Biography of William Clarke Larrabee (1802 to 1859)
Daniel H. Weiskotten
5/29/2000
 
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From: The Cyclopedia of Methodism, Fifth Revised Edition, 1882

 
LARRABEE, William Clarke, LL.D., a distinguished teacher of the M. E. Church, was born at Cape Elizabeth, Me., Dec. 23, 1802, and died at Greencastle, Ind., May 4, 1859. He was licensed to preach in 1821. He afterwards sought and obtained the means of acquiring a liberal education. He entered the Sophomore class at Bowdoin College in 1825, and was graduated from that institution in 1828. During two terms of his college course he taught in the Maine Wesleyan Seminary, at Kent's Hill, Me. Immediately after graduation he became principal of the academy at Alfred, Me. In 1830 he was appointed tutor to the preparatory class, which was formed at Middletown, Conn., under the direction of the trustees of the Wesleyan University, in anticipation of the opening of that institution the following year. In 1831 he was elected principal of the Oneida Conference Seminary, Cazenovia, N. Y., where he remained till 1835, when he was chosen principal of the Maine Wesleyan Seminary, Kent's Hill, Me. It is estimated that about twenty-five per cent of the members of the old Maine Conference, as it stood at the time of its division into two Conferences, had been under his instruction at the Maine Wesleyan Seminary. While at this institution, he served as an assistant in the first geological survey of Maine, in 1837, and as a trustee of the Maine Insane Asylum. He represented the Maine Conference in the General Conference of 1840. In the fall of the same year he was elected Professor of Mathematics and Natural Science in the Indiana Asbury University, Greencastle, Ind. He remained connected with this institution twelve years, and served as acting president in l848-49 In 1852 he was elected editor of The Ladies' Repository, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Dr. Tefft, but resigned the place to become Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Indiana, to which office he had been chosen by the people of the State in October, 1852. The provisions of the new constitution made an entire re-organization of the school system of the State necessary, with radical changes in its theory and the mode of administering it, and Professor Larrabee's whole term was occupied with this work. His term closed in 1854, after which he was appointed superintendent of the Indiana Institute for the Blind, at Indianapolis, but was recalled to the superintendency of public instruction in 1856. He finally retired from this office and from public life in January, 1859, and died four months afterwards. Professor Larrabee joined the Oneida Conference in 1832, and was afterwards connected with the several Conferences within whose bounds he resided, but never took a pastoral appointment. His life was mainly spent in teaching in Conference institutions, and in that career he was very successful. At the time he began his academical studies there were to his knowledge but three Methodist graduates in all New England. A considerable number of the teachers who followed him and built up schools all over the United States were at some period of their student-life under his instruction. He gained in a rare degree the confidence and affection of his students. In literature, he is best known by his contributions to The Ladies' Repository in its earlier years. These contributions were afterwards published in a volume called "Rosabower." His other works, all of which were published at the Western Book Concern of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, are, "Scientific Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion," "Wesley and his Coadjutors," and "Asbury and his Coadjutors."