Sunday, June 11, 2017

Over 250 years of Yalies

1906 watercolor of Yale University and the New Haven Green, by Richard Rummell.
Image provided by Wikimedia Commons.
Two weeks ago my wife and I attended our 30th college reunion at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.  It was the first reunion we attended since our 10th.  We had a good time, and enjoyed seeing old friends and acquaintance. It was also interesting to see how the campus has grown and changed over the years. The event also left me feeling a bit out of place. In my mind's eye, Yale is still the place of my memories, a place where my peers are 18–21 years old and where faculty and staff seem much older. At reunion, however, I found that all my peers had turned into 50-somethings. And some of them actually were faculty and staff at the University.

I don't come from a long line of Yalies. But it turns out that I have a good number of relatives (mostly distant cousins) who attended Yale.  In honor of my reunion, here is a short list of my Eli relatives:
  • Jonathan Arnold (1701 – ????), 1st cousin, 7 times removed. Jonathan studied theology, graduating in 1723. He was ordained pastor of the West Haven Congregational Church. In 1734 he "declared for the Episcopacy" (i.e., converted to the Church of England) and was dismissed from his church. He traveled to England to take orders and received an honorary M.A. from Oxford Univesity while he was there. On returning to the colonies he was an Episcopal missionary in Connecticut, and later lived in Staten Island and New Jersey.
  • Samuel Arnold (1704 – 1771), 1st cousin, 7 times removed. Samuel studied theology and graduated in 1724. He preached for a while after graduation. But he made his career as a farmer and was never ordained.
  • Conrad Gustavus Bacon (1844 – 1936), 6th cousin, twice removed. He graduated from the Yale law school in 1871 and practiced law for many years in Middletown, Connecticut. He served a term in the Connecticut General Assembly, 1912–13.
  • Franke Stuart Havens (1871 – 1942), 4th cousin, twice removed. Franke received his B.S. in 1896 and his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1899. He worked as a research chemist for a paint company and later established his own chemical and paint manufacturing company.
  • Alfred Southmayd Hamlin (1871 – 1954), 7th cousin, once removed. Alfred graduated from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1898
  • Frederic Stanley Bacon (1877 – 1961), 6th cousin, 3 times removed. Frederic graduated from Yale Law School in 1902. After graduation, he entered practice with his father (Conrad Gustavus Bacon, above). Sometime before 1920 he changed careers and became a civil engineer for the highway department of the state of Connecticut. 
  • George Southmayd Macdonald (1880 – 1968), 7th cousin, once removed. George graduated from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1902. He worked for several years as a lawyer in New York City, then moved to Los Angeles to work in the new film industry. He was a director during the silent era, using Sherwood Macdonald as his screen name.
  • Rossleene Merle Arnold (1895 – 1950). My great-aunt Ross received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Yale in 1926. She married a fellow Ph.D. student, Donald McKinley Hetler. They taught briefly at the University of Illinois and then settled in Missoula, Montana, where they both taught at Montana State University.
  • Elizabeth Dalzell Whiting (1904 – 1992), 5th cousin. Elizabeth's engagement announcement in Brooklyn Life said that she, "is now taking a course at Yale School of Music." I have found no further information about whether she was in a degree program or just taking a music class at her local college.
  • Dalzell Whiting (1911 – 1933), 5th cousin. Dalzell was in the class of 1934. He died in the fall of his senior year after a two week illness. He was the younger brother of Elizabeth Dalzell Whitting, above.
  • Keith Arnold Smith (1965 – ). That's me, Class of 1987.
This list makes it look like I am the most recent of a long line of Yalies—the ultimate legacy student. But this is not a line at all. None of them are direct ancestors. They are all among the many hundreds of descendants of my 8th great-grandfather, John Arnold of Hartford, Connecticut. With the exception of my great-aunt, Ross(leene) and myself, everyone on this list lived in central Connecticut. And they all lived at times when it was typical for college students to attend school not far from home.

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