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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Linked Through an Autograph Book

By Madonna Dries Christensen of On Worlud Pond

Because I like vintage autograph books, I published an article about them in Yesterday’s Magazette. I described three books in my possession (not from my family). They had belonged to William Lord, his young daughter Ethel and the adult Ethel’s young daughter, Evelyn Pruitt.

The Lords lived in San Francisco when Ethel collected verses in her book dated from 1900 to 1903. The front cover is ivory-colored celluloid on which is a landscape scene. The back cover is burgundy velvet.

Autograph cover

The first page in the book has a drawing of a table on which sits a vase with flowers laid beside it. In the corner is a spider web. The page is dated October 8, 1900. The person who drew the picture and wrote the verse used script resembling calligraphy. He wrote:

Dear Ethel: We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have done.
- Kingsley Cannon

Autograph page

It appears, from the maturity of the verse and the drawing, that Kingsley Cannon was an adult, perhaps a friend of the family. He used black ink whereas most of the children wrote in pencil and their faded verses are no longer legible.

Three years after my article appeared online, the publisher received an email from a reader named Leesa Cannon. She explained that she found the story while using Google to research her great-grandfather, Kingsley Cannon, of San Francisco. He was a lawyer, who adopted a son and named him Kingsley W. Cannon, Jr. Leesa’s father is Kingsley W. Cannon III. Leesa wrote, “Thanks for the familial clue.”

I responded to Leesa and offered her the book. She was delighted and, on receiving it, replied to me:

“Thank you for your generosity. Aside from the obvious family interest, it’s an amazing piece of history. I know that these sayings are passed down through generations; therefore, when asked to sign someone's book, I plan to use my great-grandfather's quote.

“It's also interesting to see the similarity between the written name in the corner and my father’s handwriting. But my dad is funny. He said, ‘How do I know it’s him?’ I find it valuable - even if he does not.”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Wow! What a story. It's amazing that Leesa found the autograph book with the inscription from her great grandfather through the Internet.

It was most kind of you to give her the book and I am sure her family will treasure it.

I had completely forgotten about the fad of autograph books. I kept several when I was a child, but no longer have any of them.

It never ceases to amaze me what or who you can find through the internet. Time halts in mid-air when a connection to the past is unearthed.
Great story.

Wonderful story and pictures. Once you get started in collecting or genealogy you cannot even imagine what adventures will come your way.

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