Had to Get Up Early for a Sunday

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

Sunday, August 23, 1914:  Had to get up pretty early this morning. I usually get up late on Sunday morning. Went to Sunday School this afternoon.

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (March 1, 1914)
Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (March 1, 1914)

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

The trip to Niagara Falls is over, and it’s back to reality. I’m a little confused by this entry.

I have the impression that Grandma and her sister Ruth generally milked several cows each morning. Cows need to be milked at approximately the same time each day—so why did Grandma need to get up earlier than usual this morning?

Here’s my guess, but others may have other more plausible scenarios—

Maybe Grandma and Ruth’s parents gave them “Sunday mornings off” and milked the cows for the sisters so they could sleep in. However, their parents probably did all of their chores (including milking the cows twice a day) while the girls were on the trip. So maybe it was now payback time, and Grandma and Ruth lost their usual Sunday morning off.

What do you think? Does this seem like it is a possible scenario?

28 thoughts on “Had to Get Up Early for a Sunday

  1. I suspect you’re right, but I was just as interested in Sunday School being held in the afternoon. I wonder if that was the custom in rural communities where mornings had to be devoted to ordinary chores as well as worship and so on. Interesting.

    1. In the diary Grandma sometimes went to Sunday School in the afternoon–and other times went in the morning. I’ve never been able to figure it out. My guess is that her minister served a parish with several churches–and that the churches rotated service times on some sort of schedule. The church service and Sunday school times probably regularly rotated between more and less desired times so that members of all of the churches in the parish felt like they were being treated fairly.

      I even did a post on this mystery a few years ago:

      Sunday School Times: Morning/Afternoon

    1. My impression is that the cows in the drawing probably looked more like cows today than the cows on a typical farm a hundred years ago. I got the drawing from an advertisement in Kimball’s Dairy Farmer magazine. This magazine appears to have been aimed at people who used “scientific methods” to farm relatively large farms. I’ve seen many pictures in old local history books (and on other family history blogs) of dairy cows a hundred years ago that looked like they were mixed-breed cows that were all skin and bones.

      1. you make a good point! cows from 100 years ago mostly looked overused and tired didn’t they?

    1. I can remember when I was a teen growing up on a dairy farm, how my brother and I were always swapping chores so that we could do various school activities and trips.

    1. So do I. I agree with you that she couldn’t have foreseen the future, and that she was drifting back to writing in way that was more typical to how she wrote prior to the trip.

  2. Sounds about right, I know if I was mama I would have the girls up early. But I am sure it was worth it. 🙂

  3. I think I agree with you…this post takes me back to when I was a kid, and there was nothing worse than having to wake up early for additional chores 🙂

    1. Sounds like you’ve had first- hand experience with being woken early to do chores. It’s good to know that the scenario I suggested sounds plausible to you.

      1. Very plausible 🙂 Looking back, I think of how great it was to get an early jump on the morning and helping my parents…but at that time I just wanted to sleep in! Wish you a great week Sheryl 🙂

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