Jettie Short Gardner, my paternal grandmother, used the front part of her Farm Record as a diary for November 1918 – January 1920. The Farm Record itself is full of historic information, such as War Income Taxes, War Stamp Taxes, War Excess Profits Taxes, and others, most of which became effective in 1917 to help finance the U.S. involvement in World War I. Much of the book was intended as a place for farmers to keep track of their expenditures and their receipts.
Grandma’s writing became a bit terse toward the end of these entries, but what a wonderful snapshot of the end of World War I and farm life! It is a powerful reminder of how hard farming was a century ago, how much people enjoyed getting together for meals, and how muddy travel could be before most roads were paved. Watch for the notice that Teddy Roosevelt died.
A lot of her diary is repetitive, and filled with simple tasks like washing and ironing, but it’s almost like a little time machine. She repeatedly mentions the names of long-gone friends and neighbors, and she notes many deaths – a number of which may have been from the “Spanish” flu pandemic. As you read this, be aware that “dinner” is the mid-day meal.