Sketches of Students of First
Rev. STEPHEN M. VAIL, D.D. This distinguished educator is deserving a prominent place among the many distinguished names which reflect the honor of the old Oneida Conference Seminary. Those who have been associated with him, either as students or as his pupils, will be glad to learn of his honorable and successful career, and of his present position. In according to him his true position among the
alumni of the Seminary, we cannot do better than to introduce the following communication, written by him in response to the circular sent out to the
alumni before the semi-centennial celebration. The letter was evidently not intended for publication, but as it embodies his personal history, and much other interesting matter, we give it entire, instead of any attempted sketch of our own:
"LUDWIGSHAFEN ON THE RHINE, June 12, 1874.
"REV. W. S. SMYTH, A.M., Principal of Cazenovia Seminary, N. Y.
"DEAR SIR:--I have this moment finished reading your notice in the 'Methodist,' proposing the celebration of the semi-centennial of this old and honored institution.
"It was my good fortune, when a boy of fourteen years, to enter this institution as a student. I began my studies there in June, 1832. I remained two years, prepared for college, and graduated at Bowdoin College, Maine, in 1838; was then teacher of languages at Amenia Seminary one year. Then went to New York Union Theological Seminary, and graduated at that institution in May, 1842. Entered the New York Conference as probationer, and traveled five years. Then became principal of the New York Conference Seminary in 1847, continued there two years, till the month of July, 1849. Then was elected Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Literature in the new Theological School at Concord, New Hampshire, now removed to Boston. Here I labored in this work nineteen years, when broken health compelled me to cease my work there. I remained without any official work for one year. My physician and friends advised a residence of a few years in Europe. An official position was given me at this place as United States Consul for Rhenish Bavaria. I have been four years among the Germans. Have just returned from a visit to Egypt, Mount Sinai, Akabah, the mountains of Seir and Edom, especially Petra and Mount Hor, where Aaron died; and, further, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Shechem, Samaria, Tiberias, Safed, the sources of the Jordan, Dan and Banias, the Hauran to Damascus, across Lebanon and the valley of Coele-Syria to Beirut, thence a second time to Egypt, Suez, and the Canal, to Cairo and Alexandria; thence to Asia Minor, to Ephesus, Smyrna, Sardis, and the Ǽgearian Islands, Rhodes, Cos, Leroy, and Patmos; to Greece, Athens, and the Ionian Islands; to Italy, and back again to my home on the Rhine. I send you herewith a rose from Gethsemane, and a sprig from the oaks of Mamre, where Abraham pitched his tent, and received the visit from the angels.
"This please accept as a slight token of my love for my first Alma
Mater, the old Oneida Conference Seminary. I must not omit to add, that not only the Seminary, but the old stone church, which I hear has given place to a more stately temple, was tenderly associated with my recollections. I saw this old church rise stone by stone in 1832, till it was finished and dedicated on Christmas-day; Dr. John Dempster preached the dedicatory sermon. Meetings were continued from day to day and from night to night; a mighty awakening began among the students of the Seminary, which resulted in the conversion of about one hundred and fifty persons. In that happy number Bishop Bowman and myself were included, for which God be praised forever! I would gladly attend your semi-centennial should I return to America in time. In the mean time, God bless you as the honored successor of such men as Dr. Augustus Smith, Dr. W. C. Larrabee, Dr. J. Johnston, Dr. W. H. Allen, Dr. George Peck, and a long list of other and godly men who have been principals or presidents of this old and honored institution!
"Your brother in Christ,
STEPHEN M. VAIL,
"U. S. Consul at Rhenish Bavaria."
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