An acorn doesn’t fall far from its tree. Nothing truer could be said of the five children raised by noted writer, genealogist and historian Reverend Charles Carroll Carpenter and his wife, Nancy Fiona Rice. As all parents must, they laid a path for the five fledgling Carpenters to follow. From an early age each child was instilled with a sense of duty, honor and faith. Developing a strong moral center, a passion for people and a quest for knowledge were essential to their proper upbringing.
George Rice Carpenter was born in 1863 at the Eskimo River Mission Station on the Labrador Coast where his parents were engaged in pioneer missionary service. Following his graduation from Phillips Academy, he attended Harvard graduating with high honors. George joined the Harvard faculty as an instructor and was later appointed an assistant professor at MIT. Married to Mary Seymour, their daughter Margaret Seymour Carpenter would grow up to become a noted author.
In 1883, George was named chairman of English rhetoric at Columbia, where he remained for the duration of his life. The George Rice Carpenter Memorial Library at Columbia is named as a permanent tribute.
Younger brother Charles Lincoln Carpenter completed his studies at Phillips Academy and went on to Dartmouth College earning a Bachelor of Divinity and a Master in Engineering degree. He then tackled a rigorous curriculum at the Tuck School earning a Master in Commercial Science.
Out in the world, his career led him to Puerto Rico where he was Vice President and General Manager of the Central Aguirre Sugar Company. Charles died in 1929 and is buried under the Camperdown elm tree on the Phillips campus.
Their third son, William Bancroft Carpenter, followed his brothers through Phillips Academy. William then studied at Amherst earning his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees at Harvard. His teaching career began at St. Mark’s in Southborough and later at high schools in Taunton and Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
William went on to a long and distinguished teaching career at the Boston Mechanics Arts High School. Married to Kathryn M. Hoyt, their three sons served in the Great War. Sadly, like his brother George, William’s death preceded their father’s.
Jane Brodie Carpenter was born in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee and shared her father’s curiosity and keen sense of observation. Jane earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from the Columbia Teachers College. Following graduation, Jane was an instructor at Mount Holyoake College and the Horace Mann School in New York.
In 1909, Jane was appointed an instructor and later head of physical education at Abbot Academy. She distinguished herself as “the Keeper” of Alumnae Records, compiling a general catalogue and an historical narrative on Abbot Academy.
Retiring in 1936 she, like her father, was a friend and contributor to the Andover Historical Society.
Miriam Feronia Carpenter, the Carpenter’s fifth child and second daughter, was born in 1881. A member of Punchard High School Class of 1899, her impressive course of study led her through Colorado College, the University of California, Harvard and the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree, Miriam served as secretary to Deans at both Harvard and Mount Holyoke. Miriam was then appointed registrar and advisor of women at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She later managed the Division of Education office at Harvard.
At home in Andover, Miriam was active in the Historical Society including service on the Board of Directors.
A family of five noted educators, scholars and authors grew from the wisdom of one great oak. Perhaps Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle summed it up best saying, “When an oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in an unknown breeze.”