Ernest likely received it as a Christmas gift in 1899 when he was eleven years old. The inside cover page has a date lightly inscribed in the upper right-hand corner: Dec 23 '99.
The book's pages include witty notes and forget-me-nots from friends and cousins. The inscriptions are dated between January and June 1900 with a couple sporadic additions in 1901 and 1905. Over two decades of silence followed.
|The cover page to Ernest Benedick's autograph book.|
The contributions suddenly picked up again on June 2, 1928 with a short, witty verse from his wife of 18 years - Bessie (Bair) Benedick.
Bessie, my second great-grandmother, wrote:
I've turned these pages ore and ore,
To see what others have wrote before,
But in this lonely spot,
I'll write these words Forget-me-not.
|Bessie (Bair) Benedick|
Following her mother's example, another page included a poetic missive from my great-grandmother Nevella (Benedick) Lumpkins. At eleven years old (the same age Ernest was when he received the autograph book), Nevella wrote her father a verse on their family's physical characteristics.
Nevella, my great-grandmother, wrote:
Dear daddy! -
Mama's hair is wavy;
Della's is nicely curled
Mine is strait as a twine string;
And this is the only world.
|Nevella (Benedick) Lumpkins|
I remember my great-grandmother Nevella as a bit of a poet. She would string lines together for witty notes in birthday cards and had a reputation for using rhyming verse to convey her sense of humor.
In a brief oral history interview, my Aunt Diane remembered her poetic habits just in time for National Poetry Day.