THE NORTHFIELD SCHOOLS.
The vicinity of Northfield, the seat of Mr. Moody's labors, was first settled in 1673, and twice within a few years the town was depopulated by raids and massacres by the Mohawks and other Indian tribes. The third and permanent settlement was made in 1713. The natural resources of the town were developed. Bricks were made from the clay, a grist mill erected and tar kilns established. A malt house was erected in 1721. The people were constantly menaced by Indians, but the settlement, notwithstanding all that, had an average of healthy growth.
When the Chicago fire destroyed Mr. Moody's church and home, his plans were changed and he went to England. On his return from Europe he visited the old homestead of Northfield and determined to make his future home there. While enjoying the contentment which came from seeing old friends, recalling old memories, and surveying as beautiful a pastoral picture as can be seen in that section of the country, he developed the plans for his school at that place. His principal idea was to plan a school where the girls in the isolated homes on the mountain sides might receive a careful training in the Bible at a moderate expense. The first tract of land for this purpose was bought by Mr. Moody in 1878 and consisted of 270 acres, and to this was added 16 acres opposite Mr. Moody's house, that same year. The next year the work was begun on a school-house. The school opened November 3, 1879, with twenty-five pupils. In 1880 the first dormitory, known as East Hall, was opened and was at once filled with girls. Banar Hall was erected and shortly after was burned. Marquand Hall was dedicated in 1885. Other buildings followed until the school reached its present proportion.
Northfield has been greatly improved since Mr. Moody began his work there. The desolate and rock-covered hills have taken on a coating of velvet turf. Well built roads wind through the grounds and between the different buildings, and shade trees and shrubbery have been planted where they would improve the view.
The land not utilized for lawns, building purposes and roads, has been placed under the care of practical farmers, who have made it yield sufficient products to furnish a large portion of the supplies used in the schools. There are also a number of horses, of which Mr. Moody was very fond, he being considered an excellent judge of horse flesh. For this reputation he has frequently been assailed by his critics, and at one time the story went the rounds that he had paid as much as $2,800 for a finely gaited animal that caught his admiration. He allowed the story to go uncontradicted for some weeks under the impression that people would not believe it, and when he did refer to the matter he said that he had not paid $2,800 for the horse but had only paid a little less than one-tenth of that amount.
The expenses of boarding and tuition at the Seminary from the time of its founding has been $100.00 a year. All the housework is done by the students, still the sum paid for tuition only can pay about one-half the expenses, the other half is met by the income of a small endowment, and by royalties from the sale of books and by contributions.
The principal text book is of course the Bible, and one of the obligations of attendance there is that a pupil must recite from it twice a week.
Immediately in front of the porch where Mr. Moody used to sit so often and chat with his friends, is an oval sweep of grass land descending to the river, and up the valley far away the eye rests on the mountains. Within the house it is roomy, spacious and comfortable. On the right of the passage a library, on the left a reception room, and beyond it the dining room. Up-stairs was Mr. Moody's private and special den, the walls of which were lined with books, all of them bearing upon the Scriptures.