Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: January 1984 Volume 22 Number 1, Pages 29–34

Day-to-Day Life on a Family Farm at the Turn of the Century (II)

Annie Potts Walker

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Continuing Annie Potts Walker's day-to-day report of everyday life on a family farm just before the turn of the century, the entries on the following pages cover the winter months of January, February, and March of 1898.

One of the events she recorded for January 6th probably would not happen in this day and age. "We have taken a waif," she reported, "by the name of James Wilson, age near fourteen to stay overnight. He is an English boy, abandoned by his mother in Canada about six months ago (he came to this country in May) & has been wandering about ever since." (In fact, "overnight" was to be more than four months, as it wasn't until May 9th that he left, just as quietly as he came.)

Her entry for New Year's Day started on the last page included in the previous issue of the Quarterly:

Jan 1 1898 The wind rose with a flurry of snow about ten o'clock last evening. It stopped snowing 1898 & cleared about midnight, & has been very cold to-day & evening with a high wind from the west. Most of the members of the Social Aid, who usually attend, were present & we commenced the work for the season. There were about twenty strangers here to supper.

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The Literary entertainment in the evening I think was enjoyed by all, though the attendance was not so large as it is sometines, Richard Walker was present & gave some very amusing recitations & songs. He was here all night. Lida Walker stayed all night too she had a cold & was afraid to go home in the high wind. E. Hern went away after dinner.

Jan 2 Clear& still very cold. The children stopped on their way from meeting & took Lida home. Mary J. Blizzie Hamilton walked to meeting, Father is very lame with the rheumatism, Walter took Lizzie home thisafternoon.

Jan 3 Cloudy this morning with southeast wind, changing to west about eleven o'clock, father went to meet the school board this afternoon. Mary J. took him up.

Jan 4 Clear& not quite so cold. Father & I went to Phoenixville this afternoon to see Howard Williams on business. Called at Pennypackers on our way home to see Margaret about Alberta's picture.

Jan 5th Fair. Home all day. Cut out some muslins for sewing.

Jan 6 Cloudy in the morning, rainy in the afternoon & evening. Father Mary J. & I were at meeting in the morning & called at Joseph Thomas's this afternoon. I witnessed a paper for him. When we came home we found Maggie Thomas & Alice Abraham here. Maggie came to tell us that she had a stiuation as matron at the Willistown School. We have taken a waif, by name of James Watson, age near fourteen to stay over night. He is an English boy, abandoned by his mother in Canada, about six months ago (he came to this country in May) & has beem wander ing about ever since.

Jan 7 Clear this morning.

Jan 8 Clear & pleasant

Jan 9 Cloudy & not cold. Father & I went to meeting, Nobody here all day. John Watson is still here & I suppose we will keep him until he can find another home.

Jan 10 Snowed last night. Walter took a sleigh . ride this morning. Killed two hogs for Charlie Walker, for the family at the farm. Weight 623 lbs.

Jan 11 Cloudy & dull this morning. We ironed. This afternoon Father, Mary J. & I went to Norristown. It is rainy this evening.

Jan 12 Rain this morning & has been cloudy & dull all day. We butchered two hogs for ourselves.

Jan 13 Clear but not very cold this morning. Father & Mary J. went to monthly meeting, at Radnor. I cut lard, while M. J. picked chickens. Father cut up one half a pig.

Jan 14 Cloudy & damp. This afternoon Father& I went to Phoenixville on business.

Jan 15 Rainy all morning. We finished the pork work. I did not get to the Aid Society or the Literary.

Jan 16 Fair 3 cool. Mary J. had sick headache this morning. Father & I went to meeting. Nobody here this afternoon.

Jan 17 Clear Sc cold. Nothing unusual occurred.

Jan 18 Fair & cool

Jan 19 Father & I went to Phoenixville this morning but did not accomplish our business. Called at Pennypackers for the picture but it was not ready. The roads were very rough & it was quite cold.

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Jan 20 Rainy all day. Father & Mary J. went to meeting.

Jan 21 Wind went but not very cold. Father & I went Phoenixville again this morning & transacted our business this time. Stopped at Valley Forge & got two photos of the Headquarters for Jennie Evans Smith at Mt Pleasant Ohio.

Jan 22 Wind east, cloudy & dull, commenced to rain toward evening & is raining very hard & blowing. Father went to Port Kennedy to the barbers & Mary J. went to Conards. Jesse cane this evening.

Jan 23 This morning clear with a high west wind. Father & Mary J. went to meeting. Jesse went away at four o'clock, & expects to go to Pittsburgh to night.

Jan 24 Clear & high wind. Father & Mary J. went to Norristown this afternoon & took John Watson to get him some clothes.

Jan 25 Wind east. Commences to snow about three o'clock snowed very fast, turned to rain about six. Mary J. & John went to Norristown this afternoon to the doctors she has an eruption on her body, Lucy Bright was here this afternoon.

Jan 26 Clear & windy.

Jan 27 Fair. Father & Mary J. went to meeting

Jan 28 Clear & cold this morning cloudy this evening. I went to Philadelphia this morning to the annual exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts, which I enjoyed very much. I did a little shopping afterwards, came home this afternoon.

Jan 29 Ironed a little last night & clear & cold to-day. I went to the Aid Society meeting at Lizzie Moore's this afternoon & stayed to the Literary came home with Walter & Alice Stine. It is very cold.

Jan 30 Very cold & clear this morning. Father & Mary J. went to meeting. Nobody here & we had a nice afternoon. It is cloudy a little this evening.

Jan 31 It has snowed all day. He washed & dried the clothes in the house, I am working at Mary J's dress. The wind is commencing to blow it is getting colder.

Feb 1st The wind is very high & the snow has been blowing into drifts, so that is some places the roads are blocked. The sun has not shown much all day.

Feb 2nd Clear this morning, the sun has shown, dimly all day.

Feb 3 Clear & cold. The men commenced at the ice. They got it from Charley Walker's quarry.

Feb 4 Clear & cold. The mercury was four degrees below zero this morning,

Feb 5 Clear& much warmer. The larks were very merry in the meadows. It clouded up & rained some this afternoon. Father went to the barbers this afternoon, the first he has been out for several days. The sleighing is over, but there are plenty of drifts in the roads. The men finished the ice this morning.

Feb 6 Clear & pleasant

Feb 7 Clear & freezing this morning, thawed a good deal this afternoon. Mary J, took Father to meet the school board this afternoon & made a call at Hannah Walkers & one at Roberta's & brought Father home to supper.

Feb 8 Clear & pleasant. Mary J. went to Phila. to Quarterly meeting.

Feb 9 Cloudy & not very cold. We butchered two hogs that weighed over 300 lbs apiece.

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Feb 10 Fair & cool this morning, quite warm this afternoon. We did our butcher work. This afternoon Lida Walker & Ellie Conard called, & before they went away Lucy Bright & Lizzie Tinney came, I have had the headache. Mild & pleasant. I have had headaches all day.

Feb 12 Mild & pleasant. Mary J. started at noon to go to Isaac& Ellie Walker's silver anniversary Several of the Valley people are going over as a surprise. Jesse came this evening.

Feb 13th Mild & pleasant, Mary J. cane home at noon today. Jesse left here this morning.

Feb 14 Mild. It rained a little before dinner, clearing this afternoon. Aunt Annie Jones & Lily were here to dinner.

Feb 15 Mild & pleasant, Sophie Deilaven & Aliza Tyson were here trying to sell tickets for the Historical Society supper at Norristown.

Feb 16 Clear & the wind very high. Walter & I went to Janes Abraham's funeral; the wind was so high we had to have the top of the buggy put down to keep it from blowing over, & I nearly froze my fingers, holding my bonnet on. We went only to the house.

Feb 17 Clear & not so windy. Mary J. went to monthly meeting & took John along to help drive.

Feb 18 Cloudy & rainy all day. Mary J. went this afternoon to make her collection for the Charity Hospital

Feb 19 Northeast wind & rain all day. It was so rainy I could not meet the Aid Society at Will Richards.

Fob 20 Northeast wind & rain all day. It must have rained very hard in the night from the washouts in the yard. Father & Mary J. went to meeting. Wind is rising.

Feb 21 Wind northeast, rained all day. Mary J. took supplies to the Norristown Charity Hospital.

Feb 22 Rainy in the morning, cleared in the afternoon. We washed & got our clothes dry.

Feb 23 Wind west & quite cold. I went to Phoenixville in the morning, roads were pretty bad.

Feb 24 Weather pleasant.

Feb 25 Clear & pleasant.

Feb 26 Clear & pleasant. Bandaged Father's eyes & took him to the barbers this afternoon, first he had been out for more than a week. I went to the Aid Society meeting at Ed. Conards.

Feb 27 Weather pleasant. Mary J. went to meeting this morning, & went from there to see the aunt Marys. Jos. Thomas's & Ed Conard & Lida Walker called to see Father after meeting.

Feb 28 Weather pleasant. Mary J. went to Norristown to make some calls this afternoon.

Mar 1 Weather pleasant. Cousin Susanna Roberts & Mary Emily called to see Father, also Harry Wells, & Ella Walker from Centreville.

Mar 2 Cloudy, with northeast wind. Commenced to snow in the afternoon & the ground is covered this evening. Walter took Father & me to Phoenixville this afternoon. Walter & Mary J. went to Paoli this morning for clover seed.

Mar 3 Wind west & clearing this morning. The men commenced to sow clover seed sowing it on the snow.

Mar 4 Cloudy with wind northwest. I trimmed grape vines in the gardens. John raked up the trash on the asparagus bed. Snowed this afternoon & evening but does not make much impression.

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Mar 5 Clear & pleasant. Alice Stine was here to tea this evening.

Mar 6 Clear & very pleasant. Mary J. & Walter went to meeting. Will Ferris came about eleven o'clock & spent the rest of the day.

Mar 7 Cloudy in the morning with east wind did not rain, I took Father to Centreville with some papers for the School Board, he did not stay, his eyes were too uncomfortable. Hannah Mary Davis & Ellen called this morning.

Mar 8 Fair & pleasant wind east. I burned the trash in the garden & finished triming the vines there.

Mar 9 Foggy this morning. We received word this afternoon that Bell & Annie would be at Strafford station at three o'clock. We sent Walter to meet them. The axle of the dearborn broke as they were coming home, so they had to walk.

Mar 10 Weather pleasant. Mary J. went to monthly meeting. This afternoon she & Annie went to call at Will Potts's at Swedeland.

Mar 11 Weather pleasant. Mary J. went to Phoenixville & from there to Spring City this afternoon. Walter plowed the lower truck patch. Walter planted potatoes.

Mar 12 Cool & pleasant. Annie went to Jos. Thomas's to a lunch party, a very swell affair. Went to the Ladies Aid this afternoon at Richards's it was the last meeting of the season. Jesse Bell & Annie attended the Literary exercises this evening. The horse misbehaved coming home & they had a fight. Walter planted peas.

Mar 13 Wind south in the morning, changed to west this evening with a light shower of rain. Alice Stine & E, Hunn were here to dinner. Aunt Annie Jones, Will & little Frances were here to supper. Jesse went to Phila. this after noon.

Mar 14. A beautiful day, we washed this morning. Annie & I went to Phila in the eleven o'clock train from Strafford. Attended to some business & did some shopping. Bell met us at the station at four o'clock. I got the cuticura remedies for Father.

Mar 15 Weather pleasant, we ironed this morning, This afternoon Father, Bell, Annie & I went to Norristown to bank, & called at "the Home".

Mar 16 Wind cast. Bell & Annie left this morning for Atlantic City. I took them to the station. Mary J. & I went this afternoon to the grave yard to Mary Waltz's funeral.

Mar 17 Wind south very mild & pleasant until noon, when the wind changed to the west & was quite blustry but not cold. Mr Macnamee called to see Father this afternoon.

Mar 18 Wind southwest very pleasant. Mary J. set the hot bed, I finished trimming the grape vines, & burned trash in the garden. The buds are swelling very rapidly.

Mar 19 Wind south, quite warm. Father's eyes look better, but the rheumatism is no better. It is cloudy this evening.

Mar 20 Fair. Sprinkled a little rain this morning. Wind changed to west this afternoon & was quite high & disagreeable.

Mar 21 Rainy this morning. Mary J. & I went to Norristown this afternoon.

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Mar 22 Wind northeast with rain, it is much cooler.

Mar 23 Wind northeast, & rainy.

Mar 24. Wind northeast & rainy, Snowed a little. This afternoon Mary J. went to meeting.

Mar 25 Clear this morning with west wind. Father& Mary J. went to an entertainment at Walkers' school house.

Mar 26 Cloudy with northeast wind. Rainy this evening, I went to the Literary with Waltar & Alice. It was the last meeting of the season.

Mar 27 Northeast wind & rain. Mary J. to meeting this morning. No one here all day.

Mar 28 East wind but did not rain, we got the clothes dry. I whitewashed the chicken coops. Mary J. did some work in the yard & then we took some plants to the grave yard & planted them, also planted a tree near Lewis Walker's grave.

Mar 29 Rainy. I took off some little chickens (the first). Walter was in town all day.

Mar 30 Rainy in the morning, wind west clearing in the afternoon. Mary J, & I walked over to see Sallie Walker.

Mar 31 Wind west, cold & clear. Father went to Stewart Pick's this morning. Daisy, our horse, is sick. Walter & Tom had to stay up with her all night.

April 1 Clear, cold, & windy. Walter went to help John Tinneys move to Charley Walker's tenant house. The doctor came to see Daisy this morning & ordered medicine every hour. Mary J. & Walter stayed up until twelve o'clock.

April 2 Clear & cold, but not quite so windy. Father & I went to Phoenixville to finish our business there. Jesse came this evening.

Apr 3 Clear & cold. Mary J. & I went to meeting this morning. Firstday school opened. Sarah & Carrie Pennypacker & Daniel Moore Rebecca West & Jos. Thomas were here this afternoon to prepare (in conjunction with Mary J.) the answers to the queries, for preparation meeting. The first three stayed to supper. Daisy died last night.

Apr 4 Clear & cold. Jesse went away this morning.

Apr 5 It was snowing when we got up this morning & snowed until about two o'clock this afternoon, it has been cold with north wind. Walter Mary J. & John went to Norristown this afternoon.

Apr 6 Very cold & clear this morning. The mercury was 14 degrees about 7.30 o'clock. I expect all the fruit is killed, as he buds were very far advanced. Mary J. went to Merion meeting this morning, to hold preparation meeting.

Apr 7 High west wind& clear. Lizzie Pennypacker came down to Port Kennedy in the train & walked here this morning, to go to Preparation meeting, we all went, the queries were answered. Lizzie came home with us & stayed to dinner. Walter took her to the station.

Apr 8 Cloudy, John was sick & I walked to the Post Office.

Apr 9 Clear & cold. I took Father to the barbers this afternoon & went to Conards & made a call.

to be continued (next installment - part 3)


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