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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Solomon Sias

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[This information is from pp. 101-103 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Portrait of Solomon Sias

Portrait: Solomon Sias

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Solomon Sias, principal of the public schools of Schoharie, N. Y., and one of the leading educators in the county, is a native of Danville, Caledonia County, Vt. He was born June 13, 1829. His father, the Rev. Solomon Sias, son of Benjamin and Abigail Sias, was born in London, Merrimack County, N. H. Grandfather Sias removed with his family from London to Danville, being among the pioneer farmers in that town, where he and his wife lived to a good old age. They had eight children.

Solomon Sias, Sr., grew to manhood on the paternal farm, attending school as opportunity offered. Feeling himself called to preach the gospel, and giving such proof of his calling that people heard him gladly, he became a circuit rider and later a presiding Elder, his circuit taking in at different periods Western Maine, New Hampshire, and Eastern Vermont. By himself he acquired a knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He was a fluent and forcible speaker, thoroughly familiar with the Holy Scriptures, a man of great resource of thought and expression. He was accustomed to ride on horseback from place to place to preach every day and evening, whenever he could get an audience. In Lynn, Mass., where he was pastor of the Union Street Methodist Church, 1815-16, he started the first Methodist Sunday-school in New England. He was sent several times as a delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which he belonged. He died at the age of seventy-two, a well-preserved man to the last, after thirty years of service in his Master's vineyard. He married a widow, Mrs. Amelia Rogers Hewes, the ninth lineal descendant of John Rogers, the Smithfield martyr. Mrs. Sias died at the age of sixty-seven, having reared five children, three by her first husband, Mr. Hewes, and two by her second, namely: Solomon, the subject of this sketch; and Amelia, who married Azro Mathewson.

Mr. Sias, of Schoharie, was educated at Newbury Seminary, Newbury, Vt.; at Middlebury College in that State and at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., where he belonged to the class of 1852. He was an assistant teacher at Newbury Seminary as early as 1850. He received the degree A. M. from Middlebury College, Vt., and of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Vermont at Burlington. From 1854 to 1859 he taught at Fort Edward Institute, New York, holding the chair of professor of natural science under Joseph E. King president of the Institute. Leaving Fort Edward, he accepted a call to take charge of a college for women at Bonham, Tex., where he remained conducting the affairs of the college for eight years. He then came to New York State and accepted a call to take charge of the seminary at Charlotteville. In 1874 he came to Schoharie and took the position he now holds, which, with the exception of a brief period — 1877 to 1878 — spent in Texas as president of the Soulé University at Chapel Hill, he has held continuously from that date.

The Schoharie school has greatly improved under his management, and is now a first-class high school in every respect and very flourishing. About two hundred students are enrolled and five subordinate teachers are employed. Mr. Sias is the oldest principal in active service in the county, and is among the oldest in the State as principal and teacher. He has arranged for the Schoharie school the most advanced course of any school in the county, and he always keeps up to the times in means and methods of educational work, using the latest approved text-books and reference books. His efforts are uniformly indorsed by the State regents, at whose request he has spoken upon numerous educational topics in the conventions held at the State capital. He has attended all of the meetings since 1866 and every county institute for thirty years, speaking at many of them. He has been secretary of the county institute for nearly fifteen years, has been assistant conductor one year, besides often serving briefly as assistant conductor of other institutes.

He was married July 2, 1857, to Lina Baker, daughter of Daniel Baker, of Youngstown, New York. One child was born of this union, a son named Frederick. He was educated in the Schoharie schools, then learned telegraphy at Brooklyn, N. Y., and became manager of a telegraph office. Taken suddenly ill with typhoid pneumonia, he died at the age of nineteen.

Professor Sias is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to which he has belonged since 1866, and for several years he was an observer for the Smithsonian Institution. He has had charge of an educational department in the Schoharie Republican, to which he has contributed articles that have been copied by the leading educational papers of the State, and he has been a frequent correspondent of several other journals. He is an active member of the Schoharie County Historical Society, of which he was one of the three original organizers. He was instrumental in securing the "Old Stone Fort" for the purposes of the society. He is likewise connected with the medical society of this county, having served as brigade surgeon during the Civil War. Mr. Sias was made a Mason in Connecticut, was afterward connected with the order in Vermont and later in Texas, where he was Master of a lodge. He is now a twenty-seventh degree Mason, a member of Schoharie Lodge, No. 491, and of the chapter and council. As an Odd Fellow he belongs to To-wos-scho-ho Lodge of Schoharie, has twice been Noble Grand, is now a member of Middleburg Encampment, and Past Captain of Canton Young, No. 45, of Schoharie. In politics he is a Democrat.

Mrs. Sias is a graduate of the collegiate department of Fort Edward Institute, and has taught school. Both Mr. and Mrs. Sias are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and he has preached a great number of sermons in pulpits of Schoharie and the neighboring towns.

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