Reverend Eli Thurston is Wheaton’s First Commencement Speaker

The Reverend Eli Thurston, pastor of the Second (later Central) Congregational Church of Fall River, MA, gave the first known commencement address at Wheaton’s graduation ceremonies. Thurston served on Wheaton’s board of trustees from 1864 to 1869.

During Reverend Thurston’s tenure in Fall River, his church contributed to many local causes, including education, foreign and home missions and the Seaman’s Friend Society. The congregation opposed the running of steamboats and rail-cars on Sundays as well as dancing.