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Polly Upson Kahler collection of Parker Family letters

Identifier: C-80

Scope and Contents

Collection contains five holograph letters addressed to William H. Parker and/or his wife Catherine Denton Parker between 1838 and 1862.


  • Creation: 1838-1862


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

William Henry Parker (1809-1889) was a professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Middlebury College from 1848-1881. The son of John Clark and Susan (Mason) Parker, he was born in Hartford, New York, in 1809. A member of the Middlebury class of 1830, he served as Principal of the Bennington Academy, 1830-1832, before becoming Tutor at Middlebury College from 1832-1834. He attended Andover Theological Seminary from 1834-1836. He became Teacher of Languages at St. Lawrence Academy, Potsdam, New York, from 1836-1846, and then Principal of the same from 1846-1848. While serving as a professor at Middlebury, Parker also served as Treasurer of the College from 1855-1884, and as Trustee, 1855-1889. In 1837, he married Ruth Robinson, with whom he had two sons. With his second wife, Catherine Denton, whom he married in 1846, he had six more children.

Joshua Bates (1776-1854) was the third president of Middlebury College from 1818-1839. From Cohasset, Mass, Bates graduated with highest honors from Harvard in the class of 1800. The last five years of Bates' 21-year tenure at Middlebury were marked by events and circumstances that threatened the existence of the College itself. The first and most notorious of these was the support by Bates and Rev. Thomas Merrill for the unorthodox methods of itinerant evangelical preacher Jedidiah Burchard, causing much of Middlebury's financial support to be withdrawn and enrollment to decline. Bates and the very small faculty of the college also struggled to control the discipline of the largest student body in the College's brief history. Finally, a serious economic depression affected the financial health of the institution. Bates resigned in 1839, and went on to serve as Chaplain of the Vermont House of Representatives.

Edward Everett (1794-1865) was a Representative and a Senator from Massachusetts: born in Dorchester, Mass., graduated from Harvard University in 1811. Everett was a member of the Whig party and was elected to the Nineteenth and to the four succeeding Congresses. He was Governor of Massachusetts from 1836-1840, appointed U.S.Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain from 1841-1845. He was president of Harvard University from 1846-1849, served as Secretary of State by President Millard Fillmore, 1852-1853. Everett was an unsuccessful candidate for US Vice President in 1860 on the Constitutional-Union ticket.

Celestia Kirk Edson (1826-1889) was the wife of Professor H.K. Edson of Iowa College. She was born in Parishville and was fitted for Mt. Holyoke Seminary at St. Lawrence Academy in Pottsdam. She married Rev. Eliphal Maynard, and accompanied him to Salonica, Turkey as missionaries of the American Board of Jews. After Maynard died, she returned to the home of her borther, and subsequently taught at Plattsburgh, NY and Lyndon, VT. She married H.K. Edson in 1852. The couple took charge of Denmark Academy, where Celestia was principal of female students.


1 Folder (1 box, 1 folder)

Language of Materials



Letters are arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Letters were given to Middlebury College by Polly Upson Kahler in 1991. Kahler writes to MC President Timothy Light that the letters were given to her grandmother, Clara Alexander Wright, by her friend Miss Parker, who was likely a daughter of William and Catherine Parker.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States