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.
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.
Hawaiian Grave Marker
In 1993, many years after his death Henry Obookiah was disinterred by descendants of his family and returned to Hawaii. This marker was left in Cornwall to mark his gravesite as an important site in Hawaiian history.
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.