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Teaching Experience at Spencer, New York

Returning early in April, 1874, to Spencer, New York, I learned that the principal of the Spencer Free Academy had suddenly resigned. I made application for this position and was elected. Only a few years before, 1874, I was a bashful country student in this academy. Successful beyond expectations, I was re-elected for the succeeding year.

On December twenty-third I was married to Miss Helen F. Gillespie at her home in Fulton, New York. Her sister Alice was married to Edward C. Whitaker at the same time.

While teaching together at the academy we boarded at what was then known as Platt's Hotel. Those were indeed happy days.

During the last half year that I was principal of this school, I was invited to preach in a number of country churches; on several occasions in Van Etten, a village three miles from Spencer. I cannot recall having received any compensation aside from my actual expenses, except at one place seven or eight miles in the country. At this church I held forth for a series of Sundays and the good people insisted on giving me a donation. This was the type of donation already described in these memories, except that dancing was substituted for kissing. The cash contributions amounted to something over fifty dollars.

In the light of my religious reformation while a student at Michigan University, my friends will ask about the effect of my theology on my hearers. Then and later I became thoroughly convinced that the average congregation takes few exceptions when preaching is positive and not negative with reference to the issues of life. Dissension arises when dogmatic doctrines and negations are discussed. This is just as true in politics as in religion. I was not hypocritical, but frank and earnest in my pulpit teachings. My audiences were relatively large and attentive. I presume that these speeches reduced to print would bear a marked resemblance to lectures. At this hour I rejoice over their non-existence in tangible form. These discourses were not read from manuscript. I then used a brief written outline as I do now. Since my sad experience at Skaneateles, New York, I have always been an extemporaneous speaker.