This 1849 Methodist Hymnbook (X2013.016.0004) caused a bit of a quandary this afternoon while we were cataloging and putting it away. The book was found in the Willamette Heritage Center’s collections in 2013 without any accompanying documentation. The only clue as to where it came from is an inscription on the back cover, which reads: Elizabeth Phillips Book.
While putting in the information into our collections management database, I stumbled upon some other materials related to an Elizabeth Phillips. This other Elizabeth Phillips, born Hibbard in Shaftsbury, England on July 17, 1821 to John Hibbard and Mary Ann Doughty, arrived in Oregon in 1845. She had married John Phillips on February 13, 1839 in New Orleans County, Louisiana. The family settled in Polk County, Oregon. This Elizabeth Phillips died May 18, 1902 in Spring Valley, Polk County, Oregon and is buried in the Spring Valley Cemetery.
While it is tempting to believe that because this hymnal made it to a museum in Salem, Oregon, that it belonged to the Spring Valley Elizabeth Hibbard Phillips. Reality, would urge caution. There are potentially thousands of Elizabeth Phillips in the world. We don’t know if the inscription was placed inside the hymnal in 1849 when it was brand new, or afterwords.
So the hymnal remains a mystery. However, it does fit the time period interpreted in the Boon House, the Boon Family being staunch Methodists, and is currently on display there.