1866

1 January Tuesday

Some rain and wet. Snow gone off some. Father went up town. Cow calved.

(On a small farm with limited resources, the birth of a calf required a decision, especially in winter when it had to be sheltered: Would it be worthwhile raising? Facts for Farmers, published in 1866, recommended: “Use judgment in selecting such heifer calves as are to be reared. Select only those whose mothers are good milkers and whose sires have come from good milking stock. At the same time, the calf itself should have those characteristics that indicate an aptitude to develop good milking qualities, viz.: small, fine head, rather long in the muzzle; bright eyes; thin, tapering neck; small, well-shaped legs; long body; large hind quarters, set wide behind; soft skin; fine hair – the color of which is immaterial; and above all, the milk-mirror or udder-veins should be large and well developed.”)

2 January Tuesday

Cloudy and some colder. Sledded home wood from old orchard lane and carried log to saw mill for a stone boat.

(As mentioned Dec. 23, 1865, the stoneboat is a sled designed to carry heavy loads, especially over snow. The saw mill will cut thick boards for the stone boat. The Nashes were preparing for a lot of work in the woods in the weeks ahead, which was typical for this time of year.)

3 January Wednesday

Snowed a little in morning before day. Cloudy. Father went to Harry Nashes. George Hurlbut's folks and Jared Olmstead called here.

(George Hurlbutt of Wilton, also mentioned March 3, 1865, was a carriage-maker by trade. He was married to Clara Amanda Olmstead, daughter of Clara Nash Olmstead, who was a sister of Jared Nash’s father, Charles. )

4 January Thursday

Cleared off in forenoon. Father cut in woods. Grew cold towards night.

5 January Friday

Clear and cold. Mercury 3 above. Father went to Gilbert's mill with corn.

6 January Saturday

Clear, cold, 12 above. Went up town with Emily in forenoon. We sawed some wood in afternoon. J.B. Smith come and got old cow to keep.

(John Betts Smith was Emily Nash's brother. The Nashes may have been making room for their calf by giving away their “old cow.”)

7 January Sunday

Baby weighed 15. Snowed some in morning, then cleared off in midle of day and grew cold & windy. Snow blew. Mercury 12 above in morning and 5 below at night and growing cold.

8 January Monday

Clear and verry cold and windy. Mercury 16 below in morning and 4 below at night.

(Although there's plenty of cold weather ahead, this is the lowest temperature recorded during the two years of the diary. In her diary, Anna Marie Resseguie of the Keeler Tavern reports that Jan. 8 was "the coldest day old Dr. Perry ever remembers. Mercury 21 degrees below zero." And the next day, she says "the papers stated that the cold of yesterday exceeded any in 60 years." In her diary, written in Washington, D.C., Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, wrote that day: "This day has been astonishingly cold. My windows were completely frosted when I got up, a thing I have seldom known ... We had the felicity this morning of finding our new water pipe burst at intervals all the way from the top to the bottom of the house. No water of course, how long this persecution will continue I cannot judge and tonight when I attempted to light the gas light that was in the same condition.")

9 January Tuesday

Clear and cold, some wind. 2 above in morning, 15 at night. Father went to Jared's, got two bush. corn.

(The Nashes may have been running low on feed.)

10 January Wednesday

Clear and windy, 15 above. Father oiled harness.

(The harness was probably for the horse that would draw wood with the stone boat.)

11 January Thursday

Clear and more moderate. We cut some in the woods in forenoon. Clouded up towards night.

12 January Friday

Cloudy. Snowed some in morning. Father went up town in forenoon. In afternoon, we sawed up some logs down in the woods.

13 January Saturday

Quite warm and pleasant. Father went to Norwalk.

(The weather was finally nice enough for Father to visit family down in Norwalk.)

14 January Monday

Clear. Some cooler, but pleasant. Grew cold in afternoon. Mercury 12.

15 January Wednesday

Clear and cold. Mercury 1 above. Father traded old cow, got two yearling heifers with Harry Nash. He drove old cow down as far as Comstock's. Clouded up in P.M.

(Comstock's was a store in Wilton at the intersection of what is now Route 33 and Olmstead Hill Road. Harry Nash clearly lived beyond this point; if it was Harry W. Nash, the tanner, then the cow had to go another five miles or so to reach the intersection of Westport and Chestnut Hill Roads. Keep in mind how cold it was as father, about 72 years old, walked the six-mile round trip to Comstock's and back home.)

16 January Tuesday

Snow after 12 o'clock, then some damp the forepart of day. Father went 6 times with the sled after wood. Cleared off towards night.

(Again, Father is about 72. Wood, the home heating fuel, is going fast in the cold weather.)

17 January Wednesday

Clear most of the day. Work in woods. Drawed home 5 loads. I went and carried our folks to Jared's in morning. Went after them at night.

(With unusually cold weather, most of the male Nashes' time is spent gathering wood. Actually, besides doing maintenance work and keeping the livestock fed, there was relatively little else to do on the farm in mid-winter. Father and Jared may also have been working at their trade, shoemaking, but the diary gives no indication of this.)

18 January Thursday

Some sunshine and quite warm. Work in the woods. Went 3 times sledding with going off.

(By “sledding going off,” Jared means the snow is melting, making the sledding of loads of wood difficult.)

19 January Friday

Quite warm. Sledding about gone. Went in forenoon 3 times and down to sawmill.

(The Nashes are probably selling some of the better wood for lumber.)

20 January Saturday

Foggy and damp through the day. Father went up town, got the clock from Linus Northrop's.

(Linus O. Nothrop, a shoemaker and harness maker, lived on Wilton Road West just below Main Street. Jared doesn't explain what the clock is doing at the home of Mr. Northrop who may have been related to Emily Nash through her mother, Polly Northrop Smith.)

21 January Sunday

Clear and cold. Some windy. Mercury 12.

22 January Monday

Clear. Mercury 11. Done some chores. Father went to Hoyts in evening.

(This is probably Munson Hoyt and family who lived a half mile up Silver Spring Road, just north of the spring.)

23 January Tuesday

Clear. More moderate. Went up to Scholes and spent the day. Holmes folks here in afternoon.

(As mentioned earlier, Jared's daughter, now five years old, will marry D. Smith Sholes, now about 25. The wedding takes place in the year 1900, some 35 years in the future. At this time, the Nashes are probably visiting D. Smith Sholes' father, Daniel, who lived on West Lane. The Holmeses are not identified, but many Holmes families lived in southwestern Ridgefield and northwestern Wilton.)

24 January Wednesday

Some sunshine. We shod the sled. Abram had horse & wagon to go to Norwalk.

(Metal bands were nailed onto the wooden runners of the sled to make the runners durable; hence, they were "shod" like a horse. Abram Nash "borrowed" the horse and wagon for the trip.)

25 January Thursday

Some snow before day, then some hail; wind east, raw, chilly. Made some ice in the trees.

(In other words, Ridgefield had a small ice storm.)

26 January Friday

Work at wood. Drawed 5 loads. Pick some chickens to send by Russell. Clear, not verry cold.

(Jared probably refers to Russell Mead, a farmer who lived on Wilton Road East about opposite Silver Hill Road. The previous January, the Nashes also sent him chickens and in July, some veal. The food may have been gifts from the Nashes to an old friend who was poor -- see Jan 28 -- or Mr. Mead could have simply been buying the meat from the Nashes. Mead was connected with the family. His wife was Mary Ann Dunning, daughter of John and Lydia Dunning of Wilton. Mary Ann's brother, Richard Dunning, married Mary Henrietta Olmstead, daughter of William Olmstead and Clara Nash Olmstead. Clara Nash was Father's sister.)

27 January Saturday

Clear. Went 4 times and went to sawmill once.

(Jared went four times to the woods for lumber and-or firewood.)

28 January Sunday

Clear in forepart of day. Went after supper up West Lane with Emmie for a sleigh ride. Father went to R. Mead's in evening.

(Here is one of the very rare places where Jared mentions doing something that's purely and simply fun.)

29 January Monday

Cloudy. Work in woods. Drawed 4 load. Went to saw mill once.

30 January Tuesday

Cloudy, little storm in evening. Work at logs. Drawed 2 loads.

31 January Wednesday

Clear. Carried Emily up West Lane in morning to stay all night. Work at logs over backside. Father went to sawmill.

(Jared apparently means the backside of the woods.)

1 February Thursday

Clear. Work in woods. Went to sawmill.

2 February Friday

Some colder, squally. Clouds a flying. In woods in forenoon. Went to P.O. and after Emily in P.M.

3 February Saturday

Clear and cold. Work some in woods. Went and got Bill shod.

4 February Sunday

Clear. Some flying clouds. Cold, mercury 8 above in morning. 14 at night.

5 February Monday

Clear. 6 above in morning, 12 at night. Got Jared's team and went to sawmill. Drawed home a little wood.

(Notice that Jared isn't finding much to record in the diary. The dead of winter didn't offer much in the way of variety. Wood gathering was the chief chore. There were few visitors and little visiting. The fact that Jared Nash had to get Jared Olmstead's "team" of horses indicated that he must have had an unusually heavy load that his own horse, Bill, could not handle.)

6 February Tuesday

Clear and cold. 12 above. Father went up town in forenoon.

7 February Wednesday

Clear and cold. 4 above. Done chores. Clouded up in afternoon. Baby weighed 16.

8 February Thursday

Damp. Made ice on trees. Wind E.

(Ridgefield apparently had a sizable ice storm Feb. 8 and 9. Ice storms today can be disasters, bringing down power and phone lines and causing many traffic accidents. Back then, they were mostly curiosities -- there were no utilities and no traffic. In fact, as will be noted below, the iciness allowed the use of a sleigh, which could handle heavier loads than wheeled wagons.)

9 February Friday

Made some snow & ice. Father went to Gilbert's mill with a sleigh. Most sick with a cold.

(Father was probably getting corn, oats or other grains ground into feed for the livestock. Farmers stored grains until needed because they lasted longer in raw form. Once ground, the feed would spoil more quickly.)

10 February Saturday

Foggy & damp. Father went up to mill again after his feed. Mother went to Jared's with him.

11 February Sunday

Foggy in morning, some broken in afternoon. Thawed ice all off and about used up the sleighing.

12 February Monday

Rain all day. Father went to E. Smith's with a calf.

(That's probably Egbert Smith, who would butcher the calf for veal.)

13 February Tuesday

Clear and cooler most of the day

14 February Wednesday

Clear in morning, then clouded up and storm some. Father went to the funeral of Doct. Perry and John Hurlbutt. Emily went in afternoon to John's. Rain fast in evening and most all night.

(Dr. Nehemiah Perry Sr. had probably been the most popular 19th Century doctor in town and with his son, Nehemiah Jr., had served the Nashes. His father, Dr. David Perry, may also have ministered to the family [See Oct. 24, 1865].  In her diary, Anna Resseguie, who lived at the Keeler Tavern, two doors north of the Perry home, had been noting the decline of the doctor. "His sufferings are intense," she says Jan. 10, 1866. "Dr. Perry has the dropsy and is growing weaker," she says Jan. 16. "As Dr. Perry lingers, I got in at evening to see dear Sara [Perry]. I heard her father's voice and his groans," she says Feb. 11. He died the next morning.

(Anna Resseguie also records the unusual mishap, decline and death of John Hurlbutt. "Hear today that John Hurlbutt, who went with the Band to Bethel by way of Danbury, while in the latter place was bitten by a lion belonging to the menagerie," she writes Feb. 1. "He put his hand in the cage, being first assured by the keeper that no danger attended the act, and was bitten." On Feb. 3, she reports, "Hear that lockjaw is feared for Mr. Hurlbutt ... His sufferings were such that 50 drops of morphine were given him without affording relief." On Feb. 11, she goes to the Hurlbutt house a block north on Main Street. "I call at the door to inquire after him and find that he is a corpse. He died about 7 o'clock this evening." She adds: "It is believed that if John Hurlbutt's wound had been soaked immediately in warm water and ashes, instead of being plunged into cold water as it was, all would have been well. The bite was in the wrist."

(There were back-to-back funerals for Perry and Hurlbutt. Dr. Perry's was at 11 and "by 10 before, carriages were coming into the street from all directions to that it seemed more like a day at our Annual Fair," Anna Resseguie wrote. "The stores were closed, the church was filled." She noted that Dr. Perry "with his father, had ministered to the people as physicians for 100 years." "The longest procession followed the remains to the grave that was ever known in R-d," she added. Later, "as the procession returned from the burial of Dr. Perry, the bell announced the time for Mr. Hurlbutt's funeral."

(John Hurlbutt was a son of David Hurlbutt, who operated Hurlbutt's Market of Market Street. His brother, Sereno S. Hurlbutt, appears in the diary.)

15 February Thursday

Clear and high wind. Grew cold, 14 above, at night. Father went to the funeral of Grace King. Rebecca, Mary Jane & Jared here in afternoon.

(Grace King had died Feb. 13 at the age of 57. A native of Ridgefield and single, she was the youngest child of Lt. Joshua King, Revolutionary soldier, the man who escorted Major John Andre to the gallows, and a founder of a general store that lasted more than 200 years -- most recently as Bedient's Hardware. He lived at the corner of Main Street and King Lane, where his daughter also lived, probably with her brother, Joshua Ingersoll King. Grace King was the third prominent village resident to die that week, no doubt causing many Ridgefielders to think twice about transitory nature of life.)

16 February Friday

Clear, cold and windy, 3 above in morning. 10 at night. Work some at wood.

17 February Saturday

Clear and cold, 8 above in morning. More moderate.

18 February Sunday

Went up West Lane with Emily. Rain towards night.

19 February Monday

Rain all day. Verry wet.

20 February Tuesday

Clear and pleasant. Father went to Taylor's mill. We work at some wood. He get 2 brooms from John Holmes.

(Jared may be referring to John W. Holmes of Titicus, a New York City native who was listed on his death record as a laborer. Mr. Holmes served as a "musician" in the Civil War and was wounded and captured at Chancellorsville in 1863. A year later, he was discharged. He died in 1885 at the age of 62.)

21 February Wednesday

Clear, not verry cold. Father, Mother & Emmie went to see Aunt Lucy. I work some at wood.

(Aunt Lucy may be Lucy Rockwell, to whom the Nashes bring wood on Feb. 26. However, on May 27, 1866, Aunt Lucy dies. This almost corresponds with the death of Mary Jane Olmstead May 26 in Norwalk; she was the wife of the son of Father's sister, Clara.)

22 February Thursday

Clear and pleasant. We work at wood. Gathered things to make a syrup for Emmie. Quite muddy. Bluebirds came.

(Gathering "things" meant collecting already stored herbs, or winter dried leaves of herbs in the field, for some kind of medicine for whatever ailed Emmie -- probably a sore throat and cough. This indicates the Nashes still practiced folk medicine. The arrival of the bluebirds was the first sign that spring was not far behind. Despite all of Jared's reports of cold, the winter of 1866 was apparently somewhat milder than 1865, when the bluebirds showed up on March 7. Nowadays, winters have become so mild that many bluebirds winter over -- living mostly in the swamps where they find berries for food. Although they have gone through a period of being threatened by lack of nesting places and invasion of competing European species, bluebirds are doing fairly well today. It is not unusual for Ridgefielders to spot local flocks of them in November, December and January.)

23 February Friday

Clear through the day, foggy and rain in evening. Work at wood.

24 February Saturday

Damp & foggy. Rain towards night. Henry Ingersoll & Mr. Holmes called here in forenoon. Rain hard in evening.

(Henry Ingersoll, who visited Jan. 9, 1865, is a first cousin, once removed, of Jared.)

25 February Sunday

Clear and cold. Froze some. Water has come in cellar.

(Apparently there had been a lot of melting of snow and ice. This, with all the rain, caused flooding. Consequently, on April 10, father and an assistant will begin digging a new drain for the cellar. Notice that Jared uses the word “cellar.” He would never say “basement.” In a house, the cellar was the space underneath for storing things while, back then, the basement meant only the structure, usually stones, supporting the house and fireplace. A cellar, incidentally, could also be above ground.)

26 February Monday

Clear and cold. Mercury 8 above. Father carried 1/2 cord of wood to Lucy Rockwell. Then we work at wood at the door.

(Lucy Rockwell may the "Aunt Lucy" who appears from time to time.)

27 February Tuesday

Snow most all day.

(Nothing like a snowstorm to keep people indoors, even back then.)

28 February Wednesday

Some sunshine. Father went to Norwalk, carried some potatoes, rutabagas, beans, butter and eggs. Meeker & wife here in evening.

(Potatoes, rutabagas and beans were vegetables that could be stored in the cold cellar. These and the dairy items were probably all dearly desired foods in the city of Norwalk by late February, especially after a snowstorm, and Father was undoubtedly supplying some market -- and perhaps some family members.

(Farmers had to be careful when transporting butter. The Farmer’s Almanac in 1876 advised: “The sun should never be allowed to shine on butter. More butter is injured from the farm house to the village store and in transportation by careless, unthinking or willful parties than from all other causes combined. The farmer has an easy and effectual remedy, an old umbrella for a shade, green grass or wet flannel or any other substitute whereby a rapid evaporation can be effected for the cooling arrangement, and you can carry butter for miles to market in good condition.”)

1 March Thursday

Cloudy through the day. Work at wood.

2 March Friday

Lowery all day. Work at wood.

3 March Saturday

Foggy and some damp. Father went to sawmill. I got stone boat plank. Quite muddy.

(Apparently the stone boat, the heavy duty sled that the Nashes had made in January, was already in need of repair.)

4 March Sunday

Windy and squally. Clouds with some snow. Not much sun.

(March is coming in like a lion.)

5 March Monday

Cold, high March wind. Father helpt Jared skore ties.

(As mentioned earlier, the many farmers earned extra cash by making ties or sleepers for railroad tracks during the winter months. Until the 1940s most railroad ties were hand-hewn by men working in pairs -- here, Father and his nephew, Jared Olmstead. Straight hardwood trees that were not too wide -- around a foot across -- were felled and cut into eight-foot, six-inch lengths. Jared sometimes calls these "sticks." To work on a tie, the wood was placed at right angles on a pair of logs to raise it off the ground. Bark was peeled off with bark spuds or barking irons, tools that looked something like shovels. The workers snapped or marked a line down the log to delineate where each side would be; this was called the "cut line." Then, using a felling ax, a worker would chop into the side of the log about once every six or eight inches; the cut would be only as deep as the line that had been scored for the side, and the process was called "cutting to the score." This is probably what Jared meant by "score ties." Once the side had been scored, the worker could use a broad axe to walk down the side of the long, chipping away the scored pieces. This was called "hewing to the line.")

6 March Tuesday

Clear and windy. Father helpt Jared in forenoon, finished his ties. Then we cut wood at the door.

7 March Wednesday

Windy & cold. Work at wood. Baby weighs 17 3/4.

8 March Thursday

Cold and windy. Father went to Sanford's. Emily went to her Mother's. I went after her at night.

(Sanford is Charles Sanford Nash, Father's son by his first marriage.)

9 March Friday

Cold, windy. Work in woods in forenoon; at the door in afternoon.

10 March Saturday

Cold, clear and windy. Work some at wood.

11 March Sunday

Cloudy, south wind, some rain just at night. Father went over to Sanford's after E. R. Grumman.

(E.R. Grummun was Elizabeth R. Grummun, Jared’s sister.)

12 March Monday

Some rain through the day.

13 March Tuesday

Quite warm, some sunshine. Went to blacksmith's to get Bill shod. Father work in woods in afternoon.

14 March Wednesday

Cloudy and damp, foggy.

15 March Thursday

Cloudy. Work in woods in forenoon, some at bar post in afternoon.

(The Nashes were beginning to fix fences, a typical early spring chore. Bar posts were the vertical posts into which the rails or "bars" were fitted. Late winter and early spring was the time farmers usually repaired fences. Sound fences were important for holding in livestock that, if escaped, could trample valuable crops.)

16 March Friday

Rain through the day.

17 March Saturday

Some clear. Cold and high wind.

18 March Sunday

Clear and cold. Froze up hard. Father went to Bald Hill meeting in afternoon.

(Father went to the services at the Methodist Church at Bald Hill along Route 33 in northern Wilton. The church was abandoned in the 1930s. The fact that Jared mentions this event suggests it was unusual. It also suggests that Father either went to another church so regularly it was not worth mentioning, or rarely went to church.)

19 March Monday

Lowery. Drawed some sticks for ties in forenoon, made stone boat. Father went to S. Fitches and Jared's.

(Apparently the first stone boat had been beyond repair, suffering from the heavy transporting work to which the Nashes put it during the winter. Father was probably visiting Samuel Fitch and Jared Olmstead to ask them to help with ties -- see next entry.

(Samuel B. Fitch, who probably lived on Wilton Road West, had been the manager and tax collector of the Flat Rock School District in 1865. Later in 1866, it was apparently discovered that Fitch either failed to collect the school taxes he was supposed to, or he had pocketed some or all of the money. In November 1866, the school district met to see if it could get people to contribute to the taxes Fitch failed to turn in, but the motion failed. Fitch seems to have disappeared from the Ridgefield scene after that. A farmer, Samuel B. Fitch was probably born in Wilton, where a couple of generations of Samuel Fitches had lived. Fitch is an old and respected family in Connecticut and Fairfield County. Thomas Fitch of Norwalk, quite likely related to our Samuel, was governor of Connecticut from 1754 to 1766.)

20 March Tuesday

Cloudy, wind east. S. Fitch & Jared work here at ties. Storm some just at night.

21 March Wednesday

Trees covered with ice. Foggy and damp. Thawed ice off. Daniel brought Emily some vests.

(Daniel Sholes or perhaps Daniel Smith, Emily's brother, was delivering a load of cut cloth which Emily, a seamstress, would sew together into vests to earn money for the family.)

22 March Thursday

Clear and cold. Cut some wood. Went up to see James St. John. He is sick. Father went to Norwalk.

(James St. John, who probably lived on St. John's Road, may have been the James R. St. John who served as a teacher for the Flat Rock School at times during the 1840s and 1850s. He died in 1896 at the age of 71.)

23 March Friday

Clear in morning, south chilly wind. Went with E.R.G. to Titicus towards night. Snowed and rain before we got back. Cut some wood.

(Elizabeth Grummun -- E.R.G. – may have been visiting her daughter, Libby, who taught at Titicus School at this time. The schoolhouse today is the American Legion headquarters at the corner of New and North Salem Roads.)

24 March Saturday

Rain through the night. Cleared off and windy. Father went to Bailey's store in afternoon.

25 March Sunday

Snowed in morning 3 or 4 inches, then cleared off. Windy. Snow flew. I am most sick with a cold.

26 March Monday

Clear and cold, high wind, mercury 14. Piled up ties. Snow blew hard.

(Just the day before he was "most sick," and now he's out in windy, 14-degree temperatures, piling railroad ties. No wonder he died at 45.)

27 March Tuesday

Clear, some windy. Work in woods in forenoon. Richard & Roxanna here in morning and spent the day. Rebecca here in afternoon.

28 March Wednesday

Clear and some warmer. Clouded up towards night, snowed in evening. Father went to auction to Purdy Sherwood's.

(Purdy Sherwood was a Wilton farmer, who had died on June 5, 1865. The auction may have been ordered by a court to settle his estate. Such auctions were fairly frequently held, especially when a person or estate was insolvent. A native of New Castle in Westchester County, Purdy Sherwood was born in 1808 and married Sarah Lockwood, also of New Castle but of Norwalk stock. They lived in Wilton from at least 1835 until 1859, during which time they had 12 children.)

29 March Thursday

Rain until 3 o'clock. Made barpost.

30 March Friday

Clear and cold, some wind. Went up West Lane with Emily. Carried vest and spent the day.

31 March Saturday

Cloudy, south chilly wind. Father sowed clover seed in morning, went to auction in P.M. to Aaron Northrop. Rain fast towards night. I cut wood.

(Here we have mention of the first sign that the growing season has finally arrived after what seemed to be a fairly harsh winter -- and a harsh March. Clover, a very hardy crop, was the first seed to go into the ground and was used both as food for the few cattle the Nashes had, and for renewing the soil through the nitrogen that clover provides. Oats, the next crop to be planted, won't be sown until April 18.

(Unlike Purdy Sherwood, Aaron Northrop was still alive; he died in 1880 at the age of 69. A shoemaker, he had a very modest home. He probably had declared insolvency -- bankruptcy -- and his property was being sold to pay off his creditors.)

1 April Wednesday

Clear and springlike in morning, then flying clouds.

2 April Tuesday

Cloudy, east wind. Drove farrow heifer to N. Seymour's. Went to election in afternoon.

(The farrow -- unpregnant -- cow was about to meet Mr. Seymour's bull. The "election" was a Town Meeting that authorized the selectmen "to release from taxation all sums of money that may be loaned to said town from the state, town and highway taxes." The meeting had been called "to make provision by tax or otherwise for the payment of notes held by individuals against [the] town." The debts were probably in part incurred in support of the Civil War. The town's indebtedness in 1865 was about $42,000, a lot of money for a small town with few public services.)

3 April Wednesday

Clear and warmer. Split wood in the woods. Father went to Norwalk carried E.R. Grumman. Sanford come here in forenoon. Heifer calfed at night.

(Obviously, not the same heifer that went to Seymour's.)

4 April Thursday

Quite warm. Work at wood. Went to blacksmith. Emmie went West Lane. Laura come home with us.

5 April Friday

Pleasant and warm. Drawed two ties & some levers. Hewed ties. Carried Laura home at night.

(By levers, Jared probably meant strong poles used to lift and move the heavy ties or other heavy objects. For instance, when a farmer wanted remove a large rock from a field, he would often pry it out with one of these lever poles, braced against another pole lying at right angles to it on the ground.)

6 April Friday

Quite warm, some showery. Hewed stick for sleepers for stable floor. Carried Mother & Emmie up to Jared's in afternoon and then went after them.

(Like other things made of wood, flooring needed to be replaced from time to time. Sleepers were the support beams. It’s quite possible that the beams had rotted over the years – as noted on April 10, moisture was probably a problem at the Nash farmstead.)

7 April Saturday

Some rain in afternoon. Wind east and chilly. Father finished hewing sleepers. Babe weight 18 1/2. Kate Dunning come to see Emmie in afternoon.

(Kate Dunning is probably a little girl, daughter of Richard and Mary Dunning – Mary was an Olmstead, who was related to Jared. This is a rare mention of a child visiting a child. The Nashes’ daughter, Emmie, is about six at this time.)

8 April Sunday

Snow through the day. About a large as any through the winter.

(April snowstorms in these parts are not unusual. On Easter Sunday, April 15, 1915, a good-sized storm hit Ridgefield, accumulating nearly a foot.)

9 April Monday

Clear, cold and froze hard. Father went to Taylor's mill. I went to see Abram. Snow mostly gone, only north of fences. Father went to see Tomas.

(Remember that the term “fences” includes stonewalls, and the shadow cast by the walls keeps the ground cooler. Tomas or Thomas was a laborer, as we will soon see, and Father was making arrangements to hire him.)

10 April Tuesday

Clear, chilly, east wind. Thomas and Father work at diggin cellar drain. I went to Wm. Seymour's to get pick sharpened.

(The high water table of spring, plus the melting snow, was having its effect on the Nash cellar. Back on Feb. 25, the diary noted that water had come in the cellar. Marjory McKenna, 20th Century owner of the house, said in the 1970s that she and her late husband Arthur still seasonally got water in the cellar. They appreciated knowing that the problem was nothing new. See also April 17.

(William Seymour was a Ridgefield blacksmith. The pick was needed for the drain project.)

11 April Wednesday

Clear most of the day. Thomas come and they finished diggin about midle of forenoon. Daniel come, brought Emily some vests.

12 April Thursday.

Clear and pleasant. Carried Emily up to her mother's, then went after her at night. Work at stone, on rye stuble, and fence.

(Jared was probably removing stones that had been pushed up in the rye field by the winter freezing of the soil; he probably used a lever made back on April 5. He's getting the field ready for Jared N. Olmstead, who will show up to plow in two days. Jared probably was adding the stone to weak or low spots in the stone fence.

(It is interesting that in neither 1865 or 1866 does Jared specifically mention the planting of the rye seed. The harvesting, beginning July 17 this year, is noted in some detail.

(Rye was a crop that was generally planted on poor soils – in field that had been worn out For more about rye, see May 10, July 11, and Aug. 25 in 1865.)

13 April Friday

Wet and foggy and some rain in forenoon. Broke away in afternoon. Work some at stone.

14 April Saturday

Clear in morning, then south chilly wind. Work some at fence. Father & Emmie went to Wilton Depot after Libby Grumman. Jared commence to plow our stalks to sow.

(Libby Grummun probably took the train from Norwalk to Wilton and may have been visiting her mother, Elizabeth R. Grummun, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Jared Olmstead is plowing under last year's stalks to prepare the field for seeding.)

15 April Sunday

Some cloudy but pleasant. Father went at night and carried Libby up to Amos Smith's.

(Amos Smiths Smith Jr. lived at the north corner of Main and Gilbert Streets. It appears that he was providing board for Libby Grummun who was teaching at Titicus School. It was typical for school districts to provide a place for their teachers to live.)

16 April Monday

Rain most of the day, wind E.

17 April Tuesday

Some sunshine. Drawed stone for cellar drain. Went to sawmill.

(As explained earlier, a drain consisted of a ditch filled with stone, allowing the water a smooth flow through the ground.)

18 April Wednesday

Cloudy, wind east. Jared sowed oats. We set barpost and work in drain.

(The previous year, oats were sown on April 14.)

19 April Thursday

Clear and warm. Work at filling up drain. Heard John H. Olmstead’s wife was dead.

(Maria Whitlock Olmstead, only 30 years old, died that day of  “placenta praevia” – a complication of pregnancy. She and John Henry Olmstead were married Oct. 26, 1859. The Olmstead genealogy indicates she had no children who survived her. John was the brother of Elizabeth Olmstead, who married John Betts Smith, brother of Emily Smith Nash.)

20 April Friday

Clear and warm for the time of year. Finished the drain. Mother went to Jared’s in P.M.

21 April Saturday

Not verry clear. Father sowed grass seed for Jared in forenoon. Emily and I went to the funeral. Rain and thunder towards night.

22 April Sunday

Quite warm and pleasant.

23 April Monday

Rain most of the day, thunder in evening. Father went to Norwalk, come around by Hoyt’s Nursery.

(The previous year on April 8, Father had picked up some apple trees at Hoyt’s, a commercial nursery that operated in New Canaan until well into the 20th Century.)

24 April Tuesday

Cloudy, cold, high wind. Father went up town in A.M. Got stone augers sharpened. Got some cowslips.

(Some boulders were just too big to haul away from a field. A stone auger was a drill for stone, used to make holes into which blasting powder was placed. The blasting will take place May 16. In 1865, the Nashes had their augers sharpened Aug. 18 and blasted on Sept. 1. Cowslips are Marsh Marigolds, a yellow flower of spring swamps. The greens were eaten and the flowers displayed. Many used to exist along Silver Spring Road.)

25 April Wednesday

Cold and windy. Frost in morning. Father got Jared’s team and plowed for oats in potato ground. I planted some peas.

(The Nashes’ planting dates were time-tested; amateur gardeners may wish to take note of some.)

26 April Thursday

Cloudy, cold and windy. Frost this morning. Father finished plowing. I drawed out 12 loads manure.

(The manure, of course, was used for preparing fields for the spring planting.)

27 April Friday

Clear and more moderate. Father sick. I went to Gilbert’s mill with feed in P.M. Heard Francis Church was dead.

(Francis Church was born in Ridgefield in 1821, son of Samuel and Jane Keeler Church. His sister was Esther St. John, wife of Bela St. John, a Wilton farmer who appears in the diary from time to time and was probably related to the family. Francis may have lived in Wilton; his death isn’t recorded in Ridgefield records.)

28 April Saturday

Clear and warmer. Father is better, so we sowed the oats.

29 April Sunday

Clear, high wind. Emily went to church in A.M.

30 April Monday

Clear. Fixt potato ground in orchard. Emily and I got cowslips.

(It must have been a sweet scene as the husband and wife picked wildflowers and greens in a nearby swamp. In the entire diary, Jared mentions only a half dozen things that he and his wife do together; this is one.)

1 May Tuesday

Some cloudy in morning; rain some towards night. Finished ridging potatoes ground and planted some.

(The ground had to be built up around the potato plants.)

2 May Wednesday

Rain all night, snowed in forenoon enough to cover the ground. Cleared off in afternoon. Windy.

(Snow in May must have sent shivers down the spine of Ridgefield farmers. It’s very unusual, yet Jared is rather matter-of-fact about it.)

3 May Thursday

Cloudy, cold and windy. Drawed out manure. John cut bean poles. I went carried them up.

(Beanpoles would support the bean plants in the field or garden. John Smith, Emily’s brother, probably came down to cut the poles from saplings or tree branches in the Nash woods, and Jared took them to John’s West Lane house.)

4 May Friday

Cold and windy. Some frost. Drawed manure in forenoon, planted potatoes in afternoon.

5 May Saturday

Some sunshine, but high wind. Finished planting potatoes. Went up town towards night. Got new hoe and some mackerel. Carried Emily up to stay the night.

6 May Sunday

Clear most of the day. Carried mother to meeting in afternoon. Went up after Emily after support. Our cows all gone, could not find.

(Escaping livestock was always a problem in agrarian communities, for the animals could do extensive damage to crops. For nearly two centuries, the town elected fence viewers, neighborhood officials whose job was to make sure farmers kept their fences in good repair so livestock did not stray. Ridgefield also elected pound keepers whose job was to round up stray livestock and keep them in a pound until the owner retrieved them – presumably, paying a fine for the service. Ironically, Charles Nash, Jared’s father, maintained one of the town pounds along Silver Spring Road near the Wilton line. A pound consisted of a fenced-in area where the strays were held until their owners retrieved them. In the 18th Century, the pound was locked, and the person in charge was called “the keeper of ye pound key.”)

7 May Monday

Clear, some warmer. Father found the cattle. Jared commence to plow our planting ground. Spread manure and got some on garden. Charly weighed 19 ½.

8 May Tuesday

Clear and some warmer. Went in morning and got bill shod down to Bald Hill. Plowed garden. Helpt Monson mark planting ground in afternoon. Jared plowing.

(The Nashes seem to use various blacksmiths to handle different smithing jobs. Bald Hill is in northern Wilton along Route 33 and is where a Methodist Church, used by at least some of the Nash family, was located. Jared probably was helping Munson Hoyt set up a garden or field at the Hoyt farm a half mile north of the Nashes on Silver Spring Road.)

9 May Wednesday

Rain in morning, some broken in afternoon. Father went to Norwalk. Jared finished plowing. Turned [undecipherable] cattle out. Skunk blackbirds come today.

(The skunk blackbird, another name for the bobolink, was so called because of the bird’s solid black front and face, and its white – as well as yellow and black – back. Bobolinks were also called May-birds for their habit of arriving in the North during that month; it was quite a trip, too, for most of them spent the winter in South America. Some farmers, especially in the South, hated bobolinks because huge flocks of them would descend on fields and consume their grain crops. But up north, they tended to be less numerous and more loved, famed for what one writer described as “a bubbling delirium of ecstatic music that flows from the gifted throat of the bird like bubbling champagne.”  Another authority called the bobolink simply “the handsome and rollicking minstrel of the meadows.” Today, they are virtually unknown in these parts because woodland and subdivisions have taken over most of the meadows that they, and other beloved species such as the meadowlark, once frequented.)

10 May Thursday

Clear and pleasant. Father harrowed planting over twice. I went to Bailey’s store, got rope for pulleys. Then work in garden.

(Jared means that father ran a harrow over the ground twice. The harrow used by the Nashes probably consisted of a wood and metal frame with spikes protruding from the bottom. Bill would drag the contraption over the recently plowed planting ground to smooth out the earth, breaking up the clumps of soil. This was the final preparation for planting. Pulleys and rope were used to lighten a variety of tasks, such as lifting heavy bales of feed.)

11 May Friday

Clear and warmer. Work some in garden. Father bushed planting ground. We mark it one way. Emily and I went to church in afternoon. Sold hog to J.N. Olmstead, $16.

(Bushing was the process of harrowing trenches in which the seed would go. This is one of the rare instances when Jared goes to church. And it’s a Friday! The reason for their unusual attendance at church on Friday, May 11, has not been discovered; The Methodist Almanac for 1866 offers no clue.)

12 May Saturday

Clear and warm. Finished marking and planted. Munson helpt in forenoon. Daniel Bennett in afternoon. Mother sick.

(Daniel Bennett lived north of Munson Hoyt on Silver Spring Road. It was typical for even subsistence farmers to have extra help during the busy planting and harvesting seasons. However, in these cases, Bennett and Hoyt were probably not charging for their services. As we have seen in other cases, such as Jared N. Olmstead’s frequent helping with plowing chores, neighbors assisted one another. On May 21, Jared went up the road and helped Daniel Bennett plant his garden. The neighbors probably also shared the fruits of the crops they grew. )

13 May Sunday

Warm, strong south wind. Rain just at night with thunder.

14 May Monday

Clear, cool and windy. Plant in forenoon. Daniel Bennett helpt. Sold my calf to Abram for $8.75.

(Four years later Abram Nash declared insolvency and much of his property was sold to pay his debts. One of the few things that weren’t sold was a cow, probably the one Jared sells him here.)

15 May Tuesday

Clear and cool. Work north of the house in forenoon. In afternoon Father went to Wilton to mill with corn. Got a bbl. flour, $12.

(You would think that the Nashes would be producing all of their own flour, but wheat was not one of their grain crops. Corn, oats, and buckwheat seemed to fill their fields. Thus, Father bought wheat flour at the mill while getting his corn ground for feed.)

16 May Wednesday

Clear most of the day. Work north of house, blasting rock. Emily been sick 2 or 3 days with a cold and Emmie, too.

(They were probably removing rock to expand field or improve the field that was to be plowed May 19. Blasted rock was probably used for the stone fence, mentioned May 18.)

17 May Thursday

Wet in morning. Damp all day. Wind east. Cold.

18 May Friday

Damp. Work some at fence in afternoon. Went up town. Libby come home with me. Mother not verry smart.

(Smart, of course, is used in the sense of healthy. In other words, she was under the weather.)

19 May Saturday

Cleared off in forenoon. Had Jared’s team, plowed north of the house in forenoon. In P.M., drawed off stone from rye stuble. Went to Bayley’s after drops for Mother.

(Though he usually spells it correctly as Bailey’s, Jared for some reason here varies the spelling of the Main Street store. He was picking up some sort of patent medicine for his ailing mother.)

20 May Sunday

Clear and pleasant. Libby and I went to see Aunt Lucy. Mother is quite poorly.

(Mother may have been doing poorly, but Aunt Lucy was worse. She died a week later.)

21 May Monday

Clear most of the day and pleasant. Went and carried Libby up and work in garden in forenoon. In afternoon, helpt Daniel Bennett plant.

(Libby probably went back to Titicus where she taught at the schoolhouse there. Notice that Jared is now helping Daniel Bennett who helped him on May 12 and 14.)

22 May Tuesday

Cold, windy, clouds flying. Planted north of the house. Carried Emily up West Lane and went after her. Get six shad of Abram.)

(American Shad [Alosa sapidissima] was a spring treat, prized for its delicious flavor – sapidissima means “very tasty.” Like the salmon, it is an ocean species that returns to the rivers to spawn. The “shad run” in Connecticut began in early April and lasted through May and provided many farmers with fresh fish. Abram may have caught his shad in the Norwalk River.)

23 May Wednesday

Cold, some frost. Planted garden and work at stone fence on rye stuble. Jared Olmstead from Redding was here to dinner.

(Notice how cold the spring has been. May 23 is late for frost.

(Jared Nash makes it clear that this is not his cousin Jared N. Olmstead, who lives on St. John’s Road. The Redding Jared Olmstead’s connection with the Nashes is unknown. This Jared, who was born in 1793 in Ridgefield, was probably a distance cousin of Jared’s wife through the Olmstead or Betts families.)

24 May Thursday

Cold, frost this morning. Some sunshine. Work on the road. Father sold pig to Linus Northrop.

25 May Friday

Some sunshine, thick air. Work some on road in forenoon, at fence in afternoon. Emily cleaned our bedroom.

(Remember that in those days, there was no highway crew to go around fixing roads. While the town would hire help for major projects such as building new roads or fixing bridges, bordering property owners were responsible by law for basic highway upkeep. Considering the rough winter and the wet spring, and the high water table of the area, Silver Spring Road was probably a muddy mess.

(Coincidentally, the Annual Town Meeting on Oct. 1, 1866, will appoint cousin Jared N. Olmstead and Russell Mead as surveyors of highways for the Ninth School District. These were town officials who checked the condition of roads and could order bordering landowners to repair routine problems.

(Emily has begun full-scale spring cleaning, scrubbing everything. Homes heated with fireplaces or wood stoves were apt to be sooty by the end of winter, requiring some heavy cleaning. However, the diary entry shouldn’t be interpreted as meaning that Emily didn’t regularly give the bedroom a routine cleaning.)

26 May Saturday

Clear, some warmer. Father went to Norwalk. I made flower beds.

(Charles Nash probably went to Norwalk because of the death that day of Mary Jane Olmstead. Born Mary Jane Lockwood in Norwalk in 1830, she married Charles Olmstead, son of William and Clara Nash Olmstead. Clara was a sister of Charles. Mary Jane was only 35.)

27 May Sunday

Rain steady till afternoon, then damp. Thunder shower at night.

28 May Monday

Damp in morning, then some sun. Grew cooler and high wind. Father went after plaster, then we got peabrush. Had word come that Aunt Lucy died yesterday morning.

(Plaster here is plaster of Paris, commonly used then as a soil conditioner, as we use lime today. Peabrush consisted of tree branches, probably ones that had fallen during the winter. Inserted into the garden soil, they provided an excellent arbor or support for the pea plants.

(Aunt Lucy was Lucy Keeler Dudley of Wilton, a sister of Roxy Keeler Nash, Jared’s mother. Born in 1782, she married Major William Dudley, a farmer in northern Wilton. The year before, she had stayed with the Nashes for several days.)

29 May Tuesday

Commence to rain 11 o’clock, rained rest of the day. Father and mother went to the funeral. Mother staid all night. I sprouted potatoes.

(Jared probably spread the seed potatoes on the barn floor to allow them to sprout before planting them.)

30 May Wednesday

Some sunshine. Work at fence in A.M. In P.M., Father went after Mother. I ashed corn.

(That is, he put ashes from the winter and spring fireplace fires on the corn as a fertilizer. American Indians also employed this technique. For instance, ashes were the only fertilizer used by the Powhatan Indians of Virginia when they planted corn. Ashes were also used in gardens to discourage slugs.)

31 May Thursday

Clear, work at fence. Jared commence to plow for buckwheat. Emily cleaned halls.

1 June Friday

Clear. Finished ashing corn and work at fence. Emily cleaned front room. Father went at night up town to pay taxes.

(The year before, Charles Nash’s taxes consisted of $16.51 in property tax and $2.47 in highway tax. Jared’s property tax was all of 95 cents – his only assessable property was a horse worth $75 and a cow worth $20. Taxes were probably the same this year.)

2 June Saturday

Damp in morning, then some warmer. We work at fence.

3 June Sunday

Rain through the day. I do not feel verry well; got some cold.

4 June Monday

Damp & foggy. Father drawed off stone in forenoon. Jared finished plowing for buckwheat.

5 June Tuesday

Damp and muggy. Father went to Bailey’s store, got him coat and hat. Some broken at night.

(It was partly cloudy that night. That fact stood out because the waxing moon was nearly full.)

6 June Wednesday

Shower towards morning, damp and foggy. Father went to Norwalk, carried two pigs. Commence to make soap.

(Soap-making was a spring and late fall activity. In spring, fat was obtained from the scraps left over from winter’s eating; in the fall, leftovers from the slaughtering were used. Ashes from the winter’s fires supplied the lye, the other ingredient in soap.)

7 June Thursday

Cloudy. Carried Emily up West Lane and went after her at night. Plowed to sow corn.

8 June Friday

Clear in morning, some rain towards night. Commence to hoe potatoes. Father hurt his ankle in the woods, so he cannot get around much.

9 June Saturday

Cloudy most of the time. I plow and hoed potatoes. Emily went to the funeral of Oliver Smith’s wife.

(Oliver Smith and his wife have not been identified.)

10 June Sunday

Cloudy most of the day, cleared off towards night. Jared & wife and Hiram Seymour wife called here after supper.

(Hiram Seymour was Jared’s first cousin, once removed. His wife was Margaretta Pike, a Fairfield native who was 60 years old at this point. The Seymours lived on upper Wilton Road West.)

11 June Monday

Clear and pleasant. Finished hoing potatoes. Sanford & Jane come over and spent the day. I set out Dhalias. Father foot getting better, Rany help our folks wash.

(Notice that Monday was washday. Rany is Rany Briggs – earlier identified as “Mrs. Briggs” -- who helps out at the house sometimes.)

(Sanford is Charles Sanford Nash, half-brother of Jared Nash. Jane may be Sanford’s wife or his daughter.)

12 June Tuesday

Clear, hoed corn. Father went to mill with salt.

(“Stir the ground about the garden crops, the beets, the early potatoes, and the corn if it is smart enough to have got up,” said the Old Farmer’s Almanac in June 1872. “Nothing like stirring things up this month.”

(Chunk salt was milled not only for kitchen use, but also for use as an insecticide and herbicide. Salt was also given to cattle.)

13 June Wednesday

Some rain through the day. Went to Geo. Keeler’s afternoon to get a pr. cockeyes.

(Cockeyes are pieces of harness hardware that connect the traces to the collar. George Keeler was a harness-maker whose shop was on Main Street near the Keeler Tavern.)

14 June Thursday

Damp and cloudy. Father sowed plaster on oats. Hoed some in P.M.

15 June Friday

Cleared off in morning. Hoed corn. Rany helpt clean bedrooms. Sold 2 pigs to John O. St. John for $10.

(John O. St. John was possibly related to the Nashes through the St. Johns or Olmsteads – the “O” probably stood for Olmstead. He probably lived in northeastern Wilton, near Georgetown, for he was a founder of the Methodist Church in Georgetown in 1839. He was also an active abolitionist, and was a founder of the Georgetown Antislavery Society, whose creation in 1838 nearly caused a riot – see Notes on Diary People.

(Rany Briggs had helped out at the house last fall when Emily Nash was recuperating from the birth of her son.)

16 June Saturday

Clear and warm. Finished hoeing. Planted south of barn. Work in garden. Fixt poles on fence north of oats. Mr. Holmes and his wife here in afternoon.

(The identity of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes is unclear.)

17 June Sunday

Cloudy through the day, commence to rain in afternoon. Rained verry hard all night.

18 June Monday

Damp in forenoon, some broken in P.M. Emily carried up vest and went to get jacket for Emmie.

(Remember that Emily sews together vests from precut pieces to earn money for the family. Jared undoubtedly meant “vests” here.)

19 June Tuesday

Clear and pleasant. Father went to Norwalk, dug a mess of clams. I do not feel verry well, not able to do any thing. Uncle Ben Sey(mour) called here in afternoon.

(Benjamin Seymour and his wife Eliza lived in Wilton. He was a shoemaker. They had a daughter, Jane, who was about 41. Benjamin was about 70 at this time. Why he is “Uncle” is unclear, but probably has to do with the relationship of his wife, Eliza, with the Nashes or the Smiths.)

20 June Wednesday

Clear and cool. Father ashed potatoes and plastered corn. I feel about the same as yesterday.

21 June Thursday

Clear and warmer. Finsihed plastering corn in A.M. Plowed and sowed some corn in P.M. I feel a little better.

22 June Friday

Clear and warm. We hoed garden in forenoon. In afternoon he work in cellar. Went up West Lane with Emily and up town. Got a trunk of work and money.

(“He” is father. Emily got a trunk of vest parts to sew together and also got paid for past work.)

23 June Saturday

Lowery most of the day. Father carried ½ cord of wood to Nancy Jennings. Then we hoed potatoes. Libby and Hatty Lobdell come here after dinner and staid all night.

(Hatty Lobdell was probably Harriet Lobdell, daughter of Samuel and Harriet Nash Lobdell; Samuel had died Sept. 25, 1865. Hatty’s mother was a daughter of Father and his first wife, Roxana, and thus is Jared’s half-sister.  Nancy Jennings may have been a widow living in Ridgefield; the wood may have been a gift.)

24 June Sunday

Clear and hot. Went and carried the girls up town after breakfast. Emily and I got some strawberries.

(“The girls” refers to Libby Grummun and Harriet Lobdell, who were both in their early 20s. Stawberries were undoubtedly wild ones, still found here.)

25 June Monday

Clear, hot. Mercury 90. Finished hoeing potatoes and commence in the corn. Rebecca & Kate Wells here in afternoon.

(Jared rarely mentions temperatures, especially hot ones. He must have been impressed with 90 in June. The heat wave continues for three days. Interestingly enough, the Farmer’s Almanac of 1866 had predicted “very warm and clear” weather for the end of June.)

26 June Tuesday

Clear and hot. We hoed corn. Our folks went to Jared’s in afternoon. Mercury 89.

(Sounds as if it was too hot for them to work in the fields.)

27 June Wednesday

Clear, hot. Mercury 88. Hoed corn. Light showers at night with some rain all night.

(Cool weather is arriving – note the temperature reports disappear.)

28 June Thursday

Lowery and some rain. Father went to Taylor’s mill in P.M.

29 June Friday

Clear. Finished hoeing corn and work some in garden. Carried mother up to Geo. Smith’s. She staid all night.

30 June Saturday

Clear. Work in garden in forenoon. Show in afternoon. Jared commence to crop for buckwheat. Father went up after Mother and to Gilbert’s mill to get corn ground.

(“To crop” meant to remove old plants from the ground.)

1 July Sunday

Clear & pleasant. Went to church with Emily in forenoon; to meeting with Mother in afternoon.

(This is one of the few times that Jared mentions his attending church – and he does it twice in one Sunday. Roxy Nash, his mother, was a member of the First Congregational Church. Emily and Jared, like Jared’s father, may have been Methodists.)

2 July Monday

Clear and warm. Went to get Bill shod in forenoon. Done chores in afternoon.

3 July Tuesday

Clear & hot. Went to South Norwalk with Emily & children.

(They probably visited family there – perhaps the Quintards – for a pre-July 4 celebration.)

4 July Wednesday

Clear in forenoon, clouded up and rain just at night. Carried Mother to Mr. Holmes’ and Emily up West Lane and went after them. Emily stayed all night on account of the rain. We planted rutabagas.

(Visiting seemed to be the chief activity for the Nashes’ Fourth – picnics may have been involved. But Jared still takes advantage of the weather to get some work done.

(While the diary does not reflect it, either because the Civil War dampened the 1865 celebrations and rain 1866’s, the Fourth of July was a much celebrated holiday in the 19th Century and typically included dances, lectures, special church services, picnics, and – of course – fireworks. Ridgefield had fireworks displays on the Fourth at least by the 1850s and probably much earlier. )

5 July Thursday

Clear and warm. Went up after Emily in morning. Bela St. John and wife called here to dinner. Jared sowed buckwheat. I have got a lame wrist. Father mowed the dooryard. Had our first peas for dinner.

(The late winter and relatively cool spring showed in the pea crop. The previous year, the Nashes were eating their peas by June 24. Bela’s wife, Esther Keeler St. John, was a sister of Roxy Keeler Nash, Jared’s mother.)

6 July Friday

Clear and hot. Mercury 90. Went up town in forenoon. Helpt Emily put down oilcloth in hall.

(Oilcloth was laid down like a rug, serving as a sort of linoleum.)

7 July Saturday

Clear, hot; 95 at noon; 80 at sundown. Father went clamming. Charley weighs 20 ¾.

(Clam-digging was a refreshing, hot-weather activity. The Farmer’s Almanac had predicted “hot and dry” for this period.)

8 July Sunday

Clear, hot; mercury 92. Went after supper up West Lane with Emily. Heavy thunder shower and strong wind just sundown.

(The Nashes lived before the existence of daylight saving time. By their clock, sunset that day was 7:33 – today it would have been 8:33. Sunrise, of course, was an hour earlier, too – 4:36. That means it was starting to get light around 3:45 in the morning! However, time by the clock was not critical to life on a small 19th Century farm, and was only needed for rare appointments, and meetings of church or government. Families generally went to bed not long after sundown, rising with the sun to take advantage of the light and not waste lighting energy on candles or oil.)

9 July Monday

Lowery and cooler. Father went to depot 3 times with ties. Got bbl. plaster and grindstone.

(Father was delivering railroad ties that the Nashes had made in the winter from trees in their woods. Plaster was for treating the fields. The grindstone was for sharpening tools. Father probably used the money gained from the sale of the ties to buy these supplies.)

10 July Tuesday

Lowery in forenoon. Father went twice with ties. Emily went up town in afternoon.

11 July Wednesday

Clear. Mercury 80. We commence to hill corn.

(The Nashes were following an old tradition, aimed at supporting the growing stalks. But some 19th Century farmers did not hill corn. “Corn doesn’t need hilling,” said The Old Farmer’s Almanac in 1865. “The roots run a great ways, and ploughing after the first hoeing is apt to break them badly and do more harm than good. Better get a cultivator.”)

12 July Thursday

Clear and hot. Work at corn.

13 July Friday

Clear and hot; 92, and 85 after sundown. Finished hilling and plastering it.

14 July Saturday

Clear, hot and dry. Commence to mow a little. Amos Smith wife and Libby here in forenoon; then we all went to Jared’s in afternoon. I went up town.

(The season for mowing hay had begun. Libby may have been living with the Amos Smith family while teaching at Titicus School.)

15 July Sunday

Clear, hot, 92. I found a few whortleberries.

(By whortleberries, Jared probably meant what we call blueberries.)

16 July Monday

Clear and hot, 94. Mowed old orchard, got in 2 load.

17 July Tuesday

Clear, hot, 97. I mowed some in old barn lot. We got it in and the rest of old orchard. Father cut rye. Some rain in evening at bedtime.

18 July Wednesday

Clear and hot, 91. Father finished the rye after dinner. We rake and got in 5 shock rye. Then there was a heavy thunder shower.

(A shock was an upright bundle of cut grain plants – in this case, the rye.)

19 July Thursday

Lowery in morning, then clear. Father went down to Norwalk with butter. I went a whortleberrying with Emmie. In afternoon, went up West Lane with Emily.

(Butter was apparently another farm product that the Nashes sold when they had a surplus and a chance.)

20 July Friday

Some sunshine. Mowed some in old barn lot and got in rye.

21 July Saturday

Cloudy & damp through the day. Went up town in afternoon. Emily went with me to John Benedict.

(John Benedict was a farmer who probably lived at the corner of Silver Spring Road and West Lane. He may have been somehow related to Emily or was just an old family friend. He had two wives who were Olmstead sisters. The three of them, plus a child, are buried in the small Seymour Cemetery on South Olmstead Lane.)

22 July Sunday

Not much sunshine. Went to church in A.M. with Emmie. Emily was up West Lane with us and [Mother, Nate? – entry is unclear] went to meeting after supper. I went up after Emily.

23 July Monday

Cool and comfortable. Verry good hay day. Finished old barn lot & mowed some north of old nursery.

24 July Tuesday

Clear and warm. Work at hay north of old nursery. Mowed & got in 33 heaps.

25 July Wednesday

Clear in forenoon, showery and thunder in afternoon. Mowed north of Stephen Lot in forenoon.

(Farm lots were frequently named for earlier members of the family or for former owners. It’s not known who Stephen was or whether that was a given name or surname.)

26 July Thursday

Clear. Finished north of Stephen lot.

27 July Friday

Finished off north of nursery. Laura come down last night and went a whortleberrying. Carried her home at night.

(Laura is Emily’s sister, Laura Smith, who lived on West Lane near Olmstead Lane.)

28 July Saturday

Not verry clear. Mowed west of old barn lot and rake up 22 heaps. Shower before noon and one just at night. Libby come in afternoon, staid all night. Rebecca and Jared here in afternoon for tea.

(Rebecca and Jared N. Olmstead, that is.)

29 July Sunday

Clear. Went to church in forenoon with Emmie. Libby went up with us. Mother went to meeting.

(Jared and his six-year-old daughter must have looked sweet, going to church together.)

30 July Monday

Clear. Work at hay west of barn lot. John Smith’s wife and Laura from Carmel called here in morning.

(These are New York State relatives of Emily Smith Nash, Jared’s wife.)

31 July Tuesday

Clear. Finished hay west of old barn lot and mowed some north of house. Jared cut oats.

1 August Wednesday

Clear. Finished mowing. Clouded up and rain some in evening.

2 August Thursday

Finished getting hay and one piece of oats. Daniel Bennett helpt us in afternoon. Sanford’s folks come over a whortleberrying.

(Perhaps that was Sanford’s his wife, and his daughter, Roxana.)

3 August Friday

Hoed rutabagas. Father helpt Jared rake oats. Went up town with Emily towards night.

4 August Saturday

Clear in morning. Father and I went a claming. Heavy shower just after we got home.

5 August Sunday

Clear and some cooler. Emily & Emmie went to church in afternoon.

6 August Monday

Clear, cool & windy. Work at abutments and set bar posts south oat stubble.

7 August Tuesday

Clear. Carried Emily up West Lane to spend the day. Went after her and went to Bailey’s. Got a new hat & whip.

8 August Wednesday

Clear in forepart of day. Jared cut our oats. Work some in garden.

9 August Thursday

Rain and damp all day. Lockwood Osborn, wife and Mr. Holmes called in middle of day.

(Lockwood Keeler Osborn was the son of Nancy Keeler Osborn and Asahel Osborn. Nancy was a sister of Roxy Keeler Nash, Jared’s mother, and thus Lockwood was Jared’s cousin. Lockwood may have been living in the Midwest, and was back visiting family; his Aunt Lucy Keeler Dudley had died at the end of May.)

10 August Friday

Clear. Got in oats in afternoon. D. Bennett and Jared helpt us.

11 August Saturday

Clear. Went to Gilbert’s mill in morning. Father carried half cord of wood to Nancy Jennings. Got some blackberries. Emily Olmsted & girl spent the day here.

(Emily Olmstead, wife of David Whitney Olmstead, and her daughter, Emily, lived on Olmstead Lane and were probably, like Emily Nash, both seamstresses for the same company, doing piecework at home. It’s interesting that Jared says “Emily Olmsted & girl.” Could he have meant the younger Emily showed up with a child she was taking care of for someone, or does he mean Emily the mother, shows up with Emily the daughter – writing as if she were a small child. She was, in fact, about 31 years old – hardly a “girl” by today’s standards for the word.)

12 August Sunday

Clear and hot. Emily & Emmie went to church in forenoon.

13 August Monday

Rain most of the day. Dug a few potatoes. Father went up to mill after the feed.

14 August Tuesday

Damp in morning, cloudy all day. Father went to Norwalk. I made pr. shoes for Charly and went a blackberrying.

(Those were probably the first shoes for Charly, now age 10 months.)

15 August Wednesday

Rained through the day. Father threshed some rye.

16 August Thursday

Clear, cool and windy. Work at fence in forenoon. Went with Mother to see Libby. She is sick. Charly was quite sick at night.

17 August Friday

Clear. Work at fence in forenoon. Went to Taylor's mill in afternoon.

(This may have been the old gristmill that operated south of Great Pond in the vicinity of today's Stonehenge Inn.)

18 August Saturday

Clear. Work some at fence. Went up and got Mother Smith & John's wife and carried them home again at night.

19 August Sunday

Cloudy, rain towards night.

20 August Monday

Clear. Work at fence north of back lot next to orchard. Father went up to mill. Emily went to Amos Smith's with him.

21 August Tuesday

Clear. Work at fence. Rain some before morning.

22 August Wednesday

Work at fence. Daniel Bennett helpt. Clear most of the day.

(Bennett, who lived up Silver Spring Road opposite the country club entrance, was probably a hired hand. At his death in 1877 he was described as a "laborer.")

23 August Thursday

Scott commenced to thresh and it began to rain and drove us off. Rain the rest of the day.

(Scott was probably a hired hand, perhaps one of the Scotts who lived down by the Wilton line. The year before, Abram helped with threshing oats in late July. Oats fed livestock as well as people. A byproduct of oats was its chaff. Many farmers of modest means slept on mattresses filled with chaff instead of feathers, springs or man-made materials. The chaff would be changed about twice a year and was better than other materials, which usually contained sharp, uncomfortable pieces. “Keep a sack or two stuffed full of oat-chaff in a dry place and then filling is always at hand,” said The Farmer’s Almanac.)

24 August Friday

Clear. Scott come & finished threshing our oats. Our folks went up West Lane & spent the day. Emily went up town. Shower just at night.

25 August Saturday

Clear. We work at fence. Very cool nights & mornings.

26 August Sunday

Clear. Emmie quite complaining with sore throat yesterday and today. Father and mother went to meeting in afternoon.

27 August Monday

Clear. Went up to Doct. for Emmie. Work at stone. Dug some potatoes. Doct. come to see Emmie. She is some better. Hiram Kellogg and a Mr. Nash called here.

(Hiram Kellogg, a Ridgefield native, was a local farmer, and lived on West Mountain Road, just east of Old West Mountain Road. In 1848 at the age of 26, he married Mary Gilbert, 21. His son, Hiram J. Kellogg, was a well-known Ridgefielder of the late 19th Century and served as first selectman in 1888. Apparently the Mr. Nash was not a relative or anyone Jared knew.)

28 August Tuesday

Lowery. Father went to Norwalk.

(It's a shame Jared doesn't tell the purpose of the trip. Perhaps Charles Nash went "a claming" as he will on Sept. 18. Quite possibly the route followed by Charles Nash was simply to head south on Silver Spring Road to Valley Road in New Canaan, and on into the Silvermine district of Norwalk. Silver Spring Road was the northern end of an old and rather straight north-south route between Norwalk and Ridgefield.)

29 August Wednesday

Cloudy & damp in afternoon. Work at stone fence.

30 August Thursday

Clear and hot. Father went up town in forenoon, work at fence in P.M. Mother went to J.N. Olmstead's. Sold two heifers to Amos Smith.

(See July 14, 1866 for Amos Smith.)

31 August Friday

Rain in morning. Fix my boots. In A.M. went up town. In P.M. Emily went to her mother with me.

1 September Saturday

Hot, damp & muggy. Cleaned up oats in forenoon. In P.M. set out strawberries plants. Wind south west.

(Strawberries are not often thought of as an old-fashioned farming crop, but this fruit has been cultivated since the 1300s in Europe. New World strawberries were known as early as 1624 and were sent to Europe. A 17-year-old Frenchman named Antoine Nicolas Duchesne presented King Louis XV with a variety he had hybridized in 1764. By Jared's time, many cultivated varieties were available.)

2 September Sunday

Cloudy, wet and warm, southerly wind.

3 September Monday

Clear. Finished cleaning up oats, then work at fence. Warm and pleasant.

4 September Tuesday

Hot and muggy. Some rain. Made a pr. shoes for Charly, and some fence.

(It was just Aug. 14 that Jared made the last pair of shoes for his son. Either the boy is growing quickly or dad is building up a collection of shoes.)

 

5 September Wednesday

Damp. Sun come out. Hot. Work at fence in forenoon. Went down to auction at Edward Rusco's estate and got Bill shod.

(Bill is Jared's horse. The Rusco -- sometimes Rasco or Roscoe -- family was well-established in Wilton and Ridgefield by the late 1700s and members still live here in 2002. Since there is no Ed Rusco in the Ridgefield vital records, he was probably a Wiltonian.)

6 September Thursday

Clear and some cooler. Carried Emily up to her Mother's in morning, and then drawed off some stone. Went up to Gilbert's mill and brought Emily home. Father commenced to plow stuble for rye.

(Father was probably plowing under the remains of the corn crop so the ground could be planted with rye – which they will do Sept. 13 -- for a fall crop. Rye withstands cold well and its grain was used for bread.)

7 September Friday

Some shine in forenoon, cloudy and rain before night and through the night. Father plowing. Mother sent to Linus Northrop's.

("Some shine" is a pleasant term. See March 2, 1965 for information on Linus O. Northrop.)

8 September Saturday

Clear. Father finished plowing before noon. I mowed weeds in turnip pen. In afternoon, went to mill. Emmie went with me. Libby come home with us.

(A "pen" was probably needed to keep pigs from rooting up the tasty turnips.)

9 September Sunday

Clear. Went and carried Libby up in morning. Went to church in afternoon with Emily & Emmie.

(Sometimes Jared uses the old-fashioned term, going to meeting, as in Aug. 26, 1866, while here we see a more modern phrasing of the activity.)

10 September Monday

Clear and cool. Drawed off some stone and harrowed over ground.

(Jared was probably using the harrow, an implement employed to pulverize soil, break up crop leftovers, and uproot weeds, on the oat fields.)

11 September Tuesday

Drawed out manure & Father threshed in forenoon. Rain in afternoon.

12 September Wednesday

Clear. Father carried oats to A. Resequie. We picked up apples. Jared and I made cider in afternoon. Laura spent the day here. Emily carried her home.

(Farmers had two reasons for picking up windfalls: preventing future damage to apples and avoiding waste. Here’s what the Old Farmer’s Almanac said in September 1872: “It’s about time to pick those early apples. I don’t like to see the windfalls lying round on the ground, for every one has a grub in it that will go into the ground, to come out again in another form next year, to eat your crop as it did this.” Windfalls were perfectly fine for making cider which was the chief use of apples in the 19th Century. Remember, too, that cider then was what we call “hard cider” – it was the beer and wine of the American farm. If the windfalls were really wormy, farmers let their pigs loose in the orchard to eat them.

(Abijah Resseguie [1791-1887] ran the Ridgefield Hotel -- what is now the Keeler Tavern Museum. The oats were probably for feeding visiting horses.)

13 September Thursday

Clear. Sowed the rye and harrowed it over twice.

(Harrowing was also employed to cover newly planted seed.)

14 September Friday

Lowery. Harrowed over with a bush and sowed grass seed in forenoon. Burned weeds in turnip pen. Shower with thunder towards night.

(The grass seed is probably not lawn plantings, but grass that was used to keep the fields from drying up over the winter. Plowed under in the spring, it also became a "green fertilizer." )

15 September Saturday

Clear, cool, NW wind. Jared cut & we rake buckwheat. Emily got a bad cold.

16 September Sunday

Clear and cool. Father & Mother went to meeting in P.M.

17 September Monday

Lowery in morning. Some sun rest of day. Father threshed rye. I done some chores.

18 September Tuesday

Cloudy most of the day. Father and I went a claming. Rain all night.

19 September Wednesday

Cloudy through the day. Emily, Emmie and I went to the fair. Rain through the night.

(This was the Ridgefield Agricultural Fair. In her diary, Anna Marie Resseguie wrote under Sept. 18 to 20, 1866: "Days of our annual Fair; rainy, small attendance, inferior display." The previous year's fair ran Oct. 3 to 6; see Oct. 3 and 4, 1865; this is confirmed by Resseguie's diary. The date may have been moved to September to avoid the possibility of frost's killing or damaging produce planned for exhibit; Jared's entry for Oct. 2, 1865, just before the fair opened that year, reported a "white frost.")

20 September Thursday

Wet & foggy. Father threshed rye.

21 September Friday

Hot, muggy, wet & foggy. Father threshed. I am sick with a cold. Rain in the night.

22 September Saturday

Clear, cool and windy. Father cut stalks. Jared had Bill to go to Florida to pick apples. I am no better.

(In other words, Jared N. Olmstead borrowed Jared Nash's horse to ride over to the Florida District of Ridgefield, where there was apparently an orchard -- probably owned by a relative.)

23 September Sunday

Clear. I feel no better than yesterday. Jared & Rebecca here in evening.

24 September Monday

Some cloudy. Looks like rain toward night. Father went to Taylor's mill in monring; then cut stalks.

(The mill trip may have been to get the rye threshed the previous week ground into flour.)

25 September Tuesday

Cloudy & damp in A.M. Father soled his shoes. In P.M., he cuts stalks. I feel some better.

26 September Wednesday

Rain fast most of the day. Mother sick with a cold.

27 September Thursday

Clear & windy. I feel quite smart. Mother is some better. Father finished cutting stalks.

28 September Friday

Clear. Carried Emily up West Lane to spend the day. Father finished threshing rye.

29 September Saturday

Clear. Dug potatoes north of house & cleaned up rye. Rain in night.

30 September Sunday

Clear. Went to church in P.M.

1 October Monday

Clear. Father went to Comstock store in morning, got corn in P.M. Went down in woods, made hog trough. Emily got swelled face.

(The trough may have been made from carving out a wind-fallen tree found in the woods.)

2 October Tuesday

Clear most of the day. Went in morning to Gilbert's mill, then picked up some apples for cider. Mrs. St. John here in afternoon.

(Gilbert's mill was at Titicus, on Saw Mill Hill Road. The Nashes may have been using the services of the cider mill there -- see Sept. 2, 1865 for a discussion of cider. Mrs. St. John may be Matilda St. John, wife of James R. St. John, or her mother in law, Abigail St. John, wife of Jared N. St. John. See also July 31, 1865 for another St. John possibility.)

3 October Wednesday

Clouded up in middle of day, then cleared off and grew cooler. Dug some potatoes and picked some winter apples.

(Winter apples ripen mid- to late fall, store well, and reach their best flavor after weeks or even months of storage. Thus, they were ideal for providing fruit in the dead of winter. Picking or buying them was a common October tradition in much of the Northeast.)

4 October Thursday

Clear & cool. Dug potatoes. Amos Smith's wife & Mary Ferris spent the day here. Mary staid. Emmie and I went up at night to Gilbert's mill.

(Roxy Keeler Nash, Jared’s mother, had a sister, Mary Keeler, who married Seth Ferris and who died in 1861.  Seth and Mary Keeler Ferris had a son, Stephen Gould Ferris, who was Jared’s first cousin and who married a Mary Ann Beers in 1838.  She would then have been a Mary Ferris, and she lived until 1906 when she died in Norwalk.  Mary Ann also had a daughter, Mary Augusta Ferris.  Mary Augusta would have been married to the Rev. Joseph Woolley by this time, however, since her daughter Mary Emma Woolley was born in 1863.  Incidentally, Mary Emma Woolley – Jared’s first cousin, twice removed -- grew up to be the first female student at Brown University, and later the president of Mt. Holyoke College from 1901-1937.)

5 October Friday

Clear. Froze hard this morning. Dug potatoes. Emily & Mary went to call to Linus Northrop's and around West Lane.

6 October Saturday

Clear and pleasant. Frost. Threshed buckwheat. Shaw and Ed Benedict helpt. Went at night to carry Mary Ferris down to Legrand Keeler's.

(See Nov. 14, 1865)

7 October Sunday

Clear & pleasant, some warmer. Charly is one year old and weighs 21 1/2. Father & Mother went to meeting in afternoon.

(This is a somewhat more extravagant mention of Charly than the four words that announced his birth in 1865.

8 October Monday

Clear and warm. Gathered apples in turnip pen.

9 October Tuesday

Clear in morning, then clouded up. Wind west. Gathered some apples. Father went and carried load of apples to cider mill.

10 October Wednesday

Cloudy. Wind west. Father made cider. I done chores.

11 October Thursday

Some sunshine, but chilly. East wind. Finished gathering apples. Carried Emily up West Lane to spend the day.

12 October Friday

Cold. East wind. Some rain through the day. Cleaned up buckwheat. Made a pr.shoes for Charly. Father hooped a bbl. for Mr. Edmonds.

(That's the third pair of shoes he's made for Charly since Aug. 14. Hooping a barrel involved putting metal bands around the staves. Although he was a shoemaker by trade, Charles Nash was also a farmer of many talents. Robert C. Edmond, a farmer, lived nearby on Silver Hill Road. )

13 October Saturday

Cloudy, with little sunshine in afternoon. Wind NE. Dug potatoes.

14 October Sunday

Cloudy, cold, chilly. North E wind. Some rain in P.M. Emily & Emmie went to church in forenoon.

15 October Monday

Clear. Some windy. Dug potatoes.

16 October Tuesday

Clear & pleasant. Dug potatoes. Emily and I went to Mrs. Hoyt's in evening.

(This is probably Mrs. David Hoyt -- see Sept. 9, 1865.)

17 October Wednesday

Clear. We finished diggin potatoes. Emily went up West Lane and to Edwards, Smiths.

18 October Thursday

Clear, we all went to Sanford's but Father.

19 October Friday

Clear and warmer. Got in stalks. Father went up to carry in his list.

(The "list" may have been his property list, used by the tax collector to figure his local property tax.)

20 October Saturday

Clear, warm and verry pleasant. Gathered some pumpkins and done some other chores.

(Pumpkins were grown not only for family food, but also to feed pigs and cattle. The Farmer’s Almanac in 1876 advised: “Pumpkins are excellent food for cows in the fall. They come too late in the season to increase the quantity of milk very much, but they will improve it in richness and the butter in flavor and yield. They should not be fed too lavishly, especially at first. Fifty pounds of ripe pumpkins per day, in two feeds, could be economically used.”  The 1872 almanac said in November: “Pumpkins are an excellent feed for stock of all kinds this month.”)

21 October Sunday

Clear through the day. Father had quite a sick turn after breakfast.

22 October Monday

Cloudy, strong south wind, rain in evening. Mended Emmie shoes and done chores.

23 October Tuesday

Clear and pleasant. Father and I went to Norwalk & Westport.

24 October Wednesday

Some sunshine, growing colder. Picked some corn. Father went down to saw mill towards night.

25 October Thursday

Clear most of the day. Father went to sawmill in morning. I carried 1/2 cord of wood to John B. Smith. Emily and I went to J. N. Olmstead in evening.

(John Betts Smith was Emily's brother -- See July 16, 1865.)

26 October Friday

Not verry clear, froze quite hard. Gathered pumpkins in forenoon. Emily went up town. Father carried load of apples to cider mill in afternoon.

27 October Saturday

Clear most of the day. Father made cider.

28 October Sunday

Clear & pleasant. Went to church in A.M. with Emily & Emmie.

29 October Monday

Cloudy, strong south wind, some damp in forenoon. Picked corn in afternoon. Went up town just at night. Emily went up West Lane with me.

30 October Tuesday

Rain verry hard after 12 untill 10 o'clock this morning, then cloudy rest of the day. Carried Gilbert's dam off.

(This is a curious entry. According to George Rockwell's History of Ridgefield, the dam serving the Gilbert mill burst in September 1868. Jared's entry indicates Rockwell was incorrect. The fact that Rockwell did not give an exact date suggests he was not certain of just when the so-called Titicus Flood occurred. Here's his description of it from his 1927 history:

(The Titicus Flood occurred in September 1868, caused by the bursting of the dam on New Pond. The Gilbert brothers, Aaron B. and William H., built this dam in order to store water for their mill farther down in Titicus. People predicted that the pond would never fill up. On the day of the cataclysm, Aaron Gilbert had been called away. It was raining in torrents and a great volume of water was pouring over the dam, and William Gilbert went over to look at it, as he had some fears whether it would stand. There was a tremendous rock on the west end of the dam that the Searles brothers, Andrew Jackson and Lyman, who built the dam, had drawn in with a team of oxen. Mr. Gilbert had just returned from an inspection of the east side of the dam, as the thought that end would go first if the dam should break. He had scarcely reached the west side, and was standing upon the above mentioned rock when he felt it teeter beneath him. He jumped off just in time, as the dam at that moment burst at this point, and a great torrent of water poured down the valley. The flood was four or five feet high and it went across the first field at an angle. The few witnesses related that the column of rushing water resembled a tidal wave. As the waters struggled through the broken dam, they fairly leapt. The flood carried away the barn of Bradley Edmond...; also David H. Valden's office which was built across the stream; cleaned out every vat in the tan-yard and deposited boards, timbers, fence rails and skins of half-dressed leather across the flat beyond the road. Charles Smith 2nd lived in the house by the bridge, afterward the home of John D. Nash. Mrs. Smith's mother was downstairs in the basement kitchen baking bread. Her daughter called her, and she came up stairs just in time, for she had barely taken her foot from the last step before the flood carried away the stairs, as it flooded the basement. After the waters subsided, the basement was a sight. Pork, butter, potatoes, lard, were all mixed up together. A singular incident occurred. A basket of eggs was raised by the flood and floated around on top of the water. When the flood subsided, the basket was found deposited on the top stair, which had not been torn loose, and not an egg was broken. One of Mr. Smith's rubber boots was left in the cellar and another was found down on the flat where the waters had carried it. Philip N. Smith, son of Charles, saw the flood coming and rushing out, unhitched a horse that was standing in front of the store. The horse would have been drowned had it remained at the post. The first fence beyond the Smith's was unharmed, while the second fence was completely demolished. Jacob Legrand Dauchy, who at the time lived on North Street, and was an eyewitness of the flood, relates that the waters "roared like an earthquake." )

31 October Wednesday

Clear. We picked corn.

1 November Thursday

Clear, froze some. Pick corn in forenoon. Went to a town meeting in P.M. to dissolve the 13th School District.

(The growth of the village prompted the town fathers around 1850 to create the 13th School District, consisting of the area around southern Main Street, upper Wilton Roads East and West, and included parts of the Center, Whipstick, Flat Rock and West Lane Districts. The schoolhouse, which had 36 students in 1860, was on the west side of Main Street, just north of the Wilton Roads split. The district was informally called the Bell District because the schoolhouse was the only one of 15 in the town that had a bell. In 1865, the schoolhouse burned to the ground, and town fathers were faced with the expense of building a new school – the cost of which would have to be borne by people within the district. The penny-wise Ridgefielders within the Bell District and the four from whom the Bell District was taken felt that the smart move was to dissolve the district and send the kids to the Whipstick, Flat Rock, West Lane, and Center School Districts. Some of those probably needed more “customers” for their schoolhouses anyway. On Nov. 1,  1865, a special Town Meeting voted 17 to 12 to dissolve the 13th district. Some people didn’t like the idea, and there was something about the meeting itself they didn’t like either. Opponent to dissolution petitioned another Town Meeting for Dec. 2 to rescind the dissolution, but that meeting wound up doing nothing. Opponents then threatened a lawsuit. The issue festered for months In October 1866, a group of people who’d favored dissolution of the district petitioned another town meeting, explaining that “a vote was passed [Nov. 1, 1865] which is claimed by some not to express all that was intended in accordance with the call for said meeting, and there being persons who appear disposed to make a cause for litigation which may be long and bitter, tending to destroy the peace that should exist in society, and the causes still existing which make it necessary and desirable that said District be dissolved beyond all cavil, therefore we the petitioners, legal voters of the town, respectfully petition you to call a special Town Meeting for the purpose of dissolving and setting said 13th School District to the Districts from which said District was taken with their lines and boundaries as they were before the formation of said 13th School district, by a vote clear of all legal objections…” Signers included Jared Nash, Jared N. Olmstead, Henry D. Partrick, Robert D. Edmond, Samuel B. Fitch, and Benjamin K. Nothrop. The meeting reaffirmed the earlier action, and the Bell District disappeared.)

2 November Friday

Clear, more moderate. Picked corn.

3 November Saturday

Clear in forepart of the day. Pick corn

4 November Sunday

Clear in morning, then cloudy and chilly. Went up West Lane with Emily and to P.O. Hoyts' girls here in evening.

(Probably David Hoyt's daughters -- see Sept. 9, 1865.)

5 November Monday

Clear & cold all day. Froze hard. Finished picking corn, got in beets.

(Beets, turnips, rutabagas, and cabbages, all cold-hardy, were the last of the "crops" to be picked. They were kept in the cellar and could be eaten through the winter.)

6 November Tuesday

Clear and cold. Got in turnips.

7 November Wednesday

Clear, little more moderate. Finished getting turnips and rutabagas.

8 November Thursday

Clear & moderate. Se {?} up apple tree. Dug dahlias. Helpt Jared butcher a hog.

9 November Friday

Clear and pleasant. Father carried buckwheat to mill. Emily went up West Lane with him. I went after her, carriage rutabagas to Sholes.

(David Sholes; see Jan. 30, 1965)

10 November Saturday

Clear. Father went over to Sanford's in forenoon, then went to mill in afternoon. I trimed rutagabas and got them in cellar.

("Sanford," half brother of Jared, pops up at various times in this diary -- see Jan. 21, 1865, Oct. 26, 1865, Oct. 29, 1865, for instance. He lived in Lewisboro.)

11 November Sunday

Cloudy, cold, chilly east wind. Rain some through the night.

12 November Monday

Not much sunshine. Got apples into cellar & done other chores.

13 November Tuesday

Clear. Got wood in woodhouse.

14 November Wednesday

Clear, some cloudy in afternoon. Father & Emily went to New Canaan.

15 November Thursday

Cloudy and some rain through the day. Rain hard all night.

16 November Friday

Cloudy. Father went to sawmill in afternoon. I went up to Jared's.

17 November Saturday

Clear. Father & Mother went to Pimpawaug and come home by Ridgefield Depot.

(Pimpawaug is what is today called Cannondale in Wilton, located along the rail line; they probably had family or friends there. Ridgefield Depot was the old name for Branchville. It would seem as if Jared's parents took the train back, but it's more likely that Jared is just describing the route they took by horse and carriage.)

18 November Sunday

Some sunshine. Went to church in afternoon and had Charly baptized.

19 November Monday

Cloudy, south chilly wind. Father went to Gilbert's mill in morning, then went again towards night. Emily went up town with him. We fixed around underpinning some.

20 November Tuesday

Some rain through the night. Cloudy & wet in A.M. Broke away at night. I went to Ben Bailey's store in afternoon.

21 November Wednesday

Cold, flying clouds. Father helpt Jared fix his cellar drain. Done some chores and stop the roof or tried to.

(They apparently had a leak. In the weeks that follow, many pre-winter chores are undertaken.)

22 November Thursday

Snowed in forenoon, enough to cover the ground. Then wet and some snow in afternoon. Work at a little waggon for Charly.

(His son is probably just starting to walk, and what toddler -- even today -- wouldn't love to have a wagon to pull?)

23 November Friday

Damp, drizzling, snow through the day. Went up town with Emily in P.M.

24 November Saturday

Clear and froze up this morning. Went with Emily to Norwalk to get her cloth for a cloak.

(See Nov. 30, 1866.)

25 November Sunday

Cold & squally with snow in forenoon. Some sunshine in P.M. Emily & Emmie went up West Lane in P.M.

26 November Monday

Clear and cold. Bank up around cellar. Dug some parsnips. Father helpt J. N. St. John butcher beef in P.M.

(Many old houses had dry-laid stone foundations with little or no mortar. Thus they were leaky. This was fine in summer, when it helped keep the cellar aired out, but in winter, it made the house drafty and cooler. To provide an insulating layer around the outside of the foundation, leaves and other plant waste were banked up against the building.)

27 November Tuesday

Clear and more moderate. Father drawed 3 load of wood. I done chores. We covered up straweberries. Father and I went to Mrs. Hoyt's in evening.

28 November Wednesday

Cloudy, wind SW, not verry cold. Some rain in P.M. We took hog up to Hiram Seymour's. I went to Linus Northrop's, got some morocco for Charly shoes. Father got more wood. I pick turky & some chickens. Heard Capt. Grumman was dead.

(Hiram Seymour lived on Wilton Road West. See June 10, 1866. Samuel B. Grumman, a shoemaker, died Nov. 26, 1866 at the age of 85. A native of south Salem and a widower, Mr. Grumman had been a militia captain at the time of the War of 1812. He lived on West Lane almost opposite Olmstead Lane, and would have been a local neighborhood personality for Emily Smith Nash, Jared's wife, who grew up on West Lane just west of Olmstead Lane.)

29 November Thursday Thanksgiving Day

Damp & foggy through the day. Work some at Charly's waggon.

(Though they no doubt had a feast involving that turkey and those chickens, Jared strangely does not mention anything about the holiday, except in the heading for the day.)

30 November Friday

Rain through the night, cold, squally clouds flying all day. Went up town in afternoon with Emily to see about her cloak, and got a shoe on Bill.

(Apparently, someone is making the cloak for Emily from the cloth acquired at Norwalk Nov. 24.)

1 December Saturday

Clear most of the day and high wind. Father went to Gilbert's mill. Emily  went up West Lane to get a dress fitted. I went after her in afternoon. She left both children home.

2 December Sunday

Clear and pleasant, but cool. Emily went up to Jared's in P.M. She and Father went to Coleman's & Meeker's in evening.

(Francis Meeker lived just up Silver Spring Road, near the spring. Perhaps he was ill, for Meeker was to die of consumption less than two years later, Sept. 8, 1868, at the age of 50. Coleman is Coleman Batterson whose farm was just norther of the Nashes'.)

3 December Monday

Clear and pleasant. Father went to Taylor's mill with buckwheat. Sanford come home with him.

4 December Tuesday

Cloudy, commence to rain just before noon and le {?} blew verry hard most of the afternoon. Broke away in evening. Father went to mill and got buckwheat flour.

5 December Wednesday

Clear and pleasant. We got a little wood in forenoon. Went to town in P.M. with Emily to get her cloak cut. James & Matilda here in evening.

(These are both people that Jared would have grown up with in the neighborhood. James R. and Matilda St. John probably lived on St. John's Road with his father, Jared Nash St. John and mother, Abigail St. John. A farmer, James died Oct. 15, 1896 at the age of 71, making him about Jared's age. Matilda was born Oct. 22, 1827, daughter of Matthew Keeler and Sally Ann Smith who may have lived at the south end of St. John's Road next to the pond. She died on her birthday in 1910, aged 83. Jared Nash St. John was born July 27, 1791 in Norwalk, a son of Silas St. John and Sarah Nash. [This expands information in the footnote under Nov. 1, 1865])

6 December Thursday

Cloudy through the day, rain some in evening. Father went to sawmill, then he and Mother went up to Jared's. I picked some baberrys and made shoes for Charly.

7 December Friday

Clear and warm. Went and carried Emily & children up West Lane and got Bill shod. Father went and carried 3 turkys to G. Haight and brought Emily home.

(George Haight, who died Feb. 15, 1912 at the age of 84, was described in his death certificate as a gardener. He probably worked late in life on nearby estates. In 1866, there was not much if any call for gardeners in Ridgefield for the era of the weathy "summer people" had not yet begun, and he may have been a farmer or laborer. Neither his place of birth nor the sames of his parents were known at the time of his death.)

 

8 December Saturday

Damp & foggy, rain in afternoon.

9 December Sunday

Some sunshine. Emily and Emmie went up to Jared's and 's to see boys. Wet & muddy travelling. Now a days, does not freeze any more.

(The boys were probably babies, but see Dec. 12.)

10 December Monday

Clear and colder. Froze some. Fixt to butcher.

(He meant he was preparing to butcher.)

11 December Tuesday

Clear, cold and pleasant. Mercury 16. Butchered hogs and beef. Abram, Jared and James helpt. Rhoda helpt in house. Went in P.M. carried beef to Jared and J.B. Smith.

(Butchering  was clearly a family and friends affair. J.B. Smith is Emily's father.

12 December Wednesday

Clear & cold. 16. Cut & salted meat. Tried lard & made sausage. Went with Emily to Abram's in evening. His baby is dead.

(Edward O. Nash, five days old, died Dec. 12, 1866 of convulsions. He was born Dec. 5, son of Abram S. Nash, 44, and Sarah A. Gray, 39.)

13 December Thursday

Clear. Mercury 16. Went to Abram's to the funeral and up to Gilbert's mill with feed. Father took care of meat. They tried tallow.

(Used for soap and candles, tallow was made by "trying" or boiling fat from the recently slaughtered animals. Several layers of fatty material formed, and the topmost was the finest -- the tallow -- which was scooped off. Soap was made by heating the tallow with lye and water. Tallow candles were smoking, but cheap and reliable. Beeswax, more expensive, made a finer, less smoky candle.)

14 December Friday

Clear, more windy. Mercury 16. Shelled some corn. Emily went up West Lane and up town. Father hooped a tube for Jared N. Olmstead.

15 December Saturday

Clear and cold. Mercury 11. Father went and carried hide to Valden and over to Sanford's. I cut some wood. We exchance turkeys with James St. John.

(David Harvey Valden ran a tannery at Titicus -- see story of Titicus Flood under Oct. 30, 1866. The hides from the recent butchering were to be made into leather, some probably for the shoes that Jared made, and some probably for sale.)

16 December Sunday

Cloudy, chilly, east wind. Commence to snow at noon and snowed the rest of the day. Damp & made some ice through the night.

17 December Monday

Snowed untill middle afternoon, then broke away in evening.

18 December Tuesday

Clear. Father helpt J. N. St. John butcher hogs in forenoon. In afternoon, he and I went up town.

19 December Wednesday

Cloudy, more moderate. Father got some wood with a sled.

(Since the ground was covered with snow finally, the sled was needed for the first time this season. Farmers often appreciated the snow for such tasks for it was easier to use oxen or horses to draw wood over slick snow via the runners of a sled or sledge than it was to drag logs or use wheeledn carts. Heavy-load jobs, such as hauling large stones, often awaited the arrival of snow to make transporting them easier.)

20 December Thursday

Clear, cold & windy, snow flew. Mercury 16 this morning, grew cold all day down to 3 above at night. Father helpt Jared butcher hogs. We are all most sick with colds.

21 December Friday

Clear and cold. Mercury 4 below this morning, quite moderate in afternoon. Emily went up and Laura come home with her. There was a house burnt up by Ed Northrop's.

22 December Saturday

Cloudy most of the day and moderate. Father went to Hiram Seymour's and got his hog and drove down here. Father went & got some wood in afternoon. Come up damp in the evening.

23 December Sunday

Damp rain in afternoon and through the night. Took snow most all off.

24 December Monday

Cloudy and some damp most of the day. Cleared off in evening. Emily went in morning and carried Laura home.

25 December Tuesday

Clear, not verry cold. Emily went to church. Emmie went up West Lane with her. Boiled up cattle's feet for neats foot oil. Father drove Hiram's hog home.

(As in 1865, the notes under Christmas suggest it was a day of little celebration compared to modern times. Neat's-foot oil was used to preserve leather, such as in shoes. "Neat" is an old word for cattle, so the term means "cattle's-foot oil.")

26 December Wednesday

Clear and pleasant. We cut some wood and brought into wood house. Father hooped for Mrs. Keeler.

27 December Thursday

Rain before day, then snowed all day. Towards night grew cold and blew vevery hard from north all night. Mended Emmie's shoes.

28 December Friday

Not verry clear. Cold and windy. Snow all piled up, verry unpleasing to be out. Work at a pr. of shoes for Emily. Mercury 19 in morning.

29 December Saturday

Clear and moderate. I have a lame shoulder with rumatizm.

30 December Sunday

Emily & Emmie went up to Jared's in middle of the day. Father went to meeting in afternoon. Clear and pleasant.

31 December Monday

Cloudy, wind East. Snowed all the afternoon. Father went over to the Boughtontown store. Jared here in evening.