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

~ ~ ~

 © 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 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.  

As James P.'s circumstances had changed and he 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 F. Housel, James Morrison, Thomas McGregor, Weise,  Blake, Samuel Lamont, Edi,  Andrew Henderson, and S. 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, S. Cairncross, spent the same night with James P. and family.  Another neighbor, Mrs. McGregor passed away on 21 AugustMcPherson and other neighbors, not only tended 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,  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, Scotlant.) 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 E. 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 E. 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 mid-July, McPherson had his sons, Billy and Jim take Jim Blower to the Poor House.  He was 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 actions on 16 September are related to this case, but he paid White in the amount of $14.29.  The source of the payment was not specified, nor were the specifics of the case.

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
S. 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
 J. 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)

~ ~ ~

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