Monday, July 27, 2015

James P. McPherson husking for Mr. Lester, Springdale,Wisconsin, 1851

Husking for Mr. Lester – in the afternoon fell across the tumbling rod – got caught by the coupling pin and was carried around the roll 2 or 3 times. Escaped with bruises on my legs and side and the tops of my pants & drawers.

The above was the entry of October 7, 1851, in the diary of James P. McPherson. According the diary, McPherson had worked for Daniel Lester since November, 1850. There was also a number of visits between the two men and one time Mr. and Mrs. Lester came to visit at the McPherson house. On this October day, he was again working for Mr. Lester when the accident occurred. Although he did not mention the incident involved with husking corn in future entries, the notation "escaped with bruises" made me wonder about the type of machines that he and his friends and neighbors used. 

When James P. first wrote of assisting neighbors with husking, I thought the scene might be similar to the one below, in which the farmers were husking the corn by hand.  That might, indeed, have been the situation on some of the farms, or they might have hauled a wagon-load of corn to the corn cribs, where they the would do the husking  before throwing the ears in the crib to dry.

Hand-Husking in the Field
THE IOWA AGRICULTURIST For the Farm, Garden, and Household

It is more likely that the corn husker that my great great great grandfather McPherson was working on when he sustained the "bruises" was similar to the hand-powered corn husker shown below.  As you can see, the wheel and gears are unguarded and a man could easily be caught by turning wheels, gears, rods, and such. While being “carried around the roll 2 or 3 times” must have been scary, it seems as though the wheel on a hand-turned husker could have been stopped more quickly, but perhaps centrifugal force was enough to keep the fly wheel turning for a couple of rounds – or perhaps it just felt like “2 or 3 rounds.”
1850 Hand-Cranked Corn Husker
THE IOWA AGRICULTURIST For the Farm, Garden, and Household

McPherson made no mention of the husker being powered by horses and in those days he was usually quite specific when someone's horse or oxen was being used. Therefore it seems unlikely that they would have been using the next generation of huskers or threshers, which were powered by horses turning the wheels, such as the horse driven treadmill as shown below:

Horse-Powered Thresher
THE IOWA AGRICULTURIST For the Farm, Garden, and Household

In the days when corn and grains were planted, cultivated and harvested by hand, it has been estimated to have required 250 to 300 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels. The labor hours were reduced in the mid 1800s by more than half, only 75 to 100 labor hours per 100 bushels of grain.  By 1890, the increasing mechanization of farm equipment, and fertilization techniques, that same amount of wheat or corn needed only 50 to 35 labor-hours. A significant portion of the more efficient farming techniques came from the mechanization of the harvest machinery.

For thousands of years, grain was separated by farmers beating the grain stalks with flails. Hard and time consuming work. Beating the stalks with flails was replaced in the late 1700s and early 1800s by the early hand-powered threshing machines, such as the one shown below:
Early Threshing Machine, circa 1830
The Emigrant Ship

The men in the picture are turning the crank by hand and appear to be using a lever device to feed the stalks into the machine. In this picture, a woman is seated on the machine itself to feeding straw into the cutting blades. Although this was rather dangerous work, women and children did this sort of task, leaving the men to do the more strenuous tasks.

The next picture shows the improvement made in threshing machines. Although this type of thresher could be hand-powered, it was increasingly powered by horses on a treadmill to turn the gears and wheels, or a larger set-up by which the horses walked around in a circle, turning gears, fly-wheels and belts to drive the machinery.

 1851 Threshing Machine.
Illustrated London News. 1851.
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

The following diagram of an early thresher shows the general working parts of the machine. The grain stalks are fed in through the front, moved along on a conveyor to the turning “flail” which separates the grain from the stalks. The grain either drops through to the floor or stationary threshers, or held in a drum for off-loading in field threshers; the refuse stalks are fed on out the back of the machine and used for animal feed, bedding, or plowed back into the ground for fertilizer. There are many moving parts – gears, fly-wheels, belts, conveyors, fast turning and sharp flails – which could easily cause serious injury or death.

Courtesy U. S. Department of Agriculture

By the turn of the twentieth century, the increasing number and seriousness of injuries caused by these types of threshers and huskers heralded a concern for making the machinery more safe. Even in the last half of the 19th century, when we read of the harvesting done by James P. McPherson and his friends and neighbors in Springdale, harvesting was a dangerous job – gears, belts, fly-wheels have no safety coverings, ever open to drawing a person into the machinery and potentially causing serious injuries.   Nonetheless, there was a certain camaraderie when neighbors and friends came together to harvest one another's fields.
1896 Threshing Machine and the Crew
The Mitchel County Press and The Osage News Consolidated Osage, Iowa
June, 21, 1956, Vol. 91, No. 25
Although the following newspaper descriptions of threshing machine accidents are from England, there was very little difference in the machines used in the U.S.  The Drum Roll, Interpreting Threshing Machines in Rural Life Museums (http://www.collectionstrust.org.uk/assets/drums_roll.pdf) has a number of nineteenth century newspaper articles about threshing accidents which give all of the gory details, as well as reflecting how injuries were viewed by the general population, reporters, and judges. As the injuries became more prevalent and serious, one can see a subtle change. The injured party or family file suit against the employerand in an 1853 account, the jury in the 1853 account gave a subtle nod to the employer's responsibility for safety issues.

1811 November 27th from The Bury & Norwich Post reflects the beginning awareness of the dangers associated with the “recent inventions:”

(The Bury & Norwich Post - 1811 November 27th ) “There has not been any recent inventions by which human calamity has been produced as by the new implement called the thrashing machine and this in greater measure arises from unskilfulness of those employed to work it and are often ignorant of the powers of mechanism.We notice that Mr Arthur Brooks of Horringer had a very narrow escape within the last few days as the whole of his clothes, even his shirt was torn from his back and had not his men stopped the machine with such promptitude there would have been loss of limbs and probably his life. It would therefore be prudent to prohibit the use of the implement under penalty unless attended by a skillful mechanic.” 

In the 1850s, the threshing machines were more often powered by horses and the injuries could be more severe as there was more “horse power” and it took more time to stop the horses. The two following examples are from the 1850s:

(The Bury & Norwich Post, April 19th, 1854)“On Saturday last as a poor woman named Ashman was attempting to step over the spindle of a threshing machine at Aldersfield Hall, Wickhambrook, her garments became entangled and in attempting to save herself, her right thumb was drawn in by the wheels in front of the machine and so much injured as to render amputation necessary.”

(The Bury & Norwich Post -February 16th 1853)“Inquest at Suffolk Hospital at Bury on David Scates, labourer, aged 25, in the employ of Mr Samuel Payne of Hawstead, who on the previous Monday was engaged in moving straw from the threshing machine when the spindle caught his frock and wound him round and before the horses could be stopped, he dashed his head on the floor of the barn, he was removed to Bury Hospital but died in three hours. The jury expressed a hope that Mr Payne would erect a cover over the spindle.”

As the technology increased, so the potential for a greater number and more severe injuries also increased, as noted by the following newspaper accounts:

(Stamford Mercury – 6th September 1867) “Girl named Eliza Stocks, aged 16 … had been cutting bands upon the stage, and when they had just finished a smart shower of rain drove the men to take shelter, and some loose straw was thrown over the drum hole and the steam partly shut off. The girl had forgotten her knife, and on returning for it appears that she put her foot through the straw … her foot was caught by the drum, which dragged in her leg, smashing it to atoms, and the machine was not stopped until it reached her thigh, then it brought the works to a stand … it was more than 10 minutes before the poor suffering creature could be extricated … Every attention was shown to her by neighbors and the messengers posted off for medical assistance, and the limb was amputated … the poor sufferer died at 3 o'clock the following morning.”

(Suffolk Free Press – September 24th 1868) “there was a fatal accident on the premises of Mr. Tomas Green at Acton Hal on Friday afternoon. A man named Neave aged about 68 years from some cause slipped and his foot became entangled in the steam threshing machine. Medical aid was summoned and was quickly on hand, Mr. Jones the surgeon thought it necessary to amputate the foot but the shock was too much for the poor fellow and he died. Accidental death.”

(Suffolk Free Press – June 17th 1908) “A shocking accident occurred at Hole Farm, Finchingfield. Harry Coote, 26, a Toppesfield man was feeding the threshing with beans, he left the feeder to get a fork from E. Cook who was on the fore part of the machine, upon returning Coote slipped and stepped on to the revolving drum, he was immediately drawn in by the left leg and his lower body was torn away and smashed to pulp, he died without speaking.”

After looking at  the types of threshing and husking machines that were used, as well as the injuries that resulted from using these machines, my ancestor James P. McPherson was very fortunate that he was not more seriously injured. When I read the descriptions of injuries resulting from threshing and harvesting accidents, I was also surprised that McPherson and his friends and neighbors did not sustain a greater number of incidents.   Now a simple phase, "threshed or husked for ..."  will certainly have greater impact when I read future entries in J.P. McPherson's diary.


 www.The Mitchel County Press and The Osage News Consolidated Osage, Iowa,June, 21, 1956, Vol. 91, No. 25
THE IOWA AGRICULTURIST For the Farm, Garden, and Household, www.uni.edu/iowahist
 Drum Roll, Interpreting Threshing Machines in Rural Life Museums, http://www.collectionstrust.org.uk/assets/drums_roll.pdf  

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sepia Saturday 289, 2015 July 25: Beach Party,But No Ocean In Sight

Summer is here in my Pacific Northwest, specifically in southern Oregon.  Triple digit temperature, aggravated by little or no winter snow pack have spawned wildfires in the mountains throughout the western States.  In my home which is surrounded by mountains and hundreds of miles from the ocean, beach photos are a rarity.  Lakes, rivers, and sometimes just the local reservoir provides a "beach-like setting.  And so it is, I submit a land-locked version of a  1937 beach party  -- looks like sand so it must be a beach party.

Courtesy of the Archives of Roots'n'Leaves
and JGHill

These two photos appear to have been taken at the same time and place.  Summer, 1937, would be the year, but the place, I know not.  My best guess is along a canal bank, or perhaps a river  --- probably in the Stockton, California, area, although it could easily be in southern Oregon, around Klamath Falls..  Wherever the location of the site in the photo to the right, I seem to be sitting on a sandy "beach" and not quite into the beach party thing.

Courtesy of the Archives of Roots'n'Leaves
and JGHill

The photo to the left is about the same vintage and perhaps the same day, but clearly there is more vegetation to be seen.  I look a bit pensive.  Perhaps I am nervous, sitting there on the back seat of dad's new Pontiac, trying on mother's high heels for a "nudie" stroll on the "beach", or alongside a river or canal.

I remember several times when I was a bit older, probably four or five years old, and the back seat of the Pontiac was taken out for party seating,  The back seat came out easily so it could be used as ad hoc seating for whatever occasion -- rather like an early day "camper."  It didn't take much to have a beach party in those days.

 Now, stroll on over to see what summer time fare is being offered by fellow Sepians.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sepia Saturday 287, 2015 July 11: Gail G. Sigford and the Graduation of the Lost Last Class of the WASP

A natural response to having a camera pointed in your direction is to smile. It has been drilled deep into our collective psyche over the years that we should "watch the birdie" and "smile". I am not sure when this habit developed - if you look at some of the earliest photographs, there is no trace of a smile on the faces of the Victorian and Edwardian sitters. But for the best part of 100 years, photographs have meant smiling faces: and if you get a group of sitters (or standers) crowded into a photograph, you can more or less bet good money on a smile breaking out somewhere.

My choice for this theme is the graduation photograph taken when my Aunt Gail Sigford graduated with the Lost Last Class of Avenger Field, Women Air Service Pilot (WASP) Class, 44-W-10.  Although there were a few smiling faces, there was not much reason for smiles from this group of young women.  A letter sent out by General H.H.(Hap) Arnold on 1944 October 1, "To Each Member of the WASP:" notifying the WASP that as of 1944 December 20 the the WASP program was deactivated and they were all released.  Their "volunteered services were no longer needed" and they would now be "replacing rather than releasing our young men."  This last WASP class finished their training and were released, as were all the other WASP -- most to find and pay for their own way home.  Even so, my aunt always maintained, as did most of the WASP, that her time as a WASP was a defining moment in how she viewed herself and how and what she was capable of doing and becoming -- beyond her wildest dreams.  She was only twenty-two years old on that graduation day.

Graduation of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, Class 44-W-10
Graduation Date, December 7, 1944
Courtesty of the Archives of Roots'n'Leaves and JGHill
List and position for graduates in the above photograph of WASP Class 44-W-10 Graduates
Courtesty of the Archives of Roots'n'Leaves and JGHill

 Over 25,000 young women,  from all walks of life and every state, sent applications to Jacqueline Cochran, Director of the WASP,  for  entrance to the  program.    Only 1,074  female pilots ended up graduating as WASP, each freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties. They flew over 60 million miles in every type of military aircraft.  The WASP was granted veteran status in 1977, and finally given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.  My Aunt Gail passed away 2007 May 2 at the age of 85.

I would have like to have seen her receive that Congressional Gold Medal -- though it would not have meant as much to her as the memories of the year she was a WASP.

Gail G. Sigford, WASP
December 1944
Courtesty of the Archives of Roots'n'Leaves and JGHill
~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

2015 July 6, Amanuensis Monday: J.P.McPherson's Diary,November 2, 1851 through December 31, 1851

 Diary Page for November 2 through December 31, 1851
Courtesy of the Margaret B.Burmeister Family
and Roots'n'Leaves and J.G.Hill Archives

Winter weather was approaching as we note that J.P. McPherson's focus in November was to finish building the fireplace for their cabin. The task took 11 days of work to complete. McPherson's frustration and irritation was almost palpable when after 8 days of working on the chimney, the entry for the 9th day said, “working on the chimney.” On the last two days, he is assisted by Wm. Henderson, Wm. Brown and Mr. Anderson(J.P. rarely uses Mr. Anderson's first name).

Except for two days harvesting and threshing for Mr. Davidson, harvest was over and the weather was cooler, so J.P.'s endeavors turned more toward “indoors” kind of work. He made a coat for James Stewart “3rd,” which is either the 3rd coat he has made for James Stewart, or perhaps there are three James Stewarts. He also made coats for two of the Dunkles, E. and Wm., as well as cut out pants for his own boys, Billy, James and Jabez.

However, possibly the most interesting of his entries were in relation to his budding political activities. After being elected Town Clerk on November 4th, he was busy “writing,” which most likely due to his position as Town Clerk and assembling the Assessment Rolls. He delivered the Assessment Rolls to the Town Treasurer and then “enters and files Town Papers”,whether this is an official “filing” or just and organizing task is not known.

On November 29th and December 6th, J.P. entered “at Squire Barras with Mr. Lester.” The connection between J.P., Squire Barras and Mr. Lester bears close attention as it appears to foretell an interesting development in J.P's political career.

McPherson also worked four days on the school, apparently building a chimney. The other itemf noted was that he worked one day on the school for Mr. Stevenson, which indicates that not only did his trade of tailoring and farm work, but also work could be traded for community service --- rather like being able to pay someone to take your place in the draft.

He also “picked up pork from Mr. Anderson” and “pork and oats from Mr. Paton,” which were undoubtedly payment for McPherson's work for these two men.

On a more personal basis, his correspondence was limited to only one letter to “Westwood, NY,”
which means the diary reader now knows that Westwood is S. Westwood of New York. Bit by bit, the pieces of the diary unfold. Also on November 2nd, McPherson entered “Wm. Henderson arrived.” The Centennial History of Springdale, 1848-1948 tells us that Henderson was a native of Scotland and came to America and settled in New York City in 1844, just two years after J.P. and Mary arrived in New York City. Henderson homesteaded a farm in Section 23 in Springdale, not too far from the McPherson farm – on Scotch Lane. It is likely that Henderson and McPherson knew each other either in Scotland and/or New York City. Although when reading the diary, it does not appear that the women visit back and forth (or perhaps J.P. doesn't think it important if they do), he noted on December 26th , “Visited by Mrs. Henderson,” which might indicate a long term friendship between the families or perhaps between Mary Burns McPherson and Hanna Henderson, or perhaps it had to do with a Christmas visit – though there has been no indication in the diary so far of celebrating the Christmas holiday.

Now on to the diary entries by James P. McPherson.

Journal Entries for 
November 2, 1851 through December 31, 1851
Novr    2nd   Sun.    At Wrights, Verona. Mr. Wm Henderson arrived.
          3rd    Mon.   At Mr. Hendersons forenoon. Writing afternoon.
          4th    Tue.   At election. Appointed Town Clerk till Town Meeting.
          5th    Wed.   Had a visit from Mr. & Mrs. Jackman. At Mr. Lesters.
          6th    Thurs. Writing forenoon. At the Hendersons afternoon.
          7th    Fri.    Working at my chimney.
          8th    Sat.       DO    DO  DO   DO
          9th   Sun.   At Mr. Wrights, Primrose – for my heifer.
        10th   Mon.   Working at my chimney.
        11th   Tues.      Do      Do   Do    Do
        12th   Wed.   Heavy rain-
        13th   Thurs     Do   Do  Working at my chimney afternoon
        14th   Fri.    Hauled lintel for school house and 2 load of stone for myself with Mr. Jackmans oxen.
        15th   Sat.    Working at the School house.
        16th   Sun.
        17th   Mon. Working at school house for Mr. Stevenson.
        18th   Tues.     Do    Do     Do     Do    "    "       "
        19th   Wed.   Cut coat for John Stewart 3rd.
        20th   Thurs. Making  Do.
        21st   Fri.     Thrashing for Mr. Davidson.
        22nd  Sat.           Do      "        Do.
        23rd  Sun.    At home
        24th  Mon.  Thrashing for Mr. Davidson.
        25th  Tues.        Do        "     Do till noonl  At Chimney P.M.
        26th  Wed.   Writing forenoon. - at chimney afternoon
        27th  Thurs. Working at my chimney
        28th   Fri.    Finished Mr. Stewarts coat. 
        29th   Sat.   At Squire Barras' with Mr. Lester.
        30th   Sun.  At Home 
Decr    1st   Mon.  Making Assessment Roll forenoon. At Town Treasurers with Notice of Taxes P.M.
          2nd  Tues.   Writing forenoon At Ju Eadi's & Wm. Hendersons P.M.
          3rd   Wed.   Writing & fixing house.
          4th   Thurs.  Writing. Cut coat for E. Dunkle.
          5th   Fri.     Working at my chimney, assisted by Wm. Henderson & Wm. Brown.
          6th   Sat.    Self and Mr. Anderson finished chimney. At Squire Barra's with Mr. Lester.
          7th   Sun.   Delivered Assessment roll to Town Treasurer.
          8th   Mon.   Making E. Dunkles Coat.
          9th   Tues.     Do       Do          Do   visit from Mr. Malone.
        10th   Wed.     Do      Do          Do
        11th   Thurs.  Entering Records and filing Town papers. (“Posted letter to Westwood”, lined out)
        12th   Fri.     Cut Wm. Dunkles Coat.
        13th   Sat.     Working at  Do    "
        14th   Sun.   At home
        15th   Mon.  Cutting pants for the boys.
        16th   Tues.   Hauling wood and working about the house
        17th   Wed.   At Post Office          Do        Do    “     “
        18th   Thurs. At home. Mary at Jackmans.
        19th   Fri.    Cutting wood and fixing shed for cattle. Posted letter to Mr Westwood, N.Y.
        20th   Sat.   At Mr. Andersons for pork forenoon – hauling wood with Mr. Lesters team afternoon.
        21st   Sun.  At Mr. Beats.
        22nd  Mon.  At Thomas Thomsons.
        23rd  Tues.   At Mr. Patons for pork & oats.
        24th   Wed.  Working about the house.
        25th   Thurs.    “   at  Wm Dunkles Coat.
        26th   Fri.        “    “                 “               “       Visted by Mrs. Henderson &c
        27th   Sat.        “    “                 “               “ 
             28th   Sun.   At home. Visted by Messers. Lamont & Anderson.
        29th   Mon.   Working on Mr. Dunkles Coat.
        30th   Tues.    Finished     “       “         “
        31st    Wed.   Chopping firewood &c.  

End of diary entries for November 2 through December 31, 1851.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, July 4, 2015

2015 June 29, Amanuensis Monday: J.P.McPherson's Diary, September 1, 1851 through November 1, 1851

September and October (and the first day of November) of 1851 were busy times for James P. McPherson.  Harvesting, haying, and thrashing for neighbors as well as for himself comprised about one-half of the entries.  He also described an incident when he was husking corn for Mr. Lester and fell across the tumbling rod, got caught by the coupling pin and was carried around the roll two or three times.  J.P. wrote that he escaped with only bruises, though it sounded like the tops of his pants and drawers might have suffered damage.

J.P. did, however, have his priorities.  The next day, October 7th, there was no mention of the accident, but he did note that there was “no paper.” As you might remember that he ordered the newspaper, Wisconsin Argus, on September 20th. Newspapers had long been important to McPherson and it worth noting that his order of the newspaper subscription was the first non-necessity item that was noted in the diary.
In conjunction with the interest in the news of the day, McPherson's involvement in the village politics was becoming apparent.  On September 29th, he was appointed Town Clerk, Pro Tem by M.L. Curtis, Clerk of Election. The next day, he commenced his appointment by tracking down the “town box.” J.P. posted a notice of a General Meeting and Special Election for the town of Springdale on October 18th and the meeting was held on the next day. Then on October 30th J.P. was visited by the Hon, Mr. Bird, with whom he had been in correspondence over the past year. It is not clear why McPherson contacted the Hon. A.A. Bird, nor the content of their subsequent letters, but it does seem to be important, whether the reason was political or business related. Hopefully, future entries will provide more clues.

During this period, J. P. “bot. a red heifer for $11,” to add to their two pigs from Mrs. Thomson and he went to the John Beats house raising. The major endeavor of the last 10 days in October was raising and hauling stone, and then building the chimney for their cabin. When I read this series of entries about the fireplace and chimney, I realized that the McPherson family had spent the first year in 15' x15' log cabin with only means of cooking and heat had been a fire in a pit in the dirt floor.
That realization made the winter storm when the thatch roof blow off even more harrowing for the family. They really had to be strong and determined to hew out a home on that western frontier.
As usual, McPherson was actively corresponding with friends and other persons. Apparently he was trying to convince Ann Adamson and John Brown, both in New York, to move to Wisconsin because he sent Statistics of Dane County to each of them at least once, and possibly twice. He also wrote to the Land Office, as well as Mr. Crawford, S. Westwood, R. Brand and A. A. Bird. Hopefully, as the diary unfolds we well find out the relationship between McPherson and these folks.

The last item of interest, at least to me, is the Sunday activities of the McPherson family. The day appears to be set aside for family and visits to and from neighbors. Only once did J.P. note that a couple came visiting, i.e., Mr. and Mrs. Jackman. It also appears that Mary did not accompany J.P. on his visits with neighbors, nor is there an indication whether Mary attended the funeral for the Christian Morich's child. The diary tells the reader much, but leaves so many questions unanswered.

Journal Entries for 
September 1, 1851 through November 1, 1851

Sept      1st   Mon     Forenoon howing. Afternoon at Messers.Childs & Wrights. Bot Red Heifer for $11.  
   "       2nd  Tues.
   "       3rd   Wed.    Mowing.
   "       4th  Thurs.       DO
   "       5th   Fri.      Raining. Posted letter to R. Brand.
   "       6th   Sat.      Mowing in the forenoon for Mr. Anderson.
   "       7th   Sun.     At home – not very much. Had calls from J McDonald and G. Davidison.
   "       8th   Mon     Making Hay
   "       9th   Tues.       DO     DO
   "      10th   Wed.      DO    DO
   "      11th   Thurs.    DO    Do  and thashing half-a-day with A. Davidson
    "      12th   Fri.     Thrashing for A. Davidson.
   "      13th   Sat.           "         "    "      "
   "      14th   Sun.  At Lesters and Bairds.
   "      15th   Mon.  Hauling my hay forenoon – Mr. Andersons with Mr. Bairds team and waggon.
   "      16th  Tues.    At Patons and fixing fence.
   "      17th  ed.    Making hay for Mr Anderson. Recd letter from R. Grant. 
   "      18th  Thurs  At Mr. Wrights, Davidson and LaMonts.
   "      19th  Fri.     Mowing forenoon. Raining afternoon. Posted letter to S. Westwood.
   "     20th   Sat.    At Madison. Ordered “W. Argus”.
   "     21st   Sun     Raining. At Lesters in the morning. Mary sick.
   "     22nd  Mon.   Raining. Mary still sick.
   "     23rd  Tues    Fixed Chicken House. Mary better.
   "     24th  Wed.   Cutting Corn.
   "     25th  Thurs   DO    DO forenoon. Hauling hay for Mr.Anderson P.M.
   "     26th  Fri.     Raining. At home.
   "     27th  Sat.     Thrashing for Mr. Paton.
   "     28th  Sun.    At Messers. Bairds and Beats.
   "     29th  Mon.   At M.L. Curtis' – Clerk of Election. Appointed T.C.ProTem.
   "     30th  Tues.   Went to Mr. A. Whytes; to get town box & from Mr. Munger. Got them at Mr. Whalleys. Afternoon hauling hay with Mr. Lester.
Octr     1st  Wed     Digging potatoes forenoon – thrashing for Mr. Cummings afternoon. Mr. Anderson went to the Cat Fish. Recd letters from John Brown & R. Brand.
   "      2nd Thurs.  Thrashing for Mr. Cummings.
   "      3rd  Fri.           Do        "   "       "
   "      4th  Sat.           Do        "   "       "  ¾ of the day Mr. Anderson 
   "     5th  Sun.     At Mr. Childs with Mr. Anderson for his steers. Visited by Messers. Brown & Findley, and Mr. and Mrs. Jackman.
   "    6th  Mon.    Husking and hauling my corn.
   "    7th  Tues.     Husking for Mr. Lester – in the afternoon fell across the tumbling rod – got caught by the coupling pin and was carried around the roll 2 or 3 times. Escaped with bruises on my legs and side and the tops of my pants & drawers.
   "    8th  Wed.    Husking corn. No paper.
   "    9th  Thurs.      Do      Do
   "   10th  Fri.    Thrashing for Mr. Anderson and Self. Had 6 ½ bushels of wheat. Posted letters to J. Brown, M Crawford and Land Office.
   "   11th  Sat.    Thrashing for Mr. Anderson til 10 o'clock. Husking corn.
   "   12th  Sun.   At Mr. Jackmans.
   "   13th  Mon.  Walked to Madison with John Eadie. Rode back to Flicks with John Thornton. John Beats house raised.
    "   14th  Tues.   Husking corn.
   "   15th  Wed.       Do      Do   and lifted the balance of my potatoes.
   "   16th  Thurs.  Mary at Mr. Stewarts. Thrashing for Mr. Lamonth from 3 o'clock.
   "   17th  Fri.     Thrashing for Mr. Lamont til 3 o'clock. Posted Statistics of Dane Co to Ann. Adamson & J. Brown.
   "   18th  Sat.     Posting Notice of General Election & Special T. Meeting.
   "   19th  Sun.    At funeral for Christian Morok's child, and Meeting.
    "   20th   Mon.  Raising stone for chimney. Cold winds – some hail fell.
   "   21st  Tues.    DO        DO  DO   Still cold with a little hail.
   "   22nd Wed.   Hauling straw and sand with D. Lesters team.
   "   23rd  Thurs. Raising stone.
   "   24th  Fri.    Hauling stone, assisted by Mr. Jackman. Posted Statistics of Dane Co. to Ann Adamson & J. Brown.
   "   25th  Sat.    Hauling stone and commenced building my chimney. Assisted by Mr. Jackman. Mr. Js corn husker away.
   "   26th  Sun    At home.
   "   27th  Mon.   Building Chimney.
   "   28th  Tues.        Do         Do
   "   29th  Wed.        Do         Do
   "   30th  Thurs.      Do         Do   visted by Mr. Bird.
   "   31st   Fri.         Do         Do
Novr  1st   Sat.         Do         Do

End of September, October, and November 1, 1851, diary entries.

Note:  Yellow highlighted words mean that this is my best guess  as to the word.//JGH 
~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sepia Saturday #285: Joyce Sigford, The Baronof Hotel and Juneau, Alaska

Ah, what a great theme this week.  I dinna have much in the way of postcards, but my offering this week is a 1940s photograph of the Baronof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska.  As Sepian readers, you might remember that last week, I posted photos of my twin aunts as business women of the 1940s.  This is not a follow up, but somewhat of a pre-quel. 

Baronof Hotel, Juneau, Alaska, circa 1938
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

Juneau, Alaska, circa 1938
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)
The photograph at the right is the
Baronof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska, as it must have appeared to my Aunt Joyce Sigford when she arrived some time in 1938 or 1939.  At that time, it was a very "posh" place according to my aunt, and it had all of the amenities that one would expect in Seattle, or San Francisco, Chicago or New York.  I am not sure how Joyce knew about hotels in New York or Chicago because I don't think she was ever in either of those cities. In the late 1930s Alaska was, as now, a booming place, though at that time the boom came from the perceived war threat from Japan and the defensive preparations.

As you can see in the photograph to the left, Juneau rather clung to the side of the mountain.  The Baronof Hotel was  nestled against the mountains and almost in a direct line from the nearly right-angle of the bay waterfront.

The Baronof Hotel of the 1930s and 40s was an elegant hotel and played to the Russian-American heritage of the area.  The hotel was named after Alexander Andreyevitch Baronof (Baronov) who was the first governor of Russian-Alaska and the first Manager of the Russian-American Co. (a fur trading company) from 1799 to 1818.  Baronof Island, also known as Baronov Island, Shee (by the Native Tlinglit people), or Sitka Island, was also named after him.  Whether for the history, the elegance or the adventure, Joyce loved the Baronof Hotel -- and Alaska.  To hear my aunt speak of the Baronof Hotel and it's namesake there was an aura of royalty that was imbued into my memory. I also remember a large painting or print  of the hotel that hung in a place of honor in her dining room --  I don't remember what happened to it after she died.

To me, on of the more interesting elements of her sojourn in Alaska was what motivated her to pack her bag, get aboard a ship and travel to far away Alaska, alone and without nearby family.  Although the time has long past when I could sit down and ask her these questions, she did leave an interesting album of photographs of her time in Juneau and at the Baronof.

She left the lower 48 to head for Alaska and the Baronof Hotel sometime between 1937 and l938.
She was not much over 30 years old at the time.  The photograph below is how she looked as she sailed away.  My guess is that the following two photos were taken by her sister Loise, or perhaps her brother Clemmon.

Joyce Sigford standing at
the ship railing
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

I always thought she looked a bit pensive in this photograph to the left .  However, she was the well dressed young woman of the day (although, she does seem to be missing her gloves -- she and Loise always wore gloves as young women), as she stood at the ships railing, and getting ready to leave all that was familiar behind her.

Joyce Sigford, smiling and ready for
her adventure in Alaska
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

I have always liked the photo to the right and how Joyce was smiling.  She looked so excited about her new adventure -- and an adventure it was.   Women  raised in rural Klamath County, Oregon, weren't expected to go off on an adventure such as this  -- Going to Alaska!  By yourself!  Goodness sakes, what will people think!  I can hear my grandmother muttering those words.  On the other hand, my grandmother yearned for adventure, but never was afforded her dreams.

Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)


And in Alaska, Joyce met the love of her life, John Harold (Hal) Williams.  Here they are standing on the moorage catwalk next to Hal's  boat which was the source of many of their activities.  I never thought of Aunt Joyce as an outdoors-kind of gal, but during her years in Alaska, she fished, boated, and hiked  -- and apparently loved every minute of her stay in Juneau.

Joyce and Hal in a photo labeled as "March 22, 1940"

A Very Stylish for Catching a Big Fish
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

Joyce in an Alaskan Winter Wonderland
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

Joyce and Hal on their Boat In Alaskan Waters
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

Joyce and Hal Fishing from Their Boat
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

Joby (as she was called in the family) communing with a critter
Courtesty of  the Archives of  Roots'n'Leaves and  JGHill
(also from the personal albumn of Joyce Sigford Williams)

Hal and Joyce, circa 1943

The photograph to the left is one of the few undated and/or without Joyce's annotation.  My guess it was taken just before she left Juneau for Stateside.  Alaska was preparing for the worst scenario  with the Japan's aggressiveness of the late 1930s.   On June 3, 1942, six months after bombing Pearl harbor, the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor in the Aluetians.  Many of the Aluets were evacuated to Southeast Alaska and  Hal hurried his wife back to Seattle, safety and to be with her parents (who lived on a small farm south of Seattle).   This ended the Alaska adventure of my Aunt Joyce.

A year later, the Japanese invaders of the Aluetian Islands were pushed back, even though the war in the South Pacific went on for another two years.  Hal remained in Alaska during those war years, but after the war he joined his wife on a berry farm they had purchased near the little town of Puyallup, about nine miles south of Tacoma.  They lived on this idyllic little farm on the Puyallup River for nearly forty years.  Hal died in 1980, and Joyce remained on the farm until about 1990, when she and her sister Loise moved into a retirement village.  Joyce died 2 July 1993.

A few years later,  when we moved my Aunt Loise to Oregon to be closer to family, I rescued Joyce's suede-covered Alaska Photo Album from the trash pile and have ever since kept and shared her record of her grand adventure.

Now march on over to see the buildings, architecture, postcards, and such offered up by fellow Sepians.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications