Saturday, August 6, 2011

1855 Certificate from Gorham Academy, Maine; beautiful graphic of building

Gorham AcademyGorham, Maine, March 17th, 1855
This certifies that Mr. John R. Houghton is constituted by the payment of one dollar
an Honorary Member of the Gorham Male Academy Library Association
Charles A. Nelson, Secy.
D. J. Poor, President

From online research, hopefully correct - corrections requested:

I found two possibilities for a John R. Houghton, and there are no doubt more.

One, John Rogers Houghton, born 31 March 1815, at Brunswick, Maine, the son of Nahum and Dinah (Rogers) Houghton of the Topsham, Maine area.  He married Ann S. Badger, daughter of Nathaniel and Jane (Owen) Badger.  The couple settled in Providence, Rhode Island, where John ran a machine shop, as his father had before him in Brunswick, Maine.  He was too old to be a student at the Academy, and he was already in New Bedford, Massachusetts, by this time, but the association may have been open to former students and "friends".  Perhaps his wife, Ann S. (Badger) Houghton, or one of his children, had been a student there.

The other possibility I found was John Reed Houghton, born 25 April 1824 at Bath, Maine, the son of Levi and Charlotte (Reed) Houghton of Bath.  John married Emma P. McLellan of Bath, the daughter of James Henry McLellan and wife Emma.  John was in the shipbuilding business and continued in this business with his son Amory McLellan Houghton.  He would have been in his thirties by 1855, but, again, he could have had a past or family relationship with the Academy.

If you have another suggestion for a John R. Houghton, please leave a comment.

The Secretary, Charles A. Nelson, was possibly, though rather young at the time, Charles Alexander Nelson, born 14 April 1839 at Calais, Maine, the son of Israel P. and Jane (Capen) Nelson of Eastport, Maine.  Jane's father, Alexander Capen, was a musician in the War of 1812.  Among Charles' many interesting careers was a decade-long stint as a Reconstruction administrator at New Bern, North Carolina.  

I found mention of his having been a librarian at Gorham Academy and wonder if this could have been while he was a student there, and possibly Secretary of the Library Association as well.  A collection of his papers, many dealing with his Reconstruction duties, resides at The New York Public Library.

On 25 July 1872 at New Bern, North Carolina, Charles married Emma C. Norris, who was born at Dryden, New York on 12 March 1843. I found three children for the couple, who lived in Massachusetts and New York after their time in North Carolina.

Charles was a poet; below, a couple of his poems in an old journal.

President D. J. Poor was Reverend Daniel Jefferson Poor, who was born 9 July 1807 at Woburn, Massachusetts.  I found an earlier Reverend Daniel Poor, who may have been his father.  

Daniel Jefferson Poor married Susan Thompson, who was born 26 July 1810, the daughter of Alpha and Mary (Scottow) Thompson.  Rev. Daniel and Susan Poor raised a family of, I believe, eight children.  They lived in various places as Rev. Poor's career dictated, including a stint at Gorham Academy during the mid 1850s.

A brief history of Gorham Academy and an 1880 photograph are here. 

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Thanks for stopping by!

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