October 12th, 2008 by sashafaith
This post is written for participation in the blog carnival Cabinet of Curiosities, 10th Edition “Bring me your weird, your wonderful, your hidden items yearning to be seen!” Show and tell for grown ups, Cabinet of Curiosities is a celebration of the oddities and marvels of natural history, anthropology, archaeology and historic interest that reside in our personal collections. Tell us the stories behind the historical or religious relics, artifacts, mementos, talismans, specimens and ephemera in your steamer trunks, sock drawers and dusty fireplace mantles.
“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
I found this book in my grandmother’s basement in a box of crusty disintegrating old books. A faded and waterstained, embossed, fabric-covered, hunter green book with the title Shadowland having been cut out of a different source and glued diagonally across the front. This quote is taped alongside it:
From out a thousand years
A moment came-and went
To bring but future tears,
A passing instant sent.
What matter all regret
Lives are lived for less-
Just one moment set
In perfect happiness.
The original book has the words French Revolution printed on the spine of the book, though they are barely legible. I searched on Google Book Search for some of the pieces of text in the book, and found it includes “Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Typical Cahiers of 1789”, which was published by the Department of History of the University of Pennsylvania in 1898. I believe that Lincoln College, the historically black college my Great Great Grandfather attended, must have used this text for one of its classes.
The name Reginald W. Stewart is written inside the front cover. The title page, and several other pages are missing. The pages are brittle and brown, and most of them have been pasted over with the yellowing cut out sections of a newspaper series called John-A-Dreams. It is a collection of dream interpretations with titles such as: VIII. Significance of the Fruits That Grow on Dream Trees; LXXL. Dreams of Writing, Pens and Pencils. They begin in the first pages of the book with:
1. When you See Little Children.
Here is an excerpt:
Difficult to interpret, but, fortunately easy to remember, are dreams about little children. It is one of the quaint characteristics of slumber figments that some are so elusive that waking memory vainly tries to recall them, while others seem to have more substance and cling to recollection; among these are dreams about little children.
If you see a baby asleep, a hasty marriage of one near or dear to you is certain to occur. If you take the babe in your arms you will be the bride; if you are a married woman, a child of yours, or if you are childless, the child of your brother or sister, will be taken ill …
It continues on in this fashion describing many different appearances of children in dreams for four paragraphs. Then closes with:
(Copyright , 1922, by W.C.P. Co.)
Tomorrow’s chapter will deal with Spirits come to Earth.
John a Dreams will be glad to interpret dream experiences sent to the Dream Editor of the Star-Eagle by its readers. No replies will however be given privately and no fee will at any time be asked or accepted. It is distinctly understood that there can be no guarantee when such questions will be answered, though every effort will be made to satisfy inquiries within three or four weeks. PLEASE WRITE ON ONE SIDE OF THE PAPER ONLY.
When illustrations are included, they are glued on the left page, but more often the left page still shows the text of the French Revolution book, and the article is glued on the right. Several pages have nothing glued in, but others have many loose clippings of John-a-Dreams just slipped between the pages. Only one includes the top of the newspaper page and includes: Newark Star-Eagle March 3, 1922.
The title “Shadowland” was apparently cut from the cover of a magazine by that name. (see sample) It was published 1919-1923 by Brewster publications, and covered motion pictures and theatre. I have no idea if Reginald was a subscriber of this magazine, but I found a cover alone valued at $90, and a different full issue is now listed for $750!!! A few treasures like that would have been nice to find, but I’m happy enough with my discovery.
I have written in more detail about my Great Great Grandfather’s life here. I have almost more questions than I have facts, but here are some facts about his life:
- He was born Jan 1, 1870 (according to his death certficiate)
- In 1880 he lived in Dover, Lafayette Co., MO listed as Robert Honeybus with his parents: Thomas & Martha Honeybus, likely former slaves.
- He probably was married in about 1889 to Eliza A. Mary Mason, maybe in Denver.
- His son with Eliza, Samuel Sylvester Stewart, was born in Cripple Creek, CO anywhere from 1893 to about Dec 13, 1902
- He was enrolled as Reginald W. Stewart at Lincoln College, Oxford, PA in 1903, 1904 & 1905. His residence was listed as Grand Rapids, MI. “He helped supported his studies by singing and occasionally working in restaurants – waiting on tables, playing the piano, violin, mandolin.”
- He and Eliza were divorced
- He probably married Jane Johnson sometime before 1907.
- His son with Jane, Rex Stewart, Jr. was born Feb 22, 1907. Rex went on to achieve fame as a coronet player with Duke Ellington’s Band.
- He resided in 1910 in Washington DC, listed as married, with wife Jane and son Rex. They were divorced while Rex was a young child.
- He resided in 1920 in Newark, NJ now back with his first wife Eliza, son Samuel, granddaughter Mary, and was employed as an insurance broker
- He resided in 1930 in Newark, NJ with his wife Eliza, granddaughter Mary, and was employed as a Life Insurance Salesman. His son lived next door with his second wife and their children.
- At some point, he and Eliza divorced. He then married Ethel Garrett.
- He died March 26, 1945 of cancer of the intestine. At his funeral, his obituary was read by the president of the Lincoln University Alumni Association. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Newark, NJ (a site I have not yet located).
I have questions about the circumstances of the family name change from Honeybus to Stewart, the facts around each of his marriages, the birth of his son, the family whereabouts in 1900, and where he was trained musically, among others. But those will hopefully be answered someday.
I still remember my delight at finding this treasure. I wondered if someone else in the family had assembled the clippings in Reginald’s old school book, but Grandma was sure it was her grandfather who kept it. How peculiar! Did he send in his own dreams for interpretation? Did he keep any other books like this? Did he have such vivid dreams that he was intent on finding their meaning? Could he ever have dreamed that his Great Great Granddaughter would stumble on this book, attempt to reconstruct the details of his life, and share them with the world? I don’t have many family heirlooms, but I value this one so much because of its personal nature. It’s late now, so I’m off to Shadowland myself. I’ll close with one more fitting quote:
“Men are the dreams of a shadow.” Pindar (Greek lyric poet of ancient Greece, the master of epinicia, 518-446)