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Lea, Solomon

A native of Leasburg, NC, in Caswell County, Solomon Lea (1807-1897) was descended from James Lea, who founded the town. Solomon was the son of William M. Lea, a merchant and the county sheriff, and Sarah McNeil. His siblings included Willis, who became a doctor; Lorenzo and Addison, who became Methodist ministers and teachers; William, who became a merchant; and Anness, a sister about whom we know nothing except that she married. Solomon Lea entered the University in 1828, became a member of the Philanthropic Society, and graduated in 1833. A year later he was teaching at Warrenton Female Academy, where he met Sophia Ainger, a music teacher, whom he married in 1837. He then taught in the preparatory department at Randolph Macon College in Boydton, VA, until 1841, when he became president of Farmville Female School in Virginia. In 1846 Lea became the first president of the Greensboro Women's College in North Carolina, where he taught mathematics and ancient languages while Sophia taught modern languages and music. A year later, after a conflict with a faculty member, Lea left Greensboro and returned to Leasburg. He opened the Somerville Female Institute in 1848 and managed it for forty-four years. Six daughters and one son survived him (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 4:37-38).