Sunday, March 23, 2014

1840s/1850s Autograph Album of Cordelia (Shaw) Lyon of Chatham, Ohio

1840s/1850s autograph album of Cordelia (Shaw) Lyon of Chatham, Ohio, compiled before and after her marriage to Marcus Lyon.  Many of the sentiments were written in response to the death of Cordelia's beloved child Perla [or Perle].

The album is approximately 7" x 4-3/4" and contains the sentiments of 36 of Cordelia's relatives, friends and pastors.  An alphabetical list of the signers appears at the end of this post.  There are two engravings in the album.

There are three pages that reflect the missionary work of Massachusetts natives Rev. Samuel Clapp Pixley and his wife Louisa (Healy) Pixley in South Africa.  Rev. Pixley inscribed his page to "Cousin Cordelia."  In the page signed by Louisa (Healy) Pixley on March 16, 1883, she mentioned Inanda, "Our Home", which was their mission at Nahal.

Rev. Pixley was responsible for the first translation of the Bible into Zulu and for arranging for the education in Massachusetts of promising student Pixley ka Isaka Seme, who was born at the Inanda mission about 1881, the son of Isaka Sarah (Mseleku), who was the sister of John Langalibalele Dube, first president of the African National Congress.

If anyone can translate the bottom of the page below, I'd be very grateful.  It's perhaps signed by two people, or maybe just one, and mentions Chatham Center, Ohio, and Amanzimtoti, South Africa, in 1861.  The signer at Chatham Center, Ohio, was Cordelia's cousin, or the cousin of her husband, Marcus Lyon.

After graduating from Northfield Mount Hermon School and studying at Adams College, part of the mission at Amanzimtoti, South Africa, Seme was accepted at Columbia University and later at Oxford University, where he received a law degree.  He and other foreign-educated South Africans returned to their homeland in 1911 after the creation of the Union of South Africa.  The first black lawyer in South Africa, Seme was one of the founders of the South African Native National Congress, precursor to the African National Congress.

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

Cordelia Shaw was born about 1830 in Massachusetts, the daughter, I think, of Ebenezer and Nancy (Torrey) Shaw, who were born in Cummington, Massachusetts, and Plainfield, Massachusetts, respectively.  The family moved to Medina County, Ohio, about 1832.

Ebenezer signed a page at Chatham, Ohio, on June 10, 1855; he inscribed the page to "Dear daughter" and attempted to comfort her in her sorrow at the loss of "Sir Arthur and dear Perla".  He mentioned that he had lost a daughter and two sons.

The story of how Ebenezer Shaw and family of Cummington, Massachusetts, came to Ohio is told in the History of Medina County and Ohio: Containing a History of the State of Ohio, from Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time ... , a History of Medina County ... , Biographical Sketches, Portraits of Some of the Early Settlers and Prominent Men, Etc., written by William Henry Perrin, J. H. Battle and Weston Arthur Goodspeed, and published in 1881.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

The T. Shaw who signed a page may have been Cordelia's brother or cousin Thomas S. Shaw.  I found places where his parents were given as Ebenezer and Nancy (Torrey) Shaw, and other places where he was shown as the son of John and Polly (Beals) Shaw.

Several other people mentioned a family relationship with Cordelia, though some of there were actually in-laws.  Among these, a cousin who signed with initials at Chatham, Ohio, in October 1855.  The initials look like L. B. P., but I'd be interested in readers' interpretations.

The next page was inscribed to Cousin by C. G. Bisbee, at Chatham, Ohio, on February 28, 1855.  The facing page was signed by Helen M. Bisbee at Chatham, Ohio, on September 16, 1861.

About 1848, Cordelia Shaw married Marcus Lyon, son of Elias and Relief (Thayer) Lyon, who had also brought their family from western Massachusetts to Chatham, Ohio.   Marcus was born 5 February 1827 at Goshen, Massachusetts.

From reading between the lines in the album, it appears that Cordelia had lost another child, perhaps the first child named Arthur, before she lost her Perla.  There's a male child named Perly with them in the 1860 Census of Chatham, Ohio; I'm not sure if this was another child who also perhaps didn't survive, or a nickname for son Arthur W. Lyon.  Cordelia and Marcus had at least two children who survived into adulthood:
  1. Arthur W. Lyon, born 11 June 1857 at Wauseon, Ohio; married Ellen Spear, who was born at Rockland, Maine
  2. Mary Shaw Lyon, born 21 May 1862 at Wauseon, Ohio; married John Elbert Sater
Marcus was involved in several enterprises, chief of which was the Wauseon Flour Mill, in which an early partner was his brother-in-law Joel Brigham, whose wife was Marcus' older sister Betsey (Lyon) Brigham.  Joel and Betsey Brigham signed facing pages of sympathy and support in Cordelia's album at Chatham, Ohio, on November 13, 1857.

Marcus imported the 16 hand chestnut Morgan stallion Bob Morgan, foaled in 1850, from Vermont.  His pedigree shows many crosses to foundation sire Justin Morgan.

Another of Marcus' sisters was Harriet N. (Lyon) Gardner, wife of Weston Duane Gardner.  Weston signed facing pages, and Harriet signed the following page at Chatham, Ohio, on November 19, 1854.  Weston indicated that they were about to make their new home in Iowa.

Cousin Consider signed a page.

Marcus Lyon died in 1902, and Cordelia in 1916.  They're buried at the Wauseon Union Cemetery at Wauseon, Ohio.

Harriet P. White inscribed a page to Miss Shaw at Harrisville, Ohio, on February 25, 1847 and painted a theorem-like floral arrangement.

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.  Thanks!

Surnames in the album:

?              [7]
Allen        [2]
Bisbee     [2]
Brigham   [2]
Gardner   [2]
Loomis     [2]
Pixley       [2]
Rice         [2]
Shaw       [3]

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

  • Your cousin F.B.P. or L. B. P. or S. B. P. and perhaps the last initial is a B, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on October 24, 1855.  Not sure of initials; there's another cousin named Bisbee
  • A friend "who has known your sorrows"; signed facing pages in August 1855
  • Cousin A. ?, possibly Pratt.  Shared the page with Solakahle [?] of Amanzimtoti, South Africa, signed in 1861
  • Cousin Consider
  • Solakahle [?] of Amanzimtoti, South Africa, 1861; shared the page with Cordelia's cousin A. ?, possibly Pratt
  • Maria, signed at Chesterfield, Massachusetts, in May 1848; possibly Maria Houser, who signed the overleaf, as the handwriting and ink look similar
  • Marshall, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on January 15, 1850
  • S. W. Allen, lived at or signed at Northampton, Massachusetts, on October 1846
  • L. G. Allen , signed at Chatham, Ohio, on October 5, 1846
  • H. S. Beals
  • Mary J. Betty, or Mary I. Betty, inscribed a page to Miss C. Shaw at Lodi, on February 25, 1847; the facing page is signed by M. Jane Betty, possibly the same person
  • C. G. Bisbee, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on February 28, 1855; inscribed the page to "Cousin"
  • Helen M. Bisbee, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on September 16, 1861
  • J. Brigham; presumably Joel Brigham, husband of Betsey L. Brigham who signed the facing page.
  • Sister B. L. Brigham, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on November 13, 1857. She was Betsey (Lyon) Brigham, sister of Cordelia's husband Marcus Lyon, and thus Cordelia "sister-in-law"
  • D. H. Burbank, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on March 21, 1845 (I believe the signer was female, assuming I'm deciphering a phrase as "Remember her...", so she may have been Delpha (Harris) Burbank, wife of Rev. Caleb Burbank.
  • "Inscribed to C. Shaw, now Mrs. Lyons", signed by Caroline Dowd on February 20, 1850, at Guilford, Connecticut
  • Maria O. Ellsworth of Richfield, Ohio, inscribed to Mrs. Lyon
  • C. L. Foot
  • Inscribed to Sister Cordelia, by W. D. G., at Chatham, Ohio, on November 19, 1854 on facing pages; mentions leaving for Iowa for a new life. Presumably Weston D. Gardner, whose wife H. N. (Lyon) Gardiner signed the next page.
  • H. N. Gardner, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on November 19, 1854; Harriet N. (Lyon) Gardiner, wife of signer W. D. Gardner and sister of Cordelia's husband Marcus Lyon.
  • William Hitchcock, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, signed at Harrisville, Ohio, in 1847
  • Wealthy C. Holcomb, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on April 28, 1855; inscribed to Mrs. Lyon
  • Maria Houser or Maria House, signed at Chesterfield, Massachusetts in 1848
  • Sarah P. Loomis, signed at Harrisville, Ohio, on February 19, 1847
  • Milo Loomis, signed at Harrisville, Ohio, on February 13, 1847
  • Cordelia (Shaw) Lyon of Chatham, Ohio - her 1840-1850s autograph album kept before and after her marriage to Marcus Lyon
  • Mary E. Metcalf, signed at Strongsville, presumably Ohio, on February 22, 1847
  • Mary Packard of Chatham, Ohio, signed in 1855
  • Inscribed to "Cousin Cordelia", by S. C. Pixley of Chatham Center, Ohio, signed in October 1854 and again on August 15, 1882.  He was Stephen Clapp Pixley, whose wife Louisa (Healy) Pixley signed the facing page.  Rev. Pixley was instrumental in the education of Pixley ka Isaka Seme: and  Rev. Pixley or Mrs. Pixley or someone else wrote some words in an African language at the bottom of the page.
  • L. H. Pixley of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, signed on March 16, 1883; Inanda, Nahal, South Africa, "Our Home".  Signed at Wauseon, Ohio, on August 15, 1882  She was Louisa (Healy) Pixley, wife of Rev. Samuel Clapp Pixley, missionary to Africa
  • S.Adaline Rice; the facing page was signed by Sarah A. Rice (not sure of middle initial).  They were born in Massachusetts and moved to Ohio.
  • Sarah Adaline Rice, signed at Chatham, Ohio, in April 1847.  Signed facing pages.  She was born 30 September 1828 in Berkshire County, Massachusetts; married Seneca Eddy and lived at Chatham, Ohio, and later in Iowa
  • R. Rood, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on November 2, 1861
  • Cordelia (Shaw) Lyons of Chatham, Ohio - her 1840-1850s autograph album kept before and after her marriage to Marcus Lyon
  • E. Shaw, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on June 10, 1855 and inscribed "Dear daughter".  Ebenezer Shaw, Jr., Cordelia's father, who would live until 1862.  He wrote on facing pages to support her in her grief over losing a child and mentioned that he had lost a daughter and two sons.
  • T. ? Shaw; perhaps Thomas S. Shaw, born 12 March 1825 at Cummington, Massachusetts.  Some sources say that his parents were Ebenezer Shaw, Jr., and Nancy (Torrey) Shaw, thus making him Cordelia's brother.  Other sources have his parents as John and Polly (Beals) Shaw.  If so, he may have been Cordelia's cousin.
  • M. A. Torrey, signed at Chatham, Ohio, on November 3, 1855
  • Harriet E. White, signed at Harrisville [no state written], on February 25, 1847; inscribed to Miss Shaw; she painted roses and greenery

Chatham, Ohio

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I am a distant cousin of Cordelia Shaw Lyon. This is a great find. My family followed the same path: Plainfield, MA to Chatham, OH to Wauseon, OH.

  2. Is this for sale? The Plainfield Historical Society would be interested in it.

    1. Still available. Contact info under Inquiries in the right margin near the top.