Thursday, June 30, 2016

Schoolhouse Revolution of 1896-1897

 In 1920 or so, Sarah wrote reflected on her school days in Carrollton, Kentucky. What an intriguing moment in the history of education in Carroll County! This post combines Sarah's thoughts about the 1895-96 school year, one of discord and upheaval. These excerpts include a lot of names that might be of interest to readers with Carroll County roots. My own notes are in brackets. All else is original to Sarah's writing.

While Papa was still in New York [on one of his buying trips for Howe Brothers Department Store], school began, and I started in at the 6th street school on the bewilderingly different basis which led to such a change later on. Carrollton High School, under Prof. Melcher, (and indeed under his predecessors) had been a really fine and thorough, tho of course limited, school as to courses.  . . . in ’95, they had had 4 years of Latin and mathematics, altho there was only a three-year High School course, for they had Latin 1 and Algebra 1 in the 8th Grade. . . . In 1895-96 . . . the school had a “principal” (superintendent was not used then as a term) Howard Peak, rosy-cheeked black haired youth of about 22 who encountered more than his match in the 17- and 18-year old boys of the senior year, among whom were the famous "Dirty Dozen" referenced to in an earlier book.

[After Mr. Peak left for a new college-level position] . . . there was no one who seemed competent  or would work for the salary offered (or a combination of both) as a principal from 1896-97 . . .  so the school board yielded to pressure by various groups who thought an 8th grade education plenty for the average student (and in those days a teaching certificate could be obtained with the county exam after finishing the 8th grade) – so they decided to add a 9th grade as a substitute for high school, teach first year Latin and Algebra in the 8th and finish a two year course in the 9th. Mrs. Ribelin, daughter of Mr. D.H. Bridges (cashier of Carrollton National, elder of the Christian church, and prominent Mason, and beloved by all)  . . .  was made principal of the school and teacher of the 8th and 9th grades. She was a fine teacher, had taught in County Schools and in the lower grades of Public School but had never tried such an experiment as this.

Carrollton School, 1880s. See below for details & 1896 graduation invitation.
 I started [8th grade] there, around the first of September and went two weeks, but didn’t like it at all – altho I was sitting in what had long seemed the “hallowed halls” (one room) where Mr. Melcher had held sway so long, where Will Salyers, Roman Goslee, Charlie Kipping, Bob Salyers, John Howe, Frank Grace (and other members of the Dirty Dozen) had carved their names on the desks. But a change was coming for me.

Prof. John T. English had opened an “academy” in the old building occupying the square between 4th and 5th and Clay and Seminary (named for the Carroll Seminary which had been an honored school for many years past but had pretty well fallen into disrepair) – however, he fixed up one or two rooms to be a livable place for his pupils, put in new desks and didn’t disturb the rest of the building. As for the yard, the grass and weeds were cut before school started, and several cows were thriftily pastured therein, bringing Mr. English a small sum, and keeping the grass within limits. John Howe [one of Sarah's cousins], John Adcock, and others of the ’96 graduating class and quite a few of the junior class who would have normally finished C.H.S. in ’97, and an even greater number of sophomores and freshmen (those who had finished Freshman year and Eighth Grade in ’95-’96) had enrolled. But three or four parents wanted their children to go to Carroll Seminary, as it was again called, or “Mr. English’s school,” as more called it, so Mr. English got in touch with Cousin Lille Howe, then just nineteen (in Nov. 1896), who had graduated the year before from Science Hill School, then as for many years the outstanding girls’ school in Kentucky, a preparatory for Wellesley, and very thorough as to English literature and history, as well as Mathematics and languages, tho really only a very advanced High School; for Lille went immediately there without attending C.H.S. at all.

. . . In the meantime, When Papa came back he made an arrangement with Lille to pay her, and she was to receive as part tuition Jenne’s schooling in the 8th grade, mine, and Beverly’s and Cooper’s (they were just in the 6th grade). Mr. English fixed up the room for her (a very small front one) with two desks in it and a recitation bench, a small stove, and eventually a sheet of blackboard paper. Bev Howe and Cooper Winslow sat in the room, also Dick Stanton and Florian Browinski, another pair of cousins (their mothers were daughters of Dr. Conn) who tho only in the 6th grade the year before were advanced to the 8th so that we could all take the same instruction – they were my age anyway.

The other cousin on the Conn side, Vachel Rowland, son of Brother & Mrs. Molly Conn Rowland who had been with us in the 7th grade, was also in our class. Therefore my cousin Lille’s pupils were her brother (Bev) and sister (Jenne) and cousins Cooper Winslow and myself; and the three Conn cousins Dick, Florian, and Vachel. . . .  The only “non cousin” among Lille’s pupils was Mamie Merrill, and she was a distant cousin of Florian’s on the Dean-Browinski side (also kin to Mildred Goslee, who was now living at Lakeland Hospital, where her father was Superintendent (appointed by Governor Bradley) and was for the second year attending Bellwood Seminary, a famous local Presbyterian school. . . . This is the school mentioned in The Little Colonel at Boarding School written sometime later.

. . . I can’t possibly describe to you what that year meant to me. While I had studied conscientiously in all the grades, working hard and worrying about examinations! without avail, as I think Jenne and I and James Webster always either tied or alternated with each other for the highest marks, and these were high, mostly over 95 – I had never really extended myself in any way, or fed the thirst that was in me for knowledge [until] this year.

. . . Lille with her fine training in literature opened new doors to all of us – to me at least – that have never been closed. She was an enthusiastic teacher, too, being only nineteen. Then, it was so very wonderful sitting in the “Big Room.” In our row, the first, sat the Freshmen, next row the sophomores, then the Juniors and Seniors, mixed, for they sometimes took the same classes. It was my first “bout” into Latin and Greek, hearing these boys recite (for there were no girls in those two high grades, just boys preparing for college – very few if any Carrollton girls then attended any except a junior college or “finishing school”). “Analysis”[ ?] was the Greek book they read, and I heard about “parasangs” and the like, and heard Cicero’s “Palatine orations" delivered in thundering (tho sometimes faltering) measure.

Lille gave us a great deal of class instruction, a good many themes to write, quotations to learn, and of course “problems” for 8th grade mathematics is hard. We had Physiology too, and of course History (United States history). But by chance I did a good deal of that work at home, as there was so much noise in the big room, and how I loved it! So I was generally all ears for the recitations of the “upper classes.” Then I began to really discover Poetry. Lille had us to read Miles Standish and Evangeline for class assignments, and Aunt Lou [Louisiana Winslow Howe] lent me two leather bound, gold edged volumes of Longfellow, containing, beside these [word illegible] poems the “Golden Legend” and “Hiawatha.” After starting to read these, all other things were forgotten, I only entered my seat to live in those precious volumes.
About 24 years after the year of upheaval in education, Sarah searched her memory and wrote this list of fellow students in her scrapbook.
6th grade: Beverly Howe, Cooper Winslow

8th Grade: Jenne Howe, Mamie Merrill, Sallie Howe [the compiler/writer of the scrapbooks], Florian Browinski, Dick Stanton, Vachel Rowland

Freshmen: Will Rowland, Giltner Donaldson, Velma Donaldson, Effie Browinski, Norie [?] Foulk, Anderson (Daisy) Adcock, Harry Grobmyer, Harold Grobmyer, Will Shoesmith

Sophomores: Chowning Shepherd, Will Garriott, Anna Butts, Grace Snelgrove, Bob Salyers, Virgie Giltner, Oscar Kipping, Will Barrett, Jim Chowning, Barrett Cox

Juniors-Seniors: Lewis Darling, John Howe, John Adcock, Allen Gullion, F.B. Forbes, Kirby Cox, Will Arnold, Evertson Ashby, Charlie Kipping, Ralph McCracken, David Jett, Charlie Blessing

[Note written by Sarah:] I think Minnie and Bessie Shoesmith went for a while too. Henry Darling came in our Freshman year, also Carroll Gullion.

The Class of 1896 was the last to receive diplomas from Carrollton High School before the school board temporarily dropped grades 10, 11, and 12.


About the School Building Photo: The image is on a postcard pasted into one of Sarah's scrapbooks. On the page she wrote: "I believe Will [William Levi Salyers, who would become Sarah's husband] started to this school when it looked pristine and pink like it does in the picture, but by the time I began to go there in the fall of 1890, it was certainly a good deal dirtier, outside and in. This picture is taken from the long side along Taylor Street (tho we didn't know its name then). The door that is visible and marked X was for the upperclassmen; we went in at the other door you cannot see. I have been a pupil in every room except the second story front, or High School, for by the time I got there I went to Prof. English's school. In the lower room, this [left] side, I went to Miss Minnie Parker in the 4th Grade (my most hated year of school!). In the one above to Miss Hallie Masterson in the 5th grade, my most happy year! – from contrast, probably, but Miss Hallie certainly had a lot to do with it."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sarah's Summer of 1896

In 1920 or so, Sarah wrote in her scrapbook to her children these recollections of the Summer of 1896 – her first summer as a teen. At the end of the transcription is a paragraph about the summer after that, when Will Salyers, "one of the big boys" in Carrollton, Kentucky, bought her a treat at a local soda fountain. Eight years later, Will and Sarah became husband and wife.

August passed so pleasantly, so swiftly; Papa went to New York as usual the last week of August and first week of September; generally Mama and I used this time to visit “the folks” [Sarah's Howe, Cost, and Arnet ancestors and cousins] in Cincinnati, but on account of the coming of the new baby this year she decided to stay right at home; she and I had many cozy, pleasant meals together; she had not as yet engaged Maggie Donnelly, who came to work for us in the fall (and remained until Leonora was about two years old). She made quantities of crab apple jelly from the little, wormy, but superlative-tasting (in jelly – very sour to eat) apples on the dear old crab apple tree of ancient vintage, a bower of blooms in spring and in summer a shade for the croquet ground and support for the hammock – the other end being taken care of by a tall post painted gray which once rotted sufficiently near to the ground to fall prone, bringing the hammock at that end (and myself ditto) in a bump on the ground). Mildred, Lida and Jenne (as many of the days) were with us, and at supper time Mama more than once served us hot muffins and the famous jelly and foamy cocoa.

One never to be forgotten time – I believe it was on my 13th birthday – I was so thrilled at being in my teens, and indeed, this year and my 14th were indeed the most formative of my “adolescence,” being the time of a real beginning of the thirst for learning things which has never left me since. Mama had said I could begin to read Dickens “when I was thirteen,” but she had relented and had let me begin early in the summer with Nicholas Nickleby. Mrs. Gullem[possibly Gillion?], with her loan library at the bookshop, had many of Dickens’ works, illustrated, some of them with such fine drawings; we had no Dickens – Grandma Cost [Sarah Evaline Arnet Cost, wife of Richard Henry Cost] had a large volume with three or four books in it, but imagine how heavy it was to hold (it was one of those “subscription books”), so we didn’t use that. Grandpa [John] Howe, and consequently Papa, had frowned on “novels” and insisted on travel and nature books, poetry (Moore, Burns and Byron and of course Scott) and biography, but these proved pretty heavy for me, even Scott’s novels which were on the Howe approved list were too much for me until a year or two later. I believe, tho, this was the summer I read Lalla Rookh (at Papa’s insistence), just the prose part – in which I romantically thrilled to “Feramorz.” The long poems were too much for me, but I enjoyed “Paradise and the Peri.” Exploring further in the book I came upon “Odes to Anacreon” – interrogating Papa about reading these, he firmly said they were something Thomas Moore had written which it was not necessary (for my education) to peruse.

So sped the happy summer, with the St. Nicholas [Magazine] and The Youth’s Companion on the side and Solon [the family spaniel] still my daily companion. Dad [a reference to her husband William Levi Salyers, as she was writing to her children] says he remembers me at that time trotting along downtown, “a plump little girl with a plump little brown dog” – that is up to this year it had been true, but something happened, at some time during my thirteenth year – probably in June of '97 – which changed things a little between us, and most of all, things changed when I got my bicycle, in the spring of ’98. But of those events more “anon.”

Summer of 1897
It was in the spring, rather early summer, of 1897 after M.A. Geier and Co. opened their soda fountain for the summer, that I went in to get a soda. The front window had been taken out (I mean the shelving) and a seat ran around, next to the glass (there were little tables, a couple of them, to rest your glasses on). I was sitting there when Will Salyers (one of the Big Boys) came in. He spoke to me, as always, not as if I was an insignificant Child but a Person. He got himself a soda and chatted informally with me as he drank it. As he left, he tossed two nickels on the counter (sodas were just five cents then!) saying “I’ll pay for hers too.” I never forgot it – it was his first “treat.”

A Few Background Notes
"Papa" was Robert James Howe, who traveled to New York at least annually to buy goods to sell in  Howe Brothers Department Store, Carrollton, Kentucky. "Mama" was Alice Ada Cost Howe.

The book Lala Rookh is an Eastern/Oriental narrative poem written in 1817 by Sir Thomas Moore.  The full text is available online. Paradise and the Peri, part of Lalla Rookh, is the basis of Robert Schumann's oratorio by the same name.

Odes to Anacreon may refer to the words of "Anacreon in Heaven," a.k.a "The Anacreontic Song," the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London. It was considered a drinking song, which may explain why Sarah's father did not encourage her to read it! Over the years, several composers put their own lyrics to the melody. One of those composers was Francis Scott Key, who used the tune as the basis for a song that became "The Star-Spangled Banner," the national anthem of the U.S.A.

St. Nicholas Magazine was a popular children's magazine published monthly by Scribner's from 1873 to 1940. In this magazine, Sarah would have read stories, poems, and articles by Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, and other major writers. Image by Century Co. (St. Nicholas magazine, 1896); Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Youth's Companion, a magazine for young people, was published from 1892 to 1929. The magazine and its owner/editor Daniel Ford are credited with the creation of the Pledge of Allegiance and promoting its adoption as America's national creed.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sarah Sees the Future

In or around 1896, when she was 13 or 14 years old, Sarah Eva Howe was already a voracious reader, prolific writer, and skilled storyteller. In the following theme, she muses about what life will be like for herself and her school friends 16 years into the future. In the process, she predicts something that might surprise us 100 years later!

A Possible Scene
As I enter my studio this fair morning in June 1912 and take my station at the great window, where I touch a button, and the sash flies up letting in the balmy air for, however great the changes in other civilized machinery, the air and sunlight are not changed, two little individual flying-machines of the common kind as used by newsboys and letter-carriers alight at the front door, and immediately the chimes begin to play “A Flying Machine for Two,” the latest popular song. A moment later, down the silver slide connected with this front door, come two letters and a newspaper, with blue lines around some columns of the paper, to call attention to them. I take up the letters first, of course, and see that the postmark on one shows it to be from that great busy metropolis Carrollton, at the junction of the Ohio and Ky. Rivers. I open it, and see that it is from my cousin Jenne [Jenne Howe, daughter of William Ficklin Howe and his wife, Louisiana "Lou" Winslow], now Mrs. Remardo Berdo; and it “reads” thus:

“Dear Sarah: I am so glad to hear of your progress in your artwork and that your last picture ‘Frolic’ sold for $1000. I am doing well, too. I have finished my course at the Conservatory, you know, and have written a march and two other pieces of music; I am quite in demand for entertainments. But don’t imagine that I neglect Louise. By the way, poor little Louise has been unwell lately, and I had to call in Dr. J. Rowland. Do you remember him? By the way, there is a rumor of his soon being wedded to a certain fair young novelist. Professor Browinski is giving great satisfaction as the principal of the Carrollton College, a magnificent building which has been erected on the site of the old college, and his wife, Miss S_ P_, is much admired and liked by all of us. But I must be closing. One word more. There is much sorrow at our house just now, because brother Beverly, Capt. Beverly W. Howe [Jenne's brother, Sarah's cousin], has just left with his wife to take command of the United States troops at Hawkswing, Wash. Well, Louise is nodding and must be put to bed. Good-night and Good-bye. Yours affectionately, Jenne.”

Much pleased with that letter, I take up the other, which is postmarked Chicago, and is from Madame Bornlaski, neĆ© Miss Mildred A. Goslee [possibly a cousin], who has been there for a short time recovering from a slight illness. She has not much time to spare, so the letter is “short,” but “sweet.”

Now I take up the paper, the Carrollton “Post,” and the first thing that catches my eye is an advertisement reading “Transact your law business at the office of W. Shoesmith and J. C. Winslow, Attorneys,” but as there is a blue line above the “Literary Notes,” I turn to them. There I see that “a book that bids fair to be very popular this summer is “Boys and Girls, A Reminiscence of Old School-days,” by the bright and interesting young novelist Miss Mary Emily Merrill, formerly of this city. Still another advertisement attracts me – “Miss Grace Rowland, Kindergartner, assisted by Misses R. Louise Howe and Paulina Winslow [Sarah's relatives].” And among the “Personal Items” I see that “Miss Mildred Merrill, a fair young lady of this city, is assisting Miss Velma Donaldson in the primary department of Miss Elizabeth Howe’s [a cousin] private school.”

What is this, heavily marked, on the inside of the paper? A sermon! By whom, pray? Why, it is by the Rev. Richard H. Stanton, who graduated only a year ago! I must read it. When I think of the time when we all were children together, and of what and where we are now, it almost makes me sad; but “the world do move,” and we with it, and I lean my head on my hand and think of the gay girl who went to school, and that I am now a real artist, and an old maid of twenty-nine.

Will all of this come true? Why not? The world is what we make it, and we may mold the future with our own childish hands.
[signed] Sarah Eve Howe


Yes, Sarah Eva Howe foresaw the invention of drones and their use to make deliveries! She also predicted a future as a professional artist, but that did not come to pass – nor did her prediction that in 1912 she would be an “old maid at age 29.” Sarah married in 1905 at the age of 22.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Immigrant Ancestors: John and Sarah Brown Howe

One of the greatest treasures in Sarah Eva Howe's scrapbooks is a handwritten history of immigrant ancestor John Howe. Judging from the handwriting, the history could have been written by Sarah (John's granddaughter) or by Sarah's mother, Alice Ada Cost Howe. The lined theme paper is fragile and tattered with age. The writing is faint but legible except where the paper is torn.

John Howe, 1823-1890

In the following transcription, I've placed brackets around words that are my "best guess" when a word has been lost and to indicate information I inserted for clarification.

John Howe was born in County Fermanagh, Ireland, May 5th 1823.1 His parents were Primitive Methodists connected with the Established Church of England in which latter church he was baptized in infancy.

He was married June 2nd, 1845 to Miss Sarah Brown, a resident of the same county.

With their infant son William they came to America 1847 and after a short stay in New York City and Brooklyn reached Flemingsburg, Ky. in 1848. Here the subject of our sketch united with the Methodist Episcopal Church South. After about nine years of successful business life, Mr. & Mrs. Howe with their little family of four children removed to a farm in Illinois. A quiet life did not suit him and because of sickness in his family, failure of crops and other difficulties, he sold his property in Illinois and after a short stay in St. Louis, Mo., and Madison, Ind., he returned to his favorite Kentucky.

In the spring of 1859 he located in Carrollton, Ky. where he remained until his death, which occurred about seven o’clock in the morning of Saturday, July 1st

Mr. & Mrs. Howe early became connected with the Methodist Episcopal  Church in Carrollton, and he was until his death closely identified with its growth and development from a small [church] resting in an old building to a large and flourishing congregation worshiping in a beautiful edifice.

The wife of his youth
[Sarah "Sallie" Brown] died March 4th 1877 leaving a family of five sons and a daughter, all of whom united with the Methodist Church in early life which was always an occasion of gravity and thankfulness for their parents.

Nov. 4th 1879 Mr. Howe was united in marriage to Mrs. Jane
[Hopkins] Bell,2 whose loving care and faithful companionship contributed greatly to Mr. Howe and the peace and happiness of his later years.

Sarah "Sallie" Brown Howe, 1823-1877
John Howe and Sarah "Sallie" Brown were married 2 June 1845 at the Cavanaleck Presbyterian Church in County Tyrone, Ireland (though both of them lived in nearby County Fermanagh). Based on census and family records, they had seven children who lived to adulthood:3
William Ficklin ("Willie") – 1846-1916 4
Elizabeth Margaret ("Lizzie") – 1848-1869
John Irvin – 1853-1891 5
Robert James ("Rob") – 1855-1910 6
Joseph Brown – 1857-1929 7
George Thompson – 1860-1881
Sarah Verena ("Sallie") – 1862-1950 8

Their son Robert was the father of Sarah Eva Howe, the compiler of the scrapbooks. A notation indicates  that Sarah Eva was named for her father's sister, Sarah Verena Howe ("Aunt Sallie").

John established a woolen mill in Carrollton, and the mill prospered to the point that at least four of his five sons earned their livings there or in businesses related to the mill.

John died 1 February 1890 and is buried beside Sallie in the Carrollton United Methodist Church Cemetery in Carrollton, Carroll County, Kentucky.

1 This and many other dates and other facts in this post came solely from Sarah Eva Howe's scrapbooks, the Howe family Bible, and other family sources, including grave stones in the Carrollton Methodist Church cemetery
2 Kentucky, County Marriage Records, 1783-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016. Accessed 4 February 2019.
3 The names and dates are consistent in family sources. Some are confirmed in secondary sources such as and in the following official records.
4 Kentucky. Vital Statistics Original Death Certificates – Microfilm (1911-1964). Microfilm rolls #7016130-7041803. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky. (Death Certificate #12473)
5 Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky.
6 U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925; #48427 issued 12 Jan 1876; Accessed 17 Jan 2016
7 Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Accessed 4 Feb 2019
8 Kentucky. Vital Statistics Original Death Certificates – Microfilm (1911-1964). Microfilm rolls #7016130-7041803. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky. Also: Kentucky, County Marriage Records, 1783-1965 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.  Accessed June 3, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Same-Day Delivery Letters: The 1800s Version of Texting

If you read "The Courtship of Sarah's Parents" posted 20 June 2016, maybe you noticed that Robert J. Howe mailed a letter and packages to his fiance on the morning of their wedding day, knowing she would receive them that same afternoon.

Did you wonder how the mail could get to Alice so quickly?

In 1882, same-day deliver of residential mail was common in Cincinnati and other major cities. Robert wrote on the envelope of his letter to Alice that it was to be delivered by 2 p.m. This was the letter about packing their trunks for the honeymoon, and the wedding was to be at 7 p.m. that very day. Time was of the essence!

According to the United States Postal Service,1 letter carriers in major cities in 1880 were expected to make deliveries “as frequently as the public convenience . . . shall require,” Monday through Saturday. By 1905, carriers who worked out of New York City’s main post office made nine daily deliveries! Such service eventually became too expensive to continue. In 1950 the nation's postmaster general ordered postmasters to limit the number of deliveries in residential sections to one per day.

1 U.S. Postal Service Publication 100: The United States Postal Service – An American History 1775-2006, accessed online 20 June 2016
Other Sources:
Michael Todd, A Short History of the U.S. Mail,  published in Pacific Standard online newsletter 6 February 2013. Accessed at on 4 February 2019
Blog of the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, accessed 4 February 2019 at

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Courtship of Sarah's Parents

On March 4, 1870, at the age of 15, Robert James Howe,1 abandoned his work on a composition about gorillas and started a new essay he titled “Matrimony.” The Howe family often wrote compositions for their own enjoyment and to express thoughts and opinions. They shared their writings with each other and saved them in notebooks, desk drawers, boxes, and scrapbooks. We’ll never know what prompted Robert to write about matrimony, but we can learn about him and his era by reading it: “I once read an anecdote in a paper about matrimony. A boy had been asked by his Sunday school teacher the definition of the word matrimony. He had in his mind the answer to a question about purgatory, so he gave that to her: ‘A place or state of punishment in this life, where souls suffer a short while before they go to heaven.  ...  Many persons differ in their opinions of matrimony, therefore I think the best way to judge it is by experience. So if you want to be initiated into the mysteries of matrimony, marry.”
Robert James Howe, undated photo

By 1880, having reached the age of 25, Robert gained a different perspective on matrimony. That was the year he met 21-year-old Alice Ada Cost.2 They met at St. Paul M.E. Church in Cincinnati, where Alice played the piano at Sunday school and other gatherings. A note Robert wrote to Alice on Oct. 7 of that year leaves no question about Robert’s plans:

“Your kind note ... reached me in due time ... but my almost immediate departure prevented the prompt reply your kindness merited. [Robert traveled as a representative of his father’s thriving woolen mill located in Carrollton, Kentucky.] Since my return I have delayed answering because I was waiting an opportunity to call or in some other way further cultivate your acquaintance. Next Sunday ...  I expect to be at home and, if agreeable to you, I want to escort you to church that evening. Awaiting a favorable answer by mail – directly; I have the pleasure to subscribe myself, Respectfully, Robt. J. Howe.”
Alice Ada Cost, circa 1882

The telephone, though patented in 1876, was not commonplace in middle-class homes until the 1940s or later. Robert no doubt put put on his best suit, probably donned a hat, and made his way to 516 West Court Street, Cincinnati, where Alice lived with her parents Richard and Sarah Arnet Cost. Alice, no doubt, took care to wear her favorite dress and style her hair just so. Off they went on their first date, a stroll to the church for the Sunday evening service.

That first date must have been a success. The scrapbooks include many cards and letters from Robert to Alice. We find few, if any, from Alice to Robert. Alice, like many young women, kept her suitor’s letters as treasured mementos. If Robert kept Alice's letters, they did not make their way into their daughter Sarah's scrapbooks.

Over time, Robert’s letters become less formal. Names evolve from “Robert” to “Rob” and from “Alice” to “Allie.” Sentences become shorter and less elaborate in structure and language. Notes refer to mutual friends and favorite activities. Affection is obvious.

On Friday, Aug. 4, 1882, Rob wrote to Allie: “I returned last night in good health. Hope you are well. I expect to see you about eight o’clock this evening. Truly, Rob.” The evening went well, we can assume, because the next day Robert went to Duhme & Company, a highly respected jewelry and silver store at Fourth and Walnut in downtown Cincinnati, and paid $6.25 for an 18-karat wedding band.

By October 1882, the mail carriers of Cincinnati and neighboring towns delivered a wedding invitation: “Mr. and Mrs. R.H. Cost request your presence at the marriage of their daughter, Alice A., to Robert J. Howe, Wednesday evening, October eleventh, at seven o’clock. Cincinnati. 1882.”

On the morning of their wedding day, 11 October 1882,3 Robert sent Alice a last-minute note about packing for their honeymoon trip: “Dear Allie, Brace up! Clouds have a silver lining! Remember, ‘the clouds we so dread are big with mercy and shall break in blessings over your head.’ Herewith I send two packages. Please open both yourself. Put in trunk contents of the larger one and ... the other please put in wardrobe or elsewhere until tonight. After the ceremony I will put it on for traveling. Beside these I want to pack in your trunk two other suits. Yours, Rob.” (Robert’s reference about big clouds comes from “Light Shining Out of Darkness,” a hymn text written by William Cowper of England in 1774. The scrapbooks are full of references to literary and religious writings.)

The scrapbooks contain little information on the wedding, but I envision a beautiful event, with the Howe and Cost families and their friends – including some of the area’s social, political, and social leaders – “dressed to the nines,” reveling in delightful music and happy in each other's company.
Where did Robert and Alice go on their honeymoon? They packed trunks full of suits and dresses, so they must have traveled some distance, and they must have stayed a while. I have found nothing yet that specifies their honeymoon destination. When 15-year-old Robert wrote about matrimony, he  mentioned Niagara Falls as a typical honeymoon destination, so maybe they went there. Later in the scrapbook is a Niagara Falls picture postcard and a receipt dated Nov. 11, 1885, for a stay at the Hotel Kaltenbach. A second honeymoon, perhaps? The receipt, addressed to Mr. Howe, confirms payment of $9.38 for Room 24 for “Self and Lady” and Room 25 for a nurse, who accompanied Robert and Alice to care for 2-year-old Sarah Eva Howe.

1 Robert James Howe was born 18 January 1855 in Flemingsburg, Fleming County, Kentucky to Irish immigrant parents John Howe and Sarah Brown Howe. Source for date and location: Passport Application; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 211; Volume #: Roll 211 - 01 Nov 1875-31 Jan 1876; accessed on Facebook 4 February 2016. He died 29 April 1910. Source: I continue to search for an official death record.
2 Alice Ada Cost was born 24 Dec 1859 to Richard Henry Cost and Sarah Evaline/Eva Arnet , probably in Cincinnati, Ohio, and died 15 April 1939 in Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky. Source: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky. (Death Certificate #9569).
3 Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.-Accessed 4 Feb 2016. The image indicates the record is in Hamilton County, Ohio Marriage Book 88, Page 361.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Meet Sarah – Storyteller, Visionary, Keeper of Family Scrapbooks

Sarah Eva “Sallie” Howe was my husband’s paternal grandmother. I never knew her in person, but I know the stories she left behind. Through her writings, I feel a kinship with her. Before we start exploring her 72 scrapbooks, I’ll introduce Sarah.

Sarah was born 10 August 1883 in Cincinnati,Ohio,1 likely at the home of her maternal grandparents. She was the first-born child of Robert James Howe and Alice Ada Cost Howe. Robert, son of Irish immigrants John Howe and Sarah Brown, co-owned and operated Howe Brothers store, which sold fashionable clothing he selected with care during his annual buying trips to New York. Alice was the daughter of Cincinnati businessman and civic leader Richard Henry Cost and Sarah Evaline Arnet.

Sarah learned from her family to appreciate family history and the preservation of family stories. In her earliest scrapbooks, she carefully pasted an assortment of family treasures: essays written by her mother and father in the 1870s; handwritten family chronologies; certificates for church attendance; courtship notes; a receipt for Alice’s wedding band; at-home cards; letters; photographs; newspaper clippings; and other bits of paper so often lost but saved and treasured by the Cost and Howe families as mementos of events both mundane and grand.

Those early scrapbooks also include many of Sarah’s own writings: letters to and from cousins and friends; school work; essays she wrote just because she loved to write! Most of Sarah’s essays are what you might find in a diary. They reveal the daily life of a girl growing up in Carrollton, Kentucky, a thriving town at the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky rivers. She was part of a respected upper-middle-class family during the industrial-revolution 1880s, the full-of-optimism 1890s, and the early years of a new century.

Sarah’s musings touch on major events happening not only in her household and her community but throughout the world: the sinking of the Maine, the declaration of the Spanish-American War,  struggles in an increasingly unsettled Chile and in the Philippines. World events were in the headlines, and the ripples they caused reached all the way to Carrollton, making them important topics of everyday discussion in the Howe household.

Through her scrapbooks, Sarah kept family facts and stories alive for the future. She enchanted her four children with tales about their immigrant ancestors, including four who came to this continent aboard the Mayflower.

The 72 Howe-Salyers scrapbooks, the latest ones continued by Sarah’s daughter Mary Alice Salyers Hays, are crumbling. The Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky2 has accepted the scrapbooks into their vast collection, protecting them for future generations.

This blog honors Sarah and saves her memories for my grandsons and all who have connections with these family lines. Now that you have met Sarah, I hope you will explore her scrapbooks, her thoughts, and her history. Even if you are not related to this family, Sarah’s writings may offer insight into the daily lives of your own ancestors who lived in Sarah's time and place.

1 Handwritten date in the Howe family Bible held by Sarah's grandson Richard Allen Hays, Jr. The date was used on all documentation up to and including her death records and gravestone. I have yet to find an official birth record for Sarah.
2 In 2018-2019, the complete collection of the Howe-Salyers scrapbooks was donated to the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library of the Kentucky Historical Society, located in the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, Kentucky.