Ashfield — Sanderson's Academy
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
Sanderson's Academy an institution of character and standing, was incorporated in 1821. It derives its name from Rev. Alvan Sanderson, a former minister of the town, who did much to advance the cause of education therein. While yet actively engaged in the discharge of his pastoral duties, he was accustomed to gather the young together to instruct them personally in the rudiments of education. In some sections of the town he held evening schools. When his labors ceased, because of a consumptive tendency, he put in operation measures to establish the academy. He purchased a building on the hill, near where the meeting-house then stood, removed it to its present site, put it into a convenient form, and opened a grammar and classical school in 1816. The experiment proved a success. Many residents of Ashfield and adjoining towns availed themselves of its privileges, and Mary Lyon is said to have received her first educational impressions and impulses there, and was for a time its teacher. Many were prepared for college in the academy and have served in the various professions and in business with honor and success. The institution is still sustained.
In 1815 a circulating library was gathered in the town, and from time to time valuable additions were made, until it became an important auxiliary in diffusing knowledge and culture.
From want of proper organization, however, it had begun to decline, and was succeeded by The Ashfield Library Association, which was formed in 1866. By generous contributions from Messrs. George William Curtis* and Charles Eliot Norton, both of books and gratuitous lectures, means were obtained to make a beginning, and, the fees of membership, $5 each, being added, the library was opened with 600 or 700 volumes.
From that time looks have been annually added, until, at the present time (1879), the library consists of about 1800 volumes of miscellaneous books, besides about 200 volumes of public documents, printed and bound by order of the United States Congress. Messrs. Curtis and Norton have continued their benefactions, and Mr. Curtis has lectured every year, with the exception of two, since the association was formed, in behalf of the library. Mr. Alonzo Lilly has also been a generous donor. With a very moderate income, it continues to flourish, and to furnish valuable reading matter to all at small charge
*Ashfield is a favorite summer resort of Mr. Curtis.
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