Josephine Jordan was my great, great, grandmother. She lived the life of a common farm wife in northern Maine. She kept a line a-day diary. I have her complete diaries from 1892 to 1898. You can learn more about Josephine, her diaries, and some historical perspective by going back to the first installment of this series.

Your questions, insights, or comments about this month's diary entries are welcomed.


--Thurs, Dec. 1
Raining. Men only worked half the day.

--Frid, Dec. 2
Husband went to the woods. I staid with Mrs. Tuttle.

--Sat, Dec. 3
Men cutting rift. Frank got his sheep home today.

--Sund, Dec. 4
All went to church but Arch & Laurie. Came home in snow.

--Mond, Dec. 5
Blanche washed. I made brewing and fried doughnuts.

--Tues, Dec. 6
Blanche sent her M. today. Hope she'll get a good price.

[Note: I'm wondering what exactly Blanche sent this day? Was it a manuscript of some sort? Is it what Josephine was helping her to write in previous entries? It's a mystery.]

--Wed, Dec. 7
Men in the woods. Gertie got some Christmas presents.

--Thurs, Dec. 8
Wanted to go to the Union but could not.

--Frid, Dec . 9
Went to Mrs McLishe's. Sent for material for a dress.

--Sat, Dec. 10
Men did not come out of woods until about two.

--Sund, Dec . 11
Heard the presiding Elder preach a good sermon.

—Mond, Dec. 12
Fine & lovely. Washed. Men away. All well. Thank God.

--Tues, Dec. 13
Fine. Got the ironing done. L. Varnum here.

--Wed. Dec. 14
Went down town. Staid with Mrs. Wallace.

--Thurs. Dec. 15
Storming real fast but we are all well.

--Frid, Dec. 16
Men are cutting rift. Arch cut his thumb.

--Sat, Dec. 17
Men cut in the forenoon. Baked G. apple pies.

--Sund, Dec. 18
Went to church. Was real cold coming home.

--Mond, Dec. 19
Snowing real fast but we have lots to be thankful for.

--Tues, Dec. 20
Cut out my dress. Gertie real sick.

--Wed, Dec. 21
Dear little Gertie better, thank the Lord.

--Thurs, Dec. 22
Husband and Arch went down with rift.

--Frid, Dec. 23
Storming. Men in the house.

--Sat, Dec. 24
Blanche and her father went down town. Got things for Xmas.

--Sund, Dec. 25
Very very cold. Did not go to church.

--Mond, Dec. 26
Colder than yesterday. Men in the woods.

--Tues, Dec. 27
Fine but cold. Washed. Husband gone with rift.

--Wed, Dec. 28
Fine, very fine. Mrs. Brown here. Took a load of rift.

--Thurs, Dec. 29
Another fine day. Am working on my dress

--Frid, Dec. 30
Lovely & fine. Mr. & Mrs. Hitchings spent the evening.

--Sat, Dec 31
Fine as September in the afternoon. Husband, Gertie and I went down town. Did some shopping. Had a nice drive. Roads most lovely. Poor old year most gone. If my life is spared another, I hope I'll be more faithful.


Patti said...

Interesting that there is no mention of any holiday celebrating. I have found even the poorest woman will do something for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

there seemed to be something done on Dec.24th but Christmasdid not seem to be much of a deal at that particular time.

Anonymous said...

Read the whole year, very interesting. What surprised me the most was all the going and coming that went on. I grew up on a farm in the 50's and I don't think we went to town as often as this woman. I have to look and see if you've posted the other years as well.


Anonymous said...

Christmas is a relatively modern contrivance in America. As I understand it, it was actually ILLEGAL in New York in the very olden days. Its was alot of cavorting & revelry that the authorities wanted put down.

Anonymous said...

thank you. your experience parelles my own, only sorry to say, i no longer have the diary. my roots are in Mars Hill, Maine, and my grandparents were also potatoe farmers (the Bells). i wish i could see the area again, but it is doubtful i can or will
D. Smith

Anonymous said...

I absolutely enjoyed reading your great great grandmothers diary. I found myself wanting more of an explanation to some of the events but that was also what was so lovely about it. The simplicity of her writing is just fascinating. Thank you for sharing this with the online community.

Anonymous said...

G. apple pies could mean green apple pies to denote they were the more tart kind rather than the typically sweet baking(red) apple pie.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! Thank you for posting this diary. I hope that you will be posting more in the future. I can't begin to imagine having to live the way they did back then.

Anonymous said...

being that I love American history, I find these writings most fasinating!!
I find myself wishing I could be there with them.
Thank you so much for sharing these.

Tom Scanlan said...

or.. going crazy... "G." could be Gertie who was sick a couple days later. Maybe she was feeling ill and a pie was the medicine. Only her illness was reported later. Her childrens' illnesses don't seem to be regularly reported, so this could be a child illness leak.

Tom Scanlan said...

BTW... loving the transcription. Have you brought this to the attention of librarians? They would love it, and probably pass it on to the town historian, who may be able to piece together parts of this for you.

Summer Storm said...

Very interesting, thank you for sharing.


Anonymous said...

PLEASE post more....

I'm hooked and want to read the rest!!!

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I hope to have the time to post the1893 entries this winter when my plate is not so full.

Herrick Kimball

Anonymous said...

OK. I'm hooked. I need a new diary 'fix!' hee hee.

My Grandmother was born in 1910 and I managed to get a few stories out of her of life back in her day, but to have something tangible like this diary is truly wonderful.

As a person with fibromyalgia, I notice that Josephine had a lot of days where she was sickly and could not do much. I wonder if she had something like I do... My heart goes out to her and the other ladies (and gents) back then who had nothing like painkillers and whatnot. I am so thankful for what I do have!

Thank you so much for sharing. I am looking forward to the next installment :)

Susan Humeston said...

It does sound as if Josephine overdid it sometimes and then had to take to bed to recover. Since I am 52 and I take thyroid medicine for a low thyroid, as well as blood pressure medication - I can't imagine being without these medications.....

G00dc00k said...

These are so cool. The things that people will complain about today is nothing compared with the way we all used to live. What a great insight. Thank you

Anonymous said...

So facinating!
I wonder how much of the sicknesses could have been mild food poisoning?
Can't wait to read more.

Anonymous said...

Loving it!! Please don't leave us hanging here, we need more!!

These one line entries have inspired me to keep a record of this year for my family and future generations. I'm setting a goal of writing something, even just one line, for every day of this year. I'm one day behind, but I'll postdate it for yesterday's entry.

Let me know at when you post new entries.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad Josephine was so sick for most of the year. Being so far north I'd imagine a great deal of it would have to do with low amounts of vitamin D in her body. My winters used to be depressing and full of illness until I began supplementing with it, working in the sun in the summer months didn't quite cut it, oddly enough.

Thank you for posting this, it's such an amazing treasure.

Anonymous said...

I know a little of what this woman is doing on a daily basis. We as well, butcher, cut firewood, bake, and sew. And we worry about out childrens future as well. Same worries, different era.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I would be happy to see more years posted. I am the granddaughter of Earl and Beatrice Jordan. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

icebear said...

eagerly awaiting the day you find time to resume these postings.

God Bless!

regina said...

Hoping you can soon share more.

Plant City Homestead said...

Thank you so much for sharing this diary. I am sure she would be pleased to know that her family still loves and serves the Lord. I am sure her prayers were echoed by all the mothers in your family through the generations.

Bret4207 said...

Very nice. I can hear my great grandmother in her writings. She was an old Vermont Yankee who's grandfather and great grandfather fought in the Revolution and a very strict Baptist of the old school. Pride? You can't imagine the pride she had. She was a hard old lady, tough. When I was reading your diaries I kept getting flashbacks to to Grandma Bess and some of her recollections.

Thank you!

Ralph Goff said...

Its great to see someone posting family history journals to share with others. I haven't read it all yet but plan to go back over it. I have quite a collection of my own here that I am gradually putting into a blog at in hopes of preserving some family history for future generations.

Wendy said...

Oh, please post more when you have the time! It's wonderful!

Kara said...

What is "rift" ? How very fascinating. Wish I could read other years.

Cathytress said...

I'm so blessed reading your grandmother's diary; her simplicity and faith are so inspirational. Thank you for making it available!

Anonymous said...

What an enjoyable time I had reading this dear women's diary! I found myself empathize with her health issues as I am up and down in that area also. Also the cry of a mother's heart for the soul of her children is so close to my heart also. Thank you for sharing this year with us and would love to read more!

bee blessed

bodie said...

loved reading this ! We have it so easy this day and time !

The Smith Family said...

Please, please.... Will you post the rest? I have only just found this blog and would love to read the rest! It has, actually, inspired me to attempt my own one-line diary starting at the new year!

Anonymous said...

I loved the diary entries and the history lessons. I would very much like to read more.
I am guessing by the time lag, that is not to be. But I will add my voice to the chorus - "please sir, may I have some more?"
Thank you.

Laura Leary said...

Very sad to see that you have opted not to post the rest of the diaries. Hope at some point it will be available.

Terri Bosarge said...

I love reading your ancestor's diaries. It makes me feel so connected to my ancestors who lived and loved and worried about their family and friends as I do mine. Please post more.

Schteveo said...

I 'stumbled' onto the site by hitting links elsewhere, that lead to the 5 gallon bucket cider press, which lead me to the diary.

Let me say, that even from the stand point of someone trying to be a prepper, goat owner, food gardener, self-sufficient household on an acre, these people were made of stouter stuff than are we! I've done much of what she recounts in her diary, and I'm the 99% of the time cook for my family because I like to cook my wife doesn't, but the amount of what she records is mind boggling. ALL done via manual labor, not a light socket or internal combustion engine in sight.

Lord grant that we can be so good, so hard working and so thoughtful.

Thanks toi Mr. Kimball for posting his families life.

Anonymous said...

Love this simple diary of her life! I would truly love to read more!!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever post more of the diary anywhere? It is so kind of you to publish the first year at least. thank you for that but let us know here if you ever see this if there is more. I do hope you are doing well yourself as the entries just close with no mention of more. Beth

Herrick Kimball said...

Hello everyone—

Thanks for all the positive feedback here. I am amazed that 6 years have gone by since I posted the first year of Josephine Jordan's diary entries. I do still hope to post the 1893 entries....someday. Perhaps this winter, when things naturally slow down a bit for me, I can finally get to it.

Thanks again,

Herrick Kimball

Myrrh Brooks said...

How lovely and inspiring. Please more!

Isaac's Wife said...

Thank you for posting the entries you have! We time does allow, please post more! it's been a wonderful reading about ur g-g-greatmother.

MaribethKC said...

Thank you so much for posting the journal. I have really enjoyed reading it and learning how life was back then. I admire her strength and her faith. Please post more when you have time.

merrileem said...

I wish you would post more years; I have a number of friends who would dearly love to see more. I think the "G. apple pie" reference in December could possibly mean green apple pie, at least that was my immediate assumption.

Anonymous said...

Monday, Dec. 5 she made brewing and donuts. What is brewing? Beer or cider or home remedies? Hard to know.

Anonymous said...

I tried to find a way to send this to you privately, but I was unable to do so. Please delete this information from public view if you wish. I just wanted you to have this information if you did not already know it because I have really enjoyed the diary.

This information is compiled from which was accessed on 05 Feb 2014.

1900 United States Census
Date of Census: 05 June 1900 Aroostook County, Maine

Household #33
Cyrus J. Jordan was born in Canada (Eng) in Sept 1848, and is the 51 year old head of the household. His race is white. Both of his parents were born in Canada (Eng). He is a farmer who worked all 12 months of the last year. He owns a mortgaged farm and the Number of the Farm Schedule is 28. He is a naturalized citizen.

Josephine Jordan was born in Canada (Eng) in Oct 1843, and is the 56 year old wife of Cyrus J. Jordan. Her race is white. Both of her parents were born in Canada (Eng). She is not listed as having an occupation. She is not listed as a naturalized citizen.

Cyrus and Josephine were married in 1871 and have been married 29 years.

Josephine is the mother of four children of whom four are living.

Laurie H. Jordan is a son who was born in Jan 1877, and is 23 years old. His race is white. He was born in Canada (Eng) and is a farm laborer who was employed all twelve months of the last year. His parents were both born in Canada (Eng). Laurie is not listed as being naturalized.

Gertrude A. Jordan is a daughter who was born in July 1882, and is 17 years old. Her race is white. She was born in Maine. Both of her parents were born in Canada (Eng). She is not listed as attending school, nor is an occupation listed for her.

Cyrus, Josephine, and Laurie are listed as having immigrated in 1880. They have lived in the US for 20 years.

All members of the household read, write, and speak English.

Anonymous said...

Household #34
Interestingly, Frank’s last name is not listed, just a line. This usually indicates the person “belongs” to the head of the household listed previously. The list started with Jordan, Cyrus J and continued until the last of Frank’s children. However, Frank and his family are given a separate household number, #34.

Frank P. is head of a household and was born in Aug 1873 which makes him 26 years old. He is a farm laborer who rents a farm. He was born in Canada (Eng) as were both of his parents.

His wife, Anna A, was born in May 1869 and is 31 years old. She and her parents were both born in Canada (Eng). She is not listed as having an occupation.

He and his wife immigrated from Canada in 1880, and have lived in the US for 20 years. They are not listed as naturalized citizens.

Frank and Anna both read, write, and speak English.

Frank and Anna have been married for four years.

Anna is the mother of two children of whom both are living.

May is a daughter born in Maine in Oct 1896 and is aged three.

Earle is a son born in Maine in April 1899 and is eleven months old.
Household #39
I do not know if this family belongs, but I am guessing Archibald might be a nephew of Cyrus.

Archibald ?initial Jordan born in March 1861, and is 39 years old. His race is white. Archibald was born in Canada (Eng) as were his parents. He is a farm laborer who rents the farm. He has worked all twelve months out of the last year. His year of immigration is not listed, nor is he listed as naturalized.

Mabel, his wife, born in July 1864, in Massachusetts and is 36 years old. Her race is white. Her parents were born in Canada (Eng).

They can both read, write, and speak English.
Archibald and Mabel have been married seven years.

Mabel is the mother of no living children and has not had any children born to her.
1880 US Census
I could not find a form for Cyrus and Josephine Jordan.
1910 US Census
I could not find a form for Cyrus and Josephine Jordan.

I did find a form for Frank under the name Frank B. Gordan in Presque Isle, Aroostook, Maine.

Anonymous said...

US Naturalization Record Indexes 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project)

Jordan, Cyrus J. of Caribou, Maine
Birthplace: Nova Scotia
Date: 1848.
Certificate #9-72 (Missing Rec)
Title and Location of Court: Aroostook Co. Superior, Caribou, Maine
Date and Port of Arrival: 1880
Date of naturalization: Dec 15, 1890

Anonymous said...

Do you think Cyrus choose to be naturalized to obtain a mortgage?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I do hope you can post more years, and will keep checking back. Found this site after looking for clothespins that actually held fabric on the line. (Placed my order.) Your g.,g.,grandmother's diary was a delight and joy.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think I'd like to have lived in that era --- But I realize now I could not facing illness and injury with out the backing of modern medicines and hospital/doctor services that were simply non-existent in her world. No wonder she expresses her trust and reliance upon God for protection and blessings of health and healing. There's a lot here to think about!

Unknown said...

Herrick, I have a 1900 Census of the Jordon's if you would like a copy. I just found this, and now that I know where they were from, I can look for more information if you want a copy of it. I had been checking Maine and now that I know to search Canada, I may find more for you to get a copy. Let me know if you want them. Sheila

Anonymous said...

Earl Jordan, son of Frank, brother to May, was my grandfather. He had 12 children with Ethel Beatrice Greene Jordan. Thanks for the 1900 Census info, very interesting.

Anonymous said...

December 17th entry, I think g. apple pies may be GREEN apple pies.

Anonymous said...

this is cool

Carolyn K. said...

Came across this years ago. These entries are lovely and show the love she has for her Saviour and the burden she has for her children to know Him.

These entries remind me of my great great grandmother's. She says so little sometimes but you can learn so much. I would love to start a blog for hers that I have in my possession but I do not know how to go about starting a blog.