Transcribed, scanned and annotated by Marilyn A. Hudson [2010]

Description: A Victorian autograph album

Contents: Various signatures and autograph entries by friends and family of Minnie M.Crandall of West Genesee, New York. 

According to the 1880 Federal Census a family matching the information in the album was located in the family of a James (K?) Crandall, 47, House Carpenter, b. NY. His wife (her name difficult to read) was listed as age 43, b. NY. Children: Harvey L., age 22; Minnie M., age 18, Ira B., age 12, all born in NY.

External Links for Information: Genesee Genealogical Webpage


In the middle of the 1960's my mother came home with a small brown autograph book acquired at a local 'second-hand', Bill’s Curiosity Shop in Wellington, Kansas. The inscription on the inside read: 'Minnie M. Crandall a present from her brother H. LeMonde Crandell, Christmas Eve 1879". Her inscription reads: "To my friends, March 12, 1880. My album is a garden spot/Where all of my friends may sow/ Where thorns and thistles flourish not/ But flowers from above may grow/ with smiles for sunshine, tears for showers/ I'll water and guard these flowers. Minnie."

Based on the information gleaned from the volume itself I went to the Federal census records and located in 1880 a Minnie M. Crandall residing in Genesee, Allegany Co., NY. She was listed in the home of James H. Crandall, 45, b. New York, and had family listed including a brother matching the signature inscription of H. LeMonde Crandall in one Henry L. Crandall, aged 22, b. in New York and a younger brother named Ira, aged 12.

My mother was Velma Dora Cochren Terry and her mother was Annie B. Brown Cochren Willard. The only grandfather I ever knew as a child was a delightful man named Daniel Verne Willard.  Annie and she had met in Barry Co., Missouri after her husband had died in Kansas. Her daughter, my mother, was living in Barry County with her first husband Melvin Priest.  Annie and her young son George Valjean Cochren had moved to Missouri along with her youngest daughter.  She soon found work as a housecleaner and met Daniel Willard, a widow.

I fell heir to a collection of Willard photos when my mother died and tried to find descendents but could never locate any.  Finally, I decided to scan them and add them to Ancestry so others might have access to the images. In the process, I used the data from the images and accompanying news clippings to establish the family line of ‘Grandpa Willard’.  

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the girl in the autograph album and his mother were one and the same person.

Biographical Narrative:
Minnie M (Maybelle) Crandall was born  7 Nov 1860 in Brookfield, Madison, New York and she died 31 Dec 1924 in Cassville, Barry, Missouri.    In 1886 she married Samuel Otsey Willard, possibly in Missouri or Kansas.
Her children were:
1. Guy Osman Willard (1890-1910)
2. Daniel Verne Willard (1892-1964)
3. Hervey Elson Willard (1897-1964)
4. Edna Gladys Willard Edwards (1902-1928)
5. Lucy Evelyn Willard Patten
6. Mysaett Myra Willard Smalley
7. Otsy W Willard Baldwin Gibson

Census Records appear to locate her in these areas:
1870 Census Locust Creek, Linn, MO w/parents
1880 Census Genesee, Allegany, NY w/parents
1886 Married Samuel Orley Willard
1900 Census Fargo, Seward, KS
1910 Census Mineral, Barry, MO
1920 Census Butterfield, Barry, MO
1924 Death Butterfield, Barry, MO
1925 Burial: Ennis Cemetery ; in the same place her spouse and three children

This page reads: "Minnie - Tis often hard to find a friend/On whom you always may depend/And when a friend you think you've got/a trial proves that you have not. Your true friend, Adell Roberts, Portsville, Feb. 15, 1880." To the side is written "Old sister Pheba"

The autographs vary in style and skill and cover Feb. 1880 - Oct. 1882. One page has been torn/cut out raising questions of friendships or love affairs gone awry.

Eve Scoudene of Portsville, NY wrote on April 17, 1880:
"Deem every day of your life a leaf in your history."

W.C. Vincent wrote (no date):
"Among those whose love is true, and enduring,
always remember to number me."

Edith E. Hatch and Lynn Measr (or Meass) of Farmington, Conn. wrote on Oct. 9, 1882:
"I pray the prayer of Plato old,
God make thee beautiful within
And may thine eyes the good behold
In everything save sin."

Lillian H. Spurr of "Ct." wrote on Oct. 22, 1882:
"The nymph who flirts and runs away-
Will sure be caught some lucky day."

H.A.Babcock, "Ord Valley" Co., Nebraska, wrote on Feb. 14, 1883:
Mid the storms of life
Should you need an umbrella
May you have to uphold it
A handsome young fellow."

Minnie Nash, Persia, NY wrote on Feb. 16, 1882:
"No tale of eloquence have I to breathe
yet, kind teacher, I fain would wreathe
A floral garland, whose leaves shall be
Emblems and tokens of love to thee."

This lovely page is decorated with small cardboard art sticker of a floral bouquet and reads:

Though clouds may rest on the present,
And sorrow on days that are gone.
There is no night so utterly cheerless
That we may not look for the dawn.
And there is no human being
With so wholly dark a lot
But the heart by turning the picture
May find some sunny spot.
Your true friend,

Effie V. Roberts
Portsville Feb 16,1880"


Daniel Verne Willard, son of Minnie Crandall Willard, with 2nd wife Annie B. Brown, ca 1958

Page: 1
May your path be strewn with flowers. Your brother H. LeMonde Crandall. West Genesse, Dec. 29, 1879.

Page: 2
March 12, 1880
This album is a garden –spot
Where all my friends may sow.
Where thorns and thistles flourish not,
But flowers alone may grow,
With smiles for sunshine, tears for showers,
I’ll water, watch and guard these flowers

Page: 3
June 1, 1880
Esther R. Burdick Hebron Potter Olv Penn

Jan 4, 1880
Elizabeth Burdick Hebron Potter Co. Pa

John [ O, C, or G?} Burdick
Hebron Jan 1, 1880

Page: 4
Ella M. Burdick, Hebron, Jan. 1 ,1880

Page: 5
H. Ellis Yap, Portsville Cat. C.O.

Page: 6
Frannie P. Brudick, Hebron Potter Co. P.A. Jan 1, 1880

Page: 7
May your path be strewn with flowers
Elizabeth Randolph Place
Hebron, Potter Co., Jan. 1, 1880

Page: 8
Minnie H. Burdick
Hebron, Jan. 1, 1880

Page: 9
[Written in purple pencil]
“All golden thoughts, all wealth of days
True friendship, love surround you
So may you live till life be closed
Ad angles [sic] hand you have crowned you.”
Elvin G. Burdick
Hebron, Jan. 2, 1880

Page: 10
Lincoln Burdick
Hebron, Jan. 2, 1880

Page: 11
Dear Minnie
Accept granmothers offering
Lucy (T or C) Crandall
Smiths Mills

Page: 12
Mid the storms of life
Should you need an umbrella
May you have to uphold it
A handsome young fellow.

H.A. Babcock
Ord Valley Co. Nebraska
Feb. 14, 1883

Page: 13
May your life be one of happiness
Is the wish of your friend.
Rehoby Osterstruck
Nov. 23, 1881

Page: 14
As ripples flow a bark at sea
So may happiness follow thee
Is the sincere wish of your friend
O.E. Chester
Feb 7, 1883
Rockville, R.I.

Page: 15
Drop one pearl in memories casket for me…
Yours truly
Maggie Morgan
March 8, 1880

Page: 16
Regards of Florence Nash
West Clarksville, NY
Aug 1, 1883

Page: 17
No tale of eleoquence [sic] have I to breathe
Yet, kind teacher, I fain would wreathe
A floral garland, whose leaves shall be
Emblems and tokens of love to thee.
Minnie Nash
Persia, NY
Feb. 16, 1882

Page: 18
[floral sticker]
When the sun shines brightly
In thy pleasant home
Think of me not lightly
When far away I roam.
Truly your friend
Frank Roberts
Feb. 5, 1880

Page: 19
May joy and happiness
Ever follow you
Is the wish of a friend and schoolmate
Jason Hopkins
West Genesse
Jan 25, 1880
Page: 20
Please accept these forget-me-nots from your friend
Nora Armstrong
Portsville NY

Page: 21
Dear Minnie
At evenings close when darkened shadows
Are gathering thick and fast,
And brooding thoughts come slowly on
The memory of the past;
Then, when the lights of other days
Meets gently over there
Brings back the happy hours of yore –
Oh! Then think thou of me.
Your mother
West Genesee Jan 1, 1991

Page: 22
Not like the rose
Shall my friendship whither
But like the evergreen
Live forever
Nettie Hopkins
Jan 25, 1880

Page: 23
Edwin J. Babcock
North Loup, Nebraska
Afred Uni
Dec 4, 1883

Page: 24
The hill thou climbest is high
The prize is great and near
Write “duty” on thy heart and preserver
Your sincere friend
Mrs. S. M. Herrich
March 25, 1880

Page: 25
A thousand volumes in a thousand tongues
Enshrine the lessons of experience
John F. Maxson
West Genesee NY Jan 22, 1882
Obit NY

Page: 26
Friend Minnie –
Excellent my friend these lines from me
They show that I remember thee,
And hope some thoughts hey will return
Till you and I shall meet again.
NY March 6, 1882
E.C. Babcocak
Ord, Neb

Page: 27
Dear Minnie
When the hours of sweetest silence
Brings the sacred hour of prayer
And you knell at morn or evening
Ask for one that is not there.
When the years of time are passing
Like a shadow o’er the sea
Ever shall my heart be asking
Dear friend, Minnie, think of me.
Jessie (Petter or Potter?)

Page: 28
Vera amacitia est semputerna
Amicus Tuus
Fred Johnson
Gowanda NY
March 27, 1880

Page: 29
[in purple pencil]
May your dear friend be ever blest
With friends selected from the best
And in return my [sic] you extend
A gem of love to every friend
Mary M. Kenyon
West Genesse NY
March 3, 1883

Page: 30
Dear Minnie
Strive to learn through life (faint and unreadable)
To accomplish what you undertake
Aunt Ellen
March 25, 1880

Page: 31
Dear Minnie
Remember that your life will but reflect the good that is in your heart. May it – ever be as pure and guileless, as when a little child, you first won a warm place in my heart.
Ever your friend
Retta Babcock
Ord, Neb. Feb. 14, 1883

Page: 32
Do, re, me, fa, so [symbol] Feb 22 1881

These few lines to you are tendered
By a friend sincere and true
Hoping but to be remembered
When I’ far away from you.
Adella A. Thomas
[Ports]ville NY

Page: 33
Sister Minnie
The following words apply to as a Christian
Found in Rev. 2:10 “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
Writen [sic] at the close of my pastorate with the West Genesee Church. With kind regards,
Geo P Kenyon
March 3, 1888

Page: 34
Remember me dear Minnie when on this lines you look
Remember it was Florence who wrote them in your book
Your friend and schoolmate
Florence Crandall

Page: 35
Minnie every cloud which may for a time dim your horizon, be found to contain a silver lining.
Mrs. C.C. Johnson
Gowanda, NY

Page: 36
To Minnie
Please accept the compliments and best wishes of CC Johnson
Gowanda March 26 1880

Page: 37
Remember me when this you see
And bitter tears doth fall
The pleasant days I’ve spent with thee
Beneath these old school walls
July 31, 1883
Estus Forster
West Clarksville Y
White school

Page: 38
Harman Rosentha

Page: 39
Dear Minnie:
As we journey through life Let us live by the way
Nettie Potter Andover West Genesee Dec 31 1880

Page: 40
“The darkest hour of night is just before the dawning.”
Ever your friend Nora D. Norton Portsville, NY March 25, 1882

Page: 41
Deem every day of your life a page in your history,
N.P. Reyes
Arch 20, 1880

Page: 42
Dear Minnie:
May thy home be bright [unreadable due to fading]
Where’re in the wide world it may be
May peace and prosperity fall [two words, unreadable]
And ever smile sweetly on thee
Your friend
Mrs. M. P. Keyes, Portsville, NY, March 20, 1880

Page: 43
Dear Minnie –
Q: What’s the dearest to our heart?
A: “Home” “Mother” “friends”
Your friend H. Hirrick

Page: 44
Heaven is not reached at single bound
But we build the ladder by which we rise;
From the lovely earth to the vaulted skies,
And we mount to its summit round by round
Marie (Meridith?) Nash
Persia Catt Co.

Page: 45
Yours truly G. (G. or S.) Hicks
Trenton Oct. 11, 1882

Page: 46
That thy life may be one of usefulness
And prosperity and an eternity of happiness
Is the wish of your friend Mary Nash
Feb. 25, 1881

Page: 47
If wishes of mine can prove of worth
Be this my portion given
A blameless, joyous life on earth,
And a golden crown in heaven.
Yours sincerely,
K.T. McBride
Portsville Jan 18, 1880

Page: 48
Regards of Cora Peekham
West Clarskville, Allegany Co., NY
July 30, 1883

Page: 49
Those realms – how beautiful and fair Dear Teacher! A blissful meeting there.
Bell West Feb 27, 1882

Page: 50
Hope constantly. Labor faithfully, wait patiently, win surely.
O.J. Nash
Feb 22 1882

Page: 51
Life is a diamond rich and rare. Keep undimmed its luster fair.
Nellie Nash
Feb. 17, 1882

Page: 52
I am very respectfully your cousin
W.N. (or H) Vincent
Salamanca, NY
Mar 29 1880

Page: 53
If we have nothing but memory
To keep the chain of friendship bright
(then) let us never forget the scenes and days of the past
Your cousin
Edgar L. Vincent
Olean NY
“Times” Office

Page: 54
Compliments of Effie C. Nash
West Clarksville NY
Allegheny Co
July 31, 1883

Page: 55
“True friendship is everlasting”
Your friend forever
Dessie Norton
Nov. 23, [’87 or ‘81]



Melvin Marion Priest was son of Charles Reuben Priest and Sena Adeline Boyd Priest. He was born  12 July 1910 (based on the SSDI ).  He died in a plane crash near the  Clinton-Sherman  Airport in Washita Co., Oklahoma.  Apparently living in Vian, Oklahoma at the time of his death, his place of burial is still to be determined.

His siblings were  Maudie V. Priest Marbut, Lawrence William Priest, Allie M. Priest, Clarence C. Priest, Bessie M. Priest Raymond Wesley Priest, Norman E. Priest and Edna E. Priest. 

He married Velma Dora Cochren in Lyons, Rice , Kansas on 18 October 1930.  He was working the broomcorn harvest when they met.  They will live in the Plevna, Reno Co., Kansas area until about 1933, during which time they will have Melvin Daniel Priest, nicknamed variously "Sonny" and "Charles", and a daughter Leona Fay Priest (1933-1933).

In 1934 they are Barry Co., Missouri near his family where Doris  (spelled Dorris on death certificate and grave entry but her mother always spelled it Doris) Arlene Priest was born (1934- 1935) but dies at 8 months from pnuemonia.

Over the next few years his family expanded to include Ruth Claudine (who would change her name later to Carol), Helen, and Larry L. (who would later change his name to Louis L.). On the 1940 census they are still in Barry Co., Mo in the Flat Creek area where his biological family resided.  He was listed as working on a road crew doing construction.

In the early days of the 1940's he is in Wichita running a boarding house with his family. As the war ended so did his marriage to Velma, although an exact date of divorce is unknown.  

Wife Velma and daughter Helen  inspect one of the planes Melvin Sr. flew, ca. 1945
At the time of his death he was working, apparently, for the J. H. Carman construction company putting in a highway in the Elk City, Oklahoma region.

New information suggests he had married a woman in Kansas within a  year or so of the probable date of the divorce from Velma.  This information suggests he fathered two sons and after his death they all relocated to California.



During a recent research jaunt the truth of the title phrase was apparent.  Using a large and well known program that included an index to the census I was tracking down some family lines.  I was frustrated enough due to the problems associated with the spelling variations for the name from decade to decade and from family line to family line.   I kept finding the family with another family apparently living with them and that made no sense, especially since some of that family appeared to match the family I was hunting.

Then I decided to re-examine the actual census record and see what clues might be missing.

Imagine my chagrin when on looking at the census it became clear there had been a glaring transcription error!   The family name, although spelled differently than other census records was consistent throughout the census record. The mysterious "other family", called Napier in the index, disappeared!

The 1860 entry from Venango Co., PA for the family of Henry and Margaret Niner revealed (spelled here as Nyner) - 
Henry Niner, 43, Bavaria ? Germany (Hesse-Kessel according to other records/lore)
Margaret, 43, b. Maryland (other census will state Germany)
George Crothel, 18 b Maryland (named for an elderly neighbor who may be related)
Fred L, 12
Barbara, 10
Margaret, 8
Wm, 4


Search 113.0 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: