Education of Girls in Dayton Cooper Seminary

 

 

Education of Girls in Dayton Cooper Seminary

[Copyright 1911] 

 

Mr. E. E. Barney

The Rev. and Mrs. Galloway

Mrs. Bartlett

Professor Robert

 

On the corner of First and Wilkinson streets stands an old building endeared by pleasant associations to many of the women of Dayton. It still retains the name of Cooper Seminary given it sixty-seven years ago in honor of Daniel C. Cooper, whose daughter deeded the ground on which it stands to a board of trustees for the erection of a building for the "Higher Christian Education of Young Women." Up to the year 1844 the only good school in Dayton was the Academy, on the south-west corner of Fourth and Wilkinson streets, where the old Central High School afterward stood and where the Central District School now stands. To Mr. E. E. Barney, principal of the Academy from 1831 to 1839 and of Cooper Seminary from 1844 to 1849, was due the early reputation for scholarship of both these schools.

 

Mr. E. E. Barney

 

Mr. Barney belonged to a family in which teaching was both an instinct and a joy. In addition to his power as a teacher he had, what is rare in a scholarly man, a genius for business. Dayton will continue for many years to reap the benefit of his achievements, both as a teacher and as a business man.

The son of a pioneer in the wilderness of Western New York State, born in a log cabin, inured to hardship and self-sacrifice, Mr. Barney early developed the qualities of perseverance, thoughtfulness and steadiness of purpose. He was the eldest of eleven children and al-though his opportunities were few, he enjoyed the inestimable advantage of the care and training of a Christian mother, who dreamed of a future of usefulness for her son. The importance to him of an education was early emphasized. With great sacrifice on the part of his parents he was sent to Union College, from which he was graduated in 1831.

Soon after his graduation, Mr. Barney, who was ambitious to teach, obtained the position of Principal in the Dayton Academy. Here he associated with him in his work his brother, Elijah G. Barney, and his sister, Harriet Barney, afterward Mrs. Stevens. With this force the school soon gained a high reputation and from the first enrollment of nine pupils, increased in a short time to eighty-five.

In 1839, Mr. Barney, warned by symptoms of failing health, resigned his position, to the regret of all, and went into business. The new enterprise grew and prospered. A business man once said of Mr. Barney, "He is the first school teacher I have ever met who knows how to do business." His younger brother said that in his youth Mr. Barney was remarkable for three dominant characteristics, industry, order and thoughtful-ness. It does not involve a deep philosophy to prove that these three qualities will insure success equally in the school room and the factory.

His value as a teacher was so manifest that, when a number of public-spirited citizens decided to erect a building and establish a private seminary for girls, Mr. Barney was unanimously chosen to stand at its head. He accepted the responsibility, declaring that it would be his pride to make Cooper Seminary the best school of its kind and he became its principal in the fall of 1844. The school immediately attracted the daughters of intelligent people, not only in Dayton, but throughout the whole southern part of the state. Mr. Barney induced his friends of means to contribute money for a library, for maps, charts and apparatus for the illustration of scientific principles. For that day the equipment of the seminary laboratory was really remarkable. It included a nine-inch telescope, an instrument probably not possessed by any other girls' school in this part of the country. The school became rapidly known as one of the best in the Middle West. Mrs. Barney kept house for the boarding pupils and gave them, outside of school hours, the same conscientious care that they had from Mr. Barney in the classroom. His brother, his sister, and Mr. A, E. Stevens formed the faculty of the seminary.

The methods in use in that early school were those approved by modern educators.  Mr. Barney was fifty years ahead of his time in the teaching profession. He took his classes in Botany and Geology to the woods and fields to learn. He stimulated the practical love of horticulture by giving his pupils roots and bulbs to plant in the school yard. He pointed out the beauties of plant life, the heavens, and the eternal rocks. History and Literature he made the personal possession of young minds as they were of his own. "We could not help learning," one gray-haired woman said of him, years after he was gone. "His teaching was as interesting as a story."

 

The Rev. and Mrs. Galloway

 

When in 1849 Mr. Barney withdrew definitely from the educational interests of Dayton to embark in the great industrial enterprise of the Car Works, Cooper Seminary was taken by the Reverend John Galloway. It was conducted by him most successfully for several years. At his death, his widow, Mrs. Belinda Galloway, decided to carry on the school and, in spite of the remonstrances of friends who feared the effect of the large responsibility upon her fragile health, she persisted in her decision. A fine corps of teachers was secured and improvements in the property were carried out.

Mrs. Galloway was a woman of sweet personality and fine traits. She was greatly beloved by her pupils and her memory is still cherished by them. The atmosphere of the school was one of refinement and old-time culture. Those who had the advantage of her training are grateful for the stress laid upon gentle manners and serious academic work.

 

Mrs. Bartlett

 

The next principal of Cooper Seminary was Mrs. Bartlett, who took charge in the fall of 1871, following the retirement of Mrs. Galloway. Three classes were graduated from the institution under her able principalship. The standards set by the former principals were fully maintained by Mrs. Bartlett. She remained in charge of the school until 1873, when she was succeeded by Professor James M. Robert.

 

Professor Robert

 

Professor Robert, a scholar and an accurate observer of life, during the fourteen years of his principalship of Cooper Seminary, made the school a center of high thinking and lofty ideals.  For years to come this city will feel the uplift of his enthusiasm, artistic, musical and intellectual. It was, however, not in these ways alone that his power was felt.  With marvelous insight into the material welfare of the city, he foresaw the advantage to Dayton of reclaiming the waste land in the river bottom for building purposes. A gigantic plan was carried out under his supervision and so nearly at his own expense that an intimate friend of his said he did not believe James Robert "was a dime richer for it." What small glory remains out of such an undertaking is the name "Robert Boulevard," which, it is to be hoped, will never be abandoned.

In 1886 Professor Robert resigned from the principalship of Cooper Seminary, since which time it has ceased, as a school, to exist.

 

The End