Yesterday's Magazette

2 – Autograph Book

Linked Through An Autograph Book


By Madonna Dries Christensen

Because I like vintage autograph books, I published an article about them in Yesterday’s Magazette.

I described three books in my possession (not from my family). They had belonged to William Lord, his young daughter Ethel, and the adult Ethel’s young daughter, Evelyn Pruitt.

The Lords lived in San Francisco when young Ethel collected verses in her book, dated from 1900-1903. The front cover is ivory-colored celluloid, on which is a landscape scene. The back cover is burgundy velvet.

The first page in the book has a drawing of a table, on which sits a vase with flowers laid beside it. In the corner is a spider web. The page is dated October 8, 1900. The person who drew the picture and wrote the verse used script resembling calligraphy. He wrote:

Dear Ethel:

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we  have done.

– Kingsley Cannon

It appears, from the maturity of the verse and the drawing, that Kingsley Cannon was an adult. He used black ink, whereas most of the children wrote in pencil and their faded verses are no longer legible.

Three years after my article appeared online, the publisher received an e-mail from a reader, Leesa Cannon. She explained that she found the story while using Google to research her great-grandfather, Kingsley Cannon, of San Francisco.

He was a lawyer, who adopted a son and named him Kingsley W. Cannon, Jr. Leesa’s father is Kingsley W. Cannon III. Leesa wrote, “Thanks for the familial clue.”

I responded to Leesa and offered her the book. She was delighted and, on receiving it, commented, “Thank you for your generousity. Aside from the obvious family interest, it’s an amazing piece of history.

I know that these sayings are passed down through generations; therefore, when asked to sign someone’s book, I plan to use my great-grandfather’s quote. It’s also interesting to see the similarity between the written name in the corner and my father’s handwriting.

But my dad is funny. He said, ‘How do I know it’s him?’ I find it valuable––even if he does not.”


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