Vesta Cassedy
Vesta Cassedy

The best source of information on this phase of the Seminary
comes from a series of articles written by Ric Nelson for the

NPS Alumnae Bulletin.
Those articles, and many of the photos which appear here,
are copyrighted by Ric Nelson. 
The photos are used here with his permission.

Luellia Vesta Harvey was born May 8, 1861, in Hicksville, Ohio. She was blessed with a natural ability and desire to learn, and after she graduated from high school, she likewise demonstrated an ability to teach. After two years working as a schoolteacher, she went to Ohio Wesleyan University, where she would eventually meet John Cassedy. When she graduated with a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan, it was with the highest grade point average the school had ever seen.

She left Ohio to teach at Central Female College in Lexington, Missouri, but it was only a matter of one school year before she and John decided to marry and she joined him at Lasell Seminary. While she had no formal teaching position at Lasell, she sometimes assisted her husband, and she became very popular with the students.

Soon after John accepted a new position at Norfolk College for Young Women, she was also given a position and the title of "Lady Principal." But she was as anxious as her husband for a school of their own to apply their personal approach to education of young women.

At National Park Seminary, she demonstrated a sensitivity to issues that might prove divisive or exclusionary. When she learned that Charlotte Priest had been secretly organizing a literary society among a select group of students, she became concerned about the effect it might have on the other girls. Her response was to organize a public sorority ("Geuth-Hebrew Society") as an alternative to Priest's group ("Chiopi") and to build the first sorority house for Geuth (which later became Alpha Epsilon Pi). However, the clubhouse for Chiopi soon followed, and Charlotte Priest was encouraged to develop the sorority system at NPS.

Another example of this sensitivity occured in 1909 when clothes-consciousness became a potential problem. She intervened to prevent extravagence in the 1909 Commencement exercise, since it might have the effect of stratifying the student body to the detriment of some of the girls. Eventually this problem was resolved by instituting a school uniform.

Unfortunately, around this time, she began getting sick. It was kept from the students, but she had surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for uterine cancer. The surgery was not totally successful, as it spread. She was moved to Boston for more surgery, but it was found to have affected her whole lower body. She died on Valentine's Day, 1910. The news was withheld from the students so they could enjoy their holiday dinner, but when they were told the next morning, the students sat in silent shock. The great influence Vesta Cassedy had had on the success of the school became apparent after she was gone.

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This page was last maintained on 05/21/98.