Stephen Collins Foster Biography - online book

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

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at Athens. There is a reference to him in a letter from his mother to William:
Pittsburgh, March 24, 1841.
. . . . Poor little Stephen, how is he? I think of him very much of late.
In his biography of his brother, Morrison Foster states that Stephen stayed only about a year in school at Athens, but the extracts from letters quoted above and the presence of his name in the Academy catalogue of 1841, prove that he spent at least two and a half years there. This is of some importance, as it indicates that his general education was more systematic and thorough than is sometimes stated.
The year after Stephen left the Athens Academy, the building was destroyed by fire. It was on a Saturday afternoon in March. Some of the boys had been amusing themselves by jumping on and off the cakes of ice floating in the river, and on returning to the school, they built a roaring fire to dry their wet clothes. The wood work surrounding the bottom of the chimney took fire and the whole building was burned, including the library, minerals, and the "astronomical and philosophical ap­paratus" purchased with the money appropriated by the State.
Stephen left Athens at the end of the school term in the early summer of this year (1841) and after a brief visit with his parents in Alleghany went to Canonsburg, where he entered Jefferson College. / He was not happy there and did not stay long, and this episode marks the end of his regular schooling. He seems to have been restless and to have been groping about in the effort to find himself. If at this time he could have come under the influence of a personality in sympathy with his own and could have received, even in small degree, the right kind of companionship and advice, his whole life and his place in musical history would probably have been immeasurably enhanced. ' While he had made only a

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