Visiting the Archives

Not only is she surrounded by KO artifacts, but she also meets wonderful people that are in some way connected to KO who share their stories with her.

This July, B. Owen Williams contacted Semmelrock. While rummaging through a davenport of his deceased uncle, Roger Cheney, Williams discovered a libretto from 1927, and fortunately for KO, a leather bound book. The book, A Little Boy Lost by William Henry Hudson, was inscribed to Cheney as the Form I Dux Prize recipient by Kingswood headmaster, George Nicholson in June 1919. Williams wanted the book in the KO archives and exchanged nervous emails and phone calls like a concerned parent until the book arrived safely in Semmelrock’s care. Rather than just have the book displayed without context on a table, Williams insisted that a short biography accompany the piece. The bio includes a fascinating yet tragic story of Roger Cheney.

Cheney was born in 1907 and lived in Manchester with his family who owned the prosperous Cheney Brothers silk manufacturing company, the first American based silk company to properly raise and process silkworms and to develop the difficult techniques of spinning and weaving silk. One Halloween when Cheney was six years old, Cheney’s costume caught fire, and he suffered severe burns. Williams related that had a nurse not been nearby who aided Cheney, he may not have survived. Rather than attend the local school, his family decided to send him to Kingswood School and later to the Hartford Art School. After he graduated Yale University in 1931, Cheney entered the family business but later settled in Santa Fe. While there, Cheney brought the silk weaving techniques from the family business to the indigenous Navajo children who were then able to weave curvilinear patterns. Later in his life, Cheney continued to embrace painting, sculpture and design. Williams said of his uncle, “He led a life related to art.” Cheney died in 1990.

Williams and his wife, Martha, visited the KO archives from Maryland to view his uncle’s Dux Prize this past week. A charming raconteur, Williams shared stories of visiting his uncle in Santa Fe during the 1950s. Williams was last on the Kingswood campus in 1962 as a student at Pomfret for a wrestling tournament. He did not share who won the match.
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
Copyright 2018. Kingswood Oxford.