March 1888

Thursday, March 1, 1888

Clouds and sunshine. Snowing this eve. We have washed our colored clothes and ripped Mattie’s and Emma’s summer dresses. Children enjoy getting out when the weather is more mild. Grandpa has been up to see how Mrs. O. Nash is – her fall has caused her considerable suffering.

Friday, March 2, 1888

Clouds and sunshine. We have ironed colored clothes and churned. This P.M. and evening has been occupied with mending. Rec’d letter from Ella Bradley and a card from mother. They stayed in Long Meadow over Sun. came to Westfield and stayed with Harris and Mary Mon. night.

Saturday, March 3, 1888

Colder and pleasant. Received a letter from Frank. Sent letter to Demorests for patterns. Prescott’s face is swelled so badly we have kept him in-doors today.

Sunday, March 4th, 1888

Cold and quite windy. A new lamb had hard work to live until morning. Mother W. has not been well today – no sleep last night. The children have felt lonesome without papa. They studied S.S. lessons and each written a letter to Arthur.

Monday, March 5, 1888

Cold and rough. Grandpa has been to town meeting. Mother W. and I did our washing two weeks allowance of white clothes. Susie seems to have taken a sudden cold. Hope she may feel better in the morning.

Tuesday, March 6, 1888

6⁰ above 0. Pleasant. I have not done much but take care of Susie. She seems better tonight.
Grandpa has been to the village this P.M. and drawn two small loads of wood.

“Mr. Henry M. Potter ex-jailer and Deputy Sheriff, hung himself in his barn on the Starkweather Place, Maple St., last Fri. night between 12 and 1 o’c.” (Item from Gazette)


Potter’s death was also reported in the New York Times under the headline “An Old Jailer’s Suicide”:

“Northampton, Mass., March 3. – Henry M. Potter, aged 60 years, hanged himself in his barn last night. He had been a Deputy Sheriff for many years, and for several years was the jailer for this county. He occupied apartments with his family at the jail. A few months since the County Commissioners requested his removal, alleging that he had used the county’s money for himself. A brother of Potter owed the county $150, although he claimed that while he had drawn on the county’s provisions he had made restitution. Potter’s sensitiveness to public opinion rendered him melancholy.”

The jail where Potter worked and lived was possibly Northampton’s Union St. jail, which has since been converted into condominiums. According to a March 18, 2015 article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette (same Gazette as in the journal?), the jail was built in 1851 and decommissioned in 1984. (On the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office website, it is referred to as a “small Civil War era facility.”)

A Google Image search for Union St Jail Northampton MA raises up some good real estate photos of the building.

Wednesday, March 7, 1888

Pleasant and a little warmer. We have ironed part of the clothes – taken care of Susie this P.M. Made a fancy needle-holder for Aunt Ruby.

Thursday, March 8, 1888

Pleasant. Another baby day. Mattie and Emma rode down to the office with Grandpa. Sent letter to mother and Mr. A.E. Newhall, also the Companion’s to Arthur. Rec’d calendar from Uncle Justin, and a letter from Frank. He was in North Chester at the time of writing.

Uncle Justin Snow was the brother of Emma’s mother, Julia (Snow) Tilton.

Interesting genealogical note found under Justin Snow’s name, from a National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Volume 1:

“Justin Snow, Cleveland, Ohio (2468). Son of William and Sally Hunt (Strong) Snow; grandson of Solomon Snow, Sergeant, Vose’s Mass. Continental  Regt.”

Vose’s Mass. Continental Regiment was one of the names of the 1st Massachusetts Regiment in the Continental Army.

Friday, March 9, 1888

Warmer and pleasant. Mother has made pies, apple and mince. I made raised cake. Susie feels a little better but her teeth are quite troublesome. Rec’d a card from cousin Tirzah. A terrible disaster in Springfield. The Union buildings burned, six burned to death or killed by jumping from the high windows. Such troubles cause lesser ones to sink out of sight.
Aunt Louisa’s mother, Mrs. Simpson, was born 1796 – she celebrated her 92nd birthday in a quiet way at Uncle Justin’s, Cleveland, Ohio.


The Springfield disaster was a fire at the Springfield Evening Union, a newspaper. An account of the fire, taken from the Ohio Democrat, can be found here. Excerpt:

“Six employees net death, five from jumping and one from the flames; three others were badly injured.

The fire originated on the ground floor, and sped up the elevator shaft, cutting off all escape by the stairway. The building was a death trap. About forty editors and compositors were imprisoned in the fifth story, but many escaped by way of the roof and on a ladder raised by the fire department . . .

The following is a correct list of the casualties.

Burned to death, H. J. GOULDING, aged thirty-two, married; foreman of composing room.

Killed by falling, MISS GERTIE THOMPSON, aged eighteen, proof reader.
MRS HATTIE FARLEY, aged twenty-three, society editor.
C. L. BROWN, aged twenty-two, compositor.
W. E. HOVEY, Aged twenty-five compositor.
J. LANZON, aged thirty-five compositor, native of Quebec.


F. G. Ensworth, aged eighteen, clerk in counting room, compound fracture of leg, hand and wrist burned, probably fatal.
Thomas Donahue, aged thirty-two, compositor, left thigh fractured, face severely burned; probably fatal. [He died.]
H. H. Myrick, employee Smith’s rubber stamp works, jumped; badly injured.”


Found out more information about Mrs. Simpson from an item in the October 8, 1890 Algona Republican (Algona, Iowa): (some errors from the OCR)

“Mrs. Dr. Garfield sends us the following obituary of her mother, clipped from a Cleveland paper. While it comes a little late it will interest Mrs. Garfield’s friends here: GRANDMA SIMPSON. Mrs. Sally Baker Simpson, widow of the late Albro Simpson, died Monday morning, August 4, at the residence of her son-in-law, Justin Snow, 1884 Euclid avenue, where her home had been for some years past. Mrs. Simpson was born in Luzerne county, Pa., March 10, 1796, before the death of the first president of the United States. Her husband was born in 1800 and died in 1883. They celebrated their golden wedding, Nov. 4, 1874. The funeral was held on Tuesday at 5 p. m. Mrs. Simpson had five children all of whom survive her, and all but one were present at her funeral, as follows: Louisa— Mrs. Justin Snow; Rev. B. H. Simpson, Augusta, Mich., not present; Miss II. M. Simpson; Almira S.- Mrs. L. K. Garqeia, of Algona, Iowa, and J. W. Simpson, of Harkness Avenue. The funeral service was conducted by Rev. Dr. Ladd, pastor of the Euclid avenue Congregational church, of which Mrs. Simpson was a member. The service was opened by singing the first and last verses of the hymn commencing “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord” followed by prayer by Rev. Dillon Prosper. Dr. Ladd read Scripture selections, and the quartet sang “How blest the righteous when be dies” after which, Dr. Ladd gave a “brief outline of the life of the departed, making special reference to her early life in a new country, where opportunities for Christian culture were very meagre, but showing that the love of Christ in the heart, with the purpose to inow duty by the study of God’s word, would develop a beautiful Christian life.”

Saturday, March 10, 1888

Pleasant and much warmer. Grandpa took Henry and Prescott with him down to the depot this morning. This P.M. took Mattie and Emma down to Florence. The snow is fast disappearing down on the gravelled road. Rec’d letter from Frank, card and papers from mother also a letter from Sister Florence.

Sunday, March 11, 1888

Snowing today but it has melted. Emma had a hard headache last night and today. Susie is better. I suppose Frank had a long day of it on Chester Hill today.
Another pair of twin-lambs came today. We have one in the house learning it to drink. Henry has laid claim to it and given it the name Beauty.

Monday, March 12, 1888

Colder snowing fast with a high wind to blow it into drifts. We have not tried to do any washing. Emma is not very well today.


This was not just any snowstorm. This was the Blizzard of 1888, or the “Great White Hurricane”, which slammed the Eastern Seaboard. New York City was especially hard hit. More than 400 people died due to the blizzard, and half of those deaths were in NYC.

Tuesday, March 13, 1888

14⁰ above 0. Wind blows fearfully all the time. We are drifted in completely; between the house and barn drifts higher than a man’s head and in front of the house it is so high that we cannot see out unless we look through the upper sash. The roads look as though we should not see many travellers at present. Susie is herself again. Emma is a little better.

“I’m but a traveller here

Heaven is my home.”

“What tho’ the tempest rage:

Heaven is my home.”

Wednesday, March 14, 1888

Warmer. Snow, clouds and sunshine. The strange light on the snow gave me a sick-headache. Have not accomplished much today.

Thursday, March 15, 1888

Very mild and pleasant. Three men have been along and shovelled out the road but there has not been a team past since Sun.

We have made bread, yeast and three loaves of cake. The children have been out of doors more today so my head has had a little rest. Fer. has cut down the early harvest apple-tree west of the drive-way. Rebecca Williams was born seventy five years ago today. She was Mr. Prescott Williams oldest sister.

Friday, March 16, 1888

Pleasant. Grandpa has walked to the village this P.M. but no mails in yet – only as they have been brought by hand. General blockade of business all over N.E. and York State – even as far So. as Washington the storm was quite severe. We have washed, churned and done sweeping upstairs.

Saturday, March 17, 1888

Pleasant and not very cold. Mother baked bread, and ginger snaps and fried doughnuts. Grandpa walked to the village again this P.M. One team passed here today that had been all day coming from Conway. Frank came tonight giving us all a surprise. Left his horse in Huntington. He was blocked in Chester Hill until Thurs. P.M.

Sunday, March 18, 1888

10⁰ above 0 this morn. A very pleasant day. No getting out with our load to church today as we have all spent the time visiting with papa.

Monday, March 19, 1888

A very beautiful day. We have done a large washing today. Mr. O. Nash called. Mrs. N. cannot bear any weight on her disabled foot yet. Grandpa has been down st. today. Travelling very bad brought home only one bag of meal. Mother W. very tired tonight.

Tuesday, March 20, 1888

Clouds with rain this P.M. and evening. We have had a very restful pleasant time today. The children have all seemed very happy and good. Susie is persevering in learning to go alone. I have been thinking that I would write down any passage of scripture that came specially to my mind during any day: today has been the one “Set thine house in order for thou shalt die and not live.” This was used for the text of the sermon preached at Grandpa Snow’s funeral. He died 23 yrs. ago this spring.

Almera Giddings – B. Burke’s birthday – think she is 62.

Wednesday, March 21, 1888

A pouring rain with fog coming and going.

Ten years ago today at 2 P.M. Frank and I were pronounced husband and wife: the ceremony was performed by Mr. S. C. Kendall who is now living in Ellington, Conn. Very pleasant and no snow ten yrs. ago. Of those people present only one has died. The following is a list of those present with an account of their whereabouts at this date.

Aunt Ruby Strong living in Montgomery, Mass. with her niece Mrs. J.E. Camp.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lavake now in Northampton, Mass.

Miss Susan Williams married the next Jan. Mr. J. L. Munyan of Northampton: and left him a year ago. She is now working in button shop in Easthampton.

Mr. and Mrs. Prescott Williams – living with us all here at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Francis Howland

Eliza Howland, teaching in Turner’s Falls

Geo. F. Howland, Charlotte A. Howland and Florence Howland all living in Conway. Flo. H. the youngest one present – she recited “I love my love,” etc.

Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Tilton – living in Conway

Miss Sarah J. Prouty now in New Hartford, Conn.

Mr. John Lavake     “         “   Florida.

Mr. Edw. F. Geckler (married Clara Foskitt the 29” of June 1880 – has two boys – all living in Orange, Mass.

Miss Mary L. Carter teaches primary school in town.

Father, Mother and Arthur living in Uncle John’s house in Conway.

Florence J. Tilton married Harry W. Clapp Nov. 28”, 1884 and went to Caroline Minn.

Edw. P. Tilton married Nettie Moody Feb. 25”, 1888.

Congratulations and pictures were rec’d just after the ceremony from Uncle Avery and Aunt Emma Adams, and Uncle Lewis and Aunt Susie Miller.

We (F. and I) took the train for Northampton, spent the night at Mr. Lavakes, obtained Smith – Charities money the next day and went to Springfield; stopped Fri. night at Mr. Coleman Dawes’s – then stayed at Mr. Charles Geckler’s over Sun. arrived here, at home, the next Tues.

Thursday, March 22, 1888

Pleasant and colder. Made 7 ½ lbs. butter this wk. Cut out two pairs of drawers for Mattie. Sewed up a sheet.

Miss Louisa M. Alcott and her father died the first of this month – within two days of each other – he died the 11” and she the 13”.

Mrs. Betsey Fairfield of Haydenville died Tues. the 20” aged 102 yrs. and 9 mos. She was an old friend of Grandma Snow’s – being just ten yrs. her senior.

The storm has been very severe all over N.E. quite a loss of life in Conn. great stoppage of business all around. Communication between Boston and N.Y. was carried on via of London.


Betsey Fairfield is described in the 1879 book History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts:

“She was born July 5, 1785, and is therefore several years older than the Federal Constitution. She was the daughter of Cyrus Miller, and a granddaughter of the earliest pioneer, John Miller. She was seven years old when he died. She remembers hearing the wolves howl, a sound not familiar to the ears of any other living person now in Williamsburg.
She gives vivid accounts of the home industries of the old time. She learned to spin when she was five years old, standing tip-toe to reach the thread when others had left the wheel for a few minutes. Then her parents had a little wheel made to fit the little girl’s height, and she soon was able to spin a usual day’s work. She recalls the days of tallow candles made with tow wicks, the latter spun at home ; the whole a home-made affair, as was nearly everything else of olden time. She remembers going up in childhood to the Williams’ store, that stood in the present burnt district of Williamsburg. She says, “I first went to school at Samuel Fairfield’s house ; once, crossing the river with my older sisters (they were ahead of me), on the last inclined plank I slipped, fell in, and was drowned, —fact. They brought me to, I suppose, somehow. Then I fell out of a little chair into the fire and nearly burned to death. I have been through fire and flood, but somehow I have outlived a good many others. I am contented and happy, have everything I need for my comfort, and am thankful for that while so many are ‘failing up.’” She said the catechism in her childhood to Rev. Joseph Strong. One of her early teachers at the little school was Patty Russell, of Northampton.

Mrs. Hayden (grandmother of Lieut.-Gov. Hayden), like others mentioned, went to mill at Hatfield sometimes with a grist of corn, a small one probably, on her back, walking there and back, sixteen miles. Aunt Betsey says ” Uncle Amos Truesdell” used to tell her those stories when she was a little girl.

John Miller set out the first orchard in town, and sometimes made a hundred barrels of cider a year. In those times they obtained sweet apples by sending to Connecticut very particularly for seed.

And so “Aunt Betsey Fairfield,” a genuine historic link between the past and present, survives to tell to the present generation the stories of the early labors, the early economies, and the early industries of Williamsburg. “With the calmness of Christian faith she “waits all her appointed time” till her change shall come.”

Friday, March 23, 1888

12⁰ above 0 this morn. Very windy all day. Mother made eight pies, and three loaves of cake. I nearly made Mattie’s drawers. Rec’d postal and ruching from Florence, papers and letter from mother wh. cont’d letters from Aunt Louisa and Mr. W. W. Parker.

Henry was not very well this P.M. Dinner did not set good. Grandpa went to the village and returned via the direct route.

Saturday, March 24, 1888

3⁰ above 0. Very pleasant not quite as windy. We have not done much but fix up for Sunday. Frank drove home from Huntington this P.M. Finished loading his last lot of apples for this winter. Snow very deep everywhere, had to wait for roads to get passable to draw their apples to depot.

Sunday, March 25, 1888

Very pleasant not quite as cold. Frank, Henry and I went down to ch. and S.S. Very bad travelling, nearly tipped over road full of holes, besides being badly drifted.

Mr. Price preached; this text was taken from last chapter of Acts 26” & 27” verses.

Mr. Price’s class met at Henry Wrights and gave Mr. P. a little surprise in the shape of $20. bill End. So. gave $10. more. He expects to leave here next month.

Monday, March 26, 1888

Snow, rain and hail all day.

Been mending Franks clothes after his “apple campaign”. Did not try to do any washing.

Tuesday, March 27, 1888

Everything completely covered with ice. Icicles hang from every possible place. Cloudy all day – thawing rapidly.

Cut out two aprons for E. and M. and partly made them, did a little mending and hemmed a sheet.

News comes that Mr. Foster King of Hawley died the 23rd of this month aged 71. He was an own cousin of Grandpa Prescott Williams – his mother was Mrs. Joseph Williams’ youngest sister. Mr. F. King had three brothers and one sister.

Frank has spent the day in the office writing. Henry stayed out there all the A.M. and nearly all of the P.M. Other children out a little while and Susie slept three hours – so the house seemed very quiet.

Friday, March 30, 1888

The first pleasant day this week. Grandpa went to Northampton and Holyoke. Frank and P. drew wood until the snow became too soft.

Saturday, March 31, 1888

Not very cold but quite windy. Grandpa and P. have been to Florence to carry butter and eggs. The first eggs that we have sold this year. Frank has been busy fixing out his account with Mr. Frommel. Susie is fifteen months old today.