1838 - 1840

Eliza R. Knight

Eliza R. Knight left Ipswich Seminary to become the principal of Wheaton Female Seminary in 1838, remaining until 1840. Miss Knight chose the Seminary motto, “Who drinks will thirst for more” (John 4:13), and designed a related seal containing a fountain. She established the first regular course of study at Wheaton, which strongly resembled that at Ipswich, and the first four students graduated from the seminary in 1839. The teaching of science through experimentation was augmented with the purchase of equipment including maps, globes, models, an electrical machine, an air pump, an orrery and chemicals.

Knight was responsible for bringing a new sense of optimism to the school, as enrollment grew from 18 to 29, and by the summer of 1839 to 75 students, reestablishing the numbers Wheaton had seen while Miss Caldwell headed the school.

Miss Knight resigned in 1840 to marry the Reverend Samuel Beane in a ceremony held in the Wheaton mansion. In 1860, Rev. Beane became the pastor of the Trinitarian Congregational Church and also served as a member of Wheaton’s board of trustees. Mrs. Beane maintained a confidential, sisterly friendship with Eliza Baylies Wheaton, who called her “Lady Beane.” Both Mrs. Beane and Mrs. Wheaton were widowed in 1865. After a serious accident, in which she broke both arms, Mrs. Beane returned to Norton to live with Mrs. Wheaton. Mrs. Beane’s two daughters, both graduates of Wheaton Seminary, were frequent guests in Mrs. Wheaton’s home until their early deaths. Mrs. Beane died in 1899, at the age of 85, having lived with Mrs. Wheaton for more than thirty years.