We are going back in time in this post. We have a very old journal that was started in 1891 and continued through to the 1940s.
As some of you know, Charles and I love history. After we started our journals we wanted to know more about the old journals. I was looking for an empty old journal to use with hopefully some blank pages I could use for a template. What I found was an antique dealer selling this old journal but it was used, very used. Charles said we needed to get this because it was part of history and we could learn from it. Little did we know how much we would learn.
In the back of the book there was very light penciled in names, I could barely make them out. A town but I could not read all the letters, and while I read through the journal I would read a name, Irma. Boots for Irma. Who was Irma?
This journal is the lifetime of a family and every single thing they spent money on and the money they made. It is a travel through time. There are some pages missing and some that are out of order as the twine that holds this book together is broken.
All during the journal there are sections where they total the months, the egg money. All the expenses, horse shoeing, hay, butter, eggs.
They total the year and in the back they total up all the years.
Who was this family? I am reading their life, when the horse and buggy would change to car fare. The years that passed.
Why did they purchase so many eggs? So much butter? They had chickens and cows so why did they purchase these things?
On this page, the first page in the book, it is May, 1891. William is listing their horse, cow, two year old heifer, two yearling heifers, Calf, Pig, buggy, Farm wagon, harnesses, 1 & 1/2 tons of hay, Robes, and blankets, horse sleds, Mowing machine, horse rake, Cultivator, Wheel barrow, forks, hens. Then there is writing about painting the house and repairs. What does all this mean? Who are these people?
I became curious, fascinated, and then a sense of protection for this magnificent book that once belonged to a real family. I was reading their personal book, I felt at times I was intruding into someones private space as if they were naked. But, I wanted to know more.
Since I have done many years of genealogy research on our families, I just had to find them and for me that was very easy as I know how to do that. I kept trying to match the letters with towns and names and finally put the pieces together so I could get into the archives.
I feel the need to protect who they are but I can tell you their story.
This is a couple that married in 1894. William started this journal in 1891 after he left home and went to work in a shoe shop. In the us census William was no longer living with his parents, Myrna was still at home.
William and Myrna married in 1894, William was 36 and Myrna was 24. Had William been married and lost his wife? Is that why he started his journal in 1891?
Sixteen months later, William and Myrna had a baby girl, Irma.
William and Myrna made shoes. William smoked cigars and when the cigars were purchased there was most always candy purchased too. That was their little pleasures along with an occasionally bottle of Whiskey, I am sure for medicinal purposes :) William would purchase the cigars and candy often when he had a shave and a haircut.
They went to the theater and Irma took music lessons.
There was sickness and medicine and money paid to Dr Beckler.
The monthly expense totals increased through time as they were becoming more modern.
William never changed jobs and Myrna quit making shoes before the age 60. Irma grew up and got married in 1920 at the age of 25.
They purchased Ice in the early years before they had electricity for their icebox refrigerator.
Then came along electricity and they had a $2.50 electric bill.
Another music lesson for .50 cents.
During the beginning and middle of the book the writing was very good.
Then as time passed their handwriting changed. Then William became elderly, at age 87, William passed away. Myrna passed away at age 81 then years later Irma passed away at age 81, she lived the same amount of years as her mother.
Reading their journal William, Myrna and Irma lived a comfortable life. William lived long enough to see world war two end in Europe.
I have much more to study in our journal, it has taught Charles and I that it is important for us to journal our expenses.
We started our journals before we found the old journal. I wonder, how many journals did they keep? Did Myrna keep a diary or journal?
This journal above is our expenses journal then Charles has a small journal in his car and he writes down his gas expenses, his mileage and notes in his car journal. We are starting a garden journal and we have the journal that we have done for several years that records the daily reading of the electric meter, the water meter, the temperature and rainfall.
We don't care if these things are thrown away after we are gone, it is helping us now to budget, to look into our expense journal and write out a grocery list and know what the prices were the last time we purchased those items and gives us a sense how to budget our grocery list.
We know if there is a water leak if the water reading is off, we know when we have used too much electricity and when we have saved electricity so we don't get surprised with a whopping electric bill.
Journaling is a way we can keep ourselves disciplined. We spent too many years wasting our money, expenses keep rising, there needs to be savings because none of us know when something unexpected can happen.
A post in the garden journal posted by Charles,
Sun barely up, partly cloudy, at 6:15. 17 waxwings in the back pecan tree, 6:45 40 waxwings in the side yard, flew off heading north. 63 degrees 79% humidity , wind calm.
Mulberry tree been putting out leaves for about a week. Fig tree medium size leaves on branches, blooms on citrus, blooms dropping on blueberries in victory garden, blooms putting out on blueberry secret garden.
We do these things instead of watching television.
My Grandmother kept records and scrapbooks. She would carefully paste weddings, obituaries, birth announcements from the local paper. Her books would include interesting articles of news that was happening, then there were anniversaries, news about storms, the war and it is a wonderful look back in time.
I wonder about William, Myrna and Irma and as their expenses increased as they traveled through time, did their happiness change with the increased goods? Or were they just as happy when they had less goods.
I think that there are things of today that are very helpful and save time but we have to be careful that we don't become lazy and distracted.
Our living "like" 1942 is just a reference point. We are really just living a more simple life, we use 1942 to study the time, not to try and get people to live this way. We just want to study 1942, we also have learned to love living like this and even have explored further back.
What we are doing is trying to live as our generations before us lived.