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“Mystery Books?” Perhaps not.7 strangers in the second floor bookcase.

On the second floor landing near the bedroom with the Delft tiles is a plain 6-shelf wooden bookcase. It holds approximately 120 books, all of which would seem to be connected to Stephen Mather, or his daughter, Bertha, and her husband, Edward McPherson. All except for seven books on the next-to-bottom shelf.


At first look the seven books defy the reason for their presence as much as they have defied age. The publication dates range from 1684 to 1815.But with intuition and inscriptions, we learn quite a bit more.


In an earlier blog we looked at The Diary of Michael Floy Jr.. In an appreciation of the Diary, a reviewer noted that Michael Floy Jr. …“had many interests in life-the nursery business…the Methodist Church…books on many subjects which he bought in prodigal fashion…”


The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith M.B. has “Michael Floy Jr. August 29, 1834” and “Michael Floy Jr. September 3, 1834” on the flyleaves of Volume One and Two respectively.


The Natural History of Birds in Two Volumes, published in 1815, has an inscription on the flyleaf which reads: “J. Floy Jr. from his mother…” On the back of the front cover is “H. Thackers Book 1818.” Humphrey Thacker was the father of Jane Thacker who, in 1829, would marry James Floy, Michael Floy Jr.’s brother. [His son, James Floy, Jr. was Stephen Mather’s father-in-law.]


Another volume, The Poetical Works of Samuel Johnson L.L.D. , published in 1785 has “Jane Thacker” handwritten on the title page.


Perhaps the most odd—and oldest—book is Poems and Translations with the Sophy published in 1684. Inscribed on the flyleaf is: “Johannes Overton” and then “Lorenzo Neely Yale Col. May 30, 1829.” This latter inscription is also engraved into the leather cover.


From London in 1684 to New Haven in 1829, then to Michael Floy Jr. can perhaps be explained by a short biography of Yale graduates. “He [Lorenzo Neely] settled in New York City, where

he first practiced law, and afterwards kept a small book and stationery store in Bleecker Street.”…a store where just maybe, “in prodigal fashion,” the book was purchased by Michael Floy Jr.


Michael Floy Jr. died in 1837 without heirs. James Floy Jr., his nephew, died in 1895. It is likely that James Floy Jr. inherited his uncle’s books and passed them on, along with his own, to his daughter, Jane, Stephen Mather’s wife. Now, the caring stewardship of intervening generations has made it possible for us to have and admire these books as part of the Homestead’s rich and varied inheritance.



The Seven “Floy” Books

Prior’s Poems on Several Occasions. London, J. Tonson, 1721

The Poetical Works of Samuel Johnson L.L.D. London, W. Osborne

& T. Griffin, 1785

The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith M.B. Volume One:

Essays and Poems Edinburgh, R. Morison & Son 1791



The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith M.B. Volume Two:


Plays and Biography Edinburgh, R. Morison & Son 1791

Poems and Translations with the Sophy, Third Edition, Sir John

Denham, Knight of the Bath, London, for J.M. for H. Herrington 1684

The Natural History of Birds in 2 Volumes with numerous plates

accurately colored from nature. Vol 1. Bungay, Printed and

Published by Brightly & Childs, 1815.

The Natural History of Birds in 2 Volumes with numerous plates

accurately colored from nature. Vol 2. Bungay, Printed and


Images below:

1. “Jane Thacker” handwritten above Samuel Johnson

2. Oliver Goldsmith 1791

5. The Natural History of Birds, published 1815

6-8. L.L.D.Illustrations from The Natural History of Birds







“Jane Thacker” handwritten above Samuel Johnson L.L.D.


The Natural History of Birds

Published by Brightly & Childs, 1815.


Oliver Goldsmith 1791



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