Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 April 27: Last edit for the book, The Jabezes in My Tree

That old 90-10 rule has been in play for this book.  Well, I shouldn't limit the rule to this book, but pretty much everything in my life.  The Rule is 90% of almost anything takes 10% of the time needed.  The the last 10% takes 90% of the time.

Yes, I know that editing and finishing a project takes the lion's share of the time.  What I didn't plan on was that I would look at the Proof book and say, "This just will not do!"

After a short re-write of a section, this little book is now again ready to upload.  With no more "surprises,"  The Jabezes in My Tree should be published next week.

I am feeling elated, but trying to just wait until I have the finished product in hand.  It's been a long 90%!

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2916 April 26;Travel Tuesday; The Story of James P. McPherson and Daniel B. Lester, 1850-1862

Geneablogger's Travel Tuesday Prompt seems appropriate.  I as well as James Peter McPherson had some travel involved with this post. /JGH

In November 2010, I traveled to Wisconsin to meet several of my McPherson cousins and to photograph the diary of our Scots patriarch, James Peter McPherson. The diary had been held in the family of McPherson's youngest daughter, Margaret Burns McPherson Burmeister, and her descendants generously allowed this little group of cousins to photograph the fragile, old pages. We knew that James Peter and his wife Mary Burns McPherson came to America from Dundee, Scotland, in 1842 and that they stayed in New York City for eight years, before they made their new home in the "West,"  Springdale, Wisconsin.  Having access to the diary opened up the world of James Peter and Mary Burns McPherson and their life in Springdale, Wisconsin. The diary begins on May 29, 1850, and tells their story of leaving New York City on April 30 and traveling up the Hudson river by canal boat, across the Great Lakes by a steam boat, and then by wagon from Milwaukee to Springdale Wisconsin.

Once in Springdale, James Peter's diary became a daily entry which noted weather, crops, work for others and work by others for him. In other words, James Peter condensensed the day into a one line entry, or once in a while a two to four line entry. While I read and transcribed the diary, I began to know the folks, their friends and neighbors, in Springdale. Most of the time, he referred to folks by their last name, or sometimes both given and last name. He gave importance to a letter or an occurrence by use of titles. For instance, even in the very early letters that he wrote in Springdale, he would use the title of Honorable, or Squire if the correspondence was important to him. He also would use the titles in referenceing special day to day happenings. For instance, he would write Squire when the individual was participating in a legal or formal activity. However, he might also reference that same person on the same day by their last name in regards to the regular daily activities of farming, neighbors and family.

And so it was by paying attention to my great-great-grandfather's Scots' minimalist verbiage that I pieced together the following story about James Peter McPherson and Daniel B. Lester during 1850 and 1853. As the journal transcriber, these observations seem clear to me, but I have to remind myself not to read too much into James Peter's taut diary entries. Nonetheless, James Peter's dealings with Daniel B. Lester have intrigued me since I first read the diary – even before I started the transcription process. This is the story as I have put together from the diary.

* * *

James P. McPherson and Daniel B. Lester


James Peter and Mary arrived in Wisconsin on May 29, 1850. By the end of the year he had finished building their own log cabin on Scotch Lane in Springdale. Of course, he had help from his Scots friends – John and James Stewart, John McDonald, James Baird, David and John Beat, John Edy – as well as neighbors, Thomas Miles, A. Lamont, Christian Morig, Anderson, and Daniel Lester. They helped him cut and haul logs, came to his house raising, helped with chinking the walls and thatching the roof. In addition, all through the summer and fall, the close knit community helped one another with planting, weeding, making and hauling hay, and harvesting grain and potatoes.

The help James Peter was able to give to folks was returned in their helping to build his log cabin. The neighbors and friends also helped the family survive during that first year by having James Peter do farm work and tailoring through the summer and fall until their potatoes were lifted and put into a pit for winter storage. Mary also appeared to be a healer and was often called upon to assist in birthings and illnesses. It must have been a very hard first year for the family, but they were fortunate to have good friends and neighbors. Based on his diary entries, James Peter also appeared to be a very gregarious man and the entries show that the Springfield folks often visited one another. Sometimes the visits to neighbors had to do with scheduling planting, harvesting and other work. At other times, the visits appeared to be related to community projects such as, building a school, town government issues, building roads, and politics. Then there were the visits that were just social.

I might note here, that neither J.P. nor Daniel Lester were listed in the 1850 Federal Census reports for Springdale and surrounding areas. Perhaps both men were comparative newcomers to Springdale. In 1850, J.P. was 36 years old and Daniel Lester was just 23 years old. Nonetheless, these two men had a connection that went beyond neighborly working. The families appeared to be friends and the men had similar interests in politics and law.

November 13, 1850 was the first time that James Peter (or J.P., as I often write) entered Daniel Lester's name into the diary, “Thrashed for Lester.” Two weeks later, Lester attended J.P's house raising. On 1851 February 10, J.P noted that he helped “fix Lester's roof.” There were some nasty windy winter storms that winter and a just a few weeks before the neighbors had helped replace the thatch on J.P.'s roof.

J.P.'s diary did not again mention Lester until the next fall, when he helped Lester thrash, haul hay, and husk corn. During this period the men of the village of Springdale were busy with the town government, building a school, and the subsequent paperwork that goes with these activities. J.P.'s fine handwriting and communication skills were apparently in demand because he was appointed the Town Clerk on November 4 , just six months after arriving in Springdale. The next day he visited Lester. He then spent the next few weeks writing up the tax assessment lists.

At the end of the month, on November 29, 1851, J.P. and Lester visited Squire Barras, who lived in neighboring Primrose, possibly to discuss the taxation or assessment lists. They visited Squire Barras again on December 6, just before J.P. delivered the tax assessment information to the Springdale Town Council on December 7.

During January 1852, J.P. and Lester hauled hay, thrashed, and cut and hauled firewood. They also appeared to have a social connection as Mr and Mrs. Lester visited the McPhersons on a cold January day. J.P. also visited Lester a couple of times in January, as well as the two of them journeyed twenty miles or so to Madison, the state capitol. On February 11, 1852,  J.P. wrote that he was “at Lester's on Hale & Greenwood case.” Although there is nothing in the journal to indicate the nature of the case, or what either J.P or Daniel Lester had to do with the case, it appeared that J.P. and Daniel Lester were connected in Town business and litigation cases as well as being friends.

Pinckney Street, Madison WI ca. 1859

. A typical busy bustling 1850s Madison street view
 near the Capitol Square that might have
 been familiar to J. P. McPherson and Daneil B. Lester..   
Coursety of Wisconsin Historical Society,
WHI 11701

Throughout February, March, April, May, and June the two men maintained contact. Nothing more was mentioned about the Hale &; Greenwood case. However, J.P. attended “Master Thomas Lester's funeral” on February 9 and on March 4, Mary was at Lester's to help with sick child.  J.P. and Daniel continued to visit one another and to periodically travel to Madison. On Sunday, July 4, the Andersons and Mrs. Lester visited J.P and Mary.

J.P. and Lester were again discussing legal issues, when on July 19, 1852, J.P. noted that he was at 
“Squire Lester's getting summons out for Wm. Dunkle
 at P. Nash's insistence.”

Usually, J.P. only wrote “Lester” in his diary, but in this instance, he wrote “Squire Lester.” Then again on July 29, J.P. penned that he was

at Squire Lester's attending P. Nash's & Wm. Dunkle's suit. Adjourned to August 14th.”

The entry was oddly finished with “Harvested in afternoon for Lester.”

There was no further mention of the Nash and Dunkle suit on August 14, nor before nor after. However, J.P did a considerable amount of farm work for Lester through July and August. On Sunday, August 29, the McPherson's were visited by “Baird, Anderson, Lester & wives,” which must have been an occasion as the wives did not often go visiting – at least not according to J.P.'s diary.

Then on September 17, 1852, J.P. was again “at Squire Lesters.” However, the next day J.P. rather pithily noted that he

went to Lesters to thrash. Horses did not arrive till almost noon. Thrashed till after dinner.”

Usually, J.P. only noted when he worked as though it were just a way to tally what was owed to him and what he owed to others. To me, this entry had a different tone, pithy at the least, or even angry. However, J.P.'s entry on September 20 was again his normal minimal “thrashed at Lesters.”

Litigation was again the topic of the day when, on September 24, 1852, J.P wrote,

At Squire Lester's attending the suit of Nash & Morig.

Squire took until the next day to make up his mind.”

This entry too was different, in that he added the sentence about the Squire taking until the next day to make up his mind. I have wondered whether he wrote this entry after September 24 or perhaps it was just a slip of verb tense – though J.P. usually did not make those kind of “slips.” A curious entry.

The following day, September 25, J.P. went to Madison with Baird to attend County Convention. While he was there, he

took Counsel on Nash case and found that Nash was entitled to a judgement

in his favor for such sum as the Squire may please to give.”

On the next day, Sunday, September 26, J.P. was at his neighbor's, Thomas Miles, home and 
“learnt from Mr. Lester that he had given judgement against Nash.”

I have often wondered what was actually said when J.P. and Daniel Lester were at Thomas Miles' house on that night. Considering the diary entry for the following Tuesday, I am thinking that words were said that couldn't be taken back. J.P. wrote on Tuesday, September 28, 1852,

went to Lester's to thrash, but found my services were not required.

At Nash's. Commenced to lift my potatoes.”

Again it would have been interesting to know more about their interaction on that day. Although I believe it is quite telling of J.P.'s feeling about the Nash-Morigh case, that he left Lesters to go to visit Nash. Again no susbstance of the actual words, but sometimes scant entries tell a story of their own.

Although on October 6, J.P. was “at Lester's & Bairds,” the two men no longer visited one another,  shared work, or communicated on politics or legal matters. Although there is no mention of the reason for being at Lesters and Bairds, it may have had relevance to the Nash case. J. P. continued to work on legal issues for Nash as was noted on October 7, when J.P. wrote that he was

at Squire Dudley's, Primrose, on Nash case.”

The Lester's suffered the loss of another child, “James B. Lester died at half past 3 pm on October 14.” J.P. was a the funeral the next day. The next spring the Lesters may also have had some medical problems because Mary was in attendance at the Lesters on March 11, April 11 (“in afternoon and all night”) and May 10 of 1853. However after that there was no mention of the Lesters for several years.

Pioneer Scottish Settlement Sign
at the Entrance to the Oak Hill
(Springdale) Pioneer Cemetery
Courtesy of Bill Mansur Archives
By 1857, there appear to be some “thawing” as on May 13, J.P. and Town council asked Daniel Lester for assistance on a bid, apparently for restitution on a legal issue. Then on November 26, J.P. was “visited by Malone, Baird, Lester, John Beat, and J.Milern. The “thaw” apparently did not come to fruition because no further mention was made of Daniel B. Lester.

He died on May 15, 1862, and was buried at the Springdale Pioneer (Oak Hill) Cemetery. He was thirty-three years old and left to mourn him were his wife Margerete; two sons, eleven year old James Reynolds and three month old Arthur; and three daughters, seven year old Marion and two year old twins, Adeline and Eveline. Daniel Lester wasn't listed as being in the Civil War, nor is there any indication of the cause of his untimely death.

Unfortunately, Daniel B. Lester passed away during one of the few times that his one time friend, J.P., was not writing in his journal, probably because he was the Commandant at Fort Randall, Madison, during the Civil War. We do not know what J.P. might have written – probably only a line or so – but sometimes it only take a few words to bring a story to an end.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

2016 April 25, Amanuensis Monday: J.P.McPherson's Diary, October 1 through December 31,1852

Diary entries for October 1 through December 31, 1852

October, 1852
1st Friday Writing forenoon – chopping with John Cunningam afternoon.
2nd Sat. Borrowing bags for grist
3rd Sun. At home
4th Mon. Husking corn A. M. - at School meeting, P.M.
5th Tues. Digging well.
6th Wed. Husking corn A.M. At Lesters & Bairds P.M.
7th Thurs. At Squire Dudleys, Primrose, on Mr Nashs case Mr. Baird started to Smiths Mill with my grist.
8th Fri. Digging well A.M. Raining P.M. and evening. Mr. Baired returned with grist after dark. Posted letter to A. Adamson.
9th Sat. Weighed grist - and found as follows} - Grist 25 Bushels. Yield -- Flour 662 lbs., Shorts 154 lbs., Bran 345 lbs. Helped Mr. Miles to kill his cow.
10th Sun. At home.
11th Mon. Raining all day – Made pants for James and cut coat for Wm. Cairncross.
12th Tues. Hard frost this morning – cleaned out corn yard forenoon – helped Wm Cairncross haul logs afternoon. Mr. Lesters child very sick.
13th Wed. Received a letter from Mr. Thos. Heuam (best guess at name.JGH) per M. Brown. Hauled firewood – a stable log and some hay afternoon..
14th Thurs. Helping W.C. to haul his logs. James B. Lester died at half past 3 o'clock P.M
15th Fri. Wrote & posted letter to Thos Heuam (best guess at name.JGH). At funeral of Mr. Lesters child. Worked out balance of road tax.
16th Sat. At Squire Dudleys, Primrose, attending to case of Nash against Morigh, for Plaintiff.
17th Sun. Sat up all last night with Mr. Andersons child who was very sick. At Mr Jackmans P.M.
18th Mon. Wrought from 9 til 12 o'clock noon at well assisted by W. C (Wm. Cairncross). Writing statement of Nashs case afternoon.
19th Tues. Chopping and working about the house forenoon. Working at well assisted by W.C. afternoon.
20th Wed. At Madison. Consulted Messers G.B.Smith, J.L. Knapp & T. Horn, in relation to Nash case.
21st Thurs. Writing forenoon. Hemming sleepers, and cutting coat and pants for Christs boy.
22nd Fri. Posted general election notices. M Barnes called during my absence. Posted a letter to Hon. S. Crawford.
23rd Sat. Fixing town papers and books forenoon – Cut Christs boys pants and working at W.C.’s Coat afternoon.
24th Sun. At meeting in Verona – recd John Mitchells lines Made out pre-emption claim for H. Boland. M Brown took away his pup.
25th Mon. Working at W.C.’s coat. Recd $2.50 from Mr. Bright.
26th Tues. DO forenoon At Chandlers store P. M. Wrote a letter to Joel Briths on election matters.
27th Wed. At raising of John Cunningams house.
28th Thurs. DO DO till noon. Working at W.C.’s coat afternoon. At Mr. Miles for corn in the evening.
29th Fri. Working at W.C.s coat. Cut a coat for Mr. Brown. Hawley Childs took away his pup and bought a basket from me for 25 cents.
30th Sat. At Squire Dudleys attending to case of Mr. P. Nash against C. Morigh, Justice gave judgement for plaintiff for $9.50 plus costs. Mr. Holbrook, Free Soil Candidate for Assembly called and stopt all night. Mr. Lewis engaged me to attend to his case, against Mr. Briths. Mr. B called during my absence.
31st Sun. At Mr. G. Briths & S. Shumways forenoon. At Mr. Miles in the evening. Visited by Mr. & Mrs. Baird.

November, 1852
1st Mon. At Mount Vernon. Effected a Settlement between Messers. Lewis & Briths. Killed my hog which weighed 106 lbs.
2nd Tues. At election. Stopt at Malones all night.
3rd Wed. Writing forenoon. Recd a letter from Hon. S. Crawford. At Doersclagh's store afternoon.
4th Thurs. At A. Davidsons for steer, bill. Working at W.C.s coat.
5th Fri. Working at W.C.s coat.
6th Sat. At raising of Mrs. Collins house. Weather very cold; a little snow fell.
7th Sun. At home.
8th Mon. Helping W.C. at his logs forenoon. At Hendersons and Jackmans afternoon inviting them to the raising.
9th Tues. At raising of Wm. Cairncross's house.
10th Wed. Working at W.C.s coat. At Post Office at noon. Mary cut dress for Charles Anderson. Snowing afternoon.
11th Thurs. Working at W.C.s coat and finished it. Snowing heavily all day. At Post Office at night.
12th Fri. Posted letters to John Mitchell, A. P. .Ladd and Brown & Carpenter. Raising of J Cunningams house afternoon. Snow six or eight inches deep.
13th Sat. At raising of Mr. Hendersons stable. Wm. Cairncross & Robt & James Black left for the South. Mr. Miles carried them to Galena.
14th Sun. At Miles and Lamonts.
15th Mon. Chopping firewood.
16th Tues. Hauling firewood with Mr. Lamonts oxen.
17th Wed. At Blue Mounds with Lamont & A. Davidson. Recd a letter from State Superintendant.
18th Thurs. Fixing house and altering coat for Billy.
19th Fri. DO DO Recd assessment roll.
20th Sat. At Madison about my land. Posted a letter to Wm Cairncross.
21st Sun. At home during the day. At Mr. Andersons evening. Had visit from H Boland in the morning. Snowing in the evening.
22nd Mon. Carrying out taxes forenoon. Fixing house afternoon. At Mr. Miles in the evening.
23rd Tues. Making out tax list.
24th Wed. DO DO
25th Thurs. DO DO
26th Fri. DO DO At Mr. Bentleys with notice of amount of taxes.
27h Sat. Making pants for Jabez.
28th Sun. At Miles, Lamonts, A. Davidsons, Patons, Mrs. Thomsons and Beats.
29th Mon. Working on school house. At A. Davidsons P. M. Measured H. Boland for a coat.
30th Tues. Hauling firewood with Mr. Andersons oxen. Mary sick during the night.

December, 1852
1st. Wed. At Mr. Hendersons.
2nd Thurs. At Madison. Took up 80 acre of school land.
3rd Fri Making coat for Thos. Davidson.
4th Sat. DO DO Mary delivered of a daughter between 7 & 8 o'clock in the evening.
5th Sun. At home.
6th Mon. Making out tax list. Working on school house A.M.
7th Tues. Sewing, writing, and making benches.
8th Wed. Recd letter from A Cairncross. Writing forenoon.
9th Thurs. Hauling wood assisted by Mr Jackman and his team.
10th Fri. Posted letters to A Cairncross and Wm C Bryant & Co. At Chandlers store. Sent assessment roll to Tax Assessor.
11th Sat. Made vest for Thos. Davidson.
12th Sun At home.
13th Mon. Working at H. Bolands coat.
14th Tues. DO DO
15th Wed. DO DO
16th Thurs. DO and working about the house.
17th Fri. DO
18th Sat. Thrashing for Mr. Anderson.
19th Sun. At home.
20th Mon. Thrashing for Mr. Anderson till 11 o'clock A.M. Helped Mr Miles to kill a hog. Visited by Hawley Childs on Town business.
21st Tues. Hauling firewood with Mr. Andersons team.
22nd Wed. Sewing. Recd a letter from A Cairncross enclosing a draft for $30 on N. Fork
23rd Thurs. Sewing.
24th Frid. Sewing at H. Miles coat. Posted letter to A Cairncross.
25th Sat. DO DO and Bairds pants.
26th Sun. At home.
27th Mon. Sewing.
28th Tues. DO Mr. Anderson went to the Cat fish.
29th Wed. DO Recd N.Y. Evening Post. Town Superintendent visited school.
30th Thurs. Sewing.
31st Fri. DO finished S. Lamonts coat. At Chandlers store. Left with Mr C a Valun (Best guess at name.JGH) of County Jail.
End of entries for October 1, 1852 through  December 31, 1852

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