I have a very special book on my shelf.
A beautifully decorated copy of “Beauties of Shakespeare” by William Dodd.
It was originally published in the 1750’s and has gone through many, many editions over the years. The one I have dates from the mid-19th century and has several special details inside.
Little notes about Shakespeare’s writing…
Notes about Shakespeare’s life…
Signatures from the students who used the book…
With some of the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen!
But the sweetest thing of all comes from these two: Guy and Pearl.
They signed the book in multiple places.
And left such endearing love-notes in the back of the book that my heart melts every time I think about it.
Never forget the school days of 1881. Alas, perhaps our last.
And her response:
I never will.
I picked up this book at a library book sale for 50 cents and, over the years, have dug as deep into the census records as I can to try to find anything I can about these people.
I triangulated most of the names in the book (ten in all) to a town in Illinois called Yates City. They were all born around the early 1860’s and one of them, Lulu, moved to Washington after her second marriage so I’m guessing that’s how the book got to Seattle.
The most frustrating thing, though, is that I can find nothing about Guy or Pearl. I’ve read the census records cover to cover for that town and nada. I’ve expanded my search to go beyond the state and still nothing! I’m still holding out hope, though, that someday I’ll find some tidbit about their lives. I’m dying to know!
If you’re curious, I’ll list some information about the students under the cut: