Every once in a while I come across a really poignant document in the midst of deeds and letters and other family papers that can be more mundane. That happened this week when I cataloged a collection of papers related to the Work and Smith families. Tucked in among the numerous deeds and family memorabilia was a hand drawn record for the family of Silas Phelps and his wife Ursula Thrall Phelps of East Granby, Connecticut.
The vignette drawn at the top reminds me of decorations found on samplers, making me wonder if this was perhaps something done at school by one of the girls, possibly Tryphena. The buildings and ship have a very European look, which lends further credence to the school exercise theory.
The last noted birth was that of a stillborn daughter on June 1, 1810, leading me to believe this record was created very near that date. The entry for “A son” born June 18, 1805, who died fourteen days later reminds me how children were not named immediately at birth as we often do today, because the “little stranger” had a good chance of not surviving past the first month. It was harder to lose a child who had an identity.
This was obviously cherished by someone in the family, because the death dates are entered in different hands, starting with Silas in 1835 and ending with Anna Phelps who died in 1859. Who that person was, and how the document ended up here at CHS is a mystery we may never solve.
You can see the record in person in the Research Center by requesting Ms 80728.