Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The following is an excerpt from Reverend J. C. Stockbridge's eulogy of Professor John Whipple Potter Jenks which was published in the Brown University magazine at the time of Jenks' death in 1894 and excerpted in one of the Middleborough newspapers shortly thereafter.
Rev. J. C. Stockbridge, D. D., writes a tribute to the late Prof. John Whipple Potter Jenks, in the Brown magazine, from which we are privileged to make the following excerpts:
Let me begin by saying that he sprang from an honored ancestry. He was the great grandson of Jonathan Jenks, whose wife was the great-granddaughter of Roger Williams, He also numbered among his ancestors William Jenks, who was Chief Justice of the colony of Rhode Island, the founder of the family in this colony. Joseph Jenks came from Buckinghamshire, England, in 1643. We are told that “tradition traces the ancestry back to a Welsh Chieftain, Elystan Glodryd of the 4th Royal Tribe of the year 750, and still farther back, by tradition, to the year 150 B. C. Certain it is that the stock is of Welsh origin.”
When in the thirteenth year of his age his father consented to give up his time, he determined to support himself while fitting for college, and he did it, with some help from a friend, who became deeply interested in his desire and purpose to obtain an education. Subsequently he repaid this friend all he had advanced him.
The work of preparation was at last completed, and young Jenks, then a little more than fifteen years of age, left Middleborough, Mass., on the fifth of July, 1834, to enter Brown University. He had thus far, paid his way, and, as he tells us, had “only twenty-five cents in his purse.” His sister, however, lent him money enough to pay his stage fare to providence. He was examined, and having been matriculated, took the head of his class as was then the custom, on its roll. He then returned to his home in Southbridge, spent the eight weeks of the vacation in hard work, earned fifty dollars, forty of which at the commencement of the college year, he deposited in compliance with the regulation requiring such deposit, with the steward, Mr. Elliot. Out of the remaining ten dollars he repaid the loan made to him by his sister, and appropriated the rest, so far as it would go, to the purchase of books and the furnishing of his room, then No. 4 South Division of Hope College. What was the condition of his finances when he came to his first recitation, he tells us in the following words: “I entered upon my first recitation with six and a quarter cents, an old-fashioned ‘fourpence halfpenny’, in my pocket, which at night I had to give as postage on a letter from one on my Academy masters.’”
John Whipple Potter Jenks, photograph, late 19th century.