A Typical Day for a Farm Kid a Hundred Years Ago

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

Wednesday, February 26, 1913:  We practiced tonight.

Source: Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (April 1, 1913)

Source: Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (April 1, 1913)

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

Grandma was referring to play practice. She had the role of Chloe, the servant, in the class play.

Here’s my best guess as to what Grandma’s schedule looked like on this date a hundred years ago:

  1. It was probably still dark when Grandma got  up and dressed in work clothes.
  2. Went to the barn to feed and milk the cows.
  3. Came back to the house, ate a quick breakfast, and changed into school clothes.
  4. Walked 1 1/2 miles to  McEwensville.
  5. Attended school.
  6. Walked 1 1/2 miles home after school.
  7. Grabbed a quick snack—and changed  into work clothes.
  8. Went to the barn to do the evening chores (clean the cow stalls, feed cows, milk cows). She may have also fed the chickens and gathered eggs.
  9. Went back to the house and ate a quick supper.
  10. Changed into clean clothes and walked 1 1/2 miles to McEwensville.
  11. Participated in play practice.
  12. Walked 1 1/2 miles home.
  13. Did homework.
  14. Wrote this brief entry in the diary.
  15. Went to bed.

Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about Grandma’s schedule.  I probably don’t have all the details exactly right—maybe someone gave her a ride home after play practice . . . or maybe her little brother Jimmie gathered the eggs. . . or. . . . maybe she didn’t do any homework. . .

But, even if Grandma only did three-quarters of the things on this list (and my gut feeling is that she did most of them),  she had one crazy, busy day.

16 Responses

  1. What no video games? Live was very different back then.

  2. If she was walking six miles a day during play practice time then she was getting some good exercise.

  3. Children today (even us adults) can’t imagine how hard everyone worked back then….

  4. No wonder she wrote such short entries!

  5. oh heavens, the third cow from the right seems to be the originator of “Mad Cow”

  6. Early to rise, work in between, early to bed.

  7. We are so use to zipping here and there and yet I still get behind…good grief if I had to do all this every day I wouldn’t have time for a diary either (or a blog ha).

  8. Another blogger just wrote about all the substitute activities we have to make up for long ago days of walking and lots more physical activity. Now we have gyms and gadgets to emulate what came naturally in the past – like milking cows and walking everywhere. Interesting. :)

  9. I bet she was in great shape… didn’t have to worry about watching what she ate with all that exercise.

  10. Reblogged this on Gail Grunst Genealogy and commented:
    I always enjoy reading her blog and her grandmother’s journal entries. Interesting to read what someone was doing 100 years ago. This is a must read blog!

  11. Now I know why she doesn’t write much – she was too tired! ha ha People were not as soft and pampered as we are today that is for sure. I used to walk app 1 and 1/2 miles to town when I was a teenager and today wonder how I ever did it. Guess you just do what needs done.

  12. I HAD a crazy day too!!!

  13. So intriguing. Thank you.

  14. Reading things like this…makes you thankful for cars. Though it’d probably do me some good to do all that walking back and forth a few days.

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