1895 Diary from Wolcott/Owasco/Phelps/Lyons NY
Please send any information on the people described in this diary to Anne M. Cady. I am extremely curious to discover who the author was and what ever became of her.
I recently obtained a copy of a diary written in 1895 by a 36-37 year old woman who spent most of that year in the areas of Wolcott, Owasco, and Lyons/Phelps NY. The diary offers quite a bit of insight into the life of a woman at that time, as the author included many details of personal events and thoughts. These personal comments were written by the author in code and were interspersed with the less personal accounts of her daily life. I have transcribed this fascinating diary and it can be accessed in pieces through the links included below. In the transcriptions, any statements shown in Red Italics were written in code by the author. As should be expected, from time to time the transcription of these coded entries was difficult (its bad enough reading 100+ year old handwritting, let alone code) and sometimes the words could not be completely deciphered. This is also true with some of the non-coded entries as well. While I have let many of her spelling errors go uncorrected, others were fixed to ease the reading of the transcription (plus Microsoft word fixed some without my asking it to).
I have no real idea as to the identity of the author but the following is known:
The author clearly had a checkered history when it came to past loves. Two men from the past are mentioned very frequently in her private coded entries. These are Byron Burnett and Jasper Blake. Sometimes they are even mentioned together in a single entry such as this from November 10, 1895 (by the way, 'Hores' in this entry is likely Horace Snyder who is frequently mentioned in the diary but whose first name she just couldn't seem to spell):
"AH WHEN I READ JASPERS LETTERS IT DOES NOT SEEM POSIBLE HE COULD BE FALCE TO ME AS ALL THINGS SEEMES THAT HE IS. BUT SUCH IS MY FATE. HORES CAME GO HERE 7 P.M. MY WHAT IS BYRON THINKING OF THIS NIGHT. I AM SORRY TO THINK I MADE HIM FEEL SAD. DEAR BYRON."
On September 26, she notes that: "TODAY IS THE 5 ANNAVERSARY OF JTB MARRAGE WITH ME.", which would appear to indicate that she was married to Jasper. However, she also references a 'Mack or Mackey' and on December 31, 1895 states (miscodings included):
" THUS ONO MORE YEAR HAS GON FOR ME. Just 4 years today since I took the NAME OF MC*AY FOR WELL I CAN NOT SAY AND TODAY IM ALL ALONE O SO ALONE BUT IT IS BEST IT IS AS IT IS FOR I HOPE HE IS HAPPY UP ABOVE. Did not go to Aunties today for the first time since I have been over here, but the wind did blow just dreadful. SOME SUCH A DAY AS 4 YEARS AGO AH HOW DIFFERENT THE TIME. O MY."
Within this entry, the words in red were written in code and unfortunately, she used a symbol never used elsewhere in the entry in spelling the name she took four years prior. As usual, she included at least one sentence that was not written in code within the entry talking about her not visiting her aunt.
She also had a romance with a man named George Fulton during September/October of 1895 which is discussed quite poignantly in her entries such as this one from October 3:
" GEORGE BROUGHT ME SOME OF THE MOSTE DELICOUS GRAPES I EVER ATE. AH WILL I EVER FORGET HOW HAPPY HE DID LOOK AS HE HELD ME IN HIS LOVEING CLASP AND ONE OF THE DEAREST TIMES HE CUT A LOCK FROM MY HEAD AND I CUT A LOCK FROM HIS HEAD THAT IS VERY PRESIOUS TO ME."
Contained in a pocket in the back of the diary were two pictures. There is no identification on the pictures, though the words 'Brown' and 'Wolcott' were written on the back of each. The picture can be seen using the following link: Photos. It is possible the picture of the two women is of Jennie and her daughter Bessie, and the other might be of Jennie's husband John or perhaps one of the men in the authors life (or her brother).
To see an scan of some actual entries from the diary, the following link may be used: Diary_Page
Now, after all the preamble….Here are the links to the diary itself:
This section describes life in Wolcott, NY (Wayne County). Includes many names and local references. Life seems to revolve around cleaning, baking, and 'selling machine' (most likely sewing machines which are also referenced). On January 29, talks of an 'Exciting Day' when there was a 'policeman around sopeaning' people. Also describes the death of a Mrs. Roe (mother of Mrs. Lyons) during the period of Feb 22-Feb 26.
This section describes life in a new home in Wolcott, NY (Wayne County). Many of the entries discuss getting the new house in shape. Its interesting that though the house seems to belong to Jennie and John, it is the author who spends most of the early time there.
This section describes a trip home to Effie's mother's house in Owasco, NY (Cayuga Count). Events during this period include the illness of her Uncle James DePuy and the daily task of life including picking Currents. She also mentions wearing white again for the first time in a long time. Its not known is if this was because she was in mourning for the death of husband or if she had just stopped whereing white for the winter.
This section finds Effie living with 'Annie & Charley' somewhere around the boarder of Ontario and Wayne counties. The towns of Lyons, Phelps, and Alloway are frequently mentioned. From July 7-July 23 she discusses the illness and ultimate death of Wells Hornbeck who may have the been uncle of Annie. She herself was sick from July 31-August 7, however on August 15-August 25 she was welll enough to return briefly 'home' to Wolcott and to attend a family reunion at Bonney Castle. On September 1 she began her romance with George Fulton which continued until October 23 when George left for points unknown, leaving her fairly heartbroken, though it appears he had promised to return.
This section finds Effie back in Wolcott. Many of her entries contain references to her past loves: Jasper, George, Byron, and Mackey. She appears to be waiting for some word from George which never comes.
This section finds Effie back with her mother in Owasco for the holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her wonderings about George continue but he still doesn't return.