Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Amanuensis Monday (Addendum) 2016 October 24 A Review of J.P.McPherson's Diary, January throught March, 1856


In 1856,  James P. McPherson turned 40 on 14 November, and Mary, 34 on 30 January. The family included six children, William, age 13; James, age 11; Jabez, age 9; Anne, age 6; and Elizabeth, age 4; and Mary Jane, age 1.  The family still lived in the log cabin that James P. built in 1850, which by now was bulging with kids, and stuff, as well as an array of visitors.  In addition to the family, McPherson's kin, Anne and Thomas Adamson arrived in late September. In January.  Thomas went to Madison and to locate a place for he and his family. He returned to Springdale on Sunday, 6 January, to pack up their belongings. Then, on Thursday, 17 January, according to James P.'s diary, "Mrs. Adamson moved into Madison."  Mary and James P. evidently accompanied or followed the Adamsons, as Mary was in Madison and they "bot. a new stove" on that same day.


The New Year started off with James P. working on a coat for Billy and measuring John Beat for a vest.  During January, he spent several days sewing for the boys and himself.  

On the evening of the 1st, the McPherson's holiday dinner guests were Mrs. Cairncross and Mr. and Mrs. James Morrison.  James P. then  spent a few days fixing fence and chopping and hauling wood.  In fact, whenever James P. was at home during January, February, and March,  he was chopping and hauling firewood.   

In January, he also had William Henderson build a closet for the family.  In mid-February he borrowed Furman Housel's farming mill so that he could clean up his wheat.  A few days later, he borrowed Cairncross's horses and took the wheat to Madison to have it milled to flour.  Out of 20 bushels of grist (grain that has been separated from the chaff), he received 725 lbs of flour.  He then returned flour that he had borrowed from Thomas McGregor and James Morrison.
In addition to chopping wood and splitting rails, McPherson also was at the Blacksmith shop with wagon and chain.  He later fixed the hounds of the wagon the hounds (the hounds  fastened the rear axle to the reach and the front axle to the wagon tongue). 

With Anne Adamson living in Madison, Mary more frequently went to Madison, presumably to visit Anne.  James P. also noted in his diary that John Edi's dog bit 11 year old Jim. 

As usual, James P. spent Sundays at home with his family, receiving guests, and visiting friends and neighbors.  He visited Alex and William Cairncross, Robert Craig, Samuel Lamont, Furman Housel, and William Henderson.  Also the following came to visit the McPhersons during this first quarter of 1856: Alexander, William and Stewart Cairncross; James P. Beard; C. S. Wright; Mr. Cook; James Mahoney; John, Edi; H. Lewis; C. Lust; S. Wright; Chauncey Wakely; and Bernard Brink.  

James P.'s correspondence was fairly light during this quarter.  Only the letters to William Davidson and Thomas Adamson appeared to be personal correspondence, with the rest related to community and political activities.

25 January   Posted letter to William Davidson

25 January   Posted letter to Adam Mickle, Modina

 25 January   Posted letter to Land Office, Mineral Point

15 February  Posted letter to Judge George Dow
22 February Posted letter to Thomas Adamson, containing two letter received for him

19 March 19 Received letter from J. W. Cook, by Peter Harper 

 On 7 January, James P. went to Madison, where he spent the entire week on "county business."  Then on 15 January he was at the Poor House settling with Mr. Pickett (Mrs. Pickett passed away at the Poor House on  ).  The next day he went to Madison to sell County land in the town of Burk to Pat Carmody.  James P. noted that Carmody was not prepared to buy the land.  Later in the month, he   paid $2 for T. Brady's fair to Wiota.

On 27 January, McPherson embarked upon an extended, and apparently unplanned for trek for the county.  He left for Madison on Sunday evening, stopping at the Poor House for the night.  Then he proceeded on to Madison, where he bought and paid for several bills of goods for the Poor House.  The next day, he noted that Mr. Dow had not attended to the previous arrangements to accompany Mr. W. R. Taylor in escorting "the crazy girl" to the Illinois Hospital for the Insane.  James P. then made arrangement for himself to accompany Mr. Taylor in this endeavor.

McPherson and Taylor left Madison with the "crazy girl" for Chicago.  The weather was cold and
Train in Winter Snow, near Jackson, WI
snowy and they were delayed and did not get into Chicago until late in the evening.  They left Chicago en route to Springfield, Illinois, but were stopped between Gardner and Dwight, Illinois, due to snow obstructing the way.  The three engines of the train tried to break through the snow, but to no avail.  The passengers were forced to stay in the train all night, which was very uncomfortable.  Sometime during the next morning, sleds were brought from Dwight to transport the passengers to somewhat warmer accommodations in Dwight.  James P. rode down in a sled with two ladies and the "crazy girl."
He said that they were "almost froze when they reached the tavern."  Because all of the rooms, as well as the floor space in the tavern, were taken by other folks, James P. and Taylor were housed overnight in Mr. Concle's upstairs, open and unheated garret room.  

The next morning, “shivering and shaking,” James P. and Taylor found a thermometer which showed the temperature at "27 degrees below Zero."  As the two men made their way to the tavern for breakfast, Taylor's ears and James P.'s foot "were froze."  The train was finally brought to Dwight late in the day, but could go no further due an obstruction further down the line.  The poor passengers were again obliged to spend another very cold and miserable night in the train cars. 

Monday afternoon, about 2 p.m., after more than five days since leaving Chicago, the train was finally again on it's way to Springfield, Illinois.  Taylor, James P., and the "crazy girl" then proceeded on to Jacksonville and the state hospital for the insane.  They checked the girl into the hospital, and by 3:30 p.m., they were headed back towards Springfield and on their way home.  They were only detained by snow for a few hours between Janesville and Madison.  By Sunday, 10 February, two weeks after leaving on this unexpected trek, James P. arrived home  --  although he did have to stop at the Poor house and pay Mr. Cook $50, presumable for caring for the Poor House.

During this trek, James P. did stop in Rockford, to inquire about his friend, William Davidson, only to find the Davidson had gone to Patterson, N.J.  McPherson, also took a bit of time in Janesville to see Robert Brand, who was to be found well and prospering.

Two weeks later, McPherson was at Primrose where he met with "Mr. Hoyt, sick pauper."   Then on 4 March, McPherson was again in Madison doing county business and "opened offers for building Poor House, which was awarded to J. and W. Vrormen.  He finalized the contract and returned home on 7 March.

In addition to James P.'s positions in the county and at the Poor House, he was also quite busy with work related to being a Justice of the Peace:  he was at Robert Craigs and Belleville drawing and taking acknowledgments of  deeds; he issued Summons in the case of W. Brown vs. Wooley; he assisted Evor Thorson and Andrew Henderson in rescinding their contract for Sale of Land (evidently Evor found other ways to obtain his son's apprenticeship contract, or perhaps didn't need to have his son released from the apprenticeship); Drew deeds for Samuel Lamont and T.B. Miles. (Miles and McPherson appear to be speaking,at least in regard to this deed, but the easy friend ship of earlier days seems to be absent.)

McPherson was also  visited by Chuancey Wakely in regard to an attachment case, Bryon vs. Wakely.  McPherson obtained a non-suit on errors in process and service.  He was later visited again by Mr. Wakely and Mr. Hough.  Evidently, in the evening, "a mob took Mr. Wakely's horses from the custody of the Constable and drove them off."  He then went to Madison with Mr. Wakely and upon their return went to the trial for second suit against Wakely.  They settled without going to trial.

Apparently, Wakely was not the only person having problems with Philander Bryon, because on 12 March, McPherson was in Mt. Vernon taking evidence in case of B. Lewis, V.D.Spears, add S.H. Naffsinger against Philander Bryon.  He was again in Mt. Vernon taking evidence on 13 March. Then on Saturday, 15 March there was a meeting at the school house about the Bryons.   The community feeling about the Bryons had not lessened, as on the afternoon of  22 March, there was an "anti-Bryon Meeting at Mt. Vernon.  Perhaps in the future, we will hear more from McPherson's diary about the suits and feelings against the Bryons.

McPherson also made out road petition for  Stevenson;  Drew a contract between J. Salamanson and Andrew Henderson; Drew a mortgage for A. Lust; was at the trial between Rider and Newhaven; and was at the town Board at Gilbert Olson's.

Springdale also got a new teacher.  On 1 March, McPherson was visited by Mr. Fargo.  Then on 10 of March, Fargo again visited, and the teacher was at McPherson's all night on 14 March. He then took the teacher, Mr. Barnes, to meet with James Morrison and Thomas McGregor.

All things considered, James P. McPherson had a very busy 1st quarter of 1856.


Anne Adamson
Thomas Adamson
H. Barnes
M. S. Barnes, teacher
James P. Beard
John Beat
Thomas Bentley 
P. Brady
Robert Brand, Janesville
Philander Bryon
Bernard Brinks
A. Brown & wife
W. Brown
Alexander Cairncross & wife
William Cairncross & wife
Mrs. Cairncross, mother
Stewart Cairncross
Pat Carmody
J. W. Cook 
Robert Craig
illiam Davidson
George Dow, Judge
John Edi
H. N. Fargo
Peter Harper
Andrew Henderson
William Henderson
L. P. Higge, Esq. (attorney)
John Hogg
Furman Housel & wife
H. Lewis
Samuel Lamont & wife
C. Lust
Thomas McGregor
Billy McPherson
James B. McPherson
Jabez McPherson
Adam Mickel, Modina
Thomas B. Miles & wife
James Morrison & wife
Gilbert Olson
D. Pickett
John Salamanson
W. R. Taylor
J. Vrormen
W. Vrormen
Chauncey Wakely
P. White
C. S. Wright, Cross Plains 

~ ~ ~

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Amanuensis Monday 2016 October 24: J.P.McPherson's Diary, January 1 through March 31, 1856

Diary entries for January 1 through March 31 , 1856

1st Tues. Working at Billys coat. Mrs. Caircross and Mr. & Mrs. Morrison at Supper with us. Measured John Beat for vest.
2nd Wed. Working at Billly coat.
3rd Thurs. Fixing fence round hay and corn.
4th Fri. Cutting and hauling wood.
5th Sat. At Robert Craigs and Belleville drawing and taking acknowledgement of deeds.
6th Sun. At B. Brinks and Cairncross's on my way home. Thomas Adamson out from Madison.
7th Mon. At Madison on county business til the 11th inclusive.
12th Sat.
13th Sun. At S. Lamonts and F. Housels
14th Mon. Killed 3 hogs, assisted by Messers. Housel and Morrison. At John Edi's for pork barrel
15th Tues. At Poor House afternoon settling with Mr. Pickett.
16th & 17th At Madison to Sell County land in town of Burk to Pat Carmody, who was not prepared to buy.
17th Mrs. Adamson moved into Madison. Bot. me a new stove. Mary at Madison.
18th Fri. Making clothes for boys.
19th Sat. DO DO
20th Sun. At Home. Visited by B. Brink.
21st Mon. Working at Boys clothes.
22nd Tues. Cutting and hauling wood.
23rd Wed. Wm Henderson making closet for me. Issued Summons in case of W. Brown vs. Wooley. Paid T. Brady's fare $2, to Wiota.
24th Thurs. Wm Henderson finished closet. Took P. Whites acknowledgement of deed to B. Brink.
25th Fri. Posted letters to W. Davidson, Adam Mickel, Modina, to land office, Mineral Pt.
26th Sat. Cutting & hauling wood. At Mr. Morrisons in the evening. Made vest for self.
27th Sun. Left home for Madison in the evening. Stopt at Poor House all night.
28th Mon. Went into Madison with Mr. Cook. Bot.and paid for several bills of goods for Poor House.
29th Tues. Mr. Dow not having attended according to arrangement to accompany Mr. Taylor with crazy girl to Illinois Hospital for the Insane. Made arrangements for leaving with Mr. Taylor, tomorrow.
30th Wed. Left Madison at 3 o'clock P.M. For Janesville – no communication that route with Chicago – went to Milwaukie – Stopt at “Hawkins House”.
31st Thurs. At Depot of Lake Shore road at 8 o'clock A. M. but found that no train would leave till 3 o'clock P.M. owing to the Snow on the track. Left at 3 o'clock P.M. for Chicago where we arrived late in the evening. Stopt at the Jarvis House.

1st Fri. Left Chicago at 8 o'clock A. M. by Chicago and Mississippi R.R. for Springfield, where we expected to arrive at 7½ evening. After passing Joliet found the roads much obstructed by snow, but having 3 locomotives ahead the train got along, tho slowly, untill on Grand Prairie between Gardner and Dwight it stuck fast in a snowy bank about 4 o'clock P.M. The cars were run back about ¾ of a mile and the locomotives alone were used in an attempt to force a passage thru the snow, but without success. They even ran into the drift and wood and water being used up there they were froze up. The passengers remained in the cars all night and it being very cold, they were very uncomfortable.
2nd Sat. During the forenoon Sleds were sent from Dwight to carry the passangers to that place. Rode down in a sled with two ladies and the crazy girl, and were almost froze when we reached the Tavern. Got dinner the first meal I had since yesterday Morning. No progress made in opening the road today. All the beds in the Tavern and the floor of the bar room being occupied, Mr. Taylor and I went to the house of Mr. Conicle – one mile from the Tavern – to sleep.
3rd Sun. After spending a miserable cold night in bed got up, and shaking and shivering put on our clothes – got down stairs from the open garrett in which we slept and found by a Thermometer sheltered from the wind that the Mercury was 27 degrees below Zero. Went to the Tavern to breakfast and on our way there Taylors ears and my foot were froze. Men working in clearing the road all day and succeeding in getting our train down to Dwight but could not get any farther on account of an obstructing train between this place and Bloomington.
4th Mon. Stopt in the cars all night – Still cold. Left Dwight about 2 P.M.
5th Tues. Arrived in Springfield this morning at 2 o'clock. Left for Jacksonville at 10-45 – got the girl into the hospital, and at 3-30 P.M. left for Springfield where we arrived between 6 and 7 evening. Took lodging at a private house.
6th Wed. Left Springfield at 8 A. M. by Illinois Central branch R.R. via Urbana for Chicago. Snow fell during the afternoon and evening and we did not reach Chicago till very late. Stopt at the Merchants Hotel.
7th Thurs. Left Chicago at 11 A. M. for Rockford. Enquired for Wm. Davidson and found that he had gone to Patterson N.J.
8th Fri. Left Rockford for Beloit, at 1-30 P.M reached Janesville about 8 o'clock evening.
9th Sat. Called upon Robert Brand this morning – found him well and prospering. Left Janesville at 10 A.M. for Madison but were detained at Milton till late in the afternoon because of baggage train which had broke down on the road. Reached Madison just at dusk.
10th Sun. Returned home – called at the Poor House on my way out and gave Mr. Cook $50.
11th Mon. Fixed Sled. Visit from Mrs. Cairncross.
12th Tues. DO DO and doing chores. Grinding axe.
13th Wed. (“Grinding axe” lined out) Surveying our lands.
14th Thurs. Surveying.
15th Fri. Surveying till noon. Visited by Mr. Cairncross. Posted letter to Judge Dow.
16th Sat. Working at Jims Coat.
17th Sun. At Mass's store.
18th Mon. At Housels for farming Mill. Cleaned up a little wheat. E. Thorson & A. Henderson agreed to rescind their contract for Sale of land.
19th Tues. Cleaned up wheat forenoon. At Cairncross's P.M.
20th Wed. Went to Madison Mills with grist with Cairncross's horses and waggon.
21st Thurs. Returned home . Out of 20 bushels of grist had 725 pounds of flour.
22nd Fri. Drew deeds for S. Lamont and T. B. Miles. Visited by H. N. Fargo and School teacher. Took to McGregors the flour we had borrowed from them Posted letter to T. Adamson, containing 2 letters recd for him.
23rd Sat. At Primrose visiting family of Mr. Hoyt. Sick paupers.
24th Sun. Visited by Mr. Chauncey Wakely. At Mr. Morrisons.
25th Mon. At Mt. Vernon, pleading case of Mr. Wakely, in attachment case – Byron vs. Wakely. Obtained non-Suit on errors in process (“of” lined out) and service..
26th Tues. Chopping forenoon, at Lamonts and Morrisons P.M. Visited by Messers Hough and Wakely. In the evening a mob took Mr. Wakelys horses from the custody of the Constable and drove them off.
27th Wed. At Madison with Mr. Wakely. Stopt all night at Carters Hotel.
28th Thurs. Returned home to trial of Second Suit against Wakely. Settled without going to trial.
29th Fri. Made out road petiton for Stevenson. Working at Jim's coat.
MARCH, 1856
1st Sat. Chopping. Visited by Mr. Fargo. At Morrisons, with his flour. P.M.
2nd Sun. At home.
3rd Mon. Visited by S. Wright. Chopping and Splitting wood. Drew contract between John Salamanson and Andrew Henderson.
4th Tues. Chopping and hauling wood. Went to Poor house afternoon.
5th Wed. At Madison on County business
6th Thurs. DO DO Opened offers for building Poor House awarded contract to J. & W. Vrormen
7th Fri. Drew, signed contract for building PH. Returned home in the evening.
8th Sat. Did nothing forenoon. Chopping afternoon.
9th Sun. At home. Visited by John Edi, W and S. Cairncross, H. Lewis & C. Lust.
10th Mon. Chopping. Drew Mortgage for A. Lust. Visited by Mr. Fargo.
11th Tues. Chopping. Visited by Mr. Cook & J. Mahoney.
12th Wed. Chopping forenoon. At Mount Vernon afternoon taking evidence in case of B. Lewis, V.D. Spears and S. H. Naffsinger against Philander Byron and others. At trial between Rider and Newhaven in the evening.
13th Thurs. Taking evidence at Mount Vernon.
14th Fri. Killed a pig and sent it to T. Adamson, by Mail Carrier. Chopping afternoon. Teacher with us all night.
15th Sat. At laying out of road on town line. At Meeting in School house about the Byrons.
16th Sun. At William Hendersons.
17th Mon. Cleaned up wheat.
18th Tues. DO DO and a little oats.
19th Wed. Chopping and splitting wood. Recd. letter from J. W. Cook, by Peter Harper.
20th Thurs. Chopping & Splitting rails. At Morrisons and McGregors, with M. S. Barnes, teacher.
21st Fri. At Blacksmith Shop with waggon & chain. Chopping afternooon.
22nd Sat. Fixing hounds of waggon forenoon. At Anti-Byron Meeting at Mt. Vernon afternoon.
23rd Sun. At home. Visited by C. S. Wright.
24th Mon. Bad with cold did nothing all day. Mary at Cairncross's
25th Tues. At meeting of town Board at Gilbert Olsons.
26th Wed. Writing. Chopping. Vis. by Harker and his Father-in-law.
27th Thurs. DO Mary at Madison. J. Edi's dog bit Jim.
28th Fri. Chopping and hauling wood.
29th Sat. DO DO
30th Sun. At home. Visited by A. Cairncross & J. Beard.
31st Mon. Chopping and hauling wood.

End of diary entries for January 1 through  
March 31, 1856

~ ~ ~

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Amanuensis Monday (Addendum) 2016 September 19: A Review of J.P.McPherson's Diary, October 1 through December 31, 1855


In 1855, the family of James P. McPherson and family increased by one, with the birth on 27 January, of Mary Jane McPherson. The family was still living in the small log cabin he built in 1850. James P. McPherson turned 39 on 14 November. Mary turned 33 on 30 January, just three days after the birth of baby Mary Jane. The new baby then made a family of eight; the parents, and six children, William, age 12; James, age 10; Jabez, age 8; Anne, age 5; and Elizabeth, age 3, and newborn Mary Jane. 

As you may remember the boys all had their mother's maiden name of Burns as their middle name.  Anne's middle name was Adamson, the last name of her aunt and uncle, Anne and Thomas Adamson.  Elizabeth Spink McPherson was named after her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Spink of Arbroath, Scotland.  Elizabeth's first name was also that of her maternal grandmother (Elizabeth Horrok (later changed to "Herrick") Burns.)  Baby Mary Jane carried the name of her mother, as well as her maternal great grandmother, Mary Burn(s) who had lived in Lancashire, England.

Days of October and November were often filled with harvest activities. It appeared that McPherson had Alex Cairncross thrash for him, as Cairncross was noted to thrash for McGregor and Housel. James P. also thrashed for Housel.

McPherson had his grain thrashed on 4 October, and was assisted by Furman Housel, James Morrison, Thomas McGregor, Alex Cairncross and Samuel Lamont's son, R. Lamont. The group used the horses of Cairncross and Lamont. McPherson listed his grain yield as, wheat, 85 ½ bushels and oats,160 bushels. The next day, he was at Primrose, presumably with Alex Cairncross, because according to the diary, “Mrs. Cairncross” arrived.
Much of the remainder of October was spent digging and hauling potatoes for neighbors as well as for the McPherson family. Thomas Adamson appeared to be quite helpful in this endeavor. In addition, McPherson, Thomas Adamson, and Billy were also busy husking corn for David Beat, as well as McPherson's own corn. They hauled the corn and stalks and cleaned the stable. Several days or parts of days, were spent looking for sheep which had gotten out of the enclosure. Also, his bull died on 28 December and he skinned it the next day – no mention of butchering the bull. Wonder what he did with the skin....

Although, James P. did not work on Sundays, Thomas Adamson was sent to David Beats on Sunday, 28 October. This might have been a friendly visit, though it rather looked as thought it was related to Adamson's work for Beats.

In early November they cleaned the grist and then sent it to the mill for a yield of only 29 lbs to the bushel – which did not appear to be what James P. expected. November and December seemed to be a time to do the necessary things before winter: thatching the stable, fixing the stable, killing and preserving hogs, and general working around the house. 
An interesting note here; in the past, prior to 28 August when James P. spoke to Thomas Miles about not driving his cattle across McPherson's crops, Mr. Miles had always helped James P. kill and butcher the hogs. In fact, they helped one another in this regard. Since August, when all McPherson got from Miles was “impudence,” the only time that Mr. Miles has been mentioned was in regard to the suit between he and Mr. White, which Mr. Miles lost. Thomas Miles was the nearest neighbor to the McPhersons and they had been friends since the McPhersons arrived in Springdale.
James P. also fixed fences, fenced around the hay, fixed the yoke, and cut and hauled firewood. He finished off the year by making a bedstead for the children, which makes one wonder about the sleeping arrangements for the six children in the small log cabin.

During the fall, McPherson had only a few tailoring jobs: he made coats for Mr. Gaynes and the Lamont boys. He also made three pairs of pants and vests for J. McCaughey. He also noted that he worked at the boys' coats, which seems as though he made coats for his sons.

This last quarter of 1855 was a busy time for harvesting, and preparing for winter, so visiting between friends and neighbors seemed to fall off a bit. However, he visited the Cairncross family, and they reciprocated; in fact, on a Sunday, William Cairncross and his wife brought his mother to visit with the McPherson family.. He also visited William Henderson, Thomas McGregor, Samuel Lamont, A. Brown, and C. Olson. It appeared that Anne and Thomas Adamson were staying with the McPhersons.

The oncoming of winter seemed to reduce the amount of James P.'s correspondence, and of course, Anne and Thomas Adamson were now in Springdale which eliminated the need to write to them. The following is a list of James P.'s correspondence for the last quarter of 1855:
20 October Posted letter to Supervisor of town of Richland

14 December Posted letter to Judge George Dow
26 December Received letter from Judge George Dow
19 December Received letter from William Davidson
21 December Posted letter to William Davidson

McPherson was always interested in the political activities in Springdale and Dane County. He was at Baers Tavern in Cross Plains on 6 October, when G.P. Thomson was nominated for Assembly. Later, on 20 October, he attended the Republican Convention in Black Earth. He was also at the Election on 6 November.
1865 Downtown Madison, Wisconsin

He continued his work with the Poor House. On 16 and 17 October, he was in Madison on Poor House business, and, on the way home, he stayed all night at the Poor House on the 17th . He was again at the Poor House on 4 November. His diary indicated that “Mrs. Pickett died.” This and previous diary notations seemed to indicate that Mrs. Pickett was cared for in the Poor House. James P. was again at the Poor House on 12 November, and then went on to “Madison on County Poor House business” for the next five days. On Friday, 23 November, he was “reelected County Superintendent of the Poor for three years” from 1 January 1856. He was again at the Poor House on 27 November and on 30 November, he took two hogs that he had butchered to the Poor House. The total weight of the hogs for the Poor was 237 lbs.

In December, he spent several days working at the tax lists. He went to Mr. North's on 3 December where he picked up the old tax assessments. On Monday, 3 December, his diary entry reads:

“Correcting as far as possible the gross errors made in the assessment role by Mr. North.” 
McPherson then worked on the tax list from Tuesday, 4 December through Wednesday, 12 December, except for the intervening Sunday. He then took the tax list to the town treasurer (who was not named).

He took Evor Thorson's acknowledgment of contract between him and Andrew Henderson (which relates back to the problems of having to purchase the release of his son from apprenticeship with Ole Anderson. McPherson, also drew a Mortgage for Andrew Jacket, drew a Mortgage and acknowledgment for John McDonald, drew a Deed and Mortgage for T. O’Neil and Ole Thomson and the subsequent acknowledgment.


Thomas Adamson
Ole Anderson
David Beat
T. Blackburn
A. Brown & wife
Alexander Cairncross & wife
William Cairncross & wife
Stewart Cairncross
William Davidson
George Dow, Judge
Andrew Henderson
William Henderson
Furman Housel & wife
Mr. Gaynes
Samuel Lamount
R. Lamont
Thomas McGregor
Billy McPherson
 James Morrison & wife
W. R. Taylor
Evor Thorson
~ ~ ~

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, September 19, 2016

Amanuensis Monday, 2016, September 19: J.P.McPherson's Diary, October 1 through December 31, 1855

Diary entries for October 1 through December 31, 1855

1st Mon. Borrowed 5 Bushels of wheat from McGregor which Morrison and Billy took to mill. Fixing floors.
2nd Tues. Fixing floors forenoon. A. C.(Cairncross) thrashing for McGregor after 11 o'clock. Self thrashing for Housel after dinner.
3rd Wed. Thrashing for Housel.
4th Thurs. A. Cairncross thrashing for Housel in the morning. Had my grain thrashed, assisted by Housel, Morrison, McGregors, Cairncross, and R. Lamont – Cairncross & Lamonts Horses. Wheat 85 ½ bushels – Oats 160 bshls.
5th Fri. At Primrose. Mrs. Cairncross arrived.
6th Sat. At Baers Tavern – Cross Plains. G. .P. Thomson nominated for Assembly.
7th Sun. At Cairncross.
8th Mon. At Madison with T. Adamson.
9th Tues. Hunting sheep forenoon. At E. Thorson afternoon. T. Adamson digging Potatoes.
10th Wed. Hunting sheep forenoon. Cleaned grist for Cairncross. T.A. At Potatoes.
11th Thurs. Digging Potatoes.
12th Fri. DO DO
13th Sat. At Store forenoon. Hauled Potatoes afternoon.
14th Sun. At Wm. Hendersons
15th Mon. At Housels raising. T.A. at Potatoes.
16th Tues. At Madison on Poor House business
17th Wed. DO DO At Poor House all night.
18th Thurs. T. Adamson at Cairncross's raising. Returned home at noon.
19th Fri. Hauling & husking corn.
20th Sat. At Black Earth at Republican Convention. Posted letter to Supervisors of town of Richland.
21st Sun. Returned home at noon. Visited by Wm. Cairncross, wife & Mother.
22nd Mon Husking and hauling corn
Eastman Johnson painted Corn Husking
at Nantucket
around 1875.

23rd Tues. Self and T. Adamson husking corn for D. Beat.

24th Wed. DO DO & Billy husking corn for D. Beat.
25th Thurs. Husking and hauling corn.
26th Fri. Cleaning Stable & hauling corn stalks.
27th Sat. Chinking and muding stable and cleaning oats.
28th Sun. At Mt. Vernon and Cairncross's. T.A. At Beats.

29th Mon. At Madison with oats.

30th Tues. Husking corn & digging potatoes. T. Adamson went to Poor House.
31st Wed. Sewing forenoon. Thrashing for S. Lamont afternoon.

1st Thurs. Thrashing for S. Lamont.
2nd Fri. DO DO in the morning. Cleaning grist.
3rd Sat. At Mill forenoon. Thatching Stable afternoon.
4th Sun. At Poor House. Mrs. Pickett died.
Hand-Powered Corn Husker
Courtesty of Iowa Agriculturist
5th Mon. Cut coat for Mr. Gaynes.
6th Tues. At Election.
7th Wed. At Mill for grist which yielded only 29 pounds to the bushel. At Mr. Gaynes.
8th Thurs. Cut coat for (“Mr. Gaynes” lined out //JGH) Lamonts boys.
9th Fri. Fixing Stable
10th Sat. Working around home.
11th Sun. At A. Browns.
12th Mon. Fixing Stable forenoon – at Poor House afternoon.
13th Tues. At Madison on County Poor business till Saturday
24th Inst. On Friday the 23rd was reelected County Superintendant of the Poor for three years from the 1st day of January next.
25th Sun. At home. Visited by C. Olson.
26th Mon. DO   doing but little.
27th Tues. At Poor House.
28th Wed. Doing chores. Working at Tax list.
29th Thurs. Killed 3 hogs, assisted by Mr. Housel.
30th Fri. Took 2 hogs weighing 327 pounds to the Poor House.

1st Sat. Working at tax list. Took E. Thorson's acknowledgement of contract between him and Andrew Henderson. At Mr. Norths.
2nd Sun. At home.
3rd Mon. Correcting as far as possible the gross errors made in the assessment role by Mr. North.
4th Tues. Working at tax list.
5th Wed. DO DO
6th Thurs. DO DO
7th Fri. DO DO
8th Sat. DO DO
9th Sun At home
10th Mon. Working at tax list
11th Tues. DO DO Drew Mortgage for Abram jacket.
12th Wed. Finished and took tax list to Town Treasurer.
13th Thurs. Writing and doing chores.
14th Fri. Fixing fence round grain crib. Posted letter to Geo. Dow.
15th Sat. Doing chores. Drew and took acknowledgement of Mortgage for John McDonald.
16th Sun. At S. Lamonts
17th Mon. Fixing fence.
18th Tues. Working at S. Lamonts coat.
19th Wed. DO DO Drew Deed and Mortgage for T. O'Neill and Oley Thomson. Recd. letter from Wm. Davidson.
20th Thurs. Took Mr. O'Neill & Thomsons acknowledgement of deed and Mortgage.
21st Fri. At Madison with S. Lamont. Posted to W. Davidson.
22nd Sat. Cut 3 coats and 3 vests for J. McCaughey.
23rd Sun. At home.
24th Mon. Fixing yoke. Working at Lamonts coats.
25th Tues. Working at Lamonts coats.
26th Wed. Finished Lamonts Coat. Recd. letter from Judge Dow.
27th Thurs. Fixing fence round hay.
28th Fri. Cutting and hauling fire wood.
29th Sat. Skinned Bull which died during the night. Working at boys coats.
30th Sun. At Home.
31st Mon. Made bedstead for children.

End of diary entries for October 1 through  
December 30, 1855

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Friday, September 16, 2016

Amanuensis Monday (Addendum) 2016 September 12: A Review of J.P.McPherson's Diary, July 1 through September 30, 1855


In 1855, the family of James P. McPherson and family increased by one, with the birth on 27 January, of Mary Jane McPherson. The family was still living in the small log cabin he built in 1850. James P. McPherson was 38 years of age and would turned 39 late in the year, on 14 November. Mary turned 33, on 3 January,  just three days after the birth of baby Mary Jane. The new baby then made a family of eight; the parents, and six children, William, age 12; James, age 10; Jabez, age 8; Anne, age 5; and Elizabeth, age 3, and newborn Mary Jane. 

As you may remember the boys all had their mother's maiden name of Burns as their middle name.  Anne's middle name was Adamson, the last name of her aunt and uncle, Anne and Thomas Adamson.  Elizabeth Spink McPherson was named afte her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Spink of Arbroath, Scotland.  Elizabeth's first name was also that of her maternal grandmother (Elizabeth Horrok (later changed to "Herrick") Burns.)  Baby Mary Jane carried the name of her mother, as well as her maternal great grandmother, Mary Burn(s) who had lived in Lancashire, England.

The McPherson family arrived in Springdale, Wisconsin, in May,   of 1850.  After being in New York City for  eight years, they were   used to the patriotic 4th of July celebrations of the big city.  That first 4th of July in Springdale, left James P. McPherson disappointed in the Independence Day celebration, or lack thereof, in his new home.  He vowed that they would do better "next year."  However, 4th of July came and went during   1851 and 1852.  By 1853, the Scots emigre attended the celebration in Mt. Vernon, and at Paton's Grove in 1854.  On 4 July 1855, they spent the day at the "Celebration at Miles," their nearest Springdale neighbor.

As usual, summer in Springdale in 1855 was a time of putting up hay, hoeing corn, and cutting oats and wheat.  He also cracked oats, cleaned wheat and stacked hay.  

During the last few years, James P.'s circumstances had changed and he now had other jobs  in addition to working the farm, he hired or bartered for others to help with the work, such as  James Morrison and the Cairncross men who helped him with the farm work, such as cutting and hauling hay, binding wheat.  It appeared that he also might have had Alex Cairncross work in his stead for some of the other neighbors, such as the McGregors (after the death of Mrs. McGregor in late August).  

He also spent several days in July making a ladder.  He had no power drill, electric powered saws, and even his "nails" and hammers were not as we know today.  So on 28 July, it was understandable that his notation, "Finished ladder" had a ring of accomplishment to it.    

James P. was "at Beards for hog" on 13 August, but the hog broke loose the next day and returned to Beards.  James P.  fixed the fence and evidently reclaimed his hog.  He also was busy fixing or building a cellar wall and building a stable.  He did not have a horse in 1855, but the family had a few cows, some sheep and a a few hogs.  Speaking of the sheep, his diary noted on 31 August that "sheep missing."  Two days later, Bryon Beard "brot. home sheep."

On 22 September, McPherson had a stable raising and was assisted by Furman Housel, James Morrison, Thomas McGregor, Weise,  Blake, Samuel Lamont, James and/or John Edi,  Andrew Henderson, and Stephen Cairncross.  He also reciprocated by attending Lamonts "raising" on 21 September. The last two weeks of September, James P. worked on the cellar, putting up braces for the stable, cutting thatch, and thatching the roof of the house and barn.  On 29 September, he was ready for the heavy rain that occurred.

He did have a problem with his neighbor Thomas Miles.  On  18 August, the diary notation states "Spoke to Miles about driving cattle into my crops and got nothing but impudence in return."  This seemed to be odd, as previously Miles and McPherson seemed to have been quite friendly.      

His tailoring trade had dropped off considerably during these summer months, but he did have time to cut a vest and pants for Mr. Kay.      

As usual, McPherson did not work on Sundays, but spent Sundays  at home or visiting friends and neighbors.  However, on the second Sunday in July, he rode home from Shullsburgh to Mineral Point and then home on Monday, 9 July.

Mary spent all day and night tending to Mrs. Cairncross who became ill on 2 September.  Also a Cairncross family member, Stephen Cairncross, spent the same night with James P. and family.  Another neighbor, Mrs. McGregor passed away on 21 AugustMcPherson and other neighbors, not only attended the funeral, but also helped the McGregors with the summer farm work.

The McPhersons visited and were visited by Samuel Lamont, John and James Edi, Axium Malone, James P. Beard, Mulhain, J. Maloney, James Morrison, Mr. & Mrs. Craig, J and D. Bartell,  Thomas Urdall, John Hogg, William and Stephen Cairncross, E. Richardson, Andrew Henderson,  Thomas McGregor,  Evor Thorson, John Knudson, Furman Housel, and Ben Kay. On the 24 July, James P. was visited by "Mr. T. C. Thomson of Leith, who stopt all night with us." (Thomson appeared to be a visitor from Leith, Scotland.) Then on 24 August, B. F. Denson visited McPherson and also "stopt" all night."  
During this quarter of 1855, James P. McPherson's correspondence appeared to be primarily related to his community and political positions.  His letters from and to Ann Adamson were the only personal correspondence.  It is worthy to note that Ann and Thomas Adamson arrived in Springdale on the evening of 28 September 1855.  The diary indicated that there was a close familiar relationship between McPherson and the Adamsons.
11  July            Received letter from Frank H. Firman

 25 June           Received letter from H. E Frink  
 27  July             Posted letter to H.E.  Fink

25   July              Received letter from L. P. Higbee (re: E. Thorson case)
27   July              Posted letter to L. P. Higbee
 3    August         Posted letter to L.P. Higbee

27   July             Posted letter to Seymour 

31  August         Received letter from John Ludington 

 5   September    Received letter from Ann (Adamson)
 7   September    Posted letter to Ann Adamson, enclosing $5

 7   September    Posted letter to Argus 

 7   September    Posted letter to Democrat

 7   September    Posted letter to G. Bjorenson
12 September     Received letter from G. Bjorenson


McPherson's involvment in the case of Evor Thorson who was trying to get his boy back from Ole Anderson.  It appears that the boy was bound out to Anderson as an "apprentice"  and Anderson refused to release the boy unless he had monetary reward for doing so.   On Thursday, 5 July,  McPherson headed to Shullsburgh with Evor Thorson.  Shullsburgh, on the map as Shullsburg, was located south, southeast of Springdale, fairly near the Wisconsin border  - a far piece for the gentlemen.  They were at Shullsburgh on Friday, and on Saturday, 7 July, the Habeas Corpus case was decided against Evor Thorson.  On Sunday, they rode back to Mineral Point and on Monday, rode from Mineral Point back home to Springdale. 

Evor Thorson visited McPherson on 1 August.  Then on 9 August, James P. and Evor Thorson were in Madison.  On 16 August, McPherson made out contract for Sale of land by Evor Thorston to Andrew Henderson.  Then on 20 August, McPherson and E. Thorson were again in Madison.  Although James P. wasn't specific about the details it appeared that Evor Thorson did not want to leave his boy with Ole Anderson after the decision of the Habeas Corpus ruling for Anderson.  So, it appeared that McPherson and Thorson put together a land sale so that Thorson could get his son back from Ole Anderson. However, this was not the end of the Evor Thorson saga.  On 10 September McPherson was in Mt. Vernon in the afternoon and evening, "defending E. Thorson & H. Johnson, arrested for killing dogs."  There was no indication as how this arrest turned out.

In regard to the Poor House,  McPherson had his sons, Billy and Jim take Jim Blower to the Poor House in mid-July.  He was also at the Poor Farm with W.R. Taylor on 17 July, and with W. R. Taylor in Madison on 18 July, which was probably related to Poor Farm business.

McPherson position as Justice of the Peace appeared to be somewhat dicey in that he was called on to resolve issues between his friends and neighbors.  On 10 August, he issued a summons in a trespass case, Cairncross vs. Morich.   Later he made out notices for Sale of hogs for Cairncross, though the diary did not indicate whether the notices related to the trespass case or not.

As was mentioned earlier, in mid August, McPherson had words with his neighbor Thomas Miles because of driving cattle across  McPherson's crops.  On 27 August, McPherson "made out  writ of Replevin White vs. Miles".   According to Google, a Writ of Replevin is "a prejudgement process ordering the seizure or attachment of alleged illegally taken or wrongfully withheld property to be held in the U.S.Marshall's custody or that of another designated official, under order and supervision of the court, until the court determines otherwise.  The case was tried on 30 August, in favor of White, the plaintiff.  It's not clear whether McPherson's payment on 16 September are related to this case, buton that date,  he paid White in the amount of $14.29.  The source of the payment was not specified, nor were the specifics of the case, but it appeared so.

James P. McPherson also attended the Senatorial Convention in Madison, as well as the Convention at Bears Tavern in Cross Plains.


Anne Adamson
Thomas Adamson
Ole Anderson
H. Barnes
D. Bartells
J. Bartell
James P. Beard
David Beat
T. Blackburnn
Thomas Bently 
G. Bjorenson
Jim Blowers
Mr. Brown & wife
John Bunnell
William Cairncross &  wife
Stephen Cairncross
J. Connor 
Robert Craig & wife
M. L. Curtis
James Edi
John Edi
Frank H. Firman
H. E. Frink
Moses Fry
Andrew Henderson
William Henderson
L. P. Higge, Esq. (attorney)
John Hogg
Furman Housel &wife
H. Johnson
Ben Kay
John Knudson
Samuel Lamount
James Ludington
T. McGregor
Mrs. T. McGregor (deceased)
Billy McPherson
James B. McPherson (Jim)
Axium Malone
J. Maloney
Wilhelm Menzie
Thomas B. Miles & wife
 James Morrison & wife
William Morich
M. Quigley
E. Richardson
S. Shumway
G.B. Smith
W. R. Taylor
T.C. Thomas (from Lieth, Scotland)
Evor Thorson
Thomas Urdall
Mrs. Wallace (Mrs. Craig)

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications