GrandPapa's Letter part 10
Franklin B. Van Valkenburgh

Franklin Academy


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FRANKLIN ACADEMY was THE institution of the town, second only to the Church, and was errected by private subscriptions, and at a very great cost and some sacrifice on the part of the subscribers considering their limited means; The last time I visited its now venerable halls I was shown the first subscription list, being the subscriptions for funds for the first building, then recently discovered, framed, and placed in the library for preservation. By this document each subscriber agreed to pay the sum set opposite his name by delivering to the trustees such amount "in good merchantible wheat, at the price of one dollar per bushel and most of the contributions were afterwards increased by another agreement endorsed on this original; Among the largest subscriptions was, as was to be expected , that of "The Judge, " Here all of his family obtained what education they got from school: Robert had already left home when I came on the stage of action, but Dave and Jake, and the three girls were there almost as long as I remained. Dave was a lively fellow always, He was strong and full of fun and mischief as a kitten, and quite as tender of heart, while Jake was the Ladie's man, and always to be found where they predominated.

One of the Principals of the Academy during my time was Professor Gaylord, a superination, slow to anger but mightly in wrath when provoked thereto, as he often was. The whole school was assembled in his room at the ringing of the morning bell and he opened the exercises of the day with a chapter of the Scriptures, and prayer, always standing at his desk, facing the school, and had a habit after reading a verse or two, of pushing his glasses up on his brow, and commenting on what he had read, and sometimes it was quite a task for him to find his spectacles, which we could see reposing quietly on top of his venerable head: Dave was as tender hearted a fellow as ever lived, and of course it distressed him to see his old friend bothered, and he thought he would try and be of assistance, so on one occasion, when visitors were present, and he feared the Professor would be embarassed by the loss of his eye-sight, Dave sat himself down on the platform, immediately in front of the desk, and when the Professor pushed his glasses back, quietly placed another pair on the desk, and this operation he repeated until the good old man became possessed of five pairs of spectacles instead of one??

I have been told that this was an old trick; It may have been, but It worked, and created much excitement and no small amount of amusement.

There was another trick played on the Professor. Some one got up into the belfry and kept the bell jangling, very much to his discomfort, and when he decided to put a stop to the noise, and followed the culprit to the cupola, the bad boy quietly stole down the ladder and removed it, leaving the old man to shout for assistance from the roof, On another joyful occasion, when the scholars kept late hours, and wished to sleep late in the morning, they turned the bell wrong side up, and filled it with water, which froze, the result being as they anticipated, that the bell was "Tongue tied." I remained in the Academy until the Spring of 1847, when I went to Bath in the same county, into the family and office of my brother Robert, of the firm of Rumsey & Van Valkenburgh, Lawyers Sic. and there I remained for two years, going to Oakley, My Father's Farm in Oakland County Michigan, in 1849.

Sometimes, during Vacations and the like I was allowed to be in "the store, " and considered that quite an honor, as it was a great treat; I could measure a yard of ribbon or of calico, or put up a pound of nails or of sugar, or draw a half gallon of molasses or tar as well as anybody, and when all the others went to dinner or to supper, and I was alone I felt myself a man among men;

It seems to me that there was most everything in that store that could have been obtained anywhere; In the cellar were Molasses and Tar, Hogsheads of brown (Muscovado,) Sugar and casks full of Loaf Sugar, all done up separately in their coverings of blue paper, the Loaves being great cones a foot across at the bottom, and eighteen inches high; and barrels of Salt Pork, and Kegs of salt Mackerel, and Bales of cod Fish. On the First or Main floor were all sorts of Dress Goods, of Silks and Satins a very few pieces but plenty of Ribbons/ Woolens for dresses or for Men's wear, and calicoes in abundance; Ladies and Gentlemen's Hats, and Caps for the boys, and Comforters and Socks and Mittens of wool or fur to your full content, and Boots and Shoes of every kind and quality, although the Foot Gear was mostly of Cow Hide, and Peggd to the weight and stiffness of iron;

On the other side of the store was a supply of Hardware, Ox Yokes, Harnesses, Shovels, Pitch Forks, Skates, Drugs, hammers, nails, pick axes, and pottery and table ware of all sorts and kinds, and in the season Maple Sugar, and Syrup, & Raisins, I like to have forgotten them; but at the time I never did; for I was a raisin fiend, and hardly ever could get enough of them, ONCE I DID, that was when Dave thought I was eating too many of them for my health, and he placed a small chunk of assofetada?? in the drawer, where it would come first to my hand as I went for the toothsome fruit. I do not know now how to spell the name of that abominable stuff and believe I have never seen any of it since, but the smell and taste of it still abides in my memory.


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