Closing the School

Sickness was a common issue at the Foreign Mission School. Some students, such as the Hawaiians and Marquesans, had difficulty with the New England winter climate.

The close living quarters of students from so many different countries and climates in an era before most vaccines and antibiotics increased the students’ susceptibility to illnesses as well.

<a href="/omeka/items/browse?advanced%5B0%5D%5Belement_id%5D=50&advanced%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=is+exactly&advanced%5B0%5D%5Bterms%5D=Cornwall+Cemetery">Cornwall Cemetery</a>
Seven of the nearly 100 students who were educated at the Foreign Mission School died while studying in Cornwall. They were all buried in Cornwall Cemetery.


Students that died while attending the Foreign Mission School:

Name              Nationality/Heritage        Cause of death        Date   

Henry Obookiah                Hawaiian                     typhus                   1818

Benjamin Toke               Marquesan               consumption       March 1820

Lewis Keah                    Marquesan                    fever                Dec 1820

Thomas Hammepatoo     Marquesan            unwell on arrival              1822

William Kirkpatrick           Cherokee             unwell on arrival    March 1823

John Iris Komo                 Hawaiian                 consumption               1824

David Brainard                 Hawaiian                  unknown                   1825

Nota Bene: None of these deaths were recorded in the town records.




Two marriages occurred between Foreign Mission School students and towns-folk during the school's years of operation. 

The first marriage took place in 1824 between Sarah Northrop, daughter of the school’s steward, and John Ridge, son of a Cherokee chief.


The second marriage was in 1826 between Harriet Gold, granddaughter of the Congregationalist minister, and Elias Boudinot, cousin of John Ridge.


The town response to the Ridge and Boudinot marriages exposed much of the racism and inequality that existed in the mission movement and that local people felt towards the students.

By 1826 the Foreign Mission School was struggling and The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions used the marriages as an opportunity to close the school.

Closing the School