Patricia’s Picks August 2020

Deed: Thomas L. Reese to Roger Brook, 1827

Deed, 1997.0005.0618

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment granting (primarily) white middle-class women the right to vote.  Non-white women would continue their struggle against racial inequality for another 45 years until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The Equal Rights Amendment proposed March of 1972, failed to receive ratification by three-fourths of the states.  The struggle continues; however, looking back to 1839, one can see progress, painfully slow progress, but progress all the same.

Acting as “trustee” for one Thomas Reese (debtor), Caleb Bentley and his wife Henrietta (having the right of dower) did sell four acres in Brookeville to Roger Brooke.  Just in case you were worried that Henrietta signed away her dower rights (1/3rd of her husband’s property upon his death) under duress, you can be assured that she “did sign and seal the said deed or instrument of writing…and make her acknowledgment thereof voluntarily and freely and without being induced thereto by fear or threats of ill-usage (sic) from her husband or be fear of his displeasure…”

Autograph album: Jessie B. Stabler, 1881

Autograph album, 1982.0086.0102

Emma Taylor Stabler drew this quaint drawing in 1886 as her contribution to Jessie B. Stabler’s autograph album given to her by her grandmother as a Christmas gift in 1881.  Throughout the book are poems, proverbs, and maxims, accompanied by signatures of friends and family members.  Reading through the pages, one can imagine what it was like living in a “kinder and more considerate” world.

Letter: Benjamin Hallowell to Henry Hallowell, February 1, 1857

Letter, 2000.0038.0007

Benjamin Hallowell was the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College (University of Maryland) in 1859. One month later, he was forced to resign due to illness. Benjamin Hallowell married Margaret Elgar Farquhar and together they had nine children—this letter was written to Henry by his father with the intent to assuage any feelings of disappointment Henry might harbor regarding his academic appointment. Benjamin speaks of the importance of knowledge, information, a well-trained mind, and a well-regulated heart, as well as feelings of modesty and humility. This letter is a testament to a father’s support and tenderness towards his son


Autograph Album, Mary B. Kirk, 1835 (Poem by James P. Stabler, 1837)

Autograph Album, 1983.0107.0008

The oldest “book of friends” (album amicorum) on record dates back to 1545. Also known as autograph albums, they were a method of exchanging poems, drawings, and messages among friends, colleagues, and family members.  Mary B. Kirk’s autograph album, dated 1835, has a number of poems penned by local Sandy Springers.  This selection is by James P. Stabler on August 3, 1837, entitled “To Make a Rail Road” (sic).

Stabler posits that making a railroad to Heaven is as possible as making one on earth.  He suggests that it should be “located on the ground of the love to God and to our fellow creatures.  The chief engineer shall be the still small voice which makes no curves either to the right hand or to the left…the road will be straight…the board of trustees will furnish him with the funds to carry on the work from a treasure as inexhaustible as the fountains of light and love…pride and cruelty will be levelled by …mercy…”

What gems are to be found within these “book of friends”!  Today’s glossy photos and slick copy is pleasing to the eye, but I challenge anyone to find the depth of emotion and breadth of wisdom composed by those folks who wrote in Mary Kirk’s autograph book in 1837.