WWJD about Terrorism

I wrote this article in 2005.  George W. Bush’s second term as President had just begun and Barack H. Obama’s two terms had not yet been dreamed of, except by him.  In 2005 I stated:“A long war has only just begun…  I am persuaded that we are in it for a very long, long time.”  The eleven years that have passed since this was first published have only borne that out.  As for what-would-Jesus-do, I stand by what I originally wrote in 2005. -DAW, October 2016

With the “war on terror” AKA the “war in Iraq” I have wrestled with the question: WWJD?  Recently I had to admit being challenged by it from a bumper sticker.

Politics aside, (because one’s fury at or approval of G.W. Bush does not inform my thinking), it would seem that what I’m trying to resolve is a question of religion.  And yet, neither dogma nor mysticism inform my thinking either.

Even atheists who oppose the war must admit that they are oddly in league with those Christians who similarly insist upon peace at any cost, that killing is wrong no matter what the provocation, and that the enemy, whoever it is, needs to be approached sternly but with both logic and limits.  Atheists-for-Peace (in Iraq), if that describes them adequately, stop short of like-minded Christians-for-Peace, who can be relied upon to add prayer to their solution.

I have some politically liberal friends (liberal in the modern, government-hugging sense) whom I love and respect and struggle to understand.  We avoid arguing, probably because to do so would inform neither of us but would drive us apart, which would be stupid because neither we nor they will affect the course of this war.

I have supported it, in general, since the USA began cleaning up first Afghanistan and then Iraq.  Yes, I trust President G.W. Bush, a lot more than I trusted his opponents and his predecessor.  But I’m willing to ask myself whether this is right.  Am I supporting the destruction of the world?  Am I, out of ignorance, in collusion with satan, as my Christians-for-Peace friends might hope I come to realize?  What does satan want?  Does this war serve satan, or would our avoidance of this war serve satan better?  What does Jesus want?  What would Jesus do?  What is the difference between this and all other threats?

I have sensed, since it began, that it is different.  I have accepted that, because it is different, in a way that I could not until now describe, then our response to it has been appropriate.  Not because I was told so in a speech or by a columnist.  For me to form an opinion I need information and evidence.  And if these don’t point to a clear path of thinking, then I need inspiration.

I don’t subscribe to the opinions of people who demand that I believe because they told me so or because they have the more worthy emotions or because they are justified by their superior intellect, connections, or purity of motive.  I don’t subscribe to an opinion because it is widely held, supported by polls, or for the common good.

So in searching for the answer to this deepening ethical dilemma – How can I support a war that confutes the teaching of Jesus? – I have drawn upon the inspiration of my own faith.  For instruction, I have read the Bible.  And what follows is what I see.

When Jesus came right out and said Do this and Don’t do that, he confused his followers, including us, more than when he taught by example and parable.  I don’t struggle with the counsel to walk another mile and turn the other cheek.  That’s illogical because it is elegant and noble and just might do more to confound an individual enemy than resisting.  When he invited the holier-than-thous to cast the first stone, he really was inviting them to compare themselves with their intended victim.

When he asked whose picture was on the conqueror’s coin, he was pointing out that money is of the earth (has it ever been different?) and is controlled by whomever is in power, while people are not Caesar’s but belong to God.  Resisting Caesar would amount to wasting energy fighting Romans.  By their faith in his illogical pronouncement, his followers were able to create something that eventually would rule Rome, not submit to it.

But the enemies everyone could identify with in that era were, for all their power and arrogance, civil people.  Throughout history, there have been many organized forces which descended upon the innocent and conquered without mercy, but their objective was to control and subjugate a nation, a region, or the known world, not to annihilate, and especially not to annihilate out of apoplectic hatred for their chosen enemy.  In present time, apoplectic hatred of all Americans is the motive of those who started this.

Attempts at conquest involve nation rising against nation, either to settle a grievance or to satisfy a charismatic if arrogant, self-appointed, self-worshipping ruler.  Even though Hitler and Stalin were perhaps the most sinister and duplicitous of them all, they still made a pretense of civility and honor.  They needed to be glorified and, even though they made mockery of it, they pretended at diplomacy.  Kim Jung-Il does the same today, and will probably not rest until he has attempted to bring more of the world into his fold of worshippers.  Not that anyone actually worships him, but he doesn’t know it, such is his delusion like that of Hitler and Stalin, a few Roman emperors, and others.

Islam suffers from the same sort of self-destructive forces in the person of a few ruling do-no-wrong clerics.  But Islam is not a country or an ethnic group.  Nor is it a unified religious body such as the Roman Catholic Church.  Islam is a body of ideas, some of them religious, some even grounded in faith (as opposed to religion or dogma), but not the property of any orderly clerical hierarchy.  The high priests of Islam don’t even appear to be interested in finding their own common ground or representing their teaching to the world.  (Something like that could also be said about the intolerant, hate-motivated splinter groups of so-called Christians, up to a point.)

The high priests of Islam’s most self-destructive splinter groups aren’t interested in civility amongst themselves or representing their teaching to the world because it is not their objective to win converts.  They are preaching hatred for anything and anyone who is not themselves.  They don’t want slaves.  There is no place in their world for converted followers or repentant non-Muslims.  It is ironic that they now have a few tools that they did not have a century or even a quarter century ago, and all are the products of civilized societies: broadcast media to spread their message, money from oil or plunder (whatever the difference might be), the armaments that their money can buy, and most diabolical of all, the open borders that free societies have permitted in the name of humanity.  Ironically, too, they have the complicity of a fawning American communications media, motivated not by love for radical Islam but by hatred for a common enemy, George Bush.

It is with the tools made possible by our prosperity and generosity that we are being attacked.  This time in history, though, the enemy is anywhere and everywhere.  There is no leader who, by our taking him out, leaves the movement stalled or stopped.  Since it is not a nationalist movement, there is no single country to overpower to stall or stop the movement.

And since the movement is not interested in our subservience, our gold, our conversion, or our appeasement, there may be no stopping it.  It was easier to wipe out smallpox than it will be to put down radical militant Islam.

Whichever way we react, with guns or with olive branches, we face one choice and that is to wait it out.  Turning the other cheek will have no influence on their loathing for all things American or Jewish or Christian.  So what do we do while their fury runs its course?


…Duck every time there is a bombing in a civilized part of the world such as Spain or Indonesia or England or the USA, then carry on as if it was another hurricane that can’t be prevented or diverted.

…Send money and suicidal volunteers to the mountains of the Middle East to set up schools for teaching the peaceable tenets of Islam, and hope to have more influence than the radical militants.

…Appeal to the good will and spirit of cooperation of desperately poor and uncooperative nations such as Russia and China and ask them to intervene to persuade the radical militant rabble-rousers to look more kindly on the USA, so we can resume exporting Barbie dolls and Coca-Cola to the Middle East.

No, these aren’t options, and I won’t go on.

War is a great waste of resources and lives, but Jesus did not suggest how to deal with this enemy.  Rather, I’m somewhat persuaded that he warned of this enemy and this time.  I am not a student of Revelation, nor do I expect to be.  It accomplishes nothing if I spend the next ten years of my life becoming yet another expert on the end times; (experts on Revelation have come and gone by the thousands).  But I could be persuaded that we are there or nearly so.

I’ve tried to discover the rational, productive, and inspired response to the attacks on the free world by this newly-empowered force which, as I admit, we have helped to create.  If a military response is appropriate, then it must be everything we can do or nothing at all.  Anything in between will be like Vietnam.  And damn the so-called United Nations; half the nations involved are state sponsors of terrorism, so it’s no wonder the UN isn’t united on this problem.

If the response is heightened security, then let it rise to a level that will truly thwart homeland terrorism.  Anything less will be a waste of resources and an acceptance of random attacks.  No security at all is, to me, not an option, especially when the earliest victims of a casual attitude will be slaughtered or poisoned innocents, including more children, and letting our lives ever more be controlled by the fear of another attack now and then.  I may be uncomfortable in the summertime wearing long clothes against the insects, but if I want to reduce the bites and stings I live with the extra heat.

Whether we submit to the attacks of those who hate us and regard it as a fact of life in the modern world, or respond with decisive force and intrusive scrutiny, as we have begun to do, I am persuaded that we are in it for a very long, long time.  Those whose anger at the USA is so profound that they will commit suicide in order to express it do not represent a passing fad.  They represent a still-growing movement.  Ignore them and they won’t go away.  They will not be satisfied until they have annihilated us.

What does Jesus want me to do?  Well, there is frankly little that I can do, personally.  I wish there were effective channels for me to do something beyond the borders of my own country, but at least I can look after those in need in my own country.  I can and do vote.  But I vote with different things in mind than a single issue that has most affected my “consciousness.”  I vote based on my understanding of government and how I believe candidates will uphold the Constitution, not based on contrived issues such as abortion-as-birth-control or campaign finance “reform” or fake immigration reform.  Candidates dangle their positions on issues before us to attract our votes when they know full well they have little chance of delivering on their promises.  We are fools to let their stands on issues influence us.  It’s their position on government that matters to me – the less of it the better and the less intrusion and money poured into other countries the better.

If I have the opportunity to come face to face with an open-minded Muslim who has yet to form an opinion of Americans, I hope I as an individual will have contributed to a favorable impression.  But what are the chances that such an opportunity will fall to me?

America has been attacked by these indistinct forces somewhat due to our own indifference toward the nations that they come from, but moreso due to their envy, the misinformation fed to them by their own leaders, and the machinations of their own minds, steeped in ignorance of us.  When mosquitoes swarm, I swat.  I don’t kill them all or chase them all away, but fewer get to poke me.  I don’t try to talk them out of it.  They want my blood.  I am definitely less efficient in whatever I’m doing if I’m flailing at them, but the alternative – simply letting them all stick me – is unthinkable.  Let that be an analogy.

I wish I could regard the “enemy combatants” as redeemable individual humans.  They won’t let me.  Jesus submitted to his crucifixion without flailing or fighting back or calling upon his followers to attack his captors and free him.  But I argue that he knew that his individual death, so inscrutably accepted by him, would affect the entire world.  If I submit to death by a mindless enemy, it will not affect the world as did his, and so I am motivated to resist, on an individual level.  If a man stands before me and punches me in the face, I will do all in my power to prevent a second punch.  If he punches my child, I beg forgiveness in advance for the fury with which I will prevent a second punch.

Perhaps we humans have reached the limit of our ability to civilize ourselves, the limit of our ability to cooperate to any greater extent.  Perhaps this is as good as it gets.  two fifths of the world still lives in conditions no better than a thousand years ago.  It’s America’s delusion that there is a bright future ahead for humanity with disease-free planned communities and sanitary food and free cellular phones for everyone on earth.  We tried to show the world that it can be done: Individuals can have liberty and self-determination; and left to choose whether to be selfish or charitable, people will mostly chose to give to those in need.  Supply will meet demand when markets are left to take care of distribution and cost.  People freed from tyranny will invent and invest.  Information will flow.

Well, we have demonstrated all of that.  But the rest of the world only stares at us in wonder, then envy, then hatred.  They don’t perceive that they, too, can chose what we have chosen.  Even those within our own country, who perceive themselves oppressed or advocates for the oppressed within out borders, also behave as if they hate this country.  They are persuaded, instead, that they cannot have what freedom would make possible, and they would deny the rest of us the same.  When our enemies from the outside can lash out at us in the name of God and our enemies from within can undermine us in ignorance of or denial of God, they all believe they are justified.

A long war has only just begun.  It may cost the USA all that we have left in lives and resources, not to mention money and the destruction that will be wrought wherever we meet the battle.  But I can see no alternative.  Not to engage them is to invite an equal waste of lives and resources and destruction in a place of their choosing, not ours.  It matters not to them who dies, as long as the maximum number of Americans (or Brits or Spaniards, etc.) are destroyed.  In a war, however peculiarly it is fought, the individual foot soldiers of the enemy cannot be indicted and “brought to justice.”  In a war, they get picked off before they pick you off.  They disguise themselves as or hide behind “civilians” and so the innocent in their own countries are victims.  So are the innocent in this country.  I have no influence on those who hold political power, but if I did, I would exhort them to get the hell out of other people’s countries and concentrate on defending our own country.  I understand, though, that defending ourselves is only a secondary motive here, and control of the world is more what they have on their minds.

I find only one clear answer in the Bible.  I find no evidence that Jesus dealt with or told anyone else how to deal with humans who turn themselves into mosquitoes or vipers or whatever non-human analogy best describes the plague that is upon us.  I am not persuaded that the enemy we now face is even fully human except in DNA.  I do not purport to be an expert on evil, so I will refrain from declaring those who would destroy me as evil, in the sense that would make them literally agents of satan.  They are evil in the sense that they are fiercely dedicated to opposing the will of God, inasmuch as we, as a society, have constructed our world on the premise that God is love and that the two great commandments should guide our thoughts and our actions.

In the Bible, the answer is in the words of Jesus.  Yes, all of his teaching points to faith in God and love of oneself and others, but there is one more dimension to it: You improve humanity by improving the one human unit over which you have control – yourself.  He does not preach collective action, the joining of movements or armies or political parties or even churches.  He preaches to each individual the responsibility to get oneself right with God.  That’s what Jesus would do.  Improve your one human unit.  Get yourself right with God and let those who have eyes see your plain example and those who have ears hear your humble words.  Jesus does not call upon us to create or join a tumult.

Armies and parties and mass movements do not improve me, as a unit, and they do not help me by showing up on my doorstep, whether with aid or demands.  Likewise, I cannot presume to improve any other human being by showing up, as part of a group, on someone else’s doorstep with a demand or with unrequested aid.  Those who have joined the armies of this country to defend it are doing me a favor, just as I did by joining up during the Vietnam war, and it is a favor rather than a curse only because the motives of the individual recruits in this country’s armed forces are benevolent and defensive – note I say the motives of the individuals.

I will carry on with my life as best I can.  I will think globally and act locally.  In thinking globally, I will not regard the hate-motivated, random-destruction-of-anything-that-can-be-a-target as an acceptable norm, therefore I will not oppose reasonable efforts to stop it.  I will vote to reduce the reach of government both within this country and the reach of this government abroad.  Locally, I will act as I have been inspired to do by my God.  Locally, too, I will defend, with adequate force, if an enemy such as this appears personally on my doorstep.

What God has in mind to resolve this conflict and repair this mess I don’t presume to discern, and I will be skeptical of anyone who confidently tells me he has discerned God’s mind on this.  I think we will be shown, in the fullness of time.  As I await, I will attempt to do what only I can do: Make myself one person who the rest of the world does not have to carry owing to my own irresponsibility and does not have to avoid because I have become a threat.

11 July 2005

Mary Jane, Mary Jane


She gazes into the present across what to her would be the featureless plain of the next 160 years.  Vilenda M. Gay could not know, in 1855, how many years would pass before her spectral, oval-cut image would tumble from a pile of heirloom family photos in 2015 that had arrived in my care perhaps twenty years earlier.  I had never heard of her, but after a little research I was able to tie her indirectly to my great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane (Knowlton) Sweet, and directly Mary Jane Sweet’s cousin and best friend, Mary Jane (Gay) Ranger.

Framed for this story against the back of someone else’s better-conserved cabinet photo, is preserved what may be her only sitting for a photographer and what may be the only existing copy of her image.

The caption across the bottom, in letters that overlap the photo, states that this is “Vilenda M. Gay taken in 18th year of her [age]”.

I now know, in addition to her name, who she was and how the preservation of her picture became my responsibility, although I didn’t suspect she had ever existed until I began to dig diligently into the history of her brother-in-law.  Neither of them is my ancestor, but there is a connection.


In 1845, Jason Knowlton and Rachel (Presson) Knowlton, of Farmington, Maine, had a daughter they named Mary Jane.  In 1850, Jason’s sister, Rebecca (Knowlton) Gay and her husband, Eliphaz Gay, had a daughter whom they named Mary Jane.  By the time Mary Jane Gay and Mary Jane Knowlton had grown up they apparently had become the best of friends.

Here are Mary Jane Knowlton (1845-1913), on the left, and Mary Jane Gay (1850-1922), on the right, each at around the age of 20.


The two Mary Janes were first cousins.  In 1880, when she was 35 and he 43, Mary Jane Knowlton married Andrew Jackson Sweet.  They had one child, Goldie May Sweet, born in 1882.  Here is Andrew Sweet at about 20, and a family photo when Goldie was a child.


To complete the photo section, (well, almost), and so I can get on with the story, here are two more photos: Goldie at 18, clearly a lucky girl not to resemble her mother too awful much, and below that, a photo of her mother, Mary Jane (Knowlton) Sweet, at age 61, on the left, along with Goldie’s daughter with husband, Ralph Hines, whom they named Clarice Augusta Hines, at age three in the photo.  To Clarice’s right is Mary Jane’s sister, Augusta (Knowlton) Mossman, wearing the glasses.


Aunt Gustie or Gussie, as Augusta was known, (I’ve seen it both ways), was 63 in this photo and two years older than Mary Jane.  At this point, for those not aware of it: Clarice Augusta Hines was my grandmother, my father’s mother.  Goldie was Clarice’s mother, and I was well-acquainted with both of them.  I was 18 when Clarice died in January 1969.  Goldie, whom my father brought to live with our family after Clarice’s death, died at our house four months later.


Mary Jane Gay married George Warren Ranger (1843-1911) in 1876, four years before her cousin married Andrew Sweet, my great-great-grandfather.  Mary Jane (Knowlton) Sweet, my great-great-grandmother, had but one child, Goldie, who, incidentally, had but one child herself surviving to adulthood, Clarice, born in 1903.  When Goldie Sweet was born in 1882, George and Mary Jane Ranger were still childless.  In fact, when Mabel Gilman came into their lives, they still had no children of their own and so it remained for the rest of their lives.  Of these just mentioned, George W. Ranger died first, in 1911.  Goldie’s mother, Mary Jane (Knowlton) Sweet, died in 1913, leaving Goldie, my great-grandmother, as her only survivor.  Mary Jane (Gay) Ranger never did have any biological children, and when she died in 1922, her family photos went to Goldie, who was 40 at the time.

Mabel Ranger’s arrival as an adopted child of George and Mary Jane Ranger, roughly around 1898-1899, brings with it the saga of Charles E. Gilman.  Here is the note that I have attached to Mabel’s record in my own genealogical database:

Mabel Gertrude Gilman (1886 Michigan – 1973 Rhode Island), born to Charles E. Gilman (~1850 Maine – 1889 Maine) of Anson, Maine and Amelia A. Mosier (~1863 Michigan – 1950 Michigan) of Leland, Michigan, was adopted (when?) by George W. Ranger and Mary Jane (Gay) Ranger of Farmington, Maine.  There are records to show that Charles Gilman was born and died in Maine and that Amelia (Mosier) Gilman was born and died in Michigan.  Their marriage date (found at iWhipple.org, which has since become a non-operative web site) is November 22, 1881.  They had three children in addition to Mabel: Charles Leonard Gilman (1883 Michigan – 1957 prob. Michigan), Sylvia Josephine Gilman (1884 Michigan – 1983 Michigan), and George William Gilman (1889 Maine – 1972 Massachusetts).  In 1892, when the youngest child was two and a half, Amelia (Mosier) Gilman married Calvin E. Hilton (1867 Maine – 1941 Michigan).  From this data the following sketchy story emerges: Charles Gilman, having traveled west in his younger years, brought his wife and first three children from Michigan to Maine after Mabel was born in 1886 and before George was born in 1889.  Amelia became pregnant with their fourth child while en route or after arriving in Maine.  Charles died January 26, 1889, but I can only speculate how.  Was it soon after they arrived in Maine?  Did he fall through the ice while crossing a river?  Did he succumb to a fatal illness?  Did he injure himself severely while cutting firewood?  Mabel was two and a half when her father died.  Six months after Charles E. Gilman died, Amelia gave birth to a son, whom she named George William Gilman, June 13, 1889, in Mercer, Maine, not a great distance from Farmington where George and Mary Jane Ranger lived.  Had the Rangers already befriended them and thus the youngest Gilman child was named for George W. Ranger?  In January 1892 Amelia (Mosier) Gilman married the aforementioned Calvin E. Hilton, and together they had two more children, Ella Frances Hilton (1893 Maine – 1998 Michigan – yes, she lived to 105!) and Lewis Morris Hilton (1895 Maine – 1985 Florida).  How many of Amelia’s children were let go for adoption, if more than one, is not clear.  However, given that Amelia, her second husband, Calvin Hilton, and at least one of the two Hilton children all died in Michigan, it is likely that some time before 1900, Amelia persuaded the family to return to Michigan with her.  The oldest two Gilman children, in their mid-late teens by then, would have been reaching their majority and may have stayed in Maine for a time, although their place of death is given as Michigan.  Mabel would have been age 9 when her youngest step-sibling was born and perhaps no more than 11-12 when the remnant of her family, minus her birth father, elected to move to Michigan.  She may have pleaded not to go and was suitably enfolded into the Ranger household.  George and Mary Jane Ranger were otherwise childless, and the apparent close relationship between the Ranger family and the Andrew Sweet family could only have thrust Mabel and my great-grandmother Goldie together as friends, their difference in age being something over three years.  This story is plausible and, in the absence of a documented history of the family, may as well serve as an explanation.  (Information about Gilman and Hilton individuals was gleaned chiefly from http://iwhipple.org/getperson.php?personID=I137560&tree=whipple, which has since become a non-operative web address.)

I wish I knew more than I do about George Ranger.  Besides turning up his month, year, and place of birth (Hollis, New Hampshire), researching his genealogy has proved fruitless.  Except for his adopted daughter, Mabel, I have discovered no descendants.  Mabel, however, carried on.  In 1912, she married Dr. Lucius Albert Whipple, of Smithfield, Rhode Island.  They were the parents of Dorothy Sayles (Whipple) Burgess (1914-2005).  With her husband, William Wallace Burgess, Jr., Dorothy owned and published The Observer, the weekly community newspaper serving northern Rhode Island.  Observer Publications remains in the family of her descendants, grandchildren of Mabel Gertrude (Gilman Ranger) Whipple.



So, returning to the opening photograph, who was Vilenda, and what became of her?  She was Mary Jane Gay’s older sister by a different mother.  Vilenda was born in 1838, twelve years before Mary Jane.  Their father, husband of Rebecca (Knowlton) Gay, was Eliphaz Gay.  He was the son of William Gay.  I have no photo, that I know of, depicting Eliphaz Gay.  Here, remarkably, is William Gay’s photo, captioned with his name and the inscription: “Taken in the 83rd year of his age”.  William was born September 17, 1772.  Yes, this is the photo of a man born before the Revolutionary War.  I like his quietly triumphant expression mixed with obvious skepticism about this miracle of photography.  Some 243 years after his birth, his portrait falls out of a handful of mostly unidentified photos, and thanks to someone’s foresight in attaching his name, he is recognized.

It is worth noting the way his age is expressed: in the 83rd year of his age.  Americans now commonly speak of one’s attained years; the way we count it now, you’re not 83 until you have attained your 83rd birthday.  In other parts of the world, and in earlier times here, as soon as you have attained your 17th birthday, for instance (17th year completed), you’re in your 18th year.

There is also the variation that occurs when, if you had lived more than 150 years ago, you might not know the date of your birth but only the year.  In that case, if you were born in 1838, which is the first year of your age, then all through 1855 you would be in your 18th year.  The way we express it now, you’d have been 16 until your 17th birthday in 1855, and then from that birthday you’d be in your 18th year, culminating in your 18th birthday in 1856.

Let’s assume that the photos of William and Vilenda were taken on the same date, as surely it was a serious occasion to have one’s photo taken — in Maine! — only a decade after photography became publicly available to those few who could afford to purchase the equipment.  In the case of William Gay, the photo almost assuredly was taken some time very early in 1855, after his birthday the previous September.  By our modern counting he would have been 82 but in his 83rd year.  He died November 12, 1856, shortly after his 84th birthday.

Vilenda’s photo says it was taken in her 18th year, meaning either that she had turned 17 before the photo session, or that it was taken some time in 1855, which was her 18th calendar year.  There is one powerful argument that she had not yet attained her 18th birthday, and possibly not even her 17th: She died February 7, 1855.  There is no month and day attached to her 1838 birth year, but if she were already a full 17 in the photo, her birthdate must have been somewhere between the first of January and the first week of February.  Her little sister, Mary Jane, was not yet five years old and has left no record to tell us.  The girl you see in the haunting portrait may be posing for the only photograph ever taken of her.  The one I have may be the only remaining copy of it, but if not, it may be the only copy that is fully documented, all others being relegated, if they still exist, to other people’s piles of mystery relatives.

Stumbling onto Vilenda Gay’s picture with her name across the bottom reminds me of these lines from Ecclesiasticus 44:8-9 in the Apocrypha —

Some there are who have left behind them a name to be commemorated in story.  Others are unremembered; they have perished as though they had never existed; as though they had never been born; so too it was with their children after them.

Everett Hugh Woodbury


ehw-truck-small[photo caption] CRUMBLED BY EXPRESS TRAIN

The cab of the truck in which Everett H. Woodbury lost his life when hit by the “Minute Man” in Cambridge is shown nearly a half mile from scene of crash. Cab was carried from Sherman st. grade crossing to Walden st. bridge on train’s cow-catcher.

The first article is transcribed verbatim (with errors) from a long, two-part newspaper clipping (see scans at the end of this article) and is followed by a transcription of a separate short clipping.  No date appears on either clipping nor identity of the newspaper that is the source of either.  According to family history, Everett Woodbury’s death occurred around 13 March 1945.  The Lowell Sun clipping at the bottom substantiates that it took place 21 March 1945.

(Can anyone tell me the road number of the Boston & Maine locomotive that struck my grandfather’s truck?)


Driver Is Killed as Crossing Gates Are Raised by Error and Traffic Proceeds in Path of Express

Waved into the path of a speeding “Minute Man” express train by a gate-tender who said he became confused and failed to hear the signal of the express, a Cambridge coal truck driver was instantly killed and at least six other motorists barely escaped the same fate at the Sherman st. grade crossing in North Cambridge last evening. Everett H. Woodbury, 46, of 2131 Massachusetts ave., North Cambridge, who came down from Bangor, Me., two years ago to take a driver’s job with the H. L. Carstein Coal Co. of 47 Coggswell ave., Cambridge, was the victim.

His truck, sixth in line of a vehicular stream waved by accident across the grade crossing by Gate-Tender Bernard J. Gibbons, 60, of 22 Beech st., Cambridge, took the full impact of the speeding engine of the “Minute Man” on an express run from Chicago to Boston and was scattered into hundreds of twisted pieces of metal and carried for nearly a half mile along the tracks.

Only by a fraction of an inch did a passenger car in which three persons were riding escape a similar fate. The unidentified driver managed to speed up his motor and pull into a zone of safety just before the express train came hurtling down the tracks on its fatal trip. A passenger car directly in back of Woodbury’s truck managed to come to a stop a bare six inches from the train’s path.

But the heavy, two-ton coal truck, caught directly in the centre tracks of the crossing was smashed to bits. The back end was tossed feather-like to the eastbound tracks, 20 feet away, and bit by bit the rest of the battered truck was ripped and smashed along the half-mile stretch as the speeding train ground to a halt some 800 yards away from the crossing.

The driver was tossed from his cab to the cowcatcher and became wedged under the front end of the train’s engine. It required an emergency crew nearly 30 minutes to cut him free, but doctors said he had died the instant the truck was smashed at the crossing by the speeding train.

The fatal accident, first on that grade crossing in more than two decades, was caused when the gatetender, Bernard Gibbons, raised the bars at the edge of the six-train tracks and signaled on a double line of automobile and truck traffic that had been halted only a few minutes before, at 5:56 p.m. to allow two trains, a westbound local and an eastbound freight train to proceed over the crossing.

The freight pulled suddenly into a siding just before it reached the Sherman st. crossing, Gibbons said, and the local train steamed slowly over the crossing and pulled up at a signal station where the conductor got off and entered the building to make a telephone report.

Believing the rail traffic ended, Gibbons said he raised the bars and signalled the trains [original article says “trains” but clearly meant “traffic”] over the crossing. “I became confused” he said, “I didn’t hear the signal of the approaching express train. It just appeared . . . suddenly . . . and before I could lower the bars again the train was bearing down on the column of cars.”

Gibbons said he was rooted to the spot and didn’t see the fatal crash. “All I saw,” he murmured, ”was the train and the slowly moving line of vehicles. Then I heard a crash . . . I don’t remember anything else.”

Escapes Death

By a strange quirk of fate Woodbury’s helper, Michael Leahy of 11 Montgomery st., North Cambridge, nephew of Police Chief Timothy F. Leahy, escaped his driver’s fate because he left the truck to accept a ride home from a friend only a few minutes before the crash.

Leahy, who usually rides to the company’s garage on Richdale ave., only a few hundred yards from the accident scene, last night got off the truck at the corner of Rindge ave. and Sherman st. and waved his co-worker a “good night – see you tomorrow.”

Police found three pairs of rubbers strewn along the tracks and believing the Leahy was also a victim of the crash searched the scene for more than three hours trying to find a trace of him. He collapsed on learning the fate of his driver.

A witness to the fatal crash was 10-year-old Albert Girouard of 134 Sherman st., whose house is directly across from the grade crossing. Albert told police he was sitting by his bedroom window looking over the tracks when the crash happened.

“I saw the bars go down and saw a long line of traffic halt,” he said, “then I saw the bars go up again, and just at that minute I saw the ‘Minute Man’ approaching. I tried to shout, but it was no good. Five of the cars got over all right. The truck was caught right in the middle of the crossing and was hit directly on the cab. Half the truck was split apart and dumped to the side. I watched in horror as the rest of the truck was carried along the rails, dropping off bit by bit, until the engine was dropped near the Walden st. bridge.”

Everett Hugh Woodbury, the victim, was identified at Watson’s Mortuary, Cambridge, by his employer. He was a native of Winthrop, Me., and had resided in Bangor, Me., for many years before coming to Cambridge to work two years ago. His wife still resides in Bangor. A son, Donald, is in the navy serving aboard a ship in the Pacific.

[From another clipping:]


Killed as Gates Open Accidentally

CAMBRIDGE, March 22. (UP) – When a gate tender at a Cambridge crossing accidentally raised the gates last night, Everett H. Woodbury, 46, Cambridge truck driver, drove his coal truck into the path of a passenger train and was killed.

[From yet another unidentified newspaper:]


Judge Arthur P. Stone set April 5 for an inquest in the Third District Court, East Cambridge, into the death of Everett H. Woodbury, 46, coal driver killed by the Minute Man express in North Cambridge. The date was announced following a conference of Chief Timothy F. Leahy and Dist. Atty. George Thompson.

[End of quoted newspaper clippings.]


I only found the foregoing lengthy article and smaller clippings in late 2003, when I was 53 years old, in some things my late father left behind, five years after his passing in 1998.

Nobody talked about my grandfather when I was a kid. I knew that he had left my grandmother in Livermore Falls, Maine, with five children, and he had worked in Cambridge during the war. It was clear that my grandmother resented him, and I thought it was for his dying that she was angry. I knew that he had been killed by a train somewhere, and somewhere along the way I was led to believe that my grandmother believed he might have committed suicide-by-train.

ehw3 Hugh, probably high school photo

That’s all I ever gleaned, and once I was grown I didn’t inquire further. In the mid-1990s, after our grandmother was gone, one of my cousins, Danny, began researching the family tree, tracing the wives of my father’s bigamist brother, Donald, and turning up some missing first cousins in Indiana, whom Danny brought to Maine for a “re”union. But there was still no talk of Hugh, (Everett Hugh), our grandfather. Then my father died in 1998, and many of his old papers came to me. The newspaper clipping in the attached document came from that collection.

ehw4 Hugh pouring something from a bottle to a glass

In 2004, when I had a stopover in Boston while traveling alone to someplace farther, I used the information in the article about Hugh’s death and took a taxi to find the railroad crossing in Cambridge described in the article. It’s a phenomenon that won’t happen often in anyone’s lifetime; it’s virtually unchanged in 60 years. It’s only a few blocks from the Harvard campus. The taxi driver found Walden Street first and we crossed the short, high bridge over the tracks under which Hugh’s truck cab came to rest.

Then the taxi driver drove around and connected with Sherman Street. He waited for me while I explored the crossing and studied the site. There are still two sets of tracks that cross Sherman Street. Even though it was after dark, thanks to the streetlights the Walden Street bridge was clearly visible a half mile away, along with the brick building whose side appears in the newspaper photo. The houses around the crossing are all at least 60 years old and would have been the ones standing at the time of the wreck. Both Sherman Street and Walden Street are narrow, and the bridge is a short (60 to 80 foot) gondola-style bridge that very likely was the one there at the time of the wreck. Since the article isn’t dated (and the newspaper identification is missing), I mistakenly believed that the clipping was from 1944, so last year I thought I was standing on the site on about the 60th anniversary of the accident. That, in fact, came a year after I was there.

In the summer of 2004, using the Internet, I researched the name Albert Girouard, the 10-year-old witness to the accident, and found two listings in Massachusetts by that name. I wrote to both. I received one reply, from a woman responding for one of the two gentlemen but sent from a third address, so I don’t know which one she represented, explaining that he was not the one in the article. I never heard from the other.

Then, in my cousin’s genealogy, I discovered that I was off by a year in Hugh’s date of death. I wrote to one aunt, my father’s sister, Virginia, and she agreed that we should meet some day to talk, but she was perpetually busy and so we procrastinated – until she suddenly died. I’ve also found a document, signed by Hugh’s mother to permit him to enlist, and on it she attests that his name is Hugh Everett Woodbury…

ehw5 Hugh in a colorized photo

But I haven’t explained yet what, to me, is the most intriguing part of this story.

The Minute Man Express was a Boston & Maine train. For road engines, the B&M had 25 modern Berkshire locomotives (wheel arrangement 2-8-4) and ten modern Pacifics (wheel arrangement 4-6-2) on the roster at the time of the accident, all built by Lima Locomotive Works. It is a near certainty that it was one of these that struck my grandfather’s coal truck, and I would certainly like to find out which one, because four years after his father was killed, my father was let out of the Coast Guard and went to Florida with a friend and met a young school teacher on the beach and married her there, and then I was born (in 1950). The young teacher, my mother, was from Lima, Ohio. When I was a year and a half old, they moved us to Maine to live briefly with my grandmother, then to Lima, where I grew up. Upon arriving in Lima, my father immediately took a job at Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation, successor to the Lima Locomotive Works, and I have a treasure trove of photos and documents from there, some of which he brought home from work, some of which he later collected, and some of which I have continued to collect.

He also started me down the lifelong ambition to build a respectable model railroad. Our first joint effort was a card-tabletop HO “layout” started when I was about five years old, set up in my parents’ bedroom. I recall sneaking into their room to run it myself, and I still have the plastic shell of a Burlington diesel, partially melted on top, evidence that I had played with the train on that little card table and failed to shut it down completely afterward. (I had been caught but forgiven.) He collected several model railroad pieces as I was growing up in Lima, all of which I still own, and while I was still young we built a large flat layout on two sheets of plywood laid up in an L-shape. In the meantime we dabbled in Lionel as well.

My father’s source for most HO equipment was Ralph Molder, owner of Molder’s Brake and Spring in Lima. At times, I visited the huge layout in Ralph’s basement. Does anyone else remember that shop nowadays?

When I was an older teenager, we finally returned to Maine. I finished high school in Farmington, (Sandy River & Rangely Lakes country, with plenty of evidence still around then), left for college and the Army (ask me later about living in Monterey for a year just before John Allen died), and then came home, married my wife in 1975, had children, and dreamed of building the ultimate layout.

In 2000, my wife and I moved to our present home, which has the basement space I need, and which is almost completely cleared of the residue from moving. I’m forcing other things to allow me the time to secure and clear the area. And it was in the process of clearing the space that I turned up that clipping.

So I wonder: Did my father, early on, learn something about the locomotive that had struck his father? Did he then make an association with the girl on the beach and conclude that there was some “destiny” involved? Even if not – and yet what a profound coincidence that he found her – did his interest in model railroading somehow grow out of a morbid fascination with his father’s death?

My mother, who is still living, doesn’t know. None of us will now know what he knew or thought. But I would be most pleased of all to find, in someone’s recollection or in a record of that accident, the number on the side of that locomotive involved in that wreck. I have a list of all the nearly 7,000 locomotives built by Lima, what railroad purchased them, the road numbers, and other specs. I have received replies from a couple of historians. One of the gentlemen, who is with the B&M Historical Society, said it was either number 3717, 3718, or 3719 that was pulling that train. The other historian says that number 3717 was assigned to that run consistently in 1945. Those numbers are among the ten Pacific-type (4-6-2) locomotives, numbers 3710 – 3719, built by Lima for high-speed passenger service on the B&M.

It is a further irony that, in the summer of 1976, I worked at the Museum of Science in Boston, and number 3713 was on static display in front of the museum at that time. (I knew it, of course, as a Lima locomotive at that time, but didn’t associate it with anything so personal then.)

I also wrote to the current Cambridge Chronicle and the City of Cambridge asking about records of the Third District Court of East Cambridge, to see whether there might be identification of the number of that locomotive. The City kindly replied that the records were unavailable, but they did send me additional glossy photos of the twisted cab of the coal truck, taken the next day after it had been hauled off the tracks.

There it rests, and so, it seems, must I.

David A. Woodbury

[original clippings]

Directions to the Locomotives

A pair of abandoned, standard-gauge steam locomotives of the Eagle Lake & West Branch Railroad stand side-by-side in a small clearing deep in the north woods of Maine.  This is a guide to finding them.  One of the engines has a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement and one is a 4-6-0 — eight driving wheels on the first, six driving wheels on the other.  The first digit in each wheel arrangement refers to the number of pilot wheels at the front of the locomotive.  The zero in each arrangement means that there are no trailing wheels behind the drivers, used on more modern steam engines to help support the firebox-end of the boiler.

Dale Roberts has written that the 2-8-0 is formerly New York Central’s Lake Shore & Michigan Southern #5780 (780) and was built by American Locomotive Company in it’s Brooks Works.  The 4-6-0 was Indiana Harbor Belt (also owned by New York Central) #15 (has also been numbered 109) also built by ALCO but in it’s Schenectady New York assembly plant.  (Regarding identification of remaining steam locomotives in the U.S., Dale adds: “Here’s a good resource for you, David.  I use it all the time.  It’s excellent: http://steamlocomotive.com/lists/.”

To get there by way of the Golden Road:

(There are directions further down for getting there by way of Chamberlain Lake.)  The map positions listed at the bottom of this description are taken from my old handheld Magellan GPS, which I use mainly to mark significant spots, rather than to navigate.  All coordinates are in the form degrees – minutes – seconds north latitude by degrees – minutes – seconds west longitude.  You can recalculate all coordinates to decimal equivalents if you wish.

You can’t depend on a GPS for navigation by roads when you’re in the north Maine woods, because there are no addresses or landmarks like major highway intersections, and many of the roads you will be traveling are not marked on USGS maps or on the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer.  It’s a wilderness owned and managed by numerous private landowners, who collectively permit access under the organization called North Maine Woods, also managed by the Maine Forest Service and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  It is a wilderness without manmade landmarks, criss-crossed by private dirt roads, and the roads that are labeled on Google maps are often known differently by the locals, if you can find any locals.  Obvious natural features in the woods, such as streams (some with bridges), lakes, gravel pits, and hilltops, are ignored by an automotive navigation GPS.

You can use a GPS, however, to zero in on a given set of coordinates.  You need a copy of the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer or the appropriate USGS maps up here.  I’ve never plotted exact distances or driving times, so the distances below are taken from guesses and memory and eyeballing the Gazetteer.  You’re looking at two, or up to three hours of driving time from Millinocket, but that’s a wild guess too, and depends on how much time you spend walking around at various attractions along the way.  There are only two reasonable ways to take this trip from May to September.  From mid-September through November, not only is it hunting season for moose and deer, but the weather makes hiking and boating especially hazardous, especially if someone gets soaked, which can happen for more reasons than you can imagine.  In the winter there are reliable snowmobile routes — a third way of getting there for those who like winter adventures.

In the fairer seasons it’s best to take two days (departing from Millinocket), and go prepared for one night of primitive camping.  I recommend hiking in to see the locomotives on the first day and camping overnight near Umbazooksus Dam.  You can also do it in one day, leaving early from Millinocket (or Millinocket Lake) and returning to your starting point that evening, however you will not have time to explore the other end of the rail line at Umbazooksus or the sites in between.

EL&WB RR 2-8-0


From Millinocket follow signs for Baxter State Park.  There is a built-up area on the way to the park, about seven miles from Millinocket (North Woods Trading Post, Big Moose Inn, campground, boat launch, turnoff for NEOC) all jammed between Millinocket Lake and Ambajejus Lake.  Where two roads run parallel at this built-up area, cross over to the left road and continue on the Golden Road.  Follow the Golden Road for twenty-some miles, and when you reach the Chewonki camps and campground (formerly Big Eddy campground) on the right, begin watching for a right turn onto the Telos Road, a few hundred yards ahead.  (There is no sign that says Telos Road.)

Take the right onto the Telos Road, which immediately crosses a short bridge over the West Branch of the Penobscot River.  (An interesting diversion lies just after the bridge, a parking area with outhouse and short hike to the river’s edge.)  Soon after the bridge, the pavement ends, and from there onward you’re on dirt roads, but for most of the distance these are well-maintained for two-way traffic and log trucks; I sometimes reach 50mph on the longer stretches, although, at that speed, sudden bone-jarring washouts and holes appear without warning.  Enjoy the ride and watch for moose, especially in a large sand pit about eight miles up on the left.  Seven miles or so after the sand pit you will come to a checkpoint for North Maine Woods, with a cluster of little buildings on the left.  Stop and go inside and register your intentions.  In 2017 there is a day-use fee of $10 per person over 15 and under 70.  If you intend to camp overnight, you can get information about available campsites and fees.

After the checkpoint, it’a about ten miles straight north to a ‘T’ in the road.  If you go right at the ‘T’ you will come immediately to Chamberlain Bridge, on the channel between the extreme south end of Chamberlain Lake and Round Pond/Telos Lake to the south of Chamberlain.  There is a boat launch at the bridge, if you intend to run the 15 miles or so up the lake.  If you plan on hiking in to the locomotives, which I recommend, then at the ‘T’ go LEFT.  There are opportunities to take a wrong turn, but you’ll realize it shortly if you do.

Go six to seven miles west-southwest and take the swing to the right onto what the map calls Grande Marche Road.  If you continue straight here instead, it’s about a mile to Umbazooksus Lake.  This was the southern terminus of the Eagle Lake & West Branch Railroad, and there are relics here.  Walk across the short dam at Umbazooksus and you may find railcar wheel sets in the gravel along the lake’s west shore.  It takes some searching.  The rail line ran up the east shore of the lake, and you can find the undulations in the ground where the cross ties used to lie, on the very southern tip of the lake next to the road.  It’s not feasible, on a casual visit, to follow the old rail bed, for reasons that will become apparent if you try.  (Swamps, dense growth, trunks of dead trees across the way.)  But there are some easily-accessed stretches where you can follow it for a few yards or further, as much as you can tolerate the difficulty.  I once intended to hike the 13-mile length of the rail line, but that proved completely insane without bringing heavy equipment, or at least a chain saw and lots of gas.

Once you’re on Grande Marche Road, watch for the spot where the tracks would have crossed the road, about 3-4 miles up (see Crossing under ‘Coordinates’ below).  The logging road is newer than the railroad, so it was not a crossing when the railroad was running.  At what is now the crossing, Great Northern Paper, which used to own these woods and roads, apparently tore up the rails for some distance back from the road and even piled some rails next to the road, although I expect that some day I will go by there and the pile of rails will be gone.  But, if you hike into the woods at the crossing, especially to the east, you will come to the original rails on the original roadbed.  The rails are almost hidden for good in the grasp of the ground which is swallowing it all up.  To the west of the crossing you can, with effort, reach the north shore of Umbazooksus Lake.

From the crossing, continue about another 10 miles on Grande Marche Road, keeping to the right when presented with an unclear choice, until you cross a short bridge over Allagash Stream.  Within a mile or so, on the right, there will be two lesser roads.  Skip the first, less-passable one and take the second, which is in better condition (First Right under ‘Coordinates’).  Proceed on this one for a little over a mile, maybe two miles, to another road that turns south (Second Right under ‘Coordinates’).  There are false turns here, so use the GPS coordinates provided to guide you.  At the last turnoff, as you look down the final road, you’re looking downhill (not a steep hill) and, depending on the encroaching undergrowth, you can see quite a long distance down this road.  At the point I call “Park” under ‘Coordinates’ there are sometimes large boulders placed across the final road, and sometimes they’re not there.  If they’re not there, go as far as your vehicle will safely take you on this southeasterly road and then park without obstructing the way.  (Someone may have parked farther in than you’ve gone, so you need to allow them space to get by.)  It’s now a hike to the southeast of about two miles to reach the locomotives, depending where you park.

Regardless where you park, you will still walk a distance on this southeasterly remnant of a road until you find the trail.  It’s not marked well, but easy enough to guess at when you see an excess of marking tape on the scrub brush on the left. (Two spots are marked On Path N and On Path S under ‘Coordinates’).

The path from this last road to the clearing which holds the locomotive is not a marked trail.  If you’re used to following faint trails through the woods, you’ll make it, and just trust your coordinates anyway.  What’s more, if you stay on a southeasterly tack you will absolutely come to the cable tramway and the wide trail that runs alongside it, because it spans the entire distance between the two lakes.  From wherever you reach the tramway you can go left to the locomotives and Eagle Lake or right to the tramway equipment and Chamberlain Lake.  It’s all flat trail terrain with no elevations to deal with but plenty of wet ground.  The trail I normally take, provided I can find it and stay on it, actually runs down a stream bed for some dozens of yards.  Waterproof hiking boots that come over your ankles are useful here.

If you stay near the Eagle Lake side of the isthmus between the two lakes, as I do, then as you draw near to the clearing where the locomotives sit, you will begin to see relics in the woods, and eventually you’ll find yourself walking right between the rails that the trains once ran on.  The rails are sinking into the ground and there are mature trees growing up between them.  The locomotives are near the shore of Eagle Lake, along with much other equipment (Tramway under ‘Coordinates’).  Just 25 yards east of the locomotives, almost on the shore of Eagle Lake, you will find what was once a small rail-yard populated with the remnants of log-hauling railcars and other gear.  A few yards further is a channel that was dug from Eagle Lake to the site where a large structure once stood, now gone, where the logs were pulled from Eagle Lake to be loaded onto the tramway.  Among the other relics here are a large boat propeller and the crankshaft from an internal-combustion engine — look on the north side of the dug channel.  (There are also a few fossil brachiopods within the rocks strewn on the beach.)  A bunch of other relics are scattered in the trees behind the locomotive tenders.

Before the standard gauge railroad was built to haul logs to Umbazooksus Lake, a 3000-foot conveyor was used to move the logs, in a continuous line, from the shore of Eagle Lake to the shore of Chamberlain Lake, to the southwest.  There is a pleasant highway of a hiking trail alongside the remains of this conveyor, the actual tramway, which is the word often used to refer to the whole place where the locomotives and all the relics now lie.  The tramway consisted of a cable pulling a continuous string of wheel sets, resembling tiny railroad wheels, along tiny rails, and each wheel set held up one end of a log.  So it is just over a half-mile hike to reach the other end of the tramway at Chamberlain Lake, well worth the time to see the equipment (and restoration under way) there.

There are some historical placards on the locomotives and among the relics explaining that this whole operation was built in the 1920s (and abandoned in the 1930s) because Eagle Lake feeds the Allagash River, which flows northward.  The paper mills, which used the timber cut in that region, were located to the south.  Chamberlain Lake feeds the East Branch of the Penobscot River, which flows south, while the other lakes to the west of there all feed what is known as the West Branch watershed, the southward-flowing West Branch of the Penobscot River.  Therefore, logs that had been cut to the east of Eagle Lake were floated across that lake to the dug channel next to the locomotives where, before the railroad was built, they could be transferred by tramway to Chamberlain Lake and, once the railroad made the tramway obsolete, by train, to Umbasooksus Lake.  From Umbazooksus they could be conveyed by lakes and by river, which are part of the West Branch watershed, to the mills at Millinocket and East Millinocket.  Log drives like this, though, ceased in the early 1970s and that’s when the Golden Road was extended to the border with Canada to the west and into the Allagash region to the north.

Allow yourself enough time to hike out to your vehicle before dark.


Umbazooksoos south shore

46d 08’ 52”N

-69d 20’ 49”W


46d 11’ 54”N (46.198333)

-69d 22’ 36”W (-69.366667)

First Right

46d 19’ 54”N

-69d 25’ 29”W

Second Right

46d 20’ 41”N

-69d 24’ 37”W


46d 20’ 29”N

-69d 24’ 21”W

On Path N

46d 19’ 48”N

-69d 23’ 29”W

On Path S

46d 19’ 40”N

-69d 23’ 27”W

Tramway (locomotives)

46d 19’ 25”N

-69d 22’ 31”W

EL&WB 4-6-0

To get there by way of Chamberlain Lake:

First, look up the rules at https://www1.maine.gov/dacf/parks/park_passes_fees_rules/aww_rules.shtml, because you can use a motor up to 10 h.p. on Chamberlain Lake, but only on a craft defined as a canoe.  Mine is a 21-foot Scott canoe, square-stern, powered by a 6 h.p. Johnson.  Second, be equipped for an unexpected overnight stay.  I have gone up Chamberlain Lake when it was glassy calm in the morning and there were whitecaps on two-foot breakers 20-feet apart by early afternoon.  Third, there are hazards on the western shore of the lake, which is the lee shore in a normal gale, such as submerged rocks, so when the wind is up in the afternoon, the hazards almost force you to ride the rough seas out in the open instead of hugging the shore the way you’d like to.

You launch at Chamberlain Bridge, (go RIGHT at the ‘T’ mentioned above), then park your truck and trailer a short distance back the way you came, beyond the ranger station.  You head north up a mile-long thoroughfare, which resembles being on a wide river.  There are ten or so primitive campsites spaced along the west shore of the lake, and a couple on the east shore as well.  The northernmost campsite on the west shore is called Crow’s Nest, if I remember correctly.  I’ve used this one.  It is near the pilings which are remnants of the low trestle that carried the railroad over the Allagash Stream inlet, and on the rise above Crow’s Nest, fifty yards up from the rocky beach, lies the roadbed to the old railroad.  The rails are pulled up here, but the undulations in the earth tell you where the cross-ties used to lie.  There are relics, and you can hike a fair distance in either direction (back toward the trestle, for instance).

To get to the tramway by way of Chamberlain Lake, you head into a swampy cove, a half mile across at its opening, located on the northeast end of the lake.  (Follow the eastern shore into this grassy swampy cove until you come to a barely-discernible landing, which you can guess at because there is a bright clearing on the shore to aim for.)  When you come by lake, you will be at the Chamberlain end of the tramway conveyor.  There is a pair of standing boilers here, similar to steam locomotive boilers but stationary.  A lot of other equipment is located in this clearing, and a team of volunteers has begun to reconstruct the tramway mechanism on this site.  From here you would hike the 3000-foot distance to the Eagle Lake on the highway of a trail that I mentioned earlier, to get to the clearing with the locomotives.

I cannot responsibly publish these directions without some serious warnings:  You MUST take proper equipment with you, and this can be much more than you suspect.  You MUST carry certain extra equipment in your vehicle or boat, such as spare socks, spare drinking water, and so on.  (Life preservers in a canoe, and if it’s over a certain length and powered, then also lights, horn, flares, and whatever else is currently required by boating law.)  You MUST carry certain items in a bag or backpack as you hike.  These would include a compass (make sure you can find the four cardinal points if nothing else), two ways to start a fire, a reliable full-tang fixed-blade knife, a whistle, a map (even a hand-drawn map) of where you’re going, GPS if you’re using one, and something to eat with protein in it to sustain you for a few hours.  I urge that your backpack also include a rain parka, a “space” blanket, spare socks, a 24-hour supply of your daily medicine, and a spare layer such as a jacket, which can be stuffed into the pack or tied around your waist when it’s too hot to wear it.

Why all this stuff?  Imagine breaking your ankle and waiting six hours to be carried to a waiting vehicle for the two-hour ride back to Millinocket.  Assuming nothing goes wrong, you will also need to pack a meal and snacks for each person on the trip, as well as water to drink.  Camera, binoculars, toilet paper.  I carry a small-caliber sidearm to use for signaling and to discourage intrusive critters if I end up stuck in one spot too long, (not to kill an animal unless for safety or unless I need the food, but to frighten an unwelcome pest).   You MUST be equipped to unexpectedly stay overnight anywhere in the woods.  You MUST be prepared for NO CELL PHONE SERVICE six miles after leaving Millinocket.  The list could go on and on, but please give this serious thought before striking out as if going to a museum in a city.  Automobiles can take us to places where we would never be complacent if we had to get there by foot or horseback.  And if the automobile fails, or if someone becomes lost or injured, that’s when it suddenly becomes serious.

You could, of course, hire a Guide, who would look out for all of the above for you.

Let me add a few final words about the engines themselves.  One is a 2-8-0, the other a 4-6-0, both apparently coal-burners.  The cab on the 4-6-0 is missing.  The other is intact, more or less.  There has been a little cosmetic work done on them since 2005, by whom I’m not sure, and frankly it’s hopeless.  I do believe, though, that there will be recognizable remnants of them there for the next 500 years or so.  Perhaps at some future date I will publish an article summarizing what I know about the locomotives and the railroad itself.  (I have tried to obtain a copy of Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad by Richard N. Symonds, Jr., and have even contacted the author, but the book is out of print and he knows of not one copy available.)

Here are a couple of web sites with more information, which you may be interested in:



I welcome comments and corrections to this set of directions.  -David A. Woodbury, Registered Maine Guide-

Unjust Desserts – a fable

There was once a man, living alongside a respectable river, who owned a rowboat.  For many years the man quietly passed his days in ferrying people across the river in exchange for small measures of food and fuel, cloth and implements, and other things a man needs.

A war erupted, as wars do, between two factions of people, and the river, as rivers do, obstructed one army’s advance to the front.  The man was soon engaged by this army to ferry a battalion across the river one or two soldiers at a time along with their gear.  The man realized that in one’s life, as life goes, such disruptions can happen.  Therefore he applied himself diligently, even enthusiastically, to this important effort.

When he was part way into ferrying the battalion across, another battalion showed up on the near shore.  The commander of the second battalion said, “I have orders to commandeer this boat and rower to ferry my battalion across!  I must be first to the front!”

Uncertain, the boatman included some of these soldiers on his trips, but hardly had he begun to do so when another battalion, (as battalions go), showed up on the same shore, then another and another, each commander having the same orders as the one before.

The man with the boat did his best to get a few soldiers from each battalion across, trying to favor no one, trying to assure that each commander, (secure in his tent on the ridge high above the near shore of the river), could see that his men were getting across.

Before long the wounded, as wounded do, began to appear on the opposite shore, back from battle.  So instead of coming back empty from each trip the boatman was able nearly to double his effectiveness with little or no extra effort.  He felt good about this.  But then sometimes, shortly after he’d pulled away from the opposite shore with one or two wounded, another one desperate for transport would suddenly appear and hail him.  So the boatman would turn back.  Pretty soon he was taking twice as long to return from each trip.

All of the battalion commanders were fed up with the service they were receiving.  Grudgingly they agreed to provide the boatman with some help.  The boatman’s elation abruptly waned, however, when it became clear that the help would be in the form of a battered pail with which to bail and some scraps of food left over from the soldiers’ chow.  Meanwhile, with varying threats against the boatman the commanders vied with each other for control of the boat.

Finally the boatman risked some valuable time and climbed the riverbank.  He went to one of the commanders and said, “Perhaps you should ask your headquarters to provide another boat, even two.”

“We don’t need another boat!” stormed the commander.  “The problem’s not with the boat, it’s with the driver!  You need to learn to set your priorities, and I’m your first priority!”

The boatman cautiously approached each of the other commanders.  With the second, he also suggested that a bridge be built.  Then all the soldiers could run swiftly across.

“A bridge costs too much and takes too long to build and is useful only for a short period, and besides, the enemy would probably destroy it before we could all get across!” the commander argued.

With the next, the boatman proposed all that he had before, and added that maybe the army should send scouts in opposite directions along the riverbank in search of another boat and rower.

“And take a chance that we won’t find anything?  Preposterous!  That’s a waste of good men who are needed immediately at the front!” said that commander.

After speaking to each commander he was met with the same kind of response.  To the last one, in exasperation, he added, “Maybe your general should come observe what’s happening here.  If he concurs with you that another boat or a bridge isn’t the answer, perhaps he’ll think of something else that none of us has yet considered.”

The last commander stared at him in disbelief, and then said, “This situation couldn’t be more simple, and it doesn’t take a general to figure out what’s wrong here!”

With that, the commanders all conferred privately.  The next time the boatman landed with a load of wounded, (for whose wounds he’d begun to sense he was now being blamed — it took him so long to go get them), he was dragged from his boat and was executed on the riverbank.

Moments later the boatman found himself observing the scene as if hovering a short distance overhead.  He saw his own body, as bodies go, drifting face down with the current.  A few of his neighbors, whom he hadn’t noticed before, were gathered a little distance apart, curious about the activity on the river.  From the ranks of the army a lieutenant with grave self-importance approached the simple people, and the boatman watched as a tall boy was pulled from the group and had the oars thrust into his hands.

The boy looked quizzically at the nearest commander, and the boatman heard the commander’s orders, muffled and indistinct, as if shouted through a down-filled pillow — as commanders’ orders are.  With the boat precariously loaded, the boy who had taken the boatman’s place shoved off, awkwardly stroking the unfamiliar water.  On the opposite shore a dozen or more wounded cried out, each pleading to be the first ferried back.


Racing the Light at Dershem’s Corner — A line of elms stood sentry on each side of the road just before the new, improved ramp approach to the state highway intersection. As we came upon the elms, which up to now had obscured any view of the traffic light itself, I saw a glint of red through the branches.

Off Course — No one suspected how an elderly couple first met in their younger days.

The Dentist’s Proffered Testimony — The Dentist’s proffered testimony, locked against public discovery for 87 years, until discovered in 1999, explains the disappearance of an entire railroad train in April, 1912.

The Resting Place — cool, dark, and too well hidden

How Miss Plover Handled Boxer Poop — without using gloves

That Face — When we pedaled our bikes back toward Kenny’s house, taking turns with the sloshing pot, we discovered what happens when a black, cricket-sized catfish hits blacktop that has been bubbling under the noonday sun.

Weary — Memories were pleasant when they showed up, but they were like chipmunks or like hummingbirds: they came and went of their own accord, not to be captured and held for later examination and enjoyment.

In School Days — He lives to learn, In life’s hard school, How few who pass above him, Lament their triumph and his loss, Like her — because they love him.

Stop, Look, Listen — the song by the Irish Rovers that inspired the title of the short story collection, Tales to Warm Your Mind

Tales to Warm Your Mind

Stop, Look, Listen

Listen while I tell you
Tales to warm your mind
Stop, Look, Listen
See what you can find.

An orangutan who can sing
Pirate ships and gypsy kings
Now a horse who learned to fly
Don’t know how. Don’t know why.


Buy a car with Liquorice wheels
Driven by two jellied eels
But don’t drive it at full pelt
Or the chocolate tires will melt.


Do you know that smiling in your sleep
Means there are secrets that you keep
Locked in boxes in your head
Wise men find them when you’re dead.


The short story collection, Tales to Warm Your Mind, takes its title from this song’s lyrics, written and recorded by the Irish Rovers for their 1969 album, “Takes to Warm Your Mind.”

Kate’s 1884 Diary

[Note: Strikethroughs, misspellings, and other apparent errors are Kate’s and are preserved here for the authenticity of the diary.  For further explanation of things that may be confusing in the diary, please see the Introduction in a separate post.]

Kate J. Gardner, Black Lick, Pennsylvania

One Year of my life.
Dictated to my dearest friends – Myself + Chum.
Our lifves are albums

And the New sun arose bringing the New Year. 1884.

Black Lick.
Jan 1st 1884
I do begin my book with a solemn determination to keep it up for a year. Charlie S. didnt come down this evening. As it was very stormy. We had company for dinner today I was at home all day I was weighed on Christmas afternoon and weigh 104 lbs. Sadie Geary and I are going to keep a diary this year. She is my chum.


Black Lick
Jan 2. 1884
It has been very stormy all day. Sadie G. was up this eve. I went down street with her. I got a seal skin cap today. I got some very nice presents on Christmas, Bent Barr sent me a large Autograph Album. Dice McNulty sent me a smaller one. Mother gave me a breast pin. Het gave me a tidy and Sadie Geary gave me a book mark and Halsey a Christmas card.

Jan 3. 1883
Black Lick
It has been very windy all day. I went to prayer meeting Sadie G. was there. I wanted her to come over this evening but she said she couldn’t. Charlie and Ellsworth were there Charlie come home with me. And Clark and Halsey come up and we made taffy and had a good time in general. The boys left at ten. I offered to trade diarys with Sadie G. at the end of this year but Sadie says to wait until the year is over then talk about trading. I have been trying to coax a picture from Charlie of he and Ellsworth but I cant get it. Perhaps I can through time.

Jan 4 1883.
Black Lick.
It is snowing today nicely if it only snows enough for sleighing we will get to Singing on Tuesday night for sure. I had a notion to go down and see Sadie this eve. but changed my mind and thought I wouldnt. I didnt do much of any importance today only I baked some pies this afternoon. Am going to write a letter now to Nellie Balsinger. And then am going to bed.

Jan 5. 1883.
I didnt do any thing in particular today. This evening I went to the post office and then went down to Gearys. I met Ellsworth Gerhard and asked him if he didnt want to go along he said yes he would go Sadie was in the station house with Sadie Bell and Al Lickert we went in there a while then went to Geary’s and Al and Sade didnt stay very long. After they were gone E and Sadie and I blacked each others faces and acted the fool and had a good time. Had lots of fun after I come home.

Black Lick Jan 6.
Did’nt go to church this morning. I got dinner and washed the dishes and read a novel. Went to church tonight sat with Sadie Geary. Charlie and Ellsworth were there E. went home with Sade C. come with me. We are going to society on Tuesday night if it aint to cold. Was very cold today thermometer down to 13-o below zero this morn. was to four above all day.

B.L. Jan 7. 1884
Didnt do much of any thing today. Had company for dinner and supper. I read a book today called Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. This was only the first volume I like it splendid. I was down to see Sadie this eve. We planned it to go to singing tomorrow night and then I was to go down to Gearys and stay all night but when I come home Beccie had written a note to Alice Morehouse telling her she would be in tomorrow night to stay all night with her so if I go to singing will have to come home instead of going with Sadie as I had intended doing. Wrote a letter to Lidie Pierce this evening. Thermometer to 8o below zero this morning has been up to 20o all day

B.L. Jan 8. 1884
Weather moderating still more. Has been snowing hard all day. Went to singing today night had good fun saw Kate and Mary Turner Lintners girls and Flo Sides and ever so many boys that I knew. Sadie G. didnt go Ellsworth is sick. Charlie and I drove down for her but May Fair was there and she couldnt come. She was awfully mad. Kate Turner is coming up soon to skate. Got 3 letters today from Bent, Dice + Herb

B.L. Jan 9. 1884
Snowing still. It has been very rough all day We didnt do much of any thing today was at home all evening.

B.L. Jan 10’ 84
Didnt do much of any thing today. Went over to Berries in the sled this afternoon. This evening there was a crowd of us went to Homer City to church Marshal Barron took Het in a sleigh and Charlie Hill took Sadie Bell + Anna Stone back. And in the sled was Sadie G. Lizzie S Lizzie C. Sadie Griffith S Ollie Berry Edna M. and Myself. + John E. Clark S. + Halsey S. It rained we were wringing wet when we got home. I got a letter today from Lidie Pierce. Jackie Ritz from Hollidaysburg is here.

Jan 11. 1884
Didnt do any thing in particular today was at home all evening.

Jan 12. 1884
Baked today and made ice cream this afternoon Was down to Gearys this evening I wrote to Dice today.

Jan 13. 1884
This morning Henry Cusic took the sled and took us up to Homer to church Maggie Donahey and Clara Sarver Emma Berry Beccie Sallie Mr Baird and myself coming home. Ellsworth Gerhard was with us. He is the bigest tease ever I saw. He washed my face with snow and rubbed the dirt off his old glove on my face. And by the time we got home my face was dirty for sure.

diary8Jan 14. 84
I was mad all day today Beck and Liz teased me so that I did nothing but cry and swear all day. Was at home all evening.

Jan 15. 84
I wanted to go to society singing tonight but Charlie couldnt get the sleigh so I had to stay at home was awful mad. Em Fetterman come down from Indiana. Sadie and Ellsworth went.

Jan 16 ‘84
Beck went away today she went to visit Della Lydick at Nolo. Em went back on the noon train I was down at Gearys this evening a while.

Jan 17. 1884
Didnt do much of any thing today. Sadie was up this afternoon. Went to prayer meeting this evening Charlie was’nt down tonight I wonder why. I will kick him when I see him. Sadie + Ellsworth Griffith and John Earhart Marshal Barron Halsey and Liz Cusic were all here this evening. I had been making myself a bead collar and left the box of beads on the window sill and here Ellsworth spilled them this evening I made him gather them up. but I have lost half of them. Oh! dear, what awkward creatures boys are some times. How I wish old Charl had been down tonight and give me a sleigh ride. Oh! dear! It makes me sigh.

Jan 18. 1884
I am real mad tonight I wanted to go to society so bad and here Marshal Barron come and took Hettie and never asked me to go and they went in a sled too. I think it is down right mean and Marshal Barron has no more sense than our dog. He is a regular countryfied fellow If Charlie were as dumb as Marshal I would send him home for his mother to learn him some manners. and Halsey said today “you be sure and be ready early.” I asked him were they going in couples and he said “no just pile in any way you can go of course.” Darn big crank when he would get to squeezing Edna he wouldnt care whether any body else went. But I do most bitterly hate Halsey Shannon and Marshal Barron and Ed Dickey, I wish – No I dont either I will pay them back some other way and not wish them evil.

Jan 18. 1884.
Liz and I went down to see Miss Gilson last night I think I would like her real well. I was down to see Geary this eve.

Jan 20. 1884.
This afternoon Henry Cusic give us a sled ride. Had lots of fun, went to church tonight. Charlie was there but I didnt get to half talking with him. He would’nt come in and it was too cold to stand out.

Jan 21. 1884.
Didnt do any thing very particular today Hettie is sick. She was sick all night I was down at the station to mail a letter tonight. There is a crowd going over in the country about eight miles to a party tomorrow night. We were invited but cant go.

Jan 22. ‘84
We washed today ironed and baked. Charlie come up in a sleigh to take me to the party but when I told him I couldnt go he said for me to get ready and go to singing Sadie G. went with us. Charlie Hill took Lizzie C. Het is a little better. Charlie wanted to take her but she couldnt go. We had a splendid time.

Jan 23. 1884.
Mother and pa went to Sweezys today. I was all alone all afternoon. I sent down for Sadie to come up but Harry didnt give her the note. I was down this evening a while and laughed over our last nights experience. Lidie Pierce come home today, am going down to see her tomorrow.

Jan 24.
Went down to see Lidie this afternoon she has congestion of the lungs. Is in bed. Sadie G. was up this morevening.

Jan 25.
Hettie and I got Henry Cusic to take us to Blairsville in the sleigh this afternoon We had good fun.

Jan 26.
Ella Butler was down today George was to come after her this evening but he didnt come. Sadie Bell and Edna Mildren were up this evening. We had lots of fun.

Jan 27.
This is my birthday. I am twenty years old. George come down for Ella this morning and we took a sleigh ride. George and I. This afternoon Henry give us a sled ride up as far as the chapel and back. This evening I went to prayer meeting Charlie was there I am going up to Butlers on Tuesday. George is coming down for me.

Jan 28.
It is thawing today I was down to see Lidie Pierce and Sadie Geary this afternoon. Ellsworth is going to take a sled to Smiths tomorrow night. I took a sleigh ride with Halsey tonight we went to Blairsville

Jan 29.
George Butler didnt come down for me today. And I had told Charlie not to come down after me to go to singing as I would be at Butlers so when the sled come Marshal said to go down in the sled so I went. Charlie come up in the sled with me We had a picnic.

Jan 30.
Was at home all eve. Didnt do much of any thing today. Sadie Geary Lizzie and Maggie Cusic were here this afternoon I was out sleigh riding with papa today He was breaking a colt. Liz and Maggie were here this evening.

Jan 31.
Worked hard all day today. Went to prayers this evening. Sadie wasnt there. but Ellsworth and Charl were. Charlie said he was going West next week. But he didnt say where to. I am awfully sorry he is going. I have that picture almost coaxed from him I think I will get it.

Black Lick Feb 1.st 1884.
I baked swept scrubbed churned and cleaned the lamps cooked and washed dishes today. Beck has never come home yet. I was down at Pierces to see Lidie this eve. She is very bad.

Feb 2. 1884.
This is ground hog day and it is going to be cold for six weeks. For the ground hog saw his shadow for sure. Beccie come home this evening. I was down to see Lidie this eve she is not any better. Her lungs are in a very dangerous condition. I was at Bells this evening Had lots of fun. Maggie Cusic come went home today.

Feb 3. 1884.
Was at church tonight and sat with Sadie G. and Mary Gilson first rate Charlie and I walked down to the post office and back after church Charlie is only going to Pittsburg. He wants Sadie and I to go up on Tuesday. and I told him we would go if we didnt go to Butlers. He said he would find out if George B was coming down for us. If not then he will come. He said I could have the picture. Edna Mildren is sick in bed. Spine desease is the complaint I believe That complaint seems to be popular here. I think I will get it for a change.

Feb 4. 1884.
I worked like everything today. I was down to see Sadie about going to Butlers or Sides tomorrow and if George dont come after us Charl will so we will go either place providing it dont rain in the afternoon. It is pouring out tonight

Feb 5.
It didnt rain until after dinner then it poured and poured steady until four oclock It cleared up a little after supper but rained again about eight oclock. I looked for Charlie more than I did George. I’ll bet any thing it was George’s fault that cl Charl didnt come. Rained today.

Feb 6.
I went down to see the creek today The water is almost to Moores kitchen Met Sade Geary and went home with her. She saw Ellsworth last night He was up at Side’s all afternoon yesterday. He said George told Charl he was coming down for us for sure. Then Charlie didnt come. He said they done nothing but swear all afternoon. Rained again.

Feb 7.
Was down at Gilsons this evening and we went up to see Lidie Pierce. Then went down to the train and then back to Gilsons and had lots of fun. Mrs Walker come to visit us this evening. It rained today.

Feb 8.
We washed today and dried the clothes in the house it didnt rain very much today.

Feb 9.
It rained hard today. rain every day this week. I wasnt down street this week b evening. It was raining for a while and when it stopped it was to late to go.


Feb 10.
I was over at church this morning and this evening I went to prayer meeting Charlie was down He gave me a present this eve a pink hood it is very pretty but I dont like them. He is coming down on Tuesday to take Sade and I up there. I told him not to come if it rained.

Feb 11.
Well it is raining for a change of all the mean dismal weather ever I saw. Of course it will rain tomorrow. I have not been down yet to tell Sade that Charlie is coming for us. I told her to tell one of the boys at school to tell Sadie but she forgot it.

Feb 12.
It didnt rain one bit today. It was a lovely day. Charlie didnt come down for us. Flo come down and took us up She first went to Gerhardts and stopped for Sade and I as she come back. It was seven oclock when she come then the spring in the buggy broke and Ellsworth tied it up withy a strap. We had the best fun I have had for a long time. Charlie was waiting on us at Smiths School House. He brought us home I drove coming home. Charlie gave me the picture I wanted.

Feb 13.
Sade and I both sent Charlie a vanlantine a comic one. I suppose he will get them tomorrow and give it to us at prayer meeting tomorrow evening for sending them

Feb 14.
St Valintines Day and I didnt get a single one valintine. I was at prayer meeting this eve Charlie was’nt there but Ellsworth was. I teased him with that picture and he says he was “Shust going to give it Charl.” Sade was at prayers. We has lots of fun. Any person reading my diary would wonder at us having fun at prayer meeting. Strange as it may seem it is true. It is getting cold and is freezing out. It snowed a little this morning and rained some. Hope we will have more sleighing. Jim Barron and Will Morten went West on Monday.

Feb 15. 1884.
It is still cold but no signs of snow. I got two valintines this morning Charlie sent the one back that I sent him I burned it and sent him another one. I was sick today but I never let on because Het was sick and there was an awful lot of work to do. I hadnt time to grunt. I was down at Gearys a few minutes this morning. There is church tomorrow night.

Feb 16.
As I sat in church tonight I thought of Lynch, my favorite brother. We had not heard from him for a long time. and as the train whistled it seemed to me that Lynch was coming and sure enough after the train a while didnt Lynch walk in. I almost screamed. I was frightened. After church Charl and I walked down to Gearys and fought about those valintines and I declared I didnt send them Charlie half believed me. He says he will send them back on Monday. We have two preachers to entertain Mr Core and Mr Stewert.

Feb 17.
I didnt go to church to this morning I got dinner. one of the preachers was here for dinner. Charlie was down tonight we nearly fought about that demed old valintine and at last I coaxed Charl to take half of it and I took half. I took mine and tore it up.

Feb 18.
I worked like forty today Beccie and Het are both sick. Of course I had all the work to do. It rained all day I was at church today tonight. Charlie wasnt down this evening. Ellsworth was down. Sade got a picture from Ellsworth like the one I got of him and Charlie.

Feb. 19.
I got up early this morning. We washed today and I was at church tonight. Its very stormy this evening.

Feb. 20.
I dont feel good today. Have a bad head ache. Lynch went away this evening Papa was at Indiana this afternoon and he got me a photograph album I was to see Lidie Pierce this evening, and went from there down to Gearys come home early. Al Lickert and Ed Moore were here this evening.

Feb. 21.
My head ache is worse this evening but I think I will go to prayer meeting any way if there is any.

Feb. 22.
I didnt do much today Went over to Bells this evening Sadie Bell Mary Gilson Sadie Geary Hettie Dixon and myself. And M Newt and Charlie Dixon Gill Bell Teddie Jones and Ellsworth Gerhardt. We had a pretty jolly time Ted Jones brought Mary Gilson and I home in a buggy. Sade and Ellsworth rode home. I stayed at Gearys all night.

Feb. 23.
I worked like forty today We met this evening and made arrangements to have a leap year party We are going to have it next Friday after evening at Lickerts It is to be a masquerade. I got a picture of Ellsworth this evening.

Feb. 24.
Went to Sunday School this morning. There was no church any where today. I wrote two notes, to Ella Butler and Flora Sides today also wrote a letter I sent my notes with Stewert Charlie was’nt down.

Feb 25.
Beccie and I washed today we got all our chl clothes dry. Its raining now. I sent word for Charlie to come down tonight but I know he wont come in the rain. I was studying up some kind of a costume to wear at the masquerade I am going to wear a f red flannel skirt trimmed with black braid a white puffed muslin waist and a black velvet bodice white stockings and black slippers a red cap and white mask.

Feb. 26. 1884.
Charlie was down last night so was George Butler. Beccie and I ironed today this afternoon I made my skirt and bodice the skirt is pretty short. and is real pretty.

Feb 27. 1884
I made my mask and got a pair of slippers today was down at Gearys a while this afternoon I met Charlie and Ellsworth down street this afternoon. Sade was up a while this evening We went to a temperance lecture this evening in the church. It did’nt amount to any thing.

Feb 28.
Did’nt any thing in particular today only make my cap. It is awfully stormy today was at home all day.

Feb 29. 1884.
Ella Butler come down this afternoon I was begining to swear for I knew Charlie and I would have to take her to the party with us. But Rob King from Homer come down so I palmed Ella off on him. The party was a grand success. There was about twenty couple there. The boys all looked very handsome in their fancy costumes. Charlie wore red flannel knee pants and dark blue blouse and white stockings and slippers a black sash trimmed with white fringe and a red calico kneck tie. Ellsworth wore a dark suit. dark pants trimmed with a yellow stripe up each leg a blue blouse trimmed with gilt buttons a dark blue shirt red calico kneck tie and pink sho sash. Charlie Hill was dressed like Ellsworth. Oh it was jolly fun to see the boys as they come string ing down the stairs with their masks on. It was three oclock when we got home.

March 1. 1884.
Did’nt do much of any thing today I took Ella down to Gearys this afternoon. Rob went home this evening I was down at Gilsons this eve and Sade Bell and Sade Geary come over dressed in John and Gill Bells suits and masks and scared Gilson nearly out of her senses. I come home early.

March 2. 1884
I went to bed at ten oclock last night and got up at half past seven this morning I wasnt at church this morning I went this evening. Charlie and I are going down to Singing on Tuesday night if it aint stormy. Mr Butler come down for Ella this morning.

March 3 1884.
I served a little today but that is all I done. I was not out any where this evening. I am going to bed now I guess it must be nten oclock, or later Bob Criswell from Nolo is here this evening. He told me he met Will Wehrle in Indiana this evening and Will had a notion to come down with him I do with he had. He sent his respects to me especially. I would like to see him.

March 4. 1884.
Didnt do any thing particular today. It is awfully cold today. Was in the house all day.

March 5. 1884.
We washed this morning This afternoon I ge began to sew ricrac for a skirt Was down to see Sadie G. this evening. She has been sick since Sunday she has a very sore throat. Ellsworth come in while I was there he is going away in the morning. He just acted awful. on he teased me and done tried to kiss me and told the biggest stories about Charlie. I am awfully sorry he is going for we wont have near so much fun.
March 6 1884.
We ironed today. I sewed braid on my skirt today was at prayer meeting this evening Charlie was there He brought my autograph album down. I had a locket of Charlie’s I gave it to him tonight. We sent down to see Sadie after prayers her throat is no better.

March 7. 1884.
Finished my skirt this morning this afternoon I went to the store and done a lot of baking. I baked a chocolate cake and some cookies. This evening I was at home.

March 8. 1884
Didnt do much of any thing today. This evening I took a book down to Miss Gilson and we went down to see Sadie. her throat is some better. I took her down some apples and am going to send her a book tomorrow I will take it to Sunday School and give it to John for her.

March 9. 1884.
Went to Sunday school this morning. There is no prayer meeting I wrote to Lynch today. I dont feel good.

March 10. 1884.
We didnt wash today I made myself two shirts and began to embroider an apron today I took a book down to Sadie this evening. Mrs Gerhard was at our house today she said Ellsworth come home on Saturday evening I got a letter from Dice this evening.

March 11. 1884.
We washed today I am positively sick today. But Beck laughed at me and I had lots of work to do. so I had not time to go to bed. I was at home this evening.

March 12. 1884.
I churned today and baked pies and cakes this afternoon. Mrs Sides was here today this eve I was down at Bells awhile Sadie G was there, and Beccie + Mary Gilson and Charlie Dixon. That Charlie is a cure.

March 13. 1884.
Didnt do much of any thing this forenoon this afternoon I went up to Donaheys to get my cashmere cut and fit and Maggie was’nt at home I went to Gearys and got some cabbage. I am not feeling any better than I was yesterday. I went to prayer meting this eve. Charlie and Ellsworth were there We teased E. good about going West. Charlie is going to farm at the Altmans this summer.

March 14.
Didnt do any thing in particular today. was down at Bells this evening Sadie Geary was there. S. and I went down to the train I come home after the train.

March 15. 1884.
Didnt do much of any thing today. Went down to Gearys this afternoon I saw Ellsworth when I was going down. He and a Mr Sides from Pine Flat was here nearly all afternoon I missed them for I was not here while they were I felt pretty mad about it.
March 16.
This afternoon Annie Stoneback Sadie Geary Beccie and myself walked up to the chapel two miles and a half from here. Up at Gerharts Mr Gerhart and Mr Sides and Ellsworth and Flora were waiting on us so we all went up together We had a splendid time if it was Sunday. I went to church this evening. Charlie was there and he grinned after church we went to mail some letters and then I talked to Charlie a while.

St P’s Day. March 17.
This morning we washed and this afternoon I went up to Donaheys to get a polenaise and two sacks cut and fit. at noon I got a letter from Will Wehrle saying he might probably stop off at noon if he went to Indiana. I waited until half past one but he didnt come so I went and about four oclock here did’nt Will come walking up to Maggies he waited until I had my dress fit and then when we come down Sadie Geary was here. We got our suppers and talked awhile and then Will went home on the train. He took Sadie down home. He is the biggest fool ever I saw.

March 18.
We ironed today I was down to see what Sadie thought of Will. She says she is mashed on him. I was at home this evening. I think it is raining out now. I must stop and write a letter.

March 19. 1884.
This morning Beccie and I filled two ticks with straw and this afternoon I worked at an apron. this evening I wrote to Lynch and took my letter to the office. I saw Sadie Bell, got two letters today. Will Wehrle wants me to correspond with him again I did correspond with him for over two years. then we quit writing and now he wants to renew the correspondence I like him even better than Charlie or Bent.

March 20.
I churned this morning worked at my apron this afternoon. Sadie wanted me to go down and stay all night with her tonight I guess I will go.

March 21.
Well I did stay with Sadie last night and had lots of fun. we went to prayer meeting and went from there to Gearys Charlie and Ellsworth come in and stayed until ten oclock than Sadie and I sat and talked until eleven then when we went to bed our bed cord broke we had lots of fun.

March 22.
This was a lovely day I was down street this evening to Miss Gilsons then I was going to the office and met Sadie and Ellsworth I went down home with them and was there a while then come home and am now ready for bed.

March 23.
Was at Sunday school this morning at and intended going to church but it rained. Rained hard all morning it cleared up this evening and I went to prayer meeting after prayers I went to the office and then come home. got a letter from Will today.

March 24.
We washed today didnt do any thing particular this afternoon got a letter from Dice today. Was at home this evening.

March 25
Ironed today was at home all evening.

March 26.
I was down to see Sadie Geary this evening I didnt do much of any thing today I had a letter from Lynches wife this evening she dont say when she is coming over.

March 27.
I answered Wills and Dices letters today and took them to the train to mail. Het Dixon come down this evening We went to prayer meeting after prayers Charlie and I took a walk and then come home. Hettie stayed all night.

March 28.
Dixons Farm.
I come over here this morning with Het D. we walked over it is about two miles in the country from the station Maggie Donahey and Clara Sarver come over this afternoon. We went to the barn and the boys were there Will and Ed + Charley we acted the fool and had lots of fun. This evening we went out to see the lambs and the sheep. The dear little lambs they have. Maggie went home this evening Het and I went with her a piece. We went to bed about nine oclock.

Home. March 29.
We run around this morning and this afternoon we teased the boys. We got Ed to dig us some apples out of the hole and we washed them and after supper Charlie and Ed dressed and I came over home with them they were coming over to the stores. We had lots of fun coming home.

March 30.
I was not at Sunday school nor church this morning I was at church this evening Ellsworth is going to Michigan he starts tomorrow morning I bid him goodby tonight. Charlie was in a good humor tonight he is a jolly piece.

March 31.
This was a very pretty day. I went up to Donaheys and had my bronze silk cut and fit this afternoon. This evening I went down to Gearys to see how Sadie liked their new house they moved today. Their house will be very nice after it is all finished. it is not plastered yet. I got a letter from Will this morning.

April 1st 1884.
Black Lick.
This is all fools day and I wasnt fooled once. I didnt do much of any thing today This was Sallies birthday she is eight years old. I was at home all day today. This was a nice warm day.
Sunday March 2
April 2. 1884.
Beccie and I washed today but we didnt hang our clothes out because it got very stormy about dinner time and was real stormy all afternoon it is very cold and snowing out now. I was down at Gearys this evening and we got to talking about the fun we had down at singing last winter and had lots of fun all to our selves. got a letter from Bent today and one from Lidie P.

April 3rd. 1884.
It was a real cold stormy day today. This evening it good a little warmer. I was at prayer meeting tonight Sadie G. was up a little while. Charlie and I went down home with her and teased her about Ellsworth. We had lots of fun this evening

April 4 1884.
This was a warm nice day. Bec put out the clothes this morning and this afternoon we ironed Emma Sarver was here this afternoon I was at home all evening. I churned this morning.

April 5.
Didnt do much of any thing today. I finished my apron. Edna Meldren was here all after noon and stayed for supper. I was at home this evening Sadie Griffith and Lizzie Cusic were here a while this evening I got a letter from Sallie tonight she dont say when she is coming over.

April 6.
I was at Sunday school and church this morning and come over home with Sadie G. she said she had a letter from Ellsworth. this evening Em Sarver came in and wanted me to te go over to church with her I went but Charlie went to prayer meeting. when we come home I was with Sadie G.y. and Sadie Bell. Charlie was standing on Meldrens store porch he walked up with me and scolded me because I didnt go to prayer meeting and I scolded him because he didnt come over to church.

April 7.
It was a lovely day today so warm and nice out Beccie washed this morning this afternoon her and I ironed. I got two cards from Ellsworth today I wish I could see Charl to show them to him was down at the station tonight. Hettie Dixon went up to school tonight. I got a letter from Will this morning and one from Dice today.

April 8.
Its a rather showery day. but nice and warm. Mother went over to Simpsons this afternoon. I stamped a hat crown and began working it. Its going to be pretty.

April 9.
When I got up this morning the ground was covered with snow. It has been snowing hard all afternoon. But the snow melts as soon as it falls. I finished my hat crown today I was at home all evening.

April 10.
It was cold today. I did not do any thing in particular today. Was at prayer meeting this evening. Sadie was there with Sade Bell. Charlie and I walked down to the post office after prayers. Beccie and I had a big fight today.

April 11.
I churned and baked today this evening I went down to see Sadie G. We laughed and had lots of fun. There was two fellows come here for board today. I guess we will have one all the time the other went to Homer and will be here only on Sundays. Their names are Sutherland. they are cousins. I dont know what their first names are. They put on a great deal of style. Sadie G. and I are going up to Butlers next week some day.

April 12.
I worked all forenoon this afternoon I didnt do any thing. Sadie Griffith was here this evening and Liz C. We had music and dancing and had a very nice time The Messrs Sutherland are very nice gentlemen. The one that goes to Homer is much the most sensible the other is nice but he thinks he knows to much. he is rather conceity.

April 13.
Easter Sunday. This morning I got every thing ready for dinner and then went to church. Mr Stewert preached a very plain good sermon. Mother took the baby to church and had her baptised. Her name is Marian Beulah. Mrs Gerhart had two of her children baptised Frank Benjamin and Jacob Alfred. There is no church tonight Mr Stewert had to attend a funeral in Homer this afternoon. There was quite a crowd at prayer meeting. The Messrs Sutherland went over with us.

April 14.
We washed this morning and this afternoon I ironed I had a letter from Lynch today. He is not well at all. I had a letter from Will Wehrle this morning he is sick. He will be down on Wednesday evening if he is able to come.

April 15.
I didnt do much of any thing today only churn and get dinner. This afternoon I w fixed over a skirt. this evening I went to Cusics Ella Duncan was there and after I had been there a while I saw Sadie Geary coming up so I went over home Ella come over. And the Messrs Sutherland was here and we had a real jolly time. I had a letter from Hettie Dixon last evening.

April 16.
It rained and stormed all day today. Will Wehrle was to come down this evening but he didnt come I suppose it was on account of the rain. He says if he dont come down this week he will not be able to get down this month. I guess I will get a letter from him in the morning. Mr L O Sutherland went to Homer tonight J.H. intends going to Blairsville in the morning. Halsey intends going to Pittsburg in the morning we will have to get up early. I like J H Sutherland much better as he dont seem to try to put on so much style since you get to know him.

April 17.
I got a letter from Will Wehrle this morning he will be down on Saturday evening he says. Sadie Geary and I are going up to see Ellie Butler tomorrow if it dont rain. Charlie was up to prayer meeting this evening.
Butlers. April 18.
I had to church this morning before I could leave home. Mr J H Sutherland come up with us. We are having jolly fun. We intend staying at Side’s all night. Ella gave us each a goose egg and some pea fowl feathers and a porcupine quill We had a jolly good dinner. And we teased George so that he couldnt eat any dinner. Sade and Ell rode the horses up from the field. Sade fell off her horse.

Home. April 19.
Sadie and I went down to Sides after supper last night and Charlie come over. and we carried on high. After we went up stairs Charlie got an old sword and come running in our rooms and scared Sade. I laughed until I was weak. Oh the way Sadie did carry on. In the night Flora got the clock which was an illumed faced clock and she held it close to Sade’s face and I punched Sadie and when she opened her eyes the first thing she saw was the white face if this clock. Then early this morning the alarm went off and that scared her nearly out of her senses. We had lots of fun this morning this afternoon we left Side’s at two oclock and went to Butlers a little while and then Flo and Sadie and I went to Geoffreys and from there we come home we got home at a few minutes after six Well Wehrle was here we walked around and talked a little then. Then went down to call on Sadie Geary. We had lots of fun this evening. Will went up on the train.

April 20
Beccie and Mr J H and L O Sutherland and myself went to church this morning and we went again this evening. I went with L.O. and Charlie was there I told L.O. if he would please excuse me he might go home by him self. He said that was all right.

April 21.
We didnt wash today the gentlemen have gone. J H went to Blairsville and L.O. to Homer. I got a letter from Dice today. I have been expecting a letter from Sallie for a long time but have not got it yet. Will Wehrle brought me down a book on Saturday the name of it is Romola.

April 22.
We didnt wash today. I churned this morning this evening Mr L.O. Sutherland come just before the train came and J H come on the train Halsey come up and we got to acting the fool and we just put in a jolly time. I got a lot more cards from simple big Ellsworth Gerhard today.

April 23.
Beccie washed today I got dinner and scrubbed the porches and swept the yard a little. I got a letter from Sallie today she starts for here on Thursday morning (tomorrow) so she will be her tomorrow noon.

April 24.
We were up early this morning Beccie went out to meet Sallie. she is real pretty and very quiet I think I will like her very much. Liz and Ella Duncan were here this evening. Mr L O Sutherland is going away tomorrow and not coming back. I am awfully sorry.

April 25.
Beccie and I ironed this morning this evening we were home all evening.
April 26.
We baked pies and cakes today this evening Beccie Mr Sutherland Sallie and I started to take a walk and met Sadie Bell and Sadie Geary. when we come home Em Sarver Julia and Meal Lickert and Lizzie C were here. then Halsey and Al Lickert and Blair George come up with their violins and we had music but we adjourned early and went to bed.

April 27.
It was very warm today the thermometer was to eighty We went to the woods and took two field glasses along and Sallie and I went for mountain tea and met a snake. Sallie run and I hit it with a stone and when it began to wiggle I run to and the last I saw of it it was crawling down the bank in a hurry.

April 28.
We washed today I got a letter from Will and one from Bent today was at home this evening.

April 29.
We began to clean house today. We cleaned two rooms. I was at a party at Landfairs tonight Charlie and I drove over there was auite a crowd there went out driving with Clark in Halseys buggy and the trace broke. Halsy had to ride the horse home and Edna come home in a spring wagon They tried to stick her in with her Charlie and I but I told Charl if he took her home I would come home in the wagon. We got home before two.

April 30.
We cleaned one room today and part of another one. There was no prayer meeting tonight. They have the church ready for frescoe painters who are to come next week.

Black Lick May 1. 1884.
It is very warm today we cleaned two rooms today. was at home all evening. Ella Duncan was up. Sam Brady come here this evening to stay all night. I met him last July at Marion and like him very much.

May 2. 1884.
We didnt do any cleaning today but read up a little. This evening Sadie Bell and Sadie Geary Mr Sutherland and my self went fishing we had lots of fun, but didnt catch one fish Mr S. caught a crab. One of the frescoe painters come today a young fellow by the name of Kennedy.

May 4. 1884.
It rained hard all morning I did’nt go to Sunday School and this afternoon Mr S. and I took a book and went to the woods above the pond and read a while then this evening there was no prayer meeting. There was a little thunder storm tonight. I like Mr Kennedy real well.

May 5. 1884.
We washed today and this afternoon Beccie and I ironed. I got a package of satin patches from Bent Barr tonight for my crazy cushion. Got a letter from Will Wehrle this morning. It rained hard this evening.

May 6. 1884.
Rained nearly all day today. I was down at Gearys this evening. I got some pink satin this evening for a hat crown I intend working it with lavendar.

May 7.
It rained all day again today. We cleaned the hall today and the closets in mothers room and the dining room. I stamped my hat crown and worked a little on it tonight. It is the letter B. with with a spray of forget-me-nots on each side. with green leaves I think it will be pretty when its done.

May 8.
We cleaned the dining room today I churned this morning and this afternoon I wrote a letter then sewed carpet rags until supper time. This evening Liz C. and Ella D. and Ollie B. and Bec Sallie Het and I all went over to see the church. The ceiling is done it looks very nice not like the same church. I finished my hat crown tonight It is pretty.

May 9. 1884.
I got dinner and baked three cakes this afternoon. This evening I went down to see Lidie Pierce got a letter from Dice today.

May 10. 1884.
I churned this morning this afternoon I sewed carpet rags. This evening Het and Liz and I went fishing. Charlie Sides come up the rail road and stopped and fished awhile a while with us but we did’nt catch any thing. Ellsworth Gerhart is at home. I didnt see him but Beccie did. Charlie come home with us.

May 11. 1884.
I was not at church this morning. This afternoon Sallie + Beccie + Mr Sutherland Sadie Geary Halsey and I all walked up to the chapel. We met Ellsworth Gerhart he and I walked down together I was at church tonight Charl and I walked down street and met Sade and Ellsworth we all walked up the rail road a piece. We had lots of fun.

May 12. 1884.
We washed this morning this afternoon Pa got Meldrens spring wagon and took Beccie and Sallie and I to Blairsville. We brought Alice Morehouse out with us. This evening we all took a walk and had lots of fun. Bob Stewert come here to board this week he is a real nice quiet fellow. Got a letter from Will this evening

May 13. 1884.
It was a nice morning and I churned and got dinner Beccie was over helping to clean the church. This afternoon it rained hard all afternoon and evening I was at home all evening. I got a letter from Bent this evening.

May 14. 1884.
It was cold but nice all day today I ironed some this morning this afternoon I didnt do any thing in particular. Sadie Geary was here a little while this evening. I was at home all evening. Sallie and I are going away two weeks from today on the 28th I think. We will be in Bellefonte on Decoration day, then leave there on the second of June.

May 15. 1884.
Sallie got a letter from Lynch today and he said he was sick and wanted her to start right away. He sent a letter with money on Tuesday but Sallie has never got it yet I have my trunk packed and am all ready to start as soon as Sallie gets her letter. I suppose we will go tomorrow evening.

May 16. 1884.
We were busy all day this after noon I went down to bid Sadie G. good by and all the girls. We got to Altoona at nine oclock and come up to Aunt Mand’s. I forgot to wear my rings I left them at home on the wash stand.

I weigh 101 lbs.
May 17. 1884
Bellefonte Centre County.
We left Altoona this morning at 7.25 and got here at ten. I like all of Longs folks very much. This afternoon Sallie and Mollie Long and Edith McAbe and I were out walking This is a lively place. We leave here on Monday Morning at ten oclock.

Bellefonte. May 18.
We went to church this morning and this afternoon we took a walk This evening we went to church again and after church we came right home I am dreadfully tired.
Roanoke Vir.

May 20.
Monday morning we left Bellefonte at ten oclock and made connection at Harrisburg. The scenery is lovely down the cu Cumberland Valley road. I noticed a great many log houses. along the way. We run into quite a storm between Harrisburg and Hagerstown. We changed cars at Hagerstown and come down through the Shenandoah Valley. We traveled all night did’nt get here until 4.40 this morning. Lynch was not expecting us until this evening. The house is very small only two rooms in it. And dirty Oh it was awful. We cleaned up a little today not very much though. We were out walking this evening. This is a nice big town and I am sure I wont get home sick. Mr Hodges Lynch’s helper was here this morning. Mr Steele was here this evening He is a mighty stylish look little fellow. but he is horrid ugly. Yet I think I would like him. I wrote three letters today one to Beccie + one to Sadie Geary and one to Will Wehrle. I am going to write to Charlie and Bent tomorrow evening. I cannot help but think that one year from today Jim McElwain died Poor Jim I cant help but think of him.

Roanoke May 21.
We cleaned house today scrubbed two rooms and put down a carpet. I sat in the door a few minutes this evening and there was about fifty niggers went past just while I was there. I went to pull a tack out of the carpet today and the old thing flew up and hit me in the eye making an ugly red mark on my eye ball. We have the house pretty well read up now. We did not go out any place this evening. It was just one year today May 22. since Harry Altman died. Poor Harry he was a noble fellow. One of God’s noble men.
Roanoke. May 22.
We didnt do much of any thing today I wrote a letter to Charlie Sides today. Sallie and I were up town this afternoon. This evening we went into Mrs Caswells and had a pleasant time. It was awfully hot here today I cannot help but think if it is as hot here now what will it be in the middle of summer. The roses here are out in bloom. Harry Steele was here this evening he brought Sallie and I each a big piece of cake that he had got from his home in Lancaster. Pa. I am mashed on him. Dear me I wish I would get a letter from my dear old Sadie Geary. I like these people here splendidly. They are awfully nice and friendly. We had ice cream up at Mrs Caswells this evening.

Roanoke May 23.
We didnt do much of any thing today. We were not out any place this evening. I have met a Mr Hodges and Mr Steele and another young fellow whose name I cant think of just now. We had ice cream this evening but I didnt think it was very good as the cream was not rich enough.

Roanoke May 24.
We didnt do much of any thing this afternoon this morning we baked a cake and some pies. This evening we went up street after we come back Harry Steele come in and we had a good time. It rained today hard.

Roanoke May 25.
We went to Methodist church this morning this afternoon Harry Steele come down and we went for a walk. We saw two niggers a man and woman making love to each other the woman was sitting on his knee and he had his arm around her squeezing her for dear life This evening Mr McQuead and Mr Miller come in. Harry was here and we had a jolly time I laughed u until my sides are sore. I wrote to Bent this evening

May 26. 1884.
I began to make a crazy patch today. We intended to wash but Mr Wertz didnt send the tubs down. I met him on Saturday evening he is awfully nice. We were not out any place this evening It rained.

May 27.
I am neary done with my crazy patch. Sallie got two quart of cherries this afternoon and her and Lynch and I eat them all. Lynch and I went to the opera house to a minstrel troup this evening and as the entertainment was almost over a storm come up and we left as soon as we heard the thunder. just as we got out it began to rain and we went down to Christ Wertz’es in the rain and Crist loaned us his umbrella. I got a letter from Will Wehrle this evening I was rather disappointed at not receiving one from Beccie or Sadie Geary. Lynch said Harry Steele had^ got a piece of steel in his hand today. I thought he would be up this afternoon but he was’nt I am mashed on him.

Roanoke May 28.
We washed today but didnt all of our clothes out on account of the rain. Harry was here this afternoon a while We were up street this evening. I got a letter from Sadie Geary and one from Beccie today they were very welcome.

Roanoke May 29
Sallie put out the rest of the clothes this morning this afternoon I ironed a little. We are going over to the river to fish on Saturday. Lewis Hodges Harry Steele Lynch Sallie Alice Wilson and myself. Sallie and I were up street this evening.

May 30.
This is Decoration day there is nothing going on here I guess they dont keep it in the South. We finished ironing this morning and we baked a lot of cakes for the fishing excursion We were up to Caswells this evening.

May 31.
We had a good time today we walked over to the river and fished awhile. Then we ate our dinner after dinner Harry and I went over to the other side of the river and Lynch and Sallie and Lewis stayed in the boat and fished. They had the boat nearly all afternoon then when Harry and I got it we kept it until evening We had lots of fun and Sallie caught one small eel. Mr and Mrs Hanard teased us good after we got home. Mr H. said the reason we could’nt catch any fish was that we eat to much and got to lazy to fish.

Roanoke June 1.
It was so warm this morning that I did not care to go to church John McQuade and Dan Miller and some other fellow I forget his name was here this morning. Harry come over after dinner and we went out walking Harry and I. Lynch and Sallie eat to much dinner and were both to sleepy to go. This evening we went up to the Rorer Park and sat and talked a while then come home. Harry was here until twelve oclock.

June 2.
I was sick all morning Sallie washed this morning and I read up the house and got dinner. After dinner we ironed and got all done. We were up street this evening and Mr Mitchell (one of the clerks at Mr Wertz’s who I am mashed on) treated us to candy and talked and was very kind to us. We were up at Caswells and had ice cream this evening.

June 3. 1884
I finished my crazy patch today. This afternoon I went up street and got three yards of lace and three hand kerchiefs. We were at the firemans fair this evening. I got four letters today one from Beccie one from Sadie one from Charlie and one from Dice.

June 4.
This morning Mrs Caswell and Mrs Uber and myself were at the Baptist church to see a couple married The bride was dressed in a black bunting and a jersey jacket and black hat and lace around her neck The groom wore the usual black broad cloth they looked very nice. I wrote some letters this afternoon This evening we were at the fair. I have not saw Harry since Sunday. I met Mr Mitchell up street this evening he bowed and smiled.
June 5.
I didnt do any thing in particular today I went to the fair this evening with Mrs Huber and Mrs Caswell Mrs McCoy and Mrs Hanard. Sallie said she would be up as soon as Lynch come home from the rer river where he had gone with Mr Huber to set an outline. Sallie didnt come but Harry Steele had been here and he come up and brought me home. He asked me to go to the Luray with him on the 14th of this month I guess I will go. But first I will have to see what Lynch says about it.

June 6.
Did’nt do any thing today. Lynch and Sallie says for me to go with Harry by all means. Dan Miller and Charlie Highlig was here this evening.

June 7.
Did’nt do any thing in particular today Harry was here this evening until after eleven. I do wonder why Bent dont write I wrote to him just after I got here. and have never heard from him yet. Harry and I are going over to see the transfer table tomorrow.

June 8.
It was rather late when we got up this morning. We did’nt go to church. It thundered and looked so much like rain this evening that I would’nt go out when Harry come over for me. We went up street this evening Alice Wilson + Harry + I. We had ice cream and cake. then took a promenade then come back home.

June 9.
It rained hard today. Was in the house all day. This evening we were into Caswells a little while then come home.

June 10.
Sallie washed this morning. this afternoon we seeded cherries This evening Lynch went to the office and brought me three letters one from Beccie one from Sadie and one from Charlie How welcome are letters from dear friends at home. Harry was here a little while he gota cake from home and brought us each down a piece. We had ice cream this evening.

June 11.
We didnt do any thing in particular today. This afternoon we went up street and paid all the store bills and every thing Lynch owed. I was weighed today and weigh 101½ lbs. I have just gained ½ pound since I come here. Harry took me to the opera house tonight to see the Two Orphans It was grandly beautiful. I was at the post office this morning got a letter from Will Wehrle.

June 12.
We ironed this morning this after noon I wrote some letters one to Sadie one to Beccie and one to Charlie. I was at the office this evening got a letter from Sallie and Het. It has rained every day this week.

June 13.
I worked at a crazy patch today. It is going to look very pretty. Harry was down a while this evening.

June 14.
Well may we exclaim “wonderful are the works of God” Any one after seeing the wonderful cave at Luray will wonder still more at the works of God. The cave was one of the greatest and grandest curiosities ever I saw. I cannot describe it so I will not try. But as I think about it I can see it all over again. We left here at seven this morning got back at half past eleven. The distance is one hundred and fifty miles. We got there at half past twelve and left at six. Am very tired and sleepy.

June 15.
I got up this morning at half past eight eat my breakfast and helped do up the work I swept the room and then went up stairs to make the beds. I was so sleepy that I threw my self on the bed and went to sleep and the next thing I heard Sallie was calling me to dinner. I wrote to Het and Sallie and to Will Wehrle this afternoon. Harry was over this evening. He makes me tired. It rained today all day.

June 16.
This turned out to be a nice day. It was very dark and cloudy this morning we didnt wash. Sallie and I was up street this morn afternoon To the freight depot the carpet has not come yet. But will be here tomorrow.

June 17.
We washed today. this afternoon we went to the freight depot the carpet was there Charles. (Mr Wertz’s nigger driver) brought it down for us. in it was my dress and rings and one dollar. I got a letter from Charlie today.

June 18.
I did’nt do any thing in particular today I got a letter from Dice and one from Sadie G. this evening it was very warm today.

June 19.
I got a postal from Mother today she said she sent me a jersey that she got for Sallie but it was to big for her. I did not get the jersey yet though. I had a half a dozen photo graphs taken today cabinet sized I think they will be good.

June 20.
I got a letter from Beccie and one from Bent Barr today I got the jersey this evening it is red and fits me nicely.

June 21.
It was fearful hot today I have gorged my self with ice water and ice cream all evening and still am nearly boiled I got one of my pictures today the rest are not done yet. Lord but its hot. I weigh 102.

June 22.
I was at church this morning Its awful warm today I wrote to Mother and Beccie today. There was a dreadful thunder storm this evening. it cooled the air considerable.

June 23.
Sallie washed today. I was up at the office this afternoon but got no mail we were over at Caswells w this evening. Alice and I went into camps store and got weighed I weigh 102 lbs. and Alice 111 lbs. Had lots of fun at Caswells with Mr Dickson he is a widower and is the biggest fool ever I saw.

June 24.
Sallie was sick with the cramp all day. I made six glasses of dew berry jelly this morning. it got awful nice I was up to the store this morning and this afternoon I went to the post office and got two letters one from Sadie and one from Charlie. I got my pictures this v after noon they are good. Harry Steel was here this evening his brother was very badly hurt on the rail road he is going home tomorrow.

June 25.
We ironed today and this afternoon I went to the post office and got a letter from J.H. Sutherland. I got a postal from Beccie this evening she is in Illinois.

June 26.
Did’nt do any thing in particular today I wrote some letters and sent some of my pictures away. I sent Hettie and Sadie one and Charlie one. I have not heard from Will Wehrle this week yet I wonder why he dont write. I have dreamed so much about him of late. I wonder if he can be sick He surely must be or he would have written before this.

June 27.
Didnt do any thing in particular this morning. only helped Sallie put down the carpet up stairs. This afternoon Mrs Hayward and Dice and Sallie and I all went over to the river for berries we had splendid fun. I laughed until I was nearly sick at Mrs H. climbing the mountain.

June 28.
I went up to the store this morning and this afternoon we were at Caswells. We are all so tired today that we can scarcely navigate. Mrs Hayward says her legs and her back is nearly broke Alice had cramp in her legs so bad last night that she had to get up and rub them with bay rum. I am so tired today. We were up to Mr Wertzes store this evening. Mr Mitchell treated us to frenc caramels. Mr Wertz was awfully jolly. Harry was here this evening a little while. He is coming over this evenin tomorrow evening and bring another fellow with him.

June 29.
It rained nearly all day. Mr McQuaid was here this evening Harry was down and brought Mr Myers. He is a very pretty young fellow and is much nicer and more intelligent than Harry Steel and if I can I intend making a mash on him. Harry or no Harry.

June 30.
It rained today nearly all day. I was not out any place only to the post office I got a letter from Bent today.

Roanoke. July 1.
It rained hard all day. I got four letters today one from Sadie. one from Charlie one from Flora S. and one from Will Wehrle.

July 2. 1884.
Rain again for a change. Was up at Mr Wertzes store today but Mr Mitchell was not in and I didnt get to see him. I was at Caswells this afternoon had lots of fun.

July 3. 1884.
Well it did’nt rain for a wonder. And I hope it will be a nice day tomorrow there are to be some fun going on. The firemen have a big parade. It was awfully warm today.

July 4. 1884.
One year ago today I was in Marion Pa. and little did I think on that day that in another year I would be in Roanoke Va. I had a very nice time seeing the parade today but had no fun after that. I have enjoyed my self in a very quiet way today. and have perhaps had more fun than I would had I been some place else. It was cool and nice all fornoon but it began to rain about three oclock and rained steady until after seven. The fire works was a wonder to the virginians and niggers who had never seen any thing of the like but to us they were nothing all they had was common fire crackers. roman candles and large rockets they were all one color. So it was nothing grand. Its the greatest wonder in the world but Harry was not down this evening. I got a good long letter from Het today.

July 5. 1884.
We didnt do any thing in particular today. We went up to Caswells this evening. and were there a little while and Dan Miller come down. We come down home and sat out by the door all evening. We had lots of fun. I had a letter from Beccie today she is enjoying herself in Illinois.

July 6. 1884.
We went for mulberries today. Lynch and Sallie Dan Miller and I. We had a jolly old time. walked about six miles. We got mul berries black berries and huckle berries and green apples and lots of other things. flowers and four leaf clovers I like Dan very much. He is a great big fellow. larger than Lynch.

July 7. 1884.
Lynch was sick all night last night he did’nt go to work this morning Sallie and I teased him all day about it. I guess Harry is mad at me. He come down last night and Dan was here. Sallie went up to Caswells and got some ice cream and we had some chocolate cake and we sat and talked and laughed a while after we got through with our cream. and all at once Harry jumped up and took his hat and started out the door and then he looked back and said “I’m going home now good night.” and that was the last we saw of him. Well I am not sorry.

July 8. 1884.
We washed today and this afternoon I went to the office I got a letter from Charlie one from Sadie and one from Ellsworth. I didnt do any thing in particular this afternoon. The mosquitoes bite awful tonight. When I got my letters today and read them all I seemed almost as though we were all together again.

Roanoke July 9.
We ironed today. And this afternoon Sallie and I worked at a quilt. We were not out any place this evening. Mr Mitcher is very sick with fever of some kind poor fellow. I am so sorry.

July 10.
I baked a ginger bread this morning and Sallie baked some pies we served this afternoon. Lynch went over to He the river tonight with Mr Huber Sallie and I were at Caswells a while and then come down and went to bed. or are ready to go.

July 11.
We got up early this tonight morning and got breakfast over and went for berries Mrs Huber + Mrs Hayward Sallie and I. We got caught in a hard rain but we got about ten quart a piece. We had lots of fun. We went into an old fellows field we were going to cross it and when we were about half through the old fellow yelled at us. he said, “Whar you goin” Mrs Huber said to the river. He says “that aint the road come out of that.” so we got out We didnt tell Lynch because he would make fun of us. Sallie and I must have made Harry mad for he has not been down since Sunday.

Roanoke Virginia
July 12. 1884.
I made jelly today made nineteen glasses. I went to the post office this after noon but got no mail Dan Miller and Johnny McQuaid was here this evening We had ice cream and water melon. We had lots of fun. Johnny is the funniest fellow ever I seen. I am mashed on Dan Miller completely gone on him. I saw Jim Myers this evening. Harry was not down tonight. I guess he is mad

July 13. 1884.
I was not at church this morning. This afternoon I was in the house all the time. Dan was over this evening and we went out for a walk Dan was here until twelve oclock. Mrs Huber Mrs Caswell Mrs Hanard Sallie and my self are going for berries in the morning. Dan and Lynch and Sallie and I are going on Wednesday, if it dont rain.

July 14. 1884.
We got up real early this morning and were over in the berry patch two milles from town when the seven oclock whistle blew We got twelve quarts of berries. and two quarts of huckle berries. We had lots of fun. Got a letter from Bent this evening.

July 15
We washed today. this afternoon we made jam. I got a postal from Will Wehrle today. Their baseball club that he belongs to (Magentas) are in the north western part of Penna playing ball. They played in Titusville on Friday the sore was Magentas 5 Titusville 3. They play oi Oil City on Saturday.

July 16 1884.
We did’nt get started for berries until after seven this morning. We took a lunch with us and stayed nearly all day. We got 24 quart of br black berries and Dan and I gathered two quart of huckle berries. We had lots of fun. Got a letter from Will Wehrle today they didn’t play in Oil City on account of rain. They intended playing in Meadville on Monday.
July 17.
We ironed today. Sallie had a letter from mother yesterday saying Mrs Pierce had twins. I was never so surprised in my life. We squeezed out our berries for wine tonight. Dan was here and helped squeeze. We had lots of fun. I painted Dans face with juice and he got after me to paint mine but I coaxed him not to. He didn’t stay long after the berries were squeezed. I had a postal from Will today they played in Meadville on Monday and got beat. The score was Meadville 11. Magentas 6. Will says their club has the worst luck this season of any that travels. I think the Magentas are getting discouraged. They play Oil City next.

July 18.
We put our wine in the keg this morning I was at the office this morning I got a letter from Dice and a postal from Will. Oil City beat them. The score was Oil City 11 Magentas 6. I went out and took a walk this afternoon I got a postal from Will this afternoon The Magentas were beaten again in NewCastle. Score 13 and 6 in favor of NewCastle. I am sorry they have had such bad luck. Will didnt say where they would play their next game.

July 19. 1884.
We were up street this afternoon and went to the bank and got Lynches check cashed then we paid off all the bills and went into some of the stores and bought some things.Sallie got some flannels and muslin for the expected heir of this manor. I made a mash on a Mr Woodson. he is cross eyed in one eye Dan was here this evening he stayed until 1 P.M. when he got up to go I said why it aint late yet and he said no it was real early Then when I saw what time it was I told him I would not ask him to stay any longer. I like Dan ever so much.

July 20.
Didnt do anything today Harry Steele was here a few minutes this afternoon I treated him pretty cool. This evening Mrs Hayward and Mrs Huber Sallie Lynch and I walked over to the hospital I didn’t know last night we were going or I would have told Dan to come over and go with us.

July 21.
I helped Sallie wash today and this afternoon I worked embroidery There was a fire this afternoon a stable burned down. We were not out anywhere this evening. Got a postal from Will this eve. They were bead in Youngstown Ohio.

July 22.
I didnt do any thing but work embroidery today. Dan was over this evening. I find him wonderfully entertaining Time seems to fly unusually fast while he is here It was after one when he left tonight. One fault I find with him is that in spite of all you say or do he will turn down the light. I got three letters today from Sadie Charl and Ellsworth.

July 23.
We didnt do any thing but work fancy work today I went to sleep this afternoon and nearly sweat myself away. Lynch and Dan went over to the river to swim this evening Sallie and I helped Mrs Hayward squeeze berries for wine. I ti I told Dan it was not fair for him and Lynch to go off and make us do all the squeezing he said he would be back in time to squeeze a little but we were all done when they got back. We had a splendid big water melon it was awful good. Dan left at 12.

July 24.
Sallie and I ironed this morning. This has been the hottest day we have had yet and its just terrible hot tonight.

July 25.
Mr Duncan from home was here today he brought Sal down to Sagerstown M.d. and then he come on down here to see the town. He says he is going to send Pa down as soon as he goes back.

July 26.
Didnt do any thing in particular today I was up street today and got me a cheese cloth dress. I am going to make it next week. Dan was here this evening he left at twelve

July 27.
Lynch and I went to church this morning we met Mr Mitchell and Mr Bright This evening Dan was over and we took a walk then come home. Dan stayed until 12.

July 28.
I went up street this afternoon. I was at the store Mr Mitchell waited on me he was very pleasant. Mr Emunds the new clerk in Hartzes is too stiff backed.

July 29.
finished my dress today it looks nice I made a plain waist and straight skirt shirred on the waist. We were at Caswells a while today I got two letters one from Charl + one from Ellsworth. The mosquitoes are eating me up.

July 30
Mrs Huber + Mrs Hayward Mrs Robinson and my self all went over to the hospital after berries this afternoon we didnt get back until after six this evening. Dan was here tonight. He stayed until after twelve. I like him immensely

July 31.
We ironed this morning this afternoon I wrote some letters and took to the office this evening I was up to Caswells Mr Caswell has the Maleria fever. He is real bad with it.
h J

Roanoke Va Aug 1.
Didnt do any thing in particular today. I baked some cookies and worked embroidery that is all. Was up at Caswells this evening I like Alice Wilson awfully much.

August 2.
I went up to the store and machine office this morning. And this afternoon I went to the post office I got a letter from Sade G. this morning. I didnt get any for myself this afternoon The clerk said he would have me one this evening if he had to write it himself. Dan was here this evening he stayed until 1.

August 3.
We didnt go to church this morning as it was so very warm. Lynch and Dan went to the river this afternoon. This evening Dan and I went out walking Dan gave me one of his photo’s this evening it is a cabinet but not very good I wrote to Sadie today.

August 4.
I helped Sallie to wash this morning this afternoon I sewed at my dress. This evening we went up to Caswells and had lots of fun.

Aug 5.
We ironed today I finished my dress today I was at the office today and got three letters one from Charlie one from Ellsworth and one from Will Wehrle. Had lots of fun with the clerk at the post office.

Aug 6.
I went up to the store this morning Mr Mitchell waited on me he was very pleasant, he always is. I got a letter from Dice today just such a good long letter as she used to write Dan was here this evening we were out walking then he come in and stayed until half past twelve I am getting very much in love with Dan. I wonder what would poor old Charl say if he knew I like Dan better than I do him. Ah well neither Dan nor Charlie must ever know it.

Aug 7
I made my self a new cheese cloth waist the other was to tight and bursted. I worked embroidery today. was ot out any where this evening.

August 8.
Was at home all day I worked embroidery This ripped my red Jersey a little was up the back seam and put a bow of satin ribbon on it I done that because it was to tight around the bottom I read a splendid book today by Miss Murlock John Halifax Gentleman. Lynch says Dan was sick today he thinks he is taking fever. I hope not.

Aug. 9.
Didnt do anything in particular today. Dan was here this evening he is feeling alright again. It rained awfully tonight.

Aug 10.
It rained today so I didnt go to church. I didnt do much of any thing today we didnt get up until after nine. Dan was here this evening We are going over to a nigger settlement called Old Lick some evening soon.

Aug 11.
It looked so for rain this morning that we didnt wash It rained this evening.

Aug 12.
We didnt wash today. Mr Huber is is putting a fence between his lot and Caswells so we will be all boarded in. Dan and I took our stroll this evening we went about three miles and Oh the niggers. I never saw the like in my life. We had a very pleasant time.
Aug 13.
We washed today I wrote a letter this afternoon. This evening Sallie and I were at Caswells I went up street with Mrs Hayward met two gentlemen Mr Hickey and Mr Rossen. After we come back Alice Wilson and I went over to the dancing platform where I met Mr Ike Miller Dans brother. Ever so many fellows asked us to dance but we would’nt do it. but Oh we had fun.

Aug 14. 1884.
We ironed this morning This afternoon I went over to New Town to call on a lady whom I used to know in Altoona. She is Mrs Kuhns now she used to be Junie Greene. She was glad to see me and envited me to a picnic on Saturday. Dan was here this evening. We went out for a walk then come home and talked awhile. Dan did’nt stay very long.

Aug 15. 1884.
Junie told me yesterday I didn’t need to bake any thing for the picnic but I thought it would look kind of funny if I didnt so am now engaged in baking a chocolate cake. I will take it over to Kuhns this evening and let Junie put it in her basket. I went over but didnt take the cake. Junie said she would put it with hers.

Aug 16.
I went over to Kuhns about half past seven and we didnt get started until nine There was two wagon loads and a carriage load we had lots of fun. I don’t remember the names of near all that I met. I met a Sarah Wilson I dont know whether she is married or single. A Miss Gorden two Miss Hoovers. Miss Stephen Miss Ward and a whole parcel of other girls whose names I dont remember. The gentlemen were W Mr Gallinay Mr Hoover Mr Camp bell Mr Mack Mr Burk Mr Ballyhac Mr Tinker and quite a lot more. but I forget them. I made a mash on Mr Gallinay I danced ever so many sets with him he is rather old bald and grey but dances well. We had a splendid time old the fiddlers they took out were drunk and the men went to Salem and got three nigger fiddlers in the mean time we danced to the music of an accordean and a banjo. Dan was here when I come home. I had a letter from Beccie today.

Aug 17.
I was to tired to go to church t so I slept all day. Dan and I took a walk this evening I wrote to Beccie today.

Aug 18.
We washed today I didnt do any thing this evening I was not out any where.

Aug 19.
This was pay day I was up street to the bank this afternoon to get Lynches check cashed. There is a circus here tomorrow Dan and I are going in the after noon. I am neary through with my first book for this year and will now begin another one which I hope will have accounts of as much fun as thas one has. Tra La

To my chum. As a friend I wish that in each and every undertaking in life meet with success. And in choosing friends and assosiates may you ever be guided by a higher power than your own. And may it never be your bitter lot to be deceived by those in whom you have placed your trust. May the golden pleasures

[And there it ends.]  Return to Introduction

Kate’s 1884 Diary – Introduction

Kate J. Gardner, my great-grandmother, was 19 years old when she began this diary January 1, 1884.  (See genealogy below.)  I received the book from my mother when she was moving from one place to another and wanted me to keep some heirlooms safe for her.  It sat on a shelf with a few other ancient volumes for ten years before I even tried to read a page.  The cover is leather on cardboard.  The pages are ledger lined and bound with string.  It measures about 9 cm by 15 cm by 1.3 cm in thickness, or 3 1/2 x 6 x 1/2 inches.  In fact, the photo of the brownish cover, below, below the photo, shows up actual size on my computer screen.

Kate J. Gardner, right, with her son Richard Ivan Miller holding his daughter Dorothy Mae Miller, about summer 1926 assuming Dorothy to be a little over a year old

I transcribed this diary to a publishable form because it needs to be read, and the original, fragile bound writing book cannot safely or practically be passed around to as many people as need to see it.

This book is not fiction.  It is real.  Every word from the diary is here (in the posts that follow), and only the words from the diary, including the errors Kate Gardner made in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and so forth.  If I have succeeded as I had hoped, then each scan of a pair of pages in her own hand is accompanied by a transcription of the text on those same pages.

I transcribed it, also, because some pages are so faint that they could barely be photocopied or scanned, and to present the diary as mere scans would have made the reading tedious and more daunting than it is while reading from the original paper.  I am confident that I have captured every word she wrote.  Some words required a few moments of serious study before I realized what they were, so faint has some of her writing become over time, (and may have faded further as I have had it open so much).  It needs to be read by every one of Kate Gardner’s descendents and by anyone else, studying American history perhaps, who is interested in the historical footnote it offers.

After letting it sit for about ten years, I finally read it.  I was immediately impressed by her penmanship and her obvious formal education.  While she usually used “come” for “came” and “done” for “did” and had a few more colloquialisms like that, she almost consistently spelled “too” correctly when usage called for that spelling (at least for the first few months, then she grew lazy and left off the second ‘o’ consistently); words such as “congestion,” “masquerade,” “frescoe,” and “navigate” are sprinkled effortlessly through her work.  I even had to look one up, when, on July 29 she wrote of how she had “shirred” something while sewing.

Whenever I read her words I’m inclined to breeze right along, the somewhat speedy reader that I am, but I am reminded, looking at her script, that these pages were written slowly — slowly in order to be legible, which obviously mattered for its own sake, but not so slowly as to be grammatically perfect or formal.  This diary is informal and personal.

It strikes me as not a little remarkable that, among my mother and her four siblings, she obtained the diary, then I.  But it is equally remarkable that Kate, and then perhaps her son and daughter-in-law (my mother’s parents) kept it safe for over fifty years, until she died in 1935, and didn’t destroy or otherwise bequeath it during that time.

Written with a quill and inkwell, my great grandmother’s script is elegant.  It also contains some interesting quirks.  She only occasionally ended a sentence with a period, although it’s likely that I missed a few due to the faintness of the writing.  Her capital letters, used correctly most of the time, are exquisite.  She only occasionally used an apostrophe in a contraction, and then usually before the ‘n’, not after it.  Either may have been in vogue.  I found one place (August 3) where she inserted an apostrophe in a plural: photo’s.

Her name is written in the same faint, fine quill on the tan leather cover of the book, but so faintly that I didn’t discover it until I had been reading it for several days.  Beneath her name, Black Lick is visible, and below that, I believe Pennsylvania is spelled out.  It’s invisible on the photo below.  There is some more writing toward the bottom of the front cover, but unless there is a forensic technique to make it stand out, it will never more be discernible.

Diary cover

After my first reading of the beginning of the diary, after encountering Black Lick and other place names, including Homer City and Hollidaysburg, I looked them up on the Internet and then went immediately to an atlas to see where in Pennsylvania they lay — a few miles east of Pittsburgh in some pleasantly hilly terrain.  Black Lick and Homer City are still mere hamlets as America measures settlements.  I didn’t know until making this search for their collective names that Black Lick was in Pennsylvania nor that that was where Kate had lived for some substantial time after she was born.  It’s interesting, I suppose, that her place of birth is given as Blair, Pennsylvania.  It is unclear whether this means Blair Township or Blair County.  The county includes the city of Altoona and, remarkably, also the townships of Woodbury and North Woodbury.  Hollidaysburg is in Blair County, but Black Lick and Homer City are further west in nearby Indiana County.

The first two pages were written in pencil.  Then Kate — or someone else trying to be helpful — went over it with a quill afterward, and it’s still legible.

In transcribing the diary, I chose to retain every idiosyncrasy I possibly could.  She started out writing that it is “Dictated” to her dearest friends, but I believe she meant to write that it was “Dedicated” to them.  I’ve retained her spellings (with the rare mistake, such as “bigest” for “biggest” and her lapses in capitalization, a lower case letter on a word following a period, “papa” for “Papa”).

I created a PDF edition to mimic the font that resembles her script, what I could call my enhanced version.  To distinguish it from the plain text version I retained, to a faithful degree, the same words per page that she had written.  It may seem like a hokey result, but it gives everyone the chance to see it as she saw it herself, at least in her mind’s eye: elegant script on white paper.  This PDF file can be obtained by contacting me.

I painstakingly retained the original errors.  Look, for instance, at March 30, then at April 2.  At the top of the page on April 2 she wrote ‘home’ and crossed it out.  At the top of the page on March 30 she wrote it again and didn’t cross it out.  When she wrote it at the top of April 2, she was merely putting down the last word of her entry for March 29 but had obviously turned two leaves in the book when she intended to turn one.

At one point she clearly wrote “auite” for “quite,” and I retained it, but I think the tail of the ‘q’ was truncated when the quill hit a snag in the paper or swooped down and back so quickly that no ink flowed in the loop.  I found another couple of examples almost like it but there was a rudimentary tail on each of them, so I gave them credit for being ‘q’.  At another point she repeated the word “with” and I retained it.  She wrote “awhile a while” and I retained that as well.  She crossed out letters with a neat double line, which may or may not be replicated faithfully with the computer font you will see in the PDF version.

It surprises me, given her overall good spelling and her proximity to Pittsburgh that she dropped the ‘h’ from Pittsburg when she wrote it (Feb 3).  Among the few mistakes she made I found “envited” for “invited,” “awhile” instead of “a while,” “with” instead of “wish.”  I point out these examples just to make it clear that they are hers, not my errors in transcribing.

I’ve retained her precise style of writing the dates.  Early in January she slipped in a few 1883s but then went back to writing 1884 or ‘84, never bothering to correct the few dates that contained the mistake.  She repeated the word “is” once, on August 12, where it was the last word on one line and then the first word on the next.

It was difficult to tell whether she made a period at the end of a sentence.  For the first fifty days or so it seems she didn’t bother, but just when I’d think it had been omitted I’d find a tiny dot.  It was her habit, and perhaps she had been thus trained, to put the tiny, faint period just below the end of the last letter.  I may have missed a few, but look at the scans of some of her pages and you’ll see the challenge to find them.  In mid February she became more careful to include them, even after the “Feb.”  She also became more careful to add an apostrophe before the ‘n’ in contractions, but not consistently.  And the apostrophe does show up in the right place in a rare instance.


The diary runs from January 1 through August 19.  I found only two dates when she failed to write in her book: May 3 and May 19.  The last page is written in pencil, as was the first.  That’s one reason I suspect that the last page was written at the same time as the first, but there is another reason.  The first page is dedicated to “Myself + Chum.”  I first thought this said “Myself + Chums” — the faint extension after the final ‘m’ could be an ‘s’.  But the final page contains an inscription that starts: “To my Chum,” and on January 1 she writes that Sadie Geary is her chum and that they are each keeping a diary for the year.


There are 96 sheets in the little ledger book that became the diary.  August 19 fills the first side of the 96th sheet.  The inscription “To my Chum” covers the second side — but it ends abruptly in mid-thought: “May the golden pleasures”… I don’t know whether there were a few more pages (97-100?) which fell out, nor whether there were any subsequent diaries picking up where this one leaves off.  I rather doubt that either is the case.


Kate turned twenty on January 27, 1884, and this was the year when she met my great-grandfather Dan Miller, whom she introduces to her diary just as she was introduced to him.  (A “Mr Miller” first appears on May 25.)

It’s remarkable also to me that Kate, just as “kids” today, writes almost exclusively about herself and her “chums.”  Hardly any mention of her parents is made.  No description of the towns or the house she lived in; no mention of the outhouse (how cold it might have been).  She often speaks of doing chores — “I baked swept scrubbed churned and cleaned the lamps” — and regularly mentions going to prayers or singing.  It’s interesting, too, how many things that were features of her life are still common in ours: Groundhog Day, for instance, and sending valentines on Saint Valentine’s Day.  She talks often of Sadie Geary, and eventually I deduced that the Geary house was actually next door to the one Kate lived in in Black Lick, but perhaps a bit of a distance away, since she goes “down” to Sadie’s now and then.

Kate nearly always wrote in it in the evenings, apparently very late sometimes, and considering that she did so beginning January 1, she had to be doing it by lamplight.  There’s no mention of how large the house might have been, or how cold.  Did she write with gloves on with the book lying just against the base of an oil lamp?  Where did she squirrel it between writing sessions?  Who might have happened upon her from time to time as she was writing?

The diary is conspicuous for what else it omits: any mention of money or the price of things.  Some other omissions are more peculiar.  Kate often spent the night at her friend Sadie Geary’s house.  You’d think she’d write about their overnight conversations.  She seems taken with a certain Will Wehrle, for instance, hears Sadie say that she too is “mashed” over him, but when they get together soon afterward, she gives no hint whether they talked about him.  From time to time, Kate “put a mash on” some gentleman — and what did she mean by that?  My dictionary says: “to flirt with; court the affections of.”  She often says of whomever she was with that they talked and had “lots of fun.”  That seems to describe many of her soirées, but it still doesn’t describe her feelings.  She relates her chores and her comings and goings but little of her feelings over anything. She took a lot of walks with her favorite fellow, Charlie, but, apart from relating an occasional argument, she never says what they did or talked about while on their walks.

Yes, On March 21 she used “than” instead of “then.” On March 28 she used “Charley” instead of “Charlie.”  I point these out to assure the reader that, in transcribing, I did not inadvertently make the mistake; she did.

What is most special about this book is something she could not have known when she began it.  She chose to keep a diary for the year in which she met my great-grandfather.  Had she chosen an earlier year to do it, there would be no extant describetion of her encounter with him and her subsequent surrender.  The diary would be interesting but not nearly as special.

On May 20, 1884, Kate arrived in Roanoke, Virginia, by train, from Black Lick, Pennsylvania.  She went to spend some time with her brother, Lynch, a blacksmith who was three years older than she.  Dan Miller was evidently an acquaintance of her brother.  She confesses in her diary on August 6: “I am getting very much in love with Dan.”  Unfortunately it barely makes it past the date when she makes that confession, but the rest almost doesn’t need to be said.  On August 6, she goes on to say: “I wonder what would poor old Charl say if he knew I like Dan better than I do him.  Ah well neither Dan nor Charlie must ever know it.”  I wonder whether she remembered writing that after she had made her love public and married Dan.

It fusses me more than a little that the book necessarily suffered minor damage while I handled it over the course of several days.  It is now stored safely and needn’t be handled again except perhaps ceremoniously or in order to prove to some doubter that it actually exists.  This transcription is not fiction; this is not a novel.  I scanned the cover and some of the two-page spreads just to give general evidence of its authenticity.

About the names she uses: Sadie Geary is her “chum” — evidently her best friend (and next-door neighbor).  There is also a Sadie Bell and a Sadie Griffith, and sometimes she writes “Sade.”

She writes of several men named Charlie.  One is a Charlie Hill, of no special consequence.  There is a Charlie Sides or Charlie S.  She writes continually about Charlie or Charl or at one point, Charley, without a last name, who is plainly a close friend and possibly a candidate for a sweetheart, but she never seems to express particular affection for him.  I’m persuaded this may be Charlie Sides, whom she speaks of right away on January 1.  But, at one point she says of Charlie Dixon: “That Charlie is a cure.”  That’s the only time she mentions Charlie Dixon, but perhaps he, and not Charlie Sides, is the close friend who usually shows up without a last name.

A Mr McQuaid and a Johnny McQuaid appear a couple of times, and close by in time a Mr McQuade, so this is probably just one man.  Will Wehrle, sometimes just Will, is someone she longs to receive letters from, but he fails to make an actual appearance that I can recall.  She often receives letters from Dice (McNulty), but there is no explanation who this might be; in fact at one point it sounds as though it is a woman.

She writes of a Mr Mitchell, but at one point refers to a Mr Mitcher.  This is during the time that Dan Miller is also in her life, so I suspect that Mitcher meant Mitchell.

There is a Hettie (also called Het) Dixon, and there is her younger sister, Hettie (Het), always mentioned without a last name.  Both are short for Hester, which is her mother’s name as well.

Beccie or Beck is her older sister, Rebecca.  This is plain throughout the diary.  Sallie is her youngest sister, about eight years old in 1884.  And her older brother, Lynch, is married to a Sallie of his own.  It is usually plain from the context which Sallie she is writing about.

Kate says at one point that Charlie is going to farm at the Altmans in the summer, then at another point she laments that it has been a year since Harry Altman died — a pretty clear connection, although there is no more mention of the name, so we deduce what we can.

There is Ella (Ellie) Butler, and Ella Duncan.  There is one mention of Ell, which by the context refers to Ellie Butler.  There is one mention of an Ellsworth Griffith.  Then, throughout the diary, there is Ellsworth Gerhard or Gerhardt or Gerhart.  (She spelled it all three ways).

These are the names that can confuse a reader because they appear so frequently and interchangeably.

Then, of course, there is Dan Miller, and at one point she meets Dan’s brother, Ivan.

Many, many other names come up in the diary but either don’t risk being confused with others or are merely “extras” in the scenes.

Finally, I make no excuses for her use of the word “nigger(s)” several times.  It would not be historically accurate to omit those passages.  To her, Negroes were a phenomenon, and if any amends needed to be made, her son did just that.  As I was growing up in Lima, Ohio, my best friend from fifth grade until I left there at 16 was Mike Stewart, who lived around the corner from us.  It so happened that for seven years we lived on West High Street, two doors over from the house where my mother grew up.  Mike lived on Cole Street with his father and his grandfather.  I don’t know what year it was, late 1920s or early 1930s, but the poling place for that voting precinct was at 1149 West High Street, home of Richard Miller, Kate’s son, and Grandpa Stewart was the first Negro to cast a vote in Lima, which he did at that poling place.  Kate may have been present — the photo of her with Richard and my mother is taken in front of that house.

Some Genealogy
David A. Woodbury
born 24 October 1950 in Sarasota, Florida

My mother:
Dorothy Mae (Miller) Woodbury, Kate’s granddaughter
born 26 July 1925 in Lima, Ohio

Dorothy’s father:
Richard Ivan Miller, Kate’s son
born 1885 in Roanoke Virginia, died 1943

Richard’s mother:
Kate J. (Gardner) Miller
born 1864, died 1935

Kate’s husband:
Daniel Richard Miller
born 1863, died 1916

A search at familysearch.org turns up Kate Gardner, born “about” 1864 in Blair, Pennsylvania, with parents James Gardner and Hester (Cassell) Gardner.  In the 1880 census the family consisted of

James, 44, farmer
Hester, 39, his wife
Rebecca, 19, daughter
Kate, 16, daughter (born 27 January 1864)
Hester, 14, daughter
Sallie, 4, daughter (born 1 April 1876)

At one point, Kate’s diary speaks of having “the baby” baptised at Easter, Marian Beulah, but whose baby?  She also writes about her brother Lynch, who is listed separately in the 1880 census as a blacksmith, age 19.  In her narrative about visiting Lynch in Roanoke, she speaks of writing to Sallie back home in Black Lick, presumably her then-8-year-old sister, and of Sallie who is with her in Roanoke, (evidently Lynch’s wife, who also is apparently pregnant with the “heir.”)  She often mentions Beccie and Hettie, who are evidently her older sister Rebecca and her younger sister Hester.

As a footnote: While Kate met Dan Miller in late May and would have her diary (and its readers a century later) believe on August 6 that “neither Dan nor Charlie must ever know” of her love for Dan, and there is no hint by the end of the diary on August 19 that anything more had transpired to change that delusion, nevertheless, their first child, Richard Ivan, my grandfather, was born March 14, 1885.  You do the math.  I’m still trying to find the date of their wedding, and yet that matters but little.  His birth date implies that he was conceived within a month of when Kate first met Dan, which would place it around mid-June, two months before she declares her love for him in her diary.  Either young Richard was extravagantly premature for the 1880s, or my mother’s genealogy has his birth date seriously incorrect.  I am inclined to trust that the date is accurate, and that, sometime within days of Kate’s declaration, “it” happened, and that, yes, he was a bit premature.  It surprises me a little that the date wasn’t later falsified, which would have been pretty easy in those days.

And yet, what’s to be surprised about?  My own parents were married in April 1950 and I was born in late October the same year, to which anomaly my mother often added that I was three weeks overdue as well.  It’s just that, as I and my five younger siblings were growing up, my parents never made any fuss over their anniversary and especially never spoke of the year.

Kate, as it probably turns out, was as normal as a 20-year-old is today.

So, here it is, the book, and with it, here she is: Kate Gardner in 1884.


The Practice of the Presence of God – Letters

FIRST LETTER — undated

My Reverend Mother: Since you desire so earnestly that I should communicate to you the method by which I arrived at that habitual sense of God’s presence, which our Lord, of His mercy, has been pleased to vouchsafe to me, I must tell you that it is with great difficulty that I am prevailed upon by your importunities; and now I do it only upon the terms that you show my letter to nobody.  If I knew that you would let it be seen, all the desire that I have for your perfection would not be able to determine me to it.

The account I can give you is this.

Having found in many books different methods of going to God, and diverse practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing else than how to become wholly God’s.  This made me resolve to give the all for the all; so after having given myself wholly to God, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not His, and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world.  Sometimes I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his judge; at other times I beheld Him in my heart as my Father, as my God.  I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it as often as I found it wandering from Him.  I found no small trouble in this exercise, and yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that I encountered, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily.  I made this my business as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer; for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of God.

Such has been my common practice ever since I entered monastic life; and, although I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it.  These, I well know, are to be imputed solely to the mercy and goodness of God, because we can do nothing without Him, and I still less than any.  But, when we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy presence and set Him always before us, this not only hinders our offending Him and doing anything that may displease Him, at least wilfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom and, if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of.  In short, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of God is rendered as it were natural to us.  Give Him thanks, if you please, with me, for His great goodness toward me, which I can never sufficiently marvel at, for the many favors He has done to so miserable a sinner as I am.  May all things praise Him.  Amen.  I am, in our Lord,

Yours, —-

SECOND LETTER — 1 June 1682

(apparently not authored by Brother Lawrence but by another in his monastery)

My Reverend Mother: I have taken this opportunity to communicate to you the sentiments of one of our Society concerning the wonderful effects and continual succor which he receives from the presence of God.  Let you and me both profit by them.

You must know during the forty years and more that he has spent in religion, to be always with God; and to do nothing, say nothing, and think nothing which may displease Him, and this without any other view than purely for the love of Him, and because He deserves infinitely more.

He is now so accustomed to that divine Presence that he receives from it continual succor upon all occasions.  For above thirty years his soul has been filled with joys so continual, and sometimes so transcendent, that he is forced to use means to moderate them, and to prevent their appearing outwardly.

If sometimes he is a little too much absent from the divine Presence, which happens often when he is most engaged in his outward business, God presently makes Himself felt in his soul to recall him.  He answers with exact fidelity to these inward drawings, either by an elevation of his heart toward God, or by a meek and loving regard to Him; or by such words as love forms upon these occasions, as for instance, My God, behold me, wholly Thine: Lord, make me according to Thy heart.  And then it seems to him (as in effect he feels it) that this God of love, satisfied with such few words, reposes again, and rests in the depth and center of his soul.  The experience of these things gives him such an assurance that God is always deep within his soul, that no doubt of it can arise, whatever may betide.

Judge from this what contentment and satisfaction he enjoys, feeling continually within him so great a treasure.  No longer is he in anxious search after it, but he has it open before him, free to take of it what he pleases.

He complains much of our blindness, and exclaims often that we are to be pitied who content ourselves with so little [of what God has to bestow].  God’s treasure, he says, is like an infinite ocean, yet a little wave of feeling, passing with the moment, contents us.  Blind as we are, we hinder God and stop the current of His graces.  But when He finds a soul permeated with a living faith, He pours into it His graces and favors plenteously; into the soul they flow like a torrent which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads with impetuosity its pent-up flood.

Yes, we often stop this torrent by the little value we set upon it.  But let us stop it no longer; let us enter into ourselves and break down the barrier which holds it back.  Let us make the most of the day of grace; let us redeem the time that is lost, for perhaps we have but little left.  Death follows us close; let us be well prepared for it, for we die but once; and a miscarriage then is irretrievable.

I say again, let us enter into ourselves.  Time presses, there is no room for delay; our souls are at stake.  You, I believe, have taken such effectual measures that you will not be surprised.  I commend you for it; it is the one thing needful.  We must, nevertheless, always work at it, for, in the spiritual life, not to advance is to go back.  But those whose spirits are stirred by the breath of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.  If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord, who reposes in it, and He will quickly calm the sea.

I have taken the liberty to impart to you these good thoughts, that you may compare them with your own.  It will serve again to rekindle and inflame them, if by misfortune (which God forbid, for it would be indeed a great misfortune) they should be, although never so little, cooled.  Let us then both recall our early fervor.  Let us profit by the example and the thoughts of this brother, who is little known of the world, but known of God, and abundantly blessed by Him.  I will pray for you; do you pray instantly for me.  I am, in our Lord,

Yours, —-

THIRD LETTER — undated

My Reverend and Greatly Honored Mother: I have received today two books and a letter from Sister —-, who is preparing to make her “profession,” and upon that account desires the prayers of your holy Community, and yours in particular.  I perceive that she reckons much upon them; pray do not disappoint her.  Beg of God that she may make her sacrifice in the view of His love alone, and with firm resolution to be wholly devoted to Him.  I will send you one of these books, which treat of the presence of God; a subject which in my opinion contains the whole spiritual life; and it seems to me that whoever duly practices it will soon become spiritual.

I know that for the right practice of it the heart must be empty of all else, because God wills possess the heart alone; and as He cannot possess it alone unless it be empty of all besides, so He cannot work in it what He would, unless it be left vacant to Him.

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual walk with God.  Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive.  It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from the motive of love, and because God would have us so walk.

Were I a preacher, I should, above all other things, preach the practice of the presence of God; and, were I a “director,” I should advise all the world to do it, so necessary do I think it, and so easy too.

Ah! knew we but the need we have of the grace and assistance of God, we should never lose sight of Him — no, not for a moment.  Believe me; this very instant, make a holy and firm resolution nevermore wilfully to stray from Him, and to live the rest of your days in His sacred presence, for love of Him surrendering, if He think fit, all other pleasures.

Set heartily about this work, and if you perform it as you ought, be assured that you will soon find the effects of it.  I will assist you with my prayers, poor as they are.  I commend myself earnestly to yours and those of your holy Community, being theirs, and more particularly

Yours, —-

FOURTH LETTER — 3 November 1685

To the Same: I have received from Mdlle. —- the things which you gave her for me.  I wonder that you have not given me your thoughts on the little book I sent to you, and which you must have received.  Pray, set heartily about the practice of it in your old age; it is better late than never.

I cannot imagine how religious people can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of God.  For my part, I keep myself retired with Him in the very center of my soul as much as I can; and while I am so with Him I fear nothing, but the least turning away from Him is to me insupportable.

This exercise does not much fatigue the body; yet it is proper to deprive it sometimes, nay often, of many little pleasures which are innocent and lawful, for God will not permit that a soul which desires to be devoted entirely to Him should take other pleasures than with Him: that is more than reasonable.

I do not say that therefore we must put any violent constraint upon ourselves.  No, we must serve God in a holy freedom: we must do our business faithfully, without trouble or disquiet, recalling our mind to God meekly and with tranquility as often as we find it wandering from Him.

It is, however, necessary to put our whole trust in God, laying aside all other cares, and even some particular forms of devotion, although very good in themselves, yet such as one often engages in unreasonably, because these devotions are only means to attain to the end.  So when by this practice of the presence of God we are with Him who is our end, it is then useless to return to the means.  Then it is that, abiding in His holy presence, we may continue our commerce of love, now by an act of adoration, of praise, or of desire; now by an act of sacrifice or of thanksgiving, and in all the manners which our mind can devise.

Be not discouraged by the repugnance which you may find to it from nature; you must do yourself violence.  Often, at the onset, one thinks it is lost time; but you must go on, and resolve to persevere in it until death, notwithstanding all the difficulties that may occur.  I commend myself to the prayers of your holy Community, and to yours in particular. I am, in our Lord,

Yours, —-

FIFTH LETTER — undated

Madame: I pity you much.  It will be of great importance if you can leave the care of your affairs to M. and Mme. —-, and spend the remainder of your life only in worshipping God.  He lays no great burden upon us: a little remembrance of Him from time to time; a little adoration; sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sorrows, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the benefits He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles.  He asks you to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can.  Lift up your heart to Him even at your meals and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him.  You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we think.

To be with God, there is no need to be continually in church.  We may make an oratory of our heart wherein to retire from time to time to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love.  Everyone is capable of such familiar conversation with God, some more, some less.  He knows what we can do.  Let us begin, then.  Perhaps He is just waiting for one generous resolution on our part.  Have courage.  We have but little time to live; you are near sixty-four, and I am almost eighty.  Let us live and die with God.  Sufferings will be sweet and pleasant to us while we are with Him; and without Him, the greatest pleasures will be anguish to us.  May He be blessed for all.  Amen.

Accustom yourself, then, by degrees thus to worship Him, to beg His grace, to offer Him your heart from time to time in the midst of your business, even every moment, if you can. Do not scrupulously confine yourself to fixed rules, or particular forms of devotion, but act with faith in God, with love and humility.  You may assure M. and Mme. and Mdlle. —- of my poor prayers, and that I am their servant, and particularly

Yours in our Lord, —-

SIXTH LETTER — undated

My Reverend Father: Not finding my manner of life in books, although I have no difficulty about it, yet, for greater security, I shall be glad to know your thoughts concerning it.

In a conversation some days since with a person of piety, he told me the spiritual life is a life of grace, which begins with servile fear, which is increased by hope of eternal life, and which is consummated by pure love; that each of these states has its different stages, by which one arrives at last at that blessed consummation.

I have not followed all these methods. On the contrary, from I know not what instincts, I found they discouraged me. This was the reason why, at my entrance into religion, I resolved to give myself up to God as the best satisfaction I could make for my sins, and for the love of Him to renounce all besides.

For the first year I commonly employed myself during the time set apart for devotion with the thought of death, judgment, heaven, hell, and my sins.  Thus I continued some years, applying my mind carefully the rest of the day, and even in the midst of my business, to the presence of God, whom I considered always as with me, often as in me.

At length I came insensibly to do the same thing during my set time of prayer, which caused in me great delight and consolation. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for God that faith alone was capable to satisfy me in that point.

Such was my beginning; and yet I must tell you that for the first ten years I suffered much.  The apprehension that I was not devoted to God as I wished to be, my past sins always present to my mind, and the great unmerited favors which God bestowed on me, were the matter and source of my sufferings.  During this time I fell often, yet as often rose again.  It seemed to me that all creation, reason, and God Himself were against me, and faith alone for me.  I was troubled sometimes with thoughts that to believe I had received such favors was an effect of my presumption, which pretended to be at once where others arrive with difficulty; at other times that it was a wilful delusion, and that there was no salvation for me.

When I thought of nothing but to end my days in these trouble and disquiet (which did not at all diminish the trust I had in God, and which served only to increase my faith), I found myself changed all at once; and my soul, which, till that time, was in trouble, felt a profound inward peace, as if it had found its center and place of rest.

Ever since that time I walk before God in simple faith, with humility and with love, and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him.  I hope that, when I have done what I can, He will do with me what He pleases.

As for what passes in me at present, I cannot express it.  I have no pain nor any doubt as to my state, because I have no will but that of God, which I endeavor to carry out in all things, and to which I am so submissive that I would not take up a straw from the ground against His order, or from any other motive than purely that of love to Him.

I have quitted all forms of devotion and set prayers but those to which my state obliges me.  And I make it my only business to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention and an absorbing passionate regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, a silent and secret conversation of the soul with God . . .

If sometimes my thoughts wander from it by necessity or infirmity, I am soon recalled by inward emotions so charming and delightful that I am confused to mention them.  I beg you to reflect rather upon my great wretchedness, of which you are fully informed, than upon the great favors which God does me, all unworthy and ungrateful as I am.

As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise.  Sometimes I consider myself there as a stone before a carver, whereof he is to make a statue; presenting myself thus before God, I desire Him to form His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself.

At other times, when I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any trouble or effort of mine, and it remains as it were in elevation, fixed firm in God as in its center and its resting place.

I know that some charge this state with inactivity, delusion, and self-love.  I confess that it is a holy inactivity, and would be a happy self-love were the soul in that state capable of it; because, in fact, while the soul is in this repose, it cannot be troubled by such acts as it was formerly accustomed to, and which were then its support, but which would now rather injure than assist it.

Yet I cannot bear that this should be called delusion, because the soul which thus enjoys God desires herein nothing but Him.  If this be delusion in me, it belongs to God to remedy it.  May He do with me what He pleases; I desire only Him and to be wholly devoted to Him.  You will, however, oblige me in sending me your opinion, to which I always pay a great deference, for I have a singular esteem for your Reverence, and am, in our Lord, my Reverend Father,

Yours, —-


My Reverend and Greatly Honored Mother: My prayers, of little worth though they be, will not fail you; I have promised it, and I will keep my word.  How happy we might be, if only we could find the treasure of which the Gospel tells us – – all else would seem to us nothing.  How infinite it is!  The more one toils and searches in it, the greater are the riches that one finds.  Let us toil therefore unceasingly in this search, and let us not grow weary and leave off, until we have found . . .

I know not what I shall become: it seems to me that peace of soul and repose of spirit descend on me, even in sleep.  To be without the sense of this peace would be affliction indeed; but with this calm in my soul even for purgatory I would console myself.

I know not what God purposes with me or keeps for me; I am in a calm so great that I fear nought.  What can I fear when I am with Him?  And with Him, in His presence, I hold myself the most I can.  May all things praise Him.  Amen.

Yours, —-

EIGHTH LETTER — 12 October 1688

Madame: We have a God who is infinitely gracious and knows all our wants.  I always thought that He would reduce you to extremity.  He will come in His own time and when you least expect it.  Hope in Him more than ever; thank Him with me for the favors he does you, particularly for the fortitude and patience which He gives you in your afflictions.  It is a plain mark of the care He takes of you.  Comfort yourself, then, with Him, and give thanks for all.

I admire also the fortitude and bravery of M. —-.  God has given him a good disposition and a good will; but there is in him still a little of the world and a great deal of youth.  I hope the affliction which God has sent him will prove a wholesome medicine to him and make him take stock of himself.  It is an accident which should engage him to put all his trust in Him who accompanies him everywhere.  Let him think of Him as often as he can, especially in the greatest dangers.  A little lifting up of the heart suffices.  A little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, although upon a march, and a sword in hand, are prayers, which, however short, are nevertheless very acceptable to God; and far from lessening a soldier’s courage in occasions of danger, they best serve to fortify it.

Let him think then of God the most he can.  Let him accustom himself, by degrees, to this small but holy exercise.  No one will notice it, and nothing is easier than to repeat often in the day these little acts of inward worship.  Recommend to him, if you please, that he think of God the most he can, in the manner here directed.  It is very fit and most necessary for a soldier, who is daily in danger of his life.  I hope that God will assist him and all the family, to whom I present my service, being theirs and in particular, Yours, —-

NINTH LETTER — undated

(Concerning wandering thoughts in prayer)

My Reverend and Greatly Honored Mother: You tell me nothing new; you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts.  Our mind is extremely roving; but, as the will is mistress of all our faculties, she must recall them, and carry them to God as their last end.

When the mind, for lack of discipline when first engaged in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, such habits are difficult to overcome and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth.

I believe one remedy for this is to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before God.  I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering.  Hold yourself in prayer before God, like a poor, dumb, paralytic beggar at a rich man’s gate.  Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord.  If it sometimes wander and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that: trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to recall it; the will must bring it back in tranquility.  If you persevere with your whole strength, God will have pity on you.

One way to recall the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times.  You should keep it strictly in the presence of God; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings.

I have told you already at large, in my former letters, of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of God.  Let us set about it seriously, and pray for one another.

Yours, —-

TENTH LETTER — 28 March 1689

To the Same: The enclosed is an answer to that which I received from our good Sister —-; pray deliver it to her.  She seems to me full of good will, but she wants to go faster than grace.  One does not become holy all at once.  I commend her to you; we ought to help one another by our advice, and still more by our good examples.  You will oblige me by letting me hear of her from time to time, and whether she be very fervent and very obedient.

Let us thus think often that our only business in this life is to please God, and that all besides is but folly and vanity.  You and I have lived a monastic life more than forty years.  Have we employed those years in loving and serving God, who by His mercy has called us to this state and for that very end?  I am filled with shame and confusion when I reflect, on the one hand, upon the great favors which God has bestowed and is still bestowing upon me; and, on the other, upon the ill use I have made of them, and my small advancement in the way of perfection.

Since by His mercy He gives us still a little time, let us begin in earnest; let us repair the lost time; let us return with a whole-hearted trust to that Father of mercies, who is always ready to receive us into His loving arms.  Let us renounce and renounce generously, with single heart, for the love of Him, all that is not His; He deserves infinitely more.  Let us think of Him perpetually.  Let us put all our trust in Him.  I doubt not but that we shall soon find the effects of it in receiving the abundance of His grace, with which we can do all things, and without which we can do nothing but sin.

We cannot escape the dangers which abound in life without the actual and continual help of God.  Let us then pray to Him for it continually.  How can we pray to Him without being with Him?  How can we be with Him but in thinking of Him often?  And how can we often think of Him unless by a holy habit of thought which we should form?  You will tell me that I am always saying the same thing.  It is true, for this is the best and easiest method I know; and as I use no other, I advise all the world to do it.  We must know before we can love.  In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure.  This is an argument which well deserves your consideration.  I am,

Yours, —-

ELEVENTH LETTER — 29 October 1689

Madame: I have had a good deal of difficulty to bring myself to write to M. —-, and I do it now purely because you and Mme. —- desire me.  Pray write the directions and send it to him.  I am very well pleased with the trust which you have in God; I wish that He may increase it in you more and more.  We cannot have too much confidence in so good and faithful a Friend, who will never fail us in this world nor in the next.

If M. —- knows how to profit by the loss he has had and puts all his confidence in God, He will soon give him another friend, more powerful and more inclined to serve him.  He disposes of hearts as He pleases.  Perhaps M. —- was too much attached to him he has lost.  We ought to love our friends, but without encroaching upon our chief love, which is due God.

Remember, I pray you, what I have often recommended, which is, to think often on God, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions.  He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone.  You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why, then, must God be neglected?  Do not, then, forget Him but think on Him often, adore Him continuously, live and die with Him; this is the glorious employment of a Christian.  In a word, this is our profession; if we do not know it, we must learn it.  I will endeavor to help you with my prayers, and am, in our Lord,

Yours, —-

TWELFTH LETTER — 17 November 1690

My Reverend and Greatly Honored Mother: I do not pray that you may be delivered from your troubles, but I pray God earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases.  Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross.  He will loose you when He thinks fit.  Happy those who suffer with Him.  Accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He shall judge to be necessary for you.  The men of the world do not comprehend these truths, nor is it to be wondered at, since they suffer as lovers of the world and not as lovers of Christ.  They consider sickness as a pain of nature and not as from God: and seeing it only in that light, they find nothing in it but grief and distress.  But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of God, as the effect of His mercy, and the means which He employs for their salvation — such commonly find in it great consolation.

I wish you could convince yourself that God is often nearer to us, and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health.  Rely upon no other physician; for, according to my apprehension, He reserves your cure to Himself.  Put, then, all your trust in Him, and you will soon find the effects of it in your recovery, which we often retard by putting greater confidence in medicine than in God.

Whatever remedies you make use of, they will succeed only so far as He permits.  When pains come from God, He alone can cure them.  He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul.  Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of the soul and body.

I foresee that you will tell me that I am very much at my ease, that I eat and drink at the table of the Lord.  You are right: but think you that it would be a small pain to the greatest criminal in the world to eat at his king’s table and to be served by his king’s hands, without however being assured of pardon?  I believe that he would feel exceeding great uneasiness, and such as nothing could moderate, save only his trust in the goodness of his sovereign.  So I can assure you that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my king, my sins, ever present before my eyes as well as the uncertainty of my pardon, torment me: although in truth that torment is pleasing.

Be satisfied with the state in which God places you: however happy you may think me, I envy you.  Pains and sufferings would be a paradise to me while I should suffer with my God, and the greatest pleasures would be hell to me if I could relish them without Him.  All my joy would be to suffer something for His sake.

I must, in a little time, go to God.  What comforts me in this life is that I now see Him by faith; and I see Him in such a manner as might make me say sometimes, I believe no more, but I see. I feel what faith teaches us, and in that assurance and that practice of faith I will live and die with Him.

Continue, then, always with God: it is the only support and comfort for your affliction.  I shall beseech Him to be with you.  I present my service to the Reverend Mother Superior and commend myself to your prayers, and am, in our Lord,

Yours, —-

THIRTEENTH LETTER — 28 November 1690

My Good Mother: If we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of God, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby.  God often permits that we should suffer a little to purify our souls and oblige us to continue with Him.

Take courage: offer Him your pains unceasingly; pray to Him for strength to endure them.  Above all, acquire a habit of conversing often with God, and forget Him the least you can.  Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time, and in the very height of your sufferings beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his good father) to grant you the aid of His grace and to make you comfortable to His holy will. I shall endeavor to help you with my poor, halting prayers.

God has many ways of drawing us to Himself.  He sometimes hides Himself from us, but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in God.

I know not how God will dispose of me.  Happiness grows upon me.  The whole world suffers; yet I, who deserves the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them.

I would willingly ask of God a share of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great that if He left me one moment to myself I should be the most wretched man alive.  And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do that He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him.  Let us fear to leave Him.  Let us be always with Him.  Let us live and die in His presence.  Do you pray for me as I for you.  I am,

Yours, —-


To the Same: I am in pain to see you suffer so long.  What gives me some ease and sweetens the sorrow I have for your griefs is that I am convinced that they are tokens of God’s love for you.  Look at them in this light and you will bear them more easily. As your case is, it is my opinion that you should leave off human remedies, and resign yourself entirely to the providence of God.  Perhaps He stays only for that resignation and a perfect trust in Him to cure you. Since, notwithstanding all your cares, medicine has hitherto proved unsuccessful, and your malady still increases, it will not be tempting God to abandon yourself into His hands and expect all from Him.

I told you in my last that He sometimes permits the body to suffer to cure the sickness of the soul.  Have courage then; make a virtue of necessity.  Ask of God, not deliverance from the body’s pains but strength to bear resolutely for the love of Him all that He should please and as long as He shall desire.

Such prayers, indeed, are a little hard to nature, but most acceptable to God, and sweet to those that love Him.  Love sweetens pain; and when one loves God, one suffers for His sake with joy and courage. Do you so, I beseech you; comfort yourself with Him, who is the only physician of all our ills.  He is the Father of the afflicted, always ready to help us.  He loves us infinitely more than we imagine.  Love Him, then, and seek no other relief than Him.  I hope you will soon receive it.  Adieu.  I will help you with my prayers, poor as they are, and shall always be, in our Lord,

Yours, —-

FIFTEENTH LETTER — 22 January 1691

To the Same: I render thanks to our Lord for having relieved you a little, according to your desire.  I have been often near expiring, but I never was so much satisfied as then.  Accordingly, I did not pray for any relief, but I prayed for strength to suffer with courage, humility, and love.  Ah, how sweet it is to suffer with God!  However great the sufferings may be, receive them with love.  It is paradise to suffer and be with Him; so that if even now in this life we would enjoy the peace of paradise, we must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, affectionate conversation with Him.  We must prevent our spirits’ wandering from Him upon any occasion.  We must make our heart a spiritual temple, wherein to adore Him unceasingly.  We must watch continually over ourselves, that we may not do nor say nor think anything that may displease Him.  When our minds are thus filled with God, suffering will become full of sweetness and silent joy.

I know that to arrive at this state the beginning is very difficult, for we must act purely in faith. But although it is difficult, we know also that we can do all things with the grace of God, which He never refuses to them who ask it earnestly.  Knock, keep on knocking, and I answer for it that He will open to you in His due time and grant you all at once what He has deferred many years.  Adieu.  Pray to Him for me as I pray to Him for you.  I hope to see Him very soon.  I am,

Yours, —-

SIXTEENTH LETTER — 6 February 1691

To the Same: God knoweth best what is needful for us, and all that He does is for our good.  If we knew how much He loves us, we should always be ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter.  All would please that came from Him.  The sorest afflictions never appear intolerable, except when we see them in the wrong light.  When we see them as dispensed by the hand of God, when we know that it is our loving Father who abases and distresses us, our sufferings lose all their bitterness, and our mourning becomes all joy.

Let all our business be to know God; the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him.  And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love; and if our love of God be great, we should love Him equally in grief and in joy.

Let us not content ourselves with loving God for the mere sensible favors, how elevated soever, which He has done, or may do us.  Such favors, although never so great, cannot bring us so near to Him as faith does in one simple act.  Let us seek Him often by faith.  He is within us; seek Him not elsewhere.  If we do love Him alone, are we not rude and do we not deserve blame if we busy ourselves about trifles which do not please and perhaps offend Him?  It is to be feared these trifles will one day cost us dear.

Let us begin to be devoted to Him in good earnest.  Let us cast everything besides out of our hearts.  He would possess them alone.  Beg this favor of Him.  If we do what we can on our parts, we shall soon see that change wrought in us which we aspire after.  I cannot thank Him sufficiently for the relief He has vouchsafed you.  I hope from His mercy the favor of seeing Him within a few days.  Let us pray for one another.  I am, in our Lord, Yours, ——

Brother Lawrence took to his bed two days after the date of this letter and died within the week.