Wednesday was one of the best days of my life—genealogically speaking. Her mother having passed away on Monday, my aunt felt empowered to delve into her drawers and closets to see what family treasures had been packed away and forgotten. When I went to the house at noon, I found a stack of photo albums and loose documents waiting on the living-room sofa. My eye was immediately drawn to a small cardboard box bearing the signature of Elton Dunham, my great-grandfather. Inside was an autograph album I never knew existed.
Twelve people signed the book, most offering a poem or aphorism in addition to their autograph. The first, dated Feb. 20, 1895, is from Elton's future father-in-law. His future bride signed next ("On this leaf in memory prest, May my name forever rest"), followed a few months later by her mother and grandmother. In all, the signatures of five of my ancestors appear in the book—the most remarkable of which is that of Drusilla Morgan, my great-great-great-grandmother (below). She was born Apr. 27, 1820, in the northern reaches of Oxford County, Maine, and died on Sept. 9, 1896—the day that Elton and her granddaughter were scheduled to marry.
Fairfield didn't run his store for long, leaving plenty of blank pages in his account book. It seems that his wife, Jane (Tebbetts) Coolidge, then took custody of the ledger, because on a later page there appears the record of "Johnathan Tebbetts and his family." "Johnathan" was born June 13, 1784, and "Died in Rochester [N. H.] May 5 1857." Three generations of Coolidge family records follow this, with several changes in handwriting. The last birth recorded was that of my grandmother:
So, if I'm lax in posting the next few days, it's only because I find it difficult to type while jumping for joy.