More about Thomas Nelson Haskell

More about Thomas Nelson Haskell

Here is a biography of Thomas Nelson Haskell from Find-a-Grave. 

He was the founder of Colorado College in 1874.

He was the son of Captain George and Eliza Knapp Haskell. The Haskells moved to North Bloomfield, Ohio a year and a half after Thomas's birth. Haskell attended school at Farmingon Academy. He became involved in education early, teaching school in Warren at the age of sixteen.

He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from 1846 to 1847. From 1847 until March 1851 he was at Oberlin and then returned to Miami in March 1851 until he graduated in July of that year. Haskell attended Union Theological Seminary, New York, during 1851 and 1852. The following year, 1852-1853, he was at Andover Theological Seminary, and then returned to Ohio to graduate in 1854.

He was principal at Wayne Academy, Ohio during the winters of 1849 and 1850. In 1851 he was principal of High School in Sandusky. Haskell also organized the first Teacher's Institutes ever held in Ohio in 1851-1852.

On April 5, 1854 Haskell was licensed to preach by the Congregational Association of New York and Brooklyn. This was followed by his ordination of February 7, 1855 by the Presbytery of the District of Columbia, Washington, D. C., as the first pastor of the Western Presbyterian Church in that city. Two months later he married Ann Eliza Edwards, the daughter of Justin Edwards, President of Andover.

They later had four daughters: Florence Edwards, who died in infancy, another Florence Edwards, in whose memory Colorado College was founded, Mary Eliza, and Annie Nelson.

And here is a longer one published by the Congregational Church in Aurora, Ill., where he had previously been the minister. 

The Reverend Thomas N. Haskell
Third Minister, New England Congregational Church, Aurora, Ill.
(Served from 1868 to 1871)

Reverend Thomas Nelson Haskell was born in Mina, Chautauqua County, New York on January 20, 1826.

He was the son of Captain George and Eliza Knapp Haskell. His family moved to Bloomfield, Ohio when Haskell was an infant.

He became an orphan at an early age. As a result, he was forced to use his ingenuity to finance his education. [This paragraph is entirely incorrect. His parents lived into his adulthood.—Edtior]

Haskell attended Farmington Academy and taught in Warren, Ohio at the age of sixteen. He was a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from 1846 to 1847.

From 1847 to 1851, he studied at Oberlin College. He then returned to Miami University where he received his undergraduate degree in 1851.

Haskell attended Union Theological Seminary in New York, Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts and then returned to Union to graduate in 1854.

He was the principal of Wayne Academy in Ohio from 1849 to 1850. He also served as the principal at Sandusky High School in 1851. Haskell organized the first Teachers’ Institutes in Ohio in 1851 and 1852.

On April 5, 1854, he was licensed to preach by the Congregational Association of New York and Brooklyn. On February 7, 1855 he was ordained by the Presbytery of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. as the first pastor of the Western Presbyterian Church in that city.

Also in 1855, he married Ann Eliza Edwards, daughter of Justin Edwards, who was the president of Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

The couple had four daughters – Florence (who died in infancy), another Florence, Mary and Annie.

Haskell resigned from Western Presbyterian Church in 1858 over the secession policy of the state of Virginia. He then became the minister of the Maverick Congregational Church in East Boston until 1862 when he resigned because of failing health. The people of the church sent him on a tour to Europe, Palestine and Egypt.

In 1862, an attempt was made to have Haskell serve as chaplain to a division of the Union Army, but he declined. However, in 1865 he was detailed by the United States Christian Commission to preach to the 17th Army Corps.

Haskell then became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in East Boston where he remained until 1867. Later that year, he accepted a professorship in rhetoric, literature, aesthetics and political economy at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and conductor of its female college.

Reverend Haskell received the call to be the minister of New England Church in November of 1868. He was hired at a salary of $1,800.00 and was the first minister to be granted a paid vacation.

During his ministry, sixty-four members were added to the church rolls, a pipe organ was purchased and gas lamps replaced the kerosene chandeliers in the sanctuary.

In 1869, Reverend Haskell joined the committee that oversaw the construction of the first YMCA building in Illinois, which was built on Fox Street (now called Downer Place), across from the old City Hall in Aurora.

Haskell resigned from New England Church in 1871. The church had problems meeting its financial obligations to him, but records indicate that his salary was paid in full before he left. Church members agreed that the level of future compensation for ministers should not exceed the subscriptions received from pew rentals. The next minister’s salary was lowered to $1,400.00.

Haskell moved to Denver, Colorado in 1873 due to his second daughter Florence’s health. She died later that year. 13

In 1874, he helped to found Colorado College. He became the college’s first financial officer. He resigned the following year in protest of a proposal to sell college land in order to raise money for buildings and over a dispute with the college regarding monies he believed were owed to him. Nonetheless, Haskell House at the College was named in his honor.

By this time, his health prevented him from holding a full-time position with a church or school, so he concentrated on writing and public affairs. His attempts to secure a government appointment were met with rejection.

He eventually became the Colorado State Librarian for one term and chaplain for the Colorado Senate. He also received an honorary doctorate from Miami University in recognition of his prolific writings. A list of his writings can be found on the Colorado College website.

His biography stated that “his professional career followed the pattern of his college days with many changes in location and employment. He seemed to become more dissatisfied and frustrated by unfulfilled hopes and ambitions as time went on.”

Reverend Haskell died on August 9, 1906 in Denver, Colorado and is buried in that state.

And here is a biographical timeline from the collection of his papers at Colorado College, which was sourced from an obituary published in Andover Theological Seminary's Necrology 1906-1907.

Jan. 20, 1826 Born at Mina, Chautaqua County, New York
1827 Family moved to N. Bloomfield, Ohio
1842 Taught school in Warren, age 16
ca. 1846 Teacher in Bloomfield, Ohio
1846-1847 Attended Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
1847 March 1851 Attended Oberlin College
1849 Principal of Wayne Academy
March-July 1851 Returned to Miami University
Principal in the High School, Sandusky, Ohio
1851-1852 Organized the first Teacher's Institutes in Ohio. Attended Union Theological Seminary, New York
1852-1853 Attended Andover Theological Seminary
1853-1854 Returned to Union, graduating in 1854
April 5, 1854 Licensed to preach by the Congregational Association of New York
Feb. 7, 1855 Ordained by the Presbytery of the District of Columbia, Washington, D. C., as first pastor of Western Presbyterian Church
April 25, 1855 Married Ann Eliza Edwards, daughter of Justin Edwards of Andover
May 9, 1858 Resigned from Western Presbyterian Church over secession policy
1858 Became pastor of the Maverick Congregation Church, East Boston
1862 Dismissed for failing health and sent to Europe and the Holy Land by the congregation
1862 1867 Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, East Boston
1867 1868 Professor of Rhetoric, Literature, Aesthetics and Political Economy at the Univ. of Wisconsin and conductor of its Female College
1868-1872 Pastor of New England Church, Aurora, Illinois
1873 Applied for government position but moved to Colorado for the sake of his daughter
Florence Edwards' health, but she died later that year
1874 Started Colorado College in memory of Florence with help from his brother in law Jonathan Edwards. Haskell was the first solicitor and chief representative and Edwards was the first instructor and executive officer
1875 Resigned from the Board of Trustees of Colorado College
1875-1906 Devoted himself to writing and public affairs, and tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully for a government appointment
1880 Campaigned for Garfield; hemorrhage in Ohio
1881 Representative at the National Conference on Charities and Correction
1891 1893? Colorado State Librarian for one term
1891 1893 Chaplain to Colorado State Senate
1895 Delegate to International Prison Congress
1896 Corresponding Secretary of the Denver McKinley Club Received PHD from Miami University in recognition of his services as professor and author
1900 1901 Worked in Surveyor General's Office, Denver, in Mineral Division; laid off because of lack of work
Aug. 9, 1906 Died of peritonitis