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Eliza Maria Ely

May 8, 1792
Home Town:
Lyme, CT
Elihu Ely (July 5, 1809)
Biographical Notes:
Eliza Maria Ely, daughter of John Ely and Elizabeth Bennett Ely, of Lyme, Connecticut, was born May 8, 1792. From 1806 to 1807 Eliza attended the Litchfield Female Academy (her father, an educator, likely saw the value in sending his daughter to a formal school). While in school, Eliza was part of a group of girls that played a prank on a young John Pierce Brace by making him believe fellow Female Academy student Fanny Goodwin was in love with him. He wrote a letter to Eliza in the form of a poem in which he names each of the conspirators and chastises them for their part in the prank. After studying in Litchfield, Eliza attended the Abby Wright school in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She completed multiple embroidered mourning pictures at this school, two of which are held in the collection ...
"The girls at Miss Pierce's, knowing my fondness for female society and my easy susceptibility, form'd a plan to make me believe that Fanny Goodwin, a little girl of twelve, was in love with me. The deception was carried on for some days and was complete. To an awkward, homely boy, with but slight confidence in his own powers of pleasing, the idea of love returned was exquisite. It was the first sip of that delightful cup of which I have drank so deep in life, and its very teaste, deceitful as it as, intoxicated me. When the trap was sprung, and the girls were jeering around me at the success of this plot, I burst into tears and sobbed as if my heart would break." - John Pierce Brace ("History of My Poetry Vol. I" - Litchfield Historical Society - Litchfield Female Academy collection).

Years at LFA:
Other Education:
Abby Wright School (South Hadley, MA)

Related Objects and Documents
In the Ledger:
help The Citation of Attendance provides primary source documentation of the student’s attendance at the Litchfield Female Academy and/or the Litchfield Law School. If a citation is absent, the student is thought to have attended but currently lacks primary source confirmation.

Records for the schools were sporadic, especially in the formative years of both institutions. If instructors kept comprehensive records for the Litchfield Female Academy or the Litchfield Law School, they do not survive. Researchers and staff have identified students through letters, diaries, family histories and genealogies, and town histories as well as catalogues of students printed in various years. Art and needlework have provided further identification of Female Academy Students, and Litchfield County Bar records document a number of Law School students. The history of both schools and the identification of the students who attended them owe credit to the early 20th century research and documentation efforts of Emily Noyes Vanderpoel and Samuel Fisher, and the late 20th century research and documentation efforts of Lynne Templeton Brickley and the Litchfield Historical Society staff.
John Pierce Brace, History of My Poetry, Vol. 1 (Litchfield Historical Society - Litchfield Female Academy collection).

Miss Ely is mentioned in Sarah Beekman's May 17 - August journal of 1807 (Litchfield Historical Society - Litchfield Female Academy collection).

A "Miss Ely" is mentioned in Betsy Reynolds 1806-1807 Journal (Litchfield Historical Society - Litchfield Female Academy collection).

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