In 1901, William Carroll Hill published a small volume, Dartmouth Traditions, being a compilation of stories about Dartmouth events and alumni. Within this book, Jedediah Hayward provides “A Dartmouth Tragedy,” the sad tale of the drowning of Henry Ellis Beecher Stowe, eldest son of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Rev. Calvin Stowe.
Hayward had been badly hazed as a freshman and he and a classmate decided that they would prevent this from happening at least to some members of the next freshman class by being their roommates the following year. To this end, he invited a Thetford Academy senior, Henry Stowe, to room with him in the fall. They became great friends, and Hayward described him as a delightful roommate.
On July 9, 1857, the summer of his freshman year, Stowe and a couple of his classmates took to the Connecticut River, swimming across to the Vermont shore. Once there, they climbed up the bank, across the road, and started picking wild strawberries, until a local resident chased them off.
Stowe’s classmates were able to run to the river and swim across to the sand bar close to the New Hampshire side, but Stowe was too tired to reach the spot where he could stand and was overtaken by the river current. His friends made brave attempts to save him, risking their own lives in the effort, until they, too, became too exhausted to hold on any longer.
There is a copy of the Thetford Academy commencement program in Henry Stowe’s file. He gave an oration the year he graduated: “Trust No Future.”
Ask to see the Alumni File for Henry Stowe, Class of 1860.