Sunday, March 14, 2010

More on Winslow Upton (obituary)

From: History of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: Biographical
NY: The American Historical Society, Inc. 1920

p. 72 - 74:
WINSLOW UPTON -- The Upton family ancestry in England is traced to the time of William the Conqueror, and the ancient manuscript of the De Upton family of Cornwall, of which the American Uptons are an authentic branch, is still in existence, though partly illegible, at the ancient seat of the family in Westmoreland. The English branch of the family traces an unbroken line of descent from John Uppeton de Uppeton, of Cornwall. The family in America dates from the second half of the seventeenth century, and has been prominent in New England life and affairs since its founding, in 1652. One of its most notable members was the late Professor Winslow Upton, one of the foremost astronomers of the United States whose original research in the fields of astronomy and meteorology added much to the volume of knowledge in these sciences. The coat-of-arms of the Upton family is as follows: Argent on a cross sable five bezants.

(I) John Upton, founder of the family in America came to New England about 1652. There is a tradition that he came from Scotland, and may have been of the Scotch prisoners taken by Cromwell at Dunbarton, September 3, 1650, or at Worcester, in 1651. The last-named battle was fought near the town of Upton, England, the seat of the ancient family. Cromwell took seventeen thousand Englishmen and Scotchmen prisoners in these two battles, and many of them were sent to the American Colonies. John Upton was accompanied by his wife, who tradition states was Eleanor Stuart, a Scotswoman. He settled in Salem Village, now Danvers, Massachusetts, where he seems to have refused to join the Puritan church, which would indicate that he was a Presbyterian in religious views. He did not take the freeman oath until April 18, 1691, when it had been modified. His first appearance in the records is of that date, December 26, 1658, when he bought land of Henry Bullock, in the southwest part of Salem Village. This estate, a large portion of which remained in the family of John Upton until 1849, was near the line of the present town of Danvers, half a mile from Lynnfield, and is now within the limits of Peabody. John Upton became a man of considerable wealth and large estate. He died July 11, 1699, aged seventy-seven years, and his will, dated Nov. 16, 1697, was proved July 31, 1699. He used a fleur-de-lis for a seal. From John Upton, the founder, the line descends through five generations to Professor Upton.

(II) William Upton, son of John and Eleanor (Stuart) Upton, was born in 1663.

(III) Caleb Upton, eighth son of William Upton, was born in 1722.

(IV) Robert Upton, fourth son of Caleb Upton, was born in 1758.

(V) Robert (2) Upton, son of Robert (1) Upton, was born in 1788. He married Lucy Doyle, of Salem, Mass.

(VI) James Upton, son of Robert (2) and Lucy (Doyle) Upton, was born in Salem, Mass., March 31, 1813. He was a partner in the firm of Upton & Nichols, of Boston, and a prominent business man of that city from 1865 to 1878. Prior to 1865 he had engaged in foreign trade with South and Central America, but withdrew from this on the outbreak of the Rebellion. A man of wide culture and an able linguist and conversationalist, he was well known in literary circles in Boston. He was a member of the Essex Institute, and served as vice-president of its department of horticulture for many years. For nearly forty-six years Mr. Upton was a member of the First Baptist Church of Boston, and a generous donor toward its support.

James Upton married (first), Oct. 27, 1836, Emily Collins Johnson, who died Nov. 12, 1843. He married (second), Oct. 9, 1845, Sarah Sophia Ropes, daughter of James and Lucy Ropes, who died Feb. 12, 1865. Mr. Upton died in Salem, Mass, March 30, 1879, at the close of his sixty-sixth year.

(VII) Professor Winslow Upton, son of James and Sarah Sophia (Ropes) Upton, was born in Salem, Mass, Oct. 12, 1853. He was prepared for college in the Salem High School, and matriculated at Brown University in 1871. He was graduated at Brown with honors in 1875, and immediately thereafter entered the University of Cincinnati, where two years later he received the degree of Master of Arts. In 1877 he was appointed assistant in the astronomical observatory at Harvard, where he served until 1879; in that latter year he became assistant engineer in the United States Lake Survey at Detroit, where he remained until 1880. In 1881 he was appointed assistant professor and computer in the United States Signal Office. In 1884 he came to Brown University as Professor of Astronomy, which chair he held until his death. When the Ladd Observatory, gift of the late Governor H. W. Ladd, was built in 1891, he became its director, having supervised its building and equipment. At the time of its dedication the Ladd Observatory was considered one of the finest observatories for teaching purposes in the country. Its facilities have been used chiefly to aid in the instruction of the university, in the maintenance of a local time service, and in regular meterorological observations in co-operation with the United States Weather Bureau. During the early years of his connection with Brown University, Professor Upton taught classes in mathematics, meteorology and logic.

Professor Upton was connected with numerous important scientific parties. He was a member of the United States astronomical expeditions to observe the total eclipse at Denver, Colorado, in 1878, and at Caroline Island, in the Pacific in 1883. He also observed the solar eclipse of 1887 in Russia, that of 1889 in California, of 1900 in Fentress, Virginia, and during a sabbatical year, 1896-97, he was attached to the southern station of the observatory of Harvard College, at Arequipa, Peru. The year 1904-05 he spent in California, where for a time he was connected with the Solar Observatory of the Carnegie Institution, on Mount Wilson, near Pasadena.

A man of brilliant mentality, a facile and forceful writer, he made numerous contributions to astronomical literature. His work, however, was greatly interrupted and curtailed by the burden of his administrative duties. He was a member of many scientific societies, among them the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of which society he was a fellow, the American Philosophical Society, and the Deutche Meteorologische Gesellschaft. Professor Upton was secretary of the faculty of Brown University from 1884 until 1891, and was Dean of the University from 1900 to 1901. In 1906 his alma mater conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Science. Professor Upton was a member of the committee on organization to increase the university endowment, 1910-11, and for more than twenty years served on important administrative committees.

Professor Upton was the author of numerous astronomical and meteorological papers in the publications of the Cincinnati, Cambridge and Washington Observatories, and the United States Signal Service; also of Photometric observations, 1879; the Solar Eclipses of 1878, 1879; report on observations made on the expedition to Caroline Island to observe the total solar eclipse of May 6, 1883, 1884; an investigation of cyclonic phenomena in New England, 1887; meteorological observations during the solar eclipses, August 19, 1887, 1888; the storm of March 11, 1888; Star Atlas, 1897; he was the author of numerous other papers, and was a constant contributor of short articles to the 'Astronomische Nachrichten', to 'Zeitschrift fur Meteorologie', 'Siderial Messenger', 'Popular Astronomy, Science, American Meteorological Journal', 'Astronomical Journal', and other scientific publications. For over twenty years he wrote articles and letters on astronomical topics for the 'Providence Journal', and was editor of the astronomical part of the 'Providence Journal Almanac', from 1894 to 1910. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi societies, and of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.

Unusual clarity and brilliancy of thought characterized all the writings and public utterances of Professor Upton. He possessed in a rare degree the scientific and analytic mind, but at the same time had the power to establish firmly the correlation between his beloved science and human affairs. He was essentially the student, and continued his researches throughout his life. As a teacher he was not only respected but loved. He was a deep lover of good music and was a musician of fine ability, director of a glee club while in college and church organist. During the latter years of his life he was director of music in the Church of the Redeemer in Providence. For many years Professor Upton was a well-known figure in the affairs of the Episcopal church in Rhode Island. At the time of his death he was senior warden of the Church of the Redeemer in Providence, a member of the standing committee of the diocese, of the cathedral corporation, and treasurer of the board of managers of diocesan missions.

Professor Upton married, Feb. 8, 1882, Cornelia Augusta Babcock, of Lebanon Springs, N. Y. They were the parents of two daughters, Eleanor Stuart and Margaret Frances Upton. Mrs. Upton survives her husband and resides at No. 30 Forest street, Providence.

Professor Upton died in Providence, Jan. 8, 1914. His death came as a personal bereavement to scores of friends and to the entire academic community of the University to which he had devoted so many years of his life. President Faunce, of Brown University, said of him:

'What struck me above all in Winslow Upton was the unusual clarity of his thought. Many a time I have seen him rise and heard him begin to speak at faculty and committee meetings and immediately things became clear and illuminated. For him confusion was inconceivable. For a long time the organization of this university will owe much to the clear, consistent thinking of Winslow Upton. For one year he was Dean, and I was brought into contact with him more than ever. But her nervous system was too delicately organized for the position and at the end of a year he wished to give it up. The burden of every man was his burden, the disappointments of others were his disappointments. The tenderness of his heart was something which only those who came into close touch with him can know. He had an appreciation for all the higher and finer things in life, and he was a leader in the Christian church.'

Professor Nathaniel F. Davis said on the occasion of Professor Upton's death:

'The University faculty loses one of its most efficient members. He was not only a well-known specialist in his chosen subject, but he was a particularly gifted teacher. I have many times advised students to elect astronomy in order to come under his personal influence. Valuable as has been his work as a teacher, it has been equalled, if not surpassed, by his work in connection with the standing and special committees of the faculty. No one has given more time and strength to work of this kind. A man singularly free from prejudices, he brought a sound judgment to the consideration of every question referred to him.'

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