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The american schoolboy who collected stamps in 1856

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tags: Stamps, cultural history



Ken Lawrence founded the Deep South People’s History Project in 1973. Today he studies, collects, and writes about aviation history, air transport, and air mail, which are occasional subjects of his monthly columns in Linn’s Stamp News.

For the past 13 years, my wife Ellen Peachey and I have searched for informa- tion about a Pennsylvania schoolboy who, in the 1850s, gathered and saved what is now believed to be America’s oldest sur- viving stamp collection, pasted onto the inside front cover of his German grammar textbook.

The collection is pictured in Figure 1.

We have traveled to his birthplace in Ohio, to the Pennsylvania town where he attended boarding school, to the New Jer- sey city where his adoptive parents raised him, and to the site of the Virginia battle- field where he died. We have explored genealogical records, read old newspa- pers, studied court documents, and cor- responded with descendants.

Here is a summary of our dis- coveries:

A woman named Susann or Susanna Teford or Teaford gave birth to a boy she named David, at Greenville, Darke County, Ohio, in 1842. Genea- logical records differ as to how she spelled her name. David was her youngest child; her other offspring were Elizabeth, born in 1838, and Sarah, born in 1840.

Either David’s mother gave him up for adoption there, or he became an orphan. A wealthy couple named Henry and Sarah Latimer adopted David in Ohio. He was their only child. The Latimer fam- ily later moved to Plainfield, N.J.

In April 1853 the Latimers enrolled David in an elite private board- ing school called Nazareth Hall at Nazareth, Pa. Archival re- cords of Nazareth Hall show that in October 1855 David bought the textbook into which he fas- tened 35 postally used imperforate 3¢ George Wash- ington postage stamps of the United States 1851 issue. By then he was 13 or 14 years old.

Read entire article at Linn’s Stamp News

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