Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Old Book In My Library Intrigues Me

As I was rearranging books last weekend to fill some new bookcases, I discovered this little book of poems that I'd forgotten about. It's "A Bank of Violets" by Fanny H. Runnells Poole, published 1895 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. It's a book of verses written by Fanny Poole, and shares this opening verse:
Were Poetry the sweet south breeze,
To breathe upon my violets,
Delight would thrill the neighboring trees
Of Helicon; and Fancy ease
Her heart in far-heard triolets,
Were Poetry the sweet south breeze
To breathe upon my violets!  F.H.R.P.

I was intrigued as I opened the book and turned its stiffened, yellowed pages. The first page I came upon was a tissue page that had this name embossed on it:
However, the page was glued upside down and backwards. It faced a page that had this portrait of Fanny, obviously as a young girl.
Notice that a green and a blue border have been drawn in with crayon. The portrait had been cut to the oval shape and size it is in, and glued to the page. On the reverse of this page is another piece of paper glued in that contains this brief poem:
On the reverse of the Title Page is this portrait of the author, which is also glued in, along with her signature.
As I turned the pages to inspect the book, I found a loose piece of paper in it, with another poem by Fanny Runnells Poole, that was written on a piece of "scratch paper", as the printing on the reverse indicates it was a letter requesting funds to help the Tilton School Loyalty Club. 
Two questions immediately formed in my mind as I perused this old book. (1) Who was this Richard J. Oglesby and (2) What was his relationship to Fanny Huntington Runnells Poole.

Of course I immediately did a Google search on each of these individuals form the late 1800s. I learned quite a lot about Fanny from Janice A. Brown's "Cow Hampshire" blog! This blog post even contains some genealogy of Fanny, showing that one of Fanny's grandmothers was Caroline Stearns. I have that Stearns lineage in my genealogy database, so I was even more intrigued.

I next did a search for Richard J. Oglesby, about 1893. Many links appeared, but one that I was drawn to tells of the Richard J. Oglesby who served his country as a U. S. Senator, a Civil War Union general and a three-time Governor of Illinois. Click on the photo below to see a fascinating site about the Governor and his mansion in Decatur, Illinois. 
This may not be the correct man whose name is printed on an inserted tissue page in the book, but I'm inclined to think it is, because of his prominence at that same time period. 

I still have a lot of research to do and a lot of questions to try to answer. When books like this fall into my hands and contain interesting clues, I'm drawn to the challenge of solving a puzzle. I often don't believe it's happenstance, so I have to study this until I have a better idea of the relationship (friendship?) between Fanny Poole and a Richard J. Oglesby, and have an accurate picture of her relationship to me, since her ancestry is in my genealogy database. The hunt has only begun. I'd be interested in anyone's ideas....just leave a comment.

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