part of the title page

The Ladies Wreath

Some nineteenth-century American children and teenagers produced magazines to be read by family and friends; “Oliver Onley”—one of the subscribers to Robert Merry’s Museum—and his siblings included puzzles in their own “Home Casket,” and the March sisters in Little Women had their own home magazine. Lucy Larcom and her friends wrote twelve issues of “The Diving Bell” before they became involved with the mill-girls’ magazines: it was “a little fortnightly paper, … filled with our original contributions …. We kept our secrets of authorship very close from everybody except the editor, who had to decipher the handwriting and copy the pieces.” (A New England Girlhood, p. 170) In 1861, Emaline Wicks and J. V. H. Scoville produced at least four issues of “The Literary Gazette.”

“The Ladies Wreath” is a handwritten collection of essays, jokes, and poems. While “The Literary Gazette” was created from a booklet of paper sewn together like a book signature, the “Wreath” apparently was made from folio sheets, which, document expert Joe Nickell explains, were “sheets of paper folded in half and thus having two leaves and four pages.” (See his fascinating evaluation of the manuscript of The Bondwoman’s Narrative, by Hannah Crafts, p. 290.) The center of the booklet is made up three such sheets, written on and stacked, to form 12 pages; two more folded sheets were fitted around them and sewn. (The final two pages of the booklet have a different handwriting than the rest of the “Wreath,” perhaps indicating that pages 16 and 17 were added after the “covers” were put on.) The last sheet seems to have been torn in half, giving the booklet 18 pages, instead of the expected 20. Some tight buttonhole-type stitching has kept the first page attached to the others. All the sheets appear to be from the same folio, as each has a stationer’s crest embossed in the same place; when the sheets were embossed, page 3 seems to have been on top. Unfortunately, the stationer’s crest (a shield quartered, with a crown on top, above a scroll marked “Extra”) doesn’t appear in “Stationers’ Crests,” by Joe Nickell (Manuscripts 45 [Summer 1993]: 199-216).

The “Wreath” is undated; but it seems to be in imitation of The Ladies Wreath, a monthly periodical published from 1846 to 1862, which was made available also as a yearly bound volume. The long “s” is used often, though not consistently. Apparently in imitation of magazine usage, each page has “The Ladies Wreath” as a running title. Mention of “Alstead” and of “Paper Mill Village” indicates that the little periodical may have been created near Alstead, New Hampshire. The author of almost every piece is indicated (“Cleon” appears to have had a taste for poetry of the mournful variety). The “issue” also features at least two handwritings, many mistakes, and some truly atrocious spelling.

The pupils of “District No. 15” seem to have been both male and female, judging by the names appearing in a humorous piece assigning new meanings to scholars’ initials. The editors, however, were female; and essays and poems cover the range of 19th-century subjects familiar to readers of magazines published for women: death, tobacco use, death, pride and affectation, death …. Especially in “Cleon” ’s poems, children starve in the streets, young men die far from home, and fair young maidens know not that spring has come, for they have “left this world of sorrow.” Some material is specific to the school: teasing “explanations” of scholars’ initials, puns on schoolmates’ names. The marriage announcement may be real, may be a joke, or may be wishful thinking.

I’ve transcribed the periodical as best I could, retaining spelling and indicating crossed out passages and added bits. The editors’ handwriting is unpracticed (one appears to have formed her “p”s by making the downstroke and then adding a sketchy “o”) and sometimes difficult to untangle. Punctuation is nonexistant. In this transcript, bits in curly brackets {} were crossed out in the original; my interpretations of impossible words are in italicized square brackets: [ ]; and bits added above the line are indicated with a carat at either end of the word or phrase, with the added parts in superscript: ex., an ^added^ word.

[title page]

The Ladies Wreath
Vol. 1st    Motto    No. 1.
The Golden Gate

Liberal Contribution.

Edited by Misses L. E. Temple
M. H. Knight
Published by
the scholars in
District No. 15.

[p. 1]

No 1

Why is this school room like the State of Maine    Ans. because it contains Augusta

No. 2

What is the most stately of all edifices
Ans. A. Temple

No 3

Why is it so slow travelling this road
Ans. Because there are so many Gates

No. 4

Why is this school room so dark
Ans. because here it is all Knight and no day

No 5

Why is a tobaco chewer like a goose in a duth [dutch?] oven    Ans. because {it} he is always on the spit

[p. 2]

The Ladies Wreath


Kind parents and friends

Will you listen to us

While we read you this piece

This volume encompass’

Our number is small

As you plainly will see

But still the more credit

It will to us be

If we are successful

In presenting to you

A wreath thats well filled

Tho’ it be simple, but true

[p. 3]

The Ladies wreath


In {Papperr} Paper Mill Village June 1st by Rev. Mr. Davis Mr. John Wilson to Miss Hannah A. Gates of Alstead

This youthful pair is now united

Their vows at Hymens Altr plighted

May neither e’er regret the union

But ever live in sweet communion

[p. 4]

The Ladies wreath

Chapter I.

A death at sea

The morning sun rose proudly up,

And shone with luster round:

Resounding woodlands echoed far,

With many a joyful sound.

Upon the dark Atlantics breast

A ship lay rocking, where

The gentle breezes wafted, long

The dark deep waters there.

Upon a couch reclining lay

A pale and wasted form,

Whose palid features told too plain,

The deathful archer’d come.

[p. 5]

The Ladies Wreath

A few fond friends had gathered round

And dropped a silent tear

They saw that death his seal had set

On one to them so dear

We bade them a long and last farewell

And told them not to weep

Then sallied back upon his courch

And closed his eyes in sleep

His gentle spirit took its flight

To purer realms above

Where ever reigns sweet peace and joy

And never ending love

Chapter ii.

I think the mayflowers are very pretty

[p. 6]

The Ladies Wreath

indeed; they have two colors pink and white and are very fragrant I love to walk among the pretty mayflowers and gather thim I have plucked a great many this spring and made them into boquets which kept a great while I hope I shall every spring have the pleasure of seing the sweet little mayflowers

Chapter iii

The fields with green were covered

the mild winds gently blew

The merry rills were rippling

With murmurs soft and low

Within a room was faded

[p. 7]

The Ladies Wreath

By death’s relentless hand

A fair and gentle maiden

She’s gone to the spirit land

She’s left this world of sorrow

She’s gone to dwell above

Where all is joy and gladness

And all know endless love

The home she’s left behind her

Is now O, very drear

For hard it is to sever

With one to them so dear

She’s left a darling sister

And brothers dear to weep

And mourn her sad departure

In death’s long dreamless sleep

[p. 8]

The Ladies Wreath

She’s left this world of sorrow

That gentle form is lying

Neath the cold grassy sod

But she in Heaven is living

With a true and living God

Chapter iv.
Tobacco Chewing

How often do we see young men just entering into manhood that use this vile and unwholsome weed

How strange it does seem that capable and healthy young men should destroy their health by using this      It would not be so great a nuisance to others that do not use it if those that do would swallow the juice, but they

[p. 9]

The Ladies Wreath

must torment other{s} people some as well as themselves I make use of the word “torment” because I think it must be as much as that to them who use tobacco Oh, it does mak me so nervous to sit near any one that keeps spitting all of the time {and also} if those who use tobbacco would not be so very filthy about it it would not be quite so bad; but some dont know any better than to spit any where, where they happen to be or if they know better they do not do better and that makes it so much much the worse: some gentlemen, as they pretend to be, would as soon spit on a carpet as anywhere else I do not say they all do so

[p. 10]

The Ladies Wreath

there are a few exceptions, but they are few and far between

Smoking is not quite so filthy a habit as chewing, in my opinion, but it is just as bad for the health {Altho’} those who smoke carry the smell with them at all times which is very annoysome to some people But I trust I am wearying your patience so I will end this epistle and make room for others, which I presume will be more interesting than this is

Chapter v.

It was one cold and stormy day

The snew was falling fast

[p. 11]

The Ladies Wreath

A starving child passed by the street

And through the raging blast

That passed so angrily aloud

with a long [changed to “low”] {with} and mournful sound

She passed {e}along with steady step

Untill she reached a lane

And when she spied a human form

A rich but sinful man

dressed in garments rich and warm

He heeded not that little form

She stepped into the proud man’s path

And with a smile she said

Please will you give a starving child

A bit of cake or bread

He listened not to hear her cry

With hurried step he past her by

[p. 12]

The Ladies Wreath

She looked around she saw a house

A poor but shackled frame

With courage new she hastened on

A bit of bread to gain

At length she reached the college door

Wherein were others who were poor

She shared with them their scanty meal

She lived with them in love

Till God invited her to come

And dwell with him above

Now she’s gone to {illegible} that land of rest

Where she’ll be forever blest

Chapter vi.

All some people care for is to dress if they can get on their siks [silks] satins

[p. 13]

The Ladies Wreath

and broadcloths {it is all they care for} they are satisfied they think they are gentlemen and ladies then surely but to come to the case in hand they are just nob^o^dy at all but a mess of flirts I have seen those that would try to nip at a great rate but ^could not make it go off^ throw up their heads twist round and make awful work of it but as to me I like to see folks appear natural

Chapter vii.

I love to see the birds that sing

So sweetly on each tree

And hear then their joyous songs

So happy and so free

[p. 14]

The Ladies Wreath

I love again to look upon

The trees so pretty now

Their branches robed in clothes of green

And bending to the ground

And most of all I love to see

A sweet and smiling face

That looks so happy and so gay

& Wears a smile of grace


A. H. W. Always Has Wisdom

E. S T. Eliza Speaks Timidly

M. H. K. Maria Has Kisses

L. A. T. Lucy’s Awful Troublesome

K. S. G. Katie Still Grows

C. L. G. Caroline Looks Good

L. J. K. Lura Judges Kindly

E. D. K. Ever Dutiful and Kind

[p. 15]

The Ladies Wreath

J. A. K. Jennie Always Knows

M. U. K. Mary’s Ugly to Katie

A. S. K. Angie Shows kindness

A. F. K. Abby Fears Kittens

E. D. K. Elmore delights to kiss

E. S. K. Elbridge Seeks Knowledge

O. A. R. {A.} Oscar Always Run

[p. 16]

[Here the handwriting changes.]

The Ladies Wreath

Pride and Humility.

No two feelings of the human mind are more opposit than Pride and Humility. Pride is founded on to high opinion of our selves. Humility on the consiousness of the want of merit. Pride is the offspring of ignorance Humility is the child of Wisdom. Pride heardnes [hardens] the heart Humility softens the temper ^and the^ disposition. Pride is deaf to the charms of concienens [conscience] Humility listens {to} with reverane [reverence] to the monitor within. and fianly [finally] Pride rejects the council of reason the voice of expereance the dictates of religion. and many seek for {relig} riches and honors of this life to {gratly} gratify the Pride of the heart {f} but when they have obtained it how doese it make many of them {apea} appear. Why it lifts them up

[p. 17]

makes {many} them feel them {selves} themselfs above there fellow men. for when they meet them they cannot speak to them. they look upon them as some low beings, when perhapse they have a mind which is far in advance of theirs. While Humility with docile spirit thoughtfully receives instruction from all who address her in the garb of truth.

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