Vassar College, five hundred feet long and five stories high, is a monument
of which any man might be proud. The founder, Mathew Vassar, was born in England
in 1792, and four years later landed in America, settling in Poughkeepsie, on a
farm with his parents.
In those days the English people thought that they couldn't live without a
yearly supply of home-brewed ale; such a thing being unknown in the quiet
community to which they had come. As there was no barley to be had, seed was
imported from the mother-country and the family once more enjoyed their favorite
beverage. When neighbors called they were, of course, invited to partake, and
the fame of Vassar's ale steadily increased, until finally the father concluded
to manufacture the ale to sell. Mathew, for some reason, disliked to go into the
brewery to work, and the irate father bound him out to a neighboring tanner.
However, when the time came for young Vassar to go, lo, he was nowhere to be
He fled to Newburg, where he remained four years, learning to keep books, and
saving his money. He then returned to his home and, having demonstrated that he
could both earn and keep money, was duly installed in his father's establishment
as book-keeper. All went well for some time, till at last a fire came,
destroying all the property, ruining his father, and worst of all causing his
brother's death. The father now returned to a farm, but Mathew determined to retrieve the
business. He began business in an old shed. The supply was of necessity small,
but it was an A 1. article, and its fame increased, making the ale of Vassar known far and near. From such a beginning the business developed into an
immense establishment, with a profitable business, which he carried on for over thirty years, when he retired.
In company with his wife he made an European tour, and on his return resolved
to do something with his money for the betterment of society. On the 28th of
February, 1861, twenty-eight gentlemen received from Mathew Vassar, a box
containing $408,000, in trust, for the establishment of a college for the
education of young ladies. The result of their efforts was Vassar Female
College, afterwards changed to Vassar College. His entire donations for the
establishment and maintenance of this institution of learning amounted to about
$800,000. It was the first Female College ever established. His influence will
be felt by the numerous generations which will follow him.
Find a Grave of Matthew Vassar