EMILY C. DINGMAN 1878 - 1881 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY HANDWRITTEN BY AN ISOLATED PIONEER WOMAN LIVING THE HARD LIFE AS THE WIFE AND MOTHER OF MEN WHO WORK AND SAIL THE WATERS OF LAKE ONTARIO
THREE MILE BAY POINT PENINSULA NEW YORK 1878 Fair+
On offer is an intriguing manuscript diary handwritten by Emily C. Dingman who was the wife of Abraham B. Dingman of 3 Mile Bay and Point Peninsula in upstate New York on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. Using an 1876 diary, but overwriting somewhat illiterately, in a very small yet legible hand, Emily makes some entries in the 1870s but for the most part she writes for the full years of 1880 and 1881and it is packed full. Historians and collectors of this very isolated area will be hard pressed to find a more detailed picture of life as she tells of ships on the bay or the men traveling to the local village, or to Three Mile Bay on their boat or across the ice with a horse, or taking the boat to Sackets Harbor, Stony Island, and Cape Vincent or just to the neighbors, and sometimes because of the weather, she was home alone as they couldn't get back to her, which made her rather lonely. Also in the winter of 1881 there is a measles epidemic on the Point and her family gets very sick. One of my favorite entries is on October 30th, 1881 when her two children took an organ out on a boat in the bay and sung to the crowd on the shore. The crowd was holding lanterns. A wonderful relic of manuscript Americana! A look at the map and one realizes just how isolated this family must have been especially during the 1880s when the diary was written. Here are some snippets: 1878 (Entries run from April 1st, to June 18th - here are just two) "April 1st, Pleasant till night then looked like a storm. Think it will rain before morning. Abram and Mr. Rector went to 3 Mile Bay and Chaumont to see about selling grass seed. Porter and Hanley fixed fence. I washed. Loney done chores. Large fire in the direction of Stoney Point. Gene Collins here today to hire Hanley for one month for 15 dollars, don't think he will go." "April 7th, Warm but rained the most of the day but not hard. Uncle Samuel was here. We didn't go to meeting. Just as it was getting light this morning Uncle Samuel thought someone rapped at the door and called out Pa. He got up as soon as possible, dressed himself and went to the door but could see no one. He called Newel two or three times but got no answer. Abram got up and they both went to the lake where they thought Newel might be with his boat. Last Wednesday Newel with three others went to Canada. It is quite a mystery." 1880 (two years of steady entries) "January 1st, Mrs. Barton buried today. Rev. LaClair preached. Abram, Porter, Jennie and I went to the funeral. Hanley went to Cape Vincent. In the evening Abram, Loney and I went to Mrs. Hewitt's." "January 19th, Abram, Porter and Hanley cleaned grass seed. Snowed hard a little while then cleared off and was pleasant as summer. Jennie and Alta talked of taking a boat ride on the lake but didn't go. Hanley's boat was at the end of the Point. Dyer Harris came here and backed out in the horse trade. Left Dick and took his horse home. Porter went to the village in the evening, had a cup of coffee and fried cake." "March 24th, Eight years ago today Minerva was buried. A very big snow storm and today no snow but muddy. Jennie and Dyer's wife here. Found me sick. Doctored me up. Am feeling a little better tonight but a bad headache yet. Abram went to the village and got some nails. Frank went home tonight. Porter went to the village. Hanley to Mr. Angell's. It rained a little today. Tonight is dark as crypt. All the cows broke through the stable floor. Got out about 10 o'clock." "April 14th, Wind North, quite cold. Abram visited with John all day. Porter surveyed the road. Jennie and Ellie took John's horses and went to the village. Got home at noon. In the afternoon John and Porter went to the swamp. Afternoon Mrs. McKee here a little while. After supper Porter and Hanley went to the village. Six vessels and two sail boats today for the first time this spring." "June 1st, Wind south till night then west. Victor went away from here in the morning. Porter and Jennie got home from Randall's at noon. Mr. Rector was here. Said he had bought Victor's house. Mr. Roof here. Got half pound of ginger of him. The Commissioner visited the school tonight. Milton Lance here for Hanley to go to the cheese factory to a party. Porter and Jennie went in the afternoon. Abram and Loney went to the village with barley to send to mill with the steam boat. Got Loney a pair of shoes. Porter got sugar and tea to 3 Mile Bay." "June 14th, Abram and Porter went to Three Mile Bay, got 20 lbs sugar and 5 lbs coffee. Heard that H. Duel had hung himself. Em and Jen played in their posy beds all day and sewed the rest of the time. Hanley painted boat in the forenoon and hoed potatoes in the afternoon. At night Abram, Porter and Loren went to the village. Well said." "June 24th, Abram hoed potatoes. Porter and Wallace Washburn went to 3 Mile Bay. Hanley took a boat and to Carlton Island. The wind was blowing very hard. I stood and watched him and the boat would go out of sight and I thought he would go to the bottom. Oh dear, anything but a boat. Jennie cleaned the parlor. I done housework and picked strawberries and canned a two quart can full. Tonight it looked very much like rain. The boys will not be home tonight." "July 19th, Abram took Porter and Jennie to the village to take the boat to go to the island and go berrying. Hanley took our team and took a load of lambs to the four corners for Mr. Lance. Abram took Mr. Mayhew's stack cover home after dinner. He and I went a berrying. I baked and washed. A big thunder shower this afternoon. Tonight the wind is blowing very hard. The preacher and Nellie here today. We was gone away." "August 4th & 6th, Abram went to the blacksmith shop. Porter went fishing. Hanley made a hang man. Jennie went to Mr. Getman's from there to Mr. Hewitt's with Mary Alice and Frank. Loney went to the village. I got Jennie a silver thimble piece 50 cents. Let the peddler have a thimble towards it. He allowed me 10 cts. for it. Porter went to the village for the mail. Got a letter from Doren. It is almost 12 o'clock. Hanley has not come yet. Has undoubtedly lost the track for it is quite dark to hunt. Carrie Lance here to do some stitching……Folks finished drawing barley. Have 54 loads. Cut some oats. Peddler here. Sold eggs. The teacher is done boarding here. A picnic at the Four Corners. None of us went. A big circus and balloon ascension to Watertown." "September 22nd, Wind west all day and quite cold. Porter and Jennie went to Watertown to the fair. Abram took them to the village early in the morning. Erin Stephens took them with some others to Chaumont in his boat. Hanley is threshing to Fred Vincent's. Frank Hewitt here. Mr. Roof here, sold him eight doz eggs. A tin and grocery peddler here. Did not trade. After supper Abram and Loney went to the village and got the mail. We got a letter from Stephen Baker." "October 9th, A lovely day. Abram and Hanley drew pressed hay to the village. Nellie here and got the saw. Porter worked in the swamp. After dinner Abram, Jennie and I went to quarterly meeting to the Four Corners. Rev. Berry from Pillar Point preached from Gen. first chapter and 22 verse. When meeting was out Jennie went to the village with Mrs. Wilcox to carry her shoes. I went to the preacher's a few minutes. When we got home Hanley took the horse, buggy and box and went to 3 Mile Bay. Said he was going out to Randal's. This is a beautiful evening." "November 9th, Abram plowed. Porter fixed the wood shed. Hanley started twice to go to Kingston, got as far as the Toad Hole and came back the wind as not in the right direction. Went to Byron Harrison and got a horse to work then took a grist and he and Loney went tot the village with it. Porter found a table and a few boards on the shore. This is a very pleasant evening. I have got to sit up tonight and bake two ovens full of bread after the rest have gone to bed. I feel just like sitting up but would like to have my children with me telling funny stories to pass the time away." "November 21st, Awful cold and stormy. No meeting, could hardly keep from freezing. All glad to stay close to this stove tonight but Hanley, he'd rather sit by Mr. Getman's coal stove. I must go to bed or freeze." "December 13th, & 15th, Windsor Angell here in the morning. Got Hanley and Frank up and went to the swamp and shot poor Watch. At night Hanley went away somewhere. This had been an awful lonesome day and more so tonight and with all the rest the wind blows hard and cold and Loney lays in the bed crying for poor Watch is gone…..Mr. Byers took the hide off from poor Watch and brought it here." 1881 "January 8th, Anson Hewett's house burned this morning. Lost all most everything they had. Mr. Byers moved his family to Carlton Island. Porter got two loads of wood of Mr. Byers then drew some logs and Porter drew a load of wood from the swamp for the school at night……Loney went to Mr. Rector's and got bit by there dog." "January 10th, ……this is a lovely evening, as light as day. The moon shines too nice to go to bed and leave it." "February 2nd, & 3rd, Mr. Rector went to 3 Mile Bay and telegraphed for Dr. Getman to come here to see our boys. Billy Mayhew called here to have him go over there to see Rissa. In the evening Mr. McKee came to see if the Dr. had come. He had and went over there after he ate his supper. Milton Lance brought some milk. Jennie sick this afternoon. Loney don't feel well and is coughing hard tonight. We heard today there were 30 here on the Point that are down with the measles and still they keep coming……The boys are no better. Abram went to the village to get whiskey for medicine. Could not get any. Had to go to Gene Collin's, got a pint.. There are 50 cases of measles on this Point tonight…" "April 2nd, Cold west wind. Abram and Hanley sawed and split wood. Porter went to 3 Mile Bay across the ice. Ice safe for big loads. Mr. Wiggins and Daniel Holbrook here to see about getting a parsonage. Went away as well off as they came……" "April 10th, A beautiful day over head but very bad roads. None of us went to meeting. Found out today where Hanley, Mit and Lansing went last night. They went across the ice to 3 Mile Point to let the 3 Mile Pointers know how green they was. The horse had to swim to get to the ice. The boys are from 22 to 26 years old, who would think it…." "April 11th, Daniel Barnes told Porter today that he found a nest of young birds a week ago. The nest was on the ground. There came a snowstorm and covered them up but the bird made a hole in the snow for a door to go out and in. Can we believe this bird story. It would be true, if, if, if." "May 30th, Abram dragged the bean ground in the forenoon. After dinner we went to 3 Mile Bay to Uncle Peter Schuylar's funeral. Coming home we called to see Libbie Comes. She was dead. Died this morning. I got Jennie a cashmere dress. Got me a fan and a pair of gloves…" "July 24th, Very pleasant. Abram Loney and I went to meeting. At night Porter and Jennie went to the village. Mary Phillips here a little while. Hanley went to the corners to meeting. Heard tonight that the President could not live. Hope it is not so." "October 2nd, Abram, Jennie and I went to the village to hear President Garfield's funeral sermon preached by our preacher, Rev. Cottrell. The text was taken from Samuel 19 Chapter, first verse. It has rained all the afternoon and evening. Cannons fired all day at Sackets Harbor." "October 30th, Porter worked in the swamp till noon then had to stay in the house and sing with Mr. Servey and his girl and Millie, Carrie, Mary Barnes, Ellie Enders, Marty Locklin, Julia, Mary and Dory Watkins. Mary, Millie, Ellie and Carrie went home and got their supper. The others staid and went to singing school……Porter and Jennie has just got home from the sing. They say they had a splendid time. It was such a lovely evening that they took the organ out on the water in a boat and played and sung. The Pillar Pointers came with lanterns to the shore to listen to the music. It must have been grand. It was so still they had lamps lit and was a splendid sight and it will be a good advertisement for the coming concert." "November 23rd, Porter went to 3 Mile Bay with the mail in a boat. Loney went to the village at night after him. Waited till dark. Didn't come and came home without him. Then Abram went after him, it was so awful rough they could not get there till after dark. We was frightened almost to death about him." She also mentions many, many names: Leonard Lance, Rector, Theodore Armstrong, Frank Harris, Rev. LaClaire, Graves, Frank Hewitt, Gene Collins, Brockhaws, Ellie Wiggins, Daniel Holbrook, Harriet Mayhew, Fox, Roof, Ostrander, Kate Getman, Wallace Washburn, Windsor Lance (teacher), Stratton, Warren Minor, Angells, Lidia Wilcox and more. The diary is in very, very rough shape. Some newspaper articles to the inside covers, some pages are loose but all pages accounted for, cover (which is very worn) is pulling away from the binding, stains on the front and back cover and beginning pages, etc. Overall Fair+.