I could barely contain myself when I realized what I was holding. The collection title was “Lambert Family Papers”, but here was another diary by one of my favorite young women of the 18th century, Hannah Hadassah Hickok Smith! You can read my earlier post about her here. I’ve read her earlier diary, and now, she is a grown woman of seventy-eight and the year is 1844. She notes she has been married 58 years.
Hannah has not changed much since her earlier diary, at least according to her entries. She does mention her daughters and husband which she did not in 1784, but he still is very self-deprecating, still reads voraciously, and records her daily chores, which she dismisses as lazing about. Here is a 78 year old woman hiving bees, throwing more wood in the stove at 3:00 a.m., and setting fence posts! On June 13, she wrote:
To-day went in the pasture a cross the way with Henry to see to cutting and [an] old walnut log. . . I rode with L to Joels Abbia catch’d the horse and after dinner I rode again to the east of Mr. Taylor’s . . . and when Henry come home he helped me set up two posts to my grape vine over the currant bushes & I am very tired and my hips ache.”
I would be tired after a day like that and I am quite a bit younger than 78.
One of the most tantalizing tidbits in this diary are references she makes to earlier ones. On May 11, she writes about looking at her journals from 61, 60 and 59 years ago every day, and also reading her father’s diaries from 73 and 74 years ago. What I want to know is, where are those diaries?? I need to know the rest of the story of Hannah, not two snapshots from 1784 and 1844. No wonder our knowledge of history is incomplete.
This is fascinating. I love a good mystery and if you can learn some local history along the way, even better.