Autograph Book of Lydia Ella Griswold Buchholz (1877-1944)

Cover of Lydia Ella Griswold’s autograph book from the 1890’s
Cover of Lydia Ella Griswold’s autograph book from the 1890’s

The granddaughter of a family friend of the Buchholz/Griswold family from Michigan submitted  to the GFA photographs of an autograph book from the early 1890’s that belonged to Lydia Ella Griswold Buchholz (1877-1944).  We were a little stumped as to the original owner of the book because the handwritten messages were addressed to “Ella”.  Upon further investigation, we realized that Lydia Griswold’s middle name was Ella, which must have been the name that she preferred to use during her teens.

During the late 1800’s it was considered fashionable for ladies to maintain autograph albums, which could also be referred to as charm albums or memory books, with inscriptions from their circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.  These autograph albums were often embellished with fancy covers.  They started out as small blank books that accumulated brief verses and other mementos as the albums were circulated to siblings, family, schoolmates, and acquaintances.  Entries were sometimes in the form of rhyming poetry used to express the thoughts of the author toward the album’s owner.

Entry signed by John Warren Griswold in May 1893. Transcription: “Every day and every hour | Let virtue be your guide | Let fools have vices for their dower | Act not with foolish pride | Eden, May 6th 1893 | Your Dad| J.W. Griswold.
Entry signed by John Warren Griswold in May 1893. Transcription: “Every day and every hour | Let virtue be your guide | Let fools have vices for their dower | Act not with foolish pride | Eden, May 6th 1893 | Your Dad| J.W. Griswold.

Ella’s album is covered with a padded burgundy fabric (pictured above) and is shaped like slice of pie or a segment of a circle.  The earliest entry was made in January 1893 when Ella was about 16 years old. The album is full of a variety of tender, humorous, and eloquent turns of phrase, some are shown here with transcriptions of each caption, including some advice (at left) from her father, John Warren Griswold (1834-1921).

Lydia [GFA #1893/2349B] can be found in The Griswold Family, the 6th & 7th Generation of Michael, on page 703.  She married George Ferdinand Buchholz (1863-1945) in April 1905 in Eden, Michigan.  They had three children that survived to adulthood, but none went on to have children of their own, thus ending this particular line.  Ella’s father, John W. Griswold was a Michael Griswold descendant.  Her mother was Elizabeth, “Betsy” Ostrander (1838-1900).  Ella had two brothers, John and George Griswold.

Full spread showing two entries. Transcription: “March 11th, 1894 | Friend Ella | While you are sailing down life’s river in your little bark canoe, may you have a pleasant voyage with just room enough for to [sic] | Aaron Garn | Eden, Mich”“Jan 7, 1893 - Poor ink. | Poor pen. | Poor writting [sic]. Amen. Ever your friend - Eva.”
Full spread showing two entries. Transcription: “March 11th, 1894 | Friend Ella | While you are sailing down life’s river in your little bark canoe, may you have a pleasant voyage with just room enough for to [sic] | Aaron Garn | Eden, Mich”
“Jan 7, 1893 – Poor ink. | Poor pen. | Poor writting [sic]. Amen. Ever your friend – Eva.”