Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Remember the Golden School Days and the fun we've had together..."

As back-to-school week continues, here is the story of one of my favorite inscriptions I've come across.

First, about the book:
  • The title is "Lippincott's Mental Arithmetic, Embracing the Principles of Analysis and Inductions" by J. Morgan Rawlins. It was published in 1899 by J.B. Lippincott Company in Philadelphia.
  • The inside front cover indicates that John Brake of Greenville, Virginia, acquired this book on October 18, 1980.1
  • The first page features the names of (presumably) two former students who used the book:
    • Virgie E. Combs, Mine Spring School, Oct. 5, 1912.2
    • Davis G. Delawder, Dec. 4, 1919.
  • Tucked away inside is an undated newspaper clipping featuring an advertisement for a six-year subscription to The American Review and the Weather Prophet for just $1.3
All of the above is wonderful and good, and could have made for a suitable blog entry by itself. But the gold mine comes on the second page of the book, shown here:

Here's my best attempt at transcribing the cursive writing:
Remember the Golden School Days and the fun we've had together Virgie Combs. Written by Mary N- Dec. 4. 1919.

Those being present at school to day Feb. 19. 1920 are the following. Boys. Clyde Miller. Cecil Bradfield. Adolph Combs. Hopewell Bradfield. Mons [?] Miller. Harry Combs. Ruel Funkhouser. Glen Combs. [?] Combs. Perry Miller. Walter Miller. Guy Combs.

Mary Nilkins. Virgie Combs. Marie Funkhouser. [?] Miller. Lee Bradfield. Grace Miller. Essie Funkhouser. Cushia Miller. Teacher Rev. L.H. Miller. At school to day. Feb. 19. 1920. Thursday. after first recess. they are having the first reader now.
Some notes on the names:
  • Could "Mary N" and "Mary Nilkins" be "Mary W" and "Mary Wilkins"?
  • I had a difficult time figuring out Cushia Miller's first name. But once I tried "Cushia" and found this website, I knew I had it correct. Sadly, she died almost exactly five years after this note was written — at age 15 on February 14, 1925, of typhoid. Both of her parents preceded her in death.
  • I was most excited about transcribing Ruel Funkhouser and then confirming Ruel and his sister, Essie, at this genealogy website.

1. On October 18, 1980, the Kansas City Royals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-3, in Game 4 of the World Series. But the Phillies sent an important message with what Mike Schmidt called "the greatest brushback in World Series history" — the Phillies' Dickie Noles buzzing George Brett. Three days later, the Phillies were World Champions. Noles, meanwhile, went on to be traded for himself in 1987. It's true. You could look it up.
2. This is the second mention on Papergreat for the lost-in-the-sands-of-time Mine Spring School. The first, referencing Ralph Lee Combs, is here.
3. Here is the advertisement for the Weather Prophet, which is made of hardwood in the style of a Swiss cottage. In "fine" weather, two children come out of the cottage. Or, if it's going to rain or snow, a witch comes out of the cottage between 8 and 24 hours ahead of time. I would like one of these, please!


  1. Chris, this is really cool! Thank you so much for sharing this. Thanks to you, I've discovered the best name in the universe - Ruel Funkhouser. :D

  2. I love how researching one thing leads to another.

    I agree with Mel on that gem of a name. Ruel Funkhouser is a fantastic name.