Hezekiah Wright Strong (1768-1848)
H. Wright Strong was one of the founders of Amherst Academy and served as a member of the Board of Overseers of the Charity Fund from 1821 until his death in 1848. He often jokingly referred to himself as the grandfather, if not the father, of Amherst College. Strong was the son of Judge Simeon Strong, a prominent man in Amherst and beyond. Although he was not a college graduate, H. Wright Strong was deeply interested in education. He studied law in his father's office and practiced as an attorney both in Deerfield and Amherst.
A successful merchant who kept a store in the center of Amherst, Strong was later the town's postmaster and justice of the peace. He signed Elijah Dickinson's deed to the land given to the College in 1818. He built the town's first ice house and bathing house and was described as "an energetic man, tireless in laboring for any cause that enlisted his interest, progressive, by many deemed visionary." Strong was part of a small group of men who petitioned the state to form Amherst Academy, built in 1814, and his daughter, Sarah, became a teacher at the Academy at the age of 16. Mary Lyon was educated at the coeducational school before she felt inspired to begin Mount Holyoke College in 1837.
It was Strong who chose College Hill as the site for Amherst, and on a moonlit night, he, along with Colonel Graves, marked the spot where the first building would be built. Strong was one of the original signers of the $15,000 guarantee bond that began the project, and he was instrumental in securing the land on which the College was built from the late Colonel Elijah Dickinson.