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Thanks and Giving: Emeline Colton's Friendship Journal

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

On this day of Thanks and Giving, we wanted to reach out to our friends near and far and share a recent and wonderful addition to the Longmeadow Historical Society's collection: Emeline Colton's Friendship Journal from the 1820s. In this charming book are collected small gifts of written verse and sentiment bestowed upon Emeline by friends and family. It is a prime example of how donor dollars help us to fulfill the mission of the Longmeadow Historical Society to preserve our town's history and inspire public awareness of the people, places, and events that have contributed to Longmeadow's history.

Emeline Colton's Friendship Journal Storrs House Museum Archives

Marbled cover typical of 1820's journals like Emeline Colton's

This little gem was listed on eBay this past summer as an “Antique 1822 MANUSCRIPT FRIENDSHIP BOOK Handwritten Journal POETRY New England.” It belonged to Emeline Colton (1804-1863). A bit of quick research proved a good Longmeadow connection as she was born and raised here, and made our purchase worthwhile. Such treasures inside! Dozens of pages of kind messages and copied verses by friends of young Emeline. Friendship albums served exactly this purpose: young friends could pen thoughts and wishes as gifts to each other. Based on the sheer volume and content we can imagine Emeline to be a devoted friend to those in her circle in 1820’s Longmeadow.

One of the inscriptions in particular jumped out to us as it belongs to “E. Newell” - Edwin Newell, son of local stone and grave-cutter, Hermon Newell. Their house today is at 60 Williams Street, though in 1822 at the time of E. Newell’s inscription it was located at the present site of Center School on the green.

Two pages of E. Newell's beautiful penmanship

"E. Newell, Longmeadow Nov. 30, 1822"

On November 30, 1822, Edwin inscribed a poetic sentiment in beautiful penmanship the idea that, “The true art of life is, to fill up our hours / with works for the good of mankind; /Here, here’s a vocation, well worthy the power, / Of the best and the loftiest mind...” This idea is particularly poignant considering Edwin Newell himself would be dead and buried within four years at age 24, his headstone artfully carved by his own father and featuring the symbolic weeping willow.

Newell Family Home - today located at 60 Williams Street

Edwin Newell's Headstone Carved by his father, Hermon Newell in 1826 Edwin was only 24 years old at the time of his death

Next week on Giving Tuesday, we hope you will leave us a token of friendship like those left in Emeline Colton’s journal. Please consider a donation to the Longmeadow Historical Society so we can continue to make purchases like these and uncover more clues about life in Longmeadow long ago.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!

Contributed by Melissa M. Cybulski, Board Member, Longmeadow Historical Society

Originally published November 26, 2020

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