Monday, February 28, 2011

Upon Which Lennie Looks Into Church Windows

Lennie writes in his diary....

Tuesday, March 1, 1898

Graduate started to ware ribbons. (The senior class members are wearing ribbons denoting their approach to graduation.)
Went to M.E. revival meetings.
(Methodist Episcopal Church)

Wednesday, March 2, 1898
Had a lecture in Sweed church. (Either the Swedish Christian or the Swedish Mission Church)
Gim & I looked through the windows. (But evidently did not attend!)
Went to church. (Hmmm, where? Methodist Episcopal?)

The churches seem to be busy this late winter. Lennie's attending one or another. The high school seniors are looking forward to graduation. Meanwhile, the world goes on.

In regards to the situation in Havana, Cuba, after the explosion and destruction of the Battleship Maine, the
Omaha Bee reports today that "Clara Barton is very active in the work of relief of she sent supplies to... all twenty-five districts. The receipts of food for the distressed in Cuba continue."

There's plenty of other news about Cuba with much speculation as to what will happen there in regards to independence from Spain. Heads of State of many nations are weighing in with their national opinions.

In news elsewhere, the Omaha Bee has been reporting all winter on the gold rush in Alaska. A newspaperman by the name of Lucius C. Pease makes a trip to the Yukon by oxen and writes a goodly long letter about the hazards of traveling in the winter. The letter is printed in full and is sub-titled "Not a Pleasure Trip By Any Means." You can read his letter on page 3 by clicking here.

On page 4 we read this odd little note:
"Jesse James, the 20-year-old son of the great bandit , has bought the cigar stand in the corridor of the court hcuse In St. Louis. For several years he has worked as a clerk in the Armour packing house , has cared for his mother, educated his sister , paid off the mortgage on their home and is said to be a shrewd and most estimable young man."

Meanwhile, the Treasurer of the State of Nebraska is on trial for embezzlement.

Change a few names and international events, and it would seem the world hasn't changed much since Lennie's sixteenth year in Wakefield, Nebraska in 1898.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brace Yourself For the Next Picture!

Brace yourself!
For a good laugh!

Lennie's little photo album has at least forty-one pages of photos with up to six photos per page. Each photo is thumbnail size. Lennie mentions several times that he took photos of Sport or of a friend. So I'm thinking he took many of these photos himself.

However, today's photos were obviously clipped from some publication and Lennie found them hilarious.

On the page prior to this page he writes "Brace yourself for the next picture."

I can hear Lennie laughing heartily everytime he showed this page to friends.

The words accompanying the photos say this...

"Are there any more at home like you?"


Friday, February 25, 2011

Sport, In Top Hat, Collar and Tie, is a Good Sport

Charles Leonard Davis, age 16, continues his diary entries.

Thursday, February 24, 1898

Pound Party at C.C. (Christian Church)
Social at Haskels.
I went to Haskels.
A "pound party" was a welcoming event held for a new preacher. Church members brought a pound of this or a pound of that to stock the preacher's cupboards.

It looks as if Lennie wasn't all that interested in stocking cupboards. Instead he went to the social at the Haskells. There were at least two households by the name of Haskell in Wakefield according to the 1900 census. One of those homes was about three houses from Lennie's house.

Friday, February 25, 1898
Took in $48 at Sea?? (Again Lennie's handwriting is difficult to decipher.)
Ruth Drshell? went home.
I went to the JOGT. (JOGT was part of the Odd Fellows Lodge)

Saturday, February 26, 1898

Took Earle's & Sport's picture.
Fixed my wheel. (bicycle wheel)
Did not go riding.
Sport is Lennie's dog. Click photo for a closer view. You will see that Sport is wearing a top hat, a collar and tie, and also has a pair of wire-rim glasses perched atop his nose. He was, after all, a "good sport". The original photo is smaller than my thumbnail and this is the best enhancement I could get on my photo software.

Sunday, February 27, 1898
Guy took our picture at the elevator.
Gim & I.

I took G. home.

Monday, February 28, 1898

Prof. got hot at me.
Wrote to Lew and Zella W.
Went to band practice.
Went home and studied.
It looks as if the Prof's temper tantrum has caused Lennie to go home and study. It's about time, Lennie!
Lew is Lewis M. Walden who used to live down the street from Lennie but who moved to Phoenix some time recently, leaving his parents and rest of the family still in their Wakefield home. Lew is currently 18 years old and works for the railroad as a telegraph operator. He will die young in 1927 at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Lennie Celebrates George's Birthday

A new week begins and Lennie continues to write in his diary. Lennie's words are in bold black. Oops! And sometimes bold red!

Monday, February 21, 1898

Wilse Lungren had a trile in Emerson.

I'm not certain about the spelling of the name...I could barely make it out. And, yes, Lennie spelled "trial" incorrectly. Emerson, Nebraska is a little town less than ten miles to the east of Wakefield. Lennie was aware of the trial. It must have been local news, but he doesn't give us the details.

Practiced in the hall for tomorrow night.

Tuesday, February 22, 1898

Had no school in afternoon.
Had entertainment at night.

George Washington birthday.

This entry was written in the red ink that Lennie made last week. I suppose he thought George's birthday was a red-letter day! I'm sad to say that my grandchildren may not know that we used to get two school on Feb 12 and another on Feb 22. The kids got short-changed when our Fed Gummint changed it to a single "Presidents' Holiday". And so did George and Abe in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, February 23, 1898
Cold wind all day.
Jim B and I played horns at the elevator at nite.

Lennie is serious about his music and he often mentions practicing as well as playing at various events. I'm reading between the lines when I say that undoubtedly the band performed at George's birthday celebration on Tuesday.

Rest easy, George and Abe. You did great things for this nation and moved it forward through difficult times. I'm not certain where the nation is headed these days. Things seem in a bit of a constant upheaval. And these days we should surely be writing everything in red ink! Sigh!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sam and Lennie Walk the Girls Home While War Looms on the Horizon

Thurs., February 17, 1898
Sam and Gertie began to get like syrup.
That means Sam and Gertie are getting a little sweet on each other.

Friday, February 18, 1898
Went skating after school.
Sam & I distrubed bills around town for Prof.

(Lennie's spelling may not be perfect, but he must be making points with the professor by "distributing" said bills.)

Saturday, February 19, 1898
Sam & I went skating.
Girls went down after dinner.

Had a hot time.

Snowed last night.

(Hmmm, sounds like Lennie and his friends had a great time of fun.)

Sunday, February 20, 1898
Cold in forenoon.
Bummed all day.

Sam took Gertie home.

I took you know.

(Sam and Gertie are still sweet on each other. And Lennie is keeping mum about the name of the gal he took home.)

While Sam and Lennie are walking Gertie and "you know" home in the early evening, the disastrous explosion of the USS Maine continues to make headline news. The front page of the Feb. 19 Omaha Bee has extensive news on the Maine. We read short excerpts as follows:

HAVANA, Feb 18 -- "Captain Sigsbee (who survived the explosion) and the local board of investigation rowed today round and round the sunken, twisted masses, all that is left of the splendid battle
ship Maine. They could not get on board because of the orders of the authorities, at least the guards said so, and Captain Sigsbee obeyed, although his pennant was still flying from the masthead and the parts of the Maine above water (or below it either) were "just as much United States soil" as ever they were. The officers examined the position of the wreck closely. It was noted primarily that the whole force of the explosion was from port to starboard."

The article goes on to say..."the ship is practically broken in two by the explosion"...

HAVANA, Feb. 18 - "Consul General Lee has received many dispatches from newspapers in the United States with reference to the Maine disaster, to which the consular regulations prevent him from replying."

HAVANA, Feb. 18 - ............"The bodies of the sailors who went down with the Maine are getting into such a condition that they float, and the currents carry them about the harbor. More than fourteen...were found at Casa Blanca, under the walls of Cabanas fortress." The article gives much detailed information regarding the dead.

LONDON, Feb. 19.--"The Daily Chronicle has secured from Mr. Gladstone the following m
essage for America: "I am deeply grieved at the sad loss the American people have suffered.""

MADRID, Feb. 18 -- "Today the Spanish press shows indignation because doubts are expressed in America as to the origin of the catastrophe to the Maine."

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18. -- "A debate, decided in its sensations, was unexpectedly precipitated in the senate today over the consideration of the resolution of Mr. Allen of Nebraska, directing the committee on naval affairs to investigate the disaster to the Maine."

The article goes on to state that the Illinois senator "delivered a speech in which he said that the people demanded the truth concerning the explosion, and declared that they would not be satisfied with the investigation to be conducted by the officers of the navy, who would virtually try their own case, and would cover up any blame that the officers might show attached to them."

And again, later, the article states, "The sinking of the Maine will be made the subject of immediate and exhaustive inquiry and congress will be fully advised of the result of such investigation."
Much debate followed. America will soon be at war with Spain.

Today's photo (found online) was obviously taken before the explosion. It seems strange to view this small moment in their lives while they were posing for a photographer and know that some if not all of these very men perished the night of February 15, 1898 when the Maine exploded in Havana Harbor.

If you want to see the front page of the Omaha Bee click
here. In a strange sort of way the news seems so "current" in its intensity and uproar.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lennie Writes About History and War and Makes Red Ink

Monday, February 14, 1898
US war ship blowed up this evening.
Went to band practice.

Tuesday, February 15, 1898
Cloudy all day.
Fred Poff went to the country to stay.

Wednesday, February 16, 1898
Nothing happened. (In regards to Lennie's day, not in regards to the battleship Maine. Written in red ink)
Made some red ink.

Lennie is a poor historian. He records an explosion that sinks the USS Maine on the wrong date! The event happened on the evening of February 15 and not February 14! The explosion sank the ship with 260 lives immediately lost and six who died later. The photo shows the Maine passing Morro Castle as she entered Havana harbor, Cuba, on 25 January 1898. She was destroyed by explosion there some three weeks later, on 15 February.

You can read more about the
USS Maine here.

You can read more about the Spanish-American war here.

The events following this explosion bring a bit of life to the city of Wakefield, Nebraska. A Nebraska guard unit will be camping (and drilling) in Wakefield for a short while before being deployed. Soldiers coming to town must have been a big event and we will read Lennie's occasional comments in regards to those fellows in uniform.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Lennie Takes in the Town and Then Goes Home to Dinner

Sunday February 13, 1898
Lennie writes:
Gim and me took in the town.
Frank Schulz is gone.
Home for dinner.

Frank Schulz will play an important part in Lennie's life. Frank is a younger brother to Charles Schulz who married Lennie's sister Flora Olive (Ollie). You will remember that it is Charles whose face appears in the photo of the Wakefield Cornet Band.

As of this writing Frank Rinhold Schulz is 22 years old. Frank was 8 years old when he left Germany with his mother and siblings for the wild prairies of Nebraska. By this time in his life Frank undoubtedly spoke the language of his new country, but his accent would be heard as clearly German by his friends and neighbors. Yah?

Soon Frank is going to marry (1899). Perhaps that is where he has visit his future bride. Lennie doesn't say. He just says Frank "is gone".

Frank and his soon-to-be bride Dena will eventually have (at least) eight children.

Frank's niece, Alma Matilda Gazena Kuckku, will be orphaned in 1907 and will come to live with Frank and Dena. And she will meet Lennie. And she and Lennie will become the grandparents to my Hubby. And I'm getting wayyyy ahead of myself here.

Lennie will announce important happenings in the coming week. Big news!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Which Lennie Takes His Medicine And Sees a Dentist. Sortta!

Thursday February 10, 1898
Snowed and blowed.

Had a band concert.

Doggone! The snow had just melted! One snow "went off" as Lennie puts it. Another appears on the horizon. That's sorta true in our everyday lives, too. One stormy problem gets taken care of and there is always another one approaching.

Friday, February 11, 1898
Prof is cross.
C. Church had a supper.

had a big time.

Lennie's problems with the professor continue. I'm betting Lennie somehow was at the center of whatever situation had caused the prof to be 'cross'. But I can't say that for sure as I wasn't there.
This week Lennie attends an evening meal at the Christian Church. A supper means "people" and Lennie was a people person. It is possible that many in that small town of Wakefield, Nebraska enjoyed the social gatherings at several churches. This is where they could visit with friends and neighbors. A sixteen-year-old boy of 1898 would not have had a lot social outlets. Family. School. Church. Community gatherings. No video games, no television, not even movies, although they did have "lantern" shows.

Today I'm sharing some more photos with you. I'm wondering if Lennie himself were the photographer. He did take photos and mentions that in his diary from time to time. These were taken some years after he wrote his teen diary but before he married.

You can see that Lennie had a great sense of humor. In the first series he appears to be "taking his medicine". (Remember that you can click for a close-up.)

In the second series Lennie pretends to be seated in a dental chair. I think. Surely they had dental chairs in 1898!

Today the composite photo hangs on the wall in the office of Lennie's grandson.

I hope you are enjoying this year-long adventure with Leonard Charles Davis (Lennie C Davis) of Wakefield, Nebraska in the year 1898.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Bushy Beard And a Marshall's Badge

(Lennie's diary entries are in bold black. My comments are in italic blue.)

Monday, February 7, 1898
Started Bookkeeping.
Went to band practice.
Went to Kimbles.
(I'm thinking this should be spelled Kimball...a prominent family in Wakefield at the time.)

Tuesday, February 8, 1898
Yesterday and today very near all the snow went off.

Wednesday, February 9, 1898
Cloudy all day.

Rather cool. Went to band practice.

Here's the promised photo of Lennie's father, Josiah Davis. Family history has it that Josiah was town marshall at Wakefield. If there are Wakefield historians reading this and who have more information about Josiah and his badge, please leave a comment as we would love to hear more.

Josiah Davis (1836-1912) and his wife, Martha Jane Crawford Davis (1838-1917) were born in Ohio. The 1880 census shows the family living in Illinois (where Lennie was born in 1881). Sometime before the 1990 census the family moved to Wakefield, Nebraska.

Charles Leonard (our "Lennie") was the youngest.
In a future entry we will show a photo of Lennie as a young adult with his parents and siblings.
And we will soon begin reading about an important event that has the town abuzz.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Upon Which We Share Two More Pages of Lennie's Photo Album

More Excerpts from the 1898 diary of Charles Leonard "Lennie" Davis, age sixteen, Wakefield, Nebraska

Thursday, February 3, 1898

Had the gloves on in depot.
(Was Lennie enjoying the fine sport of boxing?)

Friday, February 4, 1898
Had examination Rhetoric - 45.
(It's difficult to believe that a man who could talk so much could do so poorly in rhetoric. But then, age brings wisdom, and Lennie was only sixteen.)
Went to band practice.
(We believe Lennie played the cornet in the Wakefield Cornet Band.)

Saturday, February 5, 1898

Charlie ? and ?? had a trile??
(While Lennie's hen-scratching penmanship makes some of this entry illegible, it appears that a couple fellows went on trial. But Lennie does not mention their crime! A mystery unsolved!)
Slid down hill. (There must still be snow on the ground.)
Fred & Will went to Norfolk.
(Norfolk is a good 46 miles. Since they did not have an automobile I'm thinking they took the train. Or rode horseback, but that would have been quite a trip.)

Sunday, February 6, 1898
Plaid horns at elevator.
(I didn't know they had "plaid" horns, but Lennie writes that they did. Okay, okay, I'm making fun of Lennie's spelling.)
Took G home.
(Lennie is a little leary of someone reading his diary. He knows who "G" is, but he's not letting us in on that secret. Later on, he mentions his female friends by name...most times.)
(Keep reading, Lennie. It will improve your spelling!)

Here are a couple more pages from Lennie's photo album. Lovely young ladies. I'm guessing these were pasted into his little book after he graduated from high school. Perhaps in his early twenties. You can click on the photos for a closer view.

Lennie's photo collection included his male friends as well. I wish he had written in their names.

Perhaps Monday I will show you a photo of Lennie's father, Josiah Davis. Josiah sports a marshall's star badge on his suit lapel and wears a bushy beard.