Edward Spalding

Edward Spalding, was born at Amherst, N. H., September 15, 1813, he was the son of Dr. Matthias Spalding, who was of the fifth generation in direct descent from Edward Spalding, who came to New England about 1632, and settled first at Braintree, Mass., removing a few years later to Chelmsford, Mass., of which he was one of the earliest proprietors. Col. Simeon Spalding married, for his second wife, Mrs. Abigail Wilson, whose maiden name was Johnson, the fourth generation in descent from Edward Johnson of Woburn, who came from Kent county, England. Matthias Spalding was one of the youngest of her children, born at Chelmsford, June 25, 1769, and graduated at Harvard College in 1798. Adopting the medical profession, he went abroad to perfect his education by attending lectures in London. Having a natural aptitude for the practice of medicine and surgery, with this superior training, he was soon distinguished for his successful treatment of disease, and his services were widely sought.

In 1806, after the settlement of Matthias Spalding at Amherst, he married Rebecca Wentworth, daughter of Hon. Joshua Atherton, and sister of Charles H. Atherton, an eminent lawyer and father of Hon. Charles G. Atherton, late United States senator. Mrs. Spalding was a woman of a refined nature and elegant manners. Of eight children, Edward was the first son and the fourth child. Favored in his parentage, he was also favored in the circumstances and companionships of his early life. The society of Amherst embraced a number of families of superior talents and education. Among the children of these families he was an active, manly, and generous boy, fond of fishing and athletic sports, and popular with his schoolmates.

When eleven years of age he was sent to Chelmsford, to be under the instruction of Rev. Abiel Abbott. At thirteen, he was one of a company of Amherst lads who became students at Pinkerton Academy, in Derry, then in charge of Abel F. Hildreth, a celebrated master in those days. While preparing for college, he was associated with Jarvis Gregg, Stephen Chase, James F. Joy, and James McCollom, who were subsequently distinguished as scholars, becoming tutors in the college at Hanover, after graduation. In college young Spalding made good use of his opportunities, and counted among his friends and classmates at Dartmouth Rev. F. A. Adams, Ph. D., Prof. Joseph C. Bodwell, D. D., Hon. J. F. Joy, LL. D., John Lord, LL. D., Judge Fowler of Concord, and Rev. E. Quincy S. Waldron, president of Borromeo College, Md.

In the autumn following his graduation, in 1833, young Spalding went to Lexington, Ky., hoping to obtain employment as a teacher. The effort to establish a private classical school in Lexington, though widely advertised, was not successful. The patronage did not answer to the promises of the ambitious prospectus, and, after a trial of a few weeks, the enterprise was abandoned as unremunerative. The West was not to be the scene of Dr. Spalding's life, nor teaching his employment.

Mr. Spalding returned to New England in the spring of 1834, and commenced the study of medicine in the office of his father at Amherst. He attended three courses of lectures in the Harvard Medical School at Boston, and was graduated at that institution in the summer of 1837. Having spent a few months riding with his father, and observing his treatment of the sick, he decided to enter on what seemed a promising field for a physician at Nashua. Accepting an invitation from the elder Dr. Eldredge, he became a partner with him in practice. After this partnership was dissolved the business increased, and he gained for himself an extensive and valuable patronage. He enjoyed the confidence of a large circle of families, and his success as a physician had given him an enviable reputation. In the meantime he had been called to assume responsibilities of a fiduciary nature, involving such care and labor as seriously to interfere with his professional engagements. The transition to these new employments was the natural sequence of the excellent judgment and rare capacity for business which he manifested. The accuracy and promptitude with which his accounts were rendered to the probate, and the just consideration for the feelings and interests of all persons concerned in the settlement of the estates committed to his trust, brought such a pressure of occupation that he was compelled to relinquish his profession.

He had now been in practice twenty-five years, and satisfactory as his services as a physician had been to the community, he was yet to perform an imperative and valuable service by his judicious management of important trusts and his earnest co-operation in the direction and enlargement of new enterprises. In addition to his engagements in the settlement of large estates, he became interested in banking, manufacturing, and railroads, holding various offices of labor and responsibility in these institutions and corporations. He was for several years treasurer of the Nashua Savings Bank and subsequently its president. He was one of the original projectors of the "Pennichuck Water-Works," of which company he is president. A director in both of the large cotton manufacturing companies which have contributed so much to the prosperity of the city, he has also fulfilled similar duties in other corporations elsewhere. For a time a director, he has become the president, of the Indian Head National Bank.

In municipal and town offices he has performed important duties, taking a lively interest in the progress of popular education. He has been a member of the school committee a large portion of the time that he has lived in Nashua, and is now chairman of the board of education. A member of the New Hampshire Historical Society, his encouragement and assistance are gratefully acknowledged by several gentlemen who have been engaged in the preparation and publication of genealogical and town histories. He has also been actively engaged in building up the city library, of which he has been a trustee from the beginning of the enterprise.

Never seeking political preferment, and personally disinclined to the strife for political distinctions, he was elected mayor of the city in 1864, and served as delegate to the Baltimore convention in the same year. He was a member of the state convention for the revision of the constitution in 1876, and councilor for two years during the administration of his Excellency Governor Prescott, 1878 and 1879.

In 1866 he was elected a trustee of Dartmouth College, a position which he still retains, and in which he has contributed to the substantial prosperity of the institution by frequent, unobtrusive gifts, and the steady service of a loyal and judicious mind. He has also represented Dartmouth College as a trustee of the College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts during the whole period of its existence as a department of instruction.

On the 23d of June, 1842, Dr. Spalding was united in marriage with Dora Everett, second daughter of Joseph and Mary Appleton Barrett, of New Ipswich, a family associated favorably with the history of the town so widely known by the character and achievements of its sons. By this marriage Dr. Spalding had three children, of whom two daughters are living; the second child, a son. Edward Atherton, died November 10, 1863, aged eleven years and two months. With this exception, the life of Dr. Spalding has been singularly exempt from afflictive changes. Happy in the circle of his kindred and the connections formed by marriage, his home has been a welcome resort to the youth of both families, while the older generation was tenderly cared for by the thoughtful and continued ministrations of this son and his companion.

As might be inferred from what has been said of the general esteem in which Dr. Spalding is held, he has many personal friends among men of thoughtful and scholarly habits. Himself a student, and thoroughly awake to whatever affects the nation's welfare, he has been a careful reader of current history. He has marked the progress of the various moral and political questions that agitate the minds of the people and shape the legislation of the country, with deep concern that the issues might be favorable to the principles of truth and righteousness. A sincere believer in the teachings of our Divine Lord, he has recognized as a Christian the claims of the country, as well as the claims of the city where he dwells. A liberal and constant contributor to the institutions which are organized to extend the knowledge of Christ throughout the world, he is known as the patron and advocate of missions at home and abroad. For many years he has been the president of the New Hampshire Bible Society. He has cheerfully borne his full proportion of the expenses incident to the maintenance of the local institutions of public worship and religious instruction in the church and society with which he is connected. When the meeting-house of the First Congregational church was burned, he at once proposed to his friend, Mr. Isaac Spalding, that they two should each give ten thousand dollars towards the cost of rebuilding,—a proposition to which Mr. Spalding promptly assented, thus insuring the immediate erection of the commodious and pleasant edifice which that church now owns.

With such a variety of offices and engrossing employments still demanding his attention, we should anticipate that the duties would become burdensome, and the skillful hand lose something of its cunning; but the Doctor is still vigorous and works easily. This continued capacity for labor is doubtless owing to the natural endowments of a man who has nurtured his forces by avoiding excesses on the one hand, and on the other by carefully husbanding his strength. He has not only arranged his business on system, but he has resolutely reserved to himself, annually, seasons of almost absolute rest. Retaining his early fondness for fishing, for a few weeks in every year he has resorted to the mountain streams and inland lakes of northern New England for his favorite recreation. In these excursions he has sought the head waters of most of our rivers, and become acquainted with the grand and beautiful scenery of the mountain region. He has learned the haunts and habits of all the fish to be found in our streams, and of the birds that frequent our forests. By this method has he renewed his youth, while, with others of congenial tastes, he has made his knowledge tributary to the public good, by joint efforts to restore the migratory fishes to the waters of the state, from which, by artificial obstructions, they have been shut out. The board of fish and game commissioners for New Hampshire, of which Dr. Spalding is chairman, is an outgrowth of this joint endeavor that promises to enlarge the piscatory resources of the state.

With this record of the number and variety of trusts which are still in his hands, and the appointments that he must meet daily, and from week to week, it is evident that the Doctor is still capable of continuous labor. His grateful testimony addressed to his classmates is, "I have enjoyed almost uninterrupted health, and a degree of happiness and prosperity far beyond the common lot." The sources of his good fortune are not to be sought in extraordinary gifts or peculiar helps. Beginning life with a sound mind and sound body, he has cherished both by regular habits and studious industry. By fidelity and painstaking in business, by generous and considerate treatment of others, by using his influence and property in befriending the needy and helping young men struggling with adverse circumstances, by cherishing the friendship of good men in all classes of society, and in daily recognition of his need of guidance and wisdom from God,—he has escaped the envy and conflicts which beset a selfish and ambitious career. Happy in his employments, and enjoying the good that followed his exertions, men have witnessed his advancement with pleasure and sought to do him honor. His life illustrates the value of those personal excellences which all may cultivate, and shows the readiness of mankind to recognize their worth. To such as are seeking to do right and serve their generation, the example is encouraging, and assures us that energy, integrity, and beneficence are not without rewards.