1859 Diary of a Young Ohio Woman Who Takes on the Planting at the Family Farm, Socializes and Travels Around the Region

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On offer is a very detailed diary written by a mystery woman living and working planting fruits and veggies on a farm near Oberlin, Ohio in the mid-19th century. The author of this diary is unknown. From context, we can determine that she is a young woman, living and working on her family’s farm. Her passion is for planting and she talks of it regularly. A treat at the back of the diary in the Memoranda section is her notes about her annual planting, listing the peaches grown on each tree, the types of pear and apple trees and their locations on the farm, her raspberry yields and more. 

While our author uses the first names of her family and friends regularly, she never names herself, and there are not enough clues to find her. Despite the mystery, our diarist does a tremendous job of describing the life of a young woman who has embraced her role on the family farm and her young adult social life. 

Her entries are detailed and quite full. She writes well about daily life, planting, farm tasks, travels, friends and family.. These excerpts will give the flavour of the rich detail contained within the diary: 

“Weather warm. Sun shines like spring. Last Saturday broke chain I was making. Lorain went up to Adamses to hire out and William was here to[o] to get him. Mr Cawls here wants to get the Theological department in Oberlin endowed. John is back here to work today” [Feb 22].

“Mr. Finley and his wife came here this forenoon stayed til forwards night. Margaret went home with them. There is a drunken coot of a young man after Sarah and they don’t like it. Mrs. Alrop here”  [Apr 28].

"Very warm some wind, Feel bad as girls caught some cold. I was out showing Uncle Mills about planting some corn and beans. The wind blowed some. We took a ride at night to town. Showed him the place" [May 4].

“Cold and I have sat in the house all day by the fire wind blows and rained last night somewhere I guess but not here yet. Commenced taking [ ] yesterday. I [ ] up my dinner owing to drinking home made beer” [May 19].

“Cool and windy need fire. Feel pretty well today. Had radishes and lettuce for first time. Mr. Long and William came up here. THey brought me a couple of [] that’s red and yellowish. Sirens in town today” [May 20]. 

“Cleared off warm in afternoon. Lydia Mary Anna Frisbee and Lofy went on the noon train for Oberlin. Father made quite a fuss to get off and the got there ½ an hour too soon. I had green peas for dinner and picked some cranberries. Mr Lond brought me some ripe cherries” [June 1].

“Rather cold ground is froze some. Father has gone to Fremont on a special jury. Mother got some cuttings of house plants at Mrs. Lords. Mary Ann got a package from [ ] She sent me some chocolate” [Oct 10].

For a social historian, this diary offers a very good look inside the daily life of a farm family from the perspective of a young woman immediately prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War.

This diary measures approximately 4.75x3.0 inches and contains 122 pages plus memoranda. It is about 80% complete. The covers are in good condition with some evidence of wear along the edges. The binding is intact and the pages are in good condition. The handwriting is generally legible. Overall Fair to Good. 

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