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Sarah Jane Kollock

(1826-1907)

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At a Glance

Orphaned at an early age, Sara Kollock received her entire education at the Burwell School and became both a teacher and a partner with her cousins, Maria J. Nash and Sarah K. Nash, in the successful Nash & Kollock School venture in Hillsborough, NC [1].

Story

Sarah Jane Kollock, born November 7, 1826, was one of the famous Kollocks (orig.  "de Colloque,"  a French Huguenot name) of New Jersey. She was the daughter of the Rev. Shepard Kosciusko Kollock, D.D., who in 1818 married his first wife, Sarah Blount Littlejohn of Oxford, NC. Orphaned at an early age and wholly dependent on the uncertain bounty of distant relatives, the little girl,  "Cousin Sara,"  finally found a secure second home and her life's work in her Aunt Mary Goddard Kollock and Uncle Frederick Nash's home on Margaret Lane in Hillsborough, NC.

Sarah Jane was one of the first pupils of the Burwell School, but she seems to have earned her way from the beginning by helping with the smaller Burwell children. Finding the wherewithal to clothe herself was always a problem. The Commission owns a copy of her letter of 'Saturday 1841' written in pencil when she was fifteen to her 'Grandpa,' the printer and editor Shepard Kollock, who had married Susannah Arnett:

"Hillsboro Saturday 1841

Dear Grandpa,

I am very much in need of a great many articles and Aunt Nash has authorized me to draw on the hire of my negroes to the amount of $20. I suppose you have the hire of them last year by this time. There are a great many necessary articles which I must have and Aunt Nash says she will take the responsibility if Pa [her brother] should object, which she knows he will not do. Aunt Margaret has a very pretty calico frock (the one she made up before I left and which she will show you) and as there is no pretty calico in town, I wish, dear sir, you would take a few dollars more and buy a dress of it for me. Understand, dear Grandpa, 'tis to be taken from the hire of negroes belonging to me, I do not wish you to buy it as I know you cannot afford it or you would do it with pleasure. Please send the dress & money by Cousin H. You see this is a real business note. I have written it on a seperate piece of paper as it is addressed to no eye but yours and intended for no one else to see. Do burn it up immediately.

Your affec. grandchild

Sarah Kollock."

Sara (she soon dropped the h from her name) proved to be an exceptionally efficient teacher and gradually took on heavier duties until 1848 and 1849 when she became a fulltime teacher of French and drawing at the Burwell School. Sara was intellectually keen and perceptive, but remarkably quick to become angered. Nevertheless, she was an excellent French teacher and much liked by her pupils. A letter of September 27, 1851, from Burwell student Mary Huske Pearce  to William N. Tillinghast reports:

"I expect you will be glad to hear we have changed our French teacher. Miss Molly Burwell now fills Miss Kollock's place, and is much more gentle. I never knew how well I loved Miss Sarah, until now that I am seperated [sic] from her. She is in Oxford, and I am really anxious to see  "La petite  " as we called her."

Although the Burwells could not afford to employ Sara on a permanent basis, it was clear she had a unique administrative ability, as she demonstrated later. Her entire education had been at the Burwell School, and Mrs. Burwell (Anna Robertson Burwell ) speculated in 1855 whether it might be possible for Sara Kollock to take her place. She wrote to her daughter, Frances Armistead Burwell , on November 27, 1855:

"Sarah Kollock is very anxious to get a position in our school, but we have none to offer her. I do wish I could retire and let her take my place, but I suppose that would not do. I must take a hand as long as there is a school and I have health and strength."

Sara become both a teacher and a partner with her cousins, Maria J. Nash and Sarah K. Nash, in the successful Nash & Kollock School venture (she was the Kollock of the title), spending her long life there and continuing to operate a school of her own for small boys after the Misses Nash died.

Ann Spotswood Strudwick describes  "Cousin Sara's"  appearance and temperament in Ladies in the Making [2]. Sara was red-haired and possessed a  "thunder-and-lightning temper."  She was almost a dwarf, and chair legs had to be cut off so that her feet could touch the ground. (Sara Kollock's little ladder back chair that she used for teaching is now on display in the Burwell School.) She was much given to wearing innumerable beads, bangles, and chains, and affected a frizzed, tightly curled hair-dress probably meant to add some height to her tiny figure.

There is a daguerreotype of  "Cousin Sara"  in the N.C. Collection, Wilson Library, UNC and a picture of her boys' school in Allen A. and Pauline Lloyd's History of the Town of Hillsborough.

Sara Kollock died at the age of eighty-one in 1907 and is buried in Old Town Cemetery in Hillsborough, NC near her cousins and partners Maria J. Nash and Sarah K. Nash [2] [1].

Biographical Data

Sarah was called La Petite.
She was also called Cousin Sara.

Important Dates

Sarah Jane Kollock was born on November 7, 1826, in Hillsborough, NC. She died on June 26, 1907, and was buried in Old Town Cemetery in Hillsborough, NC.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended

  • Burwell School, from 1839. Sarah Jane was one of the first pupils of the Burwell School, but she seems to have earned her way from the beginning by helping with the smaller Burwell children [1].

Occupations

  • Teacher, between 1848 and 1851. Sara proved to be an exceptionally efficient student and gradually took on heavier duties teaching until 1848 and 1849 when she became a fulltime teacher of French and drawing at the Burwell School [1].
  • Teacher. Sara become both a teacher and a partner with her cousins, Maria J. Nash and Sarah K. Nash, in the successful Nash & Kollock School venture (she was the Kollock of the title), spending her long life there [1].

Relatives

References

  1. Mary Claire Engstrom. The Book of Burwell Students: Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South. (Hillsborough: Hillsborough Historic Commission, 2007).
  2. Nash, Ann Strudwick. Ladies in the making (also a few gentlemen) at the select boarding and day school of the Misses Nash and Kollock, 1859-1890, Hillsborough, NC<./i> Hillsborough, NC: Seeman Printery, 1961.