9 x 11” black photo album with “Amateur Photographs” debossed on the front cover. The album contains around 72 black and white photos and real photo postcards from Yorktown, Virginia from around 1908 to 1914. A note on the inside front cover identifies the little girl shown in many of the photos as Catherine Shield, daughter of C. H. Shield, Commonwealth’s Attorney in York County, Va. There are wonderful photos of Nelson House and Surrender House. Other photos include a boat called Remlik, bought by Willis Kilmer, the Cape Thomas excursion steamer and crew, and people eating watermelon along a river. The album ends with some very amusing newspaper clippings about a visit President Wilson made to Yorktown in July 1913 where he largely went unrecognized. Photos measure between 1 x 1.25” and 8 x 6.25” and are glued to the pages, with some photos annotated with cut out white paper. The album has a few unused pages.
Example newspaper clipping:
The Hampton Monitor, July 10, 1913
Miss Shield “Finds” Wilson
An article which is going the rounds in all of the big newspapers regarding President Wilson’s trip to Yorktown is causing considerable amusement to the citizens of the birthplace of the republic.
It will be recalled that the President included Yorktown when he came down the bay to Hampton Roads July 3rd while he was preparing his Gettysburg speech.
Surely he could have come to no place which could have furnished more inspiration and he also had perfect quietude. At Old Point the only molestation was a few field glasses being turned upon him at Yorktown he was not even recognized until he had nearly completed his visit and wished to visit Nelson house. To this historical place he was piloted by little Miss Catherine Shield, the spritely and intelligent little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Conway A. Shield, her father being the commonwealth’s attorney of York county. She lives next to the Nelson house, through which it has been her custom to guide occasional tourists at the price of a dime for each visitor. Although the President insisted upon paying 60 cents for himself and the five other members of his party after they have been piloted through the house, Catherine insisted that she could not accept pay from the President of the United States.
While at Yorktown Mr. Wilson talked freely with more than a score of its people, but none other than this Virginia girl so much as suspected that he was the President. Not even the Sheriff in the County Court House, while conversing with the representative of the law, stood directly beneath a poster on the wall labelled “For President, Woodrow Wilson,” and bearing an excellent campaign lithograph likeness of the man in the White House.
After viewing the battlefield of Yorktown, the President and his party trudged back and stopped before the Nelson house for a farewell view. It seemed to be unoccupied. A board tacked outside the door reads:
“Admission, 10 cents.”
While the President was eyeing the house and wondering where its keeper might be, a little gingham dress came from next door and asked whether they cared to invest in the price of admission. Then something happened that greatly pleased, but almost disconcerted the President of the United States. Suddenly, looking frankly and squarely into the President’s face, she exclaimed:
“Excuse me, Sir, but you look a great deal like President Wilson; indeed, you are President Wilson, aren’t you?”
“Yes, miss,” the President replied. “I have to admit I am Mr. Wilson.”
“Well, Sir,” said the girl, “I certainly am glad to see you. I think you are the first President that ever came to Yorktown.”
“Would it be impossible to look through the Nelson house? Inquired the President.
“Why, I shall be delighted to show you through,” responded the Virginia lass. “If you just stand here, I’ll be back in a minute. I must go and tell my mother and get the big key to the front door.”
Returning quickly, the girl pointed to the upper corner of the house, where a shot from one of the Continental batteries hit its brick wall while Cornwallis made his headquarters there. She explained to the President how the floors were held in place with wooden pegs before nails came to that part of Virginia, and pointed out the secret staircases, opening the sliding panels through which they were entered. Although the President was wearing a crash suit with white duck trousers, and the secret stairway was dusty, he was unable to resist the invitation of his little guide to climb one secret staircase to the upper floor, with his party following.
After accepting from the little girl a Continental military button and a bullet that she had found on the Yorktown battlefield, the President at her suggestion, went down the York river in a row boat and visited the Temple house on the Temple farm which was the headquarters of General Washington during the battle of Yorktown.