July 1896

Saturday, July 4, 1896   

Rainy. We spent the day at fathers. Prescott, Arthur, Mattie and Emma went to Springfield and spent the day. Prescott and Mattie did not come home until after meeting today.

Sunday, July 5, 1896     

Clouds and warmer today. Mrs. Raymond is at fathers.

Florence has a little girl – born a week ago last Thurs. night 9 ¾ lbs.

Today has been an eventful one. Florence Julia was baptized and Prescott taken into the church. He had to be baptized also. Blanche Miller joined also. Aunt Susan and Uncle Barrus were taken in by letter.

Mr. Henry James died this P.M. at about 5 ½ o’c. (Bright’s Disease)

Mr. M. M. French died very suddenly this morn. He was a Northampton merchant.

Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe died last week.

We all went to church except Grandma Williams. Frank went into Northampton to hear Mr. Dilts give a report of the Boston S. S. Convention.

Monday, July 6, 1896

Very cloudy. Heavy mist falling some fo the time. Men have been mowing all day.

Florence Julia has felt pretty tired today. Mattie has swept all of the chambers. I could not do much but tend baby. Sent a letter to Miss Prouty.

Grandpa’s sister Rhoda Lavake died the first week in June. Her birthday was the 9”. She would have been 75 yrs. old. She was sick only two or three days. Grandpa, Grandma and Emma went to the funeral.

Wednesday, July 8, 1896     

Grandma and Mattie did a large washing.

Mr. and Mrs. Snyder rode up here on their wheels this P.M.

Mother and Mrs. Raymond called just before tea-time.

Thursday, July 9, 1896  

Grandma W. is 67 years old today. Edw. Geckler, wife and son Robert came at 5 o’c tonight. Mrs. Waite spent the P.M. here. He came up to take tea. We had cheese, ice-cream, two kinds of cake, and bread and butter.

She had cup & saucer from “Aunt Libbie” G. smelling salts from Ed. & Clara a tidy & mat from Susie and Geo.

Mattie gave cloth for two aprons.

Friday, July 10, 1896    

Very hot. Aunt Vashtie was buried this P.M. at 2 ½ o’c. Father, Mother, Arthur, Mattie and Emma went up – also Aunt Susan and Uncle Barrus. They all took tea at Uncle Johns before coming home.

Men got in several loads of hay this P.M.

Saturday, July 11, 1896   

Frank & I took Ed and wife out for a ride this A.M. Went to see the Reservoirs that furnish Northampton with water. Called on Aunt S. stopped at fathers. Called to see Mary Carter.

F. took them to the train this P.M.

Robert went back to Springfield.

Emma came home.


The Reservoir that the family visited may have included the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir (now also called Chesterfield Road Dam), which was constructed in 1883. There’s a story about the planned removal of this reservoir’s dam here, that mentions a couple with the last name of Clapp (a name that pops up frequently in this journal): http://valleyadvocate.com/2009/09/03/northamptons-hidden-reservoir/

There’s also some history about this reservoir on the “Save the Chesterfield Road Dam” history page:


Understandably, when the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir dam was constructed in 1883, the local community was still anxious about dams due to the Mill River disaster of 1874. The selection of the engineers and the dam’s progress was closely followed.

Sunday, July 12, 1896   

Very hot. Mr. Betcher preached in our church. I stayed with Florence.

Emma went back to mothers tonight.

Monday, July 13, 1896      

Grandma up to Mrs. Ice’s most of the day. Baby boy born there about 4 o’c in the P.M. Weighed 8 lbs.

Thursday, July 16, 1896    

Thunder-showers yesterday cleared off so today has been fine, air clear and cooler. Geo. has been happy wearing some new pants that papa bought last night for .25. I have made over a waist for him today.

We have had 14 qts. black caps so far this year.

Friday, July 17, 1896    

Mrs. Billings and her two children spent the day here. Grandpa carried them down at night. Clara Hawks rode home with him. Emma drove up with Jim – horse – & stayed until most dark.

Saturday, July 18, 1896

Very hot these days. I finished ironing. Mattie fixed apples & potatoes etc. etc. Emma and Bertha Roberts walked up this P.M. Mattie picked the 1st blue-berries in our lot this P.M. She drove down to the village with the girls after supper.

Ex. Gov. Russell died quite suddenly. He was out with a camping party. They found him dead in the morning. Went to bed as well as usual the night before. He was only part of a year older than I.


William Russell was governor of Massachusetts from 1891 to 1894. He was only 34 when he became governor. During his tenure, he recommended a law abolishing a property requirement for becoming governor, and it passed. Another law passed with his recommendation was the abolishing of the poll tax. Mr. Rufus Wade, administrator of industrial laws in Massachusetts, gave testimony in 1899 to Pres. McKinley’s Industrial Commission that mentioned Gov. Russell in the matter of sweat-shops. Apparently, Gov. Russell, in response to some unspecified incidents in New York, asked Wade to investigate sweat-shops in Boston. Wade indeed discovered unsanitary working conditions, and subsequently an anti-sweatshop law was enacted.

In April 1896, Russell declared his candidacy for President, but when the Democratic party declared a free silver platform, he declined his candidacy, as he was pro-gold standard. It was William Jennings Bryan that became the Democratic Party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention. The Convention was held from July 7 through July 11th. Shortly after the convention, William Russell took a trip to the Gaspé peninsula in Quebec. On the night of his arrival, he died of heart failure.

Sunday, July 19, 1896   

Very warm. Grandma stayed with Florence all the others went to church. Rev. Mr. Dilts gives a report of the S. S. Conv. held in Boston this evening. Mr. D. is the Baptist minister in Northampton.

Monday, July 20, 1896    

Rainy after 11 o’c. Men got in hay this morn. Mattie cleaned the attic.

Tuesday, July 21, 1896    

Showery. Prescott has “back door trot”. Has not worked much.

Frank went to Florence with butter. He had his beard shaved off.

Mattie took eggs down to Mrs. Hawks this P.M. Great excitement in the political world. Free silver.

Dr. Hillman died Mon. night.

Susie spent the P.M. at Hazel Alexander’s.


“Back door trot” refers to diarrhea.

“Free silver” was a popular economic idea in the South and the western Midwest, but the gold standard was more favored by the Northeast and the eastern Midwest. “Free silver” never succeeded in becoming established policy, but the issue was of particular interest from 1893 to 1896.

Wednesday, July 22, 1896  

Very hot. Grandma and Mattie washed. Grandpa not feeling well.

Prescott and Papa gone to meeting tonight.

Henry and I rec’d letter from Miss Prouty yesterday.

Thursday, July 23, 1896  

A most beautiful day. Mattie, Susie, Geo. Florence Julia and I all went to Northampton. Emma went with us. M. had her picture taken alone. Geo. & S. were taken with Florence. We came back and spent most of the P.M. at mothers. Henry came down after us at night.

A great day at Laurel Park. Sen. Horr spoke on the silver question.

Greatest number ever on the grounds. Father and Mr. Barrus went over.

Aunt S. went to N. this P.M. with Mrs. Anna Higgins and her two children.

Prescott has worked today, but his bowels are bad again tonight.


Senator George F. Hoar considered himself a “bimetallist”, with both gold and silver forming the basis for the value of currency. Bimetalism had been the order of the day until 1873, when the country moved toward a gold standard. You can read a speech by Senator Hoar on the topic of gold and silver here: https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/scribd/?item_id=5973&filepath=/files/docs/publications/mq53c/mq53c_v1sen_0035.pdf

Thursday, July 30, 1896   

Very warm. Emma walked home with Prescott last eve. Mother and Miss Abell came up to spend the day. Father here to tea. Mattie and Henry picked running berries on Walnut Hill. 10 qts. Mother had 2 ½ qts.