Excerpts from my ancestor’s journal: January – February 1890

I’ve taken up my transcription project again and have some excerpts to share.

Context for the first entry: Emma’s husband Frank worked for Oscar Frommel & Bro., a produce dealer based out of New York. He traveled by train all over New England, and appeared to have oversight responsibilities over the transport of apples, pears, etc. In the entries preceding this one, Emma expressed some concern that Frank had not yet arrived home from New Haven.

Monday, January 20, 1890                                Rainy and foggy. Frank came in the night. He hired a man to bring him from Palmer. He left New Haven on the night express train expecting to get off in Springfield, but he went to sleep and got carried over nearly to Worcester before the conductor woke him up, then he had to pay his fare and get off. He had .10 left and over a hundred dollar in checks and his r.r. pass book but those did not do much for him in a strange place, so as soon as daylight he started out to see how far he could walk in a day. He arrived in Palmer in the evening, then drove the rest of the way. Mr. Haywood and Frank slept until nearly noon, then they had dinner and Mr. H. started on his way back again.

I basted an apron for Susie and cut out a dress for Mother W. Grandpa walked home from the village this P.M.

Emma and Mattie went to school. Mrs. Cooper is having fiery trials with Mrs. Wheeler. Everyone has about all they can stand up under, of some kind or another. “Grit and Grace” need to be in bountiful supply.

The distance between Worcester and Palmer is over 30 miles according to my quick Google search. Long walk.

Image of Oscar Frommel & Bro letterhead taken from a digital collection at Columbia University Libraries:

Oscar Frommel letter head

The next excerpt doesn’t need much context to understand what is happening:

From Thur. February 20, 1890 until March 1, 1890

Cloudy – snowstorm this P.M. and eve with the wind blowing fearfully. I did not go about the house to do anything all day. Mrs. Cooper went to New Haven on the 10 o’c train. Her daughter is quite sick. Mr. C. borrowed 2.25 & telegram was .50 – I have been quite busy doing the last things.

Ruby Elma was born at half past ten at night. Frank went for the Dr. and carried him home again. The wind blew fearfully and the snow flew but he had to go in a wagon. Dr. Perry is not very agreeable at such a time but I came out of it all right – and felt stronger than usual. Ruby weighed 4 ½ lbs.

Very cold, nearly down to 0.

Fri. morn Frank took a sleigh and went after Mrs. Hiram Graves. She was quite surprised to receive a call so soon.

Sun Prescott, Mattie and Emma rode down to church in a sleigh. P. looked quite manly with a sister on each side.

Mrs. Graves stayed with us ten days. Charged $7.50 for her services.

Ruby was called by Aunt Ruby’s name because she arrived on her birthday. She would have been 88 yrs. old.

Elma is after my mother.

Ruby appears to have been born prematurely – based on the weight and Mrs. Graves’ surprise at being called so soon. I am going to assume that Mrs. Graves was a midwife. Does anyone know what services she would have provided since she was not present at the delivery itself? The late 19th century was apparently a transition time, as doctors began to more widely practice obstetrics and midwives’ role in the general population began to decrease. Emma doesn’t appear to be a fan of Dr. Perry’s bedside manner though.



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2 responses to “Excerpts from my ancestor’s journal: January – February 1890

  1. I’m so curious about the fiery trials with Mrs. Wheeler! Do you have any sense of who Mrs. Wheeler is in relation to Mrs. Cooper??

  2. I’m super curious about it too. Sometimes I wish Emma was a teensy bit more gossipy, so we could get these details! But I do know that both Mrs. Cooper and Mrs. Wheeler are close neighbors of Emma’s, but I don’t know if they are related to each other.

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