Franklin County, Ohio
Genealogy and History


Worthington Female Seminary

  The Worthington Female Seminary was founded in 1839. It was the first female seminary of the Methodist Church west of the Alleghenies. The seminary was originally located in the Masonic Temple New England Lodge No. 4, located at 634 High Street in Worthington. The seminary building was dedicated in 1842, with classrooms on the first floor and boarding rooms for students above. Students from Worthington and surrounding communities, as well as a few from around the country, primarily Methodist ministers' daughters, were educated at the seminary. The seminary was initially very successful, often having as many as one hundred and fifty students. After the establishment of the Ohio Wesleyan Female College in 1853, the Worthington Female Seminary lost support and closed in 1857. The building became home to the Ohio Central Normal School in 1871, providing training for kindergarten, primary, intermediate, and secondary teachers. After the closing of the Ohio Central Normal School in 1880, the building was converted into a residential hotel called the Park Hotel. It then became a sanitarium named Worthdale and finally apartments in 1920. The site later became a parking lot for the Worthington United Methodist Church.  [Source: "Ohio Memory"; Ohio Historical Society]

Also Called Worthington Female College
Worthington Female Seminary
Source: Library of Congress
Formatted by ©Genealogy Trails

The Worthington Female Seminary

Source: The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly, Vol. VI, 1903;
Contributed by Mrs. Louise (Heath) Wright, of Worthington, Ohio

Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Transcription Team

Miss Serepta Marsh, a thoroughly educated teacher from Vermont (?), was conducting a private school in Chillicothe. Her sister Mrs. Maltby, having settled in Worthington, she determined to visit her, and having found the people alive to the advantages of education she decided to open a school for girls. She began in one room on a side street, but her success was so great, and the regard of the citizens so marked, that the Masonic fraternity rented to her the lower floor of their building, where the school continued for two years.

Miss Marsh was a Methodist. With the support and active co-operation of the Rev. Jacob Young and the Rev. Uriah Heath she obtained the endorsement of the Methodist Conference at Xenia in 1838. Col. Kilbourn, then in the Legislature, introduced a bill to charter the Worthington Female Seminary, on February 6, 1839, and on March 9th the charter was granted, naming as Trustees, William Bishop, Buckley Comstock, Thomas V. Morrow, Rensselaer W. Cowles, Potter Wright, Moses Carpenter, Ozam Gardner, Jaob Hoyt, Jacob Young, William Herr and Uriah Heath.

The citizens of Worthington subscribed some $1,500; a lot of five or six acres on the east side of Main Street in the south part of the town was purchased, the foundations laid deep and strong, and a three-story building erected, which was dedicated in the presence of over fifteen hundred people in 1842, the Hon. Samuel Lewis, of Cincinnati, delivering the oration.

A peculiar interest is attached to this from the fact that Mr. Lewis, then a candidate for governor of Ohio on the Free Soil ticket, was a lineal descendent of Rev. John Robinson of Mayflower fame. From that hour until the celebration of reunion of the 46th Ohio, nothing like it was ever seen in Worthington. It was uplifting - a dawn of brighter days - better things - full of encouragement for the despondencies of the past and half buried hopes for the prosperity of the future.

Miss Marsh was an educator to the "manner born," one fully capable of imparting her thoughts to those under her care. Strenuous efforts were hers - they characterized her life - and the motto, "Twine around thy brow the unfading wreath of happiness and virtue," was through her, enabled to become the thought of after life - the hope and expectation of the future. From her we learned, in order to succeed in all that pertained to our lives, then and ever after, required the possession of three things: design, contrivance, and skill. Showy accomplishments were shunned, while spelling was examined with scrutiny and great care. So successful was she that her pupils became known as such years after; and while many disliked her "morning lectures," or "daily bread," when girls emerged into women, with grateful hearts they acknowledged all was done with a desire for their future well being, and she received the welcome plaudit well done.

Her assistants, Sarah M. Tucker and Maria Tucker, from the Granville Female College (Presbyterian), and Miss McGill, music teacher, gave general satisfaction.

Miss Marsh continued as Principal until her marriage with the Rev. Henry Baker, in 1842.

She was succeeded by Alexander Nelson, a native of Vermont, who came to Ohio in 1835, and to Worthington, from Norwalk, Ohio. He remained till about 1846. He was afterwards President of the Iowa Wesleyan University, at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and connected with the Baldwin University at Berea, Ohio. The late Professor E. T. Nelson, of Delaware, Ohio, was his son. Under Mr. Nelson, Miss Carpenter was Pupil Assistant; Aaron Rose, a blind man, was also a part of the time Miss Swindell taught music.

Mrs. Jane M. Z. Nelson was preceptress. From a mere child her parents decided her sphere in life was to instruct others, and carried out their intentions to the letter. She was sent to New Orleans to study French, and no doubt needle-work, from the efficiency manifested therein; at any rate, we girls thought her fully equal to any and every requirement made upon time and talents, those of the "Queen of the Kitchen" excepted.

The Misses Smith, two estimable women and excellent teachers, succeeded Mr. Nelson, remaining some four years. They were two lovely, excellent characters and beloved by all. One of them married the Rev. Dr. E. P. Kidder.

Rev. E. M. Boring was principal in 1847. Mrs. H. L. Porter and daughter of Washington, D. C., ably assisting him, of whom it can be truly said, their equal today can scarcely be rivaled; and no wonder, for this school had the reputation of being the best west of the mountains.

In 1853 Mr. O. M. Spencer was Principal, followed by Rev. Benjamin St. James Fry of Cincinnati, a man with no mean reputation as an artist, a preacher, student and teacher, and who later filled some of the highest positions in the church.

From 1853 the school gradually lost support and was closed in 1857. The cause of this was the increasing attraction of the co-educational idea at Ohio Wesleyan University, at Delaware, only fifteen miles away.

The standards of scholarship in this institution were always of the highest, and a failure in work was considered a disgrace. The ideals of refinement and a culture were equally high, and the impress of this school for higher aspirations and noble living was placed on a great number of central Ohio women. The tuition was five dollars per quarter, with music, painting, French, drawing, etc., three dollars extra. Board was two dollars per week

1839 - 1840 Class
A list of the pupils in 1839-40 has been preserved.
Where no place of residence is given, Worthington or vicinity is understood.

Eunicia E. Abbott

Sarah Algyre - Pickerington

Polly Andrews

Mary H. Armistead - Dublin

June H. Bacon

Lorinda Barr - Hamilton

Emily Beckwith

Harriet Bennett - Marion

Celia Bishop

Martha Bishop

Sylvia A. Blowers - Bucyrus

Mary H. Booker

Nancy Boyd - Hillsborough

Lura Bristol

Julia Bristol

Mary Bristol

Martha Bristol

Cynthia E. Brown

Sarah A. Bryan

Ellen Burrows - Oriskany Falls, New York

Electa Carpenter

Irene Carpenter

Laura Carpenter

Sylvia Carpenter

Emma M. Carr - Tymochtee

A. Janette Carter

Emily Case

Fredonia Case - Liberty

Zervia Caswell - Berlin

Delia Chapman

Mary Chapman

Roxana Clark

Susan E. Cogswell - Lima

Martha E. Comstock

Geraldine Cowles

Mary Fish

Antoinette Fisher - Liberty

Harriet Gardner

Eliza J. Gibson - Cincinnati

Harriet Gilruth

Matilda C. Gilruth

Naomi M. Gilruth

Elizabeth Greer

Emily Greer

Joanna Greer

Caroline Griswold

Emily Griswold

Martha Griswold

Sarah A. Grover - Madison

Hannah Haas

Clarence Harsler - Liberty

Achsa Hayes

Helen M. Hayes

Louise M. Heath - Wheelersburg

Alestinia Helfenstein

Sarah A. Heron

Amelia Hoffman

Delia Hoffman

Martha J. Hoyt

Susan F. Hunt

Mary Y. Hurd - French Grant

Myra V. Hurd - Wheelersburg

Mary F. Hurlburt

Louise Johnson - Marion

Mary Johnson - Washington

Emeline Lathrop - Liberty

Eliza E. Lewis - Berlin

Eunice Lewis - Berlin

Mary Lewis

Caroline J. Lindsay - Hamilton

Elizabeth Lindsay - Hamilton

Sophronia Lombard - Columbus

Susan Lusk

Caroline Maltby

Elizabeth Maltby

Matilda Maltby

Cynthia Martin - St. Albans

Lucretia Martin - St. Albans

Nancy McCloud

Nancy McCune - Hamilton

Catharine McNeil - Frankfort

Sarah G. Merrell - Columbus

Almira Metcalf

Isabella Miller - Cincinnati

Maria Minor - Columbus

Elizabeth Moore

Sarah Moore

Susan A. Moore

Jane A. Paddock

Corrilla Peters - Marion

Sarah Philbrick - Marion

Eliza J. Pinney

Florina Pinney - Columbus

Christeana D. Salt - Bethel

Louisa A. Scott - Lockwin

Harriet Shuttack

Nancy Smith - Columbus

Laura Spenser

Nancy Stiles

Eliza J. Taylor

Marion Thomas - French Grant

Catherine Thompson - Columbus

Lucy T. Vinal - Springfield

Catharine Wander - Cincinnati

Eveline Weaver

Mary Weaver

Cynthia Webster

Mary Wiley

Clarissa Wilkinson

Rebecca R. Williams - Scioto

Cynthia Wright


Genealogy Trails History Group

Copyright © Genealogy Trails