1847: Benjamin Thomas Hoyt to Caroline & Ellen Hoyt

This letter was written by Benjamin Thomas Hoyt (1820-1867) — an 1846 graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He had two better known brothers who also graduated from Wesleyan: Francis Southack Hoyt (1822-1912), Class of 1844; and Albert Harrison Hoyt (1826-1915), Class of 1850. From the content of this letter written in June 1847, we learn that Benjamin stayed in Middletown following his graduation (August 1846) and taught a select school for boys in the city.

Benjamin, Francis, and Albert Hoyt were the sons of Methodist clergyman, Rev. Benjamin Ray Hoyt (1789-1872), and Lucinda Freeman (1793-1883). A proponent of higher education, Rev. Hoyt was one of the founders, and a trustee, of Wesleyan University, and also of the Newbury Seminary.

Benjamin Thomas Hoyt became a professor of history and belles-lettres at Asbury University in Indiana. The following death announcement was found in 1 June 1867 issue of the Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper:

Benjamin T. Hoyt, A. M., Professor of belles lettres and history in the Indiana Asbury University, died of typhoid pneumonia, May 24th, at Indianapolis.

Benjamin wrote this letter to his two younger sisters, Caroline and Ellen Hoyt. Ellen J. Hoyt (1834-19xx) married George Kellum Bartholomew in 1864. Nothing could be found concerning Caroline Hoyt who was probably the youngest daughter.

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Addressed to Misses Caroline & Ellen Hoyt, Claremont, New Hampshire

Middletown [Connecticut]
June 7th 1847

My Dear Sisters,

It has been a very long time since I saw you, but not long since I thought of you both. you know I am very much interested in the prosperity and welfare of my dear sisters — in their good manners, training, and education; yea, in every thing pertaining to their respectability and usefulness, I am decidedly solicitous.

This leads me to write to you now, to commence from this date to be more social — more intimate — more as a brother and younger sisters should be. Why, I fear sometimes, lest on account of this so seldom visiting — and almost as seldom writing — we shall forget that a kindred tie binds our hearts together and makes our little interests one. How much happier you would have been now; how much advanced in every expression — how much more felicitous and proper in your use of language — if only you had always, since Francis and myself and Albert left, or absented themselves from the paternal roof, held a correspondence. Do you think I would not have been often gratified if I had been allowed to receive and break the seal to some of your well-indited epistles? Be assured the pleasure of seeing you improve as you grow older, to say nothing of the pleasure enjoyed by the oft intelligence from home, would be sufficient recompense for trouble and expense. Besides, I believe it a great item of each and everyone’s duty to keep alive and warm, and fresh, and glowing, the love which binds our hearts together! How unfeeling it appears when I hear any aged man say — ‘We have not heard from our friend (son or daughter, brother or sister, perhaps) for a long number of years! I am not blaming you, I am to blame myself. Brother Francis is to blame. We can do different! Our health is still good. We are in the bright morning of our days: Happy are ye if ye do well — thrice happy if ye are amiable, virtuous, and govern your passions — always being contented with your lot, and place. Strive to obtain access to those books which will instruct your mind — improve your heart — refine your taste — cultivate your manners! ‘Tis sometimes the case that we meet with a refractory, bad-tempered, out-of-humor’d boy — but it is not expected to find a young miss with any trait injurious to her character! Tho your sex is hoped the perfection of our race.

I perceive by the papers that Father is stationed at Haverhill. Will he reside at Haverhill or at Newbury? I thought when I read it that you both would attend school at Newbury under Francis’ attention. If you can, it will be beneficial to you and to him. We shall want you both for teachers in some distinguished school.

My school flourishes most admirably. I have a good orderly set of boys. My labor is not hard this season. Where I board there are six young misses. One is a teacher of vocal music — teaches the piano forte & organ, and is the leader of the treble in my choir! The others are younger and all attending school — some the high school — some the primary. A widow lady — Mrs. Noyes is. I am very pleasantly situated. The town is pleasant. The people are pleasant. I am very pleasant, so ’tis all pleasant.

I hope you are all well and happy. I expect to see Francis at commencement. Albert is in good health [and] sends his love to all at home. Please give mine to Mother and Father. I shall expect them to write me soon and also a letter from you is due!

Yours truly, — Benjamin T. Hoyt

  • Albert Harrison Hoyt (1826–1915) was an American editor and author, born in Sandwich, New Hampshire. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1850, studied and practiced law in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was a paymaster in the army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. After the peace he was editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1868–76) and of Memorial Biographies, volume iv (1885).

    Francis S. Hoyt

  • Francis Southack Hoyt (November 5, 1822 – January 21, 1912) was an American educator from the state of Vermont. A minister and the son of a minister, he served as the first President of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he and his wife were also teachers. Hoyt also taught at Ohio Wesleyan University and Baldwin University, and served as editor of several publications.Francis Hoyt was born in Lyndon, Vermont, on November 5, 1822. He was the son of Lucinda Hoyt (née Freeman) and Benjamin Ray Hoyt (1789–1872). His father was a minister and a founder of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. The younger Hoyt’s early education came at Newbury Seminary in Vermont before he attended Wesleyan where he graduated in 1844. Hoyt then served as the principal at Newbury. On December 24, 1848, he married Phebe M. Dyar, and they had six children. In 1850, Hoyt was hired by the Oregon Institute to replace Rev. Nehemiah Doane as principal of the schools. He was the school’s third principal and also taught classes along with his wife. Hoyt became president of the institution in 1853 when the school was chartered by the state as Wallamet University. He had helped get the Oregon Legislature to approve the new charter, and was then one of the original board members of the renamed school. In March 1855, he tendered his resignation, but did not leave the school. While under his tenure the school changed to a three-term academic calendar and extended the curriculum to a four-year program for the college department. In early 1860 he was elected again to the board of trustees, but resigned as president in September of that year. Hoyt had accepted a position at Ohio Wesleyan University, though he did not leave until the end of the year. Overall, he served as president of Willamette from 1853 to 1860, with Thomas Milton Gatch replacing him as president. Hoyt left to become chairperson of the Theology department at Wesleyan. In 1872, Hoyt was hired as the editor of the Cincinnati based Western Christian Advocate. He was then hired at Baldwin University in Berea, Ohio, remaining until he retired in 1908. He had received a Doctor of Divinity from the school in 1869, and in 1873 the same degree from Wesleyan. Hoyt was active in the Methodist Church as well, serving as a delegate to several conferences over his lifetime. In 1868, he edited the Bible Hand Book. Francis S. Hoyt died on January 21, 1912, in Craftsbury, Vermont.
  • The “Mrs. Noyes — a widow residing in Middletown, CT in 1847 — was presumably the woman who ran the boarding house where Benjamin was living at the time he wrote this letter. Her maiden name was Fanny Hunt (b. 1799); her husband, Ebenezer R. Noyes, died in October 1846, leaving her with six daughters to raise. The oldest, Helen Maria Noyes (b. 1831), was probably the daughter who taught music. She married Charles Whittlesey (1819-1874) in 1850.

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