The Verplanck Scholarship Fund was established in 1927 in honor of Fred A. Verplanck to provide ‘by scholarship loans
financial assistance’ to graduates of Manchester schools matriculating in colleges and universities.
The funds were under the control of a Board of Trustees and could be loaned by them to applicants
• “whose scholarship entitles them to matriculate in colleges and universities,
• whose health and stamina promises a successful career in college and life work,
• whose character commands the respect of fellow students and instructors,
• whose history indicates a capacity for leadership, and who have taken part in the general activities of the school.
Applicants must also have exhibited habits of thrift and must derive a portion of their college expenses from their own efforts.”
Loans granted to applicants entering college as freshmen were not to be paid until the applicant had furnished evidence that the first half year’s work had been successfully completed.
The Verplanck Scholarship Fund was established by the high school alumni association which requested pledges of $100 to guarantee the raising of $5,000 as a nucleus for the Verplanck Scholarship Fund. Well known community members and leaders were represented on a list of the names of those who made pledges. In addition, the Class of 1917 donated a $50 Liberty bond worth $80 at that time.
The original Trustees were: Howell Cheney, William Robertson, C. Elmore Watkins, Frank H. Anderson and Robert Hathaway.
In the ensuing years, additional donations were received from members of the community, clubs and organizations, Manchester teachers, as well as special gifts such as a gift of $143.84 from the Class of 1919 which represented their profits from the sale of a Liberty Bond. Also, upon its termination, the remaining monies ($3,276.29) in the Americanization Fund were donated to the Verplanck Scholarship Fund. The Americanization Fund had been established in 1922 to assist in the education of persons of foreign birth who wished to become citizens of the United States. In 1953, the Trustees of the Fund determined that the original intentions of the Fund were being met by other means and transferred the balance to the Verplanck Scholarship Fund. In 1967, a donation of $100 was received from a Plymouth, Michigan woman in memory of her father, Charles R. Burr, founder of Burr Nurseries.
Originally, the loans were interest free and recipients were expected to begin repaying the loans two years after graduation or discontinuting their education. Changes were made in these stipulations over the years. The amount of these loans varied according to the needs of the students, but, in general, were within the $200-$400 range. Each year, about 3-4 loans were made.
In 1940 it was reported that “since the establishment of the Fund, loans had been granted to 39 graduates of Manchester schools to assist them in attending colleges and universities. By terms of the grant, each loan must be repaid as soon as possible and at least within five years from graduation from college.”
A similar report in 1956 indicated that loans totaling $12,930 had been made. Of those, $9,555 had been repaid, $610 had been written off as bad debts and that there were $2,765 in outstanding loans. It further reported that 52 students had been aided, 34 had repaid in full, 5 were written off as bad debts and 13 still owed money.
One person received a loan in 1958 and repaid it in 1967.
Another person received $200 loans for four years, repaid them AND within the past year left an estate worth over a million dollars
In 1953 it was decided to begin awarding a scholarship in the amount of $100 to a worthy student. Within the next few years the amount was raised to $200 or $250.
In 1965, the trustees of the Verplanck Scholarship Fund decided that the assets of the fund would be turned over to the Manchester Scholarship Foundation Inc..for the purpose of administering the Fund. In 1966, a letter of transfer was delivered to the Manchester Scholarship Foundation in which the Verplanck Fund turned over its assets amounting to $14,300.
The Verplanck Scholarship Fund’s request that it officially be dissolved was granted by the Secretary of State, Ella Grasso, on March 16, 1969. Authorization was given by the Manchester Scholarship Foundation board to grant up to $2,000 for loans, interest free, with no more than $500 to be given to any one person in one year and no more than $1,000 to any one person. Because other sources of loans such as federal and state have become available, loans to students are no longer made by the Manchester Scholarship Foundation.
Since the transfer of funds, the Manchester Scholarship Foundation has awarded Verplanck scholarships each year.
Any report on the Verplanck Scholarship Fund would not be complete without a few words about the person whom it honors:
Mr. Fred Ayer Verplanck, known affectionately as “Zip”, was born on February 9, 1860 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He attended a one-room rural school in Franklin, CT for his elementary education. He started teaching when he was 17 in Lebanon, CT and in subsequent years he walked two miles back & forth as he taught in a rural school in Franklin, CT. He returned to school and graduated from Yale University in 1888.
In 1890, he was principal of the Normal Training School in Willimantic and taught in the eighth grade. Young women undergraduates taught in his room for two week periods where he gave advice and instruction on the techniques of teaching.
In 1893, he became the first principal of the So. Manchester Ninth District schools while also continuing his teacher training activities. As principal of the So. Manchester Ninth District schools, he initiated a fire drill system at the high school which prevented the loss of life in a fire that leveled the school in 1913.
When he arrived in Manchester, he found that the senior class of So. Manchester High School had only one member; the others had dropped out. He induced five of them to return to school and his first graduating class in 1894 numbered six.
In 1932, Mr. Verplanck became Superintendant of So. Manchester Public Schools and maintained that position until his retirement in 1935. His total service to Manchester was 42 years. (He died in 1957)
“Zip” was widely respected as an educator and education innovator. He has been described as a person who gave his instructions to people in a direct manner and was also considered a strict disciplinarian. He knew all students by name and most students in town knew him at one time or another. Those who knew him least, feared him. Those who had contact with him, respected and admired him. Those who knew him best stood in awe of him. One person described him as a man “who inspired loyalty and gave ideals to the students which led them to do greater things”.
Howell Cheney described him as a person with a “somewhat stern exterior but a warmth of character and as a personage whose sense of justice was acute.”
He was also active in the Manchester community serving on the Manchester War Bureau, the State Council of Defense, the Junior Food Army, the Committee on Americanization, activities of the Masonic Lodge, church activities, Red Cross, and was principal of the evening school.
The Manchester Board of Educatiion named a new elementary school, the Verplanck School, in honor of him for his many contributions to education and the community.
One of Zip’s little known accomplishments was his establishment of the first school thrift program in Manchester which he describes as follows:
“ I opened a branch of Penny Provident Fund, whose central offices were in New York. That was probably two or three years after I came to this town. It was for the Ninth District only. This is how it worked:
“From New York, I purchased stamps in 1, 3, 5, 10, and 25 cent denominations. Students purchased the stamps from me and pasted them in an album I provided for them with their names inscribed on the cover. There were no banks in Manchester at that early date, so, when a student had saved one dollar in stamps, I repurchased them and took the dollar to Hartford where I opened a savings account for the pupil at the Society for Savings.”
Those pupils were pretty proud youngsters when they had made a savings of a dollar. I would make the trip to Hartford in my horse and buggy. Sometimes I would take the student with me. Once I took three boys who had accumulated over $5 and let them open their own accounts. It was one of the greatest thrills of their young lives.”
He encouraged his students to save for a purpose, such as a birthday present for a family member,Christmas presents, gifts for their parents or for something they wanted for themselves.
He was able to return the re-possessed stamps to New York and his money would be refunded. (The Penny Provident Fund was a non-profit organization in New York started by rich men who wanted to teach the thrift system to growing children.)
The savings program was carried on by the Savings Bank of Manchester for many years.
His additional contributions and innovations were numerous. He advanced many school health programs that were precursors to today’s special education programs. Indoor plumbing was a rarity in family homes in 1907 so he installed bathrooms where students could bathe. By 1912 more than 72,000 baths had been taken there.
In 1911, he began the Open Air School for children with health problems. It not only included academics but also health care for the children, who suffered from anemia, heart defects, and what school officials called a “disposition” to tuberculosis.
(Information for this article on Fred Verplanck was gathered from reports of the Verplanck Scholarship Fund, the minutes of the Manchester Scholarship Foundation Board meetings and from the research library at the Museum of the Manchester Historical Society.)
Ed. Note: Additional information on the life of Mr. Verplanck can be found in this web site, by clicking: Fred Ayer Verplanck articles
Reproduced 2011 from www.mhs1955.com with permission of its webmaster Dick Jenkins.
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