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Writer shares her grandfather’s journal from 1915

On January 1, 1915 Flo Kelly made his first entry in the journal he would keep on and off until 1934. He was 37 years old and had been married for 15 years. He had a wife, Rose, and eight children. He owned a 55 acre farm right outside of Chest Springs. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. Occasionally one of his journal entries included the sentence “Hunted home.” That entry always made me smile. He smoked a pipe, wore a black felt fedora hat, a white shirt and held his dark pants up with suspenders. He was my grandfather.

Almost all of his journal entries started with a summary of the weather.

n January 1, 1915: “A Great winters day. Snowed out fully hard for awhile. Sun would come out and then cloud up and snow more. Not very cold. Drifted the roads full.

n January 7, 1915: “Snow very soft this morning, fields partly bare. Fall grains pretty and green.”

n January 8, 1915 “Bill Conrad here today with bill for telephone, $3.10.”

None of the roads were paved and winter travel was by sled, sleigh or horseback. When the roads were “snowed full” they had to be cleared with shovels. Often they were “one horse wide”.

Air travel was in its infancy. More than one entry says “Saw aeroplane this afternoon.” When an airplane flew over, people stopped in the fields to watch it out of sight.

Dad Kelly’s journal is striking when you think of the sheer physicality of life in 1915. There were no chain saws, and trees were a money-making, heat-generating crop.

n January 4, 1915: Pop and I cut big chestnut, got 4 fine logs out of it, butt log about 5 ft. across, also cut a cucumber, got 2 good logs out of it; rest paperwood.

Cucumber trees, aka “poorman’s walnut” are native to the eastern United States. Today we’d refer to them as Cucumber Magnolia, or Magnolia acuminata.

n January 5, 1915: Got sleds from shop and hauled load of wood. Went for coal in afternoon with sled and Old Maude. Took one and a half bushel of potatoes. Sold potatoes to Company Store for 60 cts. and got bucket of fish.

He made note of world and local news and who was there for supper. Between accounts of daily life, he noted illnesses, deaths and accidents. He used the journal as a balance sheet too — right down to pennies earned and owed.

n January 9, 1915 Looked awfully snowy this morning, but cleared up and was a fine day. A little sharp in the morning. Pop and I hauled 2 logs to Stulz and quit. Too dangerous. Hauled out 5 loads of manure and took 10 bu. corn to town. Kid’s horse Muzz broke sleigh.

n January 13, 1915 Got first egg today for months. Sent Tom Baker $3.58 Co., State and Poor Tax. Also $2.60 on cream separator. Chid’s kid here for supper.

Contact Teresa Futrick at esroyllek @hotmail.com

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