Maplewood History: Scrapbooking – One Hundred and Forty-One Years Ago

An undated photograph of William Lyman Thomas from wife, Kate's scrapbook. I suspect but can't yet prove that Thomas wrote this obituary of his father-in-law. I hope everyone that wants to can read this without dificulty. I'm leaving on a short vacation early tomorrow so I won't be able to work on any of this for about a week. Enjoy your summer weather. Doug

My neighbor’s wife is a scrapbooker, I’ve heard.  I’m not sure exactly what these scrapbookers are doing or what their scrapbooks look like.  I’ve seen only a couple in the past. My grandmother started one when my father was born. My sister has that one.  A man once gave me one his grandmother, Marjorie Slavik Irwin, had made in high school for our historical collection at the library. I took a look at it and it seemed like something I would imagine a teenage girl would make.  A record in napkins, menus and matchbook covers of dances danced and dates dated.

There are about five scrapbooks in the trove of Sutton family artifacts.  Truly I should probably call it the Sutton, Thomas, Grumley, Hayes, McConnell collection with the emphasis on Thomas.  William Lyman Thomas had made two that survive. One in 1900 and another in 1901. His wife, Kate, made one that begins in 1877 with the obituaries of her father, James C. Sutton. Their daughter, Emma kept a journal dated 1885.  Additionally there is a memorial scrapbook to their daughter, Kittie who passed when she was only twenty years old. I would suspect that their other children may have made their own scrapbooks or journals that most likely followed them wherever their lives took them.

There exists a wealth of information in these hand-filled books.  I say hand-filled because they were store bought with pregummed pages.  At least one brand was manufactured by a fellow that most of you would recognize – Mark Twain.  I don’t know if he made any money off of his scrapbook venture but I can say that his glue is still holding well one hundred and forty-one years later!

The cover of Kate Sutton’s scrapbook. From the collection of Chrissie Hayes McConnell, descendant of William Lyman & Kate Thomas. Photographed by Doug Houser May 3, 2018
Look who made it. Her clippings begin with the obituaries of her father, James C. Sutton who died July 19, 1877.  Some of these clippings are very long but my audience includes a bunch of readers so here goes.  I’ve read them myself and they’re worth it.  I’m not sure until I post these if they’ll be easy to read on your cell phones.

An undated photograph of William Lyman Thomas from wife, Kate’s scrapbook. I suspect but can’t yet prove that Thomas wrote this obituary of his father-in-law. I hope everyone that wants to can read this without difficulty. I’m leaving on a short vacation early tomorrow so I won’t be able to work on any of this for about a week. Enjoy your summer weather. Doug



  1. Doug, I wonder if you have any advice for those of us living now in regards to our town’s history. I often think things that I do and see are not that interesting and who would want to read about them in the future. But then I read some of the stuff that you have posted and see that a lot of it is not some big fantastic event that they are writing about but everyday life. I am not saying my life is all that interesting but it seems like even some sort of weekly journal about events might be worthwhile. I have lived here for 40 years and seen changes in the town, been to different events, known and have lost people and have not really recorded much of it at all. Thinking it might be time to do some of this writing things down. Plus some good pictures of the people and events that I might mention to bring it all together.

    Wondering with the internet and computers will the individual stories still be important in the future or forgotten.

    • Mark, From my viewpoint the survival of a lot of the information I post seems almost entirely random. A lot of the early hard copies of photographs have survived fairly well. There were far fewer of them for one thing. I am a bit pessimistic about the future of the digital photographs. I didn’t begin taking digital photographs until late in 2005, 13 years ago. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 images stored on Amazon’s cloud. The majority of them are average photos and not particularly worth saving but I do because it’s so easy and cheap. Will my son or grandsons have any interest in them? I doubt it. Will Amazon save them forever once I stop paying the yearly fee? I doubt that too. Who would edit them? The job would be massive.
      I have made many posts of fairly average families. They are made interesting by the passage of time. Their photographic images are windows into our past. I particularly like the ones that show buildings that we still recognize but with antique automobiles or horses even pulled up alongside.
      What should you save concerning your own life? Anything that seems important to you, I guess. We all have enjoyed Bill Jones’ retelling of things that happened to him as a child growing up in Maplewood. Perhaps you should write down your own accounts of events that were important to you. I do believe you should write these things yourself (or have your wife type them for you like Barb does for Bill). If you make a recording I can almost guarantee no one will ever listen to it. None of us have that much extra time. Hope this helps. As always, I appreciate your comments.

  2. Hey, Doug, Keep loving these postings! Can share that I studied Mark Twain— both in Hannibal and in Hartford. The Hartford week was “Mark Twain in the Golden Age”. As you are aware, the latter relates to the late 1800s and was a time of invention. Mark Twain lost much of his fortune pursuing the invention of a type setting machine that never worked out. (Two exist and one is at the Mark Twain Home and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut—his Victorian “gingerbread” home he built next door to Harriet Beacher Stowe on Farmington Ave.) I bring all this up since he wanted to cash in on all the money being made around him (beyond his books) and through all of it, he made the most (invention) money from the invention of his scrapbook! He fought copyright as his book was pirated throughout the world and made probably the most money from his lectures across the country and throughout the world! He got out of his bankruptcy by doing this in many foreign lands.
    The publishing company he was part of really only earned “big” money by publishing the memoir of Ulysses S. Grant right before Grant died (profits which also funded his wife, Julia Dent Grant, for the rest of her life in New York. One reason Grants tomb is in NYC and not here in STL near the only home(s) they ever owned.) Just a little extension on your info. Great to see a photo of one of his scrapbooks! Thx again! PL

    • Hi Pickett, I truly appreciate all of the interesting information you have added to this post. I remember reading of Twain’s financial disaster but had forgotten all of the details. We’re lucky to have part of Maplewood history preserved in one of his scrapbooks. Thanks again for sharing this knowledge with all of my readers.

  3. Thank you Doug for another history lesson Enjoy your vacation and we look forward to the next chapter

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