AUSTERLITZ, COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Capt. Franklin Ellis97
This institution was first conceived and brought into existence through the efforts of Rev. Timothy Woodbridge, D. D. He was, throughout the years of his connection with it, its mainspring, and by his energy and perseverance, combined with his scholarly attainments and cultured mind, was enabled to bring it to a state of efficiency that caused it to rank high among similar institutions in the State. Its standard of scholarship was high, and from among its students have gone forth into the world many who have attained success and prominence in their chosen walks in life.
Rev. Dr. Woodbridge was a lineal descendant of Rev. John Woodbridge, a nonconformist minister of considerable note in England, who came to this country in 1665. His father was Jahleel Woodbridge, of Stockbridge, Mass., and his mother was Lucy, a daughter of Rev. Jonathan Edwards. He was born at Stockbridge, Nov. 24, 1787, and obtained his education at the classical school of Rev. Mr. Robbins, at Norfolk, Conn., and at Williams College. While pursuing his studies, at the age of about seventeen years, his eyes became affected, and he was made totally blind. He, however, continued his studies, and after a theological course was licensed to preach the gospel by the Andover association, in August, 1811. In 1816 he commenced preaching at Austerlitz, and after twenty-five years' service there came to Spencertown, in 1842. He was pastor of the Spencertown church till 1852. He died Dec. 7, 1862, aged seventy-five years, and lies buried in the Spencertown cemetery.
The academy was incorporated by act of the Legislature passed May 13, 1845. The first board of trustees, who were also the incorporators, were Rev. Timothy Woodbridge, George Lawrence, Benjamin Ambler, Uel Lawrence, Samuel D. Dean, Smith Shaw, Isaac Clark, Chester B. Smith, Dr. Ebenezer Reed, George Wager, Jacob S. Bump, and William Raymond. The act limited the capital stock go $4000. It was issued in $25 shares, and in a short time one hundred and twenty-one shares were taken. $3000 was the amount finally paid in.
The lot upon which the academy stands was purchased of Dr. Ebenezer Reed and George Wager, at a cost of $224. It was eighty feet front, and running back two hundred feet. George Lawrence, Samuel D. Dean, Jacob S. Bump, Dr. Ebenezer Read, and Uel Lawrence were appointed as a building committee, and, after adopting a plan, they contracted with Benjamin Ambler to erect it. It was finished and accepted by the trustees Oct. 22, 1847, having cost $2459. It is a two-story frame building, thirty-five by fifty-two feet in size, with a piazza six feet wide across the front. There is an eight-foot basement under the whole building. The second story is finished off as a hall, with a stage and facilities for public speaking and entertainments. The building is surmounted with a bell-tower, containing a bell weighing two hundred and twelve pounds. The first election of officers was held Feb. 11, 1846, and resulted as follows: Rev. Timothy Woodbridge, D.D., president; Dr. Ebenezer Reed, secretary; Uel Lawrence, treasurer. Dr. Woodbridge acted as president from 1846 till his death, in 1862. He was succeeded by Dr. Ebenezer Reed, who served from 1863 to 1870. Jacob Willetts has been the president since that time.
The principals of the academy have been John L. T. Phillips (the first principal, who commenced the first term of the academy in September, 1847), Elias E. Warner, Robert L. Dodge, A. F. Carman, Alden B. Whipple, Andrew W. Morehouse, Rev. Thomas C. P. Hyde, Simeon F. Woodin, Andrew W. Morehouse, James M. Alexander, A. B., Irving Magee, James W. Grush, Levi S. Packard, Alexander Reynolds, John P. Lansing, W. B. Putney, A. B. and Mr. Fowler. Others who have taught in the academy have been Albion Hand, Miss Waterbury, B. Roberts, Mrs. E. H. Bailey, Mrs. L. L. Campbell, Miss E. A. Hooper, Charles W. McCarthy, Hiram Olmstead, Miss Sarah Booth, Miss Mary E. Sperry, Mrs. Jane E. Grush, Mrs. H. F. Holdridge, Miss Louise M. Phelps, John P. Frechting, Miss G. A. Magee, and Julia M. Ball.