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Myron Samuel Dudley

MYRON SAMUEL DUDLEY, son of Stephen and Lydia (Davis) Dudley, was born, February 20, 1837, in Peru, Bennington County, Vermont. He was a descendant of Francis Dudley, whose name first appears about 1630, as a minor in connection with that of his father, John Dudley, in the Charlestown (Mass.) records, and later, about 1660, in the Concord (Mass.) records, as "Francis Dudley, Esquire." His grandfather, General Peter Dudley, born in Littleton, Massachusetts, removed to Vermont in 1799.   

He attended the schools of his native town, the winter terms of which, and of what were known as "Select Schools," being maintained by private tuition, were often taught by undergraduate students of Middlebury College; and he completed his preparation for college at Burr and Burton Seminary, Manchester, Vermont, gaining the second rank in one of the largest classes of that institution. He spent the full term of four years with our Class, which can be said of only thirty out of eighty-three young men who were enrolled in the Class between September, 1859, and Commencement Day, 1863. 

Dudley was a member of Equitable fraternity, but withdrew before the close of the course; of 'Logian Literary Society, and one of its treasurers during Junior year; of the Lyceum of Natural History, and one of the vice-presidents during Senior year; Mills Society, and librarian and one of the corresponding secretaries during Senior year; a member of Greylock Baseball Club; received the appointment of an English oration on Junior exhibition, April, 1862, and of an honorary oration on the Commencement program. And a year later was made a member of the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity. 

  Dudley's college course, as was the case with other classmates, was greatly disturbed by the excitements of the war. The pressure to leave college and go into the army was very strong at times, and only overcome through the counsels of the faculty, especially President Hopkins, who urged his conviction that students should not hastily leave college because of the sacrifices made by their friends and themselves to attain the privilege of a college education. His feeling, verified in our Class by the fact that only two of those who left us for the war afterward returned to college, was that very few who broke off their college course would again resume it. It was this advice that led to a final decision to complete the college course and then, in case there were an urgent need for men, to offer one's services. This led to enlistment in the autumn after graduation. 

The closing weeks of Senior year were shadowed by the war ravages. A brother was severely wounded in the battle of Gettysburg, and another brother died of typhoid fever, in Kentucky, on graduation day. For these reasons, Dudley was unable to fill his appointment on the Commencement program.

Dudley enlisted as a private in the Fifth Vermont Veteran Volunteer Infantry, in November, 1863, and during his first year passed through the grades of sergeant and first lieutenant to captain. He was wounded in the battle of the Wilderness, May, 1864; participated in Sheridan's brilliant Shenandoah campaign; served through the war, and was discharged with the volunteer army, in June, 1865.

In the autumn of this year he entered Andover Theological Seminary, passed one year at that institution, then passed a year in teaching as associate principal of Burr and Burton Seminary, and immediately afterward completed his theological studies in Union Theological Seminary, New York City, at the head of a class numbering nearly forty. After serving a Presbyterian church in Otego, Otsego County, New York, a few months, he became, about the first of October, 1870, the acting pastor of the Congregational church in Peacham, Vermont, and remained there until August, 1873.  August 21, 1873, he married Martha Maria Hale, daughter of Hon. Mordecai Hale and his wife, Jane (Harvey) Hale, of Peacham.

About the first of October of this year, he preached in the Congregational church at Cromwell, Connecticut, supplied the pulpit for a few Sabbaths, accepted a call, and was installed as pastor in February, 1874.

In July, 1874, a daughter, Ellen Tyler, was born, who, after a crowning year of happiness, died in August of the following year, and the wife and mother followed the child to its blessed home, July 20, 1876. 

During our classmate's pastorate in Cromwell there was a steady and stable growth in all that makes for the best life in a church and community. In April, 1882, he married Sarah Denman Todd, daughter of the Rev. John Todd, D.D., and his wife, Mary Collins Brace, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, who died of pneumonia October 26, 1884, in the Cromwell home, which for over two years she had filled with love, grace and beauty.  

Soon after this bereavement, Mr. Dudley resigned his pastorate at Cromwell, and was dismissed in January, 1885.  

After a year of rest and travel, he organized a new church in North Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and became its pastor in 1886. He remained here until 1889, when he became pastor of the First Congregational Church in Nantucket, Massachusetts. On September 14, 1892, Dudley married Mary Elizabeth Marrett, daughter of Avery Marrett and his wife, Elizabeth Bancroft Weston, of Standish, Maine. His pastorate in Nantucket continued until the autumn of 1897. During this pastorate there was a thorough renewing of the church building and its surroundings by which its comfort and attractiveness were greatly enhanced. Ad here

In Nantucket Dudley worked successfully along lines that he has always followed in his pastorates, by seeking, in addition to the work for quickening and upbuilding the church under his care, to draw the whole community together in united and co-operative work. He organized the Nantucket Improvement Association, was its president during his permanent residence on the island, and was afterward made a life member. He was the founder of the Nantucket Historical Association, first vice-president for many years, and was made a life councilor. Joseph Sidney Mitchell, M.D., was this society's first president and held that office till death. After leaving the pastorate of the Nantucket Church, our classmate resided in Nantucket and Boston, supplying vacant pulpits as there was opportunity, and did not take up active work in a pastorate until the spring of 1902, when he located temporarily in Newington, New Hampshire, where he is now residing.

Outside his work for the pulpit, Dudley has been led into certain fields of local historical study and has published a few historical monographs.

  1. The first, issued while in Peacham, was a record of the exercises held at the reopening of the church after thorough repairs, and the dedication of a new organ, in 1872. The pamphlet was edited by Mr. Dudley, and it contained the order of services, the addresses, with the editor's historical discourse, and an original hymn by Oliver Johnson, of New York City, a native of Peacham and the donor of the new organ.
  2. "The History of Cromwell, Connecticut," the outcome of a centennial sermon, preached early in July, 1876, to which extended notes were appended. Published in 1880. 
  3. "The History of Cromwell," in the "History of Middlesex County, Connecticut." New York, 1884.
  4. "Historic Sites and Historic Buildings." Nantucket, 1895.
  5. "Timothy White Papers." Nantucket, 1898.
  6. "Memoir of Edward Griffin Porter, M.A., President of the New England Historical Genealogical Society." Boston, 1901.
  7. "Nantucket Churches and Pastors." Boston, 1902.

Various historical papers have been published in the "Proceedings of the Nantucket Historical Association;" also sermons, articles upon tree planting, village improvements, etc., in the newspapers.

Beside membership in the organizations above mentioned, Dudley is a charter member of the Massachusetts Forestry Association; also a member of the following societies: New England Historical Genealogical Society; corresponding member of the Old Colony Historical Society; the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution; the Grand Army of the Republic, and Department Chaplain for Massachusetts, in 1892; etc. 

It is an impossible task to analyze and define the influences upon life and character derived from the faculty of our day. Predominantly, looking over the lapse of forty years, it seems to have been a religious influence, religious not in any narrow, provincial, sectarian manifestation, but as a pervasive, controlling spirit going back to the springs of feeling, thought, motive, cleansing and guiding all outflowings therefrom. It was what the men of the faculty were rather than what they taught that had power over all of us.  In this connection we must remind ourselves that all the faculty of the college in our time with whom we came into any close contact were Hopkins, Mark and Albert, or pupils of these two men. Professors Bascom (1848), Chadbourne (1848), Gilson (1853), Lincoln (1847), Perry (1852), Phillips (1847), Tatlock (1836), were all graduates of Williams under President Mark Hopkins and his brother, Prof. Albert Hopkins. The religious influence was like that which one of Mr. Gladstone's private secretaries, Sir Algernon West, found to be a marked characteristic of his master's life. "He early saw that in all he did there was a deep sense of religion it was to him as the Nile to Egypt, or as the sunshine to the world."

It was our president's personality, surrounding us everywhere all the years from the time he gave us those fatherly talks at the opening of Freshman year until he took us into his classroom and spent the crowning, glorious year of the course with us. One falters in an effort to give an adequate description. But the other day this passage from Emile Zola's essay on education, to be found in his last novel, "La Vérité en Marche," was read, and it is so good a word picture of the master mind that dominated our classroom Senior year, and the whole college for years and years, that one ventures to quote it: 

Marc, as far as possible, left books upon one side in order to compel his pupils to judge things for themselves. They only knew things well when they had seen or touched them. He never asked them to believe in a phenomenon until he had proved its reality by experiment. The whole domain of unproven facts was set aside, in reserve, for future investigation. But he demonstrated that with the help of the acquired truths mankind might already rear for itself a large and splendid home of security and brotherliness. To see things for one's self, to convince one's self of what one ought to believe, to develop one's reasoning powers and one's individuality in accordance with the reasons of existence and action, such were the principles which governed Marc's teaching method, the only one by which true men might be created. 

Source:  Class of Sixty-Three Williams College Fortieth Year Report, by the Class Historian, Thomas Todd Printer, Boston, 1903

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