Heirlooms

January 1876 autograph album: A gift to Elizabeth Sargent Trewin from her Sunday School class

Elizabeth Sargent Trewin (Image from my family’s personal collection)

In January 1876, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Sargent (b. 15 September 1854 in Northampton, England) was given an autograph book by her Jersey City, New Jersey, Sunday School class. She was 21 years old and evidently was a teacher to students not much younger than she. This was six-and-a-half years before she married widower William Trewin and became a second mother to his two sons, Bert (10) and Clarence (12). My grandmother Zillah arrived in June 1883, 11 months after they walked down the aisle. I have written numerous posts about both these families so if you are new to this blog and want to know more about them, it’s here! Just use the search box, or scroll down a bit and click on the relevant link in the directory on the left side of this page.

This autograph album captures autographs she acquired over the years and includes a couple of entries made by my mother who was 3 when Elizabeth died in February 1926.

Some of the entries are very faded, and I have tried to adjust those for some degree of readability. The entries that stand out to me are those made by family members:

Lulu Ludey, a niece by marriage, who wrote on November 26, 1885, at age 10: “Aunt Lizzie – When you are Old and Drinking your tea, put on your specs and Think of me. Your niece, Lulu Ludey”

Betty Boles, granddaughter, who wrote on November 27, 1933, at age 10: “For get me not. The violet loves a sunny bank, The cowslip loves the lea – The scarlet creeper loves the elm. But I love only thee. Your loving Granddaughter, Betty Boles”

Elizabeth Sargent’s autograph album (From my family’s personal collection)

Albert (Bert) Trewin, stepson, wrote on April 12, 1883, at not quite age 11: “Mamma, Lost yesterday somewhere between sunrise and sunset two golden hours each filled with sixty golden minutes, No reward is offered for they are gone forever. Your son, B. Trewin”

Zillah Trewin, daughter, who wrote in 1892, at age 9: “Mama – When after years when this you see I wonder what your name will be, Yours truly, Zillah Trewin”

Betty Boles, granddaughter, wrote in January 1933, at age 9: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, Sugar is sweet, and so are you. With love your granddaughter, Betty Boles”

Zillah Trewin, daughter, wrote on January 2, 1897, at age 14: “Dear Mama, Six little words I have for thee, Be happy and think of me. From your loving daughter, Zillah M. Trewin”

I “got lost” in this little album yesterday and must say reading through the entries lifted my spirits. Apart from my 96-year-old mother, all of these people are long long gone, and yet they seem very near to me today.

Presented to Miss Sargent by her Sunday School Class as a token of love. January 1876

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Categories: Boles, Heirlooms, Jersey City, Hudson Co., Memorabilia, New Jersey, Sargent, Trewin | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Memories of the Woodruff farm, “sugar bread,” and picking daisies…

Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (5 August 1850 – 27 May 1927) with grandsons Dick Brown and Charles Brodhead, circa 1924, at the old Woodruff Farm on Conant Street in Hillside, NJ. The house still stands, but the barn and fields are no more.

The old wooden bucket used in my great grandmother’s kitchen to hold sugar

Last year I came upon the above photo of my great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff. She is pictured outside the barn of the old Woodruff farmhouse in Hillside, NJ. The house still stands, but the barn and surrounding fields were eventually lost to development. This is the only old photo I’ve seen of the premises there, and the fact that it includes my father and his cousin Dick Brown makes it even more special.

When my late Dad retired in the late 1980s, he set out to write down his recollections of the years in his life leading up to his marriage to my Mom; his logic for stopping there was that we all knew what came next. At the time that bothered me, but all these years later, I can see his point. Why potentially ruffle the feathers of your kids and other family members by writing something they may read some day and take the wrong way?

Wm Earl Woodruff & Wealthy Ann Angus on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary

Of course, I am exceedingly grateful for the details he left us about his growing up years. Here are some recollections of 1927 that pertain to the old Woodruff family farm house and the wooden sugar bucket (photo, right):

…Grandma Woodruff died. A real blow to everyone. I remember seeing her in her casket in the living room of the old farmhouse on Conant Street in Hillside, NJ. I remember going into the field and picking some daisies and bringing them in the house and placing them in her stone cold hands. I remember the old barn. One day the young hired hand dared me to eat horse feed. I did and got sick as a dog. I remember an old horse-drawn wagon in the yard. Dick Brown (my cousin) and I used to play on it and pretend we were driving. Grandma used to make me ‘sugar bread’. Homemade bread, home-churned butter with lots of sugar on it. She also fed me lots of sweet tea. Nothing not from scratch!…

My Dad’s Grandma Woodruff had six daughters with her husband William Earl Woodruff. I have no contact with descendants of the sisters of my grandmother but, of course, would be pleased to hear from any of them at any time.

Categories: Angus, Death, Heirlooms, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Barksdale family heirloom

It’s almost a year ago that I found in a box an old button hook that belonged to my grandmother Elizabeth Sargent Trewin’s sister-in-law Sarah Bowley Sargent. I put a poll up asking how folks would handle an item like that—one that was more distantly related to them. Most respondents were happy to put the item back in the box and hand it down. I chuckled when I saw that.

Poll.JPG

I was confronted with a similar situation again recently when I  came across a small prayer book dated 1849; on the cover appear the initials “A. M. Barksdale” and the street address “2204 Monument Avenue” is written inside. The opposite side of that page contains a line from Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian and English: “Down through the world of infinite bitterness.”

Clueless as to whom the book once belonged, I must admit that discarding it crossed my mind. But, I was too curious and ended up putting my detective hat on.

I won’t bore you with the zigs and zags of my small bit of research. Suffice it to say that I am quite certain the book belonged to Agnes Morton Barksdale (1834-1908) and that the address is that of the home of “Francis D. Barksdale”, a cousin (once removed) who lived at that street address in Richmond, Virginia. The house, built in 1909, still stands.

I don’t think Agnes ever married or had children. She was the daughter of Dr. Claiborne Williams Barksdale (b. 1802) and his second wife Sallie Norment Whitlock. The family lived in Halifax Co., Virginia. Their children were:

  • Claiborne Whitlock Barksdale (1833 – 1902)
  • Agnes Morton Barksdale (1834 – 1908)
  • Judith Beverly Barksdale (1836 – 1891)
  • Mary Barksdale (1838 – 1854)
  • Sallie Claiborne Barksdale (1840 – 1916)
  • Achilles Whitlock Barksdale (1842 – 1916)
  • Thomas White Barksdale (1844 – 1902)
  • Howard Barksdale (1846 – 1907)


How did we end up with the book? That was the biggest question of all, and it took a while to figure it out.

In a nutshell, one of my grandmother’s sisters married a descendant of one of Agnes’s sisters, Sallie Claiborne Barksdale. That descendant died not long after they married, and my grandmother’s sister remarried and moved to California. Somehow this book remained behind in New Jersey with my grandmother.

I must say, my initial inclination was to dispose of it somehow, but I am glad I took the time to connect the dots and find the story behind this object. It was obviously used quite a bit by Agnes given the wear in the leather. I’ve sent a few emails to some folks I’ve found who appear to be bona fide descendants of Agnes’s siblings but have not yet heard back. I’ll have to wait and see where this little book’s fate takes it from here…

UPDATE 4/3/2017: I am pleased to report that this little prayer book is en route to a new home with a bona fide descendant of Dr. Claiborne Barksdale and his wife Sallie N. Whitlock.


Categories: Barksdale, Heirlooms, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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