So these are the last pages of the guest book, which entered into use in June 1908 and, as you’ll see, came to a close on May 31,1913. At that point, my grandparents were both 31, and that was right about when my grandmother gave birth to her second son Frank Martin Brodhead Jr., so now with two babies to tend to who were just a year apart, using the guestbook must have drifted far into the background.
Robert Packer Brodhead
Infant Frank died 11 months later, and the jolliness of the couple’s early years of entertaining vanished as they descended into a deep chasm of grief. A condolence letter from my grandfather’s Uncle Robert Packer Brodhead
(shown here) bears witness to the shock waves felt across the family. Robert, too, had lost his namesake—his first-born child Robert Jr. who died of diptheria at 10. The letter of May 24, 1914:
Dear Frank and Fannie: Doug’s message [Andrew Douglas Brodhead, Frank’s father] came, last night after we had gone upstairs, we thot best not to disturb the family and wait until this morning. Well, I can’t tell you how we all with one accord wished we could comfort you, and our hearts went out to each of you as only hearts that have experienced a loss can go— This morning Mr. Haynes preached about the Angels of Heaven, what they did, and said, among other comforting things, that surely the littlest ones who come into the world had an angel assigned them by God. And how comforting it is to think that your little one was just picked up from this old world and wafted up and up and up into the very presence of God where there is no more sighing or crying or aches or pain. Don’t look into the grave, just look up, and let the grace of God which passeth all understanding guide, comfort, and keep you. We all send our tenderest love. Affectionately, Uncle Bob
In October 1917, my grandparents lost their next child, at birth—a little girl who was never given a name. I can’t begin to imagine what impact that must have had on them. When my Dad appeared in 1921, alive and well, albeit a bit small since he was a bit early, my grandparents must have walked on eggshells with worry for a long time. But, as the initial birthdays passed, the worry must have given way to relief. My Dad was one who lived life to the full, joining the Marines in WWII and learning to fly small planes; his zest for life and adventurous pursuits must have given them pause at times. They definitely nixed his desire to be a commercial pilot, and that was his big regret later in life. He absolutely would have loved that profession.
But, back to these last two pages. Now, it was very interesting to see the name Mrs. Isaac J. Ayers (October 26, 1909) because this was my grandmother’s Aunt Phoebe, the younger sister of William Earl Woodruff, and I have never seen her mentioned anywhere else in all the materials I have—no photos, letters, etc. I have written about the Ayers family previously so click here if you are interested in going to that post.
The remaining five people on the page and the two on the last page:
- Erwin D. Grace (sp.?) – Jan. 30, 1910 – 587 Westfield Ave. – “With Miller.”
- Manley Miller – Jan. 30, 1910 – 591 Westfield Ave. – “Nuf Sed”
- Netta Miller – May 30, 1913 – 591 Westfield Ave. – “I can’t wait to have this again”
- Mrs. Thomas F. Russum – Jan. 1st 1910 – 806 Colfax St. Evanston, Ill.
- Mabel T. Dickinson – Nov. 11, 1911
- Miss Mary Knowles – May 31st 1913
- Miss Gertrude Knowles – May 31st 1913
I don’t know who Mr. Grace or the Millers were, but Mrs. Thomas F. Russum was the daughter-in-law of Cecelia Bensley Angus Russum, my grandmother’s aunt. You’ve heard me talk about her before.
Mabel T. Dickinson (1880-1967, third child of Dr. John W. Dickinson and Mary Emma Woodruff) was my grandmother’s first cousin and older sister of past visitor Anna Dickinson Lorentz (b. 1886). Mabel never married.
The Knowles house in Elizabeth, NJ
And the last two visitors were the Knowles girls; these must have been granddaughters of Mary Martha Angus Knowles and Austin Fellows Knowles—the folks who lived in that beautiful old house on Elizabeth Avenue. Mary and Austin had six sons. I’ll have to research the names of their children when I have time for that.
So that’s the guestbook! I hope those of you who have followed along have enjoyed seeing all the pages. And, I think it’s good that they are here for future visitors to come across and perhaps stumble into an ancestor or two.
Adieu for now!