Stephen is a student majoring in English at the Brockport Normal school in 1869.
Brockport is chosen in 1868 from four cities, including Binghamton, for the establishment of a training school for teachers in New York state. It is a point of contention among some in the community. Although funding will be given by the state, the small city will be responsible for providing the actual location and buildings.
At that time, attending the high school level school for the purpose of becoming a teacher is free to the students. Stephen may have known of Binghamton's bid for the privilege or heard of the opportunity in Brockport from local sources. Either way, the prospect of farming with one arm prior to mechanization, surely helps him make the decision to choose additional schooling.
The November 1869 Brockport Press confirms he was in attendance at the Normal School.
Under the guidance of Charles McLean, principal, and supporter of Greek groups, several students form the Literary Society on October 11, 1869. It becomes Gamma Sigma the next year, one of the first fraternities on record. Their purpose is "to have discussions, orations, essays and other exercises of a literary character". George F. Yeomans, also from Broome County is appointed President and Stephen, Vice President. (George becomes a teacher at The State Industrial School in Rochester after graduation.)
Stephen is 28 years old.