Saturday, December 1, 2012

Professor James A Tufts

My Great Grandfather


“Down in Timothy Tufts’ home in Paper Mill Village, a boychild was destined to be a real father to thousands of boys at Phillips Exeter, never a president in name, but more a symbol of the academy than some who held that title; “just raking up after,” was the way this country boy was to sum up his great lifework.”

New Hampshire Borns a Town
Marion Nicholl Rawson 1942

James Arthur Tufts I (fondly known as “Tuffy” by his students at Phillips Exeter Academy) was born April 26, 1855 at Alstead, New Hampshire, probably at his parents’ home, which sat next to his father’s store on Main Street or at the home his father Timothy built off Bennett Road. The village in the west part of town was called Paper Mill Village. The farmhouse is on the Bennett Road, which on a map from 1892 is shown as “T. Tufts”. It is a small brick cottage with a red barn, and there are references to Timothy having a fine farm, as well as the store and house in Paper Mill village.

Another excerpt from Rawson mentions how he enjoyed sledding.

“Little Jimmy Tufts and Charlie Kent would find some wooden boxes at Jimmy’s father’s store and drag them up the hill on their sled and then fill them and slide downhill on them as seats to their runners”

I suspect Tuffy enjoyed sledding his entire life, as he owned two sleds  when he lived in Exeter. The old double-runner sleds that were at the High Street house in Exeter when I was growing up are still in good shape today. He was said to have told a joke about the physics teacher always leaning the wrong way when sledding on Great Hill in Exeter.

The old picture above is Timothy Tufts and his wife Sarah at their home in Paper Mill village, Alstead. The newer one is the home off Bennett Road.

James Arthur attended local primary schools and at age 11, attended Miles Military Academy in Brattleboro, Vermont, for three years. In 1872, after clerking in his father’s store, he went to Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated in 1874. At Exeter, he excelled in academics and was elected president of his class and president of the “Golden Branch”, an oratory society based on the “Rhetorical Society”, which preceded it. This public-speaking theme was carried down through the generations, and was even impressed upon this writer as an important part of education, along with good command of proper English. 
After Exeter, he attended Harvard College and graduated in 1878. At Harvard, he maintained a high standard of scholarship, was a member of “The Signet” and president of the Everett Athenaeum. Upon graduation he returned to Exeter to teach English and was made professor of the classical department in 1883. In 1893 he was named Odlin professor in English. He taught for fifty years and served as Professor Emeritus for ten years following. 

For many years he prepared the school catalogue and in 1903, when he collected material for the general catalogue of the Academy for the years 1783-1903, he really began the work of the Alumni Office. He was also appointed secretary of the faculty in 1889, and served as secretary of the New England Alumni Association from 1891-1938. His speech at the One Hundred and Fiftieth anniversary of Phillips Exeter can be found in the Bulletin of the Exeter Academy July 1931 and is an excellent example of his oratory skills, mixed with some humor, and is descriptive of his long tenure with the school. Laurence M. Crosbie, an Academy institution himself, gives a tribute to him in The Exonian November 23, 1938, two days after his death.
“To thousands of the Alumni of Phillips Exeter Academy throughout this and many foreign lands, the death of Professor James A. Tufts ‘74 will bring sadness; for to them he represented the Alumni as did no other man.  For years he had attended the annual Alumni meetings, all the way from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific.  At the gatherings of the graduates of the school, he was almost always present to bring greetings of the Exeter of today to the men of former years.  At these meetings he was always the speaker who was most applauded. “Tuffy” to the Alumni had become a tradition, a link between the school of today and the school that the old boys knew and loved.”
 In 1917 he was awarded an honorary degree of Master of Arts by Dartmouth College. Dartmouth president Hopkins called him, “The Idol of the Alumni”. In 1920 he was awarded an LL.D from The University of New Hampshire, and in 1928 a Literary doctorate from Boston University.  He also listed himself as member of the Cliosophic Society of Princeton College, Modern Language Association of America, New England Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools, and American Dialect Society in the secretary’s report of his 1878 graduating class at Harvard.
Professor Tufts, Doctor Tufts, if you prefer, or “Tuffy”, as he was known to faculty and students, was a well-liked and honored member of the Exeter community, elected to the State Legislature from 1905-1908, and the State Senate from 1919-1922 (serving as president of the Senate in 1922). He also served as Trustee of the Robinson Female Seminary, The University of New Hampshire, Exeter Public Library, and Kensington Public Library. It was suggested that these library associations were due in part to his desire to keep Henry Tufts’ book from circulation. Henry Tufts was a notorious horse thief and criminal from Lee, New Hampshire, a relative from another branch of Peter Tufts’ family. Professor Tufts attended the Unitarian church in Exeter, as did many of his descendants, and was secretary of the Unitarian Society there, as well as life member of the Unitarian Sunday-School Society and American Unitarian Association.
Professor Tufts edited several books, including “Macaulay’s Essays on Milton and Addison”, Goldsmith’s “Vicar of Wakefieldand “The Deserted Village”, Scott’s “Lady of the Lake

Tuffy’s first wife was Effie (Locke) Tufts. They were married 12 December 1878. She was the adopted daughter of B. Delmont Locke and Sarah (Child) Locke of Arlington, Massachusetts. Her name before adoption was Caroline Effeda Green. Born in 1853, she would have been 7 at the time of her adoption. She passed away 29 October 1931.


Not much more is known about Effie at the time of this writing. Some family members think that she may have been the source of some Indian blood that gives present-day family members their dark-tanning skin and occasional black hair. Effie’s adopted mother, Sarah Child Locke for many years was bedridden from a fall down stairs. B. Delmont worked for Massachusetts and Vermont Railroads and was a cloth printer in the 1870 census. Their home was at 29 or 33 Academy Street in Arlington. He was a prominent man of Arlington holding several town offices including Town Clerk and Tax Collector in 1896 and 1897. He passed Oct 3, 1904. Sarah died less than 2 months following (Nov. 26).
The Locke family is an old family from the 1600’s in Boston and New Hampshire and other Tufts may have married Lockes. Their names are found throughout the early records including Revolutionary soldier Benjamin Locke.  Delmont and Sarah are buried in the Exeter cemetery, adjacent to the Tufts family plot. I was never aware of this and only discovered it in the investigation of an old picture of my grandfather’s. I saw who they were and noticed the back of the Tufts stone in the background so when I visited the Tufts plot in Exeter I found them right there. I wondered how many times I was there and never knew my great grandmother’s adoptive parents were there. I still don’t know why they would be buried there as they lived their whole lives in Arlington. It could be that Tuffy had the plot when they passed and had to handle their estate. B. Delmont’s death record is listed as Exeter but it is unclear if that is a death or burial record.
Tuffy and Effie lived at 27 Pine Street in Exeter and raised a family of 3 boys and 3 girls, Effie, Irving, twins Theadora and Delmont, James A. Jr. and Helen (Betty).Tuffy probably had different apartments at Phillips Exeter before he made his home on Pine Street.
The 1880 census lists Tuffy and Effie with six month old Effie Miriam and an Irish servant, Catherine Riley, but does not show their address. More research would be needed to find when he purchased the home but he was there by 1900 and probably sooner. That daughter, their first born, was Effie Miriam Tufts-called Miriam.
Effie Miriam arrived November 27, 1879.  She died on November 2, 1903 when her dress caught fire while working in the yard. Two local men and her mother rushed to extinguish the flames and she lived to be transported to the cottage hospital but died that evening. Her mother was burned on her hands assisting her, as were the men; David Cahill, Joseph Berry, Samuel McLane, and Edward Moore. A touching article was published in the Exeter Newsletter that week. She had attended Robinson Female Seminary and trained in Music in Boston. She played the organ at the Unitarian church and other churches. A funeral was held at the home with internment at the Exeter Cemetery. She was the first of our family buried in our Tufts plot there. A prayer service was also held at Mount Auburn crematory.
Irving Elting Tufts, the second child was born December 23, 1881.  He became a successful personnel manager on Wall Street and lived in New Jersey. He died February 5, 1953.
Irving probably attended early Exeter schools, maybe on Court Street, and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1899. He went from there to Harvard as so many do, and graduated in 1903.He was subsequently employed at Hornblower and Weeks until his retirement in 1949. He lived at 63 Ridge Road in Rutherford, New Jersey. He married Anna Parker Lea who was born in Silver Springs, Maryland on May 31, 1883, the daughter of Henry Tyson Lea and Helen (Bently) Lea. They were living in Methuen, Massachusetts in the 1900 census so they may have met when he was at Harvard.  Anna passed on July 14, 1972 (or 1973) in New Orleans, Louisiana, after probably having lived with her descendants in Gulfport. Mississippi.Irving and Anna had three children; Irving Elting Junior, Martha, and Miriam.
Delmont Locke Tufts was born December 6, 1888 and passed November 17, 1964 in Florida. He married Florence Spencer Stevens of Connecticut, eventually lived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where they had a large farm, then retired to Florida. They had a daughter Katherine who married a Keyes in Pittsfield and a son Delmont who was in the Navy and lived in Florida.
Theadora Tufts was born December 6, 1888, and passed April 3, 1948. She probably attended local schools in Exeter and possibly the Robinson Female Seminary. She married in 1914, Nathaniel George Burleigh of Franklin New Hampshire. She is noticed in the census of 1900 and 1910 at Pine Street in Exeter as a student and at age 21 with no occupation listed but not attending school. In 1917 when Nathaniel registered for the World War I draft, he was listed as an engineer with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in New Haven Connecticut with his wife and one child, and sought exemption as a munitions worker. He later moved his family to Hanover, New Hampshire and taught at Dartmouth College living once at 1 Webster Terrace. He was a professor of Industrial technology. In 1951 he was appointed acting dean of the Tuck School of Business. They had three children of whom only one lived to adulthood.
James Arthur Tufts Junior was my grandfather. His story will be told in another post.
Helen  (Betty) Tufts Kreger was well known to the Exeter Tufts as our Aunt Betty. Her story will also be told later.

Professor Tufts remarried in 1936 after Effie passed away in 1931. Ruth Burrage Kilbourne had been a nurse for the Tufts. She passed away in Nashua in 1951.
I have more information on the descendants of these families. Some will be covered in other stories but I can provide anything I have for interested persons.


  1. It's always fun to have a few illustrious ancestors, they leave such great records. Almost as fun as the black sheep ancestors!

  2. I have recently discovered some new information about James A Tufts and will be adding to this blog in the near future.

  3. Professor and Mrs.Tufts and daughter Helen were charter members of the Meeting House Green Memorial and Historical Association (now the Hampton Historical Society), founded in Hampton NH in 1925. Professor Tufts was an occasional speaker at the annual meetings. It was interesting to put a face and some background to the name. [Cheryl Lassiter, Hampton NH]