In 1884, my Great grandfather Archibald Gracie Ogden Sr. (1869-1931) traveled from Elizabeth, New Jersey to Grosse Isle, Michigan to attend boarding school. He stayed with his cousins the Biddles, and was especially close with John Biddle, a recent West Point graduate who would later be the best man at Ogden's wedding and a Major General commanding of American forces in Great Britain and Ireland in 1918. He had such a good time in Michigan, in fact, that he neglected to write to his family as often as they might have hoped (a situation familiar to many parents whose children have recently left the next). His father Dayton Ogden (1833-1914) who had also been away to school at a young age, wryly wrote his son during summer holidays:
"Judging from the numbers of letters you have written I suppose you don't want to be bored with many nor to have your holiday-time to any great extent taken up with answering them. This is partly my reason for not writing & then again it is hard to find anything to write about from here that is of particular interest to you."
All the same, Dayton Ogden concluded his letter to his son to "take all the time you can for enjoyment" and not to answer "unless the humor for writing is on you." From this letter, dated August 23, 1885, I learned that Archibald G. Ogden had witnessed Grant's funeral during the summer and had a view of Niagara falls from the suspension bridge. This photograph was taken during that time in Buffalo, New York. It and the letter from his father were contained in a school grade book covering the 184-1885 year. It is a remarkable record, with daily grades alloted from 1-10 in subjects like Latin Composition, Virgil, Greek Lessons, French, Algebra and Arithmetic. His weekly average was tallied along with his class rank. The signature of his teacher and a parent accompanies each weekly marking period. His grades were consistently strong but even so his class rank was often in the teens and twenties. His teacher made exactly one comment during the entire year on the page for the marking period of January 16th, 1885 - "Ogden can do better" -, to which his mother Esther Ogden replied; "I quite agree with Mr. Cutter."