Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Jedediah Hotchkiss' Christmas gift to Chesley Doak Shultz

Elaborate efforts were made for this inscription inside a copy of 1891's Brave and True, Talks to Young Men by Thain Davidson. The inscription was typed up, signed, presumably trimmed down to the proper size, and then pasted to a blank page at the front of the book. As you can see it states:

"Christmas, 1894".
Mr. Chesley D. Shultz, Member
of the Sunday School of the Second
Presbyterian Church of Staunton, Va.

That this good book may prove a
helper and a blessing, through all
your life, is the hope and prayer of
Jed. Hotchkiss

Chesley's nickname was Chess, as the name Chess D. Shultz is written twice, in cursive, on the inside front cover. Chesley Doak Shultz was born on January 25, 1879, in Greenville, Virginia, and thus he was a month away from his 16th birthday when he received this volume from Hotchkiss.

Shultz's life came to a sad end, via suicide, in his early 50s. His Find A Grave page cites an article in the January 24, 1931, edition of the The Bee of Danville, Virginia. Shultz had died on January 21 by "deliberately stepping in front of an oncoming train for the purpose of self-destruction." It was just days before his 52nd birthday. The article cites "health and business worries" as leading to his final action.

The man who typed this inscription and gifted Brave and True, Talks to Young Men to Shultz in 1894 was fairly famous. Famous enough to have his own Wikipedia page. Jedediah Hotchkiss (1828-1899) was born in New York, spent some of his youth within the Lykens Valley in southcentral Pennsylvania, and eventually spent most of his life in Virginia. He was an educator and, most famously, a mapmaker. His maps of Virginia greatly aided the Confederacy and Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War.

Later in life, Hotchkiss wrote the 1,295-page volume on Virginia for the 12-book set titled Confederate Military History, which was published in 1899. Hotchkiss' journals were edited in 1973 and published as Make Me a Map of the Valley: The Civil War Journal of Stonewall Jackson's Cartographer.

You can read more about Hotchkiss on Civil War Trust and Encyclopedia Virginia, and you can see what remains of his historic map collection at the Library of Congress website.

Switching back to Brave and True, Talks to Young Men, I thought I'd close with a short excerpt from this very forgotten 1891 book, which was published by the Fleming H. Revell Company...
"Youth unquestionably is prone to excess; and on the sunny side of twenty there is a disposition to carry more sail than ballast. Nothing is more injurious to a man than incessant frivolity. To be always running after pleasure betokens a low type of humanity. Youth should be happy, but serious too. Continued levity emasculates the soul. To be ever cackling may befit a goose, but not a man.

"If is a fine thing to see a young man with some solidity about him, some moral backbone — to see stamped upon his very face, and gait and manner the self-respect that accompanies good sense, integrity, and virtue. Young men should strive to carry with them a moral momentum that shall drive before it the trivialities that encumber so many, and prove their ruin."

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