The Minor and Major Players

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, February 23, 1911: We had quite a gathering here this evening. Jake and the senior class were down for supper and to spend the evening. Only the girls staid all night. Besse was out, but she went home shortly after supper was over. Rachel and her brother (I mean her nice brother) arrived upon the scene shortly afterwards. We spent the evening playing cards. I played part of the time. I made some of the most blundering mistakes, you see, I am a greeny. I ate so much ice cream that I got a pain and it was an awful one, but it didn’t last very long. Thank goodness. Well after Bill and that teacher of mine took their departure, we four girls journeyed off up stairs where we talked and laughed for about an hour and a half before we could make up our minds to go to bed. At last we cuddled down to sleep. Ruth slept with Blanche and I slept with Edith, a bride elect. I felt quite honored.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later: 

There are lots of names in today’s posting—some that appear throughout the diary and others that appear in this posting and then quickly vanish from the diary pages. One of the challenges of working on family history is figuring out who all of the people are when many names are mentioned–and sometimes I wonder if it even matters if I never figure out who some of the tangential characters are since they play such minor roles in the story that is emerging. And secondary sources don’t always agree with what is in the diary— Ah, the challenge (and the fun) of working with primary family history sources.

The best place to get background information about the major people in the diary is on the People page. But today I’m going to try to sort out all of the names in this posting:

Grandma’s sister Ruth was a senior at McEwensville High School and she apparently invited the teacher and entire class out to dinner. (The entire class probably had 6 or 8 members. There were 6 people in Grandma’s graduating class two years later.) Jake–Grandma referred to him as Jakie in previous postings– was the teacher. I don’t know his last name. As I mentioned in a previous posting, according to Leon Hagenbuch in his History of McEwensville, Howard Northrop was the teacher during the 1910-11 school year—I sure can’t get anything close to Jake out of that name and I want to guess that the information in the History is incorrect but I could be wrong.

Besse is Grandma’s oldest sister. She was married and must have come just come to help with the party.

The Rachel mentioned in this entry is Rachel Oakes. She lived nearby and was a friend of Grandma and Ruth. Rachel must have been a little older than Ruth because in 1911 she was the elementary school teacher at McEwensville. Based on later entries Rachel had at least two brothers: James and Alvin. Both are mentioned several times in the diary and apparently were close in age to Grandma and Ruth. I’m not sure which one was the “nice brother” who was a member of the class of 1911.

And, based on other diary entries I’m guessing that the Bill in this entry referred to Bill Gauger. He later married Ruth.

Both Blanche and Edith must have been members of the senior class. Blanche refers to Blanch Bryson. She is mentioned only two or three times in the diary–and always just in passing. She apparently was not a particularly close friend of the Muffly girls.

And, I don’t know what Edith’s maiden name was, but a little later in the diary she marries Harry Reynolds. Edith is mentioned several times over the next few months and then her name disappears from the remaining diary pages. Soon after her marriage she apparently moved into a different circle of friends that probably was made up of married couples.

4 Responses

  1. [...] Grandma, her sister Ruth, Blanche Bryson, and Edith (last name unknown—but she married Harry Reynolds in April, 1911) had a sleep-over  (see yesterday’s posting). [...]

  2. [...] I’m amazing how often the Muffly family had ice cream. This is the fifth time they’ve made it since the diary began on January 1–ice cream was previously mentioned on January 22, February 8 (and it was banana ice cream on the 8th! I’m amazed that bananas were available in rural Pennsylvania), February 12, and  February 23.  [...]

  3. [...] Other diary entries indicated that Edith (last name unknown) was planning to marry Harry Reynolds. I assume this is the upcoming wedding that Grandma is referring to. Edith and Grandma’s sister Ruth were both seniors at McEwensville High School. [...]

  4. [...] as I thought. Grandma did sometimes write a diary entry the following day.  For example, on Feb 23 she had written about going to sleep and then the entry on the 24th talked about waking up. It just [...]

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