I’ve reached the point in cataloging all my books where I am adding books that have no ISBN number.
I’m using an app called CLZ Books to do this. If there is a barcode on the book, it’s easy to add it. I scan the barcode, wait a second for the program to find the book, then add it to my collection.
For books without an ISBN number, I have to look up the book by its title or author. If someone has previously added it to their collection and uploaded that information to the cloud, the software finds it. Click and add… though often it’s click, fix some info, add a picture of the cover, and then add it.
Why I am I telling you this?
Because yesterday, as I was adding Ferns and How to Grow Them by G. A. Woolson (1905), a choice popped up showing the author as Grace A. Woolson.
And just like that, I was on the hunt to find her.
She was easy to find because someone in 1911 kindly thought to write a lovely obituary for her in the Rutland (Vermont) Daily Herald, even though she was, as they put it “the last of her family.”
Here’s the full obituary:
“Pittsford, June 25 — (Special) — Miss Grace A Woolson, who died at Proctor hospital Friday noon, after several months’ illness from cancer, was the daughter of the late Levi and Elizabeth Woolson of PIttsford Mills, and was the last of her family, her nearest relatives being cousins, Charles A. and William D. Woolson of Springfield, and Harian S. Miner of Philadelphia. Miss Woolson was born October 17, 1856 and received her education in the Springfield high school and Kimball Union Academy of Meriden, N.H. She was a successful teacher in the public schools of this vicinity for several years. Possessing a great love of plant and animal life she became a skillful gardener and an expert in the study and care of ferns, which she cultivated mostly rare and beautiful specimens.
She was a member of the American Fern society, at one time a candidate for its presidency, and a member of the Vermont Botanical club. She published a successful book on “Ferns and How to Grow Them,” besides many articles on gardening and other outdoor articles in the New York Independent, Country Life and other papers.
Funeral services were held this afternoon at her late home in PIttsford MIlls, and were largely attended by friends and neighbors. Rev. C. H. Smith, pastor of the Congregational church officiated.
The bearers were J. A. Eayres, J. D. Andrews, W. T. Denison, J. V. Clifford, S. R. Burbank and James Halpin. Among those present from out of town were C. A. Woolson of Springfield, H. S. Miner of Philadelphia, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Andrews and Dr. and Mrs. Welch of Proctor. The burial was in Evergreen cemetery.”
What else do we need to know?
Well, I did do a little more searching. I discovered she had a sister who was about six years older, Abbie, who died in 1871.
Grace also made the papers in August 1900 when she was bitten by a “kissing bug” which was identified by experts when she sent it off to be looked at.
Then I decided to take a quick look at Google books to see if any of Grace’s articles are available online. That led me briefly to a rabbit hole called Frank Leslie’s Pleasant Hours, Vol. 32 -33 (1882) which included a story about a haunted house with a ghost named—you guessed it—Grace Woolson. No relation, I think, given the date he wrote it and the date she died… in case you believe in ghosts!
I also found a clip in the American Fern Journal about Grace finding a rare fern in Vermont. (FYI…the American Fern Journal is still being published today by the American Fern Society.) Her discovery of this fern was also written about in a previous article but in that one, she’s referred to throughout as “Mr.”
Harrumph, as they say. No further comment on that!
I did one last search, this time for quotes by Grace. Nothing. So I looked through her fern book and came up with one.
“Thus did Nature artistically adjust my failure.” — Grace A. Woolson
Feel free to use it as you wish. I think it would make a nice sign to put near a wild area of your garden. Or you can use it as you walk through your garden, showing it to others. With a wide sweeping gesture of your hand, you can point out a particular flower border that turned out so much better than you imagined it would and say “Thus did Nature artistically adjust my failure.”
I think I’ll make a little clip with that quote to share on social media, to spread the word about our latest Lost Lady of Garden Writing, Grace A. Woolson.
Update: clip made. Feel free to download and share!