Friday, May 25, 2007

Sarah Deeley's Friendship Book

Sarah Deeley was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1836; in 1840, she migrated to Sandusky with her family. Her father, William Deeley, established one of the first commercial fishing businesses in Sandusky. In 1846, when she was about ten years old, Sarah Deeley was given a "friendship book." The first page of the book is dedicated: "Presented to Sarah E. Deeley By her father ------ May 24th, 1846, Sandusky City, Ohio."

Friendship books were somewhat popular in the nineteenth century (and into the twentieth century). Typically, a friendship book was a small journal or autograph book that young women would use to collect writings (poetry, letters) and/or pictures (drawings, clippings, etc.) from friends and family. (Examples here.)

Sarah Deeley's book contains letters, autographs, and poems written by friends and family members, primarily in the 1840s and 1850s. With the exception of one entry written in 1869, apparently in German, the latest entry in the book is dated July 13, 1857. The 1869 entry is addressed to "Mrs. Beattie." (Sarah Deeley married John Y. Beattie in April 1854.)

One particularly poignant poems in the friendship book is one titled "The Cholera," (shown above) written by Sarah Deeley Beattie's aunt Sarah Kenney Knight, the sister of Sarah Deeley's mother Dorinda. The poem is undated, but it was likely written during or shortly after one of the cholera epidemics that struck Sandusky in 1849 and during the 1850s. It describes the fear that consumed those facing the still-then mysterious disease:

The Cholera
Waken for the coming of this scourge
That sweeps the Eastern sky:
This plague that with a prophet's voice
Cries out prepare to die.
That liveth at the rich man's house
That calleth for the poor
And spreadeth out the clothes of death
So fresh at every door!
It cometh over land and seas
With solemn strides and slow:
It summoneth the human soul
To keep watch for its woes!
Father takes its might warning
Which is mercifully given
And calls around for mortal help
And pray the help of heaven.
Be sure it cometh; do not sleep
With lazy hearts of stone.
Within your houses are friends to weep
For good and dear ones gone!
Forewarned shoud be, forewarned -- and now --
The whisper of God's breath.
Call trusting men to work and hope
Against this seige of death.
Be rady in the palaces!
Be ready in the cot
Be ready with the greatful hymn
Wheras it cometh not!
Prepare to meeth the slayer
With good courage and calm senses
But people trifle not with [illegible]
That born from providences.
Aunt Sarah
It is unclear whether Sarah Knight's family experienced death from the cholera, or if she witnessed her neighbors succumbing to the disease.
Sarah Deeley and John Beattie had five daughters. Sarah and John moved to Lakeside, Ohio from Sandusky in 1893, where they remained for the rest of their lives. John Beattie died in 1905; Sarah Deeley Beattie died in April 1925. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center holds a number of examples of friendship books from past Sandusky residents. For more information, visit the library.


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Best Military stories said...

This book is really excellent. It includes lot of interesting topics related to friends and their memories which is really good to look into such books.