Let’s start 2018 with a story about a book.
Yesterday, I was looking through the stacks of unread books we have in the house and picked out a copy of ‘The Pilot’ by James Fenimore Cooper. It’s an old book, looks like it was published in the early 1900’s. We picked it up at a library book sale in Massachusetts last year.
Something I usually do with old books is check to see if there are any ownership marks, bookplate or signatures of the previous owners anywhere. It’s fairly common for old books like this to have some kind of mark like that, sometimes they have long gift dedications too. If there’s enough information, sometimes I’ll do an internet search to see if I can find any further information on the person who owned the book. I’ve found some interesting things over the years in older books, but most of the time I just find an illegible signature, or if the name is legible it will often be a very common name with no further information. This one has a signature on the first flyleaf, it’s in pencil, very faded, but still legible as ‘Douglas Peabody’.
Douglas Peabody seems like a family common name, so I didn’t think I would be able to find anything further about the previous owner. But then I saw that there was also an ink stamp on another page that lists not just the name, but a town and state as well; Star Prairie, Wisconsin.
Seems like small enough town that there might be some further info available online. The top result from a quick Google search listed a Douglas Peabody of Star Prairie who passed away in 1945. The second result listed was a post from another WordPress blog!
From the blog post it seemed like it could be the same Douglas Peabody who owned the book, so I sent the blogger a message – and here’s her response:
“That is amazing. Douglas Peabody, of Star Prairie, Wisconsin was the uncle of Arla Mary (Peabody) Guion, the wife Grandpa lost when she was only 41. My Dad, their oldest child, was 17 and Dave, the youngest, was just 7.
My Uncle Ced, child # 3, hitchhiked to North Dakota and Wisconsin in 1934 when he was 17. He took his Mother’s death quite hard and decided that he needed to meet her family and see where she grew up. He spent four days at the Chicago World’s Fair and spent time with most of the Peabody’s, including Douglas. What a small world.
Thank you for letting me know. I am still flabbergasted !!!”
Appropriately enough, she blogs stories about her family history! Here’s a link to her blog .
I wonder how the book managed to get from Wisconsin to Massachusetts and who else owned it over the years?