When I posted Book Inscriptions to Ponder, I was hoping to clear up some of the confusion caused by messy handwriting from more than a century ago. Two inscriptions remain a bit mysterious, but one of them has been cracked! Better still, the most difficult script to read is the one that’s been translated.
It pays to have a friend that works with historical documents. Her expertise with handwritten documents and more importantly with archaic cursive allowed her to pick apart the often confusing inscription from my 1847 Edition of Six Day’s Wonder (American Sunday School Union).
The year, 1847, was the first clue. Part of what made this inscription so difficult to read was not only the scribbled cursive, but the irregular spelling. The concept of a speller and later a dictionary didn’t materialize until 1783 and 1828 respectively. From there spelling standards were gradually implemented, which means irregular spelling was commonplace throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In this particular example, Israel is sometimes spelled with an “E” and bullet may be “bullock.” It’s hard to know for sure, but its as good a guess as any. However, these two irregularities allowed my friend to see the connection to Bible verses from Genesis and Kings.
From there, she was able to piece together a pretty good translation of the script:
… now therefore send to all the parts of Israel and gather (400?) and the people answered not a word and all the people and (the?) they took the bullet (bullock?) and dress it and they called to “se”
Elija (Elias?) said come unto me Israel shall be thy name and he put the bullet how He soiled the God requested that he might die
an angel came and touched him and said rise eat and drink for the journey is great to Isreal …
There are still a few kinks to work out, but with this translation resting next to the original it’s easy to see how it all lines up. Furthermore, we noticed there are a number of pages missing between the page on the left and the right. Who knows what was written to connect these two sides together!
Ah, the fun of old books!
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All credit for this translation goes to my good friend, Rita Ackerman. You can visit her on either of her two blogs to see what she’s up to as a writer, historical researcher, and genealogist:
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