Laura Jessie Lomax & the Birthday Book

Wisest $45 Ever!

One summer in the early 1990s, I was traveling on vacation across Colorado. I was blessed to travel thousands of miles with my family almost every summer and we frequently ended each trip in Glenwood Springs. This particular year, I recall wandering through an amazing antique shop and a nearby jewelry and gift shop. I can’t recall the name of the antique shop but it shared a building with an Italian restaurant (Italian Underground) just west of and beneath the Grand Avenue bridge at 7th Street; the gift shop was called “Watersweeper and the Dwarf” and my teenage brain swirled with stories, ideas, whimsy, and sights of treasures at both stores.

At the antique shop, I handed over every penny I had left and with additional help from my folks, I purchased a box of about a dozen books including a German-language book with a cover similar to a dolled-up “Lady” from a Lady and the Tramp movie poster, an “autograph book” full of signatures mostly from the 1880s, and a Longfellow Birthday Book with most entries with dates between the 1870s to 1940s.

Laura Jessie Lomax

The birthday book does need care and gentle handling. It is about 4″ by 5″ with a tan, soft leather cover including the gold stamped “Longfellow Birthday Book.” It has a copyright of 1910 by Barse & Hopkins and, similar to most birthday books, this one has daily quotes among the pre-printed days, including February 29. On the upper corner of the first page, the name “Laura Jessie Lomax” is handwritten with the date 12/25/17.

Birthday Book, first page inscription (image via this author’s personal library)

What Do We Know?

Using the entries in this book, U.S. state and federal census records, the FamilySearch Family Tree, and other genealogical resources, we’ve been able to create a family chart and timeline for Laura. Follow along as we explore her life, family, and journeys including in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and even abroad.