Ebenezer Sperry French, father of Harriet French, was the principal of the grammar school in Exeter, NH for fifty years. Elisha Lee has it on good authority that he was the basis for the character of “Old Francis” in Henry A. Shute’s The Real Diary of a Real Boy. (Free text available online here; a PDF of an original edition is available here; a copy can be purchased here).
Named after his father’s sister’s husband, Rev. Ebenezer Peck Sperry, he was called “Sperry” by family. (In midlife, he went to the effort of actually dropping “Ebenezer” from his name– legally. There is a listing in the Laws of the State of NH announcing that “Ebenezer Sperry French may take the name of Sperry French.”)
It’s amazing to see him in photos with Nana (Helen Swain Burgin) and Aunt Magna (Margaret Swain Beecher), and think that his father was born during the American Revolution.
Left to right: Helen Swain, Margaret Swain, and Sperry French
171 High Street, Exeter, NH – “The Old Homestead”