This small trunk – the precursor of a suitcase, if you will – belonged to Miss Rebecca Gay, born in 1789, daughter of Calvin and Joanna Kingsbury Gay of
It’s a gorgeous old thing (it’s slightly more than two hundred years old now) and it lives in my downstairs guest room. It has a rounded top, hobnailed decoration on the lid, including the initials RG; the whole thing is just over two feet long, a foot wide and ten inches deep, and it’s full of old letters, diaries, photographs and other odds and ends.
Rebecca lined the interior of her trunk with newspaper – there are cuttings from the Dedham, MA Norfolk Repository, a weekly publication in the early 1800s.
Inside the lid, there’s a “programme” of “Exercises of Exhibition” from Day’s Academy, Wrentham, MA from September 15, 1809; Rebecca’s younger brother Ebenezer appears in two of these exercises: The Weathercock, a Dialogue with seven of his male classmates, and, at the very end of the exhibition, another – Mrs. Wiggins, a Dialogue with the same cast and crew.
Riveting, I’m sure.
Ebenezer ended up at Harvard; he became a minister, a real Bible-thumper, my grandfather said. Somewhere I’ve got a cabinet photo of him, taken in the 1880s when he was in his 90s; he’s the stuff of nightmares – long, stringy white beard, dangly mustaches, and straggly hair that droops over his shoulders.
The other piece of artwork pasted on the inside of the lid is a Love Knot. It’s a complicated, interwoven pattern (for a quilt, maybe) and has romantic notions written throughout: true love is a precious treasure reads one; entwining arms sharing kisses true love blisses proclaims another.
At the bottom, she signed her name – Rebecca Gay – in the lower right she wrote Drawn July 12, 1809.
She drew the knot, papered and prepared her traveling trunk when she was just twenty years old; the following year, this scrawling notation appears in the
town records: Walpole
This may certify that these subscribers have marriede...Major John A. Gould to Rebeccah Gay both of
May 29, 1810 Walpole
John and Rebecca were my fourth great-grandparents; in the bottom of this trunk is a photograph of their
homestead and his original diary. Massachusetts