SCHOOL DAYS - NORWALK, OHIO, AND MIDDLETOWN,
TWO years after the New England trip, young Hayes, then
in his fourteenth year, was sent to Norwalk, Ohio, to
become a pupil in the Norwalk Seminary, a Methodist school, of
which the Rev. Jonathan E. Chaplin was principal. The seminary
building, a pretentious brick structure, had burned in February,
1836, but the school was continuing in the Methodist and Baptist
Churches, while the new building was being erected. Young
Hayes spent the school year 1836-37 at Norwalk. The few
letters that remain follow.]
NORWALK, June 21, 1836.
DEAR UNCLE:--I do not think I shall have to go home
because I am homesick. I like staying here better than any
other school in Ohio. The object of my letter is to have you
send me - if you can get - my shoes. I want them very much.
I am well. Do not give my love to anybody. This letter is large
enough for me and a bad pen.
RUTHERFORD B: HAYES.
NORWALK SEMINARY, HURON Co., OHIO,
[September 20, 1836].
DEAR UNCLE:- I arrived here Sunday. I write to get some
money, as Mr. Chaplin says the Directors of the Seminary
have determined that a single scholar shall not be taught but one
day without the tuition being advanced. I board at the same
place I did before. I will have to pay $1.75 per week here.
Mother and Fanny were well Friday when I left home.
You must excuse my bad writing as I cannot write any better,
14 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
and I have a poor pen. I am in a great hurry as I have to learn
a long lesson. Give my love to Austin.
Your affectionate nephew,
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.
NORWALK, HURON Co., OHIO,
October 13, 1836.
DEAR MOTHER:- Today is Sunday. I thought it would [be]
as well [to] write now as to put it off any longer. I received
your letter Wednesday. I was very glad to hear from you and
that you was getting well. I am doing very well in my studies.
Wednesday was composition day. I wrote one about Liberty.
A week ago Wednesday was speaking day. I spoke a eulogy on
Lord Chatham. I got along tolerably well, considering. I think
that I can so that I will not be scared quite to death. I was not
scared as much as the most of the boys are the first time they
Uncle Birchard was here Thursday evening. He was on his
return home from New York; he stopped only an half hour; he
seemed in very good health. He gave Mr. Chaplin money to bear
my expenses. He, I think, said he saw General Harrison in New
York. He said there was more attention paid the general than
any other man that ever was in the city except Lafayette. They
expected to see a childish old man, but they thought different
very soon, for there are few men that can make a better offhand
speech than General Harrison.
The weather is cold. It snowed here Monday near two inches
deep; it snowed this morning one inch deep; it is all gone now.
The sun is very warm. Election took place the 11th. This
county give the Whigs five hundred majority; they hear from
half the counties General Vance (he is a Whig) [candidate for
Governor] is six thousand ahead so far. Geauga County gave
eighteen hundred majority to Vance. Delaware County gave
three hundred. Write soon. Tell who is elected to the offices of
the county. Ask Mr. Wasson about it. Mrs. Briggs [the woman
IN SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, 1837 15
with whom he boarded] sends her love to you. Eliza does too.
Give my love to all who need it. I will write to Fanny soon.
Your affectionate son,
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
[In the autumn of 1837 Hayes was sent to Middletown, Con-
necticut, to the private school of Isaac Webb. Mr. Webb was a
graduate of Yale College; had been a tutor in the college, and
was highly commended by President Jeremiah Day. It was a
family school, the number of pupils being restricted to twenty,
and great care being exercised to receive only boys of diligence
and good character. Mr. Webb intended that the reputation of
the school should "rest on thorough study, faithful instruction,
and steady discipline. Habits, principles, feelings, and tastes
were to be assiduously cultivated; truth, justice, honor, and
religion to be regarded as the cardinal points of character." The
terms were two hundred and fifty dollars a year, covering every-
thing but incidental expenses. Two other Ohio lads, William
Lane, of Sandusky, and Converse Goddard, of Zanesville, were
also in the school and became devoted friends of Hayes. The
letters that remain show that the year in Middletown was happy
MIDDLETOWN, CT., December 9, .
DEAR UNCLE: - In compliance with your request that I should
write to you in about a month, I have commenced a letter. I will
begin with my studies. I study Latin and Greek; am in the same
class as W. Lane. At first it was rather hard to keep up with
the class but now I can get along very well. We get up at half
past 6 o'clock, breakfast at 7, prayers, and school begins at 9;
dinner at 12; begins at I till 4, then from 6 till 9. I like this
school very much indeed. I never heard of a school that I should
like near so well. All the scholars like the school very much and
that is more than can be said of most schools. We all like Mr.
W [Webb] very much. I think he is the best calculated to take
16 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
care of a parcel of boys of any man I 'most ever saw, for they
soon find out that he is not to be trifled with, and at the same
time that he is very pleasant when they suit him.
It is rather curious how always it happens always that when
I have staid out of school six months that I enter in the same
class with others who have been to school all the time. When
A. Picket went to Norwalk he was in the same class with me.
As there was no class that he could go into, he had to go in a
class below him and in six months he had not got much farther
than he was when he left me, so that I went in the same class.
It was nearly the same way here. Although I have to study
rather harder, I'd rather study when I do study and play the
As you know, I have an aversion to the Yankees. I hate to
find one that there a'n't some fault peculiar to them where I
cannot have an excuse for. I had begun to hunt up some ex-
cuse for Mr. W-, when I found that he was a real Buckeye in
every sense of the word, and thinks as much of the Queen of the
West as I do--and that [is] not a few. The folks here cele-
brated the Whig victory here as usual. Half of the subscription
went for powder and fireworks, the other half to the poor -a
first-rate way to electioneer, I take it.
The time flies very fast indeed. I never knew a month to pass
quicker or happier at school any how. I am well prepared for
winter. I've only had to buy one book. W. Lane sends his
respects. He's well, so am I. Give my respects to all my cousins
and all the belles. Tell J. Pease [John R. Pease, a cousin, living
in Lower Sandusky, who was an ardent Democrat] not to go
crazy on the New York election for accidents will happen to the
best of folks. - Mr. W- is a Whig.
Your affectionate nephew,
R. B. HAYES.
MIDDLETOWN, CON., Jan. 6, .
DEAR MANLY:--I received your letter about a month ago,
and was very glad to receive it. The time flies the fastest here
of any place I ever was in, and you know that it would be very
IN SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, 1838 17
different if I was not happy. I think you must have had lots of
fun election times. It seems rather hard that I can never be at
home election day I have not been there for four years election
day and then I did not know enough about matters and things to
see anything strange in it. We have had lots of fun here too.
The celebration of the New York victory in this city was splen-
did. There was nearly a constant roar of cannon throughout
the day and in the evening three hundred dollars' worth of fire-
works [was] sent off, and from the great number of fireballs
flying in the air we could read anywhere within two miles.
Thanksgiving was the 3oth of November. I suppose you
have heard of the richness of the dinner in this Yankee country
on that day; but it beat everything all hollow that I ever saw.
Our dessert alone, I should think, would cost fifty dollars. This
place is remarkable for its confectionery and we had things
[I] never dreamed of there being such.
The Nanjacks must have thought they were doing it election
night to be parading the streets. I should think Allen must have
felt rather cheap when he found he wasn't elected. The Whigs
acted rather foolish to make so much fuss about the victory they
knew they would gain. H. Williams must have been half
drunk to have tried to get the balls from a parcel of boys.
Mr. Webb for our amusement read an account (just now) of
a lawsuit in Massachusetts between a couple of sailors where
it was decided (after two years' lawing) that each party should
pay his own costs, about twelve hundred and fifty dollars apiece.
It [the lawsuit] was about eighty-two cents' worth of slabs!
I should like to have seen that fight of your letter. Shinn ought
to stop fighting. Who do you mean by Rosem? Old Goodrich?
There has been no slaying [sleighing] of any account here, but
there's been skating pretty much ever since the 16th of Novem-
ber. For about a week there has been very warm pleasant
weather, so warm the ice has got out of the river and we saw
a steamboat go down the river yesterday, the 5th of January.
The river here is half a mile wide. Just before it shut up it
was covered with vessels of every kind all the time.
Tell me how A. Picket flourishes with the gals. Tell him
I flourish like a green bay-tree. Tell that very dear friend of
18 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
mine (whoever he is) that's so particular about how I give him
my love, to write to me how he wants me to give it to him and
I'll try and accommodate him, and if he won't do that, tell him
to go to Canada with his sheepskin fiddle and fight the British
for a living!!!
Manly, if you study hard as long as you tell me about, you
beat me all hollow for I study only nine hours and I learn the
fastest I ever did in my life. Give my love to Mr. Wasson's
family. Tell D. Selvaene you want [to] know how his name
is spelt for I shall want to write it some of these oddsome-
Now I am a-going to run on a certain passage in your letter.
You said that you was very respectfully mine. Well now, I have
strong reasons to doubt your being mine; for if you was, I'd
set you to work to earn money for me to spend. My opinion
is that you belong to Mr. C. Covell of Delaware, Delaware
This is a pleasant town. There are about eight thousand in-
habitants. It is a real Van Buren hole; nearly every man is
one. Mr. Webb is a real Whig. You may tell our folks that I
shall write to them soon. Don't show them any more of my
I remain your dear, loving, kind, everlasting, hurrah-boys
friend, R. B. HAYES.
P. S.-- This letter has nothing in it for the best of reasons.
I've nothing to write. (Write soon.)
To M. D. COVELL,
From R. B. HAYES.
MIDDLETOWN, CON., Feb. 24, .
DEAR HARRIET:--I have forgotten whether I promised to
write to you or Sarah or to either of you, but it's no great odds.
I am a-going to write to you as you'll begin to suspect by this
time. What to write is the next thing to look "arter"!
When I was in Vermont I staid two days at Uncle Elliot's
and had fun for divers reasons; first, case I liked his new wife
real first-rate; second, case Belinda and the rest of the gals were
IN SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, 1838 19
home; third, case the male cousins were gone from home; fourth,
case as how they had shells and W. I. [West Indian] plants that
I never before had seen. Lastly because there was a little cousin
there about three years old, funny too as Elek was!!! I forget
whether it was a boy or girl, but I believe it was a girl. No great
odds, though. Uncle Russell has got a real good wife. I move
he has good luck getting married. There has been very "few"
snow this winter. I 've had one sleigh-ride, but give me a
Buckeye ride in mud two feet deep [rather] than a Yankee one
in snow the same depth. There are divers things in this blue
country that I like better than Ohio; for example, Thanksgiving
dinner, or even a fast, for we had one the 22d; and if that is a
Yankee fast I move I should like to see a feast!!
The French tutor is a passionate old fellow. He looks more
like a plump feather bed than anything else I know of!! Here he
We have to go to meeting twice every Sunday. The priest [a
common New England designation for minister at that time]
prays thirty minutes; everything else in proportion. He's a
harder case than Mr. V -- for length and not near so interesting.
I ha'n't no more to write. Give love to all the folks in the house,
Sal, Bet, Mary, and all. Write right, right off!!! Don't excuse
Your first-class friend,
R. B. HAYES.
To MIss H. MOODY,
I got [a] strong s'picion this letter a'n't worth postage.
[The postage on it was twenty-five cents!]
MIDDLETOWN, CONN., April 5, 1838.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received your letter of the 18th of March
about two weeks since. I have nothing particular to write. I
like the school [as] well as ever. Time passes very pleasantly.
There are very fine places to walk here. About five miles from
here the scenery is beautiful. Saturday afternoons, when it is
pleasant, we walk out to a mountain eight miles off where we
20 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
can see Hartford, New Haven, Saybrook, and ten or eleven
small villages. It is a long walk, or rather run for we trot
most of the way, but it pays well for the trouble.
My clothes do very well. I shall not want any more money
this term as I know of. I gave what you sent to Mr. Webb.
I room with William Lane. We are real good chums. I do
not study French because I have as much as I can do without.
I think I shall study it next term. The Frenchman is a mean
old chap. He gets mad and goes off from table very often.
He'll not stay here next term.
I was reading the acts of the last legislature and I saw a bill
for McAdamising [macadamizing] Black Swamp. I hope now
you will have a good road there. Friday evenings Mr. Webb
reads us the speeches of the great men in Congress, so I know
more what is doing than I do at home. Mr. Webb being a
Whig was elected First Alderman of this city. Election took
place three or four days ago. There was n[o] school.
Give my love to all the cousins. Tell Mr. Pease that if the
New York election last fall did not make him feel queer, I don't
know what will unless it's the Connecticut election. Though I
suppose he's heard it before this, it will do him good to keep
him in mind of it. The Whigs have carried the State by five
thousand seven hundred majority. There is but one Van Buren
[man] out of twenty-one in the Senate. This is eight thousand
Your affectionate nephew,
from R. B. HAYES.
P. S. -- W. G. Lane sends his compliments, etc.
To S. BIRCHARD,
Lower Sandusky, Ohio.
MAPLE GROVE, MIDDLETOWN, CONN., April 28, 1838.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received your letter on the 18th. It looked
as if it had received sundry hard knocks. I will start for Ver-
mont day after tomorrow morning unless something extra hap-
pens. I shall try to act so that my visit will be agreeable to my
relations and pleasant to myself. Mr. Webb has, I believe,
IN SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, 1837 21
written to you lately, and as he knows best about my progress in
my studies, I refer you to his letter.
I shall study France next term. We speak French at table
altogether. I shall be fitted for college by next fall, but Mr.
Webb says I am too young to enter next fall. I don't believe it,
though. I had rather go to college at the West, of course.
W. Lane is a real splendiferous chap. He is a very odd chap.
He will make, if nothing happens, a very smart man --as smart
as his father, and that will do, I reckon.
As I have a sore hand, a bad pen, and nothing to write about,
I'll stop. -- Your affectionate nephew,
R. B. HAYES.
P. S. -- Give my love to all the cousins.
MR. SARDIS BIRCHARD,
Lower Sandusky, Ohio.
[Mr. Webb wrote Mr. Birchard, April 30, 1838, in these
words: "Your nephew, R. B. Hayes, has now closed a profitable
term to himself, I think, and am happy to say, satisfactory to
myself. . . . . Rutherford has applied himself industriously
to his studies and has maintained a consistent and correct de-
portment. I think he will avail himself of the advantages of an
education and fully meet the just anticipations of his friends.
He is well informed, has good sense, and is respected and es-
teemed by his companions. He is strictly economical and regular
in his habits, and has established a very favorable character
"Rutherford is too young to enter college. Another year of
preparation would be a vast advantage in his education, and the
expense, I am sure, would be richly rewarded. Were he my son,
I would by all means give him another year to be prepared in.
I shall be glad to know your views in the matter. Judge Lane's
son has made up his mind upon his own judgment, that he is too
young to enter college next fall, and purposes remaining another
year. I am exceeding desirous for Rutherford's sake that he
should remain with Wm. Lane. I shall hope for a communica-
tion from you in relation to the matter."]
22 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
MIDDLETOWN, CT., June 6, 1838.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have been here now four or five days and
am very glad to get back; not but that I spent vacation very
pleasantly, but it seems like home here more than anywhere else,
though I make myself at home anywhere in five minutes.
I went to see all my relations in Vermont. They are all well.
The more I see of Uncle Austin the better I like him. Aunt
looks older and takes more care of home and less of the store
than she used to do. Mary is very handsome. She wants to go
to Ohio very much. Uncle Noyes' folks tried to make an
Abolitionist of me, but that would not work. They all thought
Mr. Webb's would be a good place for George, but when I told
them there was not an Abolitionist in school, oh! horrible!
Then they'd as soon send him to a lion's den!!
You said in your letter to Uncle Austin that Mr. Webb had
written to you about my staying here another year. If [I]
thought it would be a great advantage to me I had rather stay,
but I don't think it would; for persons who have been through
college say that when a person enters college so that he can get
on the first year very easy, after that [he] don't get along so
well as those who have to work hard when they first enter.
If I don't enter college till a year, I'll have to stay a year
longer in college and that year spent in studying human nature
would be more profitably [spent] than studying dead languages.
Things being so, I had rather not stay another year.
I received one hundred and fifty dollars from Uncle Austin
the 28th of May of which I paid to Mr. Webb one hundred and
forty-three dollars the Ist of June; the rest were travelling ex-
If you think it best that I should stay a year longer, I am
perfectly willing to do it without going home.
Grandmother said she in her will had [given] Fanny and I
each fifty dollars.
Give my love to all the relations.
Your affectionate nephew,
R. B. HAYES.
Please write soon.
MR. S. BIRCHARD.
IN SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, 1838 23
MIDDLETOWN, CONN., July 7, 1838.
DEAR MOTHER:- I received your letter a short time since
and by it I see that if you do not hear from me often [you are
worried about me. With me it] is just the opposite. When
I haven't heard from you for some time I know you are well
or you'd write to me. Every letter I get I am almost afraid
to open it for fear of bad news. If I am sick you shall hear
from me very often. I shall try to be careful of my health.
I hope that J. Rigsur may yet recover his health. He has
always been an excellent friend of mine. I know nothing of
cures, but I should think if he were thrown into cold water it
might cure him.
I think it is not best to stay another year. If I can enter col-
lege this year, I can go through very well I am certain. And
unless it is harder to enter than the college here, I can enter. I
have went through five books of Virgil more than is required
and shall review all the studies again. This term I've begun
French and I get ahead very well. The time flies as it did last
term and that's saying considerable. Converse tells me more
about your doings at Putnam than you did!
They had a grand celebration here on the Fourth. The Gov-
ernor and the best troops in this State and New York City were
here. The common soldiers were dressed better than the gen-
eral officers out our way. We have just as many cherries and
strawberries out of Mr. Webb's garden as we can eat, and have
had these three weeks. [One line cut out.]
It is laughable to see the difference between the beginning
and end of your letter. I should think by the first part that
all the folks were dead, by the latter that they were getting
married. I am glad that F. [Fanny] is going to Norwalk. I
hope it will be good hunting when I get home for if nothing
happens I will hunt considerable. Don't be afraid of writing
too long letters. Tell M. Covell I've received his letter. Is W.
L. Webb at home? I don't know of anything more to write
about. Give my love to the relations that are in Delaware and
Mr. Wasson's family in particular. I intend to send a little
paper to Jenny today. Tell F. to write too.
From your affectionate son.
24 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
P. S. --I forgot to tell you that four of us were invited to
dinner by one of the boys who lives fifteen miles from here.
We walked over there; staid ten hours and walked back by
bed time--thirty-six miles in six hours. Three of us were
Buckeyes, the other was an Alabamian. Quite pedestrians, the
Buckeyes! RUTHERFORD B. HAYES.
Here is my crest. It is the implements of haying to show I
am a farmer and hay, in the plural Hayes. [The "crest" is a
rude pen drawing showing within a circle a scythe, a rake, and
a pitch-fork crossed, and a haycock in the background, with
"R. B. H., Buckeye" underneath.]
DEAR MOTHER:--Converse Goddard received a letter from
home asking him to come home next vacation and wishes my
company as you'll see by the following:
MIDDLETOWN, THURSDAY EVE'G, August 30, 1838.
MADAM:--I take the liberty of addressing you from the long friend-
ship I entertain for your son. My object at present is to inform you
that, as I intend returning to Ohio the next vacation, I would be very happy
of the company of your son, at the same time assuring you that I would
keep him out of danger and all dissipation. I hope you will not fail to
permit him to return, knowing as you do that it would conduce very much
to his happiness.--Respects to Miss Hayes.
Your ob't servant,
D. C. GODDARD.
I have not as yet received an answer to my letter of July 30,
but expect to receive one soon. D. Con. Goddard's letter was
written in case that I should go to Yale College, as in that case
I told him I supposed I'd not return this fall. Now, I, as a
matter of course, should like very well to come home; but do
not (if you have determined that I shall not come) change your
mind for anything I say. If I do come, I wish to come with
D. C. Goddard, as I like him and W. Lane a little "taller" than
anybody else in Connecticut. He will go by the way of New
York and Philadelphia, as it is from here altogether the quickest
route. He says it cost him twenty-seven dollars to go there, and
back he thinks it'll cost about sixty dollars.
IN SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, 1838 25
Tell me if I shall bring my books, if I come. I better not
unless I go to Kenyon. I have written this more on Con's ac-
count than mine. Enough of this. I am now studying French,
Con went to a wedding yesterday about twelve miles from
here, -- Mr. Hawes of Zanesville and Miss Hale of Glaston-
bury. W. Lane and myself talk werry "loud" of (if we go
to Yale) walking to Ohio some vacation!
(R. wants to go home very much but thinks you do not wish
him to. Very respectfully, GODDARD.)
That is a mistake.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
MIDDLETOWN, CONN., Sept. 18, .
I received your letter dated September 9 this evening. As a
matter of course, we begin to think considerable of vacation.
We will scatter on the 28th of this month. Converse Goddard,
son of General Goddard of Zanesville, Ohio, is a-going home by
the way of Philadelphia, and as we are great chums it would
be very pleasant to go in company. We had it all planned out
how we would travel when I received Mother's letter telling me
that Mr. Powers would send me money four or five days before
vacation and I should return with him, as he would be ready to
start from New York by the 2d or 3d of October; and if I find
that I'll have to wait four days, I'll call on Mr. Powers and tell
him, and go right on with C. Goddard. He wishes to stay a day
in New York and in that time we will be able to see the most
of the city.
Although you have not asked my notions "about war," I'll let
you have some of them. I should have written more as if I
wished to go to Yale, had it not been that I was afraid Mother
and Sister would think that I did not wish to see them, and that
I thought more of the Yankees than of them.
The next term of Kenyon College will begin in about four
weeks after I get home; and in a fortnight after I get home I
would like to get a little wagon and take a few books over
and be examined, come home, go and see you, then back to
26 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
college (provided I could enter), stay through freshman year,
and, if I wished, I could then go and enter Yale freshman with
W. G. Lane and D. C. Goddard, if they conclude to go to Yale.
But I won't "count the chickens before they are hatched." I
should like "bad" to learn to ride and hunt considerable in
vacation. I've grown "werry tall" since I've been here. Mr.
Webb not having yet come in and he'll have to tell me about what
is now due; so I'll stop for now.
Mr. Webb says my bill is not yet made out but that I can
carry it home, and then will be soon enough to pay it. I think
there will be ten or twelve dollars due. Do not write to Mother
as though I would be home so soon, but if I go with Converse
Goddard I'll be home by the 4th of October which is my birthday.
I remain your affectionate nephew,
R. B. HAYES.
Give my love to all my cousins and all others whom it may
concern. W. G. Lane and D. C. Goddard send their best re-
spects; being with myself the only Buckeyes here, we form quite
a friendly trio.
SARDIS BIRCHARD, ESQ.,
Lower Sandusky, Ohio.
October 4, 1838.--Birthday; sixteen years old. The fore-
noon spent on board the steamboat Columbus on Lake Erie;
very warm pleasant day. Afternoon spent in Sandusky City.
October 5.-- Spent in riding from Sandusky to Marion in the
stage; very hot and dusty. Arrived at Marion 7 o'clock.
October 6.-- Rode to Delaware by 8 in the morning after be-
ing absent a year; very glad to get home. Everything quite
October 7.-- Spent loping about, seeing the folks.
October 8.-- Election day tomorrow is all the talk.
October 9.-- Election; the Whigs used up complete. -- From
this to the end of the month spent in hunting, loafing, etc.
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