Left with All the Milking

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

Monday, December 15, 1913:  Ruthie left for Sunbury this morning, also left me all the milking, but I’m pretty hardened to that.

Source: The History of McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm (Used with permission)

Row 1: Rachel Oakes (middle), Blanche Bryson (right). Row 2: Ruth Muffly (left) Source: The History of McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm (Used with permission)

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

Grandma and her sister Ruth typically shared the milking chore—and when one of the sister’s went somewhere, the other had to do all of the work.

Is there a bit of annoyance in this diary entry? . . perhaps  Ruth missed milkings more frequently than Grandma.

Ruth was a teacher at a nearby one-room school house.  I think that she went to Sunbury to attend a teacher’s meeting.

Schools had longer Christmas breaks back then –and teachers sometimes attended trainings during part of the break. Sunbury is the county seat of Northumberland County, and is located about 15 miles from McEwensville.

Ruth had also  gone to Sunbury in December of the previous year:

Our dearest Ruth left for Sunbury this morning and my heart is rather sad.

December 16, 1912

There is a photo in The History of the McEwensville Schools 1800-1958 of Ruth and the other 11 women who attended a teachers’ meeting in Sunbury in 1913. I’m not sure whether the photo was taken at the December meeting or whether it was taken at an earlier teacher’s meeting in Sunbury that took place in May.

The other two women identified in the photo were Rachel Oakes and Blanche Bryson. Both are mentioned in the diary. They were friends of Grandma and Ruth—as well as teachers.  You may enjoy these previous posts about Blanche Bryson:

Blanche and Margaret Bryson

My Memories of Blanche Bryson Kramm

13 Responses

  1. Yes, I think Grandma does sound a bit annoyed in this entry!

  2. Those teachers look kind of stern. My colleagues today look much more casual.

  3. Do you know if after the milking they had to do other chores such as put the milk through the cream separator? Hopefully the handling of the milk following the barn work fell to someone else or Grandma really would have had an increased workload on her own.

  4. Love the old photo. It does seem that Helena covered for Ruth in milking cows more. Perhaps, though, Helena just doesn’t mention when Ruth did it for her?

  5. She might have felt a little left out, too. Great photo!

  6. I see a trend here :-). Ruthie does that a lot!

  7. What a wonderful picture. I keep finding things like this in my husbands family things with no names. I’m going to make appoint to start naming people in photos so my kids will be able to know who’s who!

  8. Helena says she is “hardened” to being left with the milking. I hope she find time to head off to freedom when Ruth gets back. Hardening should go both ways.

  9. Neat photo–fun to put a face to Ruthie, after hearing so much about her.

  10. Poor Grandma..having to do her sisters work too..milking is hard work. With two milking it went twice as fast and you had someone to talk too:)

  11. Hi. Sheryl. Milking is quite a chore. I tried once and was a dismal failure! Nice to see Ruth’s photo. I wonder what she was thinking as she sat there? Jane

  12. I sense that your Grandmother was extremely annoyed!

  13. That’s a really cool photo to have. Such a same the other ladies are unidentified. I would think their families would love to have a copy of it too.

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