The Importance of Journals
Shirley G. Hodges
Published: 12 March 2012
By Shirley Gage Hodges Biography & Archived Articles
Several people have asked about the types of things that you can find in journals. I have been able to find a lot of things that I could incorporate into our family's histories by reading journals that have been written by family members.
As an example, I would like to show you how we can learn about someone from reading their day journals.
It happens that Alice Susannah Ongley is a second cousin, once removed of my husband. She married a gentleman named John Morgan. After their marriage she wrote in her day book.
"I was 19 years old and John 23 when we were married. In two weeks we went to keeping house in Wheeler Carter's house. We lived there three months, and then moved into a house by Mother Bingham (John's mother). It was a very cold winter. John bought five acres from my Mother. We hired Samuel Dobbs to build us a house on it, 16 x 24."
We also have access to John's day book and he told in great detail every step concerning the building of the house for his lovely bride. It was wonderful to be able to compare their entries and to have a glimpse of their feelings about each other and their lives.
In a later entry Alice writes
"We moved in May the next Spring. Oh how proud I was of my new house. I kept my floors so white and clean. (She scoured them with sand.) This was our happiest time."
For 32 years Alice Morgan lived and loved and worked in the little house John Morgan built for his bride. In later years, widowed then remarried, she went to live in another home near Townville, Pennsylvania, but the Rootville house remained first in her fondest memories.
In her day book dated 1905 Alice Morgan wrote:
"March 29th I was married to James Pratt. We were married at James Ongley's. Dudley and Mary Thomas were there. Barry Cummings, Justice of the Peace, officiating. We started for Mr. Pratt's home about three o'clock. Bessie and Lue Davison came to welcome us. I have been here two weeks, I am happy and contented. This is a pleasant place. Last Sunday at Rootville we went home with Mary. Had dinner. Fred and Nina, Gene and Sylvia were there. Gene has moved my things....had a big load...broke the glass out of my bureau. I have been cleaning house."
In a statement dated Jan. 10, 1925 she says.
"Feb. 25th is Jim's 82nd birthday. If I live to Aug. 17 I will be 72... We are growing old together. Have many things to be thankful for. ..We are thankful for the comforts of life and our dear children. I thank God for them every day of my life."
I was so grateful that we were able to see that last entry and know that Alice truly was happy and contented in her later years also. Because the entry after their marriage had sounded so formal if we hadn't seen the later entry, I would have always wondered how things turned out for her.
If you are lucky enough to find a journal make sure that you are going through it page by page looking for those wonderful clues.
Until next time :)
Shirley Hodges firstname.lastname@example.org
To read back issues of Shirley Hodges' articles, visit her biography & archived Articles
Editor's Note: Shirley Hodges is the author of the popular Guide to United States Census, 1790-1930:
BOOK - Guide to United States Census, 1790-1930
By Shirley Gage Hodges
Published by Global Heritage Press, Milton
Guide to the United States Census, 1790-1930 explains what the United States census records are, what information they contain and how to use each census. Each individual year of the Federal Census between 1790 and 1930 (census were compiled every 10 years) is explained in detail. This guide is designed to help the census novice and intermediate researcher come to grips with this valuable genealogical research tool. Experts will also find this guide useful.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Check out the resources at GlobalGenealogy.com:
History & Genealogy Books...
History and genealogy books, maps, CDs from a wide selection of publishers, including Global Heritage Press. Browse resources listed by country, location or topic.
Document & Artifact Preservation Products
Acid-free storage and display products to preserve and safely store your family heirloom documents and artifacts.
Printing & Binding Solutions
You've done the research, written the stories, gathered the photos and illustrations, and put them all together... Now let GlobalGenealogy.com produce a finished book you will be proud to call your own.
Family Tree Charts & Census Forms
Poster-size blank family tree charts, plus a variety of free blank letter-size charts and census forms
Influence and Ambition:
First Persons of Perth
Scottish Church Records
Decade of Centenaries:
Researching Ireland 1912-1923
Google: The Genealogist's Friend
Discover Protestant Nonconformity in England and Wales
The Genealogy Do-over Workbook
Discover Irish Land Records
First We Were Soldiers,
The Long March To Perth
[Lanark County, Ontario]
Tales of the Hare,
the Last Fatal Duel
[Lanark County, Ontario]
100 Years of The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada
Family History Web Directory,
The Genealogical Websites
You Can't Do Without
Tracing Edinburgh Ancestors,
Guide for Family & Local Historians
Diary of Rev. John MacDonald
Roman Catholic Priest at
Perth, Upper Canada 1823-1837
A Boyhood Journey,
Scotland to Canada 1853