Monday, December 29, 2014

1883-1885 Autograph Album of Clara May Holt of Portsmouth, Virginia; student at Norfolk College


1883-1885 autograph album of Clara May Holt of Portsmouth, Virginia, with some of the sentiments acquired while she was a student, presumably at Norfolk College at nearby Norfolk, Virginia.

Interestingly, an earlier post featured the autograph album of another Norfolk College student, Blanche Thayer, who signed a page in Clara's album.


Clara's album measures approximately 7-3/4" x 4-3/4" and contains the sentiments of 58 of her relatives, friends and schoolmates, as well as notes added by Clara about signers' subsequent marriages and deaths.  An alphabetical surname list and an alphabetical list of the signers, together with any personal information they offered, appear at the end of this post.  Many of the people signed pages in Blanche's album as well.

As you can see from the page above, Clara added notes to many of the pages, to note the marriages or deaths of her well wishers.  In Blanche's case, Clara noted that Blanche married a Mr. Stanworth; he was Paul Clifton Stanworth.

From brief online research, hopefully correct:  [corrections and additions welcome!]

Clara May Holt was born July 15, 1870 at Portsmouth, Virginia, the daughter of Xenophon and Susie F. (Cherry) Holt.  Susie inscribed a page in the album at Portsmouth, Virginia, on May 3, 1884, "To My Dear Little Girl".


Clara's younger brother Xennie, whose name was Xenophon Drew Holt, inscribed a page on June 5, 1884.


On June 18, 1890 at Norfolk, Virginia, Clara married George Raney Debnam, son of John Buckner Debnam and Mary Archer (Raney) Debnam.  George inscribed a page in Clara's album at Norfolk, Virginia, on July 7, 1885.  He implied that they had spent the previous 4th of July together, or at least had run into each other there.  George's sister Bettie Debnam also inscribed a page, and Clara noted that she had subsequently married Randolph Humphreys.



Clara died in 1911, and George in 1941.  They're buried at Oak Grove Cemetery at Portsmouth, Virginia.  If you have corrections and/or additions to the information above, or information on any of the signers listed below, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Surnames in the album

? [6]DHNU
BD ?HallNorsworthyUllmann
BarcroftDavis [2]HankinsRV
BarlowDayHolt [3]R ? [2]Virnelson
Bealede FaletansHopeRiellW
BrinkleyDebnam [2]HowellSW ?
ByrdEHumbertScholefieldWatters
CE ?LSeaburyWhitehead [2]
C ?EbersonLookeSteeleWise
CarmanEdmundsLovingTWonycott
Cooke [2]GMThayerY
CutchinGriffithM ? [2]ThomsonYeatman
MacWilkie [2]


Signers in the Album   [Note: Given names within a specific surname may not be in alphabetical order.]

  • Lee, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on May 2, 1884
  • Pauline, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on May 2, 1884
  • Your friend
  • Maud; later note: "Mrs. Orren L. Williams"
  • Uncle Charlie, signed at Unionville, Virginia, on June 24, 1884
  • Myra, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on May 2, 1884
B
  • Ida V. Barcroft, signed at Norfolk College, on April 30, 1884. Later note: "Mrs. Williams. Married April 30, 1890". She married Edwin S. Williams.
  • Tillie C. Barlow, signed at Norfolk College on April 30, 1884
  • Essie R. Beale, signed at College, presumably Norfolk College, on February 5, 1884
  • Hugh Brinkley, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on February 26, 1885
  • Delia Byrd; Clara's schoolmate. Later note: "Mrs. Dr. Waller; Mrs. Ruffin"
C
  • M. C., signed on May 7, 1884. Later note: Mrs. Ridgely"
  • Emma Carman, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on February 5, 1884; Clara's schoolmate
  • Alice M. Cooke, signed at Miltons or Meltons, Louisa County, Virginia, on July 9, 1884
  • W. H. Cooke, signed at Meltons or Miltons, Virginia, on July 9, 1884. Later note: "Married, Miss Coffee". From that clue, it can be determined that the signer was Welford H. Cooke, who married Lennor Elwood Coffee on July 29, 1891 at Bedford, Virginia.
  • Rosa Cutchin, signed on February 5, 1884. Later note: "Married Mr. Johnson"
D
  • Harvey, L.D., signed on December 28, 1883
  • Calling card pasted on the page of Mrs. T. Wiley Davis of 2700 Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia; dated August 31 [no year written]. Alternatively, could be Mrs. F. Wiley Davis.
  • George E. Davis, signed at Richmond, Virginia, on August 29, 1885
  • Katie Day, signed at Norfolk College, Virginia, on February 6, 1884. Later note: "Died March 4, 1885"
  • Madame de Faletans of Paris, France, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1884.  Music Professor at Norfolk College
  • Bettie. Later note: Married Oct. 9, 1889. Mrs. Randolph Humphreys. Died, Feb. 15, 1898". I found where a Randolph Humphreys married a Bessie Debnam on that date. "Bessie" was apparently an indexing error for Bettie Debnam. Bettie was a sister to album owner Clara Holt's future husband George Raney Debnam.
  • George R. Debnam, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on July 7, 1885. He was George Raney Debnam, Clara's future husband. He told her to remember the 4th of July 1885, which apparently they spent at least part of together.
E
  • L. S. E., signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on May 2, 1884
  • Evelyn Eberson, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on January 31, 1884; Clara's schoolmate. Later note: "Married Mr. [L?] Lowenberg. Interestingly, the only marriage I found for Evelyn was to Henry Clay Hofheimer in 1891; perhaps she had been married before.
  • Lelia S. Edmunds, signed on May 2, 1884 at "City", presumably Portsmouth, Virginia, or Norfolk, Virginia.
G
  • Lizzie Griffith, signed on February 6, 1884. Middle initial might be B or R. Later note: "died. June 1894
H
  • S. Tommie Hall, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on January 16, 1884. S. Thompson Hall. Later note: "Mrs. John M. Lander"
  • V. W. Hankins, signed in January 1884
  • Clara May Holt of Portsmouth, Virginia; album owner
  • Xennie, "Your Little Brother", signed on June 5, 1884; Xenophon Drew Holt
  • S. F. Holt, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on May 3, 1884. Clara's mother Susie F. (Cherry) Holt
  • J. Shirley Hope of Portsmouth, Virginia, signed on May 24, 1884. Later note: died June [from the link, we see his death occurred on June 30, 1896] James Shirley Hope, who became a Navy surgeon
  • J. F. Howell of Arkansas, signed near Carrsville, Virginia, on August 19, 1884
  • Mina R. Humbert, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on April 30, 1884
L
  • M. J. Look or Looke or ?
  • Charles H. Loving of Locust Grove, Virginia, in Louisa County, signed on July 11, 1884
M
  • R. H. F. M., signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on February 5, 1884. Later note: "Dead"
  • Margie M., signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on February 18, 1884
  • E. A. MacWilkie, signed on February 6, 1884.
  • Fergus F. Macwilkie, signed on February 5, 1884 at "City", presumably Portsmouth, Virginia, or Norfolk, Virginia. Later note: "Married Miss Van Leer" She may have been Nellie VanLeer.
N
  • Nettie Norsworthy, signed on February 5, 1884; Clara's schoolmate. Later note: Mrs. Southgate, Married Oct. 6, 1891"
R
  • H. E. R., signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on March 25, 1885
  • W. Johnson R., signed at Oakland, Virginia, on July 11, 1884
  • H. E. Riell, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on March 25, 1885. Presumably Harry E. Riell.
S
  • Virginia Scholefield, signed at Norfolk College on January 20, 1884. Later note: "Mrs. Arnott"
  • Fannie L. Seabury, signed on February 6, 1884 at Norfolk, Virginia
  • Paris W. Steele, signed at 176 Main St, Norfolk, Virginia
T
  • Blanche Thayer of Norfolk, Virginia, signed on February 6, 1884. Later note: "Mrs. Stanworth"
  • Annie Thomson of Norfolk, Virginia. Later note: "Mrs. Southall, Married Sept. 17, 1890
U
  • Stella Lee Ullmann of Norfolk, Virginia, on February 6, 1884
V
  • Clifford D. Virnelson, signed at "City", presumably Portsmouth, Virginia, or Norfolk, Virginia, on March 9, 1885. Later note: "Married"
W
  • Lula N. W., signed on August 4, 1885; not sure of middle initial
  • Ola Watters, signed at Norfolk, Virginia, on February 18, 1884
  • Annie L. Whitehead of Portsmouth, Virginia. Later note: Married Mr. William Walton
  • Mrs. Whitehead, signed at Portsmouth, Virginia, on August 4, 1884
  • Bettie Wise of Norfolk, Virginia, signed on February 6, 1884. She wrote her name backwards.
  • F. K. Wonycott. Later note: "Married Miss Lillian Davis". From this clue, it can be determined that he was Frank K. Wonycott who married Lillian on November 10, 1891 at Portsmouth, Virginia.
Y
  • Sue Yeatman of Norfolk, Virginia, signed on January 5, 1884. Later note: "Married"
Portsmouth, Virginia

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