January 4, 2017

Nineteenth Century Handwriting


Yesterday, I got back to researching the history of this inscribed quilt.  (Enlarge photo to see the names.  The ink is fading away....)  You can read the results of my research so far in a series of posts called History Comes to Life on a Quilt

I've gotten most of my information via the ancestry.com website.  Being able to look at all the original census documents is such a treat!  Well, during my sleuthing yesterday, I came across the most gorgeous handwriting I've ever seen.


The couple I was looking for is #7, Francis H. Merrill and Mary I. Peirson.  I already knew that Francis was known as Frank, and that he's the Frank H. Merrill on the quilt.  There are many members of the Merrill family on the quilt, including both an Isabel F. Merrill and an Isabel P. Merrill.  I found Isabel F. easily as one of Frank's siblings, but I couldn't find an Isabel P. Merrill on the census records anywhere.  I was finally able to identify her as Frank's wife thanks to a most wonderful librarian who has scoured the town records and sent me many great resources, including a compilation of obituaries for names that appear on the quilt.  Lo and behold, there is a Mary Isabella (!) Peirson Merrill.  Mary went by her middle name, Isabel, and is inscribed on the quilt as Isabel P. Merrill. 

These are the twists and turns of research that are at first frustrating and then quite enjoyable!  This time, it was a double enjoyment - one for the problem solved and one for the beauty of the handwriting that solved it.

The legibility and style of the handwriting on all these records varies greatly.  This one is the blue ribbon winner as far as I'm concerned.



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