John Bard

John Bard (June 2, 1819 – February 12, 1899) was a Christian philanthropist who, along with his wife, Margaret Taylor Johnston, founded Bard College in New York, which was then known as St. Stephen's College, in order to train Episcopal Church ministers.

John Bard
John Bard, 1893 crop.jpg
John Bard, 1893.
President of the New York Life Insurance and Trust Company
Personal details
Born(1819-06-02)June 2, 1819
Hyde Park, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 12, 1899(1899-02-12) (aged 79)
Margaret Taylor Johnston
(m. 1849; her death 1875)

Annie Belcher
(m. 1886)
RelationsSamuel Bard (grandfather)
ParentsCatherine Cruger Bard
William Bard
Known forFounding of Bard College

Early lifeEdit

Bard was born in Hyde Park, New York on June 2, 1819. He was the eleventh of fourteen children born to Catherine (née Cruger) Bard (1781–1868) and William Bard, an attorney who was a pioneer in life insurance in the United States.[1]

Bard was descended from a family of physicians and professors. His paternal grandfather was Samuel Bard, a prominent doctor who was a founder of Columbia University's medical school and physician to George Washington.[2] Samuel Bard's father had invested in Hyde Park, then a 3, 600 acre plantation.[3] His paternal aunt, Eliza Bard married the Rev. John McVickar, a professor at Columbia University. The family had strong connections with the Episcopal Church and Columbia. His maternal grandparents were Ann (née De Nully) Cruger and Nicholas Cruger (brother of Henry Cruger),[4] a St. Croix slave-trader.[3]


Bard's father founded and was the first president of the "New York Life Insurance and Trust Company," the first life insurance company in New York,[5] from 1830 to 1847.[6] Bard himself served as president of the company.[7]

St. Stephen's CollegeEdit

Bard was a devout Christian and wanted to help improve the quality of life of the poor and to encourage more ministers to be trained. In 1853, Bard and his wife, who held similar beliefs, purchased a part of the Blithewood estate from Robert Donaldson Jr. and renamed it Annandale. The Bards were committed to many educational projects in their community and other nearby neighborhoods.[8] In 1854, John and Margaret established a parish school on their estate in order to educate the area's children with a small building Bard Hall, serving as a school on weekdays and a chapel on weekends. In 1857, the Bards expanded the parish by building the Chapel of the Holy Innocents next to Bard Hall.[9] During this time, John Bard remained in close contact with the New York leaders of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, Bishop of New York, and the Rev. John McVickar, superintendent of the Society for Promoting Religion and Learning. They suggested that he found a theological college.[10] The Bards also collaborated with James Starr Clark from Tivoli to found the Trinity Church and School, and also Trinity Academy, a school for young boys.[11]

With the promise of outside financial support, John Bard donated the unfinished Chapel, and the surrounding 18 acres, to the diocese in November 1858. In March 1860, St. Stephen's College was founded. In 1861, construction began on the first St. Stephen's College building, a stone collegiate gothic dormitory called Aspinwall.[12] St. Stephen's College officially changed its name to Bard College in 1934 in honor of its founder.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1849, he married Margaret Taylor Johnston (1825–1875). Margaret was the daughter of John Johnston, a founder of New York University, and the sister of John Taylor Johnston, who served as president of the Central Railroad of New Jersey and was a founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Together, John and Margaret were the parents of:[13]

  • Emily Bard (b. 1851), who married Charles Buyamen Lutyens in 1886.[13]
  • Caroline Bard (1855–1879), who died unmarried.[13]
  • William Bard (1856–1868), who died, aged 12.[13]
  • Rosalie DeNormandie Bard (1867–1918), who married lawyer Charles Adams Moran (1859–1934).[14]

After the Bards' only son Willie died in 1868, the Bards and their three daughters moved to Europe.[11] His wife died in Rome on April 10, 1875.[15] In her will, she left all her personal property in trust for the benefit of her husband, with the income in an amount of $12,000 a year to be paid to him as administered by her trustees, brothers John Taylor Johnston and James Boorman Johnston and Stephen Van Rensselaer Cruger.[4][16]

After his wife's death, he remarried to Annie Belcher in 1886,[13] and moved to 2034 O Street in Washington, D.C.[4] Bard died there on February 12, 1899,[17] but remained involved with the institutions he helped found until his death.[11] He is buried in the Bard cemetery.[11]


  1. ^ "| Bard College: A 150 Year History". Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  2. ^ Hirsch, Felix (October 1941). "The Bard Family". Columbia University Quarterly. Bard College Archives, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
  3. ^ a b Wilder, Craig Steven (2014). Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 229. ISBN 9781608194025. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "COL. S. V. R. CRUGER ACCUSED.; John Bard Says that He Has Held Back Money Due Him Under His Wife's Will" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 February 1898. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  5. ^ "John Bard :: Bard College". Hudson River Valley Heritage. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  6. ^ Gross, Ernie (1990). This Day in American History. Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. p. 113. ISBN 9781555700461. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York". Episcopal Church. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  8. ^ "St. Stephen's: The Early Years". Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  9. ^ Kline, Reamer (1982). Education for the Common Good: A History of Bard College The First 100 Years, 1860-1960. Annandale-on-Hudson, New York: Bard College. p. 15. Archived from the original on 2013-06-01.
  10. ^ Hopson, George (1910). Reminiscences of St. Stephen’s College. New York, NY: Edwin S. Gorham. pp. 16–17.
  11. ^ a b c d e "John Bard :: Bard College". Retrieved 2016-06-15.
  12. ^ Magee, Christopher (1950). The History of St. Stephen’s College 1860-1933. Annandale-on-Hudson, NY: Bard College Senior Project. p. 38.
  13. ^ a b c d e Helffenstein, Abraham Ernest (1911). Pierre Fauconnier and His Descendants: With Some Account of the Allied Valleaux. Press of S. H. Burbank & Company. p. 95. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Charles Adams Moran" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 September 1934. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  15. ^ "DIED. BARD" (PDF). The New York Times. 27 April 1875. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  16. ^ "At St. Stephen's College" (PDF). The New York Times. 19 June 1885. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  17. ^ "DIED. BARD" (PDF). The New York Times. 16 February 1899. Retrieved 12 August 2019.

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