Mary Yakel was a first generation German-American who was born in the South End of Albany, NY in 1879. A happy girl as a youngster, Mary endured certain hardships during her late teens and early twenties. Eventually, these challenges resulted in a mental breakdown requiring her to be hospitalized, and where she passed away.
Prior to her hospitalization, Mary spent much time among neighborhood family and friends. As it so happens, a common practice of the time was for people to carry around small autograph booklets for other people to sign. As Mary made her stops, she would ask others to jot a few lines in her autograph book. Those who were aware of her plight sometimes made a loving comment or provided a word of hope and comfort as their book addition. Some made a funny comment or penned a humorous poem. Whatever the content consisted of, it is clear that Mary was a beloved friend to one and all.
Mary Yakel passed away at the Poughkeepsie State Hospital in 1940, at the age of 61. However, her presence lives on. Through the pages of her autograph book, Mary has shown us that family, friendship, love and hope continue to endure and stand the test of time. As we read her book, so we remember her and all of the others who have come before us.
Author Joseph Yakel has done an excellent job of preserving Mary's memoir and supplementing it with personal details about her life and that of her family. Below each original page entry are interesting details about the individuals or families mentioned in the book, if known.
This report prepared by Joseph Yakel