Who is the Gould in Gould Academy?
Reverend Daniel Gould is the man for who Gould Academy is named. If Bethel Academy trustees had been searching for a person of strong character and demonstrated principles, they would have been hard put to do better in finding a name which has so well endowed their tiny, at the time, village academy. Daniel Gould was a Revolutionary War veteran, a graduate of Harvard College and a resident of Topsham, Massachusetts, before he came to Bethel. He originally came to Bethel seeking the position of pastor of the new West Parish Congregational Church. (Because the town stretched along the Androscoggin River for more than 15 miles, it had been divided into east and west parishes at the time it was incorporated.) He was accepted as this church’s first minister in 1799. More than 35 years before Bethel High School was opened in 1835, Gould had been tutoring a small group of boys at a secondary level of education at his farm in Bethel.
To paraphrase William Lapham, as a man of the cloth but also a man of the world, he allowed his worldly thinking to evolve kindling education’s flame in the wilderness became his life’s work. Even after being released by the church in Bethel he continued to teach young men and women. Eventually he moved to Rumford but found no spark of interest in the people there to found a high school. So his thoughts returned to Bethel. His offering was that he would leave most of his estate to the Bethel Academy if the trustees would change the school’s name to Gould’s Academy in Bethel. On February 3, 1843, they did. His library of important books of the times is part of Gould Academy’s museum collection today. Gould had died in 1842.