JOANNA S. EVELETH 1879 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY HANDWRITTEN BY HARDWORKING, SICKLY BANGOR MAINE SCHOOL TEACHER
BANGOR MAINE ME 1879 Very Good Manuscript
On offer is an interesting, completely filled 1879 manuscript diary and relic of Bangor Maine handwritten by Joanna S. Eveleth [unsigned but identified from other ephemera, the free-endpaper has the signature of her father, A.S. Eveleth, Bangor] a hardworking, but ill, young woman who besides all the everyday chores a 20 something woman might have, also taught school. The diary opens with Joanna at normal school, taking exams in arithmetic, grammar, and geography, studying a lot, fixing her clothes, going on an occasional sleigh ride, etc. On one page, she says School is the only interesting part of my life, but a day or so later she complains there is nothing but school and study and nothing wonderful has happened. By mid-February, she is summoned home, where both parents and several other relatives are ill. From that point on, the diary is filled with entries about the local weather, various chores around the house, visits to and from various friends and relatives, letters written and received, etc. By the time she's been home for two weeks, she has decided to stay at home this spring rather than return to school (although Father tries to convince her to return). On March 6, she receives a letter saying 'I was elected to N. Bangor school as teacher. I did not know that such a thing had been thought of'. Until mid-April, when school starts, she does housework, visits friends, attends church, prayer meetings and sociables, and complains of exhaustion. Once school starts, Joanna's entries don't change appreciably. She tells nothing about her students or her school day, other than such lines as School and nothing else; and 'the day has gone much like all others'. She does, however, say I'm glad I'm not a dressmaker. I'd rather be a schoolmarm. In addition to teaching, doing the usual washing chores, sewing dresses for herself and several others, and general housecleaning, she also writes of going strawberrying or picking apples, gathering autumn leaves, making a wreath, and reading (sometimes aloud in the evenings to the boys, including Uncle Tom's Cabin). Croquet is a favorite game, and she also mentions playing dominoes. Joanna is not in very good health, writes frequently of her tiredness, and mentions fainting or almost-fainting several times. She's also not particularly cheerful, reporting that she spent one of the happiest days of my life walking to the schoolhouse, doing something involving music and playing croquet. She deals with two dramatic interludes in typically laconic style, noting on 8/11 that 'Oh, such a day has past [sic]. Father went to work but…in an hour…he was back with a broken leg. Both bones below the knee are broken. The Dr. says it is very bad. The neighbors are kind, the family pitches in and father is up using crutches in the field by October'. Another major event is reported in typical, undramatic Joanna style. She is a master of understatement: 11/18. Snowed all day. Washed. Father and mother came. Uncle Ralph is dead. 11/19. It was a mistake. Uncle is not dead, but very low. 11/24. Went downtown. Uncle is dead. He died last Thursday. Funeral is Wednesday. 11/25. Father and Mother went downtown. Uncle's corpse came this morning. Uncle N. and Aunt L. are here. 11/26. The last has been done for uncle. He was buried today. 11/27. Thanksgiving. I work all day and am getting ready to go away [on an overnight visit]. Again typically, Joanna's entry for her 23rd birthday on 9/16 reads: So, I'm twenty-three. Have celebrated by teaching all day….The [school] Committee were in today. Rainy'. This diary presents a poignant picture of the life of a young schoolteacher in Maine. (Bangor, Northport, and other towns are mentioned.) It is comforting to know that according to genealogical material available on-line, Joanna married William H. Teelingin 1889, when she was 33 and had 2 children. She died in 1911 five years before her son died from a botched surgery when he was thrown from a colt. Overall the 4 x 2 ½ inch book, with six days to an open page, is VG.