Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Harriet Wales was born on December 30, 1827 in Orford, N.H., the daughter of Samuel and Hannah Wales. She was educated at the Academy at Bradford, Vermont, and began her teaching career in the public schools of Orford. By the age of 29, she had married and was widowed.
From 1856 to 1858 she was a teacher in the Everett School of South Dedham. In July of 1858, the widow Harriet Wales Fletcher married Charles E. Morse of West Dedham, a widower with two sons. Once she married, Harriet had to give up her teaching job.
A little more than a year later, in December of 1859, Charles Morse died of tuberculosis, leaving his two sons, C. Willis and Arthur C. Morse, in her care. She provided for the two until they completed college. In 1874, Mrs. Harriet Morse opened a private school at her home at 880 Washington Street in Norwood. Her school had an excellent reputation and she kept the school open until 1905, teaching 3 generations of local children.
She was a woman of fine intelligence and strong character. According to her obituary, her former pupils “bear testimony to the fact that she appealed to what was highest and best in her scholars.” She was described as a woman “of fine presence, refined yet eminently dignified in her bearing, and was endowed with a stern and inflexible conscience….She was not uncharitable by nature, but had some of the old Puritan hatred for wrongdoing [and] she measured others by no more strict standard than she did herself and was of an inflexibly honest character.”
Harriet Morse was held in high esteem by her friends and was respected by all. When she died in 1907, she was considered “the last remaining representative in this vicinity of the old-time teachers.” Funeral services were conducted at the Congregational Church by Rev. Arthur Pingree and her pallbearers were selected from among her former pupils.