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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