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Hentz, Nicholas Marcellus (Marcellin)

Nicholas Marcellus (Marcellin) Hentz (1797-1856) was professor of modern languages from 1826 until 1831. A native of Versailles, France, Hentz studied miniature painting, then medicine before emigrating to America in 1816, after the downfall of Napoleon. He married Caroline Lee Whiting of Massachusetts in 1825. They became the parents of two daughters and three sons, one of whom died before his second birthday when he fell from a chair and broke his neck (Battle 1:420). Hentz received an MA degree from the University in 1829 and became a distinguished entomologist, writing a monograph on spiders that eventually was published in 1875. Hentz also published books on alligators and French literature and language. Some of his neighbors viewed him with suspicion because he was reared a Roman Catholic and was regarded as a French liberal. He left Chapel Hill in 183l and for the next eighteen years taught modern languages and sometimes served as a school principal in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 3:116-17).