|September 1, Zerah is born in Cabot to Abia and
Betsy Colburn, the 5th of 8 children.
-August, Zerah's remarkable ability to calculate is discovered
and he exhibits his ability at Court Day in Danville.
-October-November, Zerah displays talents for state legislators
in Montpelier and visits Burlington. Zerah and father visit Dartmouth
College enroute to Boston. President John Wheelock offers to educate
Zerah at no cost. Father declines. He hopes to realize more immediate
-November 25, Zerah and Abia arrive in Boston.
-January, Zerah and Abia visit New York, Philadelphia, Washington,
D.C. , Utica, New York, Boston, attempting to arrange patronage,
but it is not sufficient for Abia's desire.
-April, Zerah and Abia rejoin rest of family who was visiting
relatives in Norwich, Vermont for one week. Zerah would not see
his mother again for 13 years. Abia would not see his wife again.
-Travel throughout Eastern seaboard from Portland, Maine to Lancaster,
Richmond, Virginia. A traveler named Amos Kendall, after having
encountered the father/son between Windsor, VT and Hanover, NH observed:
Zerah and his father (who was a very ignorant man) had
become entirely spoilt by the attention and money which had been
bestowed upon them and by their impertinence and vanity made themselves
very obnoxious to the other passengers. The desire of the father
to have his son educated had been superseded by ïthe cursed lust
-January 12, While sailing from Norfolk to Charleston, SC,
the Colburns were stranded for two days when the ship ran aground
-April 3. On advice from Boston supporters, the Colburns set
sail for England where, it was hoped, the financial response might
be more to their liking.
-May 12, Zerah and Abia arrive in London and took rooms in a
boarding house. Noted American inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, visiting
in London, wrote:
Zerah Colburn has excited much astonishment here and
as they are unwilling just now to allow any cleverness to the
Americans, it was said in some papers that he was a Russian.
-January 13, Engraving published of him from a drawing by T.
Hull, Esq., engraved by Henry Meyer.
-September, Zerah and Abia travel to Ireland and Scotland giving
exhibitions and looking for patronage.
-March, Colburns return to London.
-August, Zerah and Abia travel to Paris where Zerah is examined
by scholars at the French "Institute".
|-March 2, John Quincy Adams, serving as foreign
minister to Briton prior to his service as President, visits Paris
and notes the following in his diary:
Zerah Colburn came this morning with his father and
another man, whose name was not mentioned to me. . . . Even now
he cannot do a common sum in the rule of three, but he can by
a mental process of his own extract the roots of any power or
number and name the factors by which any given number is produced.
. . . Zerah is certainly an astonishing and promising boy; but
if his promise is ever to realize anything, the sooner his father
commits him to the tuition of the Polytechnic School the better.
- March 21, Zerah views the return of Napoleon to Paris after
his banishment to Elba. His description: The peculiarity of his
appearance was in his countenance. His form had nothing remarkable.
His frame was large and tall, his neck short. He was thin and
spare in youth but grew corpulent in maturer years.
-May 30, American author Washington Irving assists in gaining
admission for Zerah to the Royal College of Henry IV, previously
known as Lyceum Napoleon.
-January, Zerah returns to London and visits renowned British
chemist and physicist Michael Faraday.
-July 26, Zerah and Abia meet with the Earl of Bristol who is
so impressed with Zerah that he agrees to place him at Westminster
School, to keep him there until the completion of his studies,
probably 7 or 8 years, and to pay for his tuition, board, and
other incidental expenses.
-September 19, Zerah enters Westminster School.
|May, Abia Colburn withdraws Zerah from Westminster
School after dispute with Earl of Bristol.
|Abia proposes that Zerah try his hand in the
theater, "which might be productive of pecuniary advantage."
A drama tutor is engaged and Zerah is cast in several productions
with no financial gain. Similar efforts in Ireland meet with no
Zerah begins to be employed as an assistant in a school and
shortly thereafter opened a day school himself.
|December, Abia's health begins to decline.
-Zerah meets Thomas Young, M.D., who is Secretary to the Board
of Longitude of England. Zerah soon begins astronomical work for
the Board of Longitude.
-February 14, Abia Colburn dies of consumption (tuberculosis)
in London, at age of 54 years, 3 months, and 8 days, and is buried
in a pauper's grave.
-May 24, Having secured funds from Lord Bristol, Zerah boards
a vessel to return to the United States, 13 years and 3 months
after his departure.
-July 3, Zerah arrives at mother's house in Cabot about sunset.
He does not recognize his mother nor does she recognize him. She
has not heard from her son or husband since they left for England
in 1812. He starts a school in Cabot that lasts for two months.
He seems to have diminished abilities to calculate for the rest
of his life.
-December, Zerah moves to Fairfield, New York to work as an assistant
at the academy there but does not find the work rewarding.
Zerah removes to Burlington, has a religious experience, joins
the Congregational Church and returns to Cabot in the late fall.
In December, he requests an "honorable dismission and recommendation"
from the Congregational Church because of a doctrinal conflict
and joins the Methodist Society in Cabot.
Zerah begins circuit riding for seven years, first in Canaan,
NH, then the next six years in eastern Vermont.
|Zerah marries Mary Hoyt who bears him 6 children,
5 daughters and 1 son, none of whom develops their father's ability
in calculation. The son is a casualty of the Civil War.
|G. and C. Merriam publish Zerah Colburn's memoir
in Springfield, MA.
|The Reverend Zerah Colburn is appointed Professor
of Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish Languages and English Classical
Literature at Norwich University, Norwich, Vermont.
|March 2, Zerah Colburn succumbs to consumption.
The same disease that claimed his father 15 years earlier.