In my great grandfather’s diary on MAY 24, 1899 the entry is simply,” this is our Queen
Victoria’s 80th birthday.”
I am privileged to have possession of this diary and its first entry is January 1, 1861. Benjamin was born on September 27, 1836 so that made him 25 years old when he begins with this statement.
” PRIVATE JOURNAL, in which I intend to record local occurrences, daily occupation, markets and state of the weather.”
Over the past few years, I have browsed through the pages of entries from 1861 -1915
There are only several entries per week, always the Sunday meeting, where he would share the scriptural text, almost without exception from the Gospels. Then there is a report of those ill, the trips he took into town, to fetch the Doctor, and often to drive again the next day, to tell the Dr. the patient was better. I was most effected by the fact that they would sit up all night with friends and relatives who were ill. Mixed in. are funerals, singing school, visiting from home to home, young people visiting from other communities. Nancy, my great-grandmother, going to funerals, to visit friends, attend church etc. She sounds like an active person, and I can envision her climbing into the buggy and trotting off. Did her husband or son, hitch it up for her? Did she have a favorite horse who knew the route she was taking. Can you imagine Benjamins concern when she was diagnosed with diphtheria in 1862, at 23 years old? On their 24th anniversary in October 1881 he said “haven’t regretted it yet” High praise.! She birthed ten children, including my Father Carl’s father, Flavius.
Oh yes, “saw 6 gypsy wagons go down the Pickering Town line today” .( I never heard about that in my day.) Also, appointments for wool spinning, oiling harness, purchasing a nine-year old horse for $80.00. There was a tooth to be pulled, There were 72 maple trees tapped. One year he added that they averaged a pound of sugar for every tree tapped. Hired Gleason Thomas for 3 months at $12.00 per month and traded 2 cords of wood @$4.50 for a Yak robe. Sold two pigs @ $1.00 piece.,Bob Haig clipped the sheep today @.5 cents a piece.. Took our wool to Clipps Carding mill at Altona. There was a bank deposit for $500. in the Standard Bank in Markham. On Dec 2 1910 Benjamin wrote “J. went to Markham this a.m. .He paid out taxes (get ready) $51.71” !!!!!
We can gripe about the inefficiencies of our current health system, but when I read these entries, from March 8 1869 ,I cannot imagine the suffering for the child or the parents to be in such a state for 10 days without the aid of some sedatives.
“Levi (9) is sick with congestion of the brain. on the 9th “he is worse” and daily he worsened, every day he stayed with Levi, different friends stopped by some sat up all night with them by Sunday the 21, he rallied in the morning and then began to convulse every thirty minutes. On the 22 he enters” Death seems to be approaching, March 23, “Dear Levi! died this morning at 30 minutes past 6”
The next entry was March 24 funeral by H Barkey, sermon on Matt.18: 1-4. except you become like little children you shall not see the Kingdom of heaven,
Nine years old. ( I just may go and see the grave I am sure it is still there)
I know Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until 1901. Now when I see historical dramas e.g. what I recently watched about, the dreadful wars in Afghanistan and India, during her reign I now can relate it to Benjamin and Nancy. Benjamin followed the wars.
On August 14,1898 he wrote”I might as well state that the war between Spain the States is over. The states were a little much for Spain on the Ocean out classing and out numbering them in vessels. They beat them at the Philippines and at Santiago and became Master of the Sea. (sounds like something the US president would say) The Spaniards ran short of provisions at Santiago and finally surrendered.”
Feb 8,1904 “war commenced between Japan and Russia yesterday by a Naval battle at Port Arthur The Japs torpedoed 5 of the Russian vessels in short order”.By Aug 5, ” it was decided yesterday the Japs are victorious. By October 20. “a terrible battle in the east, 400,000 men engaged and 40,000. men killed and wounded.”
November 4, 1904 “Laurier Government was Triumphantly returned to power yesterday.”
There are more updates on the Russians and Japanese war, but suffice it to say, Benjamin kept his ear to the…. ,not TV!!. newspapers??
August 7,1914 “There is a terrible war going on in Europe, All the nations are mixed up in it. But the worst of it is, that Great Britain and Germany are opposed to each other;”
Sept 16, The war in Europe is going on in unabated fury……..The Old Kaiser of Germany seems to at the bottom of it. He was oppressing Belgium and Great Britain would not consent to that.”
War and trouble have been with this planet always. I suppose we would all hope we were past it, but ……………..
“Let not your heart be troubled” John 14: 1