Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1880s Autograph Album of Willie F. Thomas of Hamilton, Ohio


1880s autograph album owned by Willie F. Thomas of Hamilton, Ohio. 

Willie signed his name as W. F. Thomas on the inside front cover.



He pasted his calling card on the first end paper and inscribed a message to his friends.



The album is approximately 5-1/2" x 3-1/4" and contains 21 pages signed by Willie himself, his relatives and friends.  Many of the signers indicate they are Willie's schoolmates.  Some mention Oakland College, but I wasn't able to find references online to an Oakland College at or near Hamilton, Ohio.  Perhaps Willie attended an Oakland College somewhere else.

An alphabetical list of the signers in Willie's album appears at the end of this post.  If you have information on any of them, please leave a comment or contact me directly.  Thanks!



When first researching a Willie F. Thomas, I found a lot of possibilities.  Luckily, however, one of the signers indicated that she was Willie's cousin Grace, and she or someone else had later written the name Sheely in pencil.  That clue was enough to persuade me that I was following the correct Willie.

From online research, hopefully correct: [corrections and additions welcome!]

William Franklin Thomas was born 14 February 1874 at Hamilton, Ohio, the son of Marcellus and Thurza Ellen (Sheely) Thomas, who were both born at Fairfield Township in Ohio.

Willie's paternal grandparents were Squire and Lorane (Ewart) Thomas.  His maternal grandparents were John Roderick Sheely and Sidney (Catterlin) Sheely.

On 1 January 1900 in Butler County, Ohio, long after he had finished compiling the sentiments of friends and relatives in his album, William F. Thomas married Annie St. Clair Murphy, daughter of John Taylor Murphy and Mary Perdue (Elliott) Murphy.  Annie was born about 1877 in Illinois.  She was living at Paris, Illinois, at the time of her marriage.

The couple had at least one child, a son Robert Elliott Thomas, born about 31 July 1902.

In the 1910 Census of Hamilton, Ohio, William was working as a Christian Science librarian.  By 1920, the family had moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where William was working as the secretary of a metal company.  Annie's mother Mary Perdue (Elliott) Murphy was living with them.

By 1930, they had moved to Jefferson, Alabama, where William was working as a real estate salesman.  Their son Robert was no longer living with them, but Annie's mother was still with them.

If you have corrections to the information above, or additions to it, please leave a comment or contact me directly.  Thanks!

Alphabetical list of the signers in Willie's album: [Note: given names within a specific surname may not be in alphabetical order.]


  • Sketch of a Bird, entitled the "What Is It."
  • Linus P. Clawson, signed at Oakland College on 14 January 1885; Willie's schoolmate
  • Clement Green of Oakland, Ohio; Willie's schoolmate
  • Reuben Green, signed at Hamilton, Ohio, on 14 January 1885; Willie's schoolmate
  • Ella Harkrider of Paris, Illinois
  • Maggie Harlow, signed at Hamilton, Ohio, on 13 January 1885
  • Katie Harlow, signed at Hamilton, Ohio, on 13 January 1885
  • Thomas Harlow, signed in 1884
  • Charley Keltner, signed on 27 January 1886; Willie's schoolmate
  • S. C. Landis, signed at Hamilton, Ohio, on 6 January 1886.  P.P.C.  This may be the Samuel C. Landis who later served in the Ohio state legislature.
  • Charley Line, signed at Hamilton, Ohio, on 25 January 1886
  • Belle Line, signed on 13 January 1885; Willie's schoolmate
  • Carrie Line, signed 13 January 1885 at Oakland College
  • Belle Mitchell
  • John Regan, signed at Hamilton, Ohio, on 13 January 1885
  • Henry Rentschler, signed at Oakland School, on 14 January 1885; Willie's schoolmate
  • Grace Sheely, signed at Oakland, Ohio, in 1883; Willie's cousin.  Thanks to the name Sheely written in pencil later, Grace's identity can be established as Grace Sheely, daughter of Daniel Millikin Sheely and wife Gertrude.  Daniel Millikin Sheely was the older brother of Willie's mother Thurza (Sheely) Thomas.
  • Anna; Willie's cousin.  Perhaps she was Anna Sheely, daughter of Daniel Milliken Sheely and his wife Gertrude.  Daniel Milliken Sheely was the older brother of Willie's mother  Thurza Ellen (Sheely) Thomas.
  • Charles Silver, signed at Hamilton, Ohio on 25 January 1886; Willie's schoolmate
  • William F. Thomas of Hamilton, Ohio; album owner
  • E. F. Thomas


Hamilton, Ohio


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Jefferson, Alabama


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Thanks for stopping by!

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