New Hampton History: Profile of an Early NHS Teacher

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Ella M. Butts was a respected New Hampton teacher and missionary in the late 1800s and early 1900s. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school, Miss Butts spent three years teaching in the town of Lewiston, Maine where she joined the Main Street Free Baptist Church. In 1873 she took another 2 years to study abroad in Europe, funded by her own careful savings.

Once she returned to the United States, Miss Butts took up a teaching position at New Hampton School (New Hampton Literary Institution at the time), teaching the foreign languages, primarily French and German, that she had studied in Europe. She would then spend the next 11 years as a New Hampton teacher, one that was beloved by her students for her enthusiasm and passion in the classroom (Hayes). “However dead a subject might have seemed before, when she touched it there was a shaking of the dry bones, and it came forth a living, breathing thing” was written regarding Miss Butts by one of her former students in a letter (Swain). Held in high opinion by both students and faculty, Miss Butts became the lady principal, head of the ladies department, in 1883.

Miss Butts in a portrait, an early teacher at New Hampton School.

Explorations beyond New Hampton

While her passion for education was evident, Miss Butts did not stay at New Hampton School for much longer. Instead, she resigned from her position as lady principal three years after she gained it and took her admirable spirit to teach in India. Miss Butts was a pious woman as well as a good teacher, and the Free Baptists Women’s Missionary Society funded her travels to India as a missionary (“Thanks”). During the 10+ years she spent there, Miss Butts taught a number of students within bible schools and many other women who joined her as missionaries in India. Most texts and words left behind by those who knew Miss Butts had nothing but praise for her. She has been remembered as a kind, selfless woman, evidenced by the number of schools and churches she worked on while in India, and influenced many former students with her enthusiasm towards teaching and helping others (Hayes, A. C.).  

By Talia Shirley NHS ’22  

Researched with the help of Ms. Blackey
July 14, 2021

Works Cited 

Hayes, A. C. “Our Missionaries” The Missionary Helper, vol. 21, no. 7, Free Baptist Women’s Missionary Society, Jul. 1898, pp. 195-198.
Swain, L. Edith. A Letter to A. C. Hayes, Feb. 24, 1898.
“Thanks” The Hamptonia, vol. 5, no. 1, New Hampton School, N.H., Nov. 1886, pp. 8-9. 

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