vermont historical society link HISTORY PROJECT LINK INFORMATION LINK

orleans PROJECt
William Jarvis and Merino Sheep
Timothy Hinman
the Valley House and the railroad
A Day in a Life of a Student at Brownington Academy
Alexander Twilight

Alexander Twilight

Our group chose Alexander Twilight for our entry for The Community History Project. We chose that because we wanted to learn more about Alexander Twilight. Alexander was a very interesting and great man who is very unknown. He was so great because he became the first African American to get a full degree at an American college. The college he graduated from was Middlebury College. Twilight was also the first African American to join the Vermont Legislature. Finally, during the time of slavery, he was a free black. He had a job, and he was a very important man who had a lot of responsibilities. For our final project we are doing an iMovie. It features an interview with Alexander and his wife Mercy. We ask them 10 Questions about their life.

We went to the Old Stone House many times. When we were there, we took some pictures of old artifacts and pictures of Alexander. We also got some pictures on the web. Our group found that primary sources were very useful. We got some information in the book called Alexander Twilight by Michael T. Hahn. It was a biography of Twilight's life. We read stories about Alexander, written by his students. Some of his sermons were also found last year, and we looked at those as well.

We made the script for our iMovie. Our three most valuable sources were The Old Stone House, the internet, and the book on Alexander's life. In the beginning of our project, we were going to film with a regular video. We couldn't get access to a camera, however. So, we finally decided to make an iMovie on the computer. When we were trying to find out what we were going to do for our project, we decided to do an interview of Alexander's life. For the interview, we came up with ten Questions and found the answers to them. In the beginning, we brainstormed and decided to choose from 18 Questions about Twilight's life. Finally, we decided to use 10 out of the 18 Questions to use in the interview.

Our topic includes many interesting facts about Alexander's amazing life. Alexander was a preacher, teacher, a principal, a speculator, and he was in the legislature. He was a very busy man. While he was doing all of these jobs, he assumed many different responsibilities. He had the responsibility to provide the students with the proper education that they deserved. He also chose to be a principal, so he had to look out for the students that went to the school. When he joined the legislature, he assumed the responsibility of helping make laws and important decisions for the state of Vermont. Because of all of these responsibilities, he became a very respected man.

It is important to study Alexander Twilight because he did many good deeds. He helped out his students by making a school, and it gave them a chance to learn. Learning about him has been a valuable experience for us.

By: Teddy B., Richard H. Sharon F., and Isaiah C. 3/5/03

Interview Questions For Twilight

What gave you the idea of building the Athenian Hall?
I was convinced that the students need a bigger place mainly more room to learn.

How many kids came from each town and how many would you take?

Well I really didn't have a limit because in 1841 I had 42 girls and 59 boys,1845 57 girls and 72 boys, 1847 girls and 48 boys, 1848 34 girls and 50 boys, and 1853 60 girls and 58 boys. I had students from Charleston, Glover, Barton, Irasburgh, Coventry, Brownington, Stan Stead, Water ford, Potton, Sheffield, Newport, and Boston.

Where did you find the stones to build the Athenian Hall how, and how many stones did you use to build the Athenian Hall?

I got the stones from a near by field, because a near by farmer was delighted for me to take them and the stones are 12 inches height, 10 inches wide, 2 feet to 6 feet except for the ones around the windows and doors they are about 8 feet or longer. They weight 307.7lbs, and 1,500 stones or some more 36 ft by 66 ft and 4 stories high.

What did you teach at the Athenian Hall?

I thought French, Language, vocal, and instrumental.

Why do the room numbers say B.H instead of A.H?

They say B.H because it was an Boar ding House for the students.

When/Where were you and Mercy born?

A.L.T Says-I was born on Sept. 23, 1795 in Corinth, VT.
Mercy Says:
I was born in 1805.

Why did you call the boarding School Athenian Hall?

Well, I appreciated the Greek culture and i thought that it would be a proper name to honor the great city of Athens. The word came from Athens, which is the capital and largest city in Greece. A long time ago Athens was the artistic and cultural center of the world.

Why did you decide to join the legislature?

Well right after I got done building Athenian Hall, the school was threatened with a loss of funds. The other school in Orleans County, took some of our funds that would have gone to the Orleans County Graded School. So I thought that this problem was to important for anyone else to handle. Then before I new it, I joined the Legislature to bring the funds back to my school.

#9. Question.
When did you get married?

I think that I will let Mercy answer this one.
Mercy Says:
Well my name is Mercy Ladd Merrill. In 1826 I met Alexander when he was teaching at a school in Peru, NY. We got married that same year. I was 21 and he was 31.

Did you have any kids?

Mercy Says: No, we didn't have any kids because we spent all of our time taking care of the students. And after a while they felt like our own.


Hahn, Michael Alexander Twilight. Shelburne, Vermont: The New England Press, 1998. 1-61.

We learned where he lived in the past and where he preached. We also learned where and when he got married. We found out about some of the troubles that Alexander and his wife, Mercy had. We also learned that he had an ox to help build the Athenian Hall.

Magalis, Elaine, and Samuel Young. The Old Stone House Museum. Vermont Historical Society. 7 Jan. 2003 .

We found pictures and information on The Old Stone House. The group also found pictures on Alexander's grave stones and his special room in the Old Stone House. We also found things about his wife.

Old Stone House Museum. (United States): n.p., n.d.

Our group went to the museum multiple times and took pictures of artifacts. We also used some of the pictures as still images in our i-movie.

The Old Stone House Museum. Brownington, Vermont: Orleans County Historical Society, Inc., n.d.

We learned Information about the town of Brownington during the time Alexander Twilight lived. Our group also learned about the construction of Athenian Hall. This is now known as the Old Stone House.

click on thumbnails
twilight image
twilight image
twilight image
twilight image
twilight image
twilight image
twilight image