Antique Diary Mysteries Last Installment

 This is the last installment of Esther Small’s 1886 diary. The diary ends with a surprise visit from Esther’s brother, wife and children. She mentions never having seen his daughter so the visit appears to be an unusual occurrence. I wondered if the visit was precipitated by their father’s death or impending death coupled with Esther’s pregnancy. Perhaps the family felt she needed a visit. Esther was 8 months pregnant when the diary ends. She doesn’t drop in to mention the birth or any other event in the last months of 1886. From what I have found in the census records, it appears that the last child, Anna, was the only Small child to marry and have children. I believe descendants are living in the Mexico/Dixfield area of Maine and would have the surname Mayhew somewhere in their line. I have begun the process of formatting the diary for publication and will be meeting with the owner of a small press next week to get the ball rolling. My plan is to include a dozen or so photographs of the diary entries along with my transcriptions. I’ll have the published diary available at my poetry readings and will post here when it’s available for all who have been following Esther’s story. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, June 6, 1886

Pleasent all day

Etta Morse down

here today. She came

to change papers.


Monday, June 7, 1886

Today I washed had

a two weeks one to

do. I had to do it alone.        

It was hard for me                                                        

to bring the water                                                         

and empty the tubs                                                      

but I did it. Got the                                                        

clothes out a little                                                          

after noon. They got                                                      

dry and at night

I fetched them in. I

did nothing but the

white clothes. Was

tired when I got

through at night. W

at work for R Wright

all day. At night he jawed

me and called me

all the names he could.


Tuesday, June 8, 1886

Pleasant all day

William to work again

today for Reuben Wright.

This afternoon his

father worked there

so I was alone with

the children. It seemed

like we had a pleasent



Wednesday, June 9, 1886

Today I finished the

rest of the washing.

Had a quite large one

for the colored and

flannells ones and the

coarse white ones.

Did not get done

till most four oclock.

William to work for

Elias Morse, his father

to work for Reuben

Wright. Did not expect

him home to supper but

he was. Did not eat till

late as I did not get time

to get it sooner. W jawed

and called me names

tonight as usual. I

am tired out I can tell you.


Thursday, June 10, 1886

Unpleasant all day.

Raining most of

the time. W did not

work any where today

at home all



(This Entry was crossed out)

 Friday June 11, 1886

Today they worked                 

on the roads. William

and his father out

working on the road

not pleasent

all day.


(Esther left a blank in place of her age. She was 42)

 Saturday, June 12, 1886

 Pleasant all day.

Today is my birthday

am    years old getting                                                          

on to old age. Not                                                                  

a pleasent one to me.                                                            

William jawing and                                              

calling me names

whenever he was in

the house. Had butter

to work over to night.

It was most dark as

I could not get William

to churn in the day

time and he was home

all the time doing

not much of anything.


Sunday, June 13, 1886

Pleasent all day

W at home all day.

Just night Huey

and Adeline Hoyt

stopped here a short

time. Edd Morse

here also.


Saturday June 26, 1886

To night Carrie

Morse, Sadie

Allen and the

teacher were. They

stayed a short

time. Pleasent

all day.


Monday, June 28, 1886

Today ripped up an

old shirt of

Williams to cut

out another one

by cut out the new

one but did not

sew any on it.

William to work

for Reuben Wright

today. Pleasent

all day.


Tuesday, June 29, 1886

Sewing on the

shirt when I could

get time and was

not doing the

other work.

Pleasent all day

William to work

for R Wright

again to day.


Wednesday, June 30, 1886

Pleasent all day

finished the shirt

to night William

to work for Mr.

R Wright again

to day.


 Thursday, July 1, 1886

Etta Morse and

Lonnie Wright

were here a short

time this afternoon.

Pleasent all day

and warm.

William to work

for R W again

today. He put on

his new shirt

this morning.


(The next three entries: July 5, 6, 7 which were crossed out, are almost exact duplicates of the three written on June 28, 29 and 30, with a couple variations. This may be evidence that Esther sometimes wrote entries from memory, perhaps because she couldn’t write freely with William or his father around the house.)


Monday, July 5, 1886

Today ripped up

an old shirt of

Williams to cut

another out by.

Cut out the new

one but did not

sew any on it.

William to work

for Reuben Wright

all day. Pleasent.


Tuesday, July 6, 1886

Sewing on the

shirt when I was

not doing house

work.  Pleasent

all day  William to

work for R.W. to

day again.


Wednesday, July 7, 1886

Finished the shirt

tonight I

made it all by

hand. Pleasent

all day. William

to work for Wright

again today.                                                                           

Still pleasent                                                                          

and was so all day.                                                                



Thursday, July 8, 1886

Pleasant all day

and warm.

                   Just at

night received                                                                  

a dispatch saying                                                             

that my brother &                                                           

wife and children                                                            

would be here the

next day on the                                                               

noon train.

We were up till

most midnight

did not get much



Friday, July 9, 1886

My brother and his

wife and two Children

came in on the noon

train. William met

them at the depot.

It was the first time

I had seen El

the girl. They brought

us all some preasents,

me a nice box of

perfumed soap, a book

and another small

preasent, Abbie a doll,

Garfield a ball, Warren

a knife, William a brush

broom. Got Mrs. Charles

Allen to help me as I am

not very well.





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