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Sunny Side Female Seminary

This photograph from circa 1910 shows the building on East Main Street that once housed the Sunny Side Female Seminary in Newburg. 

It is said Caroline Williams was an energetic woman of fine accomplishments.

In his “History of Cumberland County,” local author Conway Wing wrote that the widow was once the principal of the Sunny Side Female Seminary in Newburg.

The school on East Main Street flourished under her leadership, but this ended when she married a different man whose last name was also Williams.

This year marks the bicentennial of the origin of Newburg in the western end of the county. Since March is Women’s History Month, this week’s Tour Through Time focuses on the short-lived seminary.

Author Caroline Kendig McCrone included a short history of Sunny Side in her book “Newburg: The Borough and Its People 1816-1935.”

Chartered by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1858, the seminary was founded by Rev. I.N. Hays, pastor of the Middle Spring Presbyterian Church. McCrone wrote that an 1859 ad published in the Shippensburg News described the five-month course of study as including the “advantages of pleasant home influences combined with thorough mental, moral and physical culture.”

“On June 11, 1860, eleven girls were graduated from the seminary with the program being held in the Presbyterian Church,” McCrone wrote. “The diplomas were given in the form of a pendant or charm to be worn as a necklace or pin.”

Caroline Williams married Rev. Daniel Williams of Schellsburg, Bedford County, in August 1859. Both Wing and McCrone report that the reverend had insisted upon taking over the management of the school from his wife. “A task for which he had no expertise,” McCrone wrote.

The school declined with Rev. Williams as leader of its board of trustees. “He was replaced by Mr. Morrison who served for two years after which the institution was closed in 1868,” McCrone wrote.

Tour through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with the Cumberland County Historical Society staff each week to offer a look at the county through the years. Send any questions,

future ideas or tips to jcress@cumberlink.com.

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Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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Education/History Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.