1915 Detailed Diary and Travelogue of a Vermont Newlywed on Her Second Marriage12204
On offer is a lovely glimpse at the upper middle class life of a newlywed in eastern Vermont in the early 20th century. The author of this diary and travelogue is Mabel Hannah Keller (nee Preston) (1878-1960). The daughter of Nathan and Electa (Tenney) Preston, she was married to Charles S. Keller (1878-1933) at the writing of this diary. They had married in the fall of 1914, only about a month before Mabel began keeping this diary.. This was Mabel’s second marriage. She was previously married to George A. Emery (1875-1905) in 1901, and widowed only a few years later. She wrote this diary while living in Quechee, Vermont.
Mabel’s diary recounts the day-to-day life she lives in in this small community in eastern Vermont. But more than this, the diary contains a detailed description of a two month train trip across the United States with excellent descriptions of things seen and experienced.
“I helped with the work. Went down to Laura’s for a final fitting, then to rehearsal at the P.H. We drove to Woodstock this morning. Deposited $41 wedding gift money. Withdrew $400 from my bank” [Feb 8].
“I helped with the work and worked on my jacket. Chas worked on my book. Mary, Mama, Chas and I went to the movies but the machine would not work so we only saw two reels .... Exposition opened today in San Francisco” [Feb 20].
“Mama and I cleaned our bedroom. Took up matting and put down one length of congeleum. Looks very good. Chas fixed stable floor. We went for a drive after supper” [June 4].
“Such a change in the weather. Chas and I went to the fair. Saw Mr. & Mrs. Chamberlain. Watched the judging of the cattle and went onto the stand in the P.M. The bear on roller skates was fun” [Sept 14].
On March 2nd, she and her husband Charles left by train for California. They returned home on May 16th. Their route would take them through Buffalo, across southern Ontario to Chicago. From there, they travelled south through Texas and then west to California. They made a number of stops and she noted many of the sights they took in. This may well have been their honeymoon trip, given they married mere months before.
“...We left on the 12:33 Mary, Lizzir, May, Ethel, Maud and Alice were at the station to see us off. Left Jtn at 2:30. Some snow on the way. ... Had lunch at Springfield. ... We occupy section #7 in car Wellington; to N. Falls. Some class! Went to bed at 9:30” [Mar 2].
“Reached Chicago at 7:30 A.M. Rightly named the windy city. [ ] met us and we came to #429 Melrose St. for breakfast ... We went to the Art Museum and then to the [ ] returning here for supper. I don’t care much for Chicago” [Mar 4].
“We took stage at 8 A.M. for Wanona. Had the grandest views of the valley as we went up the mountain. Such a ride as that was through the snow drifts above the wheels Changed horses at the half way place. Chief Ranger Breem rode with us from there to Wanona where we arrived about five. Met Mr. Newall from Boston and we spent the evening together” [Apr 3].
For a social historian, this is an excellent look at the life of a reasonably well-off woman in small-town America at the beginning of the last century. Her descriptions of many places across America, experienced on her cross-country trip, would be of interest to geographers. For a Women’s Studies program, this offers a very good look at one aspect of women’s lives a century ago.
This diary measures 6x4 inches. It contains 365 pages and is 100% complete. The cover is in
good condition as are the binding and pages. The handwriting is legible.
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