Friday, December 12, 2014

Civil War Christmas Memories of Dolly Sumner Lunt 1864 in Georgia



A Woman's Wartime Journal: an Account of the Passage over Georgia's Plantationof Sherman's Army on the March to the Sea, as Recorded in the Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burge) :
Dolly Lunt Burge, 1817-1891, was born in Maine in 1817. As a young woman, moved from Maine to Georgia with her physician husband in the 1840s. By the time she began her diary at age thirty, Dolly had lost her husband and her only living child to illness. A devout and self-sufficient schoolteacher, she soon married again, to Thomas Burge, a planter and widowed father of four. In 1855, she gave birth to their daughter, Sarah, called Sadai. Upon her second husband's death in 1858, Dolly independently ran the plantation, located in Mansfield. She remained there during the Civil War, witnessing Sherman's march through the area. Dolly married a final time, in 1866, to Rev. William Parks, a prominent Methodist minister. Dolly's diary is filled with news about her daughter, her struggles, and her slaves. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DECEMBER 24, 1864.
This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants. Now how changed! No confectionery, cakes, or pies can I have. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of fire-crackers [the Southern custom of celebrating Christmas with fireworks] and the hanging up of stockings, is an occasion now of sadness and gloom. I have nothing even to put in Sadai's stocking, which hangs so invitingly for Santa Claus. How disappointed she will be in the morning, though I have explained to her why he cannot come. Poor children! Why must the innocent suffer with the guilty?


DECEMBER 25, 1864.
Sadai jumped out of bed very early this morning to feel in her stocking. She could not believe but that there would be something in it. Finding nothing, she crept back into bed, pulled the cover over her face, and I soon heard her sobbing. The little negroes all came in: "Christmas gift, mist'ess! Christmas gift, mist'ess!" I pulled the cover over my face and was soon mingling my tears with Sadai's.
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Celebrating in Pennsylvania 1819-1820 with John Lewis Krimmel 1786-1821


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) The first known image of a Christmas tree in America

John Lewis Krimmel was born in Ebingen, Wurtemberg, Germany, in 1787, and accidently drowned near Germantown, Pennsylvania, in July of 1821. He came to Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence had been debated & signed, in 1809, to engage in business with his brother but soon abandoned the business to concentrate on his art.

He began his art career painting portraits, but a copy of Wilkie's "Blind Fiddler" caught his attention; & he turned to humorous subjects and genre painting. Krimmel gathered information for his paintings in the American countryside around Philadelphia by observing local habits, rituals, & ceremonies, so even though he took most of his compositional formats from British prints made after paintings by the satirical artists William Hogarth & David Wilkie, his subject matter was familiar to his potential audience at the Pennsylvania Academy. He also painted more serious historical pictures, & at the time of his death he had received a commission to paint a large canvas on the landing of William Penn. Krimmel was president of the Society of American artists.

John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) 4th of July 1819 in Philadelphia


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Barroom Dancing 1820


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Portrait of Jacob Ritter Sr.


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Black Sawyers Working in Front ot the Bank of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Blind Man's Bluff


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Country Wedding 1820


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Fourth of July in Centre Square Philadelphia, 1812


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) In an American Inn 1814


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Members of the City Troup and other Philadelphia Soldiery


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Merrymaking at a Wayside Inn


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Nightlife in Philadelphia - An Oyster Barrow in front of the Chestnut Street Theater



John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Pepper-Pot Woman at the Philadelphia Market. 1811


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Philadelphia Election Day 1815


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Sunday Morning in front of the Arch Street Meeting House in Philadelphia


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) The Sleighing Frolic


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Young Girl With A Blue Dress


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) The VillageTavern


John Lewis Krimmel (German-born American artist, 1786-1821) Wordly Folk Questioning Chimney Sweeps and Their Master Before Christ Church in Philadelphia 1811-13


John Lewis Krimmel (German American arttist, 1786-1821) The Quilting Frolic 1813


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ex-Slave Molly Ammond's Christmas Memories


Ex Alabama Slave Molly Ammond:

"Us was treated fine. Our folks was quality. We had plenty somp'n t'eat, but dem slaves hadda work powerful hard though. Atter dey come home fum de fields dey was so tired dat dey go right to sleep, except when de massa had barbecues. Christmas was de big time; dere was several days to res' an' make merryin'..."


Photos & quotes from The Slave Narratives, a collection of over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a 10-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936-1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The obvious problem is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed...The interviewers were writers, not professionals trained in the phonetic transcription of speech...by the 1930s, when the interviews took place, white representations of black speech already had an ugly history of entrenched stereotype dating back at least to the early nineteenth century." What most white interviewers assumed to be "the usual" patterns of their informants' speech was unavoidably influenced by the 1930s preconceptions & stereotypes of the interviewers themselves. "The result, as the historian Lawrence W. Levine has written, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism" that may sometimes be offensive to today's readers. Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places..."

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Civil War Christmas Memories of Mary Jeffreys Bethell 1861-1862 in North Carolina



Diary of Mary Jeffreys Bethell, January 1st 1861 - Dec. 1865:

Mary Jeffreys Bethell, born in 1821, was the daughter of Phereba Hinton Jeffreys and farmer and Methodist preacher George Washington Jeffreys (1794-1849). She married William D. Bethell in 1840 and spent most of her life in Rockingham County, North Carolina. Mary Jeffreys Bethell's diary has infrequent entries beginning on 1 January 1853 and ending 6 January 1873. Diary entries discuss Bethell's home and neighbors; her religious activities; the activities of her children, several of whom died young, and children in the Torrien family, whom Bethell referred to as nieces and nephews and who lived in the Bethell household for many years. There are frequent mention of Bethell's journeys with her husband to Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and thoughts of moving the family out of North Carolina. During the Civil War, the diary also includes the activities of sons Willie and George in the Confederate Army, including George's adventures with the 44th North Carolina Regiment and his capture and imprisonment at Johnson Island. Bethell's husband joined the Army in 1864, after which Bethell wrote of the difficulties she endured in her husband's absence, including the departure of their slaves. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

December 25, 1861
This is Christmas day, a beautiful day but very cold, how different this Christmas from last, now our Country is filled with armies to defend our country from the Northern army, many bloody battles have been fought, hundreds have been killed on both sides, and a great many soldiers have died in the camp from disease and want of attention while sick, it is sad to contemplate, perhaps the Lord is chastising his church, I believe he permits it for our good.I have two sons in the army, they have enjoyed fine health, the Lord has blessed them, I thank and praise him for it. I hope and pray that they may get home safe to my arms.

December 25, 1862
This is Christmas day, a most lovely day for the season, it is almost like Spring. I hope 'tis a token of good, that the Lord is going to bless us if it is his will. I hope the war will soon close and that we may have peace.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ex-Slave Eda Rains' Christmas Memories


Eda Rains was born a slave in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1853. In 1860 Eda, her brothers and mother, were bought by a Mr. Carter and brought to Texas:

"Now, I mus' tell you all 'bout Christmas. Our bigges' time was at Christmas. Marster'd give us maybe fo'-bits to spend as we wanted and maybe we'd buy a string of beads or some sech notion. On Christmas Eve we played games. 'Young Gel Loves Candy,' or 'Hide and Whoop.' Didn' know nothin' 'bout Santa Claus, never was larned that. But we allus knowed what we'd git on Christmas mornin'. Old Marster allus call us togedder and give us new clothes, shoes too. He allus wen' to town on the Eve and brung back our things in a cotton sack. That ole sack'd be crammed full of things and we knowed it was clothes and shoes, 'cause Marster didn' 'lieve in no foolishness. We got one pair shoes a year, at Christmas. Most times they was red and I'd allus paint mine black. I's one nigger didn' like red. I'd skin grease off dishwater, mix it with soot from the chimney and paint my shoes. In winter we wore woolen clothes and got 'em at Christmas, too."

Photos & quotes from The Slave Narratives, a collection of over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a 10-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936-1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The obvious problem is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed...The interviewers were writers, not professionals trained in the phonetic transcription of speech...by the 1930s, when the interviews took place, white representations of black speech already had an ugly history of entrenched stereotype dating back at least to the early nineteenth century." What most white interviewers assumed to be "the usual" patterns of their informants' speech was unavoidably influenced by the 1930s preconceptions & stereotypes of the interviewers themselves. "The result, as the historian Lawrence W. Levine has written, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism" that may sometimes be offensive to today's readers. Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places..."
.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Civil War Christmas Memories of Mary Chestnut 1863-64 in South Carolina


Mary Chestnut's A Diary From Dixie:

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, 1823-1886, was born in Stateburg, South Carolina, in the High Hills of Santee, to Mary Boykin and her husband, Stephen Decatur Miller. Her father had served as a U.S. Representative (1817-19). He later became the governor of South Carolina (1829-30) and a U.S. Senator (1831-31). She was educated in Charleston at Mme. Talvande's French School for Young Ladies, where she became fluent in French and German and received a strong education. On April 23, 1840, Mary Boykin Miller married James Chesnut, Jr., a lawyer and politician eight years her senior. Like her father, he became a U.S. Senator from South Carolina and served from 1858 until South Carolina's secession from the Union in 1860. Once the Civil War broke out, James Chesnut, Jr. became an aide to President Jefferson Davis and a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. Mary Boykin Chestnut began her diary on February 15, 1861, and ended it on August 2, 1865. During much of that time she lived at Mulberry Plantation in Camden, South Carolina, in the midst of thousands of acres of plantation and woodland but with many visitors. The diary was of her impression of events as they unfolded during the Civil War. She analyzed the changing political fortunes of the South and its various classes. She also portrayed southern society and the mixed roles of men and women, and complex situations related to slavery. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christmas Day, 1863.
Yesterday dined with the Prestons. Wore one of my handsomest Paris dresses (from Paris before the war). Three magnificent Kentucky generals were present, with Senator Orr from South Carolina, and Mr. Miles...Others dropped in after dinner; some without arms, some without legs; von Borcke, who can not speak because of a wound in his throat...Poor fellows, they laugh at wounds. "And they yet can show many a scar." We had for dinner oyster soup, besides roast mutton, ham, boned turkey, wild duck, partridge, plum pudding, sauterne, burgundy, sherry, and Madeira. There is life in the old land yet!


1864 December 27th.
Oh, why did we go to Camden? The very dismalest Christmas overtook us there. Miss Rhett went with us - a brilliant woman and very agreeable. "The world, you know, is composed," said she, "of men, women, and Rhetts" (see Lady Montagu). Now, we feel that if we are to lose our negroes, we would as soon see Sherman free them as the Confederate Government; freeing negroes is the last Confederate Government craze. We are a little too slow about it; that is all.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ex-Slave Alice Houston's Christmas Memories



Alice Houston was born October 22, 1859. She was a slave of Judge Jim Watkins on his small plantation in Hays County, near San Marcos, Texas and served as house girl to his wife, Mrs. Lillie Watkins for many years after the Civil War. At Mrs. Watkins' death she moved with her husband, Jim Houston, to San Angelo, Texas, where she continued her services as mid wife and nurse:

"On Christmas and New Year we would have all de good things old marster and ole missus had and when any of de white folks marry or die dey sho' carry on big. Weddin's and funerals, dem was de biggest times."



Photos & quotes from The Slave Narratives, a collection of over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a 10-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936-1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The obvious problem is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed...The interviewers were writers, not professionals trained in the phonetic transcription of speech...by the 1930s, when the interviews took place, white representations of black speech already had an ugly history of entrenched stereotype dating back at least to the early nineteenth century." What most white interviewers assumed to be "the usual" patterns of their informants' speech was unavoidably influenced by the 1930s preconceptions & stereotypes of the interviewers themselves. "The result, as the historian Lawrence W. Levine has written, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism" that may sometimes be offensive to today's readers. Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places..."
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Civil War Christmas Memories of Anita Dwyers Withers in Virginia



DIARY OF ANITA DWYER WITHERS 1860-1865

A devout Roman Catholic, Anita Dwyer Withers, wife of a United States and Confederate army officer, lived at her home in San Antonio, Texas, and briefly in Washington, D.C., before the Civil War, and in Richmond, Virginia, during the war, before returning to Texas in 1865. The diary, 4 May 1860-18 June 1865, mainly records her life in the Confederate capital, her concerns for her husband, John (d. 1892) and children, social visits, the Catholic Church, news from battles, rumors and threats of approaching federal troops, and temporary visits away from the city. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Christmas Day 25th. [Dec.] Wednesday. [1861]
We went to Church at 10 O'clock. Father McMullen preached a very good sermon. After Church we all went to Mr. John Purcell's and took a glass of egg-nog, and from there we went to see the Sisters, Mrs. Randolph took us ladies in her carriage. (The Stable of Bethlehem was beautiful.) The little Orphans sang for us. About five we walked up to Mr. Menard's to dine--we returned about nine..."

1862
"Christmas day I went to Church at half past ten. My Husband was busy and could not go--he had to attend to every thing for Mrs. Whiting, her husband had to be buried the same afternoon--It was the saddest Christmas I ever spent--no person dined out, though many were invited. We were to have dined at Mr. John Purcell's."

1863
"On Christmas day Col. Williams & his family, Capt. Wade & Capt. Myers & wife dined with us. We had a mighty nice dinner--cake, Jelly, Blanc Mange and many nice things."


Friday, December 5, 2014

Civil War Christmas Memories of Sarah Morgan Dawson 1862 in Louisiana



A Confederate Girl's Diary: Sarah Morgan Dawson

Born into a wealthy New Orleans family, Sarah Morgan, 1842-1909, was the daughter of an influential judge who moved his family to Baton Rouge when Sarah was eight. Morgan began her diary in 1862 at age 20. Her family became divided, as some broke from regional loyalty to support the North. When Union soldiers captured New Orleans in 1862, Morgan was at first impressed with civility of the officers, but when Baton Rouge experienced the same fate, her attitude changed dramatically. Morgan and her widowed mother were forced to move back to New Orleans, where in 1864, they learned that two of her brothers died of disease in Confederate ranks. Morgan never returned to Baton Rouge. In 1874, she married Frank Dawson, a newspaper owner, who died 10 years later, leaving Morgan with two children. In her later years, Morgan moved to Paris, where she died on May 5, 1909. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1862
Yesterday, being a beautiful day, I was carried down in honor of Christmas, to meet Captain Fenner and Mr. Duggan who were to dine with us...We had an exquisite Christmas gift the night before, a magnificent serenade, a compliment from Colonel Breaux...While all goes on merrily, another rap comes, and enter Santa Claus, dressed in the old uniform of the Mexican War, with a tremendous cocked hat, and preposterous beard of false hair... It was a device of the General's, which took us all by surprise. Santa Claus passes slowly around the circle, and pausing before each lady, draws from his basket a cake which he presents with a bow, while to each gentleman he presents a wineglass replenished from a most suspicious-looking black bottle which also reposes there. Leaving us all wonder and laughter, Santa Claus retires with a basket much lighter than it had been at his entrance. . .Then follow refreshments, and more and more talk and laughter, until the clock strikes twelve, when all these ghosts bid a hearty good-night and retire.
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ex-Slave Angie Garrett's Christmas Memories



Angie Garrett was a slave on a boat owned by Capt Mooring running between Mobile, Alabama, and Aberdeen, Mississippi. On land, they lived in Dekalb:

"Us didn't git no presents at Christmas. Sometimes us had a cornshuckin'."




Photos & quotes from The Slave Narratives, a collection of over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a 10-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee & Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936-1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled & microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The obvious problem is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed...The interviewers were writers, not professionals trained in the phonetic transcription of speech...by the 1930s, when the interviews took place, white representations of black speech already had an ugly history of entrenched stereotype dating back at least to the early nineteenth century." What most white interviewers assumed to be "the usual" patterns of their informants' speech was unavoidably influenced by the 1930s preconceptions & stereotypes of the interviewers themselves. "The result, as the historian Lawrence W. Levine has written, "is a mélange of accuracy & fantasy, of sensitivity & stereotype, of empathy & racism" that may sometimes be offensive to today's readers. Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive & forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time & particular places..."
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas in Union, South Carolina during the Civil War




Christmas During the Civil War in South Carolina
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940.
Mrs. Ida Baker, E. Main St., Union, S.C.
Interviewer: Caldwell Sims, Union, S.C. (11/10/37)

REMINISCENCES

"At Christmas times during the Civil War, people in Union did not have luxuries, at all. Union was only a village, & the stores did not carry much at best. Charleston was blockaded & even Spartanburg which was not much larger than Union at that time did not carry luxuries in her stores, either in food or wearing apparel.

"Those who had money could not buy, for it was not to be had. Everybody had to use parched wheat, parched okra seed or parched raw sweet potato chips for coffee. Not even tea came in. We used sassafras & other native herb teas both daily & at parties when the herb teas were in season. Some were good, but the substitute coffee was not. The darkies cut the potatoes up into small squares & parched them in the coffee parcher. This coffee needed no sugar, but for other things we used sorghum for sugar & it was a poor substitute. I liked the okra seed better than any of the coffee substitutes.

"Women of the South think that the cereal companies got their idea from them for making the many cereals which are on the market. Before the war, cereals like grapenuts & wheat flakes were unknown.

"We had plenty of food during the war. The woods were dense & they were full of wild animal life, & the streams were full of fish. On Christmas the dinner tables were weighted down with turkey & other wild fowls & many delicacies from the garden, field or stream. No one ever thought of not enjoying the coffee & tea. If sugar was missed it was never mentioned. Even the darkies boasted of the fine coffee & tea brewed from the herbs & wheat.

"Beautiful clothes were rare during the war. Most folks had to go back to the loom & spinning wheel of Revolutionary times. Of course the age of 1800 ushered in a new era in dress, & by the time the Confederate war came along, women wore gorgeous silks & satins, & in those days it took many yards of cloth for a dress.

"However, during the war we -- my sister & I -- did not have to resort to coarse homespun cloth for our clothes. A man, Mr. William Keenan, who built the house where Mrs. T.C. Duncan now lives, was a merchant. He went out of business & my mother bought four trunks full of silks, satins, brocades & linens from him about this time, which was at the outbreak of the war. Mother had these trunks stored in our attic in the house where Mrs. J. Clough Wallace now lives. That is the Meng house. Little girls could sew at the age of twelve in those days. They thought nothing of doing a tedious piece of needle work or hand embrodiery at that age. However, Union had a dress maker at that time, a Mrs. Frasier.

"Mother, my sister & I made our clothes from the things in those trunks. We only made now clothes at Christmas time during the war, & the materials in the trunk lasted."


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An Old Irishman tells about Christmas in America in the 1850s-60s


Edward o'Neill born 1858 in Brookfield, Massachusetts
Remembers Christmas past in 1938
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
Interview by Louise G. Bassett for the Living Lore section.




Edward o'Neil was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel o'Neil, an Irish immigrant and Sarah Pritchard, daughter of a foreign missionary. Daniel o'Neil a railroad worker and farmer was a hard bitten man with little education and a decided contempt for any on who had. Mrs. o'Neil was gentle and sweet, but completely terrified by her domineering husband. For years they lived in a small house in an isolated part of Brookfield. Edward o'Neil has always lived in Brookfield. When very young he refused to go to school and no one in the family made him. He has never done much work - odd jobs now and again, but has depended on his hardworking sisters to keep him. He scorns any part in the community affairs except to criticize - something he does well and often.

Edward o'Neil, Brookfield, Massachusetts. His only "special skills" are negative - a large and colorful vocabulary of cuss words and a flaming temper which he does not attempt to control.

An Old Irishman tells about Christmas

Edward o'Neil, who lives on the "old North Brookfield road, is one of Brookfield's oldest but most vigorous inhabitants.

I met him the other day just as he was finishing a five mile walk, his hands full of bitter-sweet, lovelier than I have ever seen around here. "Oh, where did you get it," I exclaimed. "I won't tell you," he snapped at me," if I did - you'd tell some one else - then they'd tell someone and purtty soon every fool in town would be goin' there to get some an' there wouldn't be none left. I like it myself an' I'm goin' to keep it fer myself long's I kin. I'll give you a piece though, long's you want some so bad." He selected a long branch with care.

"I'm saving this for Christmas" he added.

"What was the first Christmas you actually remember?" I asked.  In his faded eyes I saw a far off dreamy look.

"The first Christmas I remember was when I was four years old. The reason I remember it was because my mother gave me a big lump of brown sugar with a few drops of peppermint on it. I nibbled at that sugar a little bit at a time all day long and I can taste that peppermint to this day. You see, we were sort of pioneer people and we didn't have much - nor not much to get anything with. Every winter in my early days was hard times.

"The only other present my mother had to give that Christmas was a quarter of a dried orange peel and she give it to my sister to put in her bureau drawer to make her clothes smell sweet. My father didn't know much about Christmas. He'd been brought up by the Indians. His parents had been killed by redskins and he lived with the Indians until he was nearly twenty. My mother's parents were missionaries and of course she knew all about Christmas.

"I don't remember much about the Christmas's that came after that one when I got the lump of sugar with the peppermint on it, until I was twelve years old when my father gave me six boughten fish hooks. We made most of our fish hooks by forein' 'em ourselves before the fire. About that time my father got to flat boatin' down the river. Some time he'd be gone three or four months and when he came back he'd bring back things like store clothes and boots, and once he brought me a tie and then my mother'd hide 'em away and keep 'em and give 'em to us for Christmas. And from September 'till Christmas us kids'd have lots of fun huntin' around over the house and wonderin' what we was goin' to get.

"When I was fifteen my mother gave me a rifle of my own for Christmas. My father'd got it in Boston and this, with the exception of the one when I got the peppermint sugar, was my best Christmas.

"I was a grown man almost twenty-one before I ever saw a Christmas tree. A German family moved near us and they had a tree every year. They dipped the little candles themselves, colored 'em red with poke berry ink and fastened 'em on the trees some-how with wild turkey ribs. I never'd seen anything so purty in my life as those Christmas trees. We had to work awful hard in them days but we had our fun same as we do now. Well, if I don't run acrost you again, I wish you Merry Christmas."

And away he went, being stopped at every half block by someone who wanted to know, "Where did you get that lovely bitter sweet?"

But he only snapped "I won't tell you."


Monday, December 1, 2014

Boys knitting, crocheting, & painting shells for Chirstmas gifts in the 1880s


American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
Interview from the the Living Lore section.

Interview with Alan Wallace in 1938 about Christmas as a child in the 1880s.

"Yep, that's what my mother always said, You see, when she was a kid - she was born - oh, I guess about 1858, I'm not sure just when exactly but along there somewhere, her family made practically all their gifts. The Civil War came & they couldn't afford to spend money on anything but food. The habit stuck to her & so, when my brothers & I came along she taught us to do many things that ever since makes Christmas to me."


"Well, we boys, used to gather things to make fancy pillows, we'd start as early as August so when Mother was ready to use them they were dry & fragrant, things like fir tips, pine needles & sweet fern leaves.

"It usually went to the seashore for two weeks every summer & half the fun of going was the finding of shells to take home to make into Christmas presents. We'd pick up the prettiest clam shells & scallop shells, a whole basket full, & then when we got back home, we'd paint them in the evenings - make ash trays, pin trays & - & - oh, yes, paper weights & sometimes door stops.

"As I look back on it now I realize that some of them were pretty awful but Mother always seemed delighted with our efforts, no matter how feeble they proved to be. Honestly we got so we could all paint fairly well - you know, birds & butterflies & flowers.

"We had scads of relatives & by the time we had painted something for everybody we should have been fairly proficent. We used to make canes for Father & there was, of course, always a great deal of rivalry among us as to which cane he would like the best, so, to spare our feelings, he would carry mine today, Stuarts', my oldest brother, the next day & Jim's, the youngest brother, the third day & he would be equally enthuiastic about each one.

"We always gave him something for his desk. He finally accumulated so many of our gifts he put a good-sized table in his room & all of our efforts were laid out to show them to the best advantage. I don't mind telling you we were mighty proud of that collection.

"Mother taught us each to knit & I realize as I look back how patient she was for we were so clumsy - but we got so we could knit wristlets that really looked all right.

"I remember one night Mother had the dining room table strewn with clothes pins & some paint cans & brushes. She was making dolls out of the pins. She put dresses on them & she painted the end where the little knob is - that was the head, you know. We were wild to try our hand on painting the faces & she finally let us - we thought we had done pretty well but we were very crestfallen when Mother remarked that it was most evident there were no portrait painters in her family.
"We all three learned to crochet - & we had more fun than you can imagine crocheting ribbons to tie around our packages.

"The evenings would fly by all too fist & how sensible my Mother was keeping three big boys so enthused over Christmas that they rarely wanted to go out at night. We were boys, too, real tough 'he' boys, & the funniest part of the whole thing was, none of the boys in the neighborhood ever kidded us. In facts most of them spent half their time at our house.

"Mother always caught the Christmas spirit early & she used to spread it around which made our Christmas last longer than most people.  So many don't commence to think anything about it until two or three days before Christmas Eve.

"We used to cut our trees out in some nearby pasture & was that a ceremony. Sometimes we would spend weeks making the proper selection & there were many serious arguments before we were all satisfied. We would be all ready to set it up a week or ten days before Christmas.
"We decorated it with strings of cranberries & pop corn, then we'd paint silver stars & tuck them in & out of the branches. We put a few little candles, here & there. Not many, Mother had a deadly fear of fire. Everybody had a stocking hung on the tree, even our animals.

"We had our gifts Christmas morning but Christmas Eve we always had a 'taffy pulling'. All our pals were invited, no one was allowed to bring a present. A number of the older people would come, too, & sometimes bring something for Mother & Dad  We didn't call him Dad in those days, it would have been considered disrespectful...

"We had our gifts early in the morning & then we'd pitch in & help with the last minute preparations for dinner & what a dinner it would be. The table fairly groaned as the newspapers say.

"And no one seemed to hurry - no one rushing & dashing around like mad as they do today. Everybody was smiling. To Father & Mother Christmas meant love & love means happiness - doesn't it?"


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Woman's Work - December, 1859 Diary of Sarah Young Bovard, 31-year-old mother of 8 in Scott County, Indiana


About the writer: Sarah Waldsmith Young was born on February 21, 1828 in Hamilton County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Abner Young, born 1799 in Maine, and Jane Waldsmith, born 1806 in Hamilton County, Ohio. Her husband James W. Bovard had been born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1828. They married February 29, 1844 in the small crossroads town of Alpha in Scott County, Indiana, which was nestled in southern Indiana.

By the time she began her diary in 1859 at age 31, she had eight children: Oliver William, February 9, 1845
Marion McKinley, January 11, 1847
Maria Jane, February 4, 1849
Freeman Daily, January 9, 1851
Melville Young; December 6, 1852
Abner Sinclair, October 13, 1854
George Finley, August 8, 1856
James Carvossa, July 20, 1858.

One of her children had died before she began writing her diary. Oliver William Bovard died Nov. 11, 1857 at 12 years, 8 months and 6 days old. By 1866, Sarah would have four more children, two would go on to become college presidents.


Diary of December, 1859

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1859 Still raining. High water-rains all day-commenced sleeting in the evening. No school--the children come home at noon. I spooled Ruth's jeans. The notorious Mr. Brown was hanged to day in Virginia St


Notes:
Sarah's "notorius Mr. Brown" was Connecticut-born John Brown, 59, who led a raid on Harper's Ferry, and was executed on December 2, 1859 in Charles Town, Virginia. Unlike most Northerners, who advocated reasoned resistance to pro-slavery forces, Brown was compelled to violent action to end slave-holding. Fed up with the pacifism of the organized abolitionist movement, he reportedly said "These men are all talk. What we need is action - action!"


Brown's final "action" was the 1859 raid he led on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He seized the federal arsenal; killing 7 (including a free black); & injuring 10. He intended to arm slaves with weapons liberated from the arsenal, but the attack failed. Within 36 hours, Brown's men had fled or been killed or captured by livid local farmers, incensed militiamen, and still armed U.S. Marines led by the soon to be famous Robert E. Lee.


"Had I interceded...in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends, either father, mother, sister, wife or children, or any of that class, and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been right. Every man in the court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment," John Brown declared in court after his conviction.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1859 I stay home with the children--keep Catherines (sister) babe and she goes to meeting. James, Maria Jane (daughter born 1849) all went to Chapel to meeting. Slippery walking--sleet and snow frozen mist rain-thaws. I write some at night. I went to help feed the sheep.


Note:
Sarah was taking care of baby Sarah, the daughter of her sister, Catherine Young Sampson (born 1832) who married Scott County farmer Isaac Sampson (born 1827) in 1851. By 1859, Catherine had 4 children: Martha Jane, age 6; Edward Mathias, age 4: John Luther, age 2, and Sarah, age 1.


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1859 We was cold last night. The coldest time I ever seen, do not get much work done. I sew all day and tell scripture stories to the children-hear them say lessons. James cuts wood and does the feeding. Oh how my tooth aches. Sad company. All well.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1859 Some moderate this morning. I commence weaving this morning. But have to quit and wash the clothes. I fry some crills. Sew and nurse the babe. Hurry--try to get some work done--too much to do to get along with our troubles. James went to mill with some buckwheat in the sled-hauled wood.


Notes:
I think crills or cruls (probably a corruption of the word 'curls') were like today's curly fries. One reasercher found a recipe for Potato Crulls in a Chicago publication of 1883: Pare good, smooth potatoes raw. Cut them into thick slices. Cut out the centers with an apple corer, making rings. Take a small penknife and begin inside and cut the slice all around into a coil or string as thin as may be without breaking through till the knife comes out at the outer edge. Fry the crulls in hot lard, light colored. Drain, and sprinkle with fine salt. Another researcher thought they might have been twisted sweet cakes.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1859 James helps pap kill hogs to day. I weave. James comes home at noon then goes to Maria Byfield's (wife of her brother Christian Young) to saw timber. The children goes to school. Little Jimmy (son 18 months old) is beginning to walk around. Frozen some--snow on the ground. Plenty to eat-not much work-these days are so short.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1859 Up early-James off to town. Mary Foster (neice) comes home with Maria Jane (daughter b.1849) from school to stay all night with us. Marion (son b. 1847) goes to husking of corn to Christian Young’s (Sarah's brother b. 1824). I wove to day. Catherine (sister) come to day. I sew at night. Little James Carvossa (son 18 months old) walk all over the place now.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1859 James cuts wood yesterday. I went to hunt him in the evening--thought a tree had fallen on him-found him still cutting wood. I waded through the snow. I weave till noon then wash. Mr. Belch comes, takes dinner with us. Takes till dark to wash the clothes. Very tired. William went by from mother’s.


Note:
Nicholas Belch was a neighbor.


Sarah's sister Ethe had married as a young teenager and unexpectedly became a widow within a few short years, suddenly alone with 2 young children. Ethelina Young (born 1842) was just 15 when she married Francis Peacock (born 1831) in 1857. Apparently, Francis died sometime after 1863. Ethelina was a widow living with her two children, Emma, age 11, and William, age 7, in 1870. In 1876, Ethelina married Nicholas Belch. In 1880, Nicholas and Ethelina Belch still were living in Scott County with two of his children, Willie (born 1869) and Emma (born 1870) and her two children Emma, now 21, and William, now 17, plus a new daughter, Carrie, age 2.


William is probably William Foster, the oldest son of Robert C. Foster and Catherine Waldsmith. Catherine was Sarah's aunt. Sarah's cousin William Foster was born in 1834.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1859 Now I have a cold time. A hard day’s work to render. Up late, done all my work to day. Plenty of meat and lard this year. Pretty good sleighing now--but I have no time to spare.


Note:
Apparently Sarah's husband had recently slaughtered an animal. Sarah was rendering whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats like tallow and lard usually for making soap and candles. Sarah would chop the fatty tissue into fine pieces and then cook it in a kettle of water slowly at a low temperature (less than the boiling point of water). Then she would let the mixture cool and separate the lumpy water and fat mixture from the solids.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1859 Here it Christmas morning. We looked for visitors last night but did not come. Begins to thaw, the snow is melting fast. James took me to the meeting in the sled then to Mr. Thompsons--then home in the evening. Mother is here, She had company to day. We are all well. We have crulls and corn bread and sausage and sause to eat.


Notes:
David Thompson, 41, and his wife Mary A., 38, lived nearby with their 5 children.


Souse refers to various parts of a pig or other animal, especially the feet and ears, prepared or preserved for food by means of pickling.


You might enjoy reading Sarah Bovard's Diary from its beginning in January of 1859. Free websites containing all diary entries include: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~inscott/BovardDiary.html


Woman's Work - November, 1859 Diary of Sarah Young Bovard, 31-year-old mother of 8 in Scott County, Indiana


About the writer: Sarah Waldsmith Young was born on February 21, 1828 in Hamilton County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Abner Young, born 1799 in Maine, and Jane Waldsmith, born 1806 in Hamilton County, Ohio. Her husband James W. Bovard had been born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1828. They married February 29, 1844 in the small crossroads town of Alpha in Scott County, Indiana, which was nestled in southern Indiana.

By the time she began her diary in 1859 at age 31, she had eight children: Oliver William, February 9, 1845
Marion McKinley, January 11, 1847
Maria Jane, February 4, 1849
Freeman Daily, January 9, 1851
Melville Young; December 6, 1852
Abner Sinclair, October 13, 1854
George Finley, August 8, 1856
James Carvossa, July 20, 1858.

One of her children had died before she began writing her diary. Oliver William Bovard died Nov. 11, 1857 at 12 years, 8 months and 6 days old. By 1866, Sarah would have four more children, two would go on to become college presidents.


Diary of November, 1859


NOVEMBER 3, 1859: I commence early to boil syrup, boil all day. Catherine and children comes-stays all day--warm and pleasant. Go in the afternoon to grind cane. Mother comes in the evening.

Note:
Sarah was boiling cane juice to make cane syrup. Syrup-making is a cold-weather task. The cane is cut close to the first heavy frost. Cold weather increases the sweetness of the juice, a delay would cause it to sour or ferment. As soon as the cane is cut, the grinding and pressing begins to extract the cane juice. Sarah talked of going to grind cane in the afternoon. Apparently there was someone nearby who had a mill or animal-driven crushing device. Cane syrup, molasses, and brown sugar all start with the juice squeezed from sugar cane stalks. The cane juice itself is only faintly sweet, and the original color is an unappetizing murky gray. To make cane syrup, the raw cane juice is boiled to evaporate the liquids and stabilize the sugars; the result is sweeter than molasses, with a rich caramel flavor. Sarah would boil her cane juice for hours in a kettle regularly skimming it to remove impurites. As it boils and thickens, dirt, leaves, bits of stalk, wax, and bark roll to the suface. Sarah might use a coarse collander attached to a long wooden pole as a skimmer. After each skim, she would probably lift the syrup and let it spill back into the kettle to hasten the evaporation. The boiling juice slowly thickens to syrup over the course of several hours. It's nearly finished when a spoonful of it runs down a sloping pan at a slow speed. The syrup is now a rich golden color. Probably Sarah would filter her syrup one last time, blazing hot, through a bed sheet into another kettle. After it cooled a bit, she finally would pour it into waiting mason jars or crocks.

NOVEMBER 4, 1859: Pleasant morning. I boil syrup cane juice till noon, then wash and warp my jeans at night. James helps me. Pap and mother went to Paris to day. Mother bought a fine shawl---$6.30. Clear day but very windy and smoky. Dry time--we wish it would rain.

Note:
Paris, Indiana is about 15 miles northeast of Jennings Township.

NOVEMBER 6, 1859: Very smoky. Sleep late. My throat is sore--bad cold. Brother Moses and family goes home to day. James goes with me to Gilead to meeting. Mr. Potts preaches--his text was "Enoch walking with God 300 years and then was not for God took him." Come home late. All well, we left little Jimmy home with the rest of the children. I write at night. The children reads their books and make noise enough.

Note:
After visiting for 11 days, Sarah's brother, his pregnant wife, and his 4 children faced a long carriage ride back home. On December 26, Moses' wife Martha would give birth to their 5th child, George Buchanan Young.

NOVEMBER 9, 1859: Pleasant and warm. We beam our 40 yards of jeans--takes us one hour to beam it--put it through the gears and reed. Mother comes with some filling. James still works at fixing our house-the doors and windows. We begin to want rain very bad--the corn is turning yellow for want of rain.

Note:
Here are some weaving terms Sarah uses:
Warp are the threads running the length of the loom across which threads are woven.
Weft or filling are the threads which are woven crosswise to the warp to form the web.
A reed is a comb with both sides closed which fits into the beater. It spaces the warp threads evenly and beats the weft into place.
Beaming is winding the warp, which is spaced out to its weaving width, onto the warp beam.

NOVEMBER 14, 1859: Up early this morning--commence washing with frozen water. The children goes to school. I wash hard. Get done against 2 o'clock. Norwood Tobias is here for dinner. Mother goes by to Catherines. James goes to mill with corn to Mayfields then hauls wood. I weave at my jeans. We are all well.

Notes:
Norwood Tobias was the 21 year old son of neighbors William H. Tobias from Ohio and Sarah Sally Kashow from New Jersey who had married in Jennings County, Indiana, in 1835.

Catherine was Sarah's sister. Issa Mayfield, 46, was a nearby widower who lived on a farm with his 4 children aged 12 to 6.

NOVEMBER 18, 1859: Rained all day--commenced before daylight. James commenced his sled--went to paps for an auger--took their salt home. I wove all day. James quilted some. We are glad to see it rain. Jimmy went barefooted. He is a good boy--I do not get to nurse him much. I do not get to read my Bible enough--too much work to do.

Note:
Surprised to see her husband quilting. Her baby James Carvossa had been born on July 20, 1858. Baby James would die after Sarah stopped her diary, on July 20, 1864.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1859: Cloudy, make a kettle of pumpkin butter--very good. I weave some. Mother comes out awhile. I fill quilts. Maria Jane irons, James finishes his sled. Marion went to the [post] office. Freeman and Melville and Aby and George all disobedient children. I hope they will get better.

Notes:
Pumpkin butter is thicker than apple butter and usually eaten as a spread on breads. The taste depends on what spices you have on hand; the recipe is very easy. The mixture is so thick, that it is splattery when cooking and must be stirred constantly. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.3 1/2 cups of pumpkin, pureed 3/4 cup apple juice 1 - 2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Not sure how Sarah stored her pumpkin butter. With so much family living nearby and her own family of ten, perhaps it disappeared quickly. If she did store it, I hope she used a boiling water bath to can it, because in the 19th century, the govenment did not tell you what to worry about. Today the USDA recommends not canning pureed pumpkin, because the density and pH vary too much-- which can lead to botulism. The 21st century advice seems to be to freeze or refrigerate pumpkin butters. No freezers in Sarah's day.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1859 ; Blessed Sabbath morning. We are all well as common. Up late this morning. James and I went to Gilead to meeting. Brother Potts preached. His text was, "Ye are my friends as long as you do whatsoever I command you."--5 chapter and 14th verse of St. John.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1859: Up early this morning. James goes to husk corn for Mrs. Miller, then hauls corn in the afternoon. I weave hard afternoon and mind the children, cook dinner, sweep, wash in the forenoon, sew at night thinking how much work I have to do and how to get it done.

Note:
Mary Miller was an 80 year old widow who was born in Virginia and lived with a 35 year old William Miller and a young housekeeper in Jennings Township, Scott County, Indiana.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1859 This is Thanksgiving Day. I feel thankful that all is as well with us as what it is. Pap and mother have gone to Deborah's to day. Cool, and cloudy. James hauls rails for his fence--then is very sick at night. I weave all day--almost out of heart. So much to do here. Here comes Mary Ann Tobias with Ruth's jeans. My thoughts don't get much rest.

Notes:
Mary Ann Tobias, 23, was Mary Ann Whitsett who married John J. Tobias, 26, in Scott County, Indiana in 1854. They lived nearby in Alpha and had one child at this time, Edward who was nearly 2.

Ruth was probably Ruth Ann Kashow, 34, who married William Jefferson Young, 30, Sarah's brother. They lived in Jennings Township, Scott County, with their 4 children: Maurice Pierce, 7; Eleanora, 5; Viola Jane, 3; and William Arthur, 1.

No Thanksgiving celebration on this day.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 29, 1859: Up early and off to town. Beautiful day, warm sun--some streaked white clouds-cool air-white frost. The children goes to stay with Catherine (her sister.) Isaac goes to town. We get to town before sun down. James stays at the tavern and I stay at Mrs. Byrds. I seen and heard many things, but with very little satisfaction amid poor encouragement. This is a very wicked world, but I do not see much of it. I did not sleep much. The boats made such a noise and I was uneasy about home and children.

Notes:
James and Sarah traveled to Madison, Indiana, on the Ohio River. They dropped 7 of their 8 childern off to spend the night with her sister, Catherine Sampson, who had 2 of her own.

Isaac Sampson, Catherine's husband, traveled with them.

James and Isaac spent the night at a tavern/inn. Sarah and her nursing baby boarded at a local home.

Madison was about 25 miles from home. Madison is located on the north bank of the Ohio River 46 miles upstream from Louisville Ky, and 88 miles downstream from Cincinnati Ohio. It prospered in the 1st half of the 19th century, when river travel conveyed goods and people into the midwest. It began to decline in the 1850s as railroads began to criss cross the land.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1859: Leave town (Madison) at half past 9--sick and tired. Not enough money to buy what I need. James (husband) buys 5c worth of cake and l0c worth of cheese. We get home just dusk-the roads very good. We stopped at Julia Roseberry's a few minutes. A beautiful warn day--begins to look like rain in the evening. The children all well--done well. Marion (son, 12) and Maria Jane (daughter, 10) goes to a spelling to night. I slept very sound last night was very tired. Little Jimmy (son, 1) was such a good babe at town--never cried to trouble me any. I bought Maria Jane a shawl for $l.25. Caroline McLain come home with Maria Jane from spelling.

Notes:
Julia Roseberry was Sarah's aunt. Sarah's mother Jane Waldsmith's sister Julia Ann Waldsmith (b 1819) married Samuel Roseberry (b 1817) in 1841. They lived about 14 miles away in Jefferson County, Indiana.

You might enjoy reading Sarah Bovard's Diary from its beginning in January of 1859. Free websites containing all diary entries include: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~inscott/BovardDiary.html.


Woman's Work - October, 1859 Diary of Sarah Young Bovard, 31-year-old mother of 8 in Scott County, Indiana


About the writer: Sarah Waldsmith Young was born on February 21, 1828 in Hamilton County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Abner Young, born 1799 in Maine, and Jane Waldsmith, born 1806 in Hamilton County, Ohio. Her husband James W. Bovard had been born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1828. They married February 29, 1844 in the small crossroads town of Alpha in Scott County, Indiana, which was nestled in southern Indiana.

By the time she began her diary in 1859 at age 31, she had eight children: Oliver William, February 9, 1845
Marion McKinley, January 11, 1847
Maria Jane, February 4, 1849
Freeman Daily, January 9, 1851
Melville Young; December 6, 1852
Abner Sinclair, October 13, 1854
George Finley, August 8, 1856
James Carvossa, July 20, 1858.

One of her children had died before she began writing her diary. Oliver William Bovard died Nov. 11, 1857 at 12 years, 8 months and 6 days old. By 1866, Sarah would have four more children, two would go on to become college presidents.

Diary of October, 1859


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2 , 1859: Lovely morning. Feel thankful that all is as well with us as what it is. Children better. I stay at home all day. James goes to Gilead (their church) to meeting. Catherine (sister, 27) comes awhile and I send for Pap (father, 60) to come out and eat dinner. Mother has gone to Margy Peacocks. Such a pretty clear cool pleasant day.

Notes:
Margy Peacock was Sarah's sister Margaret who had been born in 1836. She married John Peacock, 21, on January 14, 1858, and had a new baby at home, Rosetta J. Peacock. By 1870, Margaret was raising 6 children. Rosetta had been joined by Agnes, age 9; Joseph, age 8; Alice, age 5; Margaret, age 2; and Marvin, 8 months old.

Sarah's sister Catherine Young (born 1832) married Scott County farmer Isaac Sampson (born 1827) in 1851. By 1859, Catherine had 4 children: Martha Jane, age 6; Edward Mathias, age 4: John Luther, age 2, and Sarah, age 1. Catherine would have a son, Abner, in 1864.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1859: Clear and cool till noon then cloudy. I went to mothers in the forenoon. We have a notion to go to the fair to Vernon tomorrow. James commences cutting corn this morning. I spin, starch and iron and bake some pumpkin pies. Mother and George (George Washington Young, brother, 12) comes out to stay all night, ready for the fair. Melville (son, 7) is sick. James goes to Gilead at night.

Note: Vernon was about 25 miles from Sarah's, a fairly long carriage ride.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1859: Cold--very cold. Melville better. Now we start for the fair before daylight. Leave the children in bed. We get very cold. Heavy frost. Arrived at the fair--safe. Saw a many nice things but thinking of the children at home I did not see much pleasure. My head ached and I felt sick and wanted home. The roads are good. The moon shone bright. We arrived home at half past eight at night, found the children in bed. All well, then I wished I had took my time easier. Mother and George went on home, tired and hungry.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 9, 1859: Some clouds then clears away. We have a good mess of beans and corn for dinner. I feel well but the rest are all sick with sore throats. Maria Jane goes to Mr. Foster's. Very cool.


Notes:
Robert Foster, 61, was a widowed farmer with a large family living nearby. Robert Foster became Uncle Robert when he married Aunt Catherine Waldsmith, born 1811, sister of Jane Waldsmith Young. Aunt Catherine had just died in the spring of 1859. In 1860, Sarah's brother, John Wesley Young, born 1838, was living on the farm as a laborer.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1859: Pleasant morning. I commence spinning. My tooth aches. I finish spinning--spun my dozen. Oh how I suffer with tooth ache. The Roseberry girls are here. James cuts corn. Clear all day. Heavy frost.

Notes:
The Roseberry girls are Sarah's cousins. Sarah's mother Jane Waldsmith's sister Julia Ann Waldsmith (b 1819) married Samuel Roseberry (b 1817) in 1841. They lived about 14 miles away in Jefferson County, Indiana. The girls who came to visit were Harriet Florence, age 15, and Electa Jane, age 13.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1859: Cool--some clouds. Margaret B. (sister Peacock) comes to color. I colored to day and finished twisting stocking yarn. Mother and Tilda Foster (neice 13, Matilda dau of Uncle Robert Foster) is here. I scoured out some yarn to day.

Notes:
Sarah's dyes seem to be mostly homemade. Indigo was used for blue; madder for red; butternut husks or sumach blossoms for brown; onion skins, waxwood or goldenrod for yellow; and beech tree bark for drab. Green was made by first steeping in yellow dye and then in blue. By experimenting with similar combinations, the home dyer could obtain a variety of shades, but she would find it very hard to duplicate them. To variegate or cloud her yarn light and dark, she might wind tight bands of cotton about her skeins at equal distance from each other, before dipping them into the dye tub. A pair of stockings knit from such yarn could serve as a bit of finery in a little farm girl's wardrobe.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1859: I start to the pedlar but do not go all the way--he did not have no cotton yarn. Marget come to day and colored her yarn. Cloudy, looks like rain. I go with Margy to mother's. We fill some jugs with tomatoes. I still have the tooth ache. Abner Sinclairs birthday (son turns 5.)

SUNDAY OCTOBER 16, 1859: Nice pleasant morning. I went to mother's awhile--left the children with James. Maria J., Delilah B., Ann Stevens went by to mothers this morning. Very cloudy.


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1859: Sleeves rolled up. All in a hurry--now the coloring is to be done. Here goes Christian Young (brother, 34 who lives nearby) and Isaac S. I color red and green--dip the blue for Margy P. (sister) Mother and Catherine (sister) comes. I boil the cotton for the jeans. James cuts and hauls wood. Isaac goes by--he is going to town tomorrow. James is sick. Cloudy this morning.


Notes:
Sarah's older brother Christian Young (born 1824) married Mariah Byfield (born 1828.) Mariah would have 11 children between 1847 and 1870, six would die before they were even 4 years old. At the time of this entry in Sarah's diary, Christian had only 2 children living, Lewis (born 1848) and Deborah (born 1858.)

Isaac S. is her brother-in-law. Sarah's sister Catherine Young (born 1832) married Scott County farmer Isaac Sampson (born 1827) in 1851.

It is not clear what Sarah was referring to as jeans. She might have been referring to the rough cotton canvas used for tents and wagon covers in the 19th century or to some sort of twilled cotton cloth originally made of wool and silk from France called "serge de Nimes." The 100% cotton form of that fabric later became known as denim and the pants were nicknamed blue jeans. In 1873, Levi Strauss & Company began using the pocket stitch design. Levi Strauss and Nevada tailor David Jacobs co-patented the process of putting rivets in pants for strength. On May 20, 1873, they received U.S. Patent No. 139,121. This date is now considered the official birthday of "blue jeans."

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1859: I go to mother's to warp my blankets. Spooled them last night. The rest in bed. K. come for the kettle to make preserves. James digs potatoes and I color blue, work at my weaving, pick beans and a thousand other things. My hands are so chafed I cannot work with ease. Mother comes a minute or two. James writes notes for the meeting house. Babe cries.

Notes:
K was Sarah's brother Abner Knight Young, born 1844, who still lived at home with his parents. Apparently Sarah and her mother shared the big kettle.

OCTOBER 23, 1859: Blessed Sabbath morning. Debby (sister, born 1834) and Ethe (sister, born 1842) goes by to the post office, taking a ride for their health. James and myself goes to Gilead to meeting to hear Mr. Potts (F. S. Potts, Methodist Episcopal preacher, 35 from Jennings) preach.

Notes:
Like so many 19th century women, Sarah's sister Debby wrestled with heartbreak as she watched 6 of her children die before they reached age 5. Deborah Young (born in 1834) lived nearby in Scott County. She married a physician from New York Dexter McClure (born in 1819) in 1853. By October of 1859, Deborah had 4 children and was pregnant with a fifth. Her first baby Julian, born 1854, lived to have 6 children of his own. Son Victor, born in 1855, died in 1856. Her next baby Clement was born and died in 1857. Little Alice Jane, born 1858, would only live 5 years. The baby that Deborah was carrying when she visited Sarah, Lemira Orilla, would have 10 children. After Lemira was born, Deborah had 7 more children and 3 of those babies would die in the first year of their lives. In 1875, Deborah Young McClure passed away at 41 years, 5 months, and 15 days.

Sarah's sister Ethe married as a young teenager; and then, she unexpectedly became a widow within a few short years, suddenly alone with 2 young children. Ethelina Young (born 1842) was just 15 when she married Francis Peacock (born 1831) in 1857. Francis was the brother of sister Margaret's husband, John Peacock. Francis, like his brother, was a farmer. His widowed mother Nancy Agnes (born 1792) was living with them and their new daughter Emma J. in 1859. Apparently, Francis died sometime after 1863. Ethelina was a widow living with her two children, Emma, age 11, and William, age 7, in 1870. In 1876, Ethelina married Nicholas Belch. In 1880, Nicholas and Ethelina Belch still were living in Scott County with two of his children, Willie (born 1869) and Emma (born 1870) and her two children Emma, now 21, and William, now 17, plus a new daughter, Carrie, age 2. Ethelina would live until 1917.

Today, Sarah and her husband, stop all work and go to church. The Bovards were members of the Mount Gilead Methodist Church.

OCTOBER 27, 1859: I finished weaving my blankets to day, spool some at my carpet chain. Cold and cloudy--looks like rain. Moses (brother, 33) and family comes to paps to night. Mother has the tooth ache. I am not very well.

Notes: Sarah's older brother Moses Jackson Young, born in 1826, lived about 38 miles away from Sarah and her parents. Moses family included his wife Martha May Hoard and their 4 children in Columbus, Bartholomew County, Indiana. Martha was nearly 8 months pregnant with her 5th child. To make the 38 mile trip to his parents' house, Moses attached his horse to his buggy or wagon; packed enough food and blankets for a 4-6 hour journey; and then loaded it with his pregnant wife and his four young children: Orville, age 10; Ernest, age 7; Alice, age 5; and Mary, age 2.

A horse can travel about 8-10 miles per hour depending on the weight of the buggy or wagon and the condition of the horse, but it would need a long rest after about 25 miles depending on it's health and stamina. It would take a while to cart those children to grandma's house.

The carpet chain that Sarah probably refers to could be a ball of strips of rags and material that she is preparing to weave into sections of rag rug. Most cabins and farm houses in southern Indiana in 1859 were functional rather than decorative with lots of cracks and crevices where the cold air could seep into the home. To help keep her family as warm as possible, a housewife would often make rag rugs. Sarah had a loom which often occupied several hours of her day. Sarah apparently could weave rag carpet strips on her loom. They usually were woven approximately 36 inches wide which would require a loom which was 40-45 inches in width. These woven carpet strips could be sewn together to cover an entire floor surface. Home weavers wove table linens, coverlets, yardage for clothing, and bedding on their looms. Some four-harness looms were converted to two-harness for the purpose of weaving rag rugs. Women often helped each other with the warping and held "rag-sewing bees" outside in the summer. Pieces of fabric from old clothes, bedspreads, curtains, blankets, sheets, etc, were cut or torn, sewn together into strips and wound into balls. Most of these fabrics had served out their usefulness in other capacities long before they were woven into rugs.

OCTOBER 28, 1859: Now I hurry my flannel to see how it will look. I scald some too, boil bark to color jeans chain, but here comes brother Moses and wife and children and pap and mother and Catherine, and children comes. Not well.

Notes:
Winter was coming. Sarah was bustling around trying to care for her 8 children; make warm flannel material on her loom; and boil a large kettle of dye (which she had made from the bark of nearby trees) to color jeans; when unexpected company arrived. Moses with his pregnant wife and 4 children; her sister Catherine plus her 4 children; and her mother and father exploded into Sarah's day. No phones to call ahead.

SATURDAY OCTOBER. 29, 1859: Cloudy and cold. Abby (son, 4) is sick. I commence weaving my flannel. Oh how beautiful it is. Mother goes by to Catherines. We bury our cabbage, beets, squashes and color jeans cotton and carpet rags, render tallow, make some candles, and sew on my blankets.

Notes: Sarah is taking care of her children, one of them sick; dyeing cotton; rendering tallow for candles; sewing blankets for the coming winter; storing vegetables; and creating beauty on her loom!!

No refriderators, of course. Country women often stored potatoes, turnips, carrots, cabbage, beets, and squash for the winter by burying them in a deep soil pit with a thin straw flooring, covering them with soil to just below the frost line, and then adding additional straw mulch on top. The earth provided a controlled atmosphere, because soil temperatures do not fluctuate. Of course, there were some problems associated storing vegetables underground, but most realized that pits needed to be well-drained and vigilantly protected from hungry rodent raiders.

Without electricity, candles and oil lamps were a necessity. Sarah rendered tallow, animal fat from cows or sheep, by cooking and straining it to remove impurities such as leftover meat or gristle. One steer could produce up to 100 pounds of fat to process. Some heated the tallow in a large kettle of boiling water instead of directly over a fire to protect against the tallow itself from catching fire. Since the candles would be burning indoors, they tried to make the tallow as pure as possible to minimize smoke and noxious odors. Women soaked cotton wicks in the tallow and hung them up to dry with a tallow coating. When dry, they might lay the coated wicks in a prepared mold and pour on additional tallow. When dried and solid, the candles could be used immediately. Others chose a more time-consuming process of hanging the wicks from a frame the size of the cauldren and dipping them into the melted tallow just enough to coat the wicks with a new coat of tallow being mindful not to melt the tallow already on the wicks. Once that coat was dry, the process would be repeated again and again to build up the candles to the desired size.

You might enjoy reading Sarah Bovard's Diary from its beginning in January of 1859. For all diary entries see: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~inscott/BovardDiary.html.