Jeanne Burgess finally took time from the winter fishing season to gather all the emails that resulted from the purchase on eBay of a baptismal presentations sterling silver cup Jay Cooke had made for the first infant, Elizabeth Jane Holloway, baptized at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church way back in 1865. It was undoubtedly the most exciting bidding she’d ever done on eBay! The Silver Cup certainly “spruced up” her winter on the island!
Jeanne received the cup about a week after the auction. The return address on the package was Michael D. Seeley, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Jeanne hopes information about the long history of how the cup ended up with Mr. Seeley will be forthcoming, but he only knew it belonged to his father who was an orphan from Ohio. What she knows now is that Charles Holloway, Elizabeth’s father, was the first island blacksmith and lived where Sonya Dress lives today. He sub-divided his property and his son, John, had the Zura house, now owned by Mike Conshafter, built around 1885. Elizabeth was his sister. John ran the dry goods store in the Oddfellow’s (Irish Pub) building. John also subdivided Peach Point after the ice companies went bust and were the first telegraph operator.
What happened to Elizabeth is unknown, but Charles is buried in Crown Hill and John ended up in California. Jeanne is happy to say a few people have already stepped forward with donations (Jeff & Kendra, George Stoiber, Tom Lunt, Sharon Duggan among others) which she has in hand and will apply to the purchase price. She admits she was a little shaken the night of the bidding with the bid going so high! But by the next day, she settled down and was no longer in shock at the $2000-plus final bid for the silver cup. She was happy that whoever was bidding against her at the very end had not put his final high bid above her maximum bid amount. With only 8 seconds to go, he did not have time to bid again.
George Stoiber copied Sunday, Oct. 8th entries (pages 122 and 123) from Jay Cooke’s Journal which referenced the baptism: new church of St. Pauls Put-in-Bay — Mr. Kendricks has administered the rite twice before on the Island to Infants – & as in this instance — an Infant – daughter of a worthy couple Mr. & Mrs. Holloway — The child’s name —Elizabeth Jane Holloway — The sponsors were Mr. Sibley & (Blank) The service was interesting & God grant that this little one may indeed be regenerated by the exercise of a true & lively faith in Christ on its own part when it comes to years of discretion & that in sponsors & Parents may realize that it is their duty to teach it the truth as it is in Jesus ”
The cup engraving has the last name as Hollway and Cooke’s entry puts an “o” in the middle. So she looked in the old baptismal records in the office at St. Paul’s and indeed it is recorded as Hollway there. The two infants baptized prior to the church’s completion were also recorded. She says she will have to take a magnifying glass with her when she again looks at the entry so she can read the tiny, beautiful cursive handwriting that names the sponsors of Elizabeth Jane Hollway and the information on the first two baptisms Rev. Kendricks performed. At church that next Sunday morning after the eBay auction, Bill Blumensaadt had her going! Before service, he stood up and told the congregation this tale of “On eBay the other night I tried to buy this child’s baptismal silver cup which I wanted to donate to the church. My high bid at the last minute was $1800 but I wasn’t successful in winning the cup . ..” At that point, I interrupted him with “You did not, Bill! I know you’re just pulling my leg. That other bidder was not you!” Jeanne says she wonders if we’ll ever discover who it was?!
Jeanne intends to donate the silver cup to St. Paul’s and thinks it would be nice to have it displayed in the museum. She will be working out those details with Vestry and LEIHS. Jeanne also wants to say thank you to all who gave her encouragement and support in pursuing this. But for right now……it’s back to winter fishing.