Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Toppan and Leavitt Bequests / Literary Societies

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The Toppan and Leavitt Bequests

After the completion of the new Academy, the fund of the institution was reduced to one thousand forty-five dollars. Ten years later, a legacy of two thousand dollars was received from the estate of Christopher S. Toppan, deceased, of Portsmouth; the income to be applied to the tuition of three boys and three girls, to be appointed by the selectmen from among the families of the town; these six pupils to continue as beneficiaries for three years, and then other six chosen, and so on in perpetuity. Should any vacancies occur at any time, they were to be filled by the principal in charge.

Miss Abigail Leavitt, of Hampton, died in 1891, leaving by will, after various bequests, the residue of her property to the Academy and high-school, as a permanent fund, the interest of which shall be used for educational purposes. The bequest will amount to eight thousand dollars or more. [See Genealogies -- Leavitt (23).]

Literary Societies

In 1827 the Academy began to sustain two literary societies. No records of either can now be found, records and library having been burned in the old building. The nature and aims of the later and better remembered, the OLIVE BRANCH SOCIETY, are set forth in the Act of Incorporation, a few years later, copied into the town records, and in substance as follows:

"Whereas, there has for four or five years past existed at Hampton Academy, an association of several individuals, students of said Academy, for the purpose of promoting their mutual improvement in writing and extemporaneous speaking; and whereas, said association has collected a Library of several hundred volumes of valuable books, to which additions are frequently make:" to secure the general objects of the association, and more particularly to facilitate the management of the library, Daniel F. Merrill, Samuel Burnham, Thomas M. Smith and associates, have formed themselves into a body corporate, to be known as the "Olive Branch G. C. L. of Hampton Academy," taking the privileges and duties of a corporate body, agreeing to submit to the regulations of the society; and have recorded their agreement in the books of the society and on the town records, and posted them in two public places.

  (Signed) C. S. Magoun, Rec. Sec'y.
Hampton Academy,
June 13, 1832.

Mrs. Elijah Plumb, a theological student, boarding with Mr. Webster, and employed as Mr. Harris' assistant for some time, and still remembered as a good man and teacher, delivered an address before the Olive Branch Society, which was published, copies of which are yet preserved.

The CICERONIAN SOCIETY is to-day only known perhaps, through the diary of one of its members, [The author of this work. -- Ed.] which shows it to have been a debating society, holding weekly meetings, and having to some extent, the same membership with the Olive Branch, flourishing at the same time; which, however, it preceded in organization, by three years.

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