Monday, June 26, 2017

Diaries of Elsie Newell and Joseph Combs

The History Center has several albums and diaries in their collection.

Elsie Newell kept several diaries of her life from 1947-1981.  

A daily farm diary was kept by Joseph Combs from December 1882-November 1883. This recording of his daily life was written in pencil in an almanac, given away by Fremont Frazer of Bridgeport who was a dealer in drugs, chemicals and other patent medicines.

Freemont Fraser, the druggist in Bridgeport, was a young man about 29 years of age and son of Dr. David Milton Fraser, a well- known and much loved physician in that town.  Freemont, or Mont as his friends called him, died in a terrible accident while he was in his store alone filling the lamps in the afternoon of February 23, 1884. In some unexplainable manner one of them exploded, completely covering his clothing with burning oil and enveloping him in flames. He died 12 hours later.

Joseph Combs, the author of the diary, was born in 1858, and married Fannie Eshelman in 1882.  In the notes written throughout the year of 1883 Joseph frequently mentions going to “dad Eshelman’s, helping Sam, and visiting mother.”  Since this was written early in his marriage, it seemed he was establishing his new home in the vicinity of other family members and was intent on farming to provide for his family. On May 23 he made sweet potato hills but a few days later he went fishing. On June 3 he planted corn and on Thursday, June 22 he dug a well. He also mentions going to the mill, building fence, going to town, hauling hogs, wood and water, chopping wood, burying potatoes, shucking corn, hunting, and drilling wheat. Weather details are recorded also. He raised a barn presumably on his farm, but there was no mention made of his wife, Fanny and their little boy, Charles, born in 1882.  

The hand written pencil entries are fading and the pages are very fragile, so F. Price transcribed the entire diary. J. King helped with the genealogical research on the Fraser Family and Joseph Combs.  Thanks to both of them for preserving this treasure for future generations. If you like to research or transcribe, why not join the volunteer team that meets at the Reserach Library Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9-12?