Friday, January 10, 2014

1880s Autograph Album of Helen Hazlett Payson, who was a patient at the Hospital for Incurables at the Bronx, New York

1880s autograph album that originally belonged to Helen Hazlett Payson at Fordham in the Bronx, New York, but was later taken over by Julia Virginia Painter, who signed many pages and doodled on others, including pages earlier used by signers.

The album was presented to Helen H. Payson, or "Nellie", by Harry Gale at Fordham, New York, at Christmas 1886.

Harry signed another page on Christmas Day in 1886, near the end of the album.

The album is approximately 8-1/4" x 7-1/4" and contains the sentiments of about 50 people, some of whom wrote on more than one page; additionally there are many pages of writing that are unsigned.  An alphabetical list of the signers appears at the end of this post.

Several of the signers mentioned the initials H. F. I, which I had originally thought was an educational institute or institution but came to realize, sadly, was the Home for Incurables, which eventually became St. Barnabas Hospital, founded in the West Farms area of the Bronx in 1866.

Mary E. Ford of Fordham, New York, signed a page on March 24, 1887 and included H. F. I.

Emily Walls signed at H. F. I. Hotel on December 7, 1896.

Cullen B. Howe signed at H. F. I. Club at Fordham, New York, on January 31, 1887.

Max Rastner or Max Kastner signed a page at H. F. I. on September 3, 1887.

Two doctors signed pages in Nellie's album.  J. V. Smith, M.D., signed a page on March 30, 1894.

Guy H. Furrell, M.D., signed a page in December 1897.

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

Helen Hazlett Payson, "Nellie" was born about August 1867, daughter of Rev. Edward Phillips Payson and Grace (Hazlett) Payson, who were born in Connecticut and New York, respectively.   She had at least four younger siblings.

Nellie's father came from a family of ministers.  Below, his obituary in the 1915 Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University.

I found Nellie living at the Home for Incurables at the time of enumeration of the 1900 Census.  Thanks to the reader's comment below, we know she died on 24 October 1904 at the Bronx.   Rev. Payson died in 1913 at Tacoma, Washington, and Grace (Hazlett) Payson died at East Orange, New Jersey, in 1917.

If you have additional information on Helen Hazlett Payson or her family, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

I'm also intrigued by how the album came to be in the possession of young Julia Virginia Painter, daughter of John W. Painter and Nellie Catherine (Fadeley) Painter of West Virginia.   Julia was born 17 November 1898 at Hall Town, West Virginia.  She would marry Robert Lyton in 1927.

Julia Virginia Painter signed many pages in the album, sometimes over a page already used, but one page was especially interesting, where she listed the members of the John William Painter Family, the George W. Painter family and the Clint Ware family.

Bessie Painter signed a page.

Maggie Mae Painter signed a page.

 The inside back cover mentions Miss Della Stuart and Mr. John W. Walters.

If you have information on the Painter and Ware families, please leave a comment or contact me directly. Thanks!

List of signers:  [Note: given names within a specific surname may not be in alphabetical order.]
  • W. A., signed on October 24, 1887
  • Llewelyn, signed in February 1896
  • B. B. T. to Julia Painter, signed on September 13, 1908
  • Bertha to Julia Painter, signed Sunday, September 13, 1908
  • Mollie, signed at H. F. I., at Fordham, New York, on March 7, 1894
  • B. B. T. to J. V. P.
  • A. F. P., signed on July 13, 1887
  • C. W. P., signed at Fordham, New York, in July 1887
  • J. D. M., signed on August 9, 1913
  • Max Kastner or Max Rastner, signed at New York, on September 3, 1887
  • J. H. T., signed at Fordham, New York, on October 24, 1887
  • Carnelia B. Abbott, signed October 20, 1888
  • John A. Berry, signed on December 24, 1886
  • A. J. Derbyshire, signed at West Farms, New York, on December 14, 1887
  • William H. Devlin, signed at Fordham, New York, on July 5, 1887
  • T. Remington Devoe, signed at Fordham, New York, on December 8, 1892
  • John J. Dunn, signed on December 1, 1887
  • E. J. Elliott of Fordham, New York, signed on December 22, 1887
  • Erich Fasold, signed on September 2, 1887
  • Mary E. Ford of Fordham, New York, signed at H. F. I. on March 24, 1887
  • Spencer Franklin, signed at Tremont [presumably New York], on January 30, 1887
  • Guy H. Furrell, M.D., signed in February 1897
  • H. D. Gale; presented the album to Nellie H. Payson at Christmas in 1886
  • Harry Gale, signed at Christmas in 1886.  He is presumably the H. Gale who presented the album to Miss Helen H. Payson at Christmas 1886.
  • Nellie S. Gilmore, signed at Fordham, New York, on April 29, 1887
  • William N. Gould, signed at Fordham, New York, on March 30, 1887
  • Thomas R. Harris, signed on October 19, 1888
  • Mary A. Hassert, signed on November 28, 1896 - she painted a river scene
  • Annie Hawkins, signed on June 5, 1887; Julia Painter wrote on the page in 1910.
  • Belle Hess and Moe Hess, signed at Belmont, New York, on March 2, 1889
  • Alice H. Hilton, signed at Fordham, New York, on March 15, 1887
  • Cullen B. Howe, of H. F. I. Club, Fordham, New York, signed on January 31, 1887.  Not sure of surname of initials of Club.
  • Julia Mills, signed at Fordham, New York, on February 4, 1887
  • Julia Painter, signed on August 13, 1913
  • Bessie Painter
  • Maggie Mae Painter to Julia Painter
  • Nellie H. Payson, album owner; the album was given to her at Christmas in 1886 by H. D. Gale
  • Vergilio E. Pignetti, signed on January 17, 1897
  • Alice F. Pinckney of Fordham, New York, signed on July 13, 1887
  • Clara Pinckney, signed at Fordham, New York, in July 1887;  middle initial might be M or W or ?
  • Lillie E. Riblet of Fordham, New York, signed on May 29, 1887
  • Julius G. Rosby, signed at Fordham, New York, on July 9, 1887
  • Miss E. Sandiforth of Watertown, New York
  • N. Schmit, signed on April 13, 1887
  • Anna M. Shepperd of Fordham, New York, siged on November 10, 1887.  Someone, presumably one of Nellie's children, wrote a note at the top, dated March 2, 1910
  • Marion Shepperd of Fordham, New York City, New York, signed on November 10, 1887
  • J. V. Smith, M.D., signed on March 30, 1894
  • Frankie E. Smith, signed at Mount Vernon, New York, on October 3, 1888
  • Miss Della Stuart; mentions John W. Walters
  • Emily Walls, signed at H. F. I. Hotel, on December 7, 1896
  • John W. Walters; mentions Miss Della Stuart
  • Jane E. White of Fordham, New York City, on April 30, 1887
  • Frederick B. Wright, signed on May 13, 1897
Fordham, New York

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Nellie H Payson, age 37, died October 24, 1904, in the Bronx. Certificate # 5504.

    ( A good resource for NYC for that time period is

  2. Thanks, Ed. Another good resource I've found is...Ed!