Growing up in New England and attending Dartmouth College
Edwin was born in Mantorville, MN, the county seat of Dodge County. His father Nahum was the Congregational Minister on the prairie. Edwin was 4 and Frederick was 6 when they moved back to Bethel, ME, Eulalie was 2. Nahum had jobs in several towns, including Topsham, ME, Colebrook, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT. We assume that Edwin first met Mertie Laura Graham, his future wife, in grade school in Colebrook, NH, and they both subsequently attended St. Johnsbury Academy. There are few documents covering this period. Edwin wrote a poem on the summers on Bible Hill: “Bible Hill, one of the highest points in town, is situated about two miles from St. Johnsbury Center, Vermont. On its southern slope lies the farm once owned by Mr. Moses Shorey. It was the fields of Bible Hill that were my boyhood “summerland.”
Yet, the happiest happiness I have known or ever will,
Was the joy the summers brought me in the fields of Bible Hill.
We can imagine the Grover boys and their friends playing games in the fields of Bible Hill. Edwin did well at St. Johnsbury Academy. His history teacher gave him a book on the Children's Crusade, which started his interest in reading, history, Europe, and North Africa. Even in high school at St. Johnsbury Academy, he was well known for his poems and his classy prose.
In 1965, a few months before his death, Edwin wrote a letter to the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine about his College years which starts out: "...I spent four wonderful years in Hanover!" He had to work to put himself through college waiting on tables, as an agent for a laundry company, and tending President Bartlett's furnace. Every summer, he reported for the Boston Globe in the White Mountain Resort Hotels. "I played on the freshman football team and was on the track team for four years, but I broke no records. I was on the Junior Yearbook, and editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Literary Monthly my senior year," he writes. Edwin was a member of Phi Delta Theta, and roomed with William Gibbon, a blind student from Mississippi, and read his lessons to him for 15 cents an hour. His friendship with Richard Hovey led to the publication of the Dartmouth Songbook. He also was a member of the Cask and Gauntlet honorary society. He graduated in 1894.
In the fall, he went to Harvard, but withdrew after a month and requested his tuition back. The $300 lasted him almost eight months on his grand tour of Europe. He visited the Shetland Islands, England, France and Algeria, then Switzerland, England and Holland. In Lucerne, in Switzerland, he ran out of money and sold his camera to the police chief. "When I reached home at last, I had the sum of 25 cents in my pocket - but what memories," he writes. Unfortunately, we don't have a written record.
Harvard 1894 (Harper's)
Ed Gfeller 2016
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