On Duty in the Corn Field

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

Thursday, September 25, 1913:  Went to Watsontown this morning. I’m on duty now out in the corn field. The beginning took place this afternoon. Somehow or other I imaged I would accomplish more than what I did. This is an opportunity to earn some money of which I always seem in need.


Last year on the farm where Grandma grew up, there was corn in the field right next to the barn.  Was Grandma working in the same field a hundred years ago today?

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

Grandma, I’m glad you’re earning some money, but exactly what are you doing in the corn field? It’s the right season to harvest corn, so I suppose that you are somehow helping with it.


19 Responses

  1. And what did she spend her money on, I wonder? My great-aunt on 25 Sept 1907, iced a cake which her mother had made and then they went to a ‘social’ with the cake. Her sister sang a solo at the social and they all had a grand time. Not sure if her Mamma went to the social, or if it was just the young ladies of the house. As with Helena, life revolves around the family and church and the small community.

  2. Probably harvesting corn and she’s not pleased with her productivity level. They were paid by what they brought in, not by the hour.

  3. It’s so amazing to imagine your grandmother right there in that field 100 years ago….! Maybe she’ll share with us in a future entry what she bought with her money.

  4. Very moving to see the photo of what may be the same corn field your grand mother worked in. Thanks.

  5. It’s wonderful to see the cornfield where your grandma might have worked so many years ago. Do you suppose she spent her money on catalog shopping? I think you could even buy a house through the Sears catalog then.

  6. Maybe she was supervising hired workers?

  7. As always your blog is a must read for me each day. But today your picture of the old barn and the cornfield is beautiful.

  8. Since she wasn’t given a teaching job, I suppose she had to take advantage of every opportunity to earn some money for herself.

  9. I love the photo today. Is that near you or stock photography? When I travel, I love to capture photos of weathered barns.

  10. That’s a gorgeous barn! I love the weathered wood siding.

  11. Always needing money, isn’t that the truth?

  12. Her phrase “on duty” is puzzling to me. She says “now” so is she writing in her diary during this duty.

  13. […] The previous day Grandma wrote that she was “on duty out in the corn field.”  This diary entry makes it clearer how she was helping with the corn harvest. […]

  14. Oh, look at that!!! How wonderful that this could be the same cornfield Ms Muffly worked in 100 years ago… I love it :-)

  15. Thanks for the photo of the cornfield. I imagine Helena there, with the barn painted bright red….

  16. […] probably actually wrote this entry on the evening of October 8, 1913. She started husking corn on September 25 (14 days prior to this entry). She did not work on either Sunday, and I think that she didn’t […]

  17. […] Grandma was still husking corn using a hand-held corn peg.  She’d been husking corn since September 25. […]

  18. […] Yeah, Grandma! You’ve worked incredibly hard husking corn. 600 bushels is a lot of corn. You began husking corn  about three and a half weeks ago—on September 25. […]

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