Has spring finally arrived?

CHS Ms_33866_Pease_cover_1835It is May, and thoughts turn to spring. Samuel Pease of Enfield kept regular diaries between 1833 and 1851. He used an almanac within which he inserted blank pages so he could record his activities. With the beginning of a new month, I decided to take a look at what Samuel deemed important to record for the month of May.

In 1833, Samuel noted that the apple trees began to blossom on May 2, but that it rained a great deal from May 9 to May 17, delaying his planting corn until May 23. The following year was dramatically different: on May 14 there was ice in the water trough and the next day there was snow on the ground! His conclusion was that it was a cold month and that the grass and grain were “backward.” In 1835 May proved to be a changeable month yet again. The ice melted on May 1, he waited until the 14th to sow onion seed, and again planted his corn on the 23rd. The apple trees did not begin to blossom until May 20.

Entries for May 1835 by Samuel Pease. Ms 33866

Entries for May 1835 by Samuel Pease. Ms 33866

Aside from the weather, Samuel noted deaths, elections, and in 1835 stated that many children were sick with “canker rash and other disorders.” Samuel’s diaries are also a source of great local history. In addition to his monthly record, he also had pages for accidents and fires (the 1835 fire of note was in New York City), a summary of marriages that year, and “miscellaneous” events, such as the raising of a frame for curing tobacco in August and the dedication of the Methodist Meeting House on December 1.

Samuel Pease recorded the facts about a huge fire in New York City. Ms 33866

Samuel Pease recorded the facts about a huge fire in New York City. Ms 33866

Diaries never cease to fascinate me. If you search our online catalog, you will find a wide assortment of diaries written by individuals from a teenager to a grandmother and dating from the 18th century to the 20th. A resource certainly worth exploring!

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About Barbara

Barbara Austen is the Archivist at CHS and is responsible for all of the incoming manuscripts, which means she gets to read people's diaries or mail. She has a master's Degree in Library and Information Science and has been working in the museum and historical society world for 30 years.

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