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Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Day in the Life: January 8th

(Aged 14)
Wea.   Clear                                   WED. JAN. 8, 1896                       Ther.  16

Went to school + stayed down to Mrs Masons all night because I could not get a ride home.

(Aged 16)
Wea.                                              SAT. JAN. 8, 1898                           Ther.
Ray Harrington + I went hunting saw one partridge + silled (sic) a sap sucker.   Pa + Geo Walters went to Frewsburg in the P.M.  Ma + Rollie went up to Mr Bunce’s to a Missionary club.

(Aged 17)

Wea.                                              SUN. JAN. 8, 1899                         Ther. 

Stayed at home all day.  In A.M. Ed Harrington + Eugene Littlefield were down + got pa to go with when (sic) up to Mel Braggs to see if they could find any wool in his dogs teeth but they couldn’t.  The dogs were after Eugene’s sheep last night.  Ed says our sheep will die but I don’t think so. 

In P.M. Pa, Ma + Rollie went up the hollow to church.  In eve drove Topsie + the cutter down to the burg + went to church at the Baptist

as there was none (no-one?) anywhere else after church I stood on the steps waiting to see who came out and Filby Flagg and Mabel D came out + gave Fred Doty the slip then started off then they came back then started again then came back + went into the hall then I started off down the street + they came + caught up with me went past + said (Come on) but as I didn’t come they walked on.

(Aged 18)
Wea.                                              MON. JAN. 8, 1900                        Ther.

In A.M. sorted 50 bu (bushels) of potatoes pa + Rollie helping.  In P.M. went up to Ivory + got some butter got Bill shod also.

(Aged 19)
Wea.                                              TUE. JAN. 8, 1901                         Ther.

Went and got the sleds.  Took Alice up home and killed a pig.  Traded guns with Devillo Kineston got a dollar + a pair of lines to boot.

(Aged 20)
Wea.                                              WED.  JAN.  8, 1902                      Ther.

Frank, Frankie + I went over and got the cows we bot (sic) Monday.

(Aged 21)
Wea.                                              THUR.  JAN.  8, 1903                    Ther.

Worked in the mill from 10:15 A.M.  all the rest of the day.

(Aged 22)
Wea.                                              FRI. JAN. 8, 1904                          Ther.

Worked in woods all day up by mill.  Snowed awful and drifted.  Toppled over going up this morning.


Editor's Note:  I wonder if Mrs Mason had a phone much less the farm to let them know Allen was fine?  Doubtful but probably no-one worried for a moment.  Nora and Frank probably had an off-hand conversation about an hour or so past Allen’s normal return time “Looks like Allen couldn’t get a ride home.”  “Oh it is late for him, I guess you are right.  Well Mrs. Mason will feed him well”.   Done and everyone slept easy.  Today if our kids aren’t home on time Amber Alerts can be transmitted within minutes.

At 17, Allen is fully aware that church is the place to see and be seen.  I love that he strikes out on his own and ends up having a very standard teenage experience with perhaps one of the people he was searching out.  Poor Fred Doty.  One wonders if he had any perception of where he seemed to be placed on the social scale. 

I find the non-existent transition from taking Alice home to killing a pig quite harsh.  Chores are chores but...budding romance to slaughter in naught point 60 is extremely rough to my romantic sensibilities.  Oh, and that Devillo Kineston seems to be a real wheeler-dealer I wonder what he grew up to do.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Day in the Life: January 7th

(Aged 14)
Wea.  stormy                                TUE. JAN. 7, 1896                          Ther.  20  

Went to school.  Frank + Frankie Kineston helped pa draw logs.  May Walters + her girls were over here in the P.M and evening.   
(Aged 16)   
Wea. Warm                                   FRI. JAN. 7, 1898                           Ther.   39

Went to school.  Elmer Warn rode home with me.  A broom peddler stayed here all night.  Chas.  Slater + I went to a surprise party up at Roy McColough’s.  Had a good time.  Got home at 12:55 oclock A.M.  The sleighing is getting thin. 

(Aged 17)
Wea.  Clear                                    SAT. JAN. 7, 1899                           Ther.  10

Got up at 7:05 and started to do my chores when pa hollered at me to come out where he was feeding the sheep.  When I got there one was all blood (sic) around the neck + couldn’t stand up + several others had the wool torn off of them in places we think the dogs have been chasing them. 
Pa + Geo Walters have been drawing both from the Webster place up the road by Will Smith all day.  I have been fussing around that sheep doing chores all day.  I think the sheep will live.    I have begun reading Thaddeus of Warsaw--it is a pretty good book.  Mrs. Mason gave it to me.  It is sleighing. (sic)

(Aged 18)

Wea.                                              SUN. JAN. 7, 1900                          Ther.

Took a bath and shaved Pa in the A.M.  In P.M. went to S.S. up in Ivory.  In eve Alice Warn + I took a sleigh ride.  I drove Bay Bill.  Got a letter from Cassie Conners + Edna Watson.
Currier and Ives--a bit before Allen's sleighing but still about what you'd imagine.

(Aged 19)
Wea.                                             MON. JAN. 7, 1901                        Ther.

Drew a load of wood to grandma and one here.  In eve. bot (sic) a pair of bobsleds off Devillo Kineston for (confusing notation) Cost me $2.50.  In evening Pa, Ma + Rollie went up to Bowers.

(Aged 20)
Wea.                                              TUE.  JAN.  7, 1902                       Ther.

In A.M. went up to Mrs Pages + Shaws.  In P.M. stayed at home.  Alex Hiller + Elmer Van Dewark were here.

(Aged 21)
Wea.                                              WED.  JAN.  7, 1903                      Ther.

Worked all day in the mill.  In eve went up to Pearl’s party.  Dave drew bolts and did chores.

(Aged 22)
Wea.                                              THUR. JAN. 7, 1904                      Ther.

Grandma came down to stay with Pa.  Worked on the mill + in woods all day.  Got some brand + a load of coal.


Editor's Note: 
What an incredible time when people would let strangers stay the night and presumably share their food.  I wonder if the family bought brooms from the peddler or just offered lodging instead.  And what a life for the peddler relying on people he’d only known for moments to be so generous.  I wonder how many farms he could have visited in a day and if he had a home base somewhere or just kept moving along.

Clearly, surprise parties were a major source of entertainment.  I just wonder how they could all remain surprises when you would see everyone’s sleighs/carts long before you got there.  Farms were far apart.  It wasn’t like you could park up on another block but maybe they did something similar.

I hope the sheep lives.  I’m actually not reading ahead either.  The only one of these diaries I’ve read entirely was 1900 and that was years ago but I will get into that further as we go along.

I love the son shaving the father.  Lovely domestic image you wouldn’t see today unless someone was infirm.  I suppose this was the era when shaving was a big deal and not a daily occurrence.  

Clarifications:  I’m quite certain Grandma is Diantha Woodward Cass--Frank’s mother; S.S. is presumably Sunday School; and Dave must be a farm hand because he is not a relation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Day in the Life: January 6th

(Aged 14)
Wea.  Cold                                    MON. JAN. 6, 1896                        Ther. 5
                                                                                                                    below zero
Went to school + wore my long pants for the first time at school.  Pa went to Jamestown and got this diary for .25 cents the price of it was .40 cents.

(Aged 16)

Wea.  Sunny                                 THUR. JAN. 6, 1898                       Ther.   38

Went to school  Are still drawing logs to Falconer.  The snow is melting quite fast.

(Aged 17)

Wea.    Snowy                               FRI. JAN. 6, 1899                      Ther.  30

Got up at 5:30 and the ground was all white.  Drove Topsie and buggy to school took a grist played gould as the football was busted.

Luella rode home with me + then went over to grandma’s.  Glendine + Gorden Taylor visited school today.  Pa + George set out a little Balsam in front of the house.  It has snowed all day and is nearly sleighing tonight.

(Aged 18)
Wea.                                               SAT. JAN. 6, 1900                          Ther.

Stayed at home all day.  Pa took a load of corn to the burg.

(Aged 19)
Wea.                                               SUN. JAN. 6, 1901                         Ther.

Stayed at home all day and smoked and slept.  Did a few chores.  Something seems to be troubling me.  I wonder what it is.

(Aged 20)
Wea.                                              MON.  JAN.  6, 1902                       Ther.

I went with Frank + Frankie Kineston to buy cows for Pa.  He pays me $2 per day to buy for him.  We got 4 cost $78.  Got home 7:30 PM        

(Aged 21)
Wea.                                              TUE.  JAN.  6, 1903                        Ther.

Dave drew his loads of (logs?) up to Smedleys.  I worked up in Joel’s mill.  Got a stick in my eye.

(Aged 22)
Wea.                                              WED. JAN. 6, 1904                         Ther.

Worked on the mill all day.


Editor's Note:  Today I learned my policy of waiting until January to buy my calendar at reduced cost has been a family tradition for over 100 years.  I also learned that there are some things lost in translation to me and if anyone who reads this can make an educated guess, I’d love to hear from you.  In this case, I don’t know what Allen means when he said he “took a grist played gould”. This is as written so I’m thinking it was a game made up by the local boys.

Curious at the seemingly introspective mood of 19-year-old Allen.   We’re not entirely sure if his troubles are physical or mental.  My thoughts range from SAD to “honeymooner’s disease”.    Anyway, it could be worse.  It could be a stick in your eye.

As responsibilities mount on his young son and daughter-in-law, I admire what seems to be Allen’s father Frank’s attempt to augment the family income by throwing jobs Allen’s way such as buying the cows.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Day in the Life: January 5th

(Aged 14)
Wea.  Cold                                     SUN. JAN. 5, 1896                         Ther.

Went over to the other place and got the fills for the cutter.  This is the first slaying (sp.? or does he mean slaughter?) we have had this winter.  Mr Frew and Hi Scott were here.

(Aged 16)
Wea.  Sunny                                   WED. JAN. 5, 1898                       Ther.  36

Very pleasant days and cool nights.  It is very good sleighing.  Went to school.  Pa made two trips to Falconer drawing lumber.

(Aged 17)
Wea.   Cloudy                                 THUR. JAN. 5, 1899                      Ther.  28

Got up at 5:25 the moon was shinning but it rained nearly all night and before I got my chors (sic) done it was under the clouds again.

Drove Topsie to school.  The football was busted but at noon we had it fixed and had a real good game.  After school went over to the burg and got ma’s watch and ring they cost $1.25.  Alton Bunch and Harvey Harrington rode up with me.

In eve I copied the contract between Chas. Wigren + Pa for Pa he rents the Webster place for $150 and half the income of 30 sheep.

(Age 18)
Wea.                                                FRI. JAN. 5, 1900                          Ther.

Drew two loads of manure.  Killed two pigs and helped put out 50 ber (?) of corn.  In eve went up to Alice Warns and we started for a sleigh ride Frank Warn and Irma ahead of us.  They led me around home where I found a surprise in the shape of 40 of my friends.  They broke up about 2 A.M.

Actual sleigh bells from the Cass Farm--may have been on Topsie that very night.

 (Aged 19)
Wea.                                                 SAT.  JAN. 5, 1901                        Ther.

Went over to Groves and bought a harness.  In P.M. we went up to Isils (?) and got home about eleven.

(Aged 20)
Wea.                                                SUN.  JAN. 5, 1902                         Ther.

Pa, Ma + Rollie came over.

(Aged 21)
Wea.                                                 MON. JAN. 5, 1903                         Ther.

Took Alice over to Pa’s to wash and went up to see John Smedley (?).  In the afternoon, went down to the burg and had “Bill” shod.  Pa, Ma + Rollie came over in the evening.

(Aged 22)
Wea.                                                TUE. JAN. 5, 1904                            Ther.
Began work for Lyle Coe up by Si Ecclers on a mill for $1.50 a day.  The thermometer went down to 40 below zero last night.


Editor's Note:  I love reading what matters to him--how his 17-year-old romantic side admires the moon while the boy in him really is most concerned about the state of the football.  In no time at all, Allen goes from sleigh rides with his girl to a mill job for extra money to support his growing family.  In 1904 he was already a father of two.   My sister and I will make an effort to post a family tree and give other information to flesh out more historical context.

A Day in the Life: January 4th

(Aged 14)
Wea.  Cold                                    SAT. JAN. 4, 1896                            Ther.

Mr Maxwell came down to borrow some bags.  I stayed at home all day.  The wind blew very hard.

(Aged 16)
Wea.  Sunny                                 TUE. JAN. 4, 1898                           Ther. 34

Went to school got a picture of our room cost $.25  Geo. Walters is drawing cherry to Flaconer drew $10.87 worth today.  Pa, Ma + Rollie went up to Ed Harringtons this evening.

(Aged 17)
Wea.    Cloudy                               WED. JAN. 4, 1899                        Ther.  38

Got up at 5:30 and done my chores.  Started for school at 8 oclock.  Mary Thorton + Myrtle Smith rode down to school with me.  I had to drive old Tom for Pa used Topsie to go up to Henry Scotts to make out his pension papers.  Marion Bingham rode up with me from school  Mrs. Maxwell + Mrs Bragg were down here and stayed all the P.M.

(Aged 18)
Wea.                                               THUR. JAN. 4, 1900                      Ther.

Drew 4 loads of manure from the other place.  In P.M. Pa and Jud Grover went down to Andrew Bragg’s to look at a cow.

(Aged 19)
Wea.                                               FRI. JAN. 4, 1901                          Ther.

Drew a load of wood for us and one for grandma.  Pa made out pensions.

(Aged 20)
Wea.                                              SAT.  JAN.  4, 1902                         Ther.

Ray + I went over and got the 5 cows I bot (sic) cost $97.00  Got home about 4:30.

(Aged 21)
Wea.                                              SUN.  JAN.  4, 1903                        Ther.

Stayed at home all day and did chores.

(Aged 22)
Wea.                                                MON. JAN. 4, 1904                      Ther.

Stayed and helped Alice in the A.M.  In P.M. went up to farm and got a load of hay.


Editor's Note:  Looking at the 1899 entry one would think Allen was a bit of a catch since three girls in one day sought his company.  Mary, Myrtle and Marion certainly seemed to be setting their caps at him though he does not express any unusual regard in return.  Pure conjecture on my part but he was extremely eligible.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Day in the Life: January 3rd

(Age 14)
Wea. Cold                                    FRI. JAN. 3, 1896                          Ther.

I threw one load of wood in the shed.   It is very cold and the wind blows hard.  In the evening Pa and Ma went up to Mr. Maxwells.  Rollie + I stayed at home.

(Age 16)
Wea. Snowy                                MON. JAN. 3, 1898                       Ther. 25

Went to school.  The boys gave Prof. Raynor an  Odd Fellows watch chain.  After school went + saw Frank Warn + Florence Coeberg off for Fredonia where they are going to school.  I am trying to learn to play on the organ.  My throat is a little sore.

(Age 17)
Wea. Cloudy                                TUE. JAN. 3, 1899                    Ther. warm

Got up a 5:20 A.M and done my chores got ready for school at 7:30 when I got there I blew up the football and we had a game before school and another at noon.  After school I took a summons over to C.F. Myers.

Among the mail was a package for me containing a photo of my cousin Mable Servis it looks natural but I wish I could see her too.

In eve read stories.  Rollie went over to Essa Thayer’s and Royal came home with him.    Ma and Rollie went up to Mr. Maxwells.  France Long rode up with me from school.

(Age 18)
Wea.                                              WED.  JAN. 3, 1900                      Ther.

Stayed at home all day.  Drew a load of corns stalks + one of wood.  Pa + Rollie went up to Ivory.

(Age 19)
Wea.                                              THUR. JAN. 3, 1901                     Ther.

Alice and I went to Jamestown and we had our pictures taken.
Alice and Allen's Wedding Portrait

(Age 20)
Wea.                                               FRI. JAN. 3, 1902                         Ther.

Stayed at home all day.

(Age 21)
Wea.                                              SAT. JAN. 3, 1903                          Ther.

Went to the factory and Dave cut wood in morning.  In afternoon he went home to spend Sunday.  I did the chores at night.  I re’cd a letter from Philadelphia.

(Age 22)
Wea.                                              SUN. JAN. 3, 190                           Ther.

Stayed at home.


Editor's Note:  In case you are wondering "Thaddeus of Warsaw" is historical fiction written by Jane Porter in the 1800s.  It is available on the Gutenberg project.  Above "an odd fellows charm" is referenced.  An odd fellow appears to be a Masonic order.   Given my grandmother's name of Mabel, I have to say that Mabel Servis was a favorite cousin of Allen.  Not sure I can discover the Philadelphia letter author but shall try.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Day in the Life: January 2nd

It would seem great grandpa was not one for punctuation.  I can’t fault him, though, given the unbelievable treasure he left behind for me.  I appreciate that he was thoughtful enough to keep his journals for whatever reason.  It is no secret among my friends that I resent journal keepers who burn their writings upon death.  If you are to destroy your documents, do it in your lifetime before people like me, who love primary sources, find out about them.  If I don’t know they existed, fine; but if I know and am told I can’t peek it is absolutely galling. 

Commentary aside, 1900 was a very good year.

(Age 14)
Wea. Cold                                     THU. JAN. 2, 1896                            Ther.

In A.M. I helped Geo. Walters draw two loads of hay.  P.M. Geo. Walters helped me draw 1 1/3 cord of wood to grandma’s for which I rec’d $1.30.  James Anderson was here to dinner.  Ad Marsh was here to see about bringing an excise suit.  Wm. Kristou (sp?) was here to see about selling his place. 

(Age 16)
Wea. Windy                                  SUN. JAN. 2, 1898                             Ther. 20

Chas Slater went up to Unkle (sic) Gibs to see Luella.  Pa, Ma, Rollie and I went up Pope Hollow to Sunday School  it reorganized today.  Pa was elected Chairman they voted by balot (sic).  Andrew Warn is to be Supt.  Lottie Cowan is elected our teacher.   Very windy but not snowy.

(Age 17)
Wea. Clear                                    MON. JAN. 2, 1899                           Ther. 2

Got up at 5:30 A.M and done my chores then eat breakfast and went down to the burg to go to school but there is no school because this is a leagel (sic) holiday for New Years.  Coming home I met Leon Page he was going down to get John Glaspy (?) to go hunting but John was sick and I rode over to grandma’s and eat dinner with her then Leon came down and we went hunting down back of grandma’s to the big creek and then Thayer’s  and back home.  I killed a red squirrel and shot at a partridge that was the only thing we killed.

(Age 18)
Wea.                                              TUE. JAN. 2, 1900                             Ther.

Stayed at home all day. 
In eve took Alice Warn up to Hermy Anderson’s to a surprise party on Ed Mason  had a fine time.  Got home about 3 oclock A.M.  Alice asked me up to her house next Friday eve.

(Age 19)
Wea.                                              WED. JAN. 2, 1901                            Ther.

Pa and Ma went to Falconer and Alice, Rollie + I kept house.

(Age 20)
Wea.                                             THUR. JAN. 2, 1902                           Ther.

Went to Jamestown gave a note of $40 to First National Bank.

(Age 21)
Wea.                                              FRI. JAN. 2, 1903                               Ther.

Drew down hay from the horse barn in fore noon.  In the afternoon I went down to Frewsburg to have the horses shod. 

(Age 22)
Wea.                                              SAT. JAN. 2, 1904                                Ther.

Stayed at home.

Diaries of a Farm Boy

In 1881, my great-grandfather Allen Frank Cass was born on his family’s farm in Western New York state.  Fifteen years later he began to keep daily diaries.  At times the entries reflect resolute faithfulness to recording the small details that compile all of our days.  At others, he seems only to write out of the obligation enforced by a blank page and routine. 

Allen’s mother Nora had been a school teacher before she married Frank, a farmer.  His brother, 10 years his junior, was Rollin.  Allen would one day inherit the farm and raise his own large family there though none of them would carry on the rural tradition.  The house "Lone Pine" stands to this day in Ivory, NY.

Painted by Mabel Cass Lucas 1970

When I was 15, I found Allen's diaries at my grandma Mabel's house.  After she died a few years later I found them as I helped clean out her room.  A note was attached in her hand that said "Jenny once asked that these diaries be hers.  Now they are."  My grandmother was very effective like that. 

A Day in the Life

(Age 14)
Wea. Cold                                     WED. JAN. 1, 1896                       Ther.

Pa went to Jamestown + had 3 teeth pulled.  I stayed at home and went skating.

(Age 16)
Wea. Stormy                                 SAT. JAN. 1, 1898                         Ther. 15

Very windy day snow is about 1ft deep. + still coming.  Pa + Rollie went up to the store in Pope Hollow.   Geo Walters and Chas Slater are cutting cherry logs to haul to Falconer.  I went over and got grandma took her home this P.M.  Milked 9 cows.  Killed a pig. 

(Age 17)
Wea. Clear                                    SUN. JAN. 1, 1899                         Ther. 0

Stayed at home all day and took a bath. 
Ma and Rollie went down to church and Mrs. Mason’s.  Mrs. Mason sent me up a book named Thaddeus of Warsaw for a New Years present she also gave me this diary for Xmas. 
Ed. Harrington came down after his mail this A.M. and stayed a while. 
In the evening I stayed home and read. 
Pa and Ma are both cross as two half-starved bears.

(Age 18)
Wea. Stormy                                 MON. JAN. 1, 1900                       Ther. 8

Went over and got grandma at 11AM took her home about 4 P.M.  Stayed at home all day.  There is about 6” of snow and it is awful windy + cold.  Happy New Year.

(Age 19)
Wea.                                               TUES. JAN. 1, 1901                      Ther.

Alice’s folks came down for a New Years dinner and Gil’s folks came down in the afternoon and stayed for supper.  Grandma was over.

(Age 20)
Wea.                                              WED. JAN. 1, 1902                       Ther.

We all went over to grandma’s

(Age 21)
Wea. Cold                                     THUR. JAN. 1, 1903                       Ther.

My folks, Grandma, Alice + I all went up to Andrew’s to dinner.  Dave finished drawing out manure by the cow barn.

(Age 22)
Wea. Cold                                     FRI. JAN. 1, 1904                             Ther.

 We all went up to Grandma’s.  Aunt Ada came down.