Laura O'Dell Bekofske's father's brother James Nelson first owned the book. His inked signature appears on the front page. He then wrote "Book. Keep it clean. April 17 1890" and we find Laura Grace O'Dell's name written in pencil.
It was perhaps her only children's book. The story is about a family whose oldest son is lost in a shipwreck coming home from studying in England, but surprises the family by coming home on Christmas. His sibling's and mother's life is shown as they wait to hear news of their beloved Reggie.
I used some of the line drawings of the children's life to make a little Redwork quilt.
It may seem a sad story for children but I fear that in 1881 it was too common a tale. Not unlike books for children today meant to mirror reality. I especially like the example of the father responding to the poor children. After all, when we understand what really matters, and have been given the greatest gift of life, we ought to share that bounty with those less fortunate and hence bring them great joy as well.