1880 - 1921 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY OF AN ERUDITE AND EXPRESSIVE LATE 19TH CENTURY BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR

By: HARLAN PAGE FRENCH

Price: $2,055.99

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Book Condition: Good+


On offer is a super, original manuscript diary handwritten by Mr. Harlan Page French, an expressive 19th Century business man and entrepreneur born in Pleasant Valley [Cambridge] Vermont but spent most of his adult life in Albany New York. In 1881 Harlan's business of French & Choate Stationer succeeded the Readers and Writer's Economy Company. His partner left the business in 1884. While not a day to day diary Harlan writes 154 handwritten pages in the 6" x 11" book beginning March 15th, 1880 through to February 13th, 1921 but sometimes not writing for years but he retrospectively brings the reader up to date regarding his life, his business and his family after the gaps. He and his family, wife Augusta (nee Bowers) and his daughter Florence, take many vacations leaving the city as he suffers from allergies. Interestingly he takes "Cocaine" for his hay fever. Readers will find Harlan a super diarist. Here are some snippets: "March 15th, 1880. Here I am in New York but not so well pleased with my position as I might be. The business of the Readers and Writers Economy does not start off very briskly and I am a little dissatisfied. However things will probably take a more favorable turn soon and I shall feel better. Have called on Mr. Fisk at 346 Broome St. this P.M. and had a pleasant chat with him. Shall look around a little by and by and see where I can get boarded to the best advantage. We have had a few callers today and a little trade and that is an improvement on Saturday." "April 13th, 1880. I am completely tired out and discouraged. Things are getting more and more mixed every day and there seems no possibility of straightening them out. I am discouraged and very blue. If it was in my power to go back four months, I should be very sure to continue my relations with the S. S. F. Co. for all of casting in my lot with a concern managed by men with no capitol and no experience. But I am blue tonight and shall probably feel better tomorrow. It is not because business is dull but because it is managed in such an unsystematic and un-businesslike way that I am so discouraged. I have been hoping it would improve but I can't see that it does." "September 1st, 1880. The weeks are passing rapidly and when a few more days have gone my wife and baby will be here again. Business is picking up again and we have enough to do from morning till night. Fred Choate came down here for a fortnight ago tomorrow and is going to work for me through the winter. He is doing nicely and seems perfectly contented. Mr. Holmes is evidently getting interested in Mrs. Fellows, for which I am rather sorry. But boys will be boys and he is not yet too old to be a boy I guess. Our affairs at Boston are going on in the same old way. Mr. D. is still running things in his impetuous and changeable way and still neglecting important matters which he pursues some imaginary valuable contacts. Economy notes are played out and subscribers defrauded of their money. Catalogues and circulars are not forthcoming, great promises are made in our advertisements and but little is done towards fulfilling them. In fact our President does all his work, in my opinion, in about the worst way possible……" "July 8th, 1881. I want to put on record my belief that Dr. Nichols course with the Economy notes has been such as to show positively that he is not capable of doing anything in a business like way. We have had only one number dated in 1881 and although another was promised at once, nothing more has been heard of it. The management of the Economy Club and notes has been such as to seriously displease and disgust its friends and has hurt our reputation and our business greatly. And still Mr. Coolidge and Dr. W. can't seem to see it." "November 22nd, 1882. In April (the 1st) I found a co-partnership with Monsieur Smith and Choate's and we have been running the business together since. In May I took a trip to Chicago, St. Louis &c and with fine success. On Oct. 13th, I started on a second trip and took in Milwaukee, St. Paul, Minneapolis &c. Had a pleasant and successful trip which I enjoyed quite well for me. Business boomed while I was away and for a week after my return but now it is at a quiet stand again. It has been very dull this week, so dull that I do not understand it at all and I have been decidedly down; but I am beginning to recover today. I noticed that I am always troubled with the blues after I return from a trip and I attribute it to the change to indoor work and the taking up of the responsibility which I had laid aside during the trip." "September 11th, 1883. On August 2nd myself and family left Brooklyn and went to Cambridge where I left wife and child and on the 4th started west. Was gone a little over five weeks and had fine success but business in the store was very dull and I came home sooner then I otherwise would on account of the unfavorable conditions of our finances and the discouraging letters received from Mr. Stoughton. It is a sad fact that trade has not equalled our expectations and is not likely to. We are running behind and in looking the matter squarely in the face yesterday and today I am compelled to say that I do not see how we are going to make a success. I fear for the future and am very blue and depressed. It does seem as though we had ever been in such close quarters before and I can't for the life of me see our way out. I can only do my best and trust in providence." "June 18th, 1886. Albany New York. Well my journal has had a long long rest. For months I didn't care to put down my thoughts and feelings on paper and so have written nothing. My New York experience is over. After three and a half years of hard work, unsuccessful in its results, I closed out all our goods that I could, sent the rest to H. B. Mims and Co. of Troy on sale and the 18th of May 1885 I entered their employ as a traveling salesman. I have not been with them a little more than a year and am quite well satisfied with my position. I have lately been on my vacation to now, going up on May 25th. It is just six years this summer since Gusta, Florence and I went up there together and spent two weeks on the farm and we are enjoying this visit very much. We drove down to Uncle Marks' on Thursday and up to Pleasant Valley where I was born…." "August 15th, 1886. Pittsburgh……I hope I have found a remedy for hay fever in Cocaine which I have been using for three days. I am certainly feeling much better than I did a year ago today and am hoping the improvement will be permanent. This afternoon I have taken a ride across the Monongahela and up an inclined plane on to the bluff west of the city. Made the acquaintance of a young Scotchman who is employed in one of the larger hotels and who, like myself, was out of a walk. Have a pleasant walk, a good view of the city and now will spent the evening reading." 'July 17th, 1898. It is more than 12 years since I have written a line in my journal but I am alone tonight and I will begin again. Twelve years ago I was with H. B. Mims and Co. as a traveling salesman. I remained with them until December 31st, 1890 when I left their employ and became the manager of the Albany Teachers Agency which had been started by Will Choate three or four years before but which had never amounted to anything. I started into my work with a will but the first year's business was very unsatisfactory. The second year was better and after a while I succeeded in establishing myself on a paying basis. For the last three years business has been good and we have been contented and happy. On May 1st 1890 we moved to No. 2 Leonard place and after two or three years we purchased the house and thus gained a home of our own. The years have brought their trials, their joys and sorrows to Augusta and me but we have much to be thankful for. The "baby" is now a young lady who has just completed her second year in Vassar and she and her mother are now visiting Mother Bower's and Fannie in No. Cambridge. On Saturday June 25th I went to Amherst to attend the reunion of the class of 68' thirty years after graduation and I want to make a brief record of my experiences…." "August 11th, 1898. A week ago this A.M. I received a telegram from Edward Flanagan telling me that Ned Bowers died the night before, August 3rd. Augusta and I were entirely unprepared for this sad news and the shock was almost too much for her. On Friday morning we started for Cambridge and arrived at mother's about 5 P.M. Fannie was at Lexington looking for a minister to conduct the funeral services and when she returned she reported that she had engaged my college classmate, H. H. Hamilton. The funeral was at Concord on Saturday afternoon and we laid poor Ned away beside his brothers. It was a sad, sad day and one long to be remembered…" "August 25th, 1904. Lake Placid. For five years past I have taken a vacation in the hay fever season to escape the annual attacks which have troubled me for 34 years and thus have been able to pass the months of August and September in comparative comfort. In 1900 we went (Augusta, Florence, Mother B. and I) to Nova Scotia and spent ten days. The next year we made a longer trip and remained three weeks. Florence did not go but Fannie Bower went for a single week and left Augusta and me to finish the season alone. In 1902 we spent 2 weeks at the Randall House in Morrisville, went from there to Bethlehem N.H. for a week or more and then home to Albany via Boston. Last year (1903) we, Augusta and I, came to Lake Placid on August 22nd, arriving in from Westford via Elizabethtown and Keene Center. We remained ten days, stopping at Northwood's Inn then went to Morrisville for nearly two weeks, to Bethlehem N.H…..This year we have planned a change and came up here to Lakeside Inn on the 23rd. We came by the D. and H. taking a parlor car on the fast express leaving Troy at 1:45 P.M. We had a fine trip taking our dinner on the train and arriving at 9:20 in the evening. Augusta enjoyed the journey and arrived in good condition. I had a good deal of trouble with hay fever but it began to improve and now after two days it has nearly disappeared……We have been resting for two days and have done nothing except to walk around Mirror Lake this morning. We left Florence and Frances at home but Florence will come up here after Frances has got Will started in her school at Coxsackie……" "August 31st, 1904. Yesterday morning we had a decidedly unpleasant experience. About 6:20 we were wakened by a fearful groan, almost a scream, from the room adjoining ours. This was followed by other groans and a most unnatural breathing. I rapped at the door and called to the inmate but got no response. Augusta and I were much frightened for we knew someone must be sick and possibly dying. I put on my bathrobe and my slippers and ran down to call Mrs. Lamb. She came up immediately and we called and rapped at the door but got no reply. I looked over the transom and saw a young lady stretched upon her bed and evidently in an unconscious state. Another guest, a Mrs. Stewart, appeared upon the scene and we burst open the door. Mrs. S. is a born leader and made herself very useful. A doctor was called and in about half an hour he appeared but before his arrival the lady regained consciousness and appeared to be in her right mind. But before he came she acted strangely. She rose from her bed and came into the hall and we had to put her back by main force. She tried to bite Mrs. S. and evidently out of her head. But when she came out of the attack she seemed as rational as anybody. She came down to breakfast and was about the house and the piazza all day. She seemed a little concerned about the attack and told a friend that if she had been left alone she would have come out all right and I almost felt that she blamed me for paying attention to her outcry and calling the land lady. Last night she had another attack, only not so severe, or at least the noise she made was less disturbing. But she awoke us a little after midnight with her outcry and again we were very much startled and frightened. I rapped on the door and spoke to her but got no answer. Her cry was followed by a gurgling noise and Augusta thought she was vomiting. We didn't know just what to do but decided to wait and see if any further demonstrations were made but nothing further occurred to disturb us and finely we went to sleep again. And this morning the young lady appeared at the breakfast table looking about as usual. Of course I was anxious and felt that I ought to consult with someone so I went down to see the Doctor (Warren). He told me it was probably epilepsy and advised me if the trouble occurred again to do nothing as she would probably fall into a deep sleep and would come out of the attack all right…..I am sorry for the young woman who is sick and alone in a strange hotel. She is not very talkative and on one knows much about her." "August 30th, 1905. Beaumaris Ontario. We left home on the 22nd at noon catching the first fast mail for Buffalo and Niagara Falls where we arrived at 8 P.M. I wired the Imperial Hotel for rooms and we had two that were fairly comfortable except that they were very dirty. The office and waiting room are pleasant and attractive but the sleeping rooms seemed never to have been cleaned, the wash bowl and pitcher were dirty and I did not feel at all pleased with the place. But the dining room was rather attractive and the breakfast very good. We left at 9 A.M. for Muskoken and arrived at the wharf without change of cars at 2:50 P.M. On the wharf we found our trunks which were turned over to us by the customs officer without examination and we reached Beaumaris at about 4:30. We found our rooms ready for us and settled down at once. The hotel is quite full and many pleasant people are here but we do not find it quite up to our expectations. We have been out rowing, Florence has been in bathing and yesterday we took a trip to Rosseau calling at the Royal Muskoka and taking dinner at Rosseau…." "September 16th, 1906. The Mt. Pleasant Britton Woods N.H. We reached this hotel at five o'clock on September 10th and were assigned to a very comfortable room on the third floor that is the third floor above the office, No. 340. We have found accommodations excellent, the table first class and the service all that one could ask. Everything is neat and clean and everything possible is done for the comfort of the guests. Many people go home from the mountains immediately after Labor Day, hence there is more room in the hotels and prices are a little less. But the Mt. Pleasant has been well patronized and last night every room in the house and in the cottage was occupied while many were turned away and sent over to the Mt. Washington. We have both felt pretty well since coming here and we are more contented and much better satisfied here then we were at Colebrook or Bethlehem. There is a concert by an Orchestra of seven or eight musicians every afternoon and evening and three times during the first week there has been a special entertainment by a traveling artist or artists. Friday night there was a masquerade and cake walk given by the help and it was great. Friday P.M. we went to the Mt. Washington to the special concert by twenty two musicians…..This climate seems to agree with us for Augusta has improved right along since we arrived at the Mt. Pleasant and I am almost entirely free from hay fever. In fact I have not been so well at this time of year since I can remember. We like it here. Think we shall plan to come next year for two weeks or more. And if we come we want a room on the east side of the house and on the second floor if not too expensive. The third floor rooms are very good but in hot weather they are likely to be a little uncomfortable. And 340 is a little too near the kitchen chimney…." "August 28th, 1907. Bethlehem N.H. I went to see Dr. Bartell about my nervousness and he said I was working too hard. He gave me some medicine and told me to lie down for half an hour each day after dinner. I took his medicine and followed his advice and began to feel better. My nervousness and depression disappeared and I felt well…." "September 11th, 1908. Sharon Springs, N.H. The rheumatism which began to trouble me last Oct. has been my constant companion since this time and we were obliged to give up our usual trip to the White Mountains and come to this place for baths and treatment. We came on August 22nd and shall have been here three weeks tomorrow. The place was recommended by Mr. Paul Wadsworth and Mr. Tidbits of Albany both of whom were greatly benefited by the treatment here. I have taken a bath or a douche every day and have also taken eight massage treatments but the benefit has not been as great as I had hoped….I have suffered very little with hay fever and have got along very comfortably. But Sharon Springs is not an attractive place for a vacation. The hotels are poor and in a dilapidated condition. The town generally "has gone to seed" and there is nothing neat and tidy about it. It has been a positive punishment to us to stay here for three weeks and if it is ever necessary again to go away for rheumatism I think we shall try Clifton Springs." "September 13th, 1913. Britton Woods N.H. We left Albany on August 21st for our usual vacation and made our first stop at Cooley's Hotel in Springfield. We have had a busy summer for on May 1st Florence sent Harlan, Fritz and Ruth to Albany to be with us while she went to Louisville taking the baby with her for a visit of several weeks in her old home…..Our domestic affairs caused some trouble at first as our maid (Mrs. Anna Walsh) left a day or two before Florence came claiming to be sick; and then Florence had the mumps and was confined to her room for a week or more. We advertised for a girl but without success and finally advertised for a woman by the day. This advertisement brought immediate replies and for nearly two weeks we have three different women every week; Mrs. Lasher, Mrs. Powers and Mrs. Quinn. We then succeeded in engaging Mrs. Powers (at $7.70 a week) to come every day at 9 or 10 o'clock and remain until 8 o'clock. Mrs. Powers is very satisfactory and she remained until we started on our vacation. At Springfield we called on Mrs. Lawrence W. Hatch and her daughter, Mrs. Murdough and on the afternoon of August 22nd came on to Bethlehem. Our room at the Maple Hurst was ready for us and we were cordially greeted by many old acquaintances whom we had met in previous years. Augusta was sick when we arrived and kept her room and bed for four or five days. She weighed only 97 ½ pounds after her illness but she improved and gained five or six pounds before we left Bethlehem. We staid there three weeks……" "September 15th, 1915. Bethlehem. More than a year has passed since I have made any entry in my journal and we are again in Bethlehem. Serious changes have occurred in my business and after being with me for four and a half years, Mr. Fisk, has left and his place has been taken by W. W. Andrews, former Superintendent of schools at Whitehall N.Y….." "September 20th, 1919. Bethlehem N.H. We left Albany and arrived here this same evening……Last Monday I left Bethlehem for a long talked of visit to my old Vt. Home. Spent Monday night at the Randall and called on Martha Safford (90 years old), Elizabeth Butler Thomas and Esther French Fitch. Tuesday A.M. I went to Jericho where I met cousin John of Chicago who was brought in his auto from St. Albans by Henry Hatch and his wife. We called on Marion Jordan McClure and her husband found her quite feeble but feeling as well as usual when we arrived. Mr. McClure is in good health but is failing mentally, memory going rapidly. I hunted up a man with an auto who took us to Underhill Center where we got a good dinner. Then to Underhill Flat and from there north to Pleasant Valley where I was born…." The last entry, diary is dated February 13th, 1921 Harlan is at Clifton Springs Sanatorium for rest and help for his feet. Harlan died only 4 months later on June 4th, 1921 of Bronchial Pneumonia. BIO NOTES: from American Education, 1904: "Harlan P. French was born on a farm in the Green Mountain State in 1843. He entered the People's academy, Morrisville, Vermont and there fitted himself for college. His first experience in educational work was gained as teacher of a district school. He entered Amherst College at the age of twenty, possessed of small means, but with a large amount of grit, ambition and industry. He graduated in 1868 and immediately entered upon work at Princeton, Ill. as assistant principal of the first township high school established in that state. He was afterwards principal and superintendent of schools at Sterling, Illinois, for several years. In 1871 he received the degree of A.M. from Amherst College. Twelve years ago he became proprietor of the Albany Teacher's Agency and has been unusually successful in its management, until it now occupies a place in the first rank of teacher's agencies in this country. In 1895 he was appointed a member of the Albany Board of Public Instruction for a full term of seven years. He was largely instrumental in organizing the New York State Association of School Boards, and was secretary of that association for several years." The pages and binding are very good save for the cover being a bit worn especially around the spine but overall G+.

Title: 1880 - 1921 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY OF AN ERUDITE AND EXPRESSIVE LATE 19TH CENTURY BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR

Author Name: HARLAN PAGE FRENCH

Categories: 19th Century Diary, Books and Manuscripts General Overview, 19th Century Manuscript,

Publisher: Pleasant Valley [Cambridge] Vermont Albany New Yor, 1880

Book Condition: Good+

Type: Manuscript

Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall

Seller ID: 0001922

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