100 Years After the War of 1812

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

Wednesday, June 18, 1912:Ma went to Milton today. She bought me an umbrella. Went to Watsontown this afternoon, and some of my money went to.

Recent photo of downtown Watsontown. It’s about a mile and a half west of the Muffly farm.

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

Grandma must have decided that she needed an umbrella after the rain the previous Sunday prevented her from attending Sunday School.

What did Grandma buy when she went to Watsontown?

_____

Since the diary entry is self-explanatory, I’m going to go off on a tangent.

I’m not sure why, but when I see something in the news I often view it through the frame of the diary.

For example,  in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal there was an article which said that the War of 1812 began 200 years ago on June 18. I guess it’s obvious that the War of 1812 occurred 100 years before Grandma’s diary entry–but I’d never thought about it that way before. In other words, the diary was written at the midpoint between the War of 1812 and the present.

I t also made me  think about how the Civil War began 151 years ago (51 years before this  diary entry)—and that War War I had not yet occurred in 1912 (it started in 1914).

16 Responses

  1. I love how your grandmother’s entries stimulate you to think/put into perspective, and research the past. I need to look at a map~ I’ll be driving through PA to visit family in a couple of weeks and may need to make a detour through McEwansville. I know I’ve been to Milton once, if it’s the same one.

    • I’m glad you enjoy the blog. As far as I know there is only one Milton in Pennsylvania. McEwensville only a couple miles off of Interstate Route 80 in the middle of the state. It’s a very quiet, but nice little village.

  2. It makes perfect sense to me that you would view both news and history through the frame of your grandmother’s diary. Her written words make these eras and the events surrounding them seem so much more real … and provide a kind of anchor for looking at what came before and after.

    • You’re right about how it provides an anchor. For example, on the way to work I sometimes walk past the keystone in a building that says 1912. My first thought always is: Wow, that was the same year Grandma was writing her diary.

  3. And I’m glad she got that umbrella! :)

  4. It gives me a whole new view of the world when I think of history through the lens of my ancestors.

  5. You touch on many things that cross my mind when I look at the photos of my ancestors. I’m enjoying your blog immensely since you key it in to all of our lives as you write it in historical terms. Many thanks.

    • Thanks for the nice note. I really enjoy thinking about the historic context that underlies what Grandma wrote in the diary entries.

  6. I really liked you historical timeline perspective discussion today. It is so important to put these details of our ancestors, and ourselves, in proper perspective. Thank you, again, for really neat stuff! ;-)

    • I’m glad you enjoyed today’s post. I find that thinking about where the diary fits on a timeline adds additional dimensions to my understanding of what Grandma wrote.

  7. I think I know where the farm is, one Saturday I will have to do some exploring. I am excited to see the farm and know your grandmother and some of the history. What a treasure you gave me – thanks! Patty

  8. Has me wondering if Grandma or her parents sought out frequent news of national and world events, or if they felt it was too far away to affect them?

    • I can’t think of any instances where Grandma mentioned national or world events in the diary–so my sense is that her family felt it was too far away to affect them.

      That said,–I can remember that when I was a child that Grandma often sat at her kitchen table reading the newspaper. So maybe she had also been interested in the news when she was young.

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