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Home North Carolina Caswell County City of Leasburg Historical Markers Solomon Lea

Solomon Lea

US 158, Leasburg, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 23' 54.3228", -79° 12' 12.5316"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"First president Greensboro College, 1846-47. Founder and master of the Somerville Female Institute, 1848-1892. Home stands 100 yds. N."
     Solomon Lea, first president of Greensboro College, was born in 1807 to William and Sarah McNeil Lea. Lea grew up in Caswell County town of Leasburg that was named for his ancestors who had been pioneer settlers. He attended the University of North Carolina, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1833 and a master’s degree in 1838. While teaching school at Warrenton Academy in 1834 he fell in love with the music teacher, Sophia Ainger. The two were married in 1837. After leaving Warrenton, he taught at Boydton Female College (later Randolph Macon College) in Boydton, Virginia, until 1841 when he left to become president of Virginia’s Farmville Female School.

     On February 1, 1846, Lea became the first president of Greensboro Female College. He also served as a professor of mathematics and ancient languages. Due to difficulties with a faculty member and the lack of support from trustees, Lea resigned his post as president in December of 1847. He and his wife then returned to Leasburg where in 1848 Lea opened the Somerville Female Institute. He named the preparatory school for Mary Somerville, a Scottish mathematician and astronomer. At the school’s peak, it employed four teachers and enrolled fifty to seventy-five students from several states. Among the teachers were his wife Sophia, and eventually his daughters.

     The school operated for forty-four years, until Lea’s health required him to retire in 1892. Solomon Lea had received his license to preach from the Methodist church in 1848. While he never held a pastorate, he assisted on the Leasburg circuit and served as a guest minister for fifty years. Lea passed away just months before his ninetieth birthday on April 30, 1897. He is buried in the Leasburg Cemetery.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 37-38—sketch by Lindley S. Butler
http://www.rootsweb.com/~ncccha/biographies/solomonlea/solomonlea.html William S. Powell, When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, 1777-1977 (1977)
Solomon Lea Historical Marker Location Map, Leasburg, North Carolina