Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Everyday Mysteries

Six score and two years ago, a young boy sat in a sweltering, crowded, and musty classroom, doodling in his grammar book and paying no mind to his struggling teacher. For why should he care about grammar and the rules of English? He had no plans of writing anything other than his name on his future paycheck after he graduated from school--if he graduated from school. The farm was his dream, not the fading words in a book. 
A few weeks ago, a young girl with high dreams of writing something publishable one day was wandering through a dim flea market. As she passed by an overbearing bookcase, she paused, running her fingers over the spines. She wasn't exactly sure why she paused-- she had no interest in these yellowing pieces of nonfiction-- until her fingers stopped on a brown cover. She pulled out the fading tome and flipped through it curiously, stopping on the second page where the copyright information was printed. It read: "Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by WILSON, HINKLE & CO." Suddenly intrigued, the girl payed for her find and took it home. 
That girl was me. 
And this is the book:

It's beautiful, isn't it? Just look at the swirling design, the faded edges, the ancient font. 
That's not why I'm making a post about it, though. I want to share what I found on a page inside the book.

It says: "Don't steal this book for fear of shame, for in this book is the owner's name."
Well, I have no shame. I payed for this book fare and square -- a whole ten dollars. The original asking price was $20, but I convinced the man to give it to me for less. It wasn't difficult. He was slightly wary of me. I can't imagine the impression I gave him, a teenage girl bartering for some old book. 
Anyway, that doesn't mean that someone hasn't stolen this book in the past. Maybe the man I bought it from even stole it. Maybe I'm under a curse at this very moment because I bought stolen property. 
That could explain all of the people dying in strange ways around me. 
Kidding, just kidding. This isn't going to be that kind of blog, remember?

Well, I've searched the entire book a couple times, and I've found no legible name. I did find a couple of pages where the kid filled in every "o" with blue pen (or pencil-- can't tell). Which I find amusing to no end. There's also this page, which is probably my best bet for the name:

There seems to be a name scrawled near the top, along with the poem again. And what looks like the words, "Holmcock Co." Don't Google it. The results weren't pleasing. There's also something that might make it say, "greenfield, I'm of Holmcock Co." I'm afraid I don't understand what that means. This person has very swirly cursive. I have no clue what the first letter in the name is supposed to be. It looks like it could be a backwards J. Or maybe an I? Or a B? I don't know. 
My first guess was Isaiah Griffin, but it's definitely not that. There are two s's and no i's. To me, it looks like Jsso H Joffin. Or whatever that first letter is. Seriously; I'm doubting it's even a real letter. He made it up, just to spite me, a girl 122 years into the future. 
Oh, I forgot to mention the second date, didn't I? This page also says he had it on November 14,1890 (over twenty years after it was published). 

Remarkable how it survived this long. The pages are in relatively good shape and his handwriting is still (mostly) visible. Whoever wrote it is either dead now or immortal. This would make for a lovely novel or short story, huh? I may write something about it one day. Feel free to use it for inspiration if you wish (don't copy my words at the top, please). 

This doesn't have much to do with writing. I just am really interested in it, and thought someone else might be as well. I really want to know what his name is. (Or her? Who knows?)



  1. Wow, that's so cool! Amazing piece of work right there. Maybe you could find a guide online with old handwriting, at a family history site or something like that to decipher the name.

    1. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks! I did try to look up different styles of cursive, but those weren't much help. I didn't think to add "old" in front of my search criteria, though.-facepalm-(;


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