Google+ Followers

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Just a lucky glimpse inside an ancestor's old book





I haven't found any old books with photos inside, or none that I can remember, but I'd like to share these photos of an old book called Gibson's Surveying, which by complete coincidence a cousin and I happened to see advertised for sale on Ebay several years ago. The reason we were interested wasn't because of the subject matter, and at an asking price of over $300 we weren't quite keen enough to bid for it, much as we would have liked to have it in our possession as a family heirloom, but because the photographs provided by the seller indicated that its original owner had been my husband's 3 times great grandfather Dan Calwell, 1775-1836, who resided in White Deer Twp, Union Co, Pennsylvania. I've written previously about his accomplishments and the substantial home that he built here, in Sepia Saturday 201.

Photo from Ebay, seller's advertisement, 2006





 Dan appears to have signed his name several times at the front of the book, in fact it rather looks as if he was trying out different styles of signature. His surname was Calwell, although he has signed his name as Caldwell here, but we know from experience that the name Caldwell is very much more common than Calwell, particularly in the United States. Dan signed his name without a 'd' while he was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1821/22, and his tombstone in the Warrior Run Graveyard near White Deer Twp has the correct spelling, but the headstone of his son Dr George Washington Calwell in Hegarty Cross Roads Cemetery, near Glen Hope Twp, Clearfield Pennsylvania has had the 'd' chiselled out of the name in both places where it appears, probably by some unhappy relative who knew that a mistake had been made. Dan's Australian descendants are  proudly Calwells.



The date given in the inscription below is 22 January 1797, when Dan would have been about 21. I'm not sure what it says between the signature and the date however, and any suggestions would be welcome. This book Gibson's Surveying was specifically included in a long list of Dan Calwell's effects, and the administration of his estate provided for the appointment of Mr Charles Gudykunst as guardian of Dan's minor children. The frontispiece of the book has the name C. Gudykunst written there, so together with the signatures it seems pretty certain that this book indeed belonged to our Dan Calwell. Hopefully whoever purchased it treasures it in their antique book collection, even if they don't have any personal connection to its previous owner, and at least we have the photographs.





For more old books and their contents, just go to Sepia Saturday 210

15 comments:

  1. To D or not to D; I guess that was the Question. I the case of the Tombstone I assume it was not appropriate to D. Very interesting story thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How intriguing. Wright Wrought Worker . I know embroideries have Wrought this day,,,,and the date by ..... Perhaps it was the day he got the book. so and so .. his home Wright... his home work .... Fairly convinced by "his".... So after these ramblings ! am interested to see what other people can see in those shapes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually it could be 'his hand Wright', ie. his hand writing.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I had since also come to that conclusion.. the more you mook at it the better you can see that spelling.

      Delete
  3. I looked the name up and found this on from houseofnames.com:
    "It is only in the last few hundred years that rules have developed and the process of spelling according to sound has been abandoned. Scottish names from before that time tend to appear under many different spelling variations. Caldwell has been spelled Caldwell, Coldwell, Caldwill, Cauldwell, Cauldwill, Cawldwell, Guildwell, Calewell, Caldewell and many more."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chiseling the "D" off the tombstone must have taken a bit of time -- that caretaker of the Calwell name must have come prepared!

    ReplyDelete
  5. That’s an interesting story all round Jo but I’m fascinated by the way people seemed to sign their name according to whim in the past. My aunt Maud(e) would add or take away the ‘e’ of her first name as the mood took her.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting the problems names can cause, I have always had trouble as my Christian name isn't Bob. One one occasion my bank would not honour a cheque made out to Bob Scotney, You should see the variants there have been to Scotney over the years,

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great photos of the writing by your ancestor...and what lovely writing it was wrought!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Interesting reading and now my curiosity is tweaked, being from western PA, I have not heard of Clearfiled, but now must look on my map; I love old books like that..even when they are of a subject that might not be of immediate interest...I like to imagine their use over years..

    ReplyDelete
  9. I find the D story part of their name very interesting. It's so funny how back then so many would just switch things around any which way!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's marvellous how some old books are kept and sold while others are trashed - pure serendipity. The actual subject matter probably hasn't been of much interest to the recent owners.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's a pity that you haven't been able to buy this book. It should be forbidden for outsiders to buy it :)
    That the spelling of a name varied in the past does not surprise me. If you mentioned your surname to someone to write it down, and you were unable to read of write, there was no way you could check what was written. You wouldn't know how to spell it to begin with... Back in 1760 my name was written as Muwis. Now it is Miebies.

    ReplyDelete