Sunday, New Years Day, January 1, 1860
Instead of going up & tucking is as Joe supposed I had, I bent my steps for the Neck. Reached the Pint about 11½ where I found the House crowded with the people of vicinity watching for the departure of the Gloomy Year of 1859. I had been there only a few moments when a friend came to me & informed me that Uncle Evan Jenkins departed this life today about 11 A. M. & also that a boy of Samuel Heater’s aged 5 years died about 6 P. M. It perfectly shocked me. Got home about 1 o’clock 1860. Sat by the fire & thought & talked for about an hour when I went to bed & tried to go to sleep, but couldn’t — partly on account of the cold & partly my relations.
New Years morning I was up early & oh! the cold! Seemed worse than I had ever felt. I got ready as soon as possible and went up to Mr. Jenkins & stayed there. Made fires &c. till about 11½, then come down to the School House to meeting. A Mr. Scheels preached. I then went to Heaters & they was just getting ready to start to bury. Then run over home for a piece & found Joe had arrived. We then started & overtook the funeral procession. After that burial was over, all went in the house & soon the other procession came. Soon the house was crowded to overflow. Waited a long time for the minister — a Mr. —–, Presbyterian Minister. Funeral & burial over, we come home ahead of two other in the vicinity today — a Mrs. [Minerva J. Dorman died yesterday & was buried today. Old Mrs. Hall died today. Joe & myself thought it would be best for us to stay by the fire tonight. Preaching at the School House. We went to bed early & slept. Very cold.
[Note: Evan Jenkins (1796-1859) died of lung fever on New Year’s Eve. Lot refers to him as his “Uncle” but I have not yet established the connection. Samuel Heater (1816-1888) was married to Jane Robenson (1818-1862) and had several children. It was their 5 year-old son, Charles Heater, who died on New Year’s Eve. Both of the above-named deceased are buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.]
Monday the 2nd [January] 1860
Weather clear & very cold. After doing the morning feeding &c., I gathered up my school books & started to Old Liberty once more to see if my friend of the Mill Excursions could learn me anything about grammar, arithmetic, reading, & spelling. It seemed to affront John & he swore he would not go. The day seemed long & lonesome to me. Come home, fed watered &c. in the evening, then went to the debate. Only a few were there & they misbehaved so I thought best to quit. So we adjourned syne die.
Tuesday the 3rd
Weather clear & cold. Went to school & studied hard but couldn’t learn much. Come home nearly discouraged.
Wednesday the 4th
Thursday the 5th
Weather has moderated a little. Hartman killed his hogs yesterday & took to town today.
Friday the 6th January 1860
This morning finds the ground covered with sleet making it disagreeable to the footmen. Went to school. About 10 it commenced to raining & continued raining all day. I got discouraged worse today than ever on account of the mean boys at school. A Mr. Warren preached at the school house tonight. Joe & I stayed at home.
Saturday the 7th [January] 1860
It has ceased raining but is cloudy & gloomy. We had quite an uninteresting confab this morning with friend Hartman. Joe went to town. We finished husking corn off the fodder, put a load in the granary. Went tonight & heard J. N. Holmes give an interesting lecture on Geology at the school house. It has cleared off & is freezing.
Sunday the 8th
Is cloudy & cold. I read awhile this morning, then got hold of this & wrote tons for the rest have all gone to meeting. My Lilliputian Gallant has not returned yet & I am afraid he has got himself into trouble while absent from Gigantic. If he has oh! Dear! poor fellow. He’s sound.
[Note: The entries for January 9th and 10th, 1860 are in Joe Fisher’s handwriting]
Monday the 9th
Went to school this morning. Things went on about as common until noon when I went down to Squire Wilson’s. [When I] came back, the door was fastened & [I] could not get in. Went back to Mr. Wilson’s, stayed awhile, returned to the school, and while the conflict was raging between my gigantic friend & those within, I made egress through the window which was left minus two mights. The heads of some of them undoubtedly needed softening for their foolishness & stubbornness which I was hardly restrained from doing.
Nothing particular occurred. Lot has quit going to school for the present & took a load of corn to town today. Got 25 cts. per bushel. Snowing tonight.
[Resumption of Lot Abraham’s handwriting]
Snow about 4 inches deep (but drifted). Nothing was done today. I made a fire in the room & read & studied most of the day.
Thursday the 12th
Weather clear & cold. We stayed close to the fire all day. Dick’s come over this evening.
Friday the 13th
Weather clear & mild. We killed 3 hogs in the morning. [Note: The remainder of this entry and those that follow through the end of January 1860 are in Joe Fisher’s handwriting. We learn from the entry on January 21 that Lot started for a 6+ week visit to Ohio. Lot returned home and resumed his diary entries on March 7, 1860.]
This evening while coming from school, I beheld Neal Spearman & Gigantic with the two Miss Faris’ — America & Sarah A. — in a two horse sleigh bound for town to meeting. After I came home & fixed [&] eat supper & started pedestrian-like for the city. After a very energetic walk of about an hour, I entered it and passing by the “S M”, sauntered in an learned what was going on. Then went on up home, came back in a short time & seated myself by the stove. Pretty soon in came Lilliputian” having been previously apprised of the fact of my presence & looking all around (I stooped behind the stove) went out but soon returned & came up, shook hands heartily, and spent the evening pleasantly. Retired about 10 o’clock.
Was out early this morning. Had to make several calls which took about all the forenoon. In the afternoon, strayed down towards the “S M” and was rewarded. In the evening, I traversed the winding streets of the city for some time until I at last brought myself up before a building of singular and very antique architecture. The vast structure reared its massive walls to an enormous height And I must say the darkness did not lessen the melancholy forebodings that unconsciously filled my mind. Ah! fatality too soon to be realized, I entered & seated myself in an armchair. Sat for some time talking upon every subject conceivable until I heard the announcement, “Absent.” Very soon I with all possible gravity was giving my leave to those present & taking my way to the Methodist Church where I stayed until about ½ past 9 o’clock listening to a conglomeration of absurd contradictions & irreverent bursts of excitement.
The weather is very moderate today. The roads are quite muddy. ______ & I walked down from town this eve. Found Mr. Lot from Liberty here. Wanted Gigantic to take a trip “probably to meeting” but he could not go so I went alone. Not a very large congregation present but what was present seemed to take an active part. The exercises were carried on in rather a subdued manner. Exhortations were frequent. Confessions rather scarce. Prayers few & far between. The singing was entirely dispensed with as it was thought the noise might disturb the neighbors. Meeting adjourned sine die about 9 o’clock. It struck ten just as I arrived at home having some difficulty in crossing a brush fence on the way.
Had quite a large school today. Seemed to relish the treat of apples very much after waiting patiently for it.
Nothing unusually absurd or ridiculous has happened today except quite a large scope of country I observed on the neck of a certain damsel. The soil looked as though it might sprout turnips & Jack Oats.
Today was our day for reading pieces. Quite a number of pieces were read. After reading, we had a little spelling school. Tonight Ben Jenkins & Mary came down to spend the evening. The girls made some taffy which was very good.
Had the sick headache so bad this morn that I could not go to school. Sent Lot up to dismiss until Monday. Got up about 10 o’clock. Sat up all day.
Lot and I concluded to go to town today. I rode and he walked. Got there about noon, put up the horse & started down town. Found Lot and then went to the “Mill.” Stayed there till it broke up. Saw Lilliputian. Went up home, got supper, and struck out. Stayed till about “reasonable bedtime.” Met Lot going home.
Felt rather bad today. Took some medicine last night and some more today. Doctor came in this evening to see me. Lot went to London today with a load of corn. Got up about 2 P.M. and started to walk a distance of five miles but found I was not competent to the task. Felt miserable. Prof. G____ler preached tonight at the Baptist Church in opposition to infant baptism. Lot started today for Ohio. Went as far as Satie’s [on] horseback. Will take the cars Monday morning.
Stayed in the house all day today but did not take any more medicine.
I feel a little better today than yesterday. John came to see me today. Says they are having a big time down there at the Methodist Chapel. Rained some this morning.
Today has been tolerably pleasant. Not so cold as to make it uncomfortable. Looked like snow in the evening.
It snowed last night and continued snowing until almost noon today although slightly. The ground was covered about 6 inches deep which will make it very good sleighing.
Went up town today. The snow is thawing away very fast. Saw several sleighs & sleds in town. Got in with Mr. C & came down to Liberty.
Went up to Mr. Jenkins’ sale with John today. About 40 persons small & great were there. A lot of unmentionables was turned over to the care of John Morehead for 1.00. A grind stone had previously been bought by some poor wretch, a machine greatly damaged for grinding corn was bid off by Old Neddy Bebb for 1.05. A cow, steer, & 2 or 3 calves was next sold. Evan’s colt was put up. He bid her off $75. George Westfall bid off the black colt at $35. Ben bid the buggy off for $58.50 for his mother. A lot of lumber was sold which was at Bebb’s Mill — mostly fencing, I believe. This closed the sale. 9 months of credit was given to all sums over $3. Mat Barnes crier. John & I took the sleigh & went to town today intending to bring some ladies down but finally came to the conclusion that it was most too hard sleighing. Got to chapel just as meeting was commencing. Stopped a moment, then went on down to —-. Got the girls, came up home, found the girls had gone to singing. Went on up there, got them in, went on up to the chapel. Rather spoilt the singing for that night in particular as there was only four or five females there. Had quite a happy time at the chapel. Every girl of our crowd fell down as thy stepped out of the door. Got home and to bed just at 12 o’clock.
Went to meeting today at the school house. Mr. Warren preached. House was full about. In the afternoon, got on Dick’s little mule and took a ride & John on Henry went. Was gone about 2 or 3 hours. Prayer meeting at the school house tonight. Didn’t go. Went to bed early.
Got up early this morning. Made a fire in the school house before breakfast. Had about 26 scholars — enough for a short winter’s day but the school looks very small with no more. Went home this eve [and] found an odd number of girls. They stayed until nearly nine o’clock when John & I escorted them home. It was rather hard but it’s leap year, you know. Oh the dogs & John.
Made a fire before breakfast this morning. It was very cold. Like to have frozen myself before got the fire to going. Scholars were rather late this morning. James Holland, the young gentleman that is going to commit suicide tomorrow, made himself visible today. Moon talked to the young man upon his approaching dissolution but he took it all very calmly & seemed highly pleased that the eventful moment was so near at hand. The ceremony takes place tomorrow & the in fare the day following to which we all have an invitation. [Editor’s Note: Joe Fisher is talking about the marriage of James M. Holland to Cynthia Ann Spearman.]
[Note: There are no diary entries during February and the first 6 days of March 1860]
Wednesday, March the 7th 1860
Returned from my visit this evening about 3 o’clock after having spent the last 6½ weeks in many different ways & very pleasantly. It will be long remembered without recording. Found my friends here all well & on the look out for me all the time. I spent the evening in talk.
Thursday the 8th
Went to work today hauling rails & stone along the east fence. Worked a wild mule. The weather is pleasant & dry.
Friday the 9th
Commenced resetting fence this morn & pitched in as though I was used to it & so we have been ever since up to this date March 30th & running about to see my old friends. All seems about the same except friend Jim Holland has left us and went to the state of matrimony. Also on last Sunday, my friend Noah Johnson & my sister Sallie by the Rev. Elias W. Shortridge who commenced a meeting at Old Liberty on the previous Sunday, March the 18th & is going on yet with great success. The weather is dry & windy & has been so ever since I come home. We commenced sowing wheat the 14th & have been all the time we could get ever since. Had to go to town often & went up to the Exhibition the last of Howe’s School. It lasted 10 nights. I was there several times. We sowed all the ground between here & the other house & the field by Forbes’ finished Tuesday 27th. Then sowed 3 bushels of oats in the lower field & have sowed some wheat there & will sow some more. Dick has moved in the house. We moved him the 15th. I have been to meeting every night this week & today have been sick in bed most of the time. Just able to write now.