January 1890

Wednesday, January 1, 1890  

New Years Day. Last eve may have been dark only to show a brighter side sooner or later.

The girls had new slippers but Mattie’s were not large enough, Mother and I each gave Alice an apron. Grandpa paid her for a month’s work – the boys each gave Grandpa a collar, mother had a new wrapper, or cloth to make one. The girls must call their cloaks a New Yrs gift. Mattie’s was an old one of mine, Emma’s was made from an old one of Aunt Susie’s.

Alice and I made molasses candy this eve.

Thursday, January 2, 1890

Alice did the ironing except the collars. Mother has been fixing lard and tallow to put it away etc. I cut out my gingham dress this P.M. Do not feel just right tonight but may be better in the morning.

Wrote a note to Miss Prouty.

Friday, January 3, 1890

Did not sit up much today. Mild weather.

Saturday, January 4, 1890

A very beautiful day, but muddy under foot. Mother made buns and doughnuts. Alice did cleaning up etc.

I did not try to go about the house much, fixed apples to dry, did some sewing etc.

Arthur came over with Jack. Mother did not think father had better try to keep him as he is at work with Uncle Francis.


At this point, Emma is about seven months pregnant.

Sunday, January 5, 1890  

Very foggy and rained until about 3 o’c then partly cleared away. None of us out to ch. Henry has not been as well as usual today.

Alice spent  time after dinner down to Mr. Coopers. Grandpa went down to escort her home.

Monday, January 6, 1890  

Rainy. Arthur started home on foot.

Mother and Alice washed all but the red flannels. I fixed apples and sewed on my dress. We received a telephone dispatch yesterday from F. saying he would not be home before Wed.

A card came today. Mr. Frommel is with him. They are selling potatoes in Bridgeport, Stonington and other places in that vicinity.

Tuesday, January 7, 1890  

Another card from Frank. He is not feeling as well as usual – he has a hard cold and is feverish. Clear and pleasant this morn but it did not remain so long. Grandpa went onto Walnut Hill and found the sheep feeding and doing as well as in warm weather.

Mrs. Wm. Bardwell died. She was Stephen Hopkins daughter.

Wednesday, January 8, 1890

Not cold yet sheep are on the hill all right. Mattie does not feel as well as usual – her face is swelled and she complains of pains all over her just as I did last week. Mrs. Cooper here this P.M.

Frank came this eve: (it commenced to storm just at dark just a little flurry of snow) He is feeling some better but is not just right yet.

Thursday, January 9, 1890   

The wind blew fearfully all night. Merc. went down to 10 above 0. F. rec’d telegram from Frommel wanting him to come down & settle up. Frank and Grandpa been out looking for the sheep but could not find them. F. had to stop and lay down. Grandpa came in at noon quite beat out. He had quite a poor turn of some kind after dinner while sitting in his rocking chair – he did not sit up any more today.

Children did not go to school today. The wind does not blow any tonight. Finished my dress and put it on this P.M.

Friday, January 10, 1890    

Frank found all the sheep after looking more than half a day. Drew up wood and did barn chores – pretty good for a sick man.

Grandpa did not come down stairs today.

I mended my old wrapper.

Saturday, January 11, 1890     

Snowed hard all day. Frank went to Northampton to renew notes. Mr. Briggs and Mr. House called this morn.

Mother made bread and pies.

Grandpa spent the day down stairs – marked hat bands for Alice. She finished a collar for Blanche this eve. Mattie is better and went to school yesterday. Prescott did barn chores for Papa – all except the milking. Another black bossy arrived last night. This one is a heifer.

Sunday, January 12, 1890

30 above 0. Very warm and pleasant until evening, when it commenced to rain.

Prescott and Mattie went to church and drove their own team. They looked like “little rats” in the buggy alone. I received a letter from mother and one from Miss Prouty. She had received the group and handkerchief all right and was much pleased with them.

Mother’s letter did not give us good news about father. I feel so anxious about him he is in my thoughts day and night. What can be done for him! Who is there that would know what is for the best.

Mr. Cooper here this eve – came up with Alice.


In the 19th century, young ballet dancers at the Paris Opera were referred to as “little rats”, but I don’t know if that is the allusion that Emma is making in this entry.

Monday, January 13, 1890  

Very rainy and foggy until 4 o’c when the wind commenced to blow – not cold yet. Prescott and Emma both sick today.

Grandpa is better and is downstairs. Mr. Cooper called tonight. Mother gave him some milk and butter.

Mrs. Wheeler came home yesterday.

Frank has been to the village after meal.

Mattie went to school alone – her pa went for her tonight. Cut and basted blouse for Henry and an apron for Susie.

Frank could not go to meet Shipman today on account of Grandpa’s sickness.

Tuesday, January 14, 1890    

A very pleasant day – the ground is frozen a little. Mother and Alice have washed. I have cut out Alice’s century cloth dress all basted ready to try on. Emma and Prescott are some better.

Frank has been to Florence after flour etc.

Wednesday, January 15, 1890    

Very rainy all day – moisture freezes onto everything it touches. Mother and Alice did ironing. I fixed apples and sewed.

Frank went up to F. Sandersons – wrote to mother this eve.

Mattie did not go to school.

Thursday, January 16, 1890

Cleared off before noon. Frank Sanderson at work here. Frank made ready and went to New Haven on the 10.15 train.

Prescott is better, has been out helping Sanderson.

Mattie did not go to school.

Sent letters to mother and for Mattie’s paper.

Friday, January 17, 1890    

Pleasant. Emma and Mattie in school.

Prescott is not as well. Grandpa has been to the barn today for the first time.

Mother made mince and apple pies. I finished paring the Greenings to dry. Sanderson did the barn chores this morning and tonight.

I have been helping Alice on her dress. She has not felt as well as usual for a day or so. I called on Mrs. Cooper. Mrs. Wheeler is at home.


Emma is perhaps referring to an apple variety called Rhode Island Greening, “one of the oldest American varieties” that was and is still widely cultivated in the USA, according to this website. The site also states “The main reason for this enduring success is that Rhode Island Greening is the definitive apple for American apple pie.  It is one of those apples (like the English Bramley) that really benefits from cooking to bring out the full richness and sweetness of flavor.”

Saturday, January 18, 1890

Pleasant. Children went down to Mr. Coopers.

Prescott is a little better, but he did not try to sit up much.

Alice finished her dress. Frank did not come tonight.

Sunday, January 19, 1890

Very mild and pleasant. Mattie and Blanche walked down to church.

I sent a letter to Florence and Harry – a card to mother.

Prescott came down stairs for a little while.

I feel sorry that Frank did not come. I hope all is well.

Monday, January 20, 1890   

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

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

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


From Worcester, MA to Palmer, MA is a little over 30 miles. Google Maps plots a walking route of 11 hours between those two places.

Tuesday, January 21, 1890

Not stormy but cloudy. Mother and Alice did the washing. I basted mother’s dress. Mr. Billings came to see Frank about selling his place. Rec’d letter from mother saying they have sold their place for $2300. Father is not as well. Grandpa W. is in a very nervous excitable state. I hardly know which way to turn. It is quite a relief to have Frank at home.

Prescott is better. The girls both go to school. Frank and Grandpa went to the village together. F. to get over-shoes and Grandpa went to settle grist mill account.

Wednesday, January 22, 1890

Colder and windy. Frank went to Conway to see the folks and father came home with him. He seems quite cheerful some of the time, then he gets very nervous and gloomy.

Grandpa W. went to the village for meal.

Frank went tonight to get the key to Mr. Billings house.

Thursday, January 23, 1890  

Cloudy. Frank drew wood this morn: the two Grandpas went down to the Billings place to look it over. I wrote a line to mother. Father went home soon after 10. Grandpa carried him up. He came home feeling more like himself. I hope it may last.

Prescott went out doors for a short walk.

Frank went to the village to meet a New Haven man. He did not come but sent a letter. Commenced snowing this P.M. but it is clear tonight. Mrs. Cooper here this A.M. Alice spent the P.M. down there.

Friday, January 24, 1890  

Pleasant. Papa and Henry went to the village. Sent letters to mother, Mr. Billings, & Bro. Ed. Finished mother’s dress – she did the machine work. Helped Alice fix her basque.

Sewed on small garments this eve. F. went for the mail.

Mr. Cooper called.

Saturday, January 25, 1890

Pleasant – hazy tonight.

“We’s” all good today and working hard” Alice says so.

Frank fixed sheep barn.

Edward P. T. came on the 9-12 train. F’s head is troubling him considerable.

A son born to Harry W. & Florence T. Clapp.

Sunday, January 26, 1890

Mild and pleasant. Emma and Mattie walked down to church. Miss Toby conducted a Bible reading.

Edw. and Frank went to Conway to see the folks.

Alice down to Mr. Cooper’s this P.M.

Mrs. Wheeler down to the village.

Rec’d letter from mother.

Monday, January 27, 1890  

Rain, hail and snow commenced to fall before morning and has continued all day. Frank has drawn seven casks of cider to the depot to be sent to Mr. Newhall in New Haven. The children did not go to school.

Prescott drove to the depot with his uncle Ed. Mother fixed the girls dresses. The girls and she sewed carpet rags. I cut out gingham aprons for Emma and Mattie. Mother did machine work on them.

Made a neck ruche for myself this eve.

Tuesday, January 28, 1890

Merc. 12 above 0. The sun has shone brightly all day.

Mother and Alice did the washing. Frank and Grandpa piled wood this A.M. went to the village to see about apples. Mr. Belcher and John here at noon.

Frank came home and made ready to go to New Haven. Grandpa carried him to the depot.

The children have all been to school; only three scholars there yesterday.

Alice spent the P.M. with Mrs. Cooper.

Wednesday, January 29, 1890

Pleasant and thawing again. I finished girls aprons, did some mending. Children went up to school but they had to return as the teacher is sick. John Graves came with them and spent the day. Mattie, Susie and Henry went down to the neighbors. Alice went to the village with Mr. Cooper – brought up Frank’s mail.

Grandpa went over to Mrs. Wells’s to pay the taxes $67 (and some cents).

Frank has not returned today.

Thursday, January 30, 1890   

Cloudy most of the day, dark and foggy tonight. I have kept children busy tearing carpet rags. We have all been at work on them and doing other sewing.

Mr. Cooper here after vinegar.

Rec’d card from Frank that he should have to remain in N.H. to dispose of the apples. Cd. from Harry saying that they had boy born to them last Saturday. They are all doing well.

Grandpa paid Alice six dollars for the past four weeks work.

Friday, January 31, 1890

Very damp and foggy all day.

Children are all at home. Mother has done the baking.

I have cut rags nearly all day. Alice finished the ironing.

Frank has not come.