SUPT. ALBERT JENNINGS
Portrait And Biographical Record Of Northern Michigan
Containing Portraits And Biographical Sketches Of Prominent
And Representative Citizens
Record Publishing Co., 1895
|It is a trite but true proverb that "times change and we change with
them." The truth is nowhere better illustrated than by changes that have
been made in the public-school system since its inception. In former years
the instructor was illy qualified for his responsible work of training the
young mind, and the knowledge gained by the pupils was a result of their
own love of learning, rather than of any assistance rendered them by their
Now, however, it is required that he who guides and trains the young must himself be a man of broad learning and versatile talents. The teacher's work has been elevated among professions, and those who enter it must have well trained and well disciplined minds, love for children, and the rare faculty of developing and perfecting their crude thoughts. Such a one is Albert Jennings, who has been the efficient Superintendent of the city schools of Manistee since 1886.
The life which is here sketched had a very patriotic start, for it began on the 4th of July, 1843. In his native town, the pretty and quiet village of Birmingham, Mich., our subject received his primary education, and afterward became a student in the Birmingham Academy. To such good purpose did he apply himself, that in 1859, though a youth of only sixteen, we find him as an instructor of Latin and geometry in the academy. Three years later he entered the sophomore class of the University of Michigan, and in 1865 he was graduated from that institution with honors. After teaching for one year he returned to his Alma Mater and entered the law department, from which he was graduated with the Class of '68.
For the next six years Mr. Jennings was engaged in school work, for three years having charge of the schools of Lawton, Mich., and for the same period of time holding a similar position in Allegan. He than took up the practice of the profession for which he had especially fitted himself, and for several years was a successful lawyer of Grand Rapids, where he established himself in a large clientage. However, his interest in educational work continued through all these years. He was by nature a student, and love of books and study led him to accept the responsible position he now holds. His years of business life have supplemented in no small degree his scholarly attainments and have contributed to his success. Along the line of mathematics his information is thorough, and probably no private library in the state is better equipped educationally, or more steadily used, than his.
In 1872 our subject married Miss Frances A., daughter of Rev. E.M. and Ann R. (Robinson) Toof, natives of New England. Their only child, Albert T., who was born in 1873, is one of the youngest graduates of the Manistee High School. After a post-graduate course here and a year's course of study in the Michigan Agricultural College, he taught one year in the country schools and is at present a student at Harvard University. He is an amateur athlete in college sports and muscular exercises, and is a perfect specimen of physical manhood. In his classes his standing is very high.
Something of the family history of Mr. and Mrs. Jennings may be of interest to the public. He is the son of Edwin L. and Julia (McHenry) Jennings, natives of New York State, who removed to Michigan in 1834. They settled in Birmingham, where their remaining years were spent, the mother dying there in 1870, and the father in 1889, aged eighty years. Only two of their children are living, Albert and Amanda, the latter being a resident of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Mrs. Jennings was born in New York in 1850, and traces her genealogy, with some pride, to the Robinson family of "Mayflower" fame. Her parents were natives of New England, and her father was a graduate of Vermont University, his life being devoted to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in New York and Michigan. To all the prominent men of that denomination he was well known. After many years spent in ministerial work he was obliged to retire on account of failing health, and his closing years were quietly spent. His wife, who for many years was his associate teacher in academic work in New York State, still survives, being now (1895) seventy-five years of age. Her home is in Decatur, Mich. Notwithstanding her advanced years, she is still a great reader and keeps herself thoroughly posted upon topics of current interest.
In New York State, Mrs. Jennings received an academic education, largely under the preceptorship of her parents. For many years she has been engaged in teaching, and while in Grand Rapids was employed as an assistant teacher in the high school. At present she teaches a primary department of the public schools. She is also an accomplished musician, and is particularly proficient in church music. While in Grand Rapids she had charge of the church music, and played the pipe organ for several years in the Division Street Methodist Episcopal Church. On the organization of the Epworth League Assembly recently incorporated at Ludington, Mich., she gave instruction in choir and organ music, and Superintendent Jennings delivered several lectures on general and church history, embracing, among other things, the topic "How to Study History." This assembly has become a national enterprise, and is a popular summer resort for members of the Epworth League, young ministers of the church, and all others desiring to enter classes for religious instruction. The beautiful grounds, with ample hotel accommodations, add largely to the comfort of those who choose to spend a portion of the summer in this delightful and beneficial manner.
Personally Superintendent Jennings is a man of pure Christian character, gentlemanly bearing and genial manners. In 1891 he was named by the Democratic party as their choice for the responsible office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Michigan, but suffered the same fate as the other candidates of that political organization at that time. Had the whirligig of political fortune brought him this position, the educational interests of the state would without doubt have been safe in his hands. Socially he is prominently identified with the Masonic order, inn which he takes great interest. He is a member of Manistee Lodge No. 228, A.F. & A.M.; Manistee Chapter No. 65, R.A.M.; Manistee Council No.16, and Manistee Commandery No. 32, K.T.