Sunday, July 29, 2012


I found this tattered volume of Gospel Hymns (published by Biglow & Main, 1876) in a flea market. It was owned by Carrie Barker of Bridgton, Maine; she was the youngest of James S. and Rachel E. Barker’s seven children and was twenty years old when she signed her name inside this hymnal 1878.
According to the 1880 census, her father was a cooper (and suffered from catarrh, which I’ve always thought sounds particularly nasty).  Her mother “kept house.”

Inside the back cover, Carrie listed “the amount I have spent of Gram’s money.” (Birthday money, perhaps? Or Christmas? Was it Gram Barker who gave her the money? Or her mother’s mother?) Three expenditures: one for 1.50, one for 1.87, the last for 50 cents.
And she also wrote notes to herself throughout the hymnal. Apparently, she assigned different hymns to different people: beside the title I Am Praying for You, Carrie wrote “Mrs. Cluff;”  I Am Sweeping Through the Gates is marked for “Polly.”
She shows, too, a great sense of humor – underneath the hymn titled Hebron, she’s written “Maine”  (Hebron, Maine is about 25 miles northeast of Carrie’s hometown of Bridgton).

I’m in the process now of trying to locate one of Carrie’s descendants; if I find one, I’ll send the hymnal along.
Then we can all sing Hymn No. 98: Home at Last.

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