In 2005, when first I picked up the worn, leather-bound diary, I did not know I was about to begin my first adventure in historical detection. Kindly, a woman had sent it to the Historical Society of the nearest town with the name “Stoddard,” which happened to be Stoddard, NH, where my husband was then president of the historical society. Although the woman wanted the diary to be connected with our town, it was not.
Once the old-fashioned handwriting was deciphered and the abbreviations used by Adaline were figured out, I wanted to make available this capsule of a pre-electric and pre-gas powered way of life. A fully edited version of the diary is included in this book along with analyses of the diarist’s daily, weekly, and seasonal tasks as a Vermont dairy farmer’s wife. Life in 1894 was not all hard work. Adaline was an extrovert who, “after chores”, gadded about town visiting, going to “sociables” and oyster suppers in winter, and frequently entertaining guests at home with corned beef dinners.
Because the diarist gives first and last names of about seventy individuals, I was able, using the Internet, to recreate village life in Waitsfield, Vermont, in the Mad River Valley in 1894. Doing this detective work was the most fun I have had in years. I now understand how people can get so excited finding their ancestors in the old records. I hope that, after seeing how much I gleaned from the skimpy entries in this diary, you might be inspired to do the same with your family’s written treasures.
About the Author
Aft er teaching English and American Literature for many years at Northeastern University in Boston, Ms. Francis ran her own garden design and landscape business in Concord, MA, and is now teaching watercolor painting in NH. She enjoys gardening, painting, Tai Chi, reading, and being with her children, grandchildren and friends.