Virginia Record Book Artist
Jonathan B. Oglesbee, (1804-1887)
Morgan County, Virginia (now West Virginia)
Latest entry, 1821
Ink on paper with paperboard backing
Morgan Anderson, Frederick County; Ex. collection: Ralph O. Esmerian.

10.25” x 8”

A decorated family record book for the family of William Hobday by Jonathan B. Oglesbee, a Society of Friends school teacher whose identity was only recently established by Valley of Virginia decorative arts historian Dr. Gene Comstock who generously shared his findings.  Dr. Comstock’s identification was based on a decorative page in a private collection signed by Oglesbee which was made for the artist’s nephew.   Elaborately illustrated with decorative borders, fancy script and block lettering, flowers, birds and other devices. Several pages decorated with borders surrounding small coffins. This book is related to more than twenty other surviving books and examples created by the same hand.  According to Dr. Comstock, most if not all of the families whose books survive were associated with Friends’ schools in the Winchester area and lived in Frederick, Berkeley and Morgan Counties in Virginia.  Apparently Oglesbee included his elaborately executed depiction of the Temple of Solomon for families with masonic associations.  The artist moved from Virginia to Ohio in 1827 and, after marrying, on to Clayton County, Iowa where he was a County Recorder.

William Hobday (1780-1863), whose family is chronicled in this book, was a farmer in Morgan County, Virginia (now West Virginia).  He farmed at Sleepy Creek, a community on the Potomac River very close to the Morgan County/Berkeley County line. In 1803 he married Christina Widmeyer (Widmire, Widmier).  They had six children. The first page of the book depicts the Temple of Solomon with associated Masonic symbols. The rest of the book records the births and deaths of his children.

Sally/Sarah b. 1806 d.1820
[William, Jr. b. 1808 d. 1890 (cut from book)]
Abraham b. 1813 d. 1815
[Hannah b. 1813 d. after 1880 (cut from book)]
Margaret b. 1815 d. 1824
Elizabeth b. 1819 d. 1897

This record book is fully colored in shades of yellow, red, blue, green and black inks, and is one of the most colorful known by the artist. Excellent condition.  Below are a few representative pages.


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