Little Boy Ran Away

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

Friday, July 11, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this morning. We were surprised today, when it was discovered that the little boy had run off.

Road near the Muffly farm.  How farm did the boy need to walk to get home?

Road near the Muffly farm. How far did the boy need to walk to get home?

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

Three days prior to this entry Grandma wrote:

Pa picked up a little boy who is going to work for him. I have to room with Ruth now.

I guess that the Muffly family again had to do all of the farm work. But my heart aches for the little boy. Why did he run away? . . . Was he homesick?  . . . . Was he scared? . .  .Was the work too hard? . . .

17 Responses

  1. Now you have me wondering. Is there more news to come about the little boy?

  2. Such a poignant entry and like you I would love to know the answers to those questions.

  3. Oh no, poor little tyke, I hope there is more news to come.

  4. Aw….I agree with the previous commenters. I hope Grandma keeps us posted…

  5. Oh dear, poor little fellow. Surprised but not worried?

  6. I hope he is safe at his home.

  7. Does “run off” mean the same thing as “run away”? Or does it simply mean he was hiding until your family was gone so he wouldn’t have to work for them ;)?

  8. What strikes me is how enigmatic this diary entry is. The little boy had run off… nothing more?

  9. Helena got her room back!!!

  10. Life was hard for some kids, I hope the little guy was OK.

  11. My Dad and my uncle grew up very poor along with 10 other children on a farm in Kansas. They used to tell me terrible stories of the way they were treated as child laborors. The time frame would have been about 12 years later than your grandmother. However, it was not uncommon for a family with several boys to hire out to a family with all daughters. My uncle told me because he was a year younger than my dad he made 20 cents a day and my dad made 50 cents. If they ate food from the family they worked for it cost them 10 cents out of their pay. When my uncle turned 16, he went to work for the family full time and earned $1.00/day plus the privledge of sleeping on the floor of the barn (both winter and summer) and he could have 1 meal a day.

    • Times have changed so much. Even in the late 50s and early 60s, I can remember a high school student living with the family and attending school during the day and working on the farm in the mornings and evenings.

  12. Hopefully more will be said of him. That was a tough time to be a kid. Or an adult!

  13. I find it a little sad that Grandma does not give his name: or maybe she means ‘little boy’ in an affectionate way? For a teenage girl, small boys might not be very interesting;0) I am as hopeful as the other commenters here and eager for more news. What a great blog you have, Sheryl!

  14. I take it back. You don’t need to write a novel. Your blog is dramatic enough to satisfy even an old story-addict like me!

  15. This is a very intriguing story – could he have been a ‘British Home Child’? From 1869 to 1939 over 100,000 children were sent by social agencies to work in Canada as domestic and farm labourers. An in-law of mine had roots tracing back to this time and has very tough stories of young, orphaned and often totally unprepared children ending up as farm labourers. I wonder if there was a similar program in the U.S.?

  16. Aw. :-/ I hope he was alright.

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