts of his native State and in other States as lecturer upon the subject.
Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Boyden has been so engrossed with his manifold duties in teaching and those akin thereto, he has found time to interest himself in the welfare of his town and has filled many offices of trust and responsibility. For some fifteen years he has been a trustee of the Bridgewater Public Library. He was for a period the efficient president of the Bridgewater Improvement Association. He is a member of Fellowship Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and is past master of the same; a member of Harmony Chapter, R. A. M., both of Bridgewater; and a member of Brockton Council, R. & S. M., and Bay State Commandery, Knights Templar, of Brockton. He is also past district deputy of the Twenty-fourth Masonic district.
On Oct. 11, 1877, he married Katherine Chipman Allen, of New Bedford, Mass., and they have had two children, Ethel, born Aug. 9, 1879, and Edward Allen, born March 20, 1886. The son received his preparatory education in Bridgewater, taking a four years’ course at the normal school, and is now a student at Harvard College, where he is taking a post graduate course in biology.
Wallace Clarke Boyden, youngest son of Albert Gardner Boyden, was born in Bridgewater in November, 1858. He attended the public schools of “the town and took a four years’ course in the State Normal School, graduating in the class of 1880, with honors. Entering Amherst College,’ he graduated from that institution in 1883, with the degree of A. B., receiving later the degree of A. M. Upon leaving college he became principal of the high school at Stoughton, Mass., where he spent one year, after which he became instructor in mathematics in Williston Seminary, at Easthampton, Mass., where he spent six years. In 1896 he accepted a position as teacher in the Boston Normal School, and for the past ten years he has been head master in that institution.
On July 8, 1885, Mr. Boyden married Mabel Rossiter Wetherby, of Marshfield, Mass., and they have had three children:
- Robert Wetherby, born March 7, 1889;
- Alice Gordon, July 18, 1892; and
- Bartlett Wetherby, Oct. 2, 1899.
No mention of the Boydens and their connection with the Bridgewater State Normal School could be made without reviving memories of Mrs. Isabella Whitten (Clarke) Boyden, whose years of devotion to the school and its students have left a permanent impression upon the institution. A devoted wife and mother, and a born teacher as well, Mrs. Boyden’s sympathies with her husband’s work were not only those of a personal nature but also the result of her own ambitions and inclinations. The ties which bound the school life to their home life soon drew her into active participation in the work of the school, and from that time until her death there was no more potent influence among its students.
Mrs. Boyden was a native of East Newport, Maine, born Sept. 9, 1825. Regarding her early life, we have some remarks written by one who knew her from youth, and included in an address made by Mrs. Ella Fisher Adams, of Cambridge, at the memorial exercises held for Mrs. Boyden June 24, 1896, during the forty-third convention of the Bridgewater Normal Association. The services were opened with prayer by Rev. E. S. Porter, of Bridgewater, Mrs. Boyden’s pastor, who was followed by several speakers, all of whom had long known Mrs. Boyden, some as graduates of the school and some in association with her as teacher there. Mrs. Adams, after a few preliminary remarks, read what the friend of her early days had written. We quote in part:
“She was delicate in her childhood and was much with her mother, who was a woman of remarkable excellence of character, and whom the daughter resembled in many respects. She inherited from this excellent mother the brightness and companionability by which she won the hearts of those who knew her. She was carefully taught by her mother in all those things which pertain to womanly character. To her she was indebted for strong early religious impressions.
“In the quiet home on the farm, with brothers and sisters in the companionship of her mother, often in the fields with her father, and in communion with the visible forms of nature, she spent the years of her childhood and youth. Here was kindled her love for the beauties of nature which was so prominent an element of her thought and feeling through all her life. She shared in the merry sports of her brothers and sisters in the joyous spring and summer time, in the golden autumn, and in the long winter evenings. Thus through all the long round of the seasons her young mind was gathering ideas from the book of nature which awakened new emotions; her quick imagination was forming bright ideals. The girl was forming those habits of thought, feeling and action, of reverence for God, of love for His works, of affectionate obedience to her parents, of regard for others, which became the outlines of character in the future woman.
“She attended the district school in the short terms of the summer and winter, and at the age of seventeen began to teach in the district school of the neighboring town. She had marked success from the beginning of her efforts as a teacher. She continued to teach in summer and winter, extending her preparation by attending the Academy in the fall and spring.
“On Aug. 2, 1848, at the age of twenty-three, she entered the State Normal School at Bridgewater. She stood in the front rank in this school, taking advanced studies in addition to the regular course. After her graduation she was a teacher of marked ability in Westerly, R. I., in Hingham, Mass., and in Wheaton Female Seminary, Norton, Mass
“She was a student as long as she lived, she studied much in connection with the normal school. She was a thoughtful reader, an easy and effective writer.
“She taught her sons until they went from her tuition into the upper grades of the grammar school, and she taught them in part in their studies for college.
“In the last decade of her life she had several ladies as students in the Western States whom she taught by correspondence in courses of History and Literature.”
The speaker’s personal tribute to the character of Mrs. Boyden and its influence in the school even before she had assumed the definite relation which afterward brought her into close contact with all the students was the sincere expression of an affectionate regard which seems to have been shared by all. There were many other testimonials to the large place Mrs. Boyden had filled in the life of Bridgewater, both in connection with and aside from her relation to the normal school. In Dr. Boyden’s early years as principal, when her interest and association with the young people were sustained mostly in their social life, they were made to feel that here was a spirit whose sympathy and understanding were for all. She was clear-sighted and recognized the good and the bad with equal facility. She was not to be deceived, and she demanded high standards, yet she had kindliness and help for all who wanted her assistance, and nothing was too much to undertake in encouraging those who had ambition. Her own ambition was boundless. She was the most progressive of women. Yet her work was undertaken with the spirit that gave only the impression of an active, vigorous and aspiring mind, with none of the aggressiveness which characterizes so many who undertake advancement in the name of reform.
Later, in her long and intimate association with the students at the Normal Hall, Mrs. Boyden literally “mothered” them all. She was teacher, guide, friend, counselor. She had comfort for all the discouraged, infinite hope for the possibilities latent in the young, and faith in the ability of devoted educators to make the most of the material which came into their hands for shaping into instruments of future usefulness. Of her broad outlook and versatile intellect Mr. George H. Martin, for eighteen years a teacher in the normal school, said:
“Most marked of all was her absorbing interest in this school and its work. She not only knew its history, but she had imbibed its spirit, and had devoted herself to its interests. This devotion never weakened. She anticipated every forward movement with satisfaction, entered unreservedly into every plan, familiarized herself with every detail of administration, and contributed of her own ample mental and moral resources to make this the best possible fitting school for teachers.
“Her natural endowments for this work were great. On the intellectual side she was remarkably strong and clear in her thinking, and pronounced and firm in her judgments. Her moral instincts were unerring. She was active and interested in all the great social and religious movements of her generation, and was always on the side of progress.
“She knew the trend of theology and politics. To the Sunday school and missionary work of the church, to the antislavery and temperance movements in society, to the higher education of women, she gave liberally of her sympathy and support.
“In all these respects she seemed to me to,” be a typical New England woman. Quick, clear, discriminating in judgment, seeing the practical side of things, full of moral earnestness, impatient of cant and sham, these qualities have been the glory of New England women for generations, and have directly and indirectly given to New England its commanding influence in the nation.
“But with all this wealth of character and power, her work was always distinctively woman’s work. The work of building up this school was her husband’s life work; it became hers because it was his. She was a mother and she studied for and with her children. Her work in the church and society was always along the lines set apart for women; and her hope for the women of the future was that they might be better fitted to do the work of women.”
We also include a tribute from the address of Miss Isabelle S. Home, long a member of the normal school faculty:
“I am glad to add a few words in grateful, affectionate remembrance of her whose great heart had room for so many friends. Among my first recollections of Bridgewater are those of her kind, thoughtful attentions to me, a stranger. She received me into her home and made me feel at once that I was among friends.
“Always approachable, never obtrusive, ready to listen to whatever I might bring to her, I soon learned to go to her freely, sure of a kindly interest, and a ready sympathy in my joys and in my sorrows, and to rely upon the wise advice I never failed to receive from her.
“Never to be forgotten are the meetings held in her parlor, once a week, for many years, to read and discuss books, new and old, of which little coterie she was a most valued member. Independent in thought, of quick perception, and a native ability for keen reasoning, her mind grasped intuitively the salient points in an essay or in a character, and she often in a few words, made clear the key to the whole situation.
“The members of this little circle, six in number, became very close friends. They learned to know each other more ‘throughly’ than they could have done in most other circumstances. Twice has Death entered that circle of friends, binding even closer the ties between those left, to whom those evenings will never cease to be a delightful memory.
“It was her nature to go out in helpfulness to others, and she identified herself with every good work. She was especially interested in the movement for home study, and conducted, by correspondence, the studies of several young women who were striving under adverse circumstances to gain an education. She directed by letter their reading, answered puzzling questions that came in course of their study, helping them over hard places, and inspiring them to continued effort. Many delightful friendships were thus formed, broken only by her death. Some of these young people she never met. One of them lived far away, on the Pacific coast. She called them her adopted children and she took a genuine interest in all that came into their lives.
“A true friend she was to them, and in many ways helped them to nobler, broader, richer living. The inspiring influence of her work with them will never die.
“Sensitive to her surroundings, and with a delicate perception of the influence of the presence of others, she was strong in her intuitions, and keen to detect the true from the false, in the character of those with whom she came in contact.
“To me she was the beloved elder sister, whose interest never fails, and to whose loss neither time nor other friends ever wholly reconcile us.
“Loyal to her friends, and tenacious of their love, friendships once formed seldom grew cold, and were broken more rarely.
“Most fitting it is, that to-day, at the reunion of friends of the school which was so dear to her heart, and in whose prosperity she took so deep an interest, we should join in testifying our love and appreciation of her noble character. ‘Absent but not forgotten,’ her memory will never die so long as this school has a name to live.”
Such are a few of the expressions of love and gratitude which the death of this devoted worker brought forth. That Mrs. Boyden was indefatigable in the pursuit of the many labors she undertook is evidenced by the great amount she accomplished. That much of it was done under what to some natures would have been the greatest discouragement, that of ill health, shows that her spirit dominated her physical powers to an unusual extent. Other unusual things she did, too. When her duties called her to the care of the Normal Hall, instead of giving up her home life she merely widened it, taking all who came under her care into the charmed circle. Yet with all her interests she kept pace with current events. As one has remarked:
“Her opportunities here for mental growth were unusual, and how diligently they were improved! With what zest she listened to the presentation of new subjects! She seemed never to grow weary in the search for knowledge!”
As to the normal school, she knew so much about its aims and possibilities, she herself was such an excellent exponent of its work and objects, that her presence and association among the pupils was of itself a help and source of inspiration not to be lightly esteemed.
From the report of the committee on necrology of the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association for 1895 we take the following:
“It seems fitting that mention should be made in this report on necrology of the death of Mrs. A. G. Boyden, wife of the honored principal of the Bridgewater State Normal School, in which literally thousands of teachers sustain a personal loss. Barely has it been given to any woman to devote herself for forty years to the interests of two hundred students annually, young men and women, many of whom have become the leading teachers and superintendents of the East.
“Barely has it been the privilege of an American woman to impress upon thousands of young men and women more worthily the value of personal character in life. She was in a broad sense an educator, whose influence and example were felt in the development of the best types of womanhood. Her memory will stimulate hundreds to a nobler life in the educational work. She was a loyal wife and a beloved mother of sons eminent in the teaching profession. The mention of the good works of such women will do much toward giving the women of our land a position in the educational world which their virtues and good deeds entitle them to enjoy.”
We have spoken of Mrs. Boyden almost entirely from the standpoint of her relations to the normal school. So closely was her life bound up in its interests that no history of either could be written without including the other. Yet her sympathies and influence by no means ended there. She formed many warm friendships in the town, took a deep interest in church work and particularly in the missionary field, and held a place in the esteem of the community, gained by nobility of character and sincere earnestness of purpose. Though she lived to round out her threescore years and ten she was as unfailing as ever in devotion to her duty in the broad sense in which she saw it. She literally found the fountain of youth in her work, and though over fifteen years have elapsed since she was called from the scene of her earthly labors her work still goes on, a perpetual source of inspiration to noble effort to all who understand its significance and worth.