“As this is my first attempt at an editorial…I of course tremble at the idea of having so great a responsibility resting upon me”
Hattie Seymour and her Hartford, Connecticut schoolmates self-published a paper called Excelsior. Volume 1, number 4 was edited by Hattie, the previous three having been edited by others in the class. Her editorial is short, remarking on the approaching end of their time together in school. Hattie encourages her classmates, as they “climb higher up the ladder of learning,” to study in order “to show ourselves approved unto God, and then at his coming we shall not be ashamed.”
A devotion to God is evident in several of the essays. Mary Felt defines nature as “all the works of God.” One unsigned piece commands the reader to “Be a sunbeam on earth…that you will be more fully prepared when God shall call you to shine as an angel in heaven.”
The remainder of the paper is filled with stories such as “The History of a Rocking Chair,” told from the point of view of the chair. Beckie Watrous’ story traces the life of the chair from its time as a tree in a large lot to being relegated to the garret by its owner. Given the year they were writing, it is not surprising that several students wrote about the Civil War and its horrors. Other topics include George Washington, memory and the mind, and several (such as Mary Felt’s alluded to above) about nature.
Red ribbons tie the pages of the paper together. The title is in color, but the remainder was handwritten in black ink. The entire work is in the same hand, with 19 stories covering 18 pages. In addition to Hattie Seymour, Mary Felt, and Beckie Watrous, stories are attributed to Louise Kellogg, Sarah Langdon, Nellie McManus, Mary Wilson, Sarah Belden, and Ed Roberts.
Unfortunately there is no indication as to which school the students attended, and if it was even in Hartford. Census data suggests, though, that Hattie Seymour was a resident of the city and would have been 18 in 1863.