William Bradford Dodge
A descendant of John Dodge, Middle Chinnock, Somersetshire, England through his son, Richard Dodge
William was educated at Dummer Academy, Byfield, Mass., and became a very successful teacher. In 1804 he opened a successful private school in Salem, Mass. On the establishment of the North School in that city in 1807, he was invited to take charge of the same, which he accepted, serving as master for twenty-seven consecutive years. While connected with this school he introduced the studies of geography and grammar, then taught for the first time in the public schools of Salem.
In the War of 1812 he was elected captain of a company to guard the coast of Salem and vicinity. Early converted he lived an active Christian life, ready in every good word and work, and entered heartily into all the reforms as they successively claimed his attention and support. From his hospitable home sailed the first missionaries for Palestine from Salem, and here many of the temperance and anti-slavery agents found a refuge in a later day, and from here started many an oppressed slave on the underground railway for a land of freedom.
About the year 1820, before any religious society thought of such a thing, he, at the suggestion of a neighbor, opened the first Sunday school in Salem in the North school house. The first reason of its existence was to stop Sunday walking among the young people and a general lack of Sunday observance. The school was crowded and continued for many years, though only as a summer school.
In 1827, he was appointed the chaplain of the Salem almshouse, and thenceforward prepared and conducted two religious services in that institution every Sabbath, in addition to his usual labors. In 1842 he gave up all other employment to work as an anti-slavery agent principally among the churches of Massachusetts.
From his entrance into Salem, the condition of the colored people had excited his pity, and by sympathy, counsel and religious instruction he had sought to comfort, encourage and elevate them. He gained their confidence and love, and when, in 1834, the colored school was opened, he resigned his position as principal in the North School to accept a like position in it; which, considering his intense anti-slavery principles, was eminently proper, and his great success justified the change.
In 1844, at the age of 61, he went to Milburn, Illinois, and settled among his children, who had purchased property there. It was a new settlement of various nationalities and diverse religious views. A little band of Christians had organized themselves into a Congregational Church, having meetings as circumstances favored. Mr. Dodge was soon invited to preach for them. Proposing to spend the rest of his life in the ministry of the gospel, he asked and received ordination of the Fox River Association. In this church he labored till old age compelled him to resign in 1862. His life was one of loving service to his fellow men, and at a ripe old age he died, sincerely mourned by the whole community, who knew, loved and looked upon him as a father.
William was a major in the war of 1812.