Collegiate Institute

By Holice and Debbie


In giving the history of the inception and growth of the Gilbertsville academy and collegiate institute we are led to inquire into the influences that resulted in the establishment of this institution.

The town of Butternuts has been noted for the excellence of its schools, and its general interest in educational matters, for the time of its settlement, in about 1790. As early as the year 1817 it had an academy, a wooden building standing on the present site of the "marble shop," and which was burned and rebuilt of stone, as it now stands, by the individual liberality of Samuel Cotton, J. T. Gilbert, Edward Thorp, and John Brewer, by whom it was owned and controlled. Levi Collins was principal of this academy, and its success was largely due to this efficiency. The impetus given to the cause of education in this town by this able instructor, and by this academy, was a prominent factor in the choice of influences that culminated in the founding of the Gilbertsville academy and collegiate institute.

In the interval between the years 1828 and 1838 the project was constantly agitated, and finally took definite shape Oct. 18, 1839, when fifty-one men signed a paper, and agreed to pay the amounts signed opposite their names on that paper, provided two thousand five hundred dollars or over should be subscribed, the object stated in that paper being "The building and endowing an academy in Gilbertsville, town of Butternuts, Otsego Co., N. Y."

The requisite amount of money having been subscribed, J. T. Gilbert, in addition to having subscribed one-fifth of this amount, gave to the institution the grounds upon which to locate, and later, built and added to his gift a house for the use of the principal.

The academy was immediately erected, and opened for scholars in the fall of 1840, under the charge of J. G. Truair as principal.

In a paper addressed to the board of regents, and bearing date Jan. 25, 1841, J. T. Gilbert, T. Benedict, E. Comstock, J. Kellogg, E. Thorp, R. Morris, S. Shaw, L. E. Thorp, C. Donaldson, Wm. Shaw, J. Bryant, A. Convers, J. Comstock, S. Marsh, A. Gilbert, C. Gilbert, and H. Kinne stated, "that they contributed more than their one-half in value of the real and personal property and estate collected or appropriated for the use of the academy," and made application that it might be incorporated; the application was granted, and the charter was recorded May 17, 1841.

The first regent's report is dated Nov. 24, 1841, and reports a library of 184 volumes, and philosophical apparatus valued at $150.

About the year 1853 the citizens of the town made an effort to endow the institution with a fund. The sum of $2500 was raised, to which has since been added $600 by the bequest of Miss Betsey Prentice. This is all the endowment the institution has at the present time.

The academy is at present under the charge of Rev. A. Wood as principal. The citizens of the town may justly be proud of the record of their academy and the work that it has done. The influence it has exerted and is till exerting is too manifest to require any notice but that of individual observation. The work that it has done and is still doing vindicates the wisdom of its founders, and is the reward of their far-sighted public spirit.

The institution has made constant progress since its founding, and never merited the jealous care of those interested in it more than it does to-day. The buildings and grounds have been improved from year to year, until at the present time they are in better condition than they have ever been before. The academy has always been one in which thorough work has done, and still maintains its reputation. (History of Otsego, NY, Duane Hamilton Hurd, 1878)

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Transcribed by Holice B. Young

Copyright Debbie Axtman and Holice B. Young

December 23, 1999

[Otsego History and Genealogy][NY History and Genealogy]