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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Alexander Twilight lecture this Sunday in Brownington

BROWNINGTON — Lawrence Hundersmarck, professor of religion and philosophy at Pace University in New York and seasonal resident of Barton, will speak on the mind and values of Alexander Twilight as revealed through his sermons on Sunday, September 27 at 3 p.m. in the Brownington Church, in Brownington. His talk immediately follows the The Old Stone House Museum’s popular Apple and Cheese Tasting and is free and open to the public.

The talk will focus on the ideas and values of Alexander Twilight as revealed in an important primary source now preserved in Old Stone House Museum’s archival vault–a collection of 20 sermons in manuscript, hand-written ink by Twilight and hand-sewn into small booklets. Composed toward the end of Twilight’s life, these manuscripts are notes for sermons preached throughout Northern Vermont, including Brownington, Barton Orleans (called then Barton Landing), and Derby.

Until 2003, these texts were unknown, but emerged from the archives of the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, as part of their holdings on Dr. James Woodward Strong (1833-1913), former president of Carlton College, who was born in Brownington and studied under Twilight at the Grammar School in 1841. The Old Stone House Museum now holds these documents and makes them available for scholarly study.

Alexander Lucius Twilight (1795-1857) was principal of the Orleans County Grammar School and preached in the Brownington Church, beginning in 1829. Historical records portray Twilight as a devoted, strong willed, talented educator and preacher, whose skills earned him both the respect and esteem of his students. One of his main accomplishments was construction of the 4-story, granite school dormitory between 1834-36, known as the “Old Stone House.”

Twilight was the first African American attendee of any college in the United States, graduating from Middlebury College in 1823. He was also the first American of mixed race to serve as a representative to Vermont’s State Legislature in Montpelier in 1836. Twilight is buried along with his wife Mercy Ladd Twilight in the church yard next to the Brownington Church where the talk will be held.

Professor Lawrence F. Hundersmarck teaches religion and philosophy at Pace University in New York and is also a seasonal resident in Barton. He is author of numerous articles on the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, Eastern literature, and great thinkers of the Eastern and Western worlds.

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