A Wisconsin farmer's diary, 1872-1878, account book, and letters

Mason, Jeremiah, 1838-1913. Papers, 1861-1878 (diary 1872-78, accounts, and letters).


This diary is typical of many 19th-century daily journals. It was kept by Jeremiah Mason (1838-1913), who came to Wisconsin as a child about 1845. His family was among the early settlers of Fort Atkinson, in Jefferson County. In the early 1850s, they built a log cabin and began farming about three miles northwest of the town in what today is Dorothy Carnes Park. In 1861, 22-year-old Jeremiah enrolled in writing classes and began to keep a diary. For the next 18 years, he faithfully noted the daily routine of life on a Wisconsin farm, his jobs at small factories in town, and social activities around Fort Atkinson. In 1898, Mason moved downriver to Beloit, where he was living with a daughter at the time of his death in 1913. The diary entries are short and precise rather than long and thoughtful, and convey many concrete details about pioneer life in southern Wisconsin.

The diary volumes given here, 1872-1878, total 252 pages. Mason's account book dates only from 1873 to 1876, and deals mostly with accounts for timber sold. The most interesting letters date from 1865 and were written to Jeremiah by his wife Julia while he was away on business. Because the leatherbound pocket notebooks are quite small and Mason usually wrote in pencil, we have enhanced some images to improve legibility. Click anywhere on a page to zoom in.




Related Topics: Mining, Logging, and Agriculture
Farming and Rural Life
Creator: Mason, Jeremiah, 1838-1913
Pub Data: Papers, 1861-1878. Call no. Wis Mss LI in the Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Citation: Mason, Jeremiah. Diary, 1872-1878, account book, and letters. Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1765; Visited on: 12/11/2018