The 1860s First Principal Mary Haviland

Mary Haviland, Our Founding Principal in 1867

by Jeffrey Stanley and Susan Price '86

(originally published in 2005)

When the “Friends School in Brooklyn” opened on September 9, 1867, Miss Mary E. Haviland must have personally welcomed the eight boys and nine girls who were enrolled. She was the school’s only teacher, and its principal. Within a month, the school had twenty-two students, ranging in age from six to thirteen.

Miss Haviland was only twenty-three years old, and her profession was not unusual for an unmarried woman in the 19th century. As teacher and principal of Brooklyn Friends in 1867, her salary was $400 per year. Miss Haviland’s parents, William and Esther, had been married at Jericho Monthly Meeting on Long Island. They had seven children, of which Mary was the third, born on November 21, 1843. She had grown up in Westchester, but moved with her parents to Brooklyn during the 1860s.

Miss Haviland outlined a typical day for the students of Brooklyn Friends School in her 1869 report to Monthly Meeting: “In the morning the whole school assembles in one room and fifteen minutes is devoted to the reading of the Bible and the repetition by the children in concert of some portion of the Scripture. Recitation of lessons follows until noon. Three quarters of an hour is permitted for midday meal. Recitation resumes and continues until two o’clock when school is dismissed by the calling of the roll.”

In 1873, after six years of service, Miss Haviland resigned from Brooklyn Friends due to failing eyesight. By 1880, the family’s household at 61 Joralemon Street included Miss Haviland, her parents, most of her siblings, and the daughters of her widowed brother David. Her only sister, Ella, a teacher at both the Adelphi Academy and Lockwood’s Academy, also remained unmarried. Most likely, both sisters helped raise their brothers’ children, in addition to working as teachers.

Miss Haviland’s niece, Cora, married John Linton Carver at the Brooklyn Meeting House on Schermerhorn Street in 1898. Their traditional Quaker marriage ceremony was the subject of the article “Wedded Without Minister” in the June 24, 1898 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Carver went on to become the principal of Brooklyn Friends School from 1914 to 1917.

Miss Haviland died on December 8, 1920 and was buried with her parents and most of her siblings at Friends Cemetery in Prospect Park. Her death notice from the New York Times on December 10, 1920 read simply:

Miss Mary E. Haviland, a retired teacher and a lifelong member of the Society of Friends, died on Wednesday at her home, 30 South Elliott Place, Brooklyn, aged 77 years.


Frost, Josephine C. The Haviland Genealogy. New York: The Lyons Genealogical Company, 1914. (The author corresponded with Frank Haviland, Mary's brother, who also worked with the genealogist Frederick Haviland.)

Grant, Edgerton North. Seventy-Five Years of Brooklyn Friends School. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Friends School, 1942.

Haviland, Frederick. "The Havilands of Westchester County, New York." Early wills of Westchester County, New York : from 1664 to 1784 : a careful abstract of all wills (nearly 800) recorded in New York Surrogate's Office and at White Plains, N.Y. from 1664 to 1784 : also the genealogy of "the Havilands" of Westchester County and descendants of Hon. James Graham (Watkinson and Ackerley families) : with genealogical and historical notes. William S. Pelletreau. New York: F.P. Harper, 1898.

Hinshaw, William Wade. The Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. III.1940. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1991.

Ramey, Jack. “Historical Overview of the 125 Years of BFS.” Brooklyn Friends School 125th Anniversary Journal 1867-1992 (1992).

The New York Times Online, 1851-Present

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online, 1841-1902

U.S. Federal Censuses, 1850-1930