Thursday, June 30, 2011

Upon Which Lennie Tries On His New Band Uniform

The weather is pleasant in Wakefield, Nebraska, this fine week in June 1898. Our protagonist, Lennie Davis, age 17, continues to write in his pocket diary. He's sparse with his words but his few short sentences give us a picture of his daily activities. Lennie's words are in bold black.

Sunday, June 26, 1898
Nice Day.
Made ice cream.
Ellis P (Ellis Paulson) and I went to Emerson.
(Emerson is a small town about 10 miles east of Wakefield.)

Monday, June 27,
Went to the country with Charlie.
Band plaid.
(I hope Lennie "plaid" better than he spelled!)

Tuesday, June 28, 1898
Did not do much.
Dull times since soldiers gone.

Wednesday, June 29, 1898
A hot day.
Ran foot races in street.

Thursday, June 30, 1898
Nice Day.
Staid at livery stabel in evening.
Guy and me ran races.

Friday, July 1, 1898
Social at P. Church. (Presbyterian)
Band practice.

Saturday, July 2, 1898
Shined Carlsons and Kyles and my own horn.
(band) suits came. (You can click the photo for a larger view of Lennie in his band uniform. He played in the Wakefield Cornet Band.)

On page 3 of the Omaha Bee of July 1 we read the following: Dateline June 30, Tecumseh, Nebraska.
Harvest is on in earnest in Johnson County and there never was a time when men were so scarce. There is a great demand for harvesters and any man who can shock wheat and desires work is in the field. The wages paid generally is $1.50 per day and board. The harvesting together with the building in the city and the railroad grading work on the Burlington south of here has been a boom to the laborers of Tecumseh (Nebraska) this summer."

Lennie lives in Dixon County which is well north of Johnson County. Oat and wheat harvest will not begin yet for another couple weeks. When it does, Lennie will be shocking oats and hay. He's an industrious fellow and will undoubtedly earn a man's wages. And he will not complain of the heat.

But Lennie does complain of dull times since the soldiers left Wakefield last week. Those men are on their way to fight in the Spanish-American war. This week page 1 of the Omaha Bee tells us that fighting will begin soon near Santiago, Cuba.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lennie Goes to Sunday School with the Girls

Charles Leonard Davis is seventeen years old in 1898. The following are entries in his small pocket diary. The words in bold black are Lennie's. I'm blogging Lennie's diary day by day (or week by week). I'm a bit behind but I'll catch up later this week. more about the Wakefield Cornet Band.

Sunday, June 19,
Got my picture taken.
Went to Presbyterien. S.S. girls & boys together.
(Boys and girls together! I hope they behaved themselves!)

Monday, June 20, 1898
Ollie and ma took me out to Fritz to plow corn.
(Ollie is Lennie's older sister. Married. Lennie is undoubtedly using horses to plow corn.)

Tuesday, June 21, 1898
Hot in afternoon.
Rained in forenoon.
Plowed corn.
Tired as the D_ _ _ _.
(That's right...this Presbyterian boy refrains from spelling out "devil". His mama is raising him right.)

Wednesday, June 22, 1898
Worked a half a day walked to town watched soldiers drill.

Thursday, June 23, 1898
A hot and windy day.
Soldiers got word they were agoing to leave.

Friday, June 24, 1898
Soldiers left on 7:30. (the morning train)
Big crowd, sad, town seems lonely.
Stormed hard.
(Lennie attends another meeting of the IOGT lodge group.)

Saturday, June 25, 1898
Nice day.
Went in country with Charlie.
Band played in street.

Speaking of the band...remember when I mentioned Lennie playing in the Wakefield Cornet Band? (read here). Lennie is not in this photo but his brother-in-law Carl Schulz is. He's the guy just to the left of center with the blonde mustache. I do not know the date of this first photo but you can see there are men and teen boys in this photo.

We recently visited the small museum at the old train depot in Wakefield and I found another photo of the band. This second photo was taken in 1904 when Lennie would have been 23 years old. He is not in this photo either. As you can see the band members are school age. Perhaps there were two cornet for adults, one for teens.

This 1904 photo included the following names:
Ray Larson, ? Woodward, Guy Diltz, Carls Anderson, Ernest Longe, Carl Diltz, Ed Burnamn, Willie Hide, Bryon Busby, Walter Carlson, Tip Hiyl, Ed Larson, Howard Shumway
Earl Leonard, Vilas Hiyl, Lloyd Busby, Harry Johnson, ? Ebersole, ? Shumway, Clarence Johnson, Maarvin Leamer, D. L. Leamer, Walter Howard, D.C. Leamer. (The band director was the depot agent but I don't know which name is his.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lennie Sees No Flood But Watches Soldiers Drill and Walks Katie Home

Today (year 2011) the Missouri River a number of miles east of Wakefield, Nebraska, is at flood stage. Many, many acres of Iowa and Nebraska cropland under water. The U.S. Corps of Engineers is releasing huge (record) amounts of water through the five dams above us. Those historic releases will continue into mid-August. We live across the river from Wakefield. We are apprehensive of the coming weeks.

But in 1898? Lennie is busy with ordinary every-day events. Following is his week in 1898 as written in a small pocket diary which he kept for the year.

Sunday, June 12, 1898
Nice day.
Had children's day at Prest
(Presbyterian) & ME (Methodist-Episcopal) church.
(In his adult years Lennie and his wife, Alma, were members of the Presbyterian church. But so far I do not know which church Lennie attended as a child. It is evident from his diary that he visited nearly every local church whenever they had special events or dinners. Lennie was a highly sociable fellow.)

Monday, June 13, 1898
Hauled manure.
George Green loaded up all I had to do was to haul.
Went to band practice.
(I posted yesterday about Lennie hauling manure. Please be aware that this was a smelly operation and the odor of manure would waft from the fields for long distances. But spreading manure was the norm for farming in 1898.)

Tuesday, June 14, 1898
Hauled manure for Green.
Watched soldiers drill.

Wednesday, June 15, 1898
Hauled manure.
Band played for dress drill.
Went to social at Peat? Neffs?
(Sorry, can't decipher Lennie's hand-writing.)

Thursday, June 16, 1898
Did not work.
Watched soldiers drill.
Took Katie? home.

Friday, June 17, 1898
Went to a picknick at Joe ???
Ladies had supper for soldiers.

Saturday, June 18, 1898
Loafed around town all day.
Edith Duncan and Miss Carter? came down.
are (Edith most likely was the daughter of Scott W. Duncan and his wife, Aminia (America??) of Dakota City, about 30 miles northeast of Wakefield. If this is the correct Edith, she married John E. Triggs and remained in this general area until her death in 1930 at the age of 57. The photo is of the 1880 census for Dakota City, Nebraska. You can click for a closer view.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Upon Which Lennie Maintains Sobriety and Spreads Manure

Lennie has been attending what I thought were JOGT meetings on a regular basis. I googled and googled and could not find reference to JOGT. I knew it had something to do with a lodge or fraternal organization but was puzzled that I could not find any information online. Then I realized Lennie was writing IOGT and not JOGT. Lennie's IOGT could have been the International Organisation of Good Templars that was devoted to and encouraged sobriety.

In today's photo Lennie is wearing what I believe is indicative of his later membership in freemasonry. This is not an IOGT outfit...but I do not know what it would be. In this photo Lennie is probably in his mid twenties. We do not know if he remained active in the masons. Nor do we have this outfit handed down to us. Pretty cool outfit. (You can click for a sharper image.)

Sunday, June 5, 1898
Nice Day.
Children's day had exercises at church.

Monday, June 6, 1898
Started to haul manure for Green.
Did not play in band. Hauled loads.

Tuesday, June 7, 1898
Worked for Green.
Went down and watched the soldiers tonight.
Business meeting.

Wednesday, June 8, 1898
Nice day.
Hauled manure.
(Read about manure below.)
Went down and watched Co. G drill.

Thursday, June 9, 1898
Rained all day.
Did not work.
Went to bed at 7:30.
Rev. Giffen came back with his wife.

Friday, June 10, 1898
Rained in forenoon.
Cloudy all day.
Didn't work.

Saturday, June 11, 1898
Nice day.
Did not work.
Watched soldiers drill.

Lennie's job of hauling manure could not have been a pleasant one. But it was a necessary farm activity.
Each spring the pens and barns would be
cleaned of manure...usually by hand using a pitchfork. The smelly stuff would be tossed into a manure spreading wagon and hauled out to the fields. A mechanism on the back of the wagon spread the manure evenly over the field. You can read more about that process here. This photo is from the Illinois State Museum Collection.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Graduation in Wakefield, Nebraska 1898

Today's photo shows Lennie probably in his early twenties. But don't forget, the diary was written in his seventeenth year. Be sure to come back next week for I will reveal the mystery of the JOGT meetings Lennie has been attending. You will laugh.

Wednesday, June 1, 1898
Frank went to a ? circus in Wayne.
Botany class went out picking flowers.
Lennie mentions picking flowers with classmates several times. I guess you could call that a 'field day'.

Thursday, June 2, 1898
Had no school.
Helped fix up the Opera Hall.
Had graduating exercises.
Lennie is not yet a member of the Wakefield, Nebraska high school graduating class. Probably next year.

Friday, June 3, 1898
Went to school and helped take things home.
Blanch Peters came down.

Saturday, June 4, 1898
Boys went to Pender last night.
Bill got in at 6 oclock this morning.
(Those boys must have had a wild time last night. I hope Lennie stayed home and out of trouble!)
Blanche spoke some pieces.