Displaying items by tag: Presidents

Wednesday, 10 April 2024 21:35

Surprise! Presidential Autographs

Imagine my surprise when looking for a guest book for our archival display case, I found an autograph book with some very intriguing signatures. In the 19th century, long before smart phones allowed for selfies to be taken with celebrities, there were autograph books. Truthfully they were used for a variety of things such as by university students to remember their classmates (this was also before yearbooks). But for this instance, it looks like the goal was political.

Charles Henry Jones of Reading, Pennsylvania spent a good portion of 1852 collection autographs from various government officials including two United States presidents.

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Inside the cover and first page of Charles H. Jones' autograph book. Featuring autographs of James Buchanan, Winfield Scott, William L. Marcy. (1954.10388.001)

Already intrigued I turned the next page and found another presidential signature: Millard Fillmore.

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Autographs of Millard Fillmore, Daniel Webster, Thomas Corwin, and Charles Magill Conrad. (1954.10388.001)

Following these pages, the rest of the book is divided by state, each with at least one autograph of a representative from the respective state. Important for us in this autograph under Pennsylvania. 

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John McNair, Norristown Montgomery C. Penn. (1954.10388.001)

John McNair served as a congressman from 1851-1855 and as is noted in his autograph above, he would have represented our district in Congress. Before serving in Congress he was a clerk of the courts here in Montgomery County as well. 

According to our records, this book was donated along with another autograph book featuring autographs from Franklin Pierce, his cabinet, and other government representatives. Who knows which other autographs might be found in our collection.



Published in Found in Collection
Thursday, 20 September 2018 19:30

President Cleveland stays at Montgomery County home

This week's blog comes to us from volunteer and trustee Ed Ziegler.


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During the 1888 Presidential campaign, President Grover Cleveland and his private secretary Col. Daniel Lamont, stayed in Montgomery County, to rest from campaigning, according to the National Defender newspaper. On September 22nd and 23rd, 1888. They stayed with William M. Singerly at his Whitpain Township “Record Farm”. Mr. Singerly was the publisher of the Philadelphia Record, a Democratic newspaper, and he was known for his experiments in improved farming methods. The President left the next day for Washington.


Mr Singerly’s farm house had been the Franklinville Hotel (Franklinville was the area around the intersection of DeKalb Pike and Morris Road). He closed the hotel and purchased surrounding farms, eventually owning over 500 acres in Whitpain and Gwynedd townships. He was particularly known for his herd of over 100 Holstein cattle. Mr. Singerly went on to be the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 1894.

After Singerly died suddenly in 1898 (from what doctors called “tobacco heart,” Singlery smoked 18 to 25 cigars a day), a Dr. Wilson, who used it for years as a summer home, purchased the farm. The farm was then purchased by Ralph Beaver Strassberger, publisher of the Norristown Times-Herald, who named it Normandy Farm. The house Strassberger lived in is, in part, the old Franklinville Hotel.

Published in Found in Collection