Cow Had Fourth Male Calf

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

Wednesday, September 16, 1914: Born to Mollie, a son, and he’s a big one. While Mollie is very proud of him, I am still prouder, for he belongs to me. This is the fourth calf of Mollie’s family. The others are dead. Snapped a picture of Ruth’s school this morning.

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

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

Mollie was Grandma’s cow. I think that her parents gave each child a cow. When the cow had a male calf, the child got the money from the sale; when it was a female, their personal herd grew.

This was the fourth year in a row that Mollie had a male calf.

On November 20, 1913, Grandma wrote:

My Mollie’s calf over which I have been rejoicing for the past week or two on account of his bigness was sold this afternoon. He weighed 164 pounds. I had figured out a week or so ago that he would just have to weigh at least 145 pounds. Haven’t I something to be thankful for?

On December 27, 1912, Grandma wrote:

 Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56. . .

And, on August 21, 1911, she wrote:

. . . I have decided to name Mollie’s calf Wobbly as he is rather weak in his legs, but he’ll get stronger bye and bye.

It’s surprising that Mollie’s had no female calves. I’m a little foggy on how you calculate the probability, but I think that there is only a 1 out of 16 chance of this occurring.

Climbed Tree to Harvest Grapes

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

Tuesday, September 15, 1914:  Climbed an old apple tree after grapes, and got well scratched up.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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


It sounds like harvesting grapes is challenging and dangerous work. At least you didn’t fall out of the tree.

Old-fashioned grape vines were much larger than more modern ones. I suppose that the apple tree served as a trellis for the grape vine—and that the grapes were Concord grapes or another similar variety with seeds and slip skins.

Household Hints and Tips from Ladies Home Journal Readers

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

Friday, September 11, 1914: Nothing doing.


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

Since Grandma didn’t’ write anything of substance a hundred years ago today, I’ll share some hundred-year-old household hints and tips from the April, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal.  The hints were published in a column called “What Other Women Have Found Out.” It’s basically an old-time version of Hints from Heloise.

The Ladies Home Journal Readers’ Exchange encouraged readers to submit helpful hints; and, according to the magazine “a crisp dollar bill is paid for any idea accepted.”

What Other Women Have Found Out

When Making Muffins or Cakes in muffin-pans or rings, if there is not enough of the mixture for all of the pans you may prevent the empty ones from burning by filling them with water.


When Straining Soup set a coarse strainer inside a fine one and pour the liquid through both; thus you will avoid clogging the fine one with pieces of meat and broken bones.


burlap bag b

Play Aprons for Children may be made most satisfactorily of burlap. An ordinary feed-bag will do. Fold the material at the shoulders and cut a kimono slip apron having a square neck large enough to permit of dropping the apron over the child’s head. Do not seam it, but bind it all around with some bright-colored material and fasten under the arms with large buttons and loops. These kinds of apron require little washing, as the coarseness of the material prevents the dirt from sticking to it. Such aprons will protect the children when playing in the sand or dirt, or making mud pies.


Use a Fork in Mixing Pie Crust and in mixing baking-powder biscuit, if you wish both to be praised for their lightness.


Children’s Collections, however dear to them, are often a great bother to the mother. She dislikes to destroy what the child has taken so much trouble to get together, yet there are few houses big enough to hold all that a child can accumulate. One good mother, who had nearly exhausted all the places she had for storing treasures committed to her care, has two deep drawers made under the framework of an old-fashioned high lounge. These deep drawers the children have in which to keep their collections and no one ever interferes with the contents of them. The house has been much neater and the children are proud of having a special place for their possessions.


Ladies Home Journal (April, 1914)

Almost Half the Pictures Were “No Good”

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

Wednesday, September 9, 1914: The last of my pictures came today. Of the seven that were taken while we were at the Falls, three were no good.

old folding  Brownie camera

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

Poor Grandma– It sounds like a near disaster if 3 of the 7 pictures were “no good.” Maybe the mist (or the lighting) at Niagara Falls affected the pictures.

Even though it hasn’t been all that long since I had a camera that used film, it seems like a vague memory. Some things have changed for the better!

Took Trolley to Montandon

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

Sunday, September 6, 1914:   The whole family spent the day down at Aunt Lizzie’s. Ruth and I went down on the trolley. I took my camera along and had a shot at the crowd in the afternoon. Walked out from town this evening. Felt that I was benefited by my jaunt for I had eaten too many good things for dinner.

DSC03708.cropped b

Grandma would have ridden the trolley from Watsontown to Milton, and then continued on to Montandon. (Postcard Source: Milton Historical Society)

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


What a fun Sunday! It sounds like an almost perfect day.

Aunt Lizzie was a sister of Grandma’s father, Albert Muffly and a previous diary entry indicated that she lived at Montandon. I’m not sure who she married. Montandon is located about 8 miles southeast of the Muffly farm.

Montandon map

Recent map of the area

I’m amazed at all the transportation options that were available in a fairly rural area a hundred years ago. Back then there was a trolley that ran from Watsontown to Lewisburg with stops at several intermediate locations including Milton and Montandon.

Apparently Grandma and her sister Ruth walked a mile and a half or so from their farm near McEwensville to Watsontown, and then boarded the trolley. Probably the rest of the family traveled via horse and buggy.

Quinces for Sale

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

Friday, September 4, 1914: Nothing much for today.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to finally post something I wrote in September, 2011, but never posted. The story is about quinces. At the time I planned to buy some quinces, make some quince jelly, and then include the following story in the post. But I couldn’t find any quinces that year, so I never used the story.

And, in 2012 and 2013, I again scoured farmers markets and farm stands looking for quinces—but never found any, so I again never used the story. This year, I once more haven’t found any quinces, but I decided that it’s a memory worth sharing even if I can’t tie it to a recipe. Here goes—

Grandma never learned how to drive—and after she became a widow when she was in her early 70s, family members took her shopping, to appointments, and to church. Each Sunday my uncle brought her to church in McEwensville, and my family took her home.

One Sunday that stands out in my memory is a crisp, sunny late summer or early fall day when we drove past a weathered house on the way home from church. A woman, whom I’ll call Flora, lived in the house.

Grandma noticed ripe quinces on some small trees in Flora’s overgrown yard, and said, “I wish I had some quinces. I’d like to make some jelly.”

Several days later my mother stopped at Flora’s and asked if she could buy some quinces. Flora never had much money,  and she happily sold Mom a grocery bag full of quinces for several dollars. Mom took the quinces over to Grandma’s and was astonished to see freshly filled jelly jars–jars filled with homemade quince jelly– on Grandma’s kitchen counter.

Surprised, Mom asked Grandma where she had gotten the quinces. Grandma said, “Oh, I walked over to Flora’s and bought them.”

We were amazed that our elderly grandmother had walked two miles or so to buy quinces, and then lugged a heavy bag of them home.

The next Sunday Grandma said, “It’s strange how everyone’s giving me quinces this year. Marjorie [her daughter] brought me some yesterday.”

A few days later we drove by Flora’s house. There were two  large hand-painted wooden signs in her yard that said Quinces for Sale. Three people seeking to buy quinces apparently led Flora to think that there was a market for them—and she probably never realized that they all were for the same person. I wonder if she sold any more after the signs went up.

After looking for quinces for four years now, I wish that Flora and her quinces were still around. I’d be her best customer.

Why Wasn’t Grandma a Teacher?

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

Wednesday, September 2, 1914: It need not be recorded for there is nothing important to write.


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


You sound a little down. Yesterday you wrote that you missed your sister Ruth now that school has begun, and she is teaching at Red Hill School. And, your little brother Jimmie probably also started school—so it’s just you and your parents on the farm.

Your oldest sister Besse also was a teacher before she got married. Did you ever want to be a teacher like your sisters?

You’ve never written anything about seeking a teaching position. . . so maybe I’m letting my imagination run wild. However, you graduated from high school, so it seems like you’d be qualified. What happened? Didn’t any schools offer you a job . . . or did you decide that you preferred to stay home and work on the family farm?


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