• 12 Ohio Farm Diaries Detail Attending Spiritual -- likely Spiritualist -- Meetings, Political Conventions, Buying Illegal Whiskey

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    Offering 12 late 19th and early 20th century diaries, various sizes, mostly 3 x 6, covering 1891 – 1905 (some missing years), and belonging to Hiram, Ohio, farmer Thomas Young, who kept careful, terse and somewhat irregular accounts of his daily activities and experiences, including attending many spiritual meetings in Mantua, Ohio, which were likely Spiritualist meetings, as the term “spiritual meetings” was often used interchangeably with Spiritualist meetings. Mantua was the home of the National Spiritual and Religious Camp Association [research included].  Young notes his attendance on Sundays throughout the diaries. At one such meeting, he heard Mrs. Jackson speak. This may have been spiritual medium Mrs. Jennie B.H. Jackson.  Young’s entries are short on detail, but quite prolific in number.


    He includes occasional spiritual meanderings, such as this one in 1894: “Stolen waters are sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But knoweth not that the dead are there and harbor quests in the depths of hell.”


    Young also speaks of buying whiskey in 1893, which was illegal at the time.  “Went to Garrettsville, bot [bought] a pair of eyeglasses and a quart of whiskey. A pleasant day.”  Liquor would not become legal until 1933. He spends a good deal of time with his companion Mary Hescock and their relationship is complicated at times.  “Mary Hescock came up for dinner and got mad because I said she was childish and a man would not better himself if he married her.”  While her many visits are mentioned throughout the diaries, there is no mention of marriage.


    Sleighing was a major form of transportation and Young records sleighing conditions throughout the diaries. Numerous terrible snow storms hit Hiram, making sleighing quite effective. He also writes of cleaning the stable, buying, raising and butchering hogs, selling chickens, planting and harvesting corn, oats, hay, potatoes.  He mentions honoring President Lincoln on the anniversary of his assassination. He notes the death of resident Frank Spencer, who was killed by a lightning strike, a post office robbery, a local murder, voting in elections and saving $1,000. Young has rental property, has loaned money to a number of people, including $900 to S.E. Young, and makes frequent collections and bank deposits.


    His many listings include attending the Democratic Convention at Cleveland. He notes the anniversary of Gen. Andrew Jackson’s winning the Battle of New Orleans on January 18th, 1815.


    The diaries contain a good deal of farm, weather and current events information. “Frogs chirped last night...Cleaned out the stable and drove a load of wood in the forenoon. Called to see Mr. Maxwell who was very sick in the afternoon...Election Day was very warm...Had new shoes put on Nellie and took the mare up to Dustin...Election was held to elect trustees for the Hamlet...Went to Kent to the Democrat meeting...Arrived in Chicago about 11 o’clock. Stayed at the Crafts Hotel...Election Day. Pleasant Day. 195 Democrats voted. 140 Republicans. 73 Populists.  In 1892, Young notes the anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.  He adds, “On the morning of the 15 of April, Lincoln died.” In 1895, Young attended a “grand rally day of the college to raise money to build a new building.” On November 5, 1895, he again reports election results: Republicans vote 137; Democrat 32; Populist 32.  On June 8th, he notes that “Frank Spencer was killed by lightning.”


    Most of the diaries have leather covers.  Three are written in Pierce’s Memorandum Account Books, which were designed for farmers, mechanics and others. Of note in the account books are printed advertisements for the Invalids’ Hotel and Surgical Institute, a “pleasant, remedial home” and the types of illnesses they can cure, including helping married men with impotence, referred to as “suffering from a flagging of their powers.” The advertisement notes that this is a disease that requires the institute to exercise strict confidence.  “Great precaution will always be used by us to send all letters and medicines in plain packages, carefully sealed so that no one can even suspect the contents, or by whom sent.”


    Numerous newspaper clippings are included with coverage about the anniversary of a burglary by the Blinky Morgan Gang, the death of a bride while on her wedding alter and period advertisements. 


    The diaries are mostly in pencil and the covers are generally in good condition with some expected wear. One is tattered. Also included with the grouping is a published article about the diaries written by a previous owner.


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