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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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THE OGONTZ SCHOOL for Young Ladies was founded in 1850 by Miss Mary L. Bonney and Miss Harriette L. Dillaye. It was then known as the Chestnut Street Seminary, and was conducted in Philadelphia, until 1883, when Miss Frances E. Bennett and Miss Silvia J. Eastman were admitted to partnership, and the school was removed to the suburban home of Jay Cooke, Esq., at Ogontz. Later Misses Bonney and Dillaye retired from the management of the school, and in 1900 Miss Bennett also retired owing to ill health, and since that date it has been entirely under the control of Miss Eastman, who is assisted by a large corps of the most competent teachers.

The school at the present time has one hundred and ten boarding pupils, and twenty-five day pupils. A paper, “The Ogontz Mosaic,” is published monthly by the pupils of the school for eight months of the year. To many of her old pupils and others the name of Miss Bonney will awaken familiar recollections. She was born in Hamilton, New York, June 8, 1816. Her grandfathers, Benjamin Bonney and Abel Wilder, of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, were in the Revolutionary war, the last named being a soldier serving by the side of the lamented General Warren when he fell at Bunker Hill.

The parents of Miss Bonney were Benjamin and Lucinda (Wilder) Bonney. Her father served in the war of 1812, and later as colonel of the One Hundred and Sixty-fifth Regiment New York State Militia. Miss Bonney was educated in the schools of her native state, graduating from the Troy Female Seminary in 1835. She made teaching her lifework, holding positions in Jersey City, New York City, DeRuyter, New York, and Troy Female Seminary, the Beaufort (South Carolina) School, and in Philadelphia. Deciding to establish a school of her own in 1850, she opened the Chestnut Street Female Seminary in Philadelphia, as already stated, which later developed into the Ogontz School for Young Ladies. To join her in founding the institution, she invited Miss Harriette A. Dillaye, a teacher in Troy Seminary. For a period of thirty-three years the Chestnut Street Seminary enjoyed great popularity and a large patronage, and in 1883 the two teachers, Miss Bennett and Miss Eastman, were admitted as associate principals, the school being continued at Ogontz under its present name.

Miss Bonney’s devotion to duty, her uprightness, her strong will, kind heart, quick sympathies and deep and conscientious interest in all her pupils, left a lasting impress upon thousands with whom she came in contact, and especially the younger minds who are most susceptible to intellectual and moral influences. Sometime after severing her connections with the Ogontz school, she married a Rev. Mr. Rambaut. She died at Hamilton, New York, on July 24, 1900.

Miss Harriette A. Dillaye, after severing her connection with the Ogontz School, still continued to reside there, remaining until her death, which occurred on June 1, 1897, she then being in her eightieth year. Her character might be said to resemble a well finished picture about which there is little to say, there being no necessity for mere words of praise, and it being above criticism. Notwithstanding her preference for those she loved, she was equally the friend of every one who needed a friend. In her early life she was associated both as pupil and teacher with Frances Willard, the pioneer in the higher education of women. In founding a school of her own, Miss Dillaye proved by her success her peculiar fitness for the work. When advancing age made it expedient for her to lay aside her work, she chose her successor with an unerring instinct. As generous to proclaim as she was quick to discern, when she placed her portion of the burden of the school upon Miss Bennett, she stepped graciously aside, and with her latest breath rejoiced in the recital of another’s triumph.

The Ogontz School for Young Ladies is situated a few miles north of Philadelphia, with which it is connected by many trains. The location is in a beautiful section of country, dotted with the handsome residences of business men of Philadelphia and others. The buildings afford ample accommodations, all the surroundings are of the most attractive character, and the arrangements for the welfare of the pupils are all that could be desired. All the advantages of the city are there attained, together with the beauty, freedom, and healthfulness of rural life. The course of instruction includes the best musical talent that can be procured from New York or Philadelphia. Lectures on subjects connected with different departments of instruction are delivered from time to time by distinguished scholars. The social and family life is a special feature of the school. Only such restrictions are thrown around pupils as are found necessary for their safety, health and mental and moral improvement. The more than twenty years of the school at Ogontz have passed with but one serious case of illness, which is certainly a remarkable testimonial to the salubrity of the section in which it is situated, due very largely to the elevated location and the absolute freedom from malaria. The opportunities for physical culture are all that could be desired. The gymnasium is fitted up with apparatus adapted to the Sargent and Swedish methods; outdoor games are encouraged; and in stormy weather the gymnasium, conservatory, and spacious verandas amply provide for needful exercise. There is no school in the vicinity of Philadelphia that is more thoroughly adapted to educational purposes, nor any where the pupil will receive better attention.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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