Sunday, July 31, 2011

Imagining Hattie’s World of 1874

Pages from Hattie’s 1874 Diary

In my business as a dealer in old, unique books and papers, I’m sometimes lucky enough to come upon a really interesting old diary, like this one that Hattie Weston kept in 1874.

            Hattie was a young girl, growing up in the village of Hancock, New Hampshire. The village is still fairly quaint and traditional today, over 130 years later.

Barn near Hancock, NH

            Hattie Weston tells about her daily life with her mother, older brother Edward, and young brother Ned. In a diary covering one year of her life she completes her schooling and begins to teach her own scholars.
            There’s plenty of work for a woman in the home in 1874. She helps her mother with washing, and then ironing, and cleaning of the house. She writes that doughnuts she made were quite tough, but the biscuits were good.
 She attends meetings of the “Good Templars”, a temperance organization, and plays the organ, attends prayer services, and Sunday meeting. 
            One time she writes about attending a meeting, enjoying the sermon, but confesses that “my thoughts were wayward.” 
            For me, reading about the regular events in the life of this young woman makes her come back to life. 
She writes about going to school, and just in that one year, 1874, she transitions from one of the students to a young teacher herself.  Like many young people in New England in those years, she’s very religious, and an enthusiastic member of the Good Templars, a temperance organization.
            Her last entry in this diary is October 25 when she writes that she attended prayer services and Meeting (church service) and confesses that “my thoughts were wayward.”
            One can only guess what horrible thoughts this apparently pure young woman had!

Church in Hancock, NH

        In the nineteenth century in America Christmas was a tiny event compared to today. It’s always interesting to me to see just how they did, or didn’t celebrate it. It was always very, very low key.  
            And  the subject of death and dying.  Certainly mortality rates were higher then, so it was much more a part of everyone’s life.  They invariably write about people dying.  Many of their relatives and friends died young, and you get to share in their thoughts about life and death.  Also, there’s plenty of the fun that they have—going for sleigh rides on a snowy night, picking blueberries, going to the meeting house to watch lantern slides, watching as President Grant comes to town.  Or President Taft. 
            For me, it’s fascinating, and I hope you get a chance to share that!

            In order to fill in the picture of Hattie’s life, I asked myself: “What was New England like in 1874?  What was the United States like?” 

            The year was just nine years after the end of the Civil War.  Ulysses S. Grant, the great leader of Union forces in the War, was President.  
            Looking through my collection of books, newspapers, magazines and other printed material from 1874, I attempted to piece together a view of 1874.
            Temperance was very important in much of America, and the churchgoing portion of our population was probably much larger than today. 

           American churches and missionary organizations were sending missionaries all over the world to carry the message of Christianity to “heathens” in countries whose people were Muslims, or Hindus, or belonged to a thousand other religious groups, or no groups at all.  But our missionaries aggressively pushed their way onto distant shores, determined to convert people, and convinced in their own minds that Christianity was what needed to be spread everywhere. 
            If you had made it to the eighth grade in school, that’s where it ended for most Americans. But by that time, you could write much better than most college graduates today.  You wrote letters, and could express yourself in writing better than today.  Most people could quote loads of Bible scripture, and spent hours memorizing famous poetry and prose.

Here are 1874 items in The Personal Navigator’s inventory:

            Hattie's 1874 Diary (Handwritten) by Hattie Weston.  Hancock, NH: Handwritten diary    ~400 pp.          6.5 x 10 cm.           Hattie Weston is a young girl living in Hancock Village in New Hampshire, and she is the most hopeful, optimistic, positive girl you will hope to encounter.  She writes about her daily life with Mother, Edward, younger brother Ned, her work in the house, her teaching scholars, and attending the "Good Templars",  Temperance organization. She goes shopping in Peterboro. She plays the organ, and attends prayer services and Meeting. Last entry is Sunday, Oct. 25, 1874, when she writes that she went to meeting, enjoyed the sermon, but confesses that "my thoughts were wayward." This little diary gives reader a marvelous insight into a young woman's life in the last half of the Nineteenth Century Standard diary with almanac material, postage rates, currency, weights and measures, etc. printed in front. Pencil and ink entries for 60% of book, remainder blank. Mentions friends Lettie Goodhue, Ida Johnson. Leather diary, standard 19th century type, spine and leather closure flap badly suffering from biopredation, text block very good.       (8124) $48.00. American Originals/Ephemera

            Bellows Falls  Times, Bellows Falls, VT, Friday, February 27, 1874 Bellows Falls, VT: A.N. Swain. Republicans won in Philadelphia last week by over 10,000-- not because they were so good, but because their democratic and pretended "reform" opponents were so bad.   Temperance Crusade in Ohio and other places continues with much success.  An extensive liquor raid took place at Rutland last Saturday. Franklin B. Evans was executed in Concord, NH last week, for the murder of Georgiana Lovering in October, 1872. He also admitted murdering the Mills child at Derry in 1850 for the purpose of dissecting the body.  Evans sold his body to the medical college at Hanover for $50, and was satisfied that he had made such a good bargain. 4 pp. 6 x 60 cm. Newspaper, fair. (7840)  $14.00. Newspapers

Christian Register, The, Boston and Chicago, Saturday, April 4, 1874     Boston, MA: Christian Register Association. Writing in this newspaper is as tart and alert, educated with a good sense of humor, that one can observe even after all these years. "A Sunday among the Szekler Unitarians" by Robert S. Morison reports of visit to religious community in Almas on Homorod, Transylvania. Nearly everyone in these villages is Unitarian...visit to funeral of old woman.  "A Burman Dandy" description of a man who thinks himself the most worthy to be admired  of any dandy in all of Burmah. "An Answer to 'T.H." on Darwinism" gives erudite argument to earlier statements.  Editorial reports decision of the Brooklyn Trinitarian Congregational Council which justifies and approves the course of the churches of Rev. Dr. Storrs and Budington, and favors the continuance of fellowship with Plymouth Church, with stipulations. Letter from Michigan reports the Festival of the Annunciation in Ann Arbor, one of the most solemn and joyous festivals of the Catholic Church. Writer compares celebration to one in Nazareth, Palestine, with little Syrian children, 20 years ago. 4 pp.  54 x 70 cm. Newspaper,  small holes in folds, fair. (7721) $20.00. Religious/Unitarian

Dartmouth, The, April 1874; published by the students of Dartmouth College and edited by the senior class  1874;  Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College. Publication features literary genius of Dartmouth students. “Hamilton as a Young Writer” describes Alexander Hamilton as a revolutionary pamphleteer.  "A Proposition" by Franz Boyd is humorous piece that suggests boxing up 300 Chinamen and smuggling them through the Upernavik custom-house. "Mr. Webster in Court" relates story of celebrated divorce case (and others) with Webster as counsel, in 1848.  156 pp. 14 x 22 cm.  (6502) $32.00. $12.50            Printed Matter/Educational

French and Chamberlin's Union Business and Nautical College, 460 Washington St., Boston, Mass. Charles French, A.M., Principal 1874;  Manchester, NH: Chas. F. Livingston's steam Printing House. Catalogue offers studies in Business including penmanship, commercial arithmetic, book-keeping, commercial law; Nautical including logarithms, compass variation, middle latitude and Mercator's sailing, declination and equation, use and adjustment of quadrant and sextant, more. 46 pp.    11.5 x 19.4 cm. Paper booklet, cover mended with cellophane table, fair.          (6027)  $13.50 Educational

Illustrated Christian Weekly, Saturday, May 30, 1874, Vol. IV, No. 22.  1874     New York, NY: The American Tract Society. Cover illustration shows Decoration Day, with women decorating graves. Report on visit of Alexander II of Russia to England, "one of the greatest benefactors … of mankind…"    12 pp.  29 x 44 cm.      Paper periodical edges frayed, edges browned, fair.      (3443) $16.00. History/Religious

Maine Farmer, Vol. XLII No. 17, Saturday morning, March 28, 1874      Augusta, ME: Homan & Badger, Publishers. Story of doomed house of Seward in Washington; Disraeli will release Fenians; Advertising in dull times; Proclamation by Gov. Dingley for Fast Day in Maine.     4 pp.    56 x 72 cm.      Newspaper, very good.  (4459)  $12.50.   Farming

Maine Farmer, Vol. XLII No. 7, Saturday morning, January 17, 1874      Augusta, ME: Homan & Badger, Publishers.  Scheme for the relief of the Southern States by assuming their indebtedness. This matter has frequently been spoken of by southern men and has generally been treated as a joke; but there are now the strongest indications that the present Congress will be called upon to act upon this question.  A Massachusetts congressman is expected to advocate this measure.        4 pp.       56 x 72 cm. Newspaper, small chips at edges, good.     (5306) $15.00. Farming

Montpelier Daily Journal, Montpelier, VT, Thursday, October 8, 1874    Montpelier, VT: J. & J.M. Poland            Report from Rio de Janeiro of Civil war on the La Plata. President Grant is visiting the fair in St. Louis; General Sherman is also in the city. The American Board of the Commissioners of Foreign Missions is holding its national meeting in Rutland. This is the first national gathering that has taken place in Vermont. 4 pp.            37 x 54 cm.      Newspaper, very good. (6282) $12.00. Newspapers/History

Plymouth Pulpit: A Weekly Publication of Sermons preached by Henry Ward Beecher, Saturday, Mar. 28, 1874; Vol. 2 No. 1    Beecher, Henry Ward   1874    New York, NY: J.B. Ford & Co.         Subject: Charles Sumner. "And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors at at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city." Isaiah I., 26. Beecher preaches right after the deaths of Millard Fillmore and Charles Sumner. Fillmore he had not much use for, but Sumner was an honorable man.  Not a democrat, rather an autocrat, but dedicated to the rights of man, in a time when so many northerners gave up their voice for the rights of the slaves in their love of Mammon.            24 pp.  14 x 19.7 cm.   Paper booklet, very good.        (5897)  $15.00. Religious

Science of Health, The;  a new monthly devoted to health on Hygienic Principles, Aug.,1874     New York, NY: Samuel R. Wells, Publisher. Lead article: "Is Alcohol a Poison?" by R.T. Trall, MD."Restoring Life When Apparently Drowned";  "Popular Physiology--Illustrated" Chymification. The stomach and great blood vessels.  Pancreas, spleen  and duodenum.  Poem, "An Ode to Rum" by William C. Brown. "Dysentary" by R.T. Trall, MD. "Fruits for Man" by Julia Colman. Recipes: Raspberry Pyramid, Blackberry Ambrosia, Whortleberry Bread-pudding. "Triple-Poisoning--Husband, Wife, Babe."  ...They all drank ale.  Ad for Dr. Trall's Hygeian Home, Florence Heights, NJ. Ads for Ferdinand Schumacher Oat Meal; Dr. Trall's Graham Crackers; American Oat Meal; B&L Brand Irish Oat Meal; Taft's Portable Collapsible Bath for Country   residences.           46 p.    16 x 24 cm.      Paper periodical, cover moderately stained, fair. (7981) $15.00.  Scientific/Health/Medicine

Science of Health, The;  a new monthly devoted to health on Hygienic Principles, Dec.,1874 New York, NY: Samuel R. Wells,Publisher. Lead article: "Transmission of Moral Tendencies". "Danger of Eating Hearty Suppers" by D. Denison, MD. "Infant Mortality--Cause and Cure" by James Alexander Mowatt. "What and When Shall we Drink?" by W. Perkins, MD. "Popular Physiology" Respiration. "Doctor Edmunds on Druggery" by R.T. Trall, MD. "Edible Nuts" by Julia Colman.  Cheap Manure. Wet Boots. Pure Water for Animals. Horses at Rest.  Preserving Parsnips. Keeping Onions. Index for issues July to December 1874. Illustrated ad for Sewing Machines, Elgin Watches, Clothes Wringers, Reversible Body baby Carriages. 64 p.      16 x 24 cm. Paper periodical, cover moderately stained, fair. (7982) $15.00            Scientific/Health/Medicine

Science of Health, The;  a new monthly devoted to health on Hygienic Principles, July 1874 New York, NY: Samuel R. Wells,Publisher. Lead article: "Our American Girls" by Laura E. Lyman, on the education of women. "Artificial Crises" by J.S. Galloway, MD.: about diuretics, enemas, sudorifics and vapor baths--- organs of depuration should be used as intended by nature. Popular Physiology, illustrated:  Insalivation, Deglutition. "Predisposing Causes of Disease: Common Salt" by Ernest Wellman, MD. Household and Agricultural Section:  "Fat and its uses" by Julia Colman.  "Shakerdom-- A Criticism" discusses piece in May issue about the Shaker Society of South Union, KY.  44 p.    16 x 24 cm.      Paper periodical, cover moderately stained, fair.          (7980)  $15.00.  Scientific/Health/Medicine

Science Record for 1874, The; A compendium of Scientific Progress and Discovery during the past year with illustrations Beach, Alfred E., Editor. 1874     New York, NY: Munn & Co., Inc. Scientific American Office. This Record is packed with inventions for 1874, including Method for cleaning greasy laboratory beakers; Tungsten in steel; Hardening Steel by air currents; Henderson Iron Process; Combustibility of the Diamond; Diamond cutting in New York--The Cleaver or Klover, the Cutter or Snyder; The Setter and the Polisher; Miniature Telegraph; a new nail; waterproof paint for canvas; The Electrical Condenser; Electrical Railway Signal; New life-raft at sea; Artificial milk for calves; Education of horses; Mammoth Cheese manufactured in Boston weighs 4050 pounds.           600 pp. 12 x 19 cm.     Maroon cloth onboard with gilt design, very good.   (1758)  $33.00. Scientific/Inventions

Smith's New Class Register, containing records for classes (probably in New Hampshire) in class for term beginning Nov. 20, 1874.       Detroit, MI: E.B. Smith & Co.  Teacher's class register for classes in bookkeeping, history, reading, primary geography and grammar.  14.6 x 18.6 cm.       Cloth on board. Very good condition. (0240) $16.00. Educational

Statistics and Gazetteer of New Hampshire, The; containing descriptions of all the counties, towns and villages, 100+ pages of statistical tables.        Fogg, Alonzo J., Compiler. 1874 Concord, NH: D.L. Guernsey, Bookseller and Publisher. Grand collection of history and statistics of New Hampshire, with excellent engraved illustrations, including picture of monument to Hannah Dustin, (p.588)  heroine who killed ten Indians in 1697. Includes fold-out map of New Hampshire. History of NH in the Great Rebellion (Civil War). 681 pp. 15 x 23 cm. Calf on board, spine torn, cover scuffed.  Fold-out map has large (10 cm) closed  tear detached, tear. Overall fair.  (2428) $40.00.  History/Civil War

Sumner:  The Life and Times of Charles Sumner. His boyhood, education and public career     Nason,  Elias            1874    Boston, MA     B.B. Russell, 55 Cornhill. Charles Sumner (1811-1874) was born in Boston (now Revere); incorruptible statesman, accomplished scholar, champion of human rights, enemy of slavery and nemesis of the South.    356 pp. 12 x 19 cm.            Green cloth on board with gilt lettering and Sumner signature in gilt, edges rubbed, corners bumped; inscription dated 1874 on ffep; second free endpaper torn out. Dampstain on frontispiece engraving of Sumner. Good.            (4873) $48.00.  Biography

Youth's Temperance Banner, The, New York, February, 1874      New York, NY: National Temperance Society and Publication House . Caught and Fettered by Mrs. J.P. Ballard.  Cold-Water Remedy-- discusses book recently published by National Temperance Society, and conceited young man who drank wine. His brother drenched him with cold water. "Give us a glass of your best liquor," says the drunkard. Ex-bartender  offers him cold water, as "The best liquor ... God's beautiful sparkling water was the drink of Eden." 4 pp.  25 x 35 cm.      Paper periodical, lightly soiled, good.  (6378) $16.00.  Religious/Temperance                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Contact me at

No comments:

Post a Comment