Search Results for 'father's day'

While looking for something else in our Library special collections yesterday, I came across a mid-19th century notebook in the Farquhar collection.  I could tell it was from the Farquhars – beyond the archival location info, of course – because it has one of Roger Brooke Farquhar, Jr.’s typed notes pasted to the cover:

Roger Brooke Farquhar, Sr. grew up at “Olney” (the house, that is, which was conveniently located in what later became the town of Olney) and as a young adult moved to the farm “Lonesome Hollow,” between Olney and Rockville.  Thanks to his son RBF Jr. we have a large archival collection of diaries, letters, photos and other materials that tell the personal story of his family. 

Inside this particular volume, as promised, are poems and literary excerpts written by a variety of hands.  I glanced through and was struck by the following page, annotated in pencil by RBF Jr.* (Click the photo to enlarge.)

The circled bit is the final stanza of “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with an underlined “me” in place of “us.”  The “M.P.C.” who copied this bit may be, as RBF Jr suggested, Mary Coffin, a Sandy Spring teacher – she married Willie Brooke in 1871.  RBF Jr circled the lines and added, “Remember!!!!  RBF Sr to RBF Jr to RBF III.” 

It’s not clear whether RBF Sr. specifically pointed his son toward this piece of poetic advice, or if RBF Jr. found it years later and took it to heart.  What is clear is that RBF Jr. saw this passage as fatherly advice, which he wanted to share with his own son and namesake.  So many different personalities – the original poet, Mary the teacher, the three Rogers – intersect in just this one snippet of a page.  When the words on the page make their own connections across the generations, old papers turn from “archival material” into a real, physical story.

*I recognize his handwriting, as he was one of the Society’s curatorial volunteers in the 1950s; his shaky writing and firm pencil are often found on our early paperwork.  Roger has helped us out with Father’s Day posts before; see his adorable tiny hand-ax



In honor of Father’s Day (coming up this Sunday, kids!  Are you prepared?), today’s artifact is a gift from a father to a son.  This exceedingly small ax looks like it was made for a six year old… because it was.  Roger Brooke Farquhar, Sr. gave this to his son Roger Brooke Farquhar, Jr. in 1882, when Roger Jr. was six years old.  (Roger Jr. donated the ax to us, and supplied the history.)

It is a functional ax, with an iron head and shaped wooden handle.  The base of the handle has the number 21 stamped into it, which makes me think it was purchased, not hand-made.  The head is wedge-shaped, which I believe means it was designed for splitting wood as opposed to chopping down Mom’s shrubbery.  The blade isn’t terribly sharp, but it is almost 130 years old, and it shows signs of use; it may have been sharper originally.  The whole thing is 10.5″ long, with a 4″ head.  (The pen in the photograph is there for scale.)

The Farquhars lived at Rock Spring, a farm off Norbeck Road between Sandy Spring, Roger Sr.’s hometown, and Rockville.  (The privately-owned house is still standing.)   The diaries of both Roger Sr. and his wife Carrie (mentioned in an earlier post) revolve around the chores of a working farm, and Roger Jr. remembered helping out at a young age.  All the children (he was the 5th of 8 kids) were expected to chip in, and this ax was probably intended as an educational or training piece – although maybe this particular tool was chosen because young Roger really, really wanted to be allowed to go chop up small pieces of wood.  Alas for modern six year olds with the same wish!  They’re probably not going to get an adorable little dangerous implement for their very own.

Dr. Elisha Cornelius Etchison (1848-1916), who practiced in Gaithersburg, made himself this traveling medical case in the late 19th century.  It is lined with lambswool, designed to keep his medicines from freezing when he was out making housecalls in the winter.

Dr. Etchison was born in Claggetsville (one of those Montgomery County towns that most people haven’t heard of nowadays).  He taught in the public schools for a few years before attending the University of Maryland medical school; after graduating in 1874 he moved to Gaithersburg, where he was one of the first (possibly the first, although I have not confirmed that) doctors to live and practice in that city.  In addition to his medical career, he was also elected to three terms as the Mayor.  One of his sons, Dr. Neal Etchison, also practiced in Gaithersburg, and another son, Garnett Waters Etchison, was a long-time pharmacist in that city. 

The nice little painted box (I love people who paint or engrave their names on their things!) was donated by Dr. Etchison’s granddaughter, who added some details about her grandfather’s winter work.  “Inasmuch as there was no snow removal in the early days of Gaithersburg, Dr. Etchison drove a horse and sleigh at least six weeks in the winter.  [As he drove,] over his legs was a heavy bear rug and underneath was a hot soapstone to keep the medicines in the box warm and himself warm.”   I have a feeling a lot of people in the DC area are wishing they had a horse and sleigh right about now.

…An early post this week, partly to make up for last week’s delay and partly to cover my bases in case our power goes out tonight in Snowpocalypse 3: This Time It’s Personal.   (For more info on some historic storms in the DC area – including a great anecdote about the 1899 storm, when Montgomery County refused to do any snow removal because it had drifted into the county from Frederick (!) – check out our website.) I hope Dr. Etchison’s insulated box helps you think warm thoughts as we all weather the storm!

Toasty warm lambswool!