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President Board of Education 1874-1890
Edward Selover ESTY was born in Ithaca, N. Y., July 17, 1824, and remained a resident until his death, October 2, 1890, while on a visit to Boston and vicinity for health and pleasure. Mr. ESTY was the son of Joseph ESTY, a pioneer to this section of the state. His ancestors originally settled in Salem, Mass., and his pedigree was unbroken back to the pilgrim fathers of New England.
Mr. ESTY was educated in the public schools of Ithaca and in the old Ithaca Academy, of which he was later a trustee and treasurer. In the year 1874 the Board of Education was first organized by an act of the Legislature entitled "An act to provide for the establishment of a system of Graded Schools in the village of Ithaca." Mr. ESTY was one of the original twelve members of the Board of Education named by the Legislature, and became its first president. This office he held continuously to the time of his death.
The new school system absorbed the Academy, the parent and forerunner of the present High School. The work of organizing out of a village school a city system of graded schools was a work of large proportions, a work which needed not only the assistance of a skillful school teacher, but that of a business organizer. Such a man was President ESTY. His rare business ability, his varied experience, his remarkable interest in and knowledge of the workings of school and systems of schools, gave him an opportunity to render a service to Ithaca that comes to but few men, and never but once in a life time. To this occasion he was fully equal.
Mr. ESTY studied educational questions and systems. He saw twenty years ago what all professional educators now see, that there must be a closer articulation between the secondary and the higher institutions. He repeatedly pointed out the advantages to both kinds of schools resulting from such a correlation. It is a great satisfaction to all who acquaint themselves with local school history, to read in his annual addresses in old newspaper files, the lucid expositions by this business man, statesman, and educator, of the most profound educational questions which now engage the best thought of an Eliot, or a Harris.
Although born to a competency, Mr. ESTY led a life of great activity. He represented Tompkins County in both branches of the State Legislature; he was one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Ithaca, of which he was a director from the first, and vice-president from 1883 to the time of his death; he founded and endowed the Ithaca Children's Home; he was a trustee of the Ladies' Benevolent Union; he served for five years as President of the Cornell Library Association; he was a trustee of the City Hospital.
In his death Ithaca lost one of her most active and public spirited citizens, the cause of education a most ardent and broad-visioned advocate, humanity a friend.
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