Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Seymours and the Wrights

A recent inquiry about the connection between the Seymours of Hudson and the Seymour family of Yale University has prompted this posting. The short reply is that they are one and the same. Nathan Perkins Seymour (1813-1891), an 1834 graduate of Yale, came to Hudson in 1840 as Professor of Greek and Latin and taught at the old college until 1870 when he became professor emeritus and continued teaching the classics and English literature until 1891 when he went to New Haven to join his son and died shortly after. He is probably best remembered today as the builder of the beautiful house on Prospect Street that became our guest house in 1998, and as the namesake for Seymour Hall. His son, Thomas Day Seymour (1848-1907), born in Hudson, attended the old preparatory school, graduated from Western Reserve College in 1870 and taught classics at the college from 1872 to 1880. He then went to New Haven where he was Hillhouse Professor of Greek at Yale until his death. He was the author of several books dealing with Homer and Pindar and the Homeric Age.

Thomas Seymour's son, Charles Seymour, followed in the scholarly ways of his father and grandfather and became a professor of history of Yale, and in 1937 was selected to be President of Yale University where he served until 1950. While he was still serving as University Provost, Charles Seymour came to Hudson in 1934 as part of Western Reserve Academy's Founders Day celebration. He had a chance to visit the house that his grandfather had built and where his own father had been born and spent the years of his youth and early manhood. In the mid-1950's Charles Seymour Jr., son of the Yale President, also made a pilgrimage to Hudson to visit his family's Ohio homestead. He would have learned that in the 19th century, the old college had a reputation as "the Yale of the West".

Another contact we've had with Groton School in Massachusetts revealed that Paul W. Wright (1905-1993) beloved teacher and Headmaster at Groton for more than 40 years, and who spent another 12 years of his "retirement" teaching at the Belmont Hill School, was the son of J. Aubrey Wright (1858-1937), a graduate of Western Reserve College in Hudson who taught at the Academy from 1883 to 1889 before returning to his hometown of Bellevue where he married the sister of WRA's Harlan N. Wood, another Bellevue native. So Paul W. Wright, the revered former Headmaster at Groton, was in fact a nephew of our own beloved Dean, Mr. Wood.