Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wisdom From 1880

Holliday Ellwood Hartman married Ida Zeigler, the fifth of ten children born to Samuel Boyer Zeigler and Katherine Scheidemantel Rader. My great-great-grandfather Samuel Zeigler (1862-1915) was a milk delivery man, and so far the only other thing I know about him is that he owned "Webster's Encyclopedia of Useful Information and World's Atlas" published in 1880. On the inside cover, he wrote his name (twice ... spelled Ziegler and then Zeigler) and town (twice ... spelled Zelienopele and then Zelienople) and the date (once ... July 18, 1891). He also noted six page numbers: 470, 426, 94, 139, 422.

Page 470 - There's an arrow next to the brief article "Marking Tools," which explains how to engrave your name or some other mark on your steel or iron tools. First, cover the tool in a thin layer of beeswax and make your mark with a sharp object. "Clear with a feather, fill the letters with nitric acid, let it remain from one to ten minutes, then dip in water and run off, and the marks will be etched into the steel or iron."

Page 426 - There are arrows next to three articles on this page: "Superstitions Regarding Babies," "To Catch Fish," and "Ladies' Stamping Powder." My favorite was the baby one, which includes:
Born on Monday, fair in the face;
Born on Tuesday, full of God's grace;

Born on Wednesday, the best to be had;

Born on Thursd
ay, merry and glad;
Born on Friday, worthily given;
Born on Saturday, work hard for a living;

Born on Sunday, shall never know want.

I googled my birthday and found that I was born on the worst possible day of the week.

Page 94 - Between "Hive Syrup" and "How to Soften Hands," Samuel drew an arrow next to "How to Clean the Hair" :
From the too frequent use of oils in the hair, many ladies destroy the tone and color of their tresses. The Hindoos have a way of remedying this. They take a hand basin filled with cold water, and have ready a small quantity of pea flour. The hair is in the first place submitted to the operation of being washed in cold water, a handful of the pea flour is then applied to the head and rubbed into the hair for ten minutes at least, the servant adding fresh water at short intervals, until it becomes a perfect lather. The whole head is then washed quite clean with copious supplies of the aqueous fluid, combed, and afterwards rubbed dry by means of coarse towels. The hard and soft brush is then resorted to, when the hair will be found to be wholly free from all encumbering oils and other impurities, and assume a glossy softness, equal to the most delicate silk. This process tends to preserve the tone and natural color of the hair, which is so frequently destroyed by the too constant use of caustic cosmetics.

Page 139 - In the section "Choice Poems," my great-great-grandfather chose "The Murderer, an unpublished poem by Edgar Allen [sic] Poe." I don't really understand how it's unpublished when it appears here in the encyclopedia, but here's the first of seven stanzas:
Ye glittering stars ! how fair ye shine to-night,
And O, thou beauteous moon ! thy fairy light

Is peeping thro' those iron bars so near me.
How silent is the night-how clear and bright !
I nothing hear, nor aught there is to hear me.

Shunned by all, asif the world did fear me;

Alone in chains ! Ah, me ! the cursed spell

That brought me here. Heaven could not cheer me

Within these walls-within this dark cold cell,

This gloomy, dreary, solitary hell.

Page 422 - Here, Samuel drew an arrow next to the article "Business Law" and circled "Signatures made with a lead pencil are good in law."

Page 268 - Foreign and United States Patents

A ripped and yellowed newspaper page fell out of the encyclopedia. I think it's from a Pittsburgh paper, but I don't know the date. Cremo Cigars were offered On Every Street for 5 cents, and Pittsburg [sic - it used to be spelled like that] beat Chicago 5 to 2 in the Federal League. Panama hats were popular, and a lady was offering a $25 reward for her lost diamond ring. My favorite ad is under SPECIAL NOTICES: "I WILL NOT be responsible for any debts contracted by my wife, Mrs. Bridget Warren, after this date, she having left my bed and board. John Warren, Sr."

In conclusion, was my great-great-grandfather the milk delivery man possessive about his tools, superstitious about babies, meticulous about clean hair, interested in literature, protective of his rights, and an aspiring inventor? The only thing I know for sure is that he was a poor speller.

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