The Diary of
SARAH ISABEL LESLIE TORRENCE
1874 to 1877
Submitted by Donna Henderson
Sarah Isabel Leslie Torrence began writing this diary in Florence, Iowa in January 1874, when she was 33 years old. She had four children: Mary Ella (“Ella”), 11; James (“Jimmie”) Edwin, 7; Nettie Maria, 6; and William (“Willie”) Leslie, 2. Sarah and the Rev. James Templeton Torrence (“Papa” or “Mr. T.”), a licensed United Presbyterian minister, had been married for 13 years. Sarah’s mother, Mary Mathews Manoher Leslie, 67, lived nearby. Her father, Jacob, had died in 1863 in Ohio.
Sarah was apparently well educated, for her spelling and grammar were nearly impeccable. Except for a few peoples’ names and places that are hard to make out, for which I made a guess or just used a question mark, these are her exact words, transcribed with almost no editing or corrections, as she wrote them in her diary. It is not an easy task to read her scribbling at times. On most pages her handwriting is very cramped and difficult to decipher because, probably trying to save paper, she often wrote two lines in a one-line space. She usually filled every inch of each page, writing in the margins as well.
I omitted some of her more mundane daily entries for the sake of brevity, but otherwise this is most of her diary, as well as I could transcribe it while working from snapshots of its pages sent to me by Les and Mickey Henderson. Underlined words are as she underlined them. I rarely guessed at any illegible words, rather, I tried to stick to the old newspaper-editing adage, “When in doubt, leave it out.” Someday I’d like to have a look at the original book, but it is believed to be in the possession of the Heeter family. -- D.L.H.
Jan. 10 - It is so long since I recorded anything in this book it will be difficult to know what to write and what to leave out. The children’s teacher, Miss Beebol, came to stay with us overnight on the 17th of Dec. That day I did a big day’s work and it is the last I have done. The next morning I woke with cramps and chills, severe headache. The second night after I took a terrible vomiting and purging at midnight. Papa ran for doctor while Ella tried to quiet Willie, who was continually crying to Papa to “rockie me.” Jimmie did his best to wait on his mama. Papa and the doctor were soon here and soon I was relieved, it did seem to me I could not have endured it much longer. The bilious attack then run into intermittent fever until Tuesday the 23rd when the fever abated. Mother and Martha (Sarah’s younger sister, who was 27) started on the train to see Benton (Thomas Benton Wade, 36, a Civil War veteran who was married to Sarah’s other sister, Mary, 31.) Papa and the children got along with the work and took care of me (the latter being no little job).
Jan. 16 - Martha returned. Benton was able to enjoy the visit but is not able to get up or down without help. I was able to be dressed and helped to the kitchen. Papa did a washing.
Jan. 17 - Miss Hunter came and Papa left for his place of preaching in Illinois and Wisconsin. I was able to be dressed but did not gain strength and in the evening was suddenly taken with pleurisy. Miss H. applied hot cloths to no effect, then mustard but no better, then ran for the doctor. He came and they did get me relieved by eleven so I got to sleep until the remedies took effect about seven in the morning. Friday I had another severe attack and another on Saturday, the latter was severe indeed. My jaws cramped. I used remedies promptly but Sabbath morning my neck and face were sore and in pain. Jaws still inclined to cramp but do not get bad. On Tuesday night the pleurisy again came on me, every time in the left breast. That was the last, can now breathe easy when quiet and not tired. I get tired sitting but dread to lie as the pain is then so much worse. Slept well last night, can turn a little in bed now and no one knows how thankful I am for life and what comfort I now enjoy. I can do but little but am of great benefit to the children for when I could not see to them, it was not so well with them. My sufferings have been great but will still cleave to Him who yieldith the rod. I feel today as though I were going to get well again. Have set up some today. Am in the most critical condition my health ever was. Will be so thankful if God spares me for my family’s sake. I have a good nurse and housekeeper.
Jan. 21 - Read letters in the last week from Maria (Sarah’s widowed sister-in-law, wife of her half-brother, William, who died in 1872). Joseph (Sarah’s oldest half-brother, who never married) has read the New Testament I sent him in July through 225 times; the Book of Psalms 325 times.
Jan. 23 - Received letter from Mary. Benton low. They want Mr. T. Papa will go. Deep snow fell last night.
Jan. 24 - Ella has been ill since Friday evening, like pleurisy; has not been dressed she went to bed Friday. Think it was caused by her wading through that fall. It was over her knees most of the way. The other children were not at school. Snow melting today.
Jan. 29 - Received a letter from Papa today with the sad intelligence of Benton’s death on yesterday at eleven o’clock. He expired in the full hope of a rest beyond the grave; he has suffered long and hard. While our hearts bleed, we are comforted with the thought that his sufferings are ended and now he is engaged in the celebration of his Maker’s praises. Mr. T. and Mother were there. This is Mary’s first night without her companion, it will be a desolate night for her. Papa is to be home Monday night. E. getting well, looks bad, eyes so large they look crooked. The funeral took place at 12 today, just when we were reading the letter. Then I wrote to Mary. I am thankful the letter came so I could be with them in solemn meditation as they were about to take their last long look.
Feb. 2 - Papa came home, after preaching in Elvira, Clinton Co., Iowa for the first time. Brought me this new gold pen for a present - old one worn out. Wednesday Papa and I went to (?) in sled with Mrs. Johnson. I stayed until evening and was to come home on the train, was Providentially hindered from getting on. In a short time after was astonished to learn that the car I was to get on was ditched and tumbled over. Mr. T. had to get home in the sled (16 miles) in time to meet me, but there was no one there. When he learned the car was turned over, fearing I was on it and perhaps not able to get home, he took the eastbound train and was back at (?) to come home with me. He made two trips in one day. Thanks to an Almighty presence.
Feb. 21 - Miss Hunter leaves tomorrow. She has been here 8 weeks; worked at $2.50 per week. I now owe her $16. Mother came on Tuesday.
Feb. 22 - Very stormy. Pump froze. Papa came home on late p.m. train.
Feb. 23 - Papa spent whole day thawing pump. Weather very cold. Hens have been laying for a week.
Feb. 24 - Hugh (Sarah’s brother-in-law, husband of her sister Martha) came to help Mr. T. write an article of agreement between Mother and Mr. Williams, renter. We are having a pleasant visit with Papa this week. I wish I could be well when he is at home. Cough very troublesome.
Mar. 1 - Mother, Ella and I went to hear the Methodist minister preach and after sermon was over, as we were riding with Mr. Johnson, we went to the creek to witness the baptism of 6 persons. Mrs. Bloodgood, she is the Baptist minister’s mother, is 84 years old. She was baptized by the Methodists years ago. She had on a white robe, her choice; the others had on black robes. The blocks of ice were removed to make a hole to dip in, it was a shocking sight. A chilly, murky day. It almost chills me yet to think of it now.
Mar. 19 - Mt. T. preached for us on Sabbath. It sounded good to hear him invite sinners to come to the Savior again. Weather pleasant Sabbath but cold, stormy Monday. W. washed, I was just too tired. Tuesday baked and ironed. Papa helped all day. Received letters from Mary and Maria. The latter brought the sad news of Nettie (Logue) Alexander’s death, also of David Nesbit’s death. Lizzie is left with 5 children, one born since he died. She is left almost, if not all together, destitute as well as desolate. We feel deeply for them all.
Apr. 10 - Sad news again. Willis Leslie, William and Maria’s oldest son, died on Sabbath the 5th of inflammation of the bowels after one week’s illness. We pity Maria. She is a little over one year bereft of her husband, then after 6 months she gave birth to a son who died in a few months and has now lost her first born. Papa and I were at the funeral of Wm. Atkinson’s babe today, then in the evening we all went to a Stereopticon exhibition.
Apr. 14 - Walked twice to Billie’s this week to wash and dress little babe. Miss H. is there. This is their 5th child; their oldest is the age of my Nettie, 6 and a half years.
Apr. 15 - Willie took a terrible fright in the night. We got but little rest from 2 o’clock. We think he has worms. He is now 3 years old. Papa has gone to Hugh’s for Mother. B. dragged and then marked the garden today; it is half planted now. I baked and ironed; am nervous from Willie’s fright. Still making soap.
Apr. 18 - Papa left on the morning train for Rock Rim again; expects to be away two months this trip. This has been a very long day. I have dreaded this separation on account of Willie taking such frights in his sleep. We got a long letter from Maria yesterday giving the particulars of Willis’s sickness and death. He was aware of the near approach of death and talked freely about separating. Jesus was precious in the hour of death.
Apr. 23 - 13th anniversary of our marriage. Miss Hunter spent the day with us, her last before going to Penna.
Apr. 29 - Jimmie’s and Nettie’s teacher took them from school to Baptist Church. We spent one long hour in anxious suspense before Hugh found them.
May 9 - Children run barefooted in the evening. Warm. Most no rain this spring. Our corn, peas, onions, tomatoes, beets and lettuce are up. Hoed part of them.
May 12 - Papa came home. So glad.
May 29 - Received letter from George (George Watt Torrence, oldest brother of Sarah’s husband, James) bringing word of the death of two of their little ones, Wallace and Mary, since they moved to Missouri. (Four-year-old James Wallace Torrence, born in 1870, is said to have died saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” Young Mary Ella, who was born in 1868, was 6 years old when she died. Both children died of diphtheria.)
June 23 - Torrence family happy today. Willie walks or slips about in Papa’s slippers, he has a beautiful cup and plate this morn. Papa’s coat is on the wall, his pants in the closet, and satchel too. He came home last night.
July 18 - We went to Hall to hear Mrs. Smith lecture on temperance. Left the children all in (?). Anxious about W. as he is at his worst now. Sometimes does not get his breath for so long. Nettie and Jimmie are going to school again. Our raspberries are nearly done; we canned 17 quarts.
July 31 - Nettie’s 7th birthday. Papa went to Cedar Rapids to trade, got for N. a swimming doll and a shawl, for Willie a little horse and wagon. He was so pleased, he sang “diddle diddle” while undoing it and for some time after.
Aug. 8 - Papa left yesterday for Wyoming. Lonely here. W. frightened terribly today at the cat bringing in her kittens. Mary and Mother here. Made Mother’s grenadine for Mrs. Johnson. Wrote to Papa, the children (did) too. Making shirts for Jimmie and his Papa.
Aug. 11 - My 34th birthday. Short years. The children and Mary and I went to Mr. Johnson’s this morning to gather cherries. Weather hot. Miss Vorhees was here for dinner and supper yesterday. Expecting Miss Gilroy today. Heard from Papa.
Aug. 15 - Grandma Bloodgood here all day. Took Lizzie Manoher’s quilt out of the frames. (Lizzie Manoher was Sarah’s half-sister. After Sarah’s mother’s first husband, John Manoher, died, Mary Mathews Manoher married Sarah’s father, Jacob Leslie. Mary and John Manoher had had two children, Gordon and Elizabeth or “Lizzie.” Jacob Leslie had had six children by his first wife, Janette McClellan, before she died in 1818. After Jacob and Mary were married in about 1833, they moved from Pennsylvania to Northfield, Summit Co., Ohio, traveling by oxen-drawn wagon and taking Jacob’s six children. Apparently feeling that they could not care for all 8 children, Mary left Lizzie and Gordon with her parents, where they remained for the next 12 years.)
Aug. 16 - The children and I went to the Johnson’s grove to gather cherries. Mother took cholera. Wrote to Papa.
Aug. 17 - Mother better but not able to come downstairs. None of us well.
Aug. 31 - Papa came home, to our great pleasure. Willie had another spell of screaming last night. He thought he saw a big hog by Mama. He and Jimmie have almost had cholera marks these last few days.
Sept. 2 - Mary went to Cedar Rapids on the train. We washed in the morning.
Sept. 5 - Papa rose, took the train; I did not awake until the train was gone, felt disappointed all day.
Sept. 9 - Chickens disturbed last night, wakened children and all. I have not had but one good night’s sleep since Papa left. Willie is nervous and I fear he will have frightful dreams. I am wakeful and talk to him or rub him to prevent the paroxysms.
Sept. 11 - Lizzie Manoher and family came. Martha and children here for dinner.
Sept. 14 - Papa came home today (Monday) to see Lizzie. I wrote for him on Friday.
Sept. 15 - Mother went with Lizzie and the boys to visit Gordon’s grave.
Sept. 16 - We got L.’s picture taken. After dinner they left. Had a pleasant visit. We had not seen them for seven years. They left a few days after Gordon was buried.
Sept. 17 - We did a large washing. Papa and the children digging potatoes.
Sept. 28 - Mother made Willie a blue woolen suit (pants and blouse) Friday and Saturday, then Papa, W. and I went to Cedar Rapids Saturday evening. Took W. to Dr. Mansfield’s to see what could be done for this nervousness. Dr. thinks it is caused by a weakness in the spine. Papa preached twice on the Sabbath on the East Side, we stayed at Mr. Cooper’s, came home this morn. Got Ella a changeable red and black dress. Evening I gave Willie a dose of his lineament in a mistake: 10 drops. It is made of olive oil and (?), it made him terrible sick. He vomited 6 times. then at eleven o’clock we went to bed. It ran off at his bowels until 2 o’clock the next day; we gave the dose at 7 in the evening. I was afraid I had killed him.
Sept. 30 - Polished and moved stoves, put the little one in the parlor, cook in the kitchen.
Oct. 2- Baked and ironed. Papa left for Des Moines. A sorry heart I now have. The future looks dark to me, am so alone and so much to do in the next six weeks. We have swept down the flies twice. Made tomato butter yesterday.
Oct. 5 - Papa through safe; received his card. Mother has gone to knit for Martha. Children and I here alone, am very busy at needle now.
Oct. 8 - Mary’s birthday. She and Hugh and Mrs. Huffman here for dinner.
Oct. 12 - Hard freeze last night, brought in our squashes and green tomatoes. Flies most done, have swept them down for more than a week.
Oct. 20 - Mary’s school out yesterday. The children and I did a large washing. I am very lame. Willie had one of his worst screaming spells Sabbath night, another Monday night. Elizabeth has sent us a box of fruit.
Oct. 28 - Took up potatoes. Washed. First high wind this fall. Terrible strong wind all night, frightful cold today. We will kill flies again.
Nov. 12 - Weather still pleasant. Have had a little snow once. Flies not done yet. I have either swept them down or picked them off the walls nearly every morning for a month and still flies will come in through the heat of the day. The children have been gathering and sawing wood this week. We made our crabapple butter today. Mary left for Jackson Co. on the 5th. The children are asleep now except E., she is writing to Lena Lester. When Willie gets sleepy he says over and over again, “Me not seepy” when he is just too tired to sit up another minute. He will say, “Me ditten’ seepy now” and “aferwhile I dits tired,” then he will let me dress him for bed.
Nov. 13 - Papa came late in the evening. We were not expecting him, but we were never more in need of and better pleased to see him. I have not been well for 10 days now, very anxious I should be confined before his return.
Nov. 18 - Am still attending to my work but feel every night as though it will be my last. Papa has done most all the last two washings. Mother does the mopping. We did a large baking and cleaned floors today. The winter school commenced and I miss the children’s help. Mother, Papa and the three older children went to visit Hugh’s on Sat. I have worked hard all fall to get my sewing done and other work in shape for me to rest, and now have the satisfaction of knowing it is almost done. Finished packing butter today, 5 gal. to have when the cow dries up. We make about 5 lbs. per week. Have the sauces made, canning done. House not all cleaned after the flies, but if I can get a girl to work she can do it. We have but little work to do now. I have not in many years been so well on in my sewing, do not think there will be a new garment needed that is not made this winter. Old garments are in good repair. If now I can have safe travel and get along without another sickness such as pleurisy I still count myself fortunate and happy. I desire health for the comfort of the rest of the family. The weather has been very cold. Put barrel of rain water in cellar to keep from freezing. Put up window shutters. Now it is probable I shall write no more in this diary until after my confinement. May He who has heretofore preserved me still be my helper.
Dec. 11 - Our fifth child, third daughter made an appearance on the evening of the 29th of November Sabbath about two o’clock. Ella is 12 years and nine days older than Grace Elvina, (if we continue to call her by that name). When one week old she weighed 6 lbs. in her diapers and bandage. At first she weighed 7 lbs. in her clothes. Papa and Mother have done the work from beginning to end and called in no help or physician. I dressed and sat up a little the fifth day. Am now (the 12th day) commencing to work a little. Weather pleasant. We are in the parlor. Papa and the children have been attending scientific lectures on light, heat and electricity. Papa married Kate Higgins last Saturday. Mrs. H. called yesterday to see the babe and bring a piece of the cake.
Dec. 12 - Washed. I got dinner and made a raisin corn loaf. Sent three dollars to Elizabeth for canned fruit. Weather pleasant. I wrote to Maria and Martha this week. We stay in the kitchen in the morning and in the parlor p.m. Papa sold his hogs. We will not keep any this winter.
Dec. 23 - The two Mrs. Smiths and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were here for dinner. Making preparations of the Christmas tree. Grace is good. I think she knows when she is spoken to.
Dec. 28 - Hugh and Martha were here. Had a good visit. Papa and I baked bread and pies. Our well pump has been out of order for some time. H. and Papa took it out, a part of it slipped from them and came near to taking them down with it. Dreadful to think of. Mother is now at Hugh’s.
Dec. 29 - Very cold last night and today. Gracie has gained a half pound every week. I think she noticed Willie moving some chairs today. She lies awake some every day now, is very red-faced yet. She is the longest getting white of any of the children. She is just one month. She tends to her business when I hold her out; I did not train the others until they were six weeks old.
Jan. 4 - Hugh brought Mother yesterday, Sabbath. Spent a long time talking to the three older children about the proper method of spending their time, especially on the Sabbath. They all intend to “turn a new leaf.”
Jan. 8 - Terrible cold, high wind. Papa took extra clothing and brought the children home. Almost everything in cellar is frozen.
Jan. 19 - I went to Mr. Christian’s to get my feet measured for a new pair of shoes. It is the first time since Father died. We are all reading a book on Mormonism by Mrs. Steinhouse, a wonderful tale, heartrending.
(most of Feb & March unreadable.)
Apr. 10 - Our new frame of a cow came from Mr. McKea’s today. The cow that died was as large as two of her. Third quilt ready for quilting.
Apr. 12 - School commenced. Made Nellie her first copy book. Willie has just come in crying, saying, “The cow looked at me troo (through) the fence.” He amuses Gracie by asking her, “What loo (you) wantie, Dacie?” and repeating, “Talk to me, Dacie.” She is very interesting, is learning to eat bread and milk, often has colic. I think she is the hardest child to get along with. She is 4 and a half months now.
Apr. 13 - Took our bed out of front room, put children’s bed upstairs. I walked to Station, several errands.
June 29 - Papa returned after a three months absence, our longest separation since our marriage. Gracie can now sit alone; when he left she could not sit propped up in her chair. Papa has at last, we hope, found us a home where we can live together as a family. It will be a trial to leave this but we gladly accept the opportunity for him.
July 4 - Grace Elvina baptized by L.D. Whitham at Florence, Iowa.
July 10 - Papa left on Thursday evening for Rankin, Ill., he took a trunk and box of goods. He is to come for us about the middle of August. We are very lonely but hope it is our last separation this side of the final one. We will now try to get ready to go. The raspberries keep us so busy drying them. We gathered the carrots today, drying them also. Have had three days of dry weather.
July 11 - I went to the Station today and bought 2 one-quart and 2 two-quart can tins for us to take with us.
July 12 - Haying this week. Weather pleasant. There is a case of Small Pox near the Station. Dr. Smith came Monday morning and vaccinated all of us that are here. Papa not here. It is doing well on N. and W. Jimmie did not take.
July 29 - Sold cow to Mrs. Thompson for $28 with strainer and slop bucket.
Sept. 30 - Sick with cold. Sent money order to Papa $50.
Aug. 2 - Smith revaccinated all of us. Gracie took bad with diarrhea. We get milk from the cow we sold but she is in a weedy pasture. We get a pint night and morning.
Aug. 16 - Gracie sick at stomach since Wed. night. She takes constant care; I think she is teething. The flesh is going off her fast. My cold and cough is bad too. I am only able to mope about through the day, do not get much sleep nights. Mr. Lenan bought our buggy. His horse looks so much like the one we last owned that when he drove off I felt badly knowing it was the last time I would see it, and it looked so like Papa driving away it makes me long anew to be with him. Papa writes that the carpenters are commencing on our house, the 3rd house we have put up. The Widow Johnson gave me $3 today for Papa’s visit and funeral services.
Aug. 17 - Jimmie busy peddling off chickens these days. Sometimes he brings in 15 lbs. flour from the mill. He gets shavings at the carpenter shop. N. arose this morning at 5 to go to Mr. Lenan’s for the babe’s milk. We feel the need of the cow. There was a young squaw and her grandmother on the 12th of Aug. They were the first Indians Willie ever saw. He sat at my back for a while but before they left he picked up a cucumber and gave it to them, then gave them flowers. We gave them potatoes, bread and a chicken.
Aug. 18 - Walked to Station, looked at cook stoves.
Aug. 26 - Papa came home from Rankin. We are now to pack and go with him on the 8th of Sept. Fri. and Sat. we cut and sewed 5 lbs. of carpet rags.
Aug. 31 - We have 4 boxes packed.
Sept. 2 - Mr. and Mrs. Higgins came to bid us goodbye. Bought some furniture. Mr. and Mrs. Dixon and Mary Johnson were all here. Papa and I went to the Station in Mr. Johnson’s buggy. Took crocks. Paid for carpet weaving $3.
Sept. 8 - Busy day. More than once I wondered whether we could finish packing in time to get to the train by 7 p.m. Mr. Johnson had sent us an invitation to take supper with them. We greatly desired to do so and to have a while to chat with them. Mother and the children got over there about 5 o’clock, but Papa, Mary and I just got there in time to eat a bite in a hurry and away to the Station to appear before the Squire for a minute and transfer our home to its original owner, Mr. Johnson. It was then fully train time but the train did not come till near midnight. There we were at the dirty depot, only a half mile from our own comfortable bed in our now deserted home. We could not go to it.
Sept. 20 - We left many things we would like to have brought with us. We bid goodbye the previous day to Martha and her family (husband Hugh and three children) and now we are saying goodbye to all familiar faces except our own family and Mother. After our long delay in getting started, our trip was prosperous. Arrived here in Rankin, Illinois at 7:30 the next evening. We had spent 5 and a half years peaceably and in most respects, pleasantly at Florence, Iowa. We lived 6 years at Fairfax, the last 2 were very unpleasant, on account of the congregational quarrel. Many tender ties are broken on leaving our Iowa home, but we now try to forget the old house and home and live for those we love. For the last 4 years I have had but little society of my dear and much loved husband, now I am hoping to be close to him again, hoping that naught but death may separate us, and earnestly praying and hoping almost against hope that maybe so far in the future that our little ones may come to maturity at least.
The people here received us kindly so that we do not so much miss the “leeks and onions” (our garden), but we think often of it and the beautiful flowers. We stopped with Wm. Guthries the first week, since that we have been living in two rooms of our house, not plastered. On Monday after we came, Mr. T. was installed pastor of this congregation. We are now settled in a manner in our new home. I will not need to write long letters to Papa anymore, but will feel like writing to Mary and Martha. Yesterday Mr. McCormic brought us a sack of potatoes, a great tub of tomatoes, a peck of ripe grapes, some sweet potatoes, a jug of milk and some butter, so we are busy this week putting up for winter.
Sept. 23 - Been very busy since coming here. Have only written two hasty letters. We spent the afternoon of Monday, all day Tuesday and Wednesday forenoon putting up grapes and tomatoes. Washed today. Have had three frosts this week. We are cold in these rooms. I found time to spend a few minutes out with Papa today planning our outbuildings and outdoor work.
Sept. 28 - Nettie sick since Sabbath morning. Very high fever most of the time. Mother is bad with her diarrhea but able to be around. I have been ill since Saturday evening, am feeling better this evening for the first time. We are doctoring ourselves with pills and a fever remedy. We got a team of horses from Mr. Sloan yesterday, $75. Children in great glee.
Oct. 9 - The plasterers have gone, they work a little, get us in a mess and then quit. The lower rooms are done except the two we are living in. Cistern is dug, some of the grading done. Carpenter finishing off. I drove out to the Johnson families twice this week, horses were so merry last night I do not think I will drive them again soon. Nettie has been better and worse. She had a hard shake on Friday night last week. She is asleep now. Sits up a good part of the time. The rest of us are reasonably well.
Oct. 16 - Plasterers finished the main part of the house on Thursday. We were all out on that day at Mr. McCormic’s. It rained on us coming home. The painters put on the priming coat on Wed. on the outside of the house. Carpenters not done yet. Friday we all cleaned and today we finished mopping every room in the house. We feel better but we are still very dirty. Our hands are very sore. Ella’s and mine look terrible bad and are painful. Dentist filled tooth for Papa Wednesday; we did our first churning that day. Nettie is better today. No chills or fever.
Oct. 25 - Had two girls here today scrubbing and sandpapering the kitchen floor, we then oiled it. Some of the rooms are painted and ready to be used. Mrs. Nelson helped clean windows a week ago today. I gave her one dollar and today I gave one girl 50 cents and the other one a dollar, and for her other help 50 cents, in all $3 for 4 day’s work.
Nov. 3 - We moved into the new kitchen on Monday after washing. School commenced the same day.
Nov. 10 - Very cold. Ground frozen. The plasterer commenced on the two rooms yesterday.
The mortar froze last night so he is not to work today. We have had a fire in our sitting room since Saturday. Our stove is called the Rotary. Papa and I called on Mr. Brown one evening last week and at Mrs. Irving’s last night. Gracie has two upper teeth; she is most a year old.
Nov. 18 - Papa, Mother, J., W. and Gracie and I visited Mrs. McCauley. Got some beef and cabbage.
Nov. 22 - Horse lame all last week. Papa, with W. and I, took dinner with Mr. Garner. Got a hen, some pork, eggs and molasses.
Jan. 5 - Papa and I went to a prayer meeting at old lady Kirkpatrick’s, came home in moonlight.
Jan. 7 - Papa, W., and I visited Mr. Rankins, one of our church members.
Jan. 8 - Called on Mr. Carter and Wm. Johnsons. Weather has been remarkably mild. No freezing.
Jan. 10 - Very cold. Washed, clothesline broke.
Jan. 12 - Getting Mother’s and Mary’s trunks packed. They left on the 6:28 train. This has been a long day. Papa hauled fodder from McCormic’s.
Jan. 17 - We swept and cleaned all the house yesterday. Plastering falling off in the parlor. I must write a card to Mother tonight. I have commenced to make Gracie a blue woolen dress.
Feb. 1 - First sleighing weather this mild winter. We have no sleigh here, must use buggy. Jimmie hid Gracie’s dress.
Feb. 5 - Dr. and Mrs. Brown over here for dinner. I had a severe toothache through the night, was real sick in the after part of the day. Took morphine for the first time, made me very sick.
Feb. 14 - There has been so much rain lately it is almost impossible to get a wash day. We need turpentine and ammonia today (?) of boiling.
Feb. 16 - We sent J. and N. to school, had a quiet day. Papa wrote I think the first sermon since we came here; it’s a good one.
Feb. 18 - I am troubled with pleurisy since last evening. Papa churned.
Feb 19 - Bad last night again. Had a chill about 10 o’clock. In bed all day today. Dr. Brown dressed blisters.
Feb. 21 - Very weak. Papa married two couples today; he was away from 9 ‘til 9 except for a few minutes around 4 when he stopped on his way from one wedding to the next. On his way home after dark the buggy ran off a steep place, threw Papa, and horses came four miles to the railroad. Bill Bowers brought them home. We were so worried about Papa. We were just an hour in terrible suspense when in came Papa, mussed but apparently not much hurt. It was a sorrowful sight to see the grief-stricken countenance of the four older children. No one cried.
Feb. 24- Mr. and Mrs. Hutchinson here. They brought lard and butter pickles. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison brought a dressed chicken. I have not spoken out since the fright. People very kind. We have great reason to be thankful for our spared lives through the perils of the past.
Mar. 3 - Jimmie’s 10th birthday. He gets his first Bible today. It is a reward for committing the Catechism. He is slow to learn, indeed, slow at everything. Takes continual prompting to keep him at a book. He came near to getting this Bible on his 9th birthday, only lacked about three pages. This year we have been getting the International S.S. lessons and we tried to get them well, but they took so much time that the Psalms and questions did not get sufficient attention. Ella, Nettie and Jimmie are very much interested in Bible reading. Those S.S. lessons awaken a desire for more knowledge of the Bible. We must double our diligence and not leave the good old paths. I am glad to see them interested in the Bible but we must not forget the good old Catechism. Willie knows the best of any child we have had at his age. He will be 5 next Sabbath the 5th. He does not know all his letters; he is growing rapidly. My health poor, so throng with work, cannot teach him. He learns verses from the Bible by being told. Perhaps he will know as much when a man as those further advanced in youth.
Mar. 4 - I went with Papa to Mr. English’s sale. Furniture went high; we got none.
Mar. 5- Sabbath. Willie’s 5th birthday. Papa went on horseback. This is the first Sabbath that all the children were all at home with me at one time since we moved here. We spent a busy day.
Mar. 6 - Took a pill last night, it run me very hard. Baked. I am too weak to work.
Mar. 7 - Washed. E. put out the clothes, many of them dirtied. Dr. was in to see me. I am very weak and have rheumatism. Papa and the children do most of the work.
Mar. 18 - Washed Ella’s head. Dr. was in making a friendly call.
Mar. 28 - Terrible snow storm out of the North. We were all at church on Sabbath. No teams there but ours, it was as much as ours could do to take us.
Apr. 11 - Cut Papa’s hair. We were all out a while, staking off yard for trees and shrubs. Papa is going to Paxton tonight.
Apr. 13 - Papa returned early, before breakfast, brought some box elder trees and some shrubbery from Mr. Bicket’s. Mrs. Gunther was here all day. The children are earning money these days gathering the sticks out of the yard. A letter from Mary says Joseph is ill, diarrhea. Maria is moving to Irwinsburg.
Apr. 20 - All the family visited Mr. Morrison’s for the first time, brought home flowering shrubs and plants, two chickens. Pleasant day and good visit. Hugh sent us a box this week with 80 raspberry plants, 60 strawberries, and some parsnips. A letter came from Mary; Mother will come soon.
Apr. 22 - We have had a man two days ploughing garden and making road. We planted some garden today. Mr. Wickham making portico.
Apr. 24 - School commenced. Four oldest attend.
Apr. 28 - Papa, Jimmie and I were at a Centennial supper at the Methodist Church last evening.
May 4 - Jennie Morrison came to help me get ready to go with Papa to Philadelphia. I am worried at the thought of leaving my children, especially the babe.
May 16 - Papa and I bid goodbye to all the children and left on the morning train, 6 o’clock. My heart had just been aching for a week, is now ready to burst. I never left a babe for a night before save one, in a storm. I was absent but Papa was with him.
May 28 - Heard M.M. Gibson preach an excellent sermon on Rev. 22-14. The blessedness of the righteous. Then in the evening a history of missions in the last 100 years, very good. Mr. T. heard the discussion on the use of instrumental music in the worship of God.
May 30 - Decoration Day. Packed our trunks, wrote to Jimmie and Mary.
June 1 - Spent most of the day on Centennial grounds. Saw knitting stockings by machinery, filling spools of Coats thread, and many other things done by the power of the great Centennial engine in the Machinery Hall. Centennial badges of silk worth one dollar. Saw a stature of yellow stone. It was a fountain, a little boy and girl holding an umbrella over them to keep off the rain that was pouring over them from the trop; it went up through the handle. The glassware, earthenware, silver, gold and china are very beautiful. Saw Gen. Washington’s bed, tent, uniform, cane and sword. Then we saw a representation of a mother bent over a cradle, the babe was dead, the coffin was at her right hand. The father stood looking at her in distress. The minister had his arm around another child about eight years old. I think they were Swedes. There were stuffed sea lions and seals, and a white whale. There were wild cats, deer and elk. So many things that I cannot call them all to mind. We saw great guns and a cannon and many implements of war that I had never before saw. Beautiful human images in showcases to show the work of the various sewing machines. In the Women’s Pavilion they were making two-ply carpet and making pictures in silk of the building. We brought one home. There were beds, bureaus, tables and other furniture carved in flowers by ladies with a knife. This was from Cincinnati. The tent with the rhododendrons from London was very fine. We brought home some moss that grows on trees in Mississippi. The main house was made of 40 kinds of timber. The mantelpieces, some marble and other imitation, were valued at thousands of dollars.
June 8 - Papa took Jennie home, paid her 10 dollars for her five weeks. She did her own sewing and visiting while I was away. We have made the two-ply carpet for the sitting room. Have the house nearly all cleaned.
June 16 - Papa preached. After the service the Missionary Society was organized.
Aug. 12 - Weather has been hot. Considerable sickness, stomach and bowels. Rained hard yesterday.
Aug. 13 - Sabbath - When Papa was most through with his sermon one of our horses fell in such a way as to nearly break its neck. Nearly all the men ran out but were soon quietly seated again, not so sleepy as before.
Oct. 11 - The weather is cold. We have kept fire going constantly for two weeks. We finished making tomato butter. We make plenty of butter now off Mr. Gurther’s cow. E. (Ella) has finished her tidy. Mr. Daylor plastered the parlor. The corn is cut. I have made two shirts, a chemise and a calico dress.
Oct. 12 - E. sick since last Friday. Papa and Jimmie went for a load of wood. I brought in all potted house plants. Put away all summer clothing, swept house and wrote to Martha.
Oct. 16 - Papa sick with his winter cold. We polished stoves.
Oct. 17 - We have the Fish boy at work hauling manure. Gracie is troubled at night with pin worms. She comes with her “huned tisses” and just gives one; she says it after Wm. has said she has a hundred.
Oct. 29 - This is a beautiful warm day. Flies thick on the outside of cook house. I did not have on a bonnet today and we washed outside with a fire. We got through with a large washing. The weather has been so cold that I have suffered putting out clothes in mittens, coat and head wrapped up.
Nov. 3 - Dentist Given filled a front tooth for me at home. He was here for dinner. Mrs. Bruce came in off the 9 o’clock train yesterday, and remained over until today.
Nov. 4 - Mr. Marshall and son brought hay and dined here. Dr. Brown was in an hour or more this forenoon. We use a great many apples. Willie often asks for one in a way he thinks Gracie will not understand. This morning he said, “Please, Mama, can I have a fruit?” Gracie repeats almost everything he says. She said, “Prease, Mama, give me a fruit apple?” We were greatly amused at her interpretation. There were no apples in sight nor had anyone been speaking of them. Had our first snow yesterday.
Nov. 17 - E. has very sore throat. Weather bad, rained and snowed. We went all through the house changing beds, sweeping and dusting. Mr. T. scrubbed. I am so glad of his help for I am almost sick. E.’s throat is very bad and she had not been out since Friday and is not able to help much. The weather is stormy today but not freezing. We have had trouble to get our clothes dried for the last three weeks. Have not much rain but weather damp.
Nov. 22 - Mother and Mary arrived after a long visit of ten months to Ohio. Mother looks well. Mary is looking full as well as when she left. They have brought many tokens of friendship from the relatives in Ohio, which are appreciated.
Nov. 28 - Washed; before through Mr. Bruce and his sister came. Papa took him out to view the country. Tomorrow is Gracie’s 2nd birthday. I wish I could make her sayings as they sound. Mr. and Mrs. B. left, and Mr. Farland came in. Oh, I am just too tired, still, I do like company.
Nov. 29 - National Thanksgiving Day. Mr. T. preached in the Methodist Church. Very cold; first severe cold day.
Dec. 13 - The organ has come. Weather mild. Brought house plants up from cellar. Commenced eating beef. Mr. T.’s mother and I went to Mr. McQuinn’s and the Morrison’s in the afternoon.
Dec. 14 - We are going to visit the widow Johnson today.
Dec. 21 - Papa and I called on old Mr. Henry, he has been ill since Sabbath. Shortly after our return we observed a great light outdoors. I wondered that the moon shown so brightly. All at once, Papa spoke of it, and by that time Ella and Jimmie saw through the window. We all rushed to the door and saw a wonderful heavenly phenomenon. It was a streak of light about three rods long, over a yard wide at the front and tapered to a point at the other end. It was composed of balls of light of various sizes, from a foot across to the size of a tea cup. It was going from West to East and vanished in the clouds apparently a short distance from us. We heard a sharp seizing noise and afterwards for several minutes and afterwards as if it were distant thunder in the East.
Dec. 25 - Mr. Hewing died last night; a good old man is gone. We will miss his frequent visits. It seems a pity, when one is so ripe in experience, in knowledge, so good in every way and communicates so well, that they should be taken from us, but our Maker knows best.
Dec. 31 - Sabbath. Papa preached appropriate to the close of the year. A busy year has ended, well may we ask ourselves the question: What stands against us? And what for us? Mr. T. has done more missionary or pastoral work this year than for several years; we have gone together considerable. Our own family are not the better for it. I hope, if all spared to the close of another year, to see a marked improvement at home.
Jan. 17 - We remained home for the first day for over a week.
Jan. 18 - Papa conducted a funeral for a child. I went with him. We called to see Mrs. Bricker’s corpse and the little babe.
Jan. 20 - Papa and I went to East Linn for the first time to visit Mr. Brown. I had hard work to reach the train in time.
Jan. 21 - Sabbath. No one went to church with Papa. Cold at school house.
Jan. 26 - Papa, W., Grandma and I dined with Miss Hemphill. She gave me 60 cents.
Jan. 27 - We are very tired. Mr. Ashby over here to see about wood hauling. Mr. Marshal brought hay. Jimmie told a yarn to Mr. Marshal about a colt; Papa whipped him. We are troubled.
Jan. 28 - Washed, ironed, baked and cooked for wood haulers but they did not come.
Jan. 29 - Mr. T., Mary and Ella went to Methodist revival tonight. The frost has been going out since Friday. No rain, roads not very deep; does not freeze at night. Weather was very cold through the winter but not so severe as it used to be in Iowa.
Jan. 30 - W. and N. walked out on the new boardwalk. Papa preaching at the Methodist revival tonight.
Jan. 31 - Our family, except W. and G., visited Mr. Marshal. I hope we did some good. In the evening I went with Papa for the first time to the revival meeting at the Methodist Church. The minister required all in the church to rise and sing a hymn or sit among those who had no interest in Christ. There were many of our own people there, some rose and sang but most of us sat and kept silence. We could not violate our convenant engagements with our own church.
Feb. 5 - Papa has gone to Mr. Sloan’s to instruct new applicants to church membership. The two little ones and I are alone. It has been a long time since we have been at home together. I sent Gracie to get the dust pan. She went for it but heard the cars and ran to me, saying, “Cars get baby.” When the house is quiet she frightens at the whistle.
Feb. 10 - Children writing letters and getting ready to send off valentines.
Feb. 16 - Our festival for the benefit of the church came off last evening. We were so tired we did not sleep good when we did go to bed. We went back today and cleaned the church. We had a good merry time, cleaned all the dishes too. Raised $55 or so. We are going to bed now. Good night.
Cholera is an infectious disease characterized by severe cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. It is caught by eating or drinking water, milk or food contaminated by others with the disease, usually the result of poor sanitation. It can often be fatal.
A paroxysm is a violent outburst.
A cistern is an underground tank to hold a supply of fresh water.
Fodder is dried food, such as hay, for livestock.
I think Sarah used S.S. to abbreviate Sunday School.
A chemise is a loose-fitting undergarment.
Calico is printed cotton cloth.
Pinworms were a fairly common ailment a century ago. Although it is still possible to get them from eating homegrown pork that is not fully cooked, few people become infected with worms anymore. A worm infestation results in intense itching around the anal region.