Ethan's 1884 Diary

Ethan Keith’s diary entries for May 1884

May 1 – Left Chicago at 8.51 by the L.S.&M.S.R.R. for home. Stopped at Elkhart Ind 1.40 one hour and forty minutes. I got a lunch and had my hair cut. Pa met me at Kal- 4.37. Rained all day. We stopped at Aunt Katies a few minutes. Found Uncle Stephen at our house. Mrs Schroder and Nancy has visited here to day.

May 2 – Have not done anything to day but visit. Pa and Will are at work on the hill taking down fence and cutting brush.

May 3 – Have not done much to day. Hannah came home this P.M. from Gates and Ralphs. Nancy and children and Mrs Conkey drove into the yard this P.M. I went to the Burg with Will Clark this evening.

X May 4 – Rained all day. Will Clark went up to Russells. Jay Harris[74] is one year old to day. Mrs Olin had a girl baby to day. Wrote to Lou.

May 5 – I cleaned cellar some this A.M. Will and Pa worked at the fence row cutting down trees and grubbing. I took Hannah over to the Burg this P.M. also Uncle Stephen Comfort. Charley Towne[75] commenced plowing for corn in our south lot.

May 6 – Worked at the cellar this A.M. Hannah went to Kaywoods to sew. Will came after her. Will Clark and I went to the Burg this evening rode over with Will B. I walked home.

May 7 – Worked at the cellar a little while this A.M. Helped Will saw down a couple of trees this A.M. and one this P.M. Uncle Stephen Comfort went to Nancys this evening. I went over also and stayed all night. Hank went to Detroit this evening.

May 8 – At Hanks this morning. Uncle Stephen Comfort left for Canada this morning on 7.03. I stayed over until afternoon. Went down to the foundry. Saw R. E. Strait at the Station. Jim helped Will saw up some of the trees this P.M. Will has gone to the Burg this evening.

X May 9 – Worked at a screw driver for Henry part of the afternoon. Ma and I finished cleaning the cellar this A.M. Wrote to Aunt Kate Crawford.

May 10 – Worked at the screw driver part of the day (finished it). Helped Will a little while this P.M. Pa got a little pig up to Mr Flanders[76] this P.M. Charley Towne planted corn in our south lot to day.

X May 11 – Pleasant. Jim and Will went to church. I went to the Burg this P.M. and got my over coat. Took Hannah down to Mr Kaywoods this evening, I called a little while. First time I was ever there. Wrote to Henry.

May 12 – Cleaned up the ______ the wood pile. Went to the Burg this evening. Will Clark helped Ed Schram plant corn this A.M. and Harry Streator[77] this P.M.

X May 13 – Wrote to Lois this P.M. Will Clark helped Harry Streator to day.

May 14 – Went to the Burg this evening. Hannah went with me. Mr Knapp wants me to make him a pattern. Sawed out some boards for fence pickets for a hen yard.

May 15 – Went up to the Saw mill this A.M. with Pa to get some pickets sawed. Worked at Mr Knapps patterns this P.M.

May 16 – Worked at Mr Knapps patterns this A.M. Set posts for the hen yard this P.M. Hannah is sewing for Mrs Randall.

May 17 – Finished Mr Knapps patterns. Pa and I made the fence around the hen yard. Pa and I went to the Burg this evening to get the barb wire. Found Aunt Patty at Hanks. She came over with Pa.

May 18 – Aunt Patty and I went down to Aunt Katie Lees to day. Will Clark went to see Hettie.

May 19 – Built a fence around the barn yard. Pa and Will drew manure this P.M. Quite cold this P.M. Theodore Earl was down after supper. Went to the Burg this evening.

May 20 – Went down to Mrs Browns this A.M. to get Will to come and plow the garden for us. Grandma went with me. Will plowed the garden this P.M. I worked at Jim Conkeys camera (altering it). Nancy and Mrs Brown was here part of the afternoon. Mrs Conkey came after Nan.

May 21 – Dragged the garden this A.M. and made some of it this P.M. Went to the Burg this evening. Aunt Patty went with me she stayed at Nan’s. Hannah has gone up to Mr Streators to sew.

May 22 – Rainy this A.M. Made some garden this A.M. Made a pig pen and put 4 wires around the hen yard fence this P.M. Pa and Will finished sitting the fence posts along the east side of the east lot. Pa has gone over to the Burg this evening after Aunt Patty. Will has gone up to Mr Streators.

May 23 – Pa and Will drew wood and old rails to day with Bill & “Tom” Brown.[78] I made a pig trough this A.M.

May 24 – Jim came down with Streators team and helped draw rails. Jim Conkey came over this A.M. to get me to make some shutters for his camera. He took me over to the Burg and back so I could get an idea how to make them. Went to the Burg this evening.

May 25 – Finished one of Conkeys Camera shutters this A.M. He and Hank came after it this A.M. They took a view of this our house, barn and yard. Geo Tomlinson,[79] his brother Ogden, wife and daughter[80] came here to day, stayed to dinner and Ogden and family went home. Aunt Katie Lee and George came up to day, also Alvin and Aunt Julia.[81]

May 26 – Went to the Station with Geo Tomlinson for the 7.03 train. He was going to Battle Creek. He came back and went to Aunt Katies this P.M. rode from here with Oren Starr. Pa carried Aunt Katie Patty down there. Worked at Conkeys Camera shutter.

May 27 – Finished Jim Conkeys Camera shutter this A.M. He came and got it this A.M. I worked a pattern for W. H. Knapp part of the P.M. Grandma went over to Hanks with Jim Conkey this morning. I went after her this evin’g.

May 28 – Finished Mr Knapps pattern this P.M. He came and got them. I mended Nancys comb this P.M. and one for Ma also. Pa and Ma went to the Burg this evening. Hank brought Lela over here this morning and Bessie over to Mrs Browns because Nancy was sick. 4-Paws Show at Kal- to day.

May 29 – Took up the carpet in the middle room this P.M. Have not felt very well.

May 30 – Helped Pa and Will string the wire on the hill road fence. Decoration day.[82]

May 31 – Helped Ma to day. I white washed the middle room and put the carpet down. Pa and Will finished the east road fence. Went to the Burg this evening. Party at Straits to night for Dexa.[83]


[74] Jay Keith Harris was the son of his sister and brother-in-law, Louese & D.D. Harris

[75] Neighbor, Charles Towne, Hannah Keith’s future husband

[76] Neighbor, Joseph Flanders

[77] Son of Marius O. Streator (see footnote to January 18th entry)

[78] Believe he is referring to his family’s horse, Bill, and the Brown family’s horse, Tom

[79] George Tomlinson’s wife, Marion (Sprague) was the daughter of Patty (Keith) Sprague (see footnote to January 24th entry)

[80] Ogden, Mary (Wareham) and Cleo Tomlinson

[81] Alvin Lee and his mother, Juliana (Davis) Lee. Alvin and Ethan were second cousins

[82] Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. To honor the deceased, soldiers would decorate graves of their fallen comrades with flowers, flags and wreaths. Although Memorial Day became its official title in the 1880s, the holiday didn’t legally become Memorial Day until 1967

[83] Neighbor, Dexa Strait; the future wife of Jay Ralph Harris, D.D. Harris’ brother

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