Old Halloween Costumes

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

Saturday, October 4, 1913:  Still working for wages.

DSC06562.cropResplendent in a flowing costume of gauzy marquisette studded with stars is the “Queen of the Night.” The dress is the empire design, with a tulle ruffle at the low neck and a drapery of transparent material falling from the shoulders in the back. Paper stars may be bought in various sizes.

Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

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

Grandma was still helping with the corn harvest. As she worked,maybe she dreamed of making an awesome Halloween costume.

Here are some costumes that appeared in the July, 1912 issues of Ladies Home Journal. (The pictures showed patterns that the magazine sold—and they apparently wanted to give people plenty of time to sew the costumes.)

pink.witch.costume.1912Divested of the traditional black garments of the traditional witch, the rosy-hued costume envelopes the make-believe witch in a gown that has the power to charm that may prove irresistible. Black cats cut from black crepe paper are used to ornament a simple shirtwaist dress and a peaked cap with strips of paper or ribbon on the dress.

cowgirl.costume.1912A dashing broncho girl is picturesquely costumed and armed with a deadly weapon and cartridge belt, and holding a lariat with which to bring into submission all potential victims.


DSC06563.crop.2The brilliant colorings suggestive of the aboriginal American’s war dress are strikingly developed in the Indian girl costume. The dress is a one-piece princess design and may be made of russet-brown satin, the conventional trim being either hand-painted or developed with white and colored muslin patches.

Whew, some of these costumes (and the descriptions of them) won’t be considered appropriate today. But  some things never change–it’s interesting how the description of almost every costume indicates that the woman wearing it will be attractive or charming.

Note: I included two of these pictures in my October 31, 2012 post—but they are so good I just had to share them again this year.


Fireworks Dangerous According to State Fire Chief

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

Friday, July 4, 1913: Wasn’t much celebrating done at this house today. I saw a balloon go up or rather I saw it after it had gone up. Saw a few fireworks this evening, but that was at a distance.

Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 2, 1913(

Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 2, 1913)


Says Care Should Be Taken to Safeguard Life and Property on the Fourth

The department of the state fire marshal at Harrisburg has issued the following Fourth of July proclamation:

The Fourth of July, which is and should be a day of patriotic rejoicing has become a day of apprehension and terror to all persons who have any concern for the safety of life and property. It is a day when fire departments in all cities and towns are generally kept on the run. The people have not yet learned the significance of the day in its highest and best sense. They have not yet learned the noise is not patriotism. Other countries show their patriotism in a more quiet manner with considerably less loss of life and property and this country in the earlier days celebrated the Fourth of July by the unfurling of the stars and stripes, a salute of guns, ringing of church bells and patriotic songs and speeches. . .

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

Sounds like Grandma had a pleasant and safe 4th.

A hundred years ago many leaders thought that electric light displays could be a modern replacement for fireworks. You might enjoy reading this post I did last year:

Are Fireworks  Old-Fashioned?

Memorial Day, 1913

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

Friday, May 30, 1913:  Went up to McEwensville this morning as I planned to do some time ago. There wasn’t any band and not so many people. Wanted to go to Watsontown this afternoon to see the cemetery, but didn’t have anyone to go with. After thinking it over I decided to go as I believed I would feel miserable if I staid at home. The slippers I had on made me awful tired and began to wonder how I would get myself home. The problem was solved when I got a chance to ride where-upon I considered myself quite fortunate.

Was the McEwensville event held at the cemetery or at the Community Center?

The brick building in the background once houses McEwensville School.


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

A hundred years ago Memorial Day was always on May 30. In the 1910s it was an important holiday with lots of parades and celebrations honoring aging Civil War veterans.

It sounds like the day got off to a rocky start, but ended nicely. Did Grandma wear the new dress that her mother made? Who brought her home from Watsontown? . .. . anyone interesting?

At the Watsontown Cemetery, did Grandma put the wreath she made the previous day on the grave of her paternal grandparents?  Her grandfather, S.K. Muffly, died when she was very young; but her grandmother, Charlotte Muffly, died in 1905 when Grandma was 10. What were Grandma’s memories of her grandmother? . . . Did she miss her?




Or maybe Grandma put the wreath on the grave of her aunt, Mary (Muffly) Fienour, who died the previous summer. (In the obituary Mary’s last name is spelled Feinour.) Mary is buried next to her mother (Charlotte).


Mary Feinour Obituary. Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 19, 1912). Click to enlarge for easier reading.

Mary Feinour Obituary. Source: Milton Evening Standard (July 19, 1912). Click to enlarge for easier reading.

(The fourth gravestone in the group, is the stone of Grandma’s uncle, Samuel Muffly. That stone won’t have been there in 1913–he didn’t die until 1930.)

Mother’s Day Celebrated a Hundred Years Ago

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

Sunday, May 11, 1913:  Mother’s Day. Went to Sunday School this morning. Managed to while away the time for I didn’t go any place, because I didn’t.


Source: Milton Evening Standard (May 15, 1911)

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

According to Wikipedia, Anna Jarvis organized the first modern Mother’s Day celebration in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia to honor mothers and motherhood. Ms. Jarvis promoted the holiday, and it soon spread to other places. It became an official US holiday in 1914.

It’s surprising how quickly Mother’s Day caught on throughout the country. Grandma considered it important enough to mention in the diary in 1913—only 6 years after the first celebration of Mothers Day.  And, the local newspaper, The Milton Evening Standard, had an article about it two years earlier.

No Valentines

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

Friday, February 14, 1913:  Cupid didn’t send me any valentines. Didn’t feel very well this morning.

My dearest sister was going to a box social, and then didn’t go because no one came for her. I’m glad I wasn’t going for then I would have been disappointed.

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

Grandma didn't get any, but here is an example of a nice 1912 valentine postcard.

Hundred-year-old Valentine Postcard

I bet Grandma wished that a special guy had sent her a valentine like this one.

February must be the month for box socials. Grandma and her sister Ruth went to one the previous week-end.

Poor Ruth—it’s hard to be stood up. (Maybe I should be looking at this from Grandma’s perspective and feel happy—but I can’t help feeling bad for Ruth.)


Grandma’s matured a lot. In 1911 and 1912 she was really into sending ugly valentines–sometimes called vinegar valentines–to people who annoyed her; but in 1913 she never mentioned them. You might enjoy these posts  from previous years:

Anonymous Comic Valentines

Valentines: The Good, the Bad, and the Horrid

Bought Some Vinegar Valentines

Sending Ugly Valentines

Lincoln’s Birthday

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

Wednesday, February 12, 1913:  Whose birthday is it? I heard that question asked today. Knew it before anyway. Was weighed today. Not very pleasant news. It was a pound more than last time, but I owe some of that to heavier clothing.

At last we have our subject to write upon. Titled the American Revolution. Wonder if I could get the gold piece. At least I intent to try and do my best.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

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

A hundred years ago two presidents’ birthdays were celebrated in February. Lincoln’s birthday was on February 12 and Washington’s on February 22– though Lincoln’s Birthday never was an official federal holiday.

In 1971, the observance of Washington’s Birthday was shifted to the third Monday in February as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The Act did not change the name of the holiday, but it is now commonly referred to as Presidents Day in honor of both presidents.


On January 28, 1913 Grandma wrote:

Our teacher made such a wonderful proposition today. It was made to our class. The one who writes the best essay on a given subject is to receive a two dollar and a half gold piece.

At the time I’d assumed she just failed to mention the essay topic, but apparently it took the teacher half a month to come up with the topic.  . . .strange. . .


An aside—Whenever I gain a pound, I also owe some of the gain to heavier clothing. :)

Old Year (or New Year) Skulking Around the Straw Stack

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

Wednesday, January 1, 1913:

Greeting for January 1st 1913

Happy New Year Day

Hail the new year with all gladness,

Let us welcome it today.

For the joys it brings are many,

And its sorrows will not stay.

Now to make good resolutions;

Ones that we will never break,

Crushing down our weaker spirit

We should do this for our sake.

I would like to make a resolution

One that I would never break,

But the weaker spirit dwells within me,

And I’m doubting what to take.

Saw a rabbit this morning. Perhaps that was the new year come to welcome me. I fancied I saw either the old year or else the new year skulking around the straw stack, when I went out to milk this morning. It wasn’t quite day light so maybe that accounts for it.

I would like to resolve that I will study more this year, but I’m in doubt to whether my will power is strong enough. However I think I will at least make an attempt.

New Years Post Card, circa 1912

New Years Post Card, circa 1913

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

This blog is now at its halfway point. Grandma kept this diary for exactly four years—she began it on January 1, 1911 and the last entry was on December 31, 1914.

When I began posting these entries on January 1, 2011, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to this point.  But I’ve had a wonderful time doing this blog.  I love doing research and finding materials. And, it’s been wonderful re-connecting with relatives and making many wonderful new friends.

I now fully expect—knock on wood—that I’ll post the last dairy entry one-hundred-years after Grandma wrote it on December 31, 2014.

It’s been a wonderful two years—and I look forward to sharing the next two years with you.



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