1889 Remarkably Detailed Manuscript Diary of a Waldo County, Maine Public Official, Farmer, Land Surveyor and Family Man

  • $1,455.99
    Unit price per 
Tax included.

On offer is a diary that delves deeply into a year in the life of a multitalented, bright and community-minded man, the Hon. Mark Saunders [sometimes Sanders] Stiles Jr. (1845-1926), a prominent figure in the history of Waldo County, Maine. SEE BIO NOTES AT END OF LISTING FOR MORE ON STILES JR. 

From his first entry, Stiles is an exceptional diarist, which is incredible given the amount of multi-tasking each of his days required - where did he get the energy to write it all down so completely? He is detailed, often noting his friends and colleagues’ full names (a treat for those interested in genealogy in the Brooks region!), and provides great insight into his work and social life - a very thorough picture, rare for a male diarist of this time. He is also a meticulous financial record keeper, with 12 months of his income and expenditures recorded in the back of the diary. Since Stiles was such a busy man with hands in so many pots, his diary provides great insight into the work of an elected official, farmer, surveyor and family man. A real treat. 

Excerpts give the flavour of this impressive diary:

“No snow on the ground, very nice wagoning and a beautiful day. I am in Belfast today. The Dec turn of the C.C. Court closed yesterday and the Dec. adj. turn begins today. The new member of the board is with us - Mr. C.D. Wilson. A new organization is made up today. I was elected as Chairman of the board for the ensuing year. Accepted an invitation to a turkey dinner with Mr. O.G. White the retiring Co. Treasurer. Mr. Payson went also. Mr Payson, Mr. T[ileston] Waldin (Clerk of Courts) and myself bought a couple trimmed rocking chairs for Mr. Thompson the retiring C.C.” [Jan 1, 1889]. 

“We met this A.M.. Have had Osborn’s man up to see about taking up the carpet on the Court room, and cleaning and replacing it but decided not to do it at present. Visited the jail P.M. Decided to go to Augusta and consult with the C.C.’s of Kennebec Co. in regard to tramps etc. Wrote letter to them & also wrote invitations to the boards of several other counties to meet us there” [Feb 13, 1889].

“Went to Brooks this A.M. and carried a smoked ham and 8 doz eggs. Got 10 cents for ham and 12 cents for eggs. Got some medicine for father at the Dr.’s. Called at Mrs. Edwards and made a bargain to build her part of our line fence for $5.00. This PM I sharpened posts enough and selected the top poles for the above fence and then bored some (planks?). Went up to school meeting at 4 o’clock and they chose L. Rich moderator, M. S. Stiles for Clerk, G.W. Harty, school agent. Voted to have summer school begin the 1st Monday in May and the third Monday in Aug. Voted to build a wire fence around the schoolhouse” [Mar 23, 1889]. 

“Lizzie and Lula went to Belfast with me today, they to witness the dedication ceremonies of the Odd Fellows building, and I to attend to some county matters. We the C. Comis - went to see about the painting the Court House and repairing the gutters on same. A.E. Nickerson came to us and wished to consult about State Constable Partridge’s bill for services being cut down by us. We heard Partridge and Nickerson early in the afternoon. Lula sat for some pictures to day. We stopped at this city this eve to a concert by the band of Boston (open air) and then went up to Frank Clark’s at City Point for the night” [Oct 31, 1889]. 

“L.D. Moore came here about noon and engaged me to go down & do some surveying for him tomorrow. I went up to Spragues and got my deed of his place and paid him a bond for a deed. The payments are to be made to me $100 per year and int annually til the 5th year which will be $50 & int. Got Frank Fogg to let his boy come to help me tomorrow” [Sept 22, 1889]. 

“Mr. Sprague helped Isaih [sic] plow for me, over in “Texas” yesterday and today - breaking up. I had several letters to write and I went to Brooks to mail them A.M. This P.M. I went up to J.W. Wallace’s and notified him to appraise the Estate of Mrs. Ann Ricker. They are to do it next Tuesday. Called at Mary Reickeis and made out some Guardian papers. I also loaned her $45.00 and took her note on demand and intrust” [Oct 31, 1889]. 

This diary would appeal to anyone interested in the inner workings of a local county commission, a legacy farming family, and New England in the 19th century. This diary is also interesting to those who focus on male diarists of the 19th century, as the nature of Stiles’ clean cursive and his commitment to long, descriptive entries is quite unique.

BIO NOTES:  Mark S. Stiles Jr. was born in the town of Jackson, Maine, to parents Lydia Kingsbury and Hon. Mark S. Stiles. Mark Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps, with the elder Stiles serving as a well-loved county commissioner and a selectman of Jackson. When Stiles Sr. died in 1889, he was the oldest living person in Jackson. Stiles Jr. married Elizabeth Jane (Lizzie) Hanson in 1885. Together they lived near Brooks, Maine. They had a daughter, Lula and a son, Robert. Stiles Jr. worked in land surveying and also ran a farm. He was elected to the Waldo County Commission, becoming Chairman in 1889.

This diary measures 6.0 inches by 3.5 inches and contains 365 pages plus Memoranda and Bookkeeping pages. It is 95% complete, only missing about three entries. The cover, spine and binding are all in good condition, though the pages are loosening, they are intact. The handwriting is in black ink and highly legible.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

We Also Recommend