Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1838-1840 Autograph Album of Jane C. Donnell of Alna, Maine

1838-1840 autograph album that belonged originally to Jane C. Donnell of Alna, Maine.   Many of the sentiments were left by Jane's fellow students at Maine Wesleyan Seminary in Readfield, Maine, still operating today as the Kents Hill School, perhaps the oldest continuously operating co-educational school in the nation.

Sadly, Jane died when she was only 20.  The album then apparently passed to her namesake niece Jane C. (Donnell), White, "Jennie", daughter of Benjamin Woodbridge Donnell and Frances Lucinda (Cone) Donnell." And then into the possession of Jennie's daughter Florence Donnell White, whose father was Henry Kirke White.  Incidentally, I found that a Jennie Donnell attended Maine Wesleyan Seminary in the 1870s; perhaps attending the school was a family tradition.

If three owners weren't enough, there's an undated paper tucked in the album that appears to show where the album was presented to a Mary, whether related to the original family or not.

All of the sentiments, however, appear to date from the original owner's possession in the period from 1838 to 1840.

Florence stamped her name on two of the front end papers, the second of which also had the name J. C. Donnell in pencil, which leads me to believe it referred to Florence's mother Jennie's term of ownership rather than Jane's.

The name on the following end paper was, I believe, written by the original owner Jane.

The album measures approximately 7-3/4" x 6-1/4" and contains the sentiments of 21 of Jane's friends and schoolmates.  An alphabetical list of surnames and an alphabetical list of the signers, together with any personal information they offered, appear at the end of this post.

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

Jane C. Donnell was born July 8, 1821 at Alna, Maine, the daughter of Jotham and Jane (Woodbridge) Donnell, who were both born at nearby Newcastle, Maine.  Jane apparently attended Maine Wesleyan Seminary in 1839.  I don't know if she had a chance to put her education to good use before her death on February 26, 1842.

One of the pages was signed by a Frances, who might have been Frances Lucinda (Cone) Donnell, wife of Benjamin Woodbridge Donnell and mother of Jane's niece Jennie C. (Donnell) White.

One signer, Elizabeth Hathorn, who inscribed a page at Wesleyan Seminary on June 9, 1839, mentioned that she was Jane's sister, but the relationship was as a religious or social one.

I wonder if the John T. A., who inscribed two pages was Dr. John T. Achorn of Alna, Maine.

If you have corrections and/or additions to the information above, or information on any of the signers listed below, especially if you can identify some of the people who signed with initials, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Surnames in the album

? [5]DonnellMcCarty
C? [3]LarrabeeW

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

  • Frances
  • Martha, signed at Wesleyan Mansion on June 7, 1839
  • Clifford, signed in 1840
  • Signed by W at Boston, Massachusetts, on January 1, 1840. Page has a small engraving on it.
  • Sophronia
  • John T. A., signed at Alna, Maine, on August 1, 1839; possibly John T. Achorn. He signed another page as well.
  • B. B. Byrne, signed at Maine Seminary on June 8, 1839
  • 2-page sentiment; initials, signed at Wesleyan Mansion, on June 7, 1839. Middle initial likely an S, and surname initial a C.
  • Initials J. D. C., signed at North Edgecomb, Maine, on September 27, 1839
  • Louisa R. C., signed at Maine Wesleyan Seminary on June 8, 1838
  • ? D. Clifford, signed at North Edgecomb, on September 17, 1839; given name initial might be S, T, I, J or ?
  • Jane C. Donnell of Alna, Maine; album owner
  • Elizabeth Hathorn, signed at Wesleyan Seminary on June 9. 1839; "Dear Sister". Presumably Elizabeth meant that she was a religious or social sister.
  • J. Higgins, signed at East Pittston, Maine, on May 23, 1839
  • S. T. L., signed at Maine Wesleyan Seminary in 1839; not sure of middle initial
  • W. C. Larrabee, signed at Readfield, Maine, on April 18, 1839
  • M. J. McCarty, signed at Westport, Maine, in June 1839
  • Harriet J. C. Mitchell, signed at Westbrook, Maine, on May 21, 1839
  • 2-page sentiment left by Rebecca H. Nickerson, signed at M. W. Seminary on June 14, 1839
  • M. Severence, signed at M .W. Seminary in April 1839; presumably Maine Wesleyan Seminary
  • C. W., signed at Edgecomb, Maine, on March 6, 1840
  • Florence Donnell White, grand niece of original album owner Jane C. Donnell.  Florence's name is stamped on two pages at the beginning of the album, and it appears that the album eventually passed into her hands.  She was the daughter of Henry Kirke White and Jane C. (Donnell) White, "Jennie", who was the niece and namesake of the original owner.

Alna, Maine

Thanks for stopping by!


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    1. I don't have any information other than what I gleaned online when researching this album. Have you tried FamilySearch.org? Some of the subscription services are available free at your local library - and Maine State Library will soon be offering the library edition of My Heritage to folks at home; sometime this Spring, I believe.

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