Alta Jane’s Autograph Books

Alta Jane Bryan's autograph book, c1887.

Last week I showed some photos of a few Bryan family heirlooms that I photographed last fall while visiting my distant cousin Ed.

The John and Hannah (Huey) Bryan family lived in Bear Creek Township, Jay County, Indiana, in the latter half of the 19th century. I found it surprising that they had calling cards in rural Jay County back then.

Ed also showed me two autograph books that his great–grandmother Alta Jane Bryan once owned. Alta Jane (1866-1946) was the daughter of John and Hannah.

Alta Jane Bryan (1866-1946)

These two autograph books contain short verses written by Alta Jane’s family and friends. The verses were hand-written by her father, mother, two of her sisters, Byantha and Emily, and others. Emily (Bryan) Reid, was my great-great-grandmother. How interesting to see what their handwriting and signatures looked like. It is also interesting to read what they wrote to Alta.

Inside above autograph book.

One of the small autograph books has a blue velour cover. The books are a little over 5 x 3 inches.

Alta Jane Bryan's autograph book, c1887.

Inside of blue autograph book.






Written by Father (John Bryan)

January 1887
Have courage Alta and do not stumble
Though your path be dark as night
There is a star to guide the humble
Trust in God and all is right.
Your Father

Written by Mother, Hannah (Huey) Bryan

December 12, 1887
To Alta
May peace and plenty be thy lot
May conscience ever be thy guide
May God above forget thee not
As on life’s stormy waves you glide.
Your Dear Mother

Written by Alta's sister, Emily (Bryan) Reid

Rockford, Mercer County, Ohio, July 17
Troubles never last forever
The darkest day will pass away
Water falling day by day
Wears the hardest rock away.
Sister Emily Reid

Written by Alta's sister, Emily (Bryan) Reid

Hark, the voice of Jesus is calling
Who will go and work today
Fields are white and harvest waiting
Who will bare the sheaves away.
Loud and strong the master calleth
Rich reward he offers thee.
Who will answer gladly saying
Here am I gladly waiting.
Emily Reid

A verse by Alta’s other sister:

Westchester, December 28 1888
Sister Alta,
Remember me in the hours of leisure
Remember me in the hours of pleasure
And if forgotten in the hour of care
Remember me in the hour of prayer.
From Your Sister, Byantha Saxman

These lines from Alta’s autograph books show the Christian faith of the Bryan family. I also found it interesting that my great-great-grandmother Emily (Bryan) Reid was living in Rockford about 1888. Rockford is only a few miles from where we live.

You never know where you will find information and clues about our ancestors.



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    • Kate Eichler on January 20, 2012 at 8:52 am
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    I barely remember that I once heard Mom and Bernice talking about some relatives living north of Rockford’ maybe close to the railroad tracks, and one night someone broke into yhe house, the girls were upstairs sleeping and pulled covers over their heads, don’t think anyone was hurt or know if anything was taken. Kate

    1. Dorothy Weaver once told me a story very similar to that. I wonder if that occurred at Emily’s house? Maybe Pearl was one of the girls upstairs. That would make sense that grandma and Dorothy would both know the story.

    • Miriam on January 20, 2012 at 8:57 am
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    Where is Westchester????

    1. Westchester is an unincorporated community in Bear Creek Township. It located at 400 N & 450 E and is very close to where the Bryans lived. Hallet Bryan enlisted in the Civil War there. It is between Bryant and Portland but a few miles to the east.

  1. These autograph books are such treasures. I have one from my great-great aunt. I love them because not only are they an insight into the owner’s life, but insight into the era as well. Thanks for sharing!

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