Albion Interactive History / People / Ira Mayhew

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / Albion College

Ira Mayhew, 1814
3rd Principal Wesleyan Seminary

    Died April 7, 1894

Wesleyan Seminary Principal +

Biographical Information
Reportedly a lineal descendant of Thomas Mayhew, the governor of Nantucket, Elizabeth Isle, and Martha’s Vineyard, the new principal was born in 1814 in Ellisburg, Jefferson County, New York. He was the fourth of seven children. He was married in 1838 to Miss Adelane Sterling of Adams NY.

After a “common school” education, he studied at Union Academy, Belleville, New York, but at the age of 18, he began to teach. By the time he was 25, he had become what was known as a common school visitor. He held the post for two years before becoming the first superintendent of schools of his native county. At 29, in 1843, he came to Michigan, settling in Monroe where the school with which he was associated became a branch of the University of Michigan.

He became a public office holder in Michigan two years after his arrival in the state. He became State Superintendent of Public Instruction for his first term in 1845, an office he retained until 1849. He organized the first public school in the Upper Peninsula and built the first Union school building in the state at Jonesville during his term in the state office.

Then came his brief period at Albion and another term as state superintendent of public instruction, but in 1859 he became a private banker. It was in 1860, however that he organized a commercial college in Albion which he moved to Detroit in 1868. He had charge of this institution until 1883.

In later years he spent most of his time in literary work, being the author of several prominent commercial text books. His death occurred from heart trouble and took place early in the morning of April 7, 1894. His life work ended at the advanced age of 80 years.

Source: Gildart, Robert. Albion College, 1835-1960, A History. Chicago: Donnelley Lakeside Press, 1961.

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