Sallie Ransom’s Book By Carol White

July 14, 2020, July/August Froe Chips, Carol Robertson White, Frow Chips Editor

Sallie Ransom Binford

Every now and then we have folks drop by the Rutherford County Historical Society Historic Ransom School House and share a photo or two, ephemera regarding our town, or donate us items to the Rutherford County Historical Society.

I had a query on June 22, 2020 through the Rutherford County Genealogy Facebook page that stated the following: from Sarah Larsen Miller: “I hope this group may be able to help me with an almost twenty year search. I am looking for any descendants of Sallie (Sarah) Ransom Binford. She attended Soule College in 1868. I believe she was born in 1852 and died in 1947. According to a newspaper clipping on the find a gravestone site, she had two great-nieces, Mrs. Tom McCord and Mrs. Paul Kipping. I Google every few years and today was able to find the actual location of her school. I found a book written on the history of Soule College and surprisingly, it included a mention of her diploma which was hung in a local library, which hopefully has lead me on this serendipitous path. I collect books and found her 1858 edition of Elements of Logic by Henry Coppeé in an antique store in Columbus, Ohio. She wrote many notes, and presumably conversations with friends, within the margins. She also included recipes, a beautiful poem and drawing, and general musings of a sixteen year old girl, all written 152 years ago. The book isn’t in great condition, but it’s always held sentimental value to me and I’m sure her descendants would appreciate having it back. I’d love to return it to someone in her family that would appreciate it. Thanks in advance for any suggestion you may have for me.”

Well of course, being a genealogical researcher and Sallie was a Ransom, I responded.

Sarah “Sallie” Ransom was born February 15, 1862 in Bedford County, Tennessee. Ransom was a well known, prominent family throughout Bedford and Rutherford County, Tennessee. Sallie attended Soule College and graduated at the age of 16 on Friday, March 27, 1868. It was through a graduate thesis written by Eugene H. Sloan, that enabled Sarah Larson Miller to track Sallie from Bedford and then to Rutherford County, Tennessee to the Rutherford County Tennessee Genealogy Facebook Group and then to the Rutherford County Historical Society. Sallie did not marry until she was 26 years old, in 1878, to Joseph William Binford. Joseph Binford died in 1915, and there were no children born to their union. Sallie relocated to Murfreesboro in the 1920s living with kin until she passed away in 1947.

After a 20 year search and being able to identify Sallie Ransom, Sarah Larsen Miller of Columbus, Ohio, gifted the Rutherford County Historical Society this 152-162 year old book for any and all of Sallie’s Ransom and extended family to come by and enjoy. The book itself is in rough condition and not that interesting, but it’s what is written in the margins: glimpses of Sallie’s thoughts and dreams (and a few recipes or two) when she was sixteen years old and attending the Soule College. On page 288, Sallie transcribed the first two stanzas of “My Life is Like the Summer Rose,” by Richard Henry Wilde, which incidentally is credited as the original version written in 1823:

“My life is like the summer rose
That opens to the morning sky,
But are the shades of evening close,
Is scattered on the ground—to die!
Yet on the rose’s humble bed
The sweetest dues of night are shed,
As if she wept the waste to see,—
But none shall weep a tear for me!

My life is like the autumn leaf
That trembles in the moon’s pale ray;
Its hold is frail, —its date is brief
Restless,—and soon to pass away!
Yet are that leaf shall fall and fade,
The parent tree will mourn its shade,
The winds bewail the leafless tree,—
But none shall breathe a sigh for me!”

Sarah Larsen Miller goes on to write, “contradictory to the poem’s subject matter, and I’m sure Sallie would never have imagined, that here we would sit 152 years later, and get to know her. I imagine that Sallie was an incredible person, a great friend, and sister, and someone that I would have like to have known. The genealogy group shared many details of her life with me. I believe that sixteen year old Sallie would have been very happy to know that she had a very full life ahead of her, and that she’s well remembered.

It has been my absolute pleasure and honor to have been the short-term guardian of Sallie’s book. It gives me a tremendous amount of joy to finally send this piece of her personal legacy home.”

My very best, Sarah Larsen Miller.

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