Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

A Biography Of America's Folk-Song Composer By Harold Vincent Milligan

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entire history," under the administration of John G. Marvin. "His education was somewhat defective," runs a chronicle, "so much so that he needed to study ahead of his more advanced classes," but he was "an unusually fine disciplinarian." In the Spring of 1841, the Academy published a catalogue of trustees, teachers and students, for the year ending July, 1841, recording the presence of two hundred students, "males 130, females 70." In this catalogue occurs the name of "Stephen Collins Foster of Pittsburgh."
Of Stephen's schoolmates at the Athens Academy, probably none survive to this day. There are to be found, however, a few reminiscences of him that help us to a clear picture of his boyhood. One of the memories which endured through the years was that of the tones of Stephen's flute, floating over the water to the boating parties on the river.
The following description of Stephen at this age was
written for the Bradford County Historical Society
nearly seventy years later by R. M. Welles:
It was in January, 1841, that I met Stephen C. Foster at school in Athens. It may be of interest to the reader to have a description of this remarkable musical and poetical writer as I recollect him. He was at the time in his fifteenth year; his complexion was rather dark, he had a tall large head, which was covered with fine, nearly black hair, that lay flat upon the scalp, and if I recollect correctly his jaws were somewhat square, indicating firmness. This quality was shown in his intense application to study and composition. He was studious and according to my recollection, kept much to his room and did not join the boys in their sports. I do not remember that he spent any time in society. He was rather delicate in health, mainly I think because of lack of physical exercise, and later in life was somewhat nervous, not being able to sleep at night except in perfect quiet. Stephen was studious and did not join with the other boys in their sports. He was a good penman and made fine ornamental letters.
Another recollection of Stephen was written in 1897,
on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the
founding of the school, by John A. Perkins of Fresno,
Stephen C. Foster, of minstrel fame, was at the Academy about this time, and showed some of the genius he displayed in later years.

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