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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/413

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SKETCH OF ELISHA MITCHELL.

was fond of collecting his playmates in a group and telling them what he had read in his books, or explaining the pictures to them. He was prepared for college at the classical school, in Bethlem, of the Rev. Azel Backus, D. D., afterward President of Hamilton College. He was graduated from Yale College in 1813, in the same class with Denison Olmsted, afterward his associate in the University" of North Carolina, and with other persons who subsequently became conspicuously known. He was then engaged as a teacher in Dr. Eigenbrodt's boys' school at Jamaica, L. I.; in the spring of 1815 he took charge of a school for girls at New London, Conn., where he became acquainted with the lady who was afterward his wife; and in 1816 he was appointed a tutor in Yale College. While thus engaged, he and Prof. Olmsted were recommended by the Rev. Sereno E. Dwight, son of President Dwight, Chaplain of the United States Senate, to Judge Gaston, member of the House of Representatives from North Carolina, who appears to have been looking around for candidates as suitable persons for professorships in the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. Mr. Mitchell was chosen Professor of Mathematics, and Mr. Olmsted Professor of Chemistry, to which a chair was then for the first time assigned. Having studied for a short time at Andover Theological Seminary and received a license to preach, Mr. Mitchell removed to North Carolina, and reaching Chapel Hill on the last day of January, 1818, immediately began his work as a professor. Here he remained, continuing at his post without intermission of considerable length, for thirty-nine years, or till the end of his life.

In the fall of the next year Prof. Mitchell returned to Connecticut to be married to Miss Maria S. North, daughter of Elisha North, M. D., of New London. The bride's letters describing her journey to North Carolina give some side-lights on the life and methods of travel of the time. The marriage took place on Friday, the choice of the day having been partly made as a demonstration against a popular superstition, and partly determined by circumstances. The journey of eight hundred and fifteen miles to Chapel Hill occupied ten days. On the removal of Prof. Olmsted in 1825 to accept a professorship in Yale College, Prof. Mitchell was transferred to the chair he had filled, and became, and continued till the end of his life, Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology.

Dr. Albert R. Ledoux, in a historical sketch of the University of North Carolina, published in the University Magazine for October, 1890, speaking of the intellectual giants in its faculty who have given reputation to the institution, and whose contributions to letters and science made them prominent among the learned men of their day, observes that Prof. Mitchell was the most noted