Martha Frost and John Howsmon 1805 Fraktur Book

sample of a similar Fraktur Book to display colors
-- click on pictures for larger views --
four pages of the Bower book (out of 30)
Note: the above church drawing labelled "St. Paul's" matches that on the first page of the Howsmon book below; this is an 1805 book by John Barnard.
I (DLH) believe the St. Paul's church of this drawing is the famous one in London (wikipedia), consecrated in 1706 and dominating the London skyline for 300 years. Note that this suggests an English not German heritage of the Howsmon family.
The original Howsmon Fraktur Book is still in existence. It was purchased by Dr. George Compton from a Howsmon descendant in the mid 20th century, and was featured in an exhibition "Virginia Fraktur" by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center of Williamsburg in 1974. Sepia copies of the book had been previously featured in a 1962 edition of "The Magazine Antiques." Note that I have no color copies as of yet, but that the sketches of the Howsmon Fraktur Book are in typical Pennsylvania-German fraktur colors -- vivid tones of blue, yellow, green, and red. Given that the first page of the 1805 Bower fraktur book pictured at right features the exact same church ("St. Paul's") by the exact same artist, it is assumed that the Howsmon book colors match as well.

The Bower book was found online in 2012 at prices4antiques -- website -- with this description: Fraktur; Family Record Book, Barnard (John), 1805, Bird, Flower, Tree, Vine, 30 Pages, 16 inch. Item C225709. Category: works on paper; Type: frakturs & related works; Origin: America; Year: 1805. A fraktur by John Barnard (American, early 19th century). Probably Pennsylvania, either Lancaster or Berks County, family record book, watercolor and ink on paper consisting of 30 pages with the birth records for Christian Bower and his wife Patience Hastings and 14 children including 3 sets of twins, each page various colorful decorations including a cathedral inscribed "St. Pauls", a U.S. Coat of Arms with a spread winged eagle with shield breast, potted flowers, human figures, peacock...

The question is: How did the Frosts and Howsmons in Virginia come to have a book made in the same style by the same artist as this one from Lancaster,PA? I think it was likely through their daughter-in-law Abigail Britton; her father was born in Berks and her mother may have been from Lancaster. Abigail was born in Virginia in 1783, but her family lived in Bucks,PA off and on in 1776-1790; she was married to William Howsmon in 1803. It is worth looking into to see if there is a relationship between the Bower-Hastings family and the Gibson-Britton family. And perhaps to keep an eye out for possible Gibson-Britton fraktur books that inspired the purchase of this 1805 Frost-Howsmon one. (more)

The Frost-Howsmon fraktur book is dated 1805, but was clearly made while the family still lived in Winchester, VA prior to their emigration from Virginia to Ohio.

"Virginia Fraktur" by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center of Williamsburg, 1974

John Howsmon Family Record
Artist unidentified
Frederick County
Watercolor and ink on paper

A portion of the inscription on the inside front cover of this illustrated family record reads, "J. Howsmon his Age Book April 22, 1805," and below, "John Barnard his hand and pen he will be Good and Come again." The Howsmon family lived in Frederick County near Winchester until 1804, it is said, when he moved his family to Ross County, Ohio. [Actually, I (DLH) think the family did not move to Ohio until after Martha's birth in 1806 -- Martha stated on her 1850, 1860 and 1870 census that she was born in Virginia; her birthdate is supposed to be 2/14/1806 and since she is not included in the 1805 fractur book it was definitely not by 1805.]

John and Martha Frost Howsmon were the parents of ten children, nine of whom were born in Virginia. For some inexplicable reason two of the children are not included in this "Age Book" which in spite of the 1805 date (one year later than the supposed date of removal to Ohio) was most certainly made in Frederick County. The verification of this fact is the last illustration (bird comparison) in the book which was done by the as yet unidentified Frederick Co. fraktur artist responsible for three other family records with firm local histories also shown in this gallery. The puzzling aspect of this last drawing, however, is that although by a recognizable Frederick Co. artist, it is quite different in style from the rest of the book, i.e., it appears that the final drawing was added by a second artist after the completion of the book. To complicate matters further, the doodles and inscriptions on the inside front and back covers seem to be in more than one hand, so it cannot be assumed that "John Barnard" is the actual artist as is implied by the inscription quoted above. [I am sure the rest of the book is by John Barnard, as the first drawing matches that of another book of his for a Pennsylvania couple, and also drawn in 1805. Perhaps the Howsmon family commissioned the drawing of one more picture right before they left Virginia for soon-to-be-born Martha, born 2/14/1806, which means we are missing the picture for Fanny. --DLH 2012]

The book as it is displayed here is arranged to be read left to right, top to bottom. Each illustration describes in some way the person recorded on the text page opposing it.

Courtesy of Dr. George Compton.

John and Martha marriage; William Fanny and Abraham Jacob and Hannah Samuel and Peggy doodles
click on any picture for a larger view

Note: The Rockefeller Folk Art Center has copies of the fraktur book, but they are in Black & White, not color. Also note that one page is missing from the book: children #4 & 5 -- Isaac and Mary, born 12/3/1789 and 4/18/1791. Although child Martha "Patsy" is also missing, it is because she was born on 2/14/1806, after the book was written. Also, I have no color copies as of yet, but that the sketches are in typical Pennsylvania-German fraktur colors -- vivid tones of blue, yellow, green, and red.

Folk Painters of America: p.152-153 -- click on picture for larger view

The Magazine Antiques: p.201 Title page of article -- click on picture for larger view
Folk Painters of America, by Robert Bishop, 1979/1983

Robert Bishop featured four of the Howsmon fraktur drawings in his book, unfortunately, just in black and white. These were Samuel's horse on a full page, and Fanny, Jacob and Peggy all together on one page. It specifies that the artist is unknown, the book is 17 pages originally hand-sewn together, and the sketches are similar to Pennsylvania German Frakturs.

The Magazine Antiques, 1962

Fraktur Book as published in "The Magazine Antiques" titled "John Howsmon, his Age Book," Vol. LXXXI, No. 2, February 1962, pp. 201-204 by Marjorie Baylor. At the time of this article all of the Howsmon book was attributed to a John Barnard on the basis of an inscription appearing on the front page which reads "John Barnard /his hand and pen/ he will be good/and Come agam." Mr. Wust corrected the attribution to "unidentified" in the 1974 Williamsburg exhibit (above), noting that there was no further documentation for a Barnard attribution and that the last decorated page in the book was obviously executed by a second, different hand. It should be noted here, however, that the text page for Peggy Howsmon preceding the one by the artist discussed in this article has a heart surrounded by the words "The Darling of my Heart"; these words are in the handwriting of the Virginia record book artist.

John Howsmon, his Age Book
by Marjorie Baylor

On March 15, 1782, in Frederick County, Virginia, Martha Frost married John Howsmon; she was twenty-three, he twenty-six. Twenty-three years and seven children later, the couple had the vital statistics of their still-growing family recorded in the naive water-color sketches and careful lettering illustrated here.

The Howsmon family is composed of seventeen pages, seven and a half by six inches in size, which were originally sewed together to form a little book. On each left-hand page is a sketch; on each right-hand page, a monogram and an entry in meticulous (though somewhat erratically spaced) hand printing, with decorative border and motifs. John and Martha's own entry, the first, is a drawing probably intended to represent the church in which they were married. Each of the children except one is shown in a drawing opposite the record of his birth. There is only a bouquet in a vase on the page across from the entry for FH/FANNY, Daughter of John/ & Martha Howsmon/ Born February 10th./ A D 1785; perhaps -- although no date of death is given -- Fanny had died before the book was made [incorrect--Fanny died in 1865]. The sketches are in typical Pennsylvania-German fractur colors, vivid tones of blue, yellow, green, and red; the colors in the final decorative piece are identical to those in the fractur birth certificate on page 9 of Erwin O. Christensen's Index of American Design.

The artist who produced the little volume was one John Barnard, whose name I found on the reverse of the heavy sheets of laid paper that had been used to line the covers. These linings were carefully taken off, soaked, and the past scraped away, and it is now possible to read on them, in elaborate script, "John Barnard amend [Amen]/ his hand and pen/ he will be Good/ and Come again." Barnard also wrote "J Howsmon/ his Age Book/ April 22 1805," so we can date the work. There are a number of trial runs of the monograms and names of some of the Howsmons, and some frankly "doodling" sketches of faces, figures, hands holding quill pens. Verses have been idly scribbled in: "I promise to pay/ unto John Gray," "Grown over with weeds So is your deeds/ Grown over with weeds/ and So is your deeds," "Mary Barnard is my/ Name and England his." I have been able to learn nothing at all about John Barnard or his Mary, except that two John Barnards are listed in the Pennsylvania census of 1790, one in Berks and the other in Lancaster County. Pennsylvania seems a likely place of origin for someone whose drawings are so like fractur in design and coloring.

I have been somewhat more fortunate in tracing the Howsmons. The local bookdealer who owned the family record when it was discovered last spring had bought it from John Howsmon's great-great-grandson, but beyond assuring me that there was such a descendant, he could not help me. Ohio county histories record the last wo or three generations of the family, but tell little about John and Martha. A Madison County (Ohio) history published in 1883 says: "John Howsman [sic], a native of Virginia, married Martha Frost, emigrated to Ohio and settled in Ross County. About 1813 he removed to Madison County. He had nine children of whom but one now survives -- Mrs. Margaret McClimans." Mrs. McClimans was the Peggy of the final portrait; the London, Ohio, probate court records her marriage there to James MClimans in 1822.

The history goes on to list the Howsmon children; there are three not mentioned in the little book, making a total of ten instead of the nine referred to above. A great-granddaughter of Isaac Howsmon (Isaac was one of these three), a retired schoolteacher, is now living in Texas. She told me that she has a copy of the will of Martha Frost's father, dated May 1776 in Frederick County, Virginia. Mrs. D. W. Ritenour, a genealogist of Frederick County, reports that the will is recorded there, as are several family real-estate transactions.

This is the sum of what I have been able to find out about John and Martha and their quiverful. How pleasant that we have John Barnard's sketches to represent them with so much verve and charm!

John and Martha marriage William Abraham and Jacob Hannah and Samuel Peggy last page design
click on any picture for a larger view

Note that The Magazine Antiques only published these sepia-colored renditions of the fractur book; no color copies are available from the magazine either.

Index of American Design: p.9 -- click on picture for larger view -- the colors in our book are like the bird drawing here
The Index of American Design, by Erwin O. Christensen, 1950

This book was referenced below by Phillis Howsmon Pollock, who stated that the bird and flower drawing on p.9 (at right) displays the vivid colors in the Howsmon Fractur Book.

Letters from Phyllis Howsmon Pollock, 2003

I [Phyllis] received the following article published in Antiques Magazine from Ruth Bartlett, grand-daughter of William Tolan Howsman, James' niece. The Minneapolis Library has a copy of this magazine, but the magazine is no longer published. Eva Shafer (Margaret's grand daughter of Huoma, LA) helps me a great deal and she found the picture of the horse (Samuel's) from John Howmon's Fractur book in "Folk Painters of America" by Robert Bishop. The article accompanying the picture gave me the name of Carolyn J. Weekley, who wrote "Decorated Family Records Books from the Valley of Virginia" for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA). When I wrote this magazine, I was referred to "Abby, Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum Research Center."

The Curator, Barbara R. Luck, was able to tell me that they had had an exhibit of Fractur memorabilia, and that the owner, Dr. George Compton, had allowed a viewing of our book and that the museum had copies of several of the pages. She very graciously copied them for me. I enlarged the pictures from the "Antique Magazine" as some of them were not included in the above copies. Then, I took copies from the "Folk Painters of America". According to the above article, I have a complete copy of the Fractur Book, which of course is in beautiful color. Pages of such a book on Antiques Roadshow were worth $5000. Our book seems to be complete, so one can imagine the value it has today. Collectors do not know who the artist for many of these books including ours was. The pages are about 5 x 7.

The picture of the bird and flower still is illustrated on page 9 of "Index of American Design" in full color, but the Minneapolis Library and the book is stored until the new building is ready for it. I hope to be able to color copy this print.

When I wrote to Dr. Compton [2003], his daughter told me that he had died in in 1995 and that the book was still in their possession. I sent her a copy of the Slattery-Haney book so that she could know about our family. The article above, states the author did not know much about the Howsmon's.

Note: the Compton family has since sold the Howsmon fraktur book to another party - DLH 2012.

I (DLH) bought the Magazine ANTIQUES online ~2004 (ebay)

I ordered two new books in 2012, based on Phyllis Howsmon Pollock's suggestions, in the hope that one or both would be in color:
• I (DLH) bought the Robert Bishop book online 2012. (Amazon for $4) (Samuel's horse)
• I (DLH) bought the Index of American Design book online 2012. (Amazon for $4) (Fanny's bird and flowers)
Once I have found all the other sources I can, I plan to contact the owner of the book to request color photographs of the other pages.

MESDA -- Decorated Family Record Books From the Valley of Virginia by Carolyn J. Weekley, May 1981

I (DLH) am not looking for a copy of this magazine, as there are no illustrations from the Howmon Fraktur Book -- but it is included here as it discusses the book and its author.

In 1974 the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center organized a small, but important exhibition titled "Virginia Fraktur." Klaus Wust, a noted scholar who has written various publications on the Virginia Germans and their folk art, served as guest curator for the exhibit and among his selections were a number of previously unknown decorated records. Within this group of new pictorial material were pages from record books for the Bannan, Fries and Hobday families, all of which were drawn by an unidentified artist in the vicinity of Winchester, Virginia, during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. A fourth book in the exhibit, done for the Howsmon family, previously was attributed to John Barnard. A single page at the end of this book was executed by the same unidentified hand. Since the 1974 show over a half dozen more of these impressive little booklets, either complete or in part, have been located in both private and public collections, thereby forming one of the largest groups of their type documented to the Valley of Virginia (see chart on pp. 11-18).

[Notes: from examining a second book from Pennsylvania -- the Bower book above -- it is clear that the beginning pages of the Howsmon book were drawn by the PA artist John Barnard (church comparison); however, the birds picture for Fanny is just as clearly identical in style to the Virginia unknown artist (bird comparison). This is the conundrum -- there appear to be two artists of the Howsmon book, with the second one being the unknown Virginia artist. I agree with the Williamsburg Folk Art Museum that just the birds page was done by the Virginia artist, and it was added to the book later; although it is placed across from Fanny in the set above, this appears to be in error -- both the Antiques magazine and the Williamsburg Folk Art Museum said it was the last page of the book. Perhaps Fanny's picture is still to be found, or perhaps it was lost with the pages for Isaac and Mary. I had originally thought the reference by John Barnard to "I will come again" might mean that he would come back after baby Martha was born, but the Howsmon fraktur book was dated 4/22/1805 and Martha Frost Howsmon was not pregnant with her last child until mid-May 1805 -- perhaps although he finished it in April, it was not picked up for several months? Perhaps they had planned to add in a page for baby Martha known as "Peggy"? DLH-2012]

Elizabeth ("Betsey Ann") Fulkerson was born 10/26/1812 in Frederick,VA; her father John was born 1781 in Frederick,VA, and her grandfather John was born 1758 in Middlesex,NJ; her mother was Catherine Swires; she married Martin Luther Fries in 1833. While the artist of their book is undoubtedly from Virginia, it is interesting that Elizabeth's husband's family (the Fries) were from Berks county in the late 1700s.

The identity of the artist still eludes our research efforts, although the nature of his drawings and the history of most of the original owners provide important clues as to his working dates, his possible religious affiliation and an indication of his geographical area of activity. This article is therefore more introductory in nature than conclusive, offering through stylistic analysis and historical context a basis for the discovery of additional examples by the artist and hopefully his identity.

An issue to weigh carefully and cautiously in examining this unknown decorator's work is the cultural context in which they originated. Traditionally, the tendency has been to group them with the colorful and equally impressive variety of birth and baptismal certificates {Geburts und Taufscheine, normally referred to as simply Taufscheine) created by and for settlers of German extraction living in the "back parts" of the southeastern states (western Maryland, the Valley of Virginia, and the piedmont sections of North and South Carolina). The general stylistic similarities observed between the record book artist's work and that by Germans partially justifies its study in reference to fraktur, but does not explain other obvious differences in design iconography, format and textual orientation, all of which contrast significantly with Germanic prototypes. The evidence gathered thus far indicates that the artist may have been "Scots-Irish," Irish, or English and that a number of his clientele were affiliated principally with Presbyterian churches in the areas of Frederick County, Virginia, and Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia). It is commonly known that immigrants in these particular ethnic categories represented a substantial portion of the Valley's population and political leadership during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries."* It is unfortunate, however, that so little study has been devoted to their artistic traditions and contributions.

Supporting the thesis that the Virginia record book artist was either "Scots-Irish, Irish, or English is the fact that the written text in all of his known work is in the English idiom, precise in spelling and phrasing. The English or Roman letter style and character of the script does not relate to the more elaborate broken gothic lettering used by many fraktur artists (Fig. 1), but its consistently polished quality suggests an accomplished calligrapher who may have taught penmanship at one or more of the numerous schools organized by Presbyterians in the Winchester-Berkeley Springs area."^ The Reverend Dr. William Hill, whose ministerial service at Winchester extended from 1799 to 1834, also conducted a school and was considered a likely artist candidate until an examination of his handwritten autobiography showed him to have been a poor, if not sloppy, penman. The names of a few other ministers who were part-time schoolmasters as well also have been researched with equally disappointing results.

The anonymity of the artist makes it difficult to pinpoint his dates of activity, but a tentative span of 1800 to 1821 can be suggested at this time. This is derived from the October 20, 1821 death date cited for Margaret Hobday and an inscription reading "Mr. Benjamin Bannan/Book Feb. ye 26th/ 1800," both of which are in the artist's handwriting. One other book in the group, that for the John Demoss family of Winchester, is dated 1803 in the artist's script. The dates of the remaining record books can only be calculated upon the basis of the latest year date appearing in the artist's hand. There is no apparent chronological development evident in the style or quality of execution of these booklets. With few exceptions, the artist's design vocabulary and calligraphic facility were as well developed in 1800 as they were in 1821.

The rich variety of embellishments used by this unknown decorator defies strict classification because the discovery of other works by him will undoubtedly reveal additional fanciful interpretations of his basic motifs. Unlike many record decorators of roughly the same period, whose design elements were often repeated time and again with little difference in detail, this artist consciously made an effort to give each book a distinctive, individualistic look by varying details or combining motifs in a new way (Figs. 2 and 3). His penchant for diversity is therefore one of the most important identifying features of his work.

Close study of the illustrations accompanying this article will give some notion of the complexity of this characteristic, but the reader should bear in mind that only random portions of just six of the fourteen known partial or complete booklets are shown. Within a single motif category, such as "birds," for example, over thirty variations have been recorded. Traced outlines of such small elements were compiled by category for comparative study in the course of research for this article. A random selection of these is included in Figures 4, 5, and 6, with notations on the particular record books in which they appear. The general categories for small motifs include birds, flowers and leaves of various sorts, butterflies, and calligraphic flourishes in capital letters.

A number of large devices favored by the decorator appear regularly with little deviation in detail. One which is consistently found is a rippling, occasionally scalloped-edged curtain, just inside and next to several types of outer geometric, rectangular borders (see Figs. 1 and 2, for example). This curtain invariably frames textual passages and complex central compositions of flowers, birds, trees and the like. An impressive three-story building topped by multiple cupolas with Masonic symbols adorning the doorway as well as the central tower and the sky above fills the full front pages of three books and three-quarters of the front page of the Miller family book (see Fig. 11). The building presumably represents the Temple of Solomon, and coupled with other traditional symbols ladder, trowel, sun, moon, seven stars, open Bible, square and compasses, spade, anchor and what may be a pot of incense probably indicates that the original owner was a member of the Masonic Order.

Bushy, close-leafed trees, occasionally with two smaller leafy branches issuing from the lower or midsection of the trunk, are seen in a majority of the record books with no obvious symbolic inference (see Fig. 8). The common six-sided coffm, either in solid black or in a hatched pattern, is one of the few clearly symbolic images used by the artist. Without exception, the coffin is accompanied by an appropriate verse and is framed by a stylized rippling curtain within a rectangular box of geometric borders. Occasionally rows of drooping flowers are placed above and /or below the coffin rectangle (see Fig. 7).

Large, elaborate peacocks illustrate pages in the Laing and Tomlin family books (see Fig. 5) and are the most naturalistically rendered of all the elements used by this artist. Because they are so strikingly sophisticated, one wonders if these were not inspired by or copied from a printed source.

With respect to technique, it is important to note that all of the decorated pages known for this artist were executed primarily, if not solely, with pen and ink. No brushwork is evident in any of the pieces. Shade, form, and color all were achieved basically with penwork, using colored inks for outline, the hatched and cross-hatched lines combined infrequently with solid inked areas. The extensive use of basically calligraphic techniques of this type in decorating family records is not a particularly commonplace phenomenon and this artist's source of inspiration is unknown.

One of the most interesting aspects of the records examined are the color schemes used. These vary slightly, but generally fall into two groups a black, reddish brown, and blue scheme and a black, blue, red, green, and yellow scheme. Since the type of inks or liquids used have not been determined, it is difficult to ascertain how much the true colors have migrated or faded. However, two booklets which have not experienced extensive light exposure over the last hundred years match each of the two types described with minimal differences in color hue.' Whether or not the brighter of these two schemes was more expensive, a preference of the owner, or dependent on the availability of materials is unknown.

Figures. Two facing pages from the Bannan family record book, 1800. showing on left the type of tree frequently used by the artist. Courtesy Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.

When one begins to assemble all of the various elements and characteristics outlined and described heretofore, an equally characteristic pattern for individual pages and page sequence becomes immediately recognizable. As before, however, the diversity achieved in arranging the elements seems to be endless. A few generally repetitive features include: either single or double geometric borders, framing all the pages; rippling curtains, as previously described, just inside and touching the borders; two shapes for pages, the smaller variety being nearly square and the larger, a vertical rectangle (Figs. 9 and 3, for example); individual headings for family members are usually one or two to a page for smaller formats and three for the larger one. The page sequence in these books seems to be basically chronological by birth date for the children. These are preceded by a single page giving the parents' names, birth, and marriage dates (Fig. 9). All of the text pages alternate with purely decorative ones (Figs. 2, 3 and 10, for example). There is one exception to this arrangement which occurs in the book for the Rhodes family where three blank pages for "Death" and "Marriage" are provided (Figs. 11 and 12).

It should again be noted that a number of the booklets attributed to this artist are thought to be incomplete and, in one instance, only two decorative nontextual pages survive.** This ultimately affects the arrangement observations noted here, which are speculative at best. Furthermore, some of the books have been taken apart and their original sequence cannot always be determined.

Though equally unsolved, a final consideration in studying this group is the possible influence they or their maker may have had on other record decorators working in the Winchester area, notably the elusive "Stoney Creek Artist" whose fraktur ranks among the most colorful for the Valley. His career seems to have paralleled that of the family record book artist and within his work are found a few similar designs, chiefly a butterfly, a multilobed flower, and a fleur-de-lis. The illustrator for the Howsmon book, mentioned earlier, also seems to have based his frontispiece building and other small motifs on those by the artist discussed here.'^ It is obviously too early in our research to speculate on what these few stylistic connections may or may not mean, but they are certainly indicators of the cultural exchange and rich mixture of artistic expressions which proliferated in the Valley during these years. Hopefully, with the continued generous help of scholars and private citizens who own such materials, we will someday be able to offer a more definitive statement.


The many details associated with the genealogical and documentary aspects of the known record books by this artist are best presented in the following chart format. All of the year dates and names cited are those which appear in the artist's handwriting, excluding in many cases the names and birth /death dates of children which were born to individual families and recorded by someone else in the record books. The month and day designations for children's births were always included by this artist but have been omitted here in the interest of space and pertinence. The specifics of all marriage and birth dates of parents, where known and recorded by the artist, are given. Listed are family members recorded by the artist. The arrangement of the listings is by chronological date of approximate (circa, c.) or documented date (i.e., 1800). Date of Execution: 1800

I. Benjamin Bannan (b. March 15, 1770, m. on April 12, 1791 to Sarah Bunn, b. April 5, 1762)

Children were:
Anna Bannan (b. 1792)
Mary Bannan (b. 1795)
John Bannan (b. 1796)
Abraham Bannan (b. 1799)

This is the earliest dated book known for the artist, inscribed in his hand on the front page for 1800. On the other side of this frontis page and preceding the text page for the parents is written in another hand the death dates for the parents and Annah (Anna). Additional genealogical notes for other members of the family appear at the end of the booklet. No other documented references to the Bannan family have been found.

Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, owner.

Date of Execution: c. 1800

II. John Tomlin (b. March 15, 1765, m. August 7, 1788 to Jane Chamblin, b. June 19, 1763)

Children were:
George Tomlin (b. 1784)
Elizabeth Tomlin (b. 1785)
William Tomlin (b. 1787)
Reuben Tomlin (b. 1789)
John Tomlin (b. 178(illegible)

The John Tomlin record book, like that of John Demoss, was originally submitted to the United States Government as part of a dosier of claim supporting a pension application for service rendered during the Revolutionary War. This particular booklet was taken apart and put back together at an early date and there seem to be pages missing. The declaration submitted by Tomlin's widow, Jane, states that she was living in Clarke County, Virginia, in 1840. (All information cited is from the Revolutionary War Pension Application File for John Tomlin, The National Archives, Washington, DC.)

The National Archives, Washington, DC, owner

Date of Execution: c. 1801

III. James Laing (b. April 6, 1751, in Pearthe (sic), Scotland, m. July 20, 17(illegible) to Hellen Dawson, b. December 30, 1757)

Children were:
William Laing (b. 1784 in Clackmanan County, Scotland)
Jeany Laing (b. 1786 in Maryland, North America, d. 1791)
Robert Laing (b. 1779 in Clackmanan County, Scotland)
Bettsy Laing (b. 1781, d. 1783)
James Laing (b. 1789 in Virginia, North America)
Rachel and Rebeckah Laing (presumably twins), b. 1790,
Rebeckah d 1792, in Virginia, North America)
Catherine Laing (b. 1792 in Virginia, North America)
Frances Laing (b. 1796 in Virginia, North America)
Innocent Laing (stillborn 1794 in Virginia, North America)
John Laing (b. 1797 in Virginia, North America)
Bettsy Laing (b. 1799 in Virginia, North America)

This book descended to the present owner from Laing ancestors who, like the Demoss family, moved to the Midwest from the Winchester area. Although the surname Laing is not prevalent in the Valley, the James Lang (Laing?) listed for Frederick County in the 1810 census was probably the father. An 1820 Census listing there for the same name could have been either the father or the son. (Madeline W. Crickard, comp.. Index to the 1810 Vtrgtma Census (Parsons, W.Va: McClam Printing, 1971), p. 107; Jeanne Robey Felldin, comp.. Index to the 1820 Census of Virginia (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishmg Co., Inc., 1976), p. 3.

Pnvate Collection

Date of Execution: c. 1801

IV. John MUler (b. March 17, 17 (illegible), m. March 25, 1782 to Ruth Bailey, b. December 8, 1762)

Children were:
Hiram Miller (stillborn 1783)
Alexanda Miller (b. 1784)
Esther Miller (b. 1786)
Elizabeth Miller (b. 1787)
John Miller (b. 1789)
Joseph Miller (b. 1791)
Ruth Miller (b. 1793)
James Miller (b. 1795)
Isaac Miller (b. 1796)
Stephen Miller (b. 1799)

John Miller and his family are particularly well-documented due to the research efforts of the current owner of the booklet who enthusiastically shared his findings with the author. The father, John, served in the Revolutionary War with the 53rd Virginia Regiment, called "The Berkeley Troops." Further evidence of Miller's residence in Berkeley County is found in various deedbooks there. Deedbook 6, p. 13, notes that on September 16, 1782, Miller's transaction to purchase 200 acres of land from William and Elizabeth Bailey (Miller's in-laws) was finalized. John Miller sold this land in 1801 to John Prill (Deedbook 17, p. 86), probably in anticipation of his move to Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1803. Family tradition indicates further that the Millers were Scotch-Irish who moved from Pennsylvania to Berkeley County. According to the owner, John's son Joseph bought a farm in Spencer County, Kentucky, and built a house there in 1836. One acre of that property was set aside for the use of the Presbyterian Church. Other members of John Miller's large family reportedly moved to Kentucky and most of them are thought to have been Presbyterians.

Private Collection

Date of Execution: 1803

V. John Demoss (b. 175(illegible), m. January 5, 1787 to Lucy Chapel, b. September 27, 1765)

Children were:
Peter Demoss (b. 1788)
Dorothy Demoss (b. 1790)
Susanna Demoss (b. 1793)
Sarah Demoss (b. 1796)

This booklet, also pan of a Revolutionary War pension application, was submitted in 1844 by Demoss's daughter Dorothy. Her father made his original declaration in 1819 when he had moved his family to Dearborn County, Indiana. In this document he states that he served in the 12th Virginia Regiment commanded by Colonel James Wood in various tours of duty, including the battle of Camden, South CaroUna. He was transferred to the 4th Virginia Regiment and, after the "Capture" of Lord Cornwallis, his Regiment was marched from "the high hills of South Carolina" to Winchester, Virginia. Thereafter he was employed by the United States to transport the baggage of the French Army from Williamsburg to Boston, Massachusetts. (All information cited is from the Revolutionary War Pension File for John Demoss, the National Archives, Washington, DC.)

The National Archives. Washington, DC,

Date of Execution: c. 1803-1805

VI. (Unknown Member of the Howsmon family)

A single decorated page with birds and flowers by the artist appears at the end of this booklet with no apparent matching text page. Other illustrations preceding this, by another hand, show that the book was done for John Howsmon of Frederick County, Virginia. An inscription on the inside front cover of the book reads, in part, "J. Howsmon /his Age Book/ April 22, 1805." The Howsmon family lived in Frederick County near Winchester until 1804, it is said, when they moved to Ross County, Ohio. This inscription clearly complicates the issue of dating and provenance, however, the author believes that the single page executed by the artist discussed in this article was done before the family's move and therefore before 1804. Klaus Wust's research on the family revealed that they were Presbyterians and that John Howsmon was born in Frederick County and lived there with his wife, Martha Frost, until the 1804 move. John Howsmon died in Ross County, Ohio, in 1818. (Information cited is from the AARFAC research file and a letter to the author from Mr. Wust dated February 10, 1981.)

Private Collection.

Date of Execution: c. 1803

VII. Joseph Rhodes (b. June 6, 1778, m. June 30, 1803 to Frances Brown, b. July 30, 178(3?)

No information has been found on the Joseph Rhodes family or where they lived, thus the attribution to the artist and a Valley provenance is based purely on its stylistic similarity with other documented works. It was acquired by the Museum from a Midwestern source.

The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, owner.

Date of Execution: c. 1812(?)

VIII. Henry Ferneau (b. 1812) (See Mahala Dawson below)

Date of Execution: C. 1817

IX. Anna Fries (b. 1810) Michael Fries (b. 1813) Rachel Fries (b. 1817)

They were children of Michael and Rachel Fries who lived near Winchester, between Cedar Grove and Green Spring in an area known as Pleasant Valley. Anna and Rachel are buried in the graveyard of the Old Stone Church there and family tradition indicates that their parents are also buried there. Michael, their father, died in October 1828 according to Frederick County Court Records. Page 92 of the Frederick County Death Records notes that Anna Fries died there on November 12, 1855, of typhoid fever. Michael Fries, her brother, is mentioned as having provided the information for the County Record. (All information was gleaned from research notes gathered by the owner of four pages for Anna and Rachel Fries.)

Two text and two decorated compositional pages for Anna and Rachel Fries are in a Private Collection. The two pages for Michael Fries are in the M. & M. Karolik Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

Date of Execution: c. 1817

X. Mahala Haney (b. 1817)

Mahala's decorated birth record page and its companion page with a central com- position of a bird perched on a leafy and flowering tree are the only two known for this family, although others undoubtedly existed. Mahala is noted on her birth page as the daughter of Robert and Catharine Haney. The author has not been able to reach the owners of these pages to learn more on their provenance. Klaus Wust kindly shared his file photographs with the author to substantiate their attribution to the artist.

Private Collection.

Date of Execution: c. 1818(?)

XI. Mahala Dawson (b. 1818) Henry Ferneau (b. 1812)

The two sets of pages for these two children are temporarily listed together because the author has been unable to determine whether they were, for some unknown reason, originally part of the same booklet. They were purchased from a single source as a group by the current owner and the provenance at that time was given as Virginia. The sets share certain similarities in color and border motifs but do vary slightly in size. No information on the Ferneau family has been found, except that given on Henry Ferneau 's text page that he was the son of Daniel and Catharine Ferneau. Mahala was the daughter of Henry and Mary Dawson. A Henry Dawson, perhaps her father, is listed in the 1810 census for Berkeley County. A Henry Dawson from the Valley was one of the signers of a 1776 Petition from local Presbyterians to the Virginia Government, but his association with Mahala is unverified. (Crickard, Index to the 1810 Census, p. 33; The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XVII, December 31, 1910, p. 40.)

Private Collection.

Date of Execution: c. 1820

XII. (a) John D. Howard (b. January 15, 1738, d. July 22, 1804, m. (dates not given) to Mary Crail, b. March 19, 1751)

(b) Jonathan Howard (b. January 19, 1781, m. to Mary Crail, b. January 26, 1785)

Nothing specific is known about the Howard family booklet or individual persons cited there, except that it was purchased from a Midwestern source. Its attribution to the Virginia artist is based principally on its stylistic affinity with documented examples. The Howard name appears most frequently in Morgan County, West Virginia (formerly Virginia and organized in 1820 out of Berkeley and Hampshire Counties).

The rwo sets of parents given at the front of the book are not found in any other booklets by the artist. It appears that John D. Howard and Mary Crail were the parents of Jonathan Howard who evidently married another Mary Crail (perhaps a cousin?). (Felldin, Index to the 1820 Census, p. 216.)

The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, owner.

Date of Execution: c. 1821

XIII. William Hobday (b. January 6, 178(illegible), m. March 20, 1803 to Christena Widmeyer, b. May 5, 1775)

Children were:
Sally Hobday (b. 1806)
Sarah Hobday (b. ?, d. 1820)
Hannah Hobday (dates unknown)
Abraham Hobday (b. 1813, d. 1815)
Margaret Hobday (b. 1815, d. 1821)
Elizabeth Hobday (b. 1819)

This family was identified with Frederick County, Virginia in 1974 by Klaus Wust. The exhibition copy describing the booklet noted that death pages by the artist for three children were added at a later date. The addition theory is entirely possible, however it is uncharacteristic of the artist's known work. It is also observed that birth pages for Sarah and Hannah (known only because a shadow image of her name appears on one page) and possibly another child are now missing. When these were removed it may have caused the remounting of other pages in the same signature.

Private Collection.

Date of Execution: Unknown

XIV. Unknown, only two decorative, nontextual pages exist.

No history for these two pieces is known other than the fact that they were purchased from the same source.

The M. & M. Karolik Collection at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, owner.

Carolyn Weekley is curator of the Abby Aldnch Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, Virginia.


Figure 1. The first page of the Demosi family book, c. 1803. showing the style of writing, a bird confronting a butterfly, and various border motifs. Photograph courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, DC.

Figure 2. A decorative page with three compositions from the John Miller family book, c. 1801. This faces a page giping the hirth dates for John, Joseph, and Ruth Miller. Private collection. Photograph courtesy of the Abby Aldnch Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, Virginia, unless noted otherwise.

Figure 3. Upper left and center show two other varieties of perching and flying birds found in the Hobday book. Lower left is a sketch of the peacock appearing in the Laing book and below it is a small, dotted bird from the same book. The butterflies, upper and lower, are from the Laing and Miller books while the smaller birds left of them also come from the Miller pages. Artwork by the author.

Figure 4. The H, M, and S are from the Hobday family book; the D and Q from the Howard family record. Line two birds are also found in the Howard book. The flying bird below them is from the Fries pages, the two smaller birds are from the Miller book and the facing birds on flowers come from the Hobday record book. Artwork by the author.

Figure 5. Two facing pages from the Bannan family book, 1800, showing at left an unusual basket of flowers, a motif used infrequently by the artist. Courtesy Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.

Figure 6. From left to right top to bottom in four rows are the following: Row one two geometric designs of leaves and flowers from the Miller and Hobday books; rows two and three show various other flowers from the Hobday book; row four two small sprigs with cherry and flower are from the Miller book as is the large tulip at the end of this row, the sunflower with interior star motif is from the Laing family book; row five a five-lobed flower with cherries from Bannan book, a sunflower with ' 'comma-like ' ' designs from the Hobday book; and a simpler sunflower from the Hobday book. Artwork by the author.

Figure 7. A page from the Howard family book commemorating the death of a child and showing the drooping flowers, coffin, verse and other typical motifs used by the artist. Photograph courtesy of the Collections of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn. Michigan.

Figure 8. ??

Figure 9. A page from the Howard family book, c. 1820. Photographs courtesy of the Collections of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan.

Figure 10. Two facing pages from the Fries book. c. 1817. Private collection.

Figure 11. Front sides of the three existing pages surviving for the Joseph Rhodes book. Photograph courtesy of the Collections of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan.

Figure 12. Back of one of the Rhodes family pages illustrating the unusual single sheet for "Marriage'' listings. Photograph courtesy of the Collections of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan.


1. Among Mr. Wust's publications are The Virginia Germans (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1969); Folk Art in Stone: Southwest Virginia (Edinburg, Virginia: Shenandoah History, 1970); and Virginia Fraktur: Penmanship as Folk Art (Edinburg, Virginia: Shenandoah History, 1972).

2. Marjorie Baylor, "John Howsmon, his Age Book," The Magazine Antiques, Vol. LXXXI, No. 2, February 1962, pp. 201-204. At the time of this article all of the Howsmon book was attributed to a John Barnard on the basis of an inscription appearing on the front page which reads "John Barnard /his hand and pen/ he will be good/and Come agam." Mr. Wust corrected the attribution to "unidentified" in the 1974 Williamsburg exhibit, noting that there was no further documentation for a Barnard attribution and that the last decorated page in the book was obviously executed by a second, different hand. It should be noted here, however, that the text page for Peggy Howsmon preceding the one by the artist discussed in this article has a heart surrounded by the words "The Darling of my Heart"; these words are in the handwriting of the Virginia record book artist.

3. Not all of the families cited in the books have been documented to specific areas within Frederick and Berkeley Counties. These counties share a common boundary (now the Virginia state line) and Berkeley Springs is about 42 miles due north of Winchester. There is a possibility that the artist executed work for families in Morgan County (now West Virginia, west and adjacent to Berkeley) since some family surnames frequently appear in early census records there. See chart on pp. 11-18 for specific details.

4. A particularly useful and well documented general history of Presbyterianism in Virginia is found in Howard McKnight Wilson, The Lexington Presbytery Heritage (Verona, Virginia: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1971), pp. 3-73.

5. Ibid., pp. 81-83.

6. The original Hill manuscript, along with other miscellaneous letters, is in the collections of The Library, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia.

7. The Demoss family book is in the collections of the National Archives, Washington, DC.

8. Existing records for the local Masonic Lodge(s) have not been thoroughly researched at this time, although it is likely that the heads of households for the four families John Miller, Joseph Rhodes, James Laing and William Hobday belonged to the Winchester Lodge No. 12 (earlier as No. 9). The number and specific Masonic symbols vary among these four books and a discussion of their significance is beyond the scope of this article. The author recommends for further reading Clement M. Silvestro and Barbara Franco, Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts (Lexington, Massachusetts: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Inc., 1976), pp. 9-52.

9. The author would be grateful for reference suggestions, particularly any existing c. 1790-1800 calligraphic instruction books or copybooks which illustrate motifs similar to those used by this artist.

10. These are the booklets for the John Demoss and the John Tomlin families in the collections of the National Archives, Washington, DC. The Tomlin book is in very fragile condition, having been torn in half and taken apart and sewn back together at an early date. Its colors of black, reddish brown and blue, however, show no appreciable difference in intensity with those found in other books.

11. These two pages, collected together from the same source, are in the M. & M. Karolik collection. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. One is illustrated and the other is cited in M. & M. Karolik Collection of American Water Colors & Drawings: 1800-1875, (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, 1962), Vol. II, see illus. no. 350 on p. 271 and pp. 284 (no. 1346), 265 (nos. 1326-1328).

12. For additional information on and examples of works by this artist see Wust, Virginia Fraktur, pp. 17-19.

13. Portions of the Howsmon book, including the page with building, are illustrated in Baylor, "John Howsmon," pp. 202-204. The Howsmon building is not a direct copy and is not accompanied by any Masonic motifs.

The author is grateful to Klaus Wust, Pastor Frederick S. Weiser, Mrs. Martha Aycock, Reference Librarian, Union Theological Seminary, and Dr. Karyl Marsh of the National Archives, Washington, D.C., for their help and assistance in preparing this article.


Author: Earnest, Russell D., and Earnest, Corinne P. Year: 1997 Title: Papers for Birth Dayes: Guide to the Fraktur Artists and Scriveners Publisher: Russell D. Earnest Associates City: East Berlin, Penn. Number of Volumes: 2 Number of Pages: 908p.: illus.Bibliography: p. 853-885. Edition: 2nd Keywords: 1. Fraktur. 2. Fraktur artists. 3. Bernhart, Peter, fl. 1796-1819. 4. Bandel, Friedrich, fl. 1800-1820. 5. Senger, Anne. Abstract: This is a massive, detailed, reference book listing fraktur artists and scriveners. Two fraktur artists that flourished in Rockingham County were Friedrich Bandel and Peter Bernhart. Each artist has a biographical sketch and an index of known fraktur. With the fraktur index is date of fraktur, its type, manuscript or print, family names on the fraktur, where located, and the source of the information. In a list of "potential artists and scriveners" Anne Senger from Rockingham County is noted. Location: EMU-HL JMU

no copy at LAPL. Cost is $85-135. Not sure it has any information about Howsmon fraktur book artist.

A listing of some published fraktur books:

Bucks County Fraktur by Cory Amsler Fraktur: Folk Art & Family by Corinne Earnest Fraktur by Ruthanne Hartung Fraktur Writings and Folk Art Drawings by Dennis Moyer Pennsylvania Dutch Designs by Rebecca McKillip Papers for Birth Dayes by Russell and Corinne Earnest To the Latest Posterity: Pennsylvania-German Family Registers in the Fraktur Tradition, by Corinne and Russell Earnest

The Bucks County Fraktur book particularly caught my (DLH) eye, as on 5/27/1803, about two years before the drawing of the Howsmon fraktur book, William Howsmon married Abigail Britton. William was the oldest child of John Howsmon and Martha Frost. The Britton family was in Bucks County in 1776-1790, although Abigail Britton was born in Frederick in 1783. The Britton, Frost and Howsmon families are thought to be of English heritage, not German heritage. The families were Quaker and Presbyterian in religious heritage; often forsaking the Quaker religion to marry or to take up arms (e.g., Jesse Britton, Abigail's father, was a Revolutionary Patriot in Bucks County). (The Britton family moved to Ohio ~1806 also.) Fraktur top 10

I asked the Bucks County Library to check the Bucks County Fraktur book for John Barnard -- he is not included in this books (which means he either was not well-known in Bucks, or was from Berks/Chester) -- Staff has checked the book that you listed in your email and did not find the name Barnard, John in the index -- copyright 1999, vol. XXXIII by The Pennsylvania German Society, Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Research on Barnard and more

NameAttributed NameBegan EndBirthDeath References
Virginia Record Book John Barnard, Mathias Rizer, Dr. Wilson, member of the Fries family. 1795 1825 Earnest C. 1997 (b/w), Museum 1991 (color)
Dates are reported in the literature and have not been verified
Look up references using Fraktur Bibliography search page. (b/w) and (color) refer to illustrations

Contact Donna Hay with more information (

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