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Yale University, 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
Evergreen Memorial Cemetery Bloomington, McLean County, Illinois, USA
Albert Dodd (1818 - June 8, 1844) was a student at Yale College (1836-1837). His diaries, preserved at Yale Archives, describes his relations with men and women. Also preserved are a manuscript of his poetry (with printed engravings of Hoboken and Manhattanville), and three letters to his family from Bloomington, Illinois (1841-1844) where he had gone to practice law. The letters describe modes of travel, hunting, the habits of wolves, and conditions of health and hygiene in the area. Included also is Dodd's obituary from the Hartford Daily Times, June 1844.
Albert Dodd was the son of Elisha Dodd, Jr. (1777-1856) and his second wife, Clarissa Hanmer. His siblings from his father first marriage are Elisha Dodd III (1810-1866) and Mary Ann Hanmer Dodd Shutts (1813-1878). From the second marriage are: Louis Dodd (1820-1845), lost at sea; Julius Dodd (1823-1841), who wrote some poetry during 1837 and 1840 while he was a student at Hartford Grammer School; and Edward Dodd (1825-1851).
Albert Dodd and Anthony Halsey were college students in the 1830s. They loved each other and slept together in the same bed. Albert, in his journal, referred to his “adored Anthony,” “my most beloved of all,” and described his friend as “so handsome.” “Often too,” he wrote, Anthony “shared my pillow—or I his, and then how sweet to sleep with him, to hold his beloved form in my embrace, to have his arms about my neck, to imprint upon his face sweet kisses.”
In his diary for 1836-1837 that kept while attending Washington College (now Trinity), in Hartford, Connecticut, Dodd, who was about nineteen, recorded his love for two fellow students, John Heath and Anthony Halsey. “John, dear John, I love you, indeed I love you,” he wrote. When John did not respond he noted sadly, “The friend I loved, the first one whom I had ever truly loved in this wide world became estranged from me and I from him.” He chided himself: why had he not told him of “the fire that was burning in my heart? It is not friendship merely I feel for him, or it is friendship of the strongest kind. It is heart-felt, a manly, a pure, deep and fervent love.” The following year he recorded his love for Anthony Halsey: “How completely I loved him, how I doted on him! Often too he shared my pillow— or I his, and then how sweet to sleep with him, to hold his beloved form in my embrace, to have his arms about my neck, to imprint upon his face sweet kisses! It was happiness complete.”
By October 10, 1837, Dodd had transferred to Yale College, and fell in love again, this time with Jabez Sidney Smith. “How much I think all the time continually always of Jabez,” he confessed in his diary. The historian Peter Gay in The Tender Passion commented that Dodd seemed to have felt no guilt for having these overwhelming, amorous feelings, only fear that his love would not be returned. In December 1837 at Yale, Dodd composed or transcribed a revealing rhymed ditty, "The Disgrace of Hebe & Preferment of Ganymede." At Yale, Dodd also read the Greek Anthology and other classic texts and began to use his knowledge of ancient affectionate and sexual life to come to terms with his own, a common strategy of this age's upper class, college educated white men.
After graduating from Yale in 1838, he studied law and opened an office in St Louis, Missouri. He then moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where, about 1840-41, in his early 20s, he became a law partner of the bachelor Jesse W. Fell, then in his early 30s. Raised in Pennsylvania in a liberal Quaker family, Fell was a founder of Normal, Illinois, and, later, a founder of the state normal university, as well as McLean County's first lawyer with diploma. Fell was also a tree and flower enthusiast, a temperance advocate, and a civic leader. In 1834, Fell had begun a friendship and a long political association with Abraham Lincoln. Later, in 1860, he worked hard to win Lincoln the Republican nomination for president. With Fell, Dodd entered Illinois political life.
On Saturday, June 8, 1844, Gen. M. L. Covell, Col. Miller and Albert Dodd, were returning home from the Ottawa, Illinois, convention. On arriving at the Mackinaw river, which was much swollen, they attempted to cross the stream on horseback, when Dodd was precipitated from his horse and unfortunately drowned. Dodd had passed to near the middle of the stream before the accident occurred; Col. Miller's horse had swan some distance, and ubout the same moment that Dodd was plunged into the current, the Col. was also unhorsed. Gen Covell's horse was in deep water at the time but not yet swimming. Col. Miller was but a few feet below, and in advance of the Gen. Dodd was also below and in advance about 40 foot distant; both gentlemen were in imminent danger and required assistant. Gen. Covell instantly dismounted in water breast high, to give encouragement and such assistance as lay in his power, at the same time requesting Dodd to seize the tail of his horse and not be alarmed; his attention for the moment was directed to Col. Miller, the nearest apparent sufferer. Fortunately, howover, the plunge under water created only momentary alarm in the Col., and with swimming a short distance he gained a foothold, and was thus rescued from a watery grave. Dodd, however, made but a momentary and ineffectual effort to swim, then raising his head imploringly he sank to rise no more, and at about the same moment of time that the Col. was out of danger.
Immediately after Dodd's disappearance, Gen. Covell hastened to the nearest settlement and procured assistance to search for the body, and although the utmost exertions were made by the citizens, it was not recovered until next morning. It was then conveyed to Bloomington where he was buried. On tho day of his decease, unknown to him and perhaps unexpected, he had received the nomination from a respectable convention as the democratic candidate for tho house of representative.
Later that year Jesse Fell personally carried Dodd's private papers (including, apparently, his diary) to Dodd's father in the East. Dodd's sudden, unexpected death may well have saved his diary from destruction, the fate, no doubtm of many other revealing private papers. Six months after Dodd's death, Jesse Fell married for the first time, at the advanced age of 37, and began to raise a family that eventually included 8 children.
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