JAMES P. McPHERSON FAMILY
AS SEEN IN THE DIARY ENTRIES
FROM JULY 1 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 1854
In 1854, James P. McPherson was 38 years old and his wife, Mary, was 31. They had five children, William, age 11, James, age 9, Jabez, age 7, Anne, age 4, and Elizabeth, age 2. 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 was named after her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Sprink of Arbroath, Scotland. Her maternal grandmother's first name was also Elizabeth Horrock Burns.
|Woodcut from painting by Ernst Henseler, (1852-1940), in public domain|
HOME AND FARM
July started off with "still working on the road, followed by hoeing corn. In mid July, James P. started cutting and putting up hay. A few days later, on July 20, a very heavy rain "laid down grain and broke corn.
It appeared that there was some sort of a 4th of July celebration as he went to Paton's Grove on that date. Although he didn't mention a celebration, James P. mention the 4th of July on the very first one that he spent in Springdale. He wasn't impressed and stated that in the future he would see better celebrations of the nation's Independence. Except for 1850 and 1852, there had been an Independence Day celebration, albeit small.
|Cradling Grain", Digital ID:93371, NY Public Library|
Note: In 2011, I wrote a post about cradling. Originally, I thought James P. was talking about buying a cradle for baby Elizabeth who was just a babe, but it soon became evident that he was talking about a different kind of cradle.
Evidently cutting hay is hard on the sycthe, as James P. spent a couple of days fixing his scythe and grinding it on a sharpening stone. Reading his diary makes it clear how difficult it was to "make hay." Every stalk of the alfalfa or grass was cut with a scythe and then gathered by hand into mounds to haul into the barn or yard. Tedious and hard work as is most farm work when done by hand.
The last part of July is usually huckleberry picking time. He noted a couple of times that he picked berries, and once when he went to Baird's hill for huckleberry picking. In the past couple of years, James P. has sold huckleberries in Madison, but there is no indication that he sold berries in Madison in 1854. He was busy with farming and his new duties as Town Clerk, Justice of the Peace and Superintendent in the county. Perhaps, Mary made huckleberry pies and cobbler for the family, and put up huckleberry jam for the winter.
Sunday, August 6, James P."directed Mr. Ole Lawrence and the Norwegians to Oleg Levis'. The Norwegian population of Springdale was growing, and would continue to grow for the next few decades.
On August 8, James P.'s friend William Cairncross arrived, possibly from Cincinnati, and apparently stayed with the McPherson's for a week or so. The Diary indicated that Cairncross helped with the harvest and may have accompanied James P. on his visit to the blacksmith and when he received 38 lbs. of flour from Mr. Baird. Mr. Cairncross left "after dinner" on August 16, and most likely went to his land or stayed with other friends in Springdale. However, on August 24, James P. went to the Cairncross land with William C. Cairncross.
Near the end of August, McPherson "engaged Mr. Jass to open the quarry and Mr. Wilson to fix the grain bins. He also got flour from W. Menzie, as well as cracking oats for Mr. Miles.
In early July, James P. received and returned letters to William Cairncross, the subject mostly likely was about Cairncross' plans to be in Springdale later in the month. He also received and posted a letter to his father-in-law, William Gibson Burns, as well as the Madison Post Master.
The remainder of his correspondence appeared to be related to the community and polititical aspects of his life. He was in contact with Ben C. Eastman, H. Barnes, Wm. R. Taylor, Elijah Isham, Charlie Wilson, and Mr. Wm. A. Wheeler
COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL
In regards to community and political aspects of his life, James P. McPherson was at Paton's Grove on July 4, 1854. Although an emigrant from Scotland, he was wholeheartedly an American in celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day.
The County Poor Farm was a major factor in his community and political life during this quarter. He was at the Poor Farm on July 10, and on July 24, he saw William R. Taylor while he was in Madison. He was again, on August 22, at the Poor Farm with William R. Taylor and Elijah Isham. Then on September 11, he was at the Poor Farm and "bot. 9 1/2 sheep at $1.5o each from N. Herrick. He was also in Madison on September 2 for the Senatorial Convention, as well as Poor Farm business. (I am at a loss to explain the 1/2 sheep that he bought for the Poor Farm.//JGH) He again stopped at the County Poor Farm on September 12, when he was on his way to Madison.
In his capacity as Justice of the Peace, McPherson issued writ of attachment against John Mallo(w) on August 1. The trial was held on August 8, between Smith and Mallo(w), but there was no indication of the results of the trial.
When James P. was in Madison on July 24, he was in the company of John Oleg and "his brother-in-law" and they saw Mr. William R. Taylor. The next day McPherson was at the N.E. 1/3 of Section 36 with John Oleg and his brother-in-law. On August 4, he posed a letter to the Land Office enclosing pre-emption claim of W. Weise and $1. It appeared that W. Weise was the brother-in-law of John Oleg and that Weise purchased the land at which he visited on July 25.
He was at the village of Springdale on September 9, and on September 10, he was at William Henderson's "making out school report.)
Unfortunately, the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks in October were either not written by James P. McPherson, or the photographing crew of 2011 failed to capture these entries. Nevertheless, based on the diary entries to day, and especially of 1854, we can infer that he continued with his work with Springdale's Town Council, the County Poor Farm and as a Justice of the Peace.
FOLKS MENTIONED IN THE DIARY FOR THIS THIRD QUARTER OF 1854
Ben C, Eastman
William R. Taylor
William Gibson Burns
Thomas B. Miles
H. C. Chandler
John A. Douglas
The review of the Diary for the period of July 1 through September 14, 1854 is concluded.
~ ~ ~
© Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications