Timothy Alden

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Rev Timothy Alden, Jun. (August 28, 1771 – July 5, 1839) was an educator and founder of Allegheny College.

Timothy Alden
Timothy Alden.png
Born(1771-08-28)August 28, 1771
Yarmouth, Massachusetts
DiedJuly 5, 1839(1839-07-05) (aged 67)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Resting placeGreendale Cemetery
EducationHarvard College
OccupationClergyman, educator
Elizabeth Shepherd (Wormsted) Alden (1779–1820)
(m. 1797)
RelativesJohn Alden

Early lifeEdit

Timothy Alden was born in Yarmouth, Massachusetts on August 28, 1771.[1] After receiving a theology degree from Harvard College in 1794, he was appointed as a pastor in 1799.[2] As an educator, he held posts in Boston, Cincinnati, and Newark.[3][4] He founded Allegheny College in 1817, and held the post of President there for 14 years.[3]

Founder of Allegheny CollegeEdit

Allegheny College was founded in April 1815[5] by Alden, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. The college was historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church after 1833, although it is currently non-sectarian.

The first class, consisting of four male students, began their studies on July 4, 1816, without any formal academic buildings. Within six years, Alden accumulated sufficient funds to begin building a campus. The first building erected, the library, was designed by Alden himself, and is a notable example of early American architecture. Bentley Hall is named in honor of William Bentley, who donated his private library to the College, a collection of considerable value and significance. In 1824, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Alden, expressing the hope that his University of Virginia could someday possess the richness of Allegheny's library.[6]

Alden served as president of the college until 1831, when financial and enrollment difficulties forced his resignation.[2]

He died in Pittsburgh on July 5, 1839.[2][7]

Literary worksEdit

He wrote Missions among the Senecas, and prepared a catalogue of the New York historical society's library.[1]

Courtship of Myles StandishEdit

Priscilla Mullins, illustration from a 1903 printing

Set against the backdrop of a fierce Indian war, the tale focuses on a love triangle among three Pilgrims: Myles Standish, Priscilla Mullens, and John Alden. Longfellow claimed the story was true, but the historical evidence is inconclusive. Nevertheless, the ballad was very popular in nineteenth-century America, immortalizing the Mayflower Pilgrims.

In 1814, Rev. Alden was the first to publish a popular family tradition about the love triangle of his Mayflower pilgrim ancestors in his book American Epitaphs. This story would later become famous in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called The Courtship of Miles Standish. Both are direct descendants of pilgrims John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.

The families of the alleged lovers remained close for several generations, and intermarried, moving together to Duxbury, Massachusetts, in the late 1620s.[8] Descendants still retell the love triangle of their ancestors; the story is nearly 400 years old now.[9]


  1. ^ a b Johnson 1906, p. 71
  2. ^ a b c The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. XIII. James T. White & Company. 1906. pp. 291–292. Retrieved August 21, 2020 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b "Alden, Timothy". September 29, 2008. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  4. ^ Timothy Alden, Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions, pp. 264–271.
  5. ^ Stewart, Anne W. (February 7, 2003). "Nothing New Under the Sun". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  6. ^ Haskins, Charles H.; Hull, William I. (1902). A History of Education in Pennsylvania. Washington Government Printing Office. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Died". The Pittsburgh Gazette. July 6, 1839. p. 2. Retrieved August 21, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.
  9. ^ Tour Alden House Museum