From the same neglected box of books that caught the rain and melted snow in the leaky garage came this copy of Lalla Rookh by Thomas Moore. The inside of the book bears the simple penciled name of ‘Elmira’ and this is Elmira Vail Ross then of Middletown Springs, Vermont.
Amazon describes Moore’s ‘Lalla Rookh’ this way, “1820. Irish poet and friend of Lord Byron and P.B. Shelley, Moore’s works range from lyric to satire, from prose romance to history and biography. Moore was also a good musician and skillful writer of songs, which he set to Irish tunes, mainly of the 18th century. Moore’s bestselling epic poem, Lalla Rookh, is a kind of miniature Arabian Nights in subject matter, setting and form. The story relates the journey of the princess Lalla Rookh from Delhi to Kashmir, where she is to marry the young King of Bucharia whom she has never met. From its first appearance Lalla Rookh inspired the romantic imaginations of artists, dramatists and composers alike with its heady combination of drama, poetry, romance, pathos, fantasy, horror and exoticism.”
This tale presented in poem form was extremely successful from the very first printing and by the time Elmira Vail Ross secured her copy it was in roughly it’s twentieth printing and widely known.
Assuming that Elmira received the copy in the print year of 1849 she was a young girl eighteen years old and lived in the home of her parents Allen Vail and Polly Gregory Vail in Middletown Springs, Vermont. 1849 was a rough year for the Vail family as both of Elmira’s half brothers from her father’s first marriage to Temperance Vail passed away. Her elder half sister Alta Vail was ill as well but happily married to her husband Elijah Ross. Elmira’s half sister, Alta, remained in ill health for the next several years before she died in October 1851 at age 28.
After about another two years Elmira Vail and Elijah Ross, her late half sister’s husband, then wed and had two children Allen Vail Ross born in 1855 and Edward Vail Ross born in 1857. Their oldest child, Allen, died very young and was buried alongside Alta in the Middletown Springs (Vermont) cemetery. Edward Vail Ross of course was blessed with a much longer life, career, his own marriage and became the father of Edith Vail Ross, whom this blog is about. The Vail Ross family moved down the road to Poultney and it was there that Elmira, “Grandma Ross” as Edith called her, lived the rest of her life.