Joel Kimball Diary - July 1874


Wednesday, July 1, 1874

"Logged and worked at boat today, pretty dirty work, still it is joyful, I want this very good.

"I think the thunder makes me nervous, don't you?

"Called at Decker's and got new three tined fork. Mother went to Julia's."

Joel Kimball

The severe heat wave has been broken by violent electrical storms, bolts of lightning flashing across the skies followed by heavy rapports of thunder. The reports of lightning strikes throughout the area, some being fatal, were numerous, one coming from a farm on Shandelee that disproved the old theory that lightning never strikes the same place twice.

The Johnny Darling farm sits high atop the hill called Shandelee, so high as to be in the midst of the rolling clouds of brewing thunderstorms. Most folks agree that the booming sound of thunder from these storms follows the cloud's electrical discharge of its overcharged fluids, but on Shandelee, high up in the center of the storm, thunder can often precede the flash of lightning, sometimes giving warning to dangerous strikes to come. A few years back, as a storm played over to the Darling farm, Johnny heard the clap of thunder coming from his pigpen. He quickly dashed into the sty to retrieve his two hogs when, just as he herded them into the barnyard, a bolt of lightning struck the pen, shattering the little building to splinters.

With the advance warning made by the thunder, Johnny and other residents of Shandelee were always one step ahead of the dangerous flash of lightning, but that all changed with the coming of the Midland railroad, with its ribbons of iron-rail tracks [see June 9th]. With Wednesday's approaching storm, Johnny was at the ready for any quick action he may need to take. Lightning flashed well off in the distance and by the time he heard the accompanying thunder, Johnny knew the storm was still miles away, when all of a sudden a bright flash enveloped the farm. Overcoming the temporary blindness caused by the sudden brilliant illumination, Johnny saw that the pigpen was again struck, this time killing both of his hogs, but the lightning did not come down out of the sky but traveled up from the ground to the pen. The lightning Johnny saw in the distance struck the newly laid railroad tracks at Cook's Falls following the iron rails for ten miles until it reached Mott's Flat, where the newly discovered coal seam was being worked along the hillside of the Frankie Beach farm, a slim vein of it exposed along the railroad's dug way. The lightning jumped into the coal seam, burning its way underground into the hill beneath Shandelee. When it reached just below the Darling farm, the lightning shot up to the surface, unfortunately right at Darling's hog pen..... - Fred

Thursday, July 2, 1874

"Logged some, rained some, fixed boat some, hoed some, got wet some, rode in boat some, saw Wm Wager some, set ruta turnips some, ate some, drank some, thundered some, and now I will sleep some.

"How is this for some."

Joel Kimball

According to the area's newspapers, it must have been some thunderstorm on Thursday. Somewhere, areas were hit hard with some damage while areas someplace else were in someway left unaffected. Someone reported damaging hail, some being still the size of marbles some two hours after the storm. Somebody's shade trees were somehow uprooted during the storm and orchard fruit somewhat damaged. Someday these vicious storms will cease but that would not be for sometime yet; something in Joel's diary says so. - Fred

Friday, July 3, 1874

"Worked on hill sowing buckwheat and harrowing, rained some."

Joel Kimball

Working in the "bark woods" was dangerous, and on occasion deadly work, particularly this past week. Working on peeling bark during the ferocious early-summer heat on Monday, Pine Bogart, popular woodsman from Downsville, was working in the woods above Cook's Falls. The same hemlock sap that lubricates the tree-trunk beneath the outer layer of bark, allowing the bark to "slip" off easily, leaves a slick, slippery residue on the remaining stub. Bogart had hemlock logs stacked atop each other, the bottom lengths already peeled as he worked on peeling the top member. Almost completed at this chore, the top log slipped off of the pile, causing Bogart to fall from and between the logs, being crushed and sliced in two.

Yesterday, John Elwood, from Cook's Falls, was in the same vicinity falling hemlocks, preparing them for the job of bark-peeling, when the tree he was chopping down became lodged onto a neighboring tree. While working of the second tree that the first one was lodged against, they both suddenly gave way, allowing Elwood little time to get out of the way from underneath the falling timbers. Both fell on top of him, breaking his neck and crushing his skull. - fred


Saturday, July 4, 1874

"Worked on hill, finished sowing buckwheat. Rained in afternoon. Went to depot in evening, pretty dull Fourth."

Joel Kimball

Though the larger, neighboring communities of Monticello, Jeffersonville and Port Jervis celebrated the holiday with lavish ceremonies, the Fourth, as noted by Joel's diary entry and the lack of any engagement with the Westfield brass band, seems not to have been so glorious at Morsston and Westfield Flats. In fact, it turned out to be a sad day for Joel and his neighbors as Lewis Smith finally succumbed from his injuries he received from the earlier hayfield accident.

The fifty-three-year-old Smith, originally from the Parksville area, purchased the Robert Sheeley farm, a mile below and across the river from the Kimball place, in 1870 and was known to be a partner with the firm of Smith & Stewart, hay-pressers. Local farmers who had surplus hay to sell often would have the hay baled, hiring an outfit with a portable, horse powered hay-press. As hay is being fed into the baler, the horse would be led around the rig, operating a plunger that would screw down and compress the hay to as much as one-eighth of its original volume. Besides the machine's operators, family members and neighbors were needed to round out the working crew, to load the hay into the rig, tie up the bale, remove the bale and handle the horses. During the haying season, Smith & Stewart traveled from farm to farm with this unique machine. - fred


Sunday, July 5, 1874

"Done chores and went to depot, stayed until afternoon. Went to Morsston, called at Benton's and found no one at home. Called at D's. Came home in evening.

"Climate rainy and disagreeable."

Joel Kimball

Leaving Morsston Depot, Joel continued on past the old tannery community of Morsston, up the Dahlia Road toward Fox Mountain and the Benton family farm. The family's father, George Benton, had recently died the previous year, leaving his wife, Nancy, to cope with raising their eight children and in the midst of a national recession, the family was struggling to survive. Sixteen-year-old Joseph Benton, the second oldest son, took on the responsibility of providing for his younger siblings, abandoning his schooling and working out as a laborer, starting with wages at fifty cents a day. If anybody could bring this family up from poverty, the energetic, industrious and self-reliant young Joseph would surely be the one. With the haying season begun, Joel was in need of assistance and no doubt visited the Benton's for that purpose, but as he mentioned, no one was at home. - fred


Monday, July 6, 1874

"Worked at boat some and hoed in garden. Weather warm and pleasant.

"Mother went to Munson's and stayed all night."

Joel Kimball

"Mother went to Munson's" was a common entry in Joel's diary this spring, and for good reason. Julia, Joel's sister, and Dave Munson were expecting their first born and today Julia gave birth to a baby boy. He would be named Ray. - fred


Tuesday, July 7, 1874

"Thomas Collins came over with his horse and helped plow my corn and potatoes. Got them done about four o'clock. I hoed some.

"Thomas Collins due 1/2 days work with horse."

Joel Kimball

He may have lied about his age when he enlisted with the 101st NYV at Hancock, but Thomas Collins wasn't able to lie on why he returned home so soon, now being branded as a deserter. He wasn't the first to desert, nor would he be the last, but throughout the late spring and summer of 1862 Collins agonized over his earlier decision to leave the army. When the recruiters for the newly organized Sullivan Regiment visited the town in August, he re-enlisted. Again Thomas, being the ripe old age of fifteen, had to lie about his age, again endure the tedious basic drill at Camp Holly near Monticello and again endure the drilling and picket duty when the regiment was positioned at Washington D.C. to guard the capital, but this time not as a fifteen-year-old wide-eyed youth but now as a fifteen-year-old army veteran.

With the regiment's first military campaign on the peninsula of Virginia in April of 1863, Thomas saw military action for the first time but not with particularly heroic results. Under the blistering summer-like heat, Collins was overcome by sun-stroke and hospitalized for the next thirty days. - fred


Wednesday, July 8, 1874

"Went on the hill and cut fence around line between myself, Col Moore and Billings. Set out rutabaga plants. Rainy and damp."

Joel Kimball

The long Hammond celebration at Monticello on the occasion of Hannah Hammond's wedding to the Reverend Henry Harlow had finally ended and her brother and his wife left by carriage to return to their home and tannery business at Debruce. When approaching Liberty Falls, somehow the buggy overturned and both Stoddard and Caroline Hammond were ejected. Though Caroline escaped relatively unscathed, Stoddard was somewhat battered and bruised, though the injuries were not serious. - fred

Thursday, July 9, 1874

"W H Vernooy came to help me, we went on the hill and cut fence around buckwheat and peeled two trees. Weather some rainy.

"W H Vernooy, one day."

Joel Kimball

... After Johnny Darling finished telling the story about the confrontation between Shandelee lightning and his pigs, as usual many of the folks who gathered around to hear the tale doubted whether any, or all, of it was true. "Yes, we can understand that the electrical charge would follow the railroad tracks," they snapped, interrupting Johnny in mid-story, "for we had just read about that very fact in the Liberty Register. We also know of the coal mine being worked on the Beach place maybe allowing the lightning to burn its way underground, but how can you truthfully explain how the lightning worked its way back to the surface underneath your pig-pen?"

A quizzical looked passed over Johnny's face for a split-second, but then, just as quickly, his cunning smiled returned. "I guess I just plum forgot to mention to you fellows about my garden," Johnny responded. "You see, my two hogs provided the sweetest manure that you ever saw, so sweet that when I spread it over my garden, all my vegetables prospered, growing so large that it took all my efforts to gather them. In the fall when I harvest my carrots, I usually need to yoke my team of oxen to pry them out of the ground. Apparently, I dropped a carrot seed near the pen, and with the unlimited supply of that sweet manure from those two hogs, the carrot grew so big that it just kept on expanding down through the soil into the bedrock and right into that seam of coal. Well, as it turned out all along, the hog manure was the real culprit for my lightning problems. Being so sweet, it just naturally attracted the lightning, usually down from the sky but in this case, it came up from that seam of coal, through the manure filled carrot, right to the sty. Now I'm sure going to miss my two hogs and my lavish garden, but I surely will not miss those Shandelee lightning bolts. - Johnny Darling


Friday, July 10, 1874

"Wm H Vernooy and I commenced to hoe potatoes and corn. Shower came up and we left. Uncle Billings and Aunt Kate called with Uncle Frank Fish, got Billings to help and we finished hoeing, found some potato bugs.

"Wm H Vernooy, one day.

"B G Hodge due side leather."

Joel Kimball

The Vernooy farm was on the crest of the hill-top valley known as Little Ireland. The twenty-four-year-old William Vernooy remained on the farm, assisting his father both on the farm and lumbering, but also worked out as a carpenter; also helping his neighbor. fred

Saturday, July 11, 1874

"Very rainy day, did not work much, made one whiplash. Went off to depot in afternoon and to Old Morsston, got scythe stone. Called at G. D., found butter tub returned at depot. Came home in the evening.

"Paid W H Vernooy, $2.00 cash."

Joel Kimball

With the Midland Railroad beginning to open other avenues for revenue, an express freight train was recently added on the line, carrying dairy products from upstate to the New York City market. This special train ran on Tuesdays, leaving Norwich at eleven in the morning, picking up tubs of butter, cheese and cattle along the route and arriving at Middletown by six o'clock that evening. From there, the produce was transferred over to the Erie Railroad, reaching New York City early the following morning. The railroad delivered these products in rapid fashion, and returned the butter tubs likewise; unfortunately, payment for the goods was not done quite so speedily. fred

Sunday, July 12, 1874

"Stayed home all day, very rainy day. Read Shakespeare's King Henry the Sixth, found it quite interesting. River raised until there is quite a freshet. H and H E Rose went down to run their lumber. I went up and helped milk their cows. Saw Dave St. John riding in a sulky."

Joel Kimball

The spell of rainy weather, which began on the Fourth of July, has raised the level of the rivers enough to allow lumbermen to attempt to send their colts down river. These summer freshets were often unpredictable, the creek's sudden rise can just as easily drop as quickly, leaving many a raft stranded along the riverbank.

The Hiram Rose farm was the largest of the small farms on the flats below Purvis Post Office. As a result, aside from the areas devoted for pasture and meadows, larger areas were able to be devoted for feed and grain crops, such as four acres put into oats and ten acres put into buckwheat. Their large woodlot, consisting of about one-hundred acres, not only provided a source of lumber but also had numerous sugar maple trees, which yielded large quantities of maple sugar and maple molasses. The Roses also maintained a collection of beehives, the only in the neighborhood, which produced two-hundred pounds of honey in 1874.

The type of livestock found on the Rose farm in 1874 suggest they practiced animal husbandry to some extent, having three bulls which produced five heifers. The four milk cows that Joel took care of during the absence of the lumbermen were particularly productive, producing six-hundred pounds of butter that year, well over the quantity produced with the like number of cows on neighboring farms. Perhaps the variety of these cows were Jerseys, noted for the higher content of cream in their milk. - fred

Monday, July 13, 1874

"Went up to J W Davis' hotel, Morsston, to meet commissioners of excise. Granted license to Mr. R Dodge and Joe Green, John F Sherwood applied by R D Kniffen.

"Sent papers to Irwin. Wrote to Cyrus Gray. Paid 30c for dinner and 10c for postage.

"Abe Mosier came back to work for me at $10.00 for one month and $6.00 for the remainder of the time until winter.

"Town of Rockland due for one day, 2.00
"Due paper, 10."

Joel Kimball

The Board of Excise met once again at the Livingston House to hear applications for those wishing to acquire a license to sell intoxicating beverages. The two hotels at Westfield Flats, Green's and Dodge's, were quickly granted their licenses but such was not the case for the proprietor of the old Purvis Hotel.

For the past four years, the Purvis Hotel had become a favorite haunt amongst the area's lumbermen, rowdies and scoundrels, the effect on them of whiskey from this establishment being a major source of the community's woes. Hard-drinking by these hard-working and hardly-working men led to numerous head-cracking brawls and other harmful misbehavior. Prominent residents of the growing community of Morsston Depot called upon the board to resist the granting of a license to Jack Sherwood's "rum-hole." - fred

Tuesday, July 14, 1874

"Commenced haying, mowed around the house, drew in two small loads. Very good hay-day.

"Went to post office in evening and read paper.

"A Mosier, one day."

Joel Kimball

After the rainy spell during the past two weeks, where it rained or showered most every day, summery weather has returned and Joel, lagging behind on cutting his fields due to the weather and lack of help, now began to make hay while the sun was shining. He was able to induce young Ave Mosier to return back to work for him, increasing his wages, although still meager, at least during the haying season.

Since Joel had been cutting the timber and clearing the hillside behind the Kimball farm, he has increased the hay-meadow acreage on the overall farm to thirty acres. This increase of meadow now produced more hay than he needed, allowing him to sell-off the extra in the late winter and early spring, when his neighbors' hay supply was running low [see May 2nd]. Fred

Wednesday, July 15, 1874

"Worked in hayfield all day, drew in one load. Weather very fine.

"Riley Brown came to work for me, wanted one dollar per day. I agreed to pay if he could earn it.

"A. Mosier, one day."

Joel Kimball

Joel enlisted the help of another young fellow with the hiring-on of Riley Brown. The seventeen-year-old Riley Honor Brown was the son of William Brown, the family moving to Purvis from the Town of Liberty, the father being a sawyer at the mill. Working with wood would run in the family as his sons, including Riley's older brother Josiah C. Brown, would become noted carpenters at Livingston Manor, responsible with much of the construction within the community during its quick development during the latter portion of the century. Fred

Thursday, July 16, 1874
"Mowed some in the morning and as it rained, quit and did not mow any more today. Went on the hill and piled and peeled some bark.
"Riley Brown came and worked one-half day.
"I went to the flats in evening and practiced on horn with G R Green, came home in the night.
"Abe, one day."
Joel Kimball


Lewis Smith, the unfortunate hay presser who became entangled underneath the wheels of a hay wagon, was laid to rest in the quiet burial grounds behind the Baptist Church at Parksville. Smith had married the daughter of James Lord who owned a farm on the Breezy Hill section, between Old Morsston and Parksville. Just six months before the accident, Lewis purchased a portion of his in-law's property and had recently taken up residence there.
The burial stone erected in Lewis' memory notes that he is buried alongside his son, Edward L Smith. Like Thomas Collins, Edward joined the ranks of the 143rd Regiment at a very young age, and must have been with the regiment as it marched with General Sherman's army as it campaigned through the Carolina's at the end of the war. In fact, Edward may have been one of the last casualties of this conflict as he died in a hospital in North Carolina months after the ending of hostilities and the mustering out of the 143rd. Unfortunately, except for the following cemetery inscription, it appears as if Edward's sacrifice, along with his family's grief, may have all been forgotten for there are no records found within the regiment's history that include the young fellow. All that remain of Edward's life story are the few words carved into the family stone; fred
Edward L Smith
Member of
Co. G., 143 NY Vols.
Died at Raleigh, N.C.
August 15, 1865
Age, 17 years & 5 months
Friday, July 17, 1874

"Worked all day in the hayfield, drew in two loads.

"Riley Brown, one day

"Abe, one day."

Joel Kimball

For the past week, amongst the stars in the evening's sky, shown the unusual spectacle of a bright heavenly body with the nebulous stream of light trailing behind. Becoming visible within the northern sky following the last rays from the long summer's day, the show put on by this comet marveled observers, but for many, the spell of its ghostly glow only raised superstitious fears.

It was generally believed that comets were the precursor of misfortune or calamity, a belief that was intensified by the local newspapers. Articles from these tabloids noted that on the eve of the recent Civil War, two large comets were observed in the night sky, facing in opposite directions as if ready to collide with each other, symbolizing the tragic events that were soon to come. Memories of the ill-effects and suffering from this war during the previous decade were only renewed by these sensational stories. fred

Saturday, July 18, 1874
"Very good hay day. Drew in four loads, did not leave any out. Read letter from Nevil and Liberty Register.
"Abe, one day.
"Riley, one day."
Joel Kimball

Johnny had been wandering the hills and valley for a long, long time. His beard, which he was known to wear rather longish in his later years, was longer than usual and his old home-made clothes were now well worn and tattered. His gait, which had been known to be spry and quick, was now slowed a bit by the passage of years, with him now relying ever so much more on his favorite walking stick. As would be expected after such a long time, his mind was now a jumble of memories, unknown images that somehow looked familiar and a mosaic of imaginary tales, all mixed together as if they were scattered about and scrambled-up during a Shandelee windstorm, leaving him unsure of even who he might be. Though he recognized the places where he had wandered, he really never knew where he was; that is until today when the sound of sweet fiddle music off in the distance stirred up something magical within his mind, and his heart, luring him out of the forested hillside and into the increasingly familiar looking valley and town.
The path he followed was not the dusty wagon road he traveled so many times before but now a macadamized street, but today, as he was fast on the scent on the trail made by the fiddlers' musical notes, similar to his old upside-downside hound dog on the scent of a raccoon, his vision now saw not only what is, but also what he was now beginning to remember. There were more buildings than before and few remained from those earlier days, but still he began to recognize the old town. He passed the Hotel Davis and the image of that young clerk who drafted and filed his mortgage papers when they first tried to take his farm away from him came into his mind. The street's railroad crossing was no longer, but still he waited at the former site, as if an imaginary express freight train had stopped at the depot, temporarily blocking the crossing. Further down the street, he came upon Alvin Dubois, the new merchant in town, crossing the side-street from his store to his new home, in the company of the young tinsmith, showing him the addition being built on his home that would soon become the village's hardware store. Just before the bridge over the Little Beaverkill, no longer Doc Livingston's  rickety log and plank ramp that always creaked and sagged with the slightest burden of weight that passed over it, he came upon the River Street wagon-maker  coming up the road from his shop, taking a test ride on a newly fashioned wagon, his young son riding alongside the father.
As Johnny neared the "Island", where Jack Sherwood had only just begun holding entertainments, camp meetings, dances and horse races, he could hear that the music was accompanied with the sounds of merrymaking and laughter from an old fashioned frolic. The dance floor was filled with the allemande lefts and do-si-dos of square dancers, and as Johnny's aged legs began to twitch with the rhythm of the dancers, he remembered that he used to be known as the best square dancer around, and when he wasn't dancing, he was known as the best caller around. Then came on the dance floor a dandy, finely dressed in a tall silk top hat and long black coat with tails, who called himself the Honorable Lawrence Hall McAvoy. Well, Johnny had no recollection of that name but when he eyed the gentleman up and down, from the top of his top hat to the soles of his boots, he exclaimed; "Well if that isn't Esquire Purvis, than I'm not Johnny Caesar Cicero Darling." And with that statement, Johnny's memory had now completely returned. .....   fred
Sunday, July 19, 1874

"Very warm, pleasant day. I went to Sunday School and church at Purvis. Called on Wilber Denman at store. Called at A.E. Davis', came back and called at Wall Davis', did not see L. - saw Geo. H."

Joel Kimball

Wilbur was the twenty-one year old clerk at the store of Divine, Dubois & Company. The young salesclerk's family resided at the Thunder Hill section in the Town of Neversink, where after receiving his formal education, Wilbur began a career as teacher, in charge of the one-room school house at Divine Corners. He immediately discovered that he disliked being schoolmaster, telling his father that he would "rather raise potatoes on Thunder Hill than teach school."

Wilbur's father had an interest in the "Co." of John Divine's mercantile business at Ellenville and with his influence, he was able to secure a position for his son within the firm. When Divine became partners with Alvin Preston Dubois, among others, forming the above named firm, they recognized the potential effects the newly built Midland Railroad would have on the growth of the communities along its line, and began its first business venture in the village of Purvis with the opening of a general merchandise store in 1873. Young Wilbur was chosen by the firm to take on the duties overseeing the store's daily transactions. - fred

Monday, July 20, 1874
"Weather looks stormy. Mowed in put up 19 locks. Wrote to Irwin Hodge. Called at post office.
"Abe, one day.
"Riley, one-half day."
Joel Kimball

After wandering about the Catskills all these years, Johnny Darling now knew he was on the right trail back to his home. The frolic that was being given in his honor jogged his scattered memory back together and he became his old self, reminded of all those people and places and, of course, the stories. He remembered that folks use to gather from near and far to hear his tales about mountain lions, his unique farm and Shandelee fogs, and here they were again, listening to the Honorable "Squire Purvis" McAvoy retell these long-forgotten stories as intently as if Johnny himself were telling them. Johnny, having taught at the local one-room school, always enjoyed telling his tales to the children so he paid particular attention when the children performed their skits featuring the Darling tales. When one of the boys forgot his lines to the Darling story he was reciting, Johnny quickly dashed behind the stage, unseen by the audience, and whispered the missing words to the story just loud enough for the frightened lad to hear, giving him confidence to finish the story.
The frolic had all sorts of people there; there were beekeepers, who had bees in the hive and honey in jars, as well as honey in the hive and bees in jars; there were maple tree tapers, with syrup, maple taffies and rock candy; there were spinsters, no doubt of both varieties, and quilters; and there was plenty of watermelon, jams and home-baked goods to satisfy all. Near the back of the crowd, two young ladies caught his attention, both of whom seemed to look awfully familiar to him. "Why," Johnny thought, "if I didn't know better, I'd swear that those girls are my granddaughters!" And that they were, but on some great grand dimension that when he was told on how great they were, Johnny lost count.
On the table before the girls were photographs; pictures of the Darling family and places from his old stomping grounds on Shandelee. One old photograph caught his attention, an image of a rustic cabin, with a long porch along its front whose roof shaded the empty chairs sitting underneath. Johnny studied the picture long and hard until his attention turned to the picture next to it. It was a likeness of himself, a time when he was much younger and his whiskers much shorter, and next to him was his one true love (that is besides telling stories), his wife Martha. It's been well over one hundred years since Johnny had any yearnings, but now, seeing Martha's image in front of him, he yearned fiercely to get on along back to his home, and he always knew that, he being Johnny Caesar Cicero Darling, when he set his mind on something, he could do anything....
The last mellow sounds of the bluegrass tunes were being strummed as the folks at the frolic were gathering up their bees (fortunately none escaped), syrups and yarns (of both varieties), everybody glad for the good time they had had. As the Darling girls of some great grand dimension were putting their pictures back into the family albums, one of them noticed something unusual within the photograph of the cabin. There on the shaded porch of the cabin, the image's empty chairs were no longer empty, for now Johnny and Martha can be seen sitting in them, surrounded by little children, who seemed to look awfully familiar to the Darling girls. - fred
Tuesday, July 21, 1874

"Weather looks stormy. I went up to post office and rode to Old Morsston with H Robinson. Called at D's and could find no one. Sent note to L by E Grant. Came home and mowed some."

Joel Kimball

Beneath the spreading cedar trees located at the middle of the old cemetery behind the Methodist Church is the small headstone of a child. It is that of Arie Oakley, the young child of the River Street wagon-maker, John Oakley, who died this morning. The family had just celebrated his lad's fifth birthday only six days ago. - fred

Wednesday, July 22, 1874

"Worked in hayfield all day, drew in two loads. Weather pretty fine.

"Riley, one day.

"Abe did not come back."

Joel Kimball

The latest term of the county court held at the Sullivan County Courthouse, Monticello, was begun on Monday of this past week when proceedings were opened to hear arguments and file motions concerning legal conflicts that were presented before the presiding judge, T.F. Bush. One case involved Bishop VanGaasbeck, the blacksmith at Purvis Post Office, who also served the township as Overseer of the Poor. Laws enacted by New York State in 1824 made counties of the state responsible for maintaining a county-run institution to provide care for its less fortunate citizens or those individuals who have become unruly. As overseer, VanGaasbeck's responsibility was to make recommendations before town justices that would allow those who qualify admittance into the county poor-house.

The case brought before Judge Bush was submitted by the guardian of "Jas. Brown" in opposition to the actions made by VanGaasbeck when performing his duties as overseer. Though little information is further discussed within the local newspaper's review of this court's proceedings, the probable scenario may have involved the solicitations of a begging child. Under the 1824 statute, town overseers were allowed to take any child under the age of fifteen who was found begging on the street or soliciting door to door, and place him or her into the poor-house. It would then be the responsibility of the child's parents or guardian to prove that they would be able to provide for the child before being released back into their custody. Whatever the scenario, the Judge decided the case in favor of Brown's guardian, securing the release of the child. - fred

Thursday, July 23, 1874

"Riley and I worked at haying, finished mowing out the flat and drew in two loads. About three o'clock I went to C Motts and got rig and went to depot and to D.'s. L and I went down to Geo Hunters to the dance, had a very pleasant time.

"Paid #3.50 for D
"Discharged Abe
"Riley, one day."

Joel Kimball

Going on a date with Elizabeth Davis, Joel was going to do it in grand style, with the assistance of Cyrus Mott, Liz's brother-in-law. Utilizing Mott's horse and carriage, Joel went up to Captain Davis' at Old Morsston [see June 7th and 14th] to pick up his daughter to take to the dance. Cyrus was well-known as a "horse-man", owning a one of the finer horses in the area that he would show off at local race tracks, and in most cases, bringing home the day's winnings. Being all dressed up [both the horse and Joel], the horse with its fancy harness and handsome carriage must have made a fine impression as the young couple enjoyed the night on the town, the dance being held in George Hunter's Blue Fish Hotel at Westfield Flats [see May 29th]. - fred

Friday, July 24, 1874

"Arrived home about 8 o'clock and milked cow and pitched off load of hay. Riley mowed some on the hill.

"R one day

"Paid Cy 1200

"Received $11.22 for butter from D.W. & Co."

Joel Kimball

Joel was getting home kind of late from last evening's date with Liz Davis, or perhaps he got home early to begin his chores. Just what time the young couple arrived at her parents home is unknown, Joel's not going to tell, or whether Captain Davis was waiting up for them to return. No doubt, there must have been some logical explanation for the dilemma, though Joel never mentioned the reason, yet.

Joel's early morning chores would begin with the milking of the family's four cows, whose rich and creamy milk produced 400 pounds of butter throughout the year of 1874. Packaged in small wooden tubs, butter was picked up by the express freight promptly on Tuesdays, heading for markets in New York City. Unfortunately, often the only prompt return upstate farmers received from these city merchants was the telegraphed reply; "Hold on, send the money soon." Payment for butter, during these early stages of the Midland railroad's use of handling dairy products, was delayed for as long as up to two months. - fred

Saturday, July 25, 1874

"Worked all day on the hill, drew down one load and put up fourteen bucks. Weather cloudy.

"Riley, one day.

"Settled with A Mosier and paid him $3.95 in full."

Joel Kimball

Abe Mosier has ended his second term of employment with Joel. Perhaps he did not like the hard work during haying season; maybe he found employment elsewhere; or maybe he wasn't fond of the discrepancy of wages between Riley Brown and himself. Making $3.95 for six days of work was considerably less than the one dollar a day promised to Riley when he commenced working for Joel. - fred

Sunday, July 26, 1874

"Went to Buck Eddy with H E Rose, saw Thos Seeley in the saw mill. Jay Morton came along and I rode to Geo Hunter's with him, found Cy Mott's halter and came up railroad track to Mott's and left halter.

"Heard of the death of H Davis' boy.

"Came home and done chores.

"Weather cloudy and some rain."

Joel Kimball

Apparently the excuse the young couple of Joel and Liz Davis, who returned from Thursday's date at a very late hour, gave to her skeptical father as to why they were so late coming home from the dance, the horse's harness disappeared while they were at the hotel, was true after all. Having borrowed the horse and carriage from Cyrus Mott, Joel took immediate responsibility for the harness' disappearance by reimbursing Mott the twelve dollars the very next morning.

The mystery still remained as to why the harness disappeared to begin with. Was it misplaced by the hotel's stable hands? Was it mistakenly switched with other rigs' apparatus when the couple left for home? Or did it simply walk off in the hands of some mischievous person. Whatever the reason, Joel will never say in his diary, only that he returned to Hunter's hotel at Westfield Flats and was able to locate the missing article and immediately return it to its rightful owner. - fred

Monday, July 27, 1874

"Took tub of butter to depot and shipped to Fleming Adams and Howe, weight 55 lbs. Came home, Arthur Dodge came with me. I got him new scythe at D D & Co., price 10.

"R Brown, 1/2 day

"A Dodge, 1/2 day

"Arthur Dodge due for one grass scythe, 10"

Joel Kimball

Anxious over the delay of payments for the dairy products sent out on the railroad, farmers began looking for city merchants who would be more responsive in the matter of reimbursement. Joel began shipping his butter tubs to the mercantile company of Fleming, Adams & Howe, of New York, importers and wholesale grocers. The partners of the firm were young businessmen who began their eventual successful careers as lowly grocery clerks, when in 1867, while still in their twenties, they organized the partnership.

Working in the summer hay fields was hard, and hot work. Since horse drawn mowing machines were still a rarity in the township [the first mowing machine that was documented to be in the town was in the summer of '74 and credited to be owned by Samuel Darbee of Westfield Flats], cutting of hay was done by the laborious swinging of a scythe. Arthur Dodge, who began working for Joel, had the benefit of using a new, sharp bladed scythe, newly purchased from the Morsston Depot merchants of Divine, Dubois & Co. - fred

Tuesday, July 28, 1874

"Rainy day, worked one-half day, drew in one small load on the hill and started to cut some more. Called at post office and received paper.

"Riley, one-half day

"Arthur, One-half day"

Joel Kimball

The second mystery in regards to Joel's entry into his diary on Sunday where he writes; "heard of the death of H Davis' boy", is the identity of the Davis family. Little has been found concerning this event for the records were either not kept, have not survived or have yet to be uncovered. At least three "H" Davis families were in the vicinity during this era; Hiram Davis at DeBruce, Henry Davis from Shin Creek and Horace Davis, originally from Old Morsston.

Throughout the course of the year, Joel has visited with various members of the Old Morsston Davis family, for pleasure and business, on numerous occasions. With this familiarity to the family, Joel may be referring to Horace Davis, cousin to Elizabeth, Joel's companion to last week's dance. Horace Davis was a mason and plasterer who now resided at the East Hill section outside of Youngsville. There is no account of the the boy being from this family, nor from from any of the other Davis families, nor are there any marked grave locations within cemeteries at Youngsville, Livingston Manor, Parksville or the Lew Beach area. The boy, in death, has become anonymous, and may forever remain so. - fred

Wednesday, July 29, 1874

"Rainy day, did not work in hayfield any. Arthur and I played euchre in the barn a short time. After noon, went to Decker's, called at blacksmith shop and commenced to make eel spear. Went to Burnt Hill perch fishing. Stayed until nearly one o'clock, caught 65 catfish and one eel and one pickerel. Very good time."

Joel Kimball

The comet of 1874 has finally vanished from the evening's sky, leaving many in wonderment as to what role this blazing phenomenon had on the happenings which were occurring back on earth. As noted in earlier entries, many of Joel's daily jottings recorded, and were confirmed by local news accounts, numerous episodes of local violent weather, ranging from powerful electrical storms to severe downpours of hail. These events were by no means limited to the Northeast, for throughout the country extreme weather conditions became a regular occurrence during this period. Storms of such strong ferocity would blow foliage off of trees and leave no window unbroken along its destructive trail through the nation's midsection. The hail of lightning strikes in the Midwest was particularly dangerous, with both loss of life and property. To the other extreme, frost was widely reported throughout the month of July. When the night-time sky cleared itself from clouds, showers of another sort came crashing down to earth, as meteors flashed across the heavens with many reported surviving their free-fall and striking the ground. some of these hot chunks of metal being recovered.

There was no lack of theories as to the cause of the unnatural frequency and severity of these climatic events, the comet being put to blame by many of the scientifically challenged but highly opinionated newspapers scribes. The comet's tail, according to these reporters, was made up of electrical ether. When the electrically charged body neared the earth, electrical charges would either recharge or disrupt the earth's natural electrical field, thus producing events such as those that occurred during the spring and summer of 1874. As the comet's glow disappeared from the night's starry picture, so did the newspaper's astronomical commentary, especially since another newsy story of considerable scientific value began to catch the public's attention. - fred

Thursday, July 30, 1874

"Very good hay day, worked on the hill and drew in two loads.

"Russia is the chief producer of platinum or white gold, worth 70,000 per pound.

"Riley, one day

"Arthur, one day"

Joel Kimball

Joel has seem to taken a keen interest in metallurgy, the probable result of the newspaper articles beginning to fill the pages of the eastern tabloids that excited the nation into a gold fever not seen since the surge of Forty-Niners during the Californian gold-rush. An army expedition, led by the flamboyant "General" George Custer, left Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory during the early summer of 1874 to explore lands under treaty with the Sioux Indian Nation, particularly the Black Hills, where gold was rumored to have been discovered. Riding along with the cavalry were a small army of scientist who explored and studied the natural resources found throughout the trip, miners who explored for gold and reporters who dispatched reports documenting the expedition's progress and findings to the newspapers back east. By the 31st of July, Custer's expedition was camped deep within the midst of the Black Hills when the miners reported to have found gold in streams and the soil near the army's base camp in such quantity as to soon generate excitement among folks back east and send a new wave of prospectors into this sacred Indian territory. - fred

Friday, July 31, 1874

"Rather dull morning, commenced mowing and weather cleared off and we had pretty fair day. Drew in two loads and put up 18 cocks. Called at post office in evening and got yarn for set line of JDWM Decker's.

"Riley, one day

"Arthur, one day"

Joel Kimball

The rainy days of early July had raised the level of the river, allowing lumbermen to raft lumber down the Delaware River to the lumber wharfs of Philadelphia. Many rafts originated from the waters of the Beaverkill and were piloted for Spencer Rockwell, the Westfield Flats merchant and lumber dealer, who left today on the Midland train for Philadelphia to negotiate prices for his lumber stockpiled there. - fred