52 Ancestors Week 24: Dear Diary

+13 votes

52 Ancestors and 52 Photos sharing challenge badgesTime for the next 52 Ancestors challenge!

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:

Dear Diary

From Amy Johnson Crow:

 "Dear Diary" is the theme for Week 24 -- and I've already seen some questions about this theme :-) True, not everyone is fortunate enough to have an ancestor's diary or journal. (I haven't found any in my family yet!) You could write about an ancestor who you can picture keeping a diary. You could write a diary entry telling about researching someone. You could do a bit of creative non-fiction and write a diary entry as if you were one of your ancestors. 

And if you are fortunate enough to have an ancestral diary or journal, tell about who wrote it!

Either way, have fun with this prompt


Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. If this is your first time participating and you don't have the participation badge, or if you pass a milestone (13 in 13, 26 in 26, 52 in 52) let us know hereClick here for more about the challenge. 

in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
edited ago by Eowyn Langholf

Unfortunately none of my ancestors kept a diary that I know of. However, I can peice together a story of my great grandfather, Sherman Andrew Miller, as he was on the road very often and wrote a lot of postcards back home. 

50 Answers

+6 votes

Thomas Bartlett Sears, Jr. (1834-1925) "The Journals of a Plymouth Seaman", describe the voyage of the Nathan Hanau from the log of TB Sears from Plymouth to New Orleans to Genoa Italy. First he went to sea and then he went west. Some talk about myself: In 1848 I left the Grammar School for the Plymouth High School where I took the 3 year course. Afterwards took lessons in Geometry with Mr Nat Morton, and Father taught me navigation. I then clerked one year in Alvan Morton's grocery store, and in 1853 went to the Grand Banks in the schooner Speedwell.(just launched) with Capt TE Cornish. In 1854 I started to learn the carpenters trade with Mr Thomas Pay, but, after working 6 weeks, concluded that

"I wasn't a carpenter, and worked about home helping Father repair one of his fishing schooners. In 1855 I went to the Grand banks again. This time in the schooner Albert, Capt Fred Bartlett. That winter was a very cold one, and Massachusetts Bay was full, or partly full of ice brought down from the north by strong North gales. When we left Boston the NW gale was still blowing, and before we were halfway across to Cape Cod, we found that the vessel was so crank, that is, so easily tipped by the wind, that it would be unsafe to go to sea, and the Capt. decided to put into Provincetown, and take in more ballast, but as we got near the entrance of the harbor, we saw that it was full of ice, which had drifted down there, and extended several miles out into the Bay. We then tried to get out around the Cape, + to go to sea anyway, safe or unsafe, but as soon as we brought the vessel up to the wind, she went right over on her side, so there was nothing to do but square away + run into the ice, as far as we could get. This we did but the rough ice, tossed by the gale, ground against her sides, so that we thought it would sink her, and we had to take fenders and hold them down to make some protection. About midnight so much more ice had drifted in, outside of us that the motion, where we were, gradually ceased, so that we could go below and rest. The next morning the ice extended 2 or 3 miles outside of us, and the intense cold had frozen the big chunks, into a solid mass. Not far form us lay three vessels, all of which had got caught in the same trap. The steamer Acorn which was running between Boston + Provincetown, the fishing schooner Wyvern with a lot of fresh fish, and a schooner from Bath, Maine. We lay in that fix several days, then another heavy North West storm set in, and we could see the ice outside of us begin to break up + tumble about. The Captains of the vessels held a consultation and decided that the vessels might all go to the bottom before morning, and that the only thing to do was try for the shore before the break up reached us. We started, dragging the boat from our vessel + a life boat from the steamer, as we knew we might strike some open places, before reaching shore, which was 5 or 6 miles distant. It was nearly dark, and a driving snowstorm. One of the Capts carried a compass, and another a lantern. There was an Irish chambermaid on the steamer + two men took her, one on each side by the arms, and so the procession started. About half way to the shore the work of dragging + lifting the boats over the rough ice became impossible and we left our boat + all took hold of the life boat. It was about midnight when we reached the shore, pretty thoroughly used up, and began to hunt for a house. Fortunately we soon found one. A Mr Todd, who with his family turned out + did everything could be done for us. Gave us hot drinks + food, and fixed up beds on the floor, which we were very glad to occupy.

ago by L. Ray Sears G2G6 Mach 2 (20.5k points)
+7 votes
My great great uncle , Ds August Daniel Luckhoff (Luckhoff-43), was one of the ministers in the Bethulie concentration camp during the Anglo Boer War, he kept a diary of his daily duties, who he visited and who he buried.

In 1904 he had his diary published into a book named Womans End ISBN 1-86919-121-8. The original diary is in the DR archives in Cape Town, but hisbook isstill available and was reprinted in 2018.

I gleaned much info from the diary, about him, the conditions from the camps and lots of names.

I may never havehis original diary, but the copy I have is a treasured possession.
ago by Janette Engelbrecht G2G2 (2.5k points)
+6 votes
The only thing I have is a letter written home to my great great grandmother during the Civil War. In it, he asked about my g grandmother by name, making it a nice piece of evidence. She died pretty young (27) after having 7 children, including a set of twins. There was little evidence about her. Her name was Martha Dora (Walton) White.
ago by MaryAnn Thomas G2G6 Mach 1 (11.2k points)
+6 votes
Well, it's not necessarily a "diary" but writings in a bible did help with distinguishing two families with parents of the same name.  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Nusbaum-111 Johannes and his wife Margarete lived near another Johannes and Margarete.  Thankfully each had a family bible with births and children's names recorded so a genealogical disaster with these two could be avoided.
ago by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 2 (23.8k points)
+8 votes

I would like to join!  This is my first week participating.  My great-grandfather John Mousley Yates kept a diary of his journey to America in 1867 and we still have it.   My uncle transcribed it and I uploaded it to WikiTree.  You can read the whole thing here:  Diary

He brought his dog with him on the trip!  He goes into day-to-day detail about where they are, what they eat, the weather, and what happened during the voyage.  It's a really neat slice of 1860s life! 

ago by Crispin Reedy G2G6 Mach 4 (40.4k points)
+6 votes

The closest I've got to a diary/journal is an autobiography (1 and 2) by my second great grand uncle, Alexander Monroe Robinson

ago by Azure Robinson G2G6 Mach 3 (38.7k points)
+6 votes

Since we're counting letters, I have a great one that my grandmother Marjorie Austin Cecil (1907-1984) wrote me about her childhood.  I posted the whole thing to her profile at Austin-9202.  Here is an excerpt:

The first irons I remember were iron with removable handles and heated, of course, on the kitchen range.  You had to have two or three and test them with spit to make sure they were sizzling hot. When Papa got Mamma a gasoline iron she was pleased with the improvement but I thought the smell was awful.  There was the small tank at the back of the iron and after it was filled with gasoline a pressure pump was used someway. Then when electric irons were heard of some years later women would wonder how in the world anyone could iron with a cord hanging onto the iron.

P.S. I wish someone would tell me how to put a link into a G2G post.  And why isn't there a Preview?

ago by Julie Kelts G2G2 (2.8k points)
edited ago by Julie Kelts

Julie .. two to the left of the red arrow in this image is the add link button.

It looks like a chain link.  Type the words you want, then highlight them, then click the link button, paste (or type) your wanted link, click OK.

OR, you can just paste the link "raw", like this:


OK, I did it!  Thank you.
+5 votes

My ancestor Warren Brown Rowley kept a very sparse day book into which he entered momentous events.  His entry under 25 March 1892 was "Found something interesting under the mulberry bush this morning" when he referred to the birth of his daughter Addie Elizabeth Rowley. I would have enjoyed knowing him for his sense of humor alone.

ago by Judy Bramlage G2G6 Mach 6 (65.3k points)
+4 votes

My mother kept diaries. You can tell how much she enjoyed her family and eating.

I have a copy of a marvelous diary written by an Aunt after the civil war. She doesn't have a profile.

And... I have copies of some of the diaries that an uncle Robert C. Bishop kept in the 1870s. He was a young teacher at the time. He told about his life and family, kept his accounts and wrote poetry.

ago by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1m points)
+4 votes

I don't know of any of my ancestors who have written diaries, but looking into the future as our descendants look for information on us, they will find a trove of information on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc.

My brother Joe posts something like this every day.

I hope everyone had a great Tuesday. Tomorrow will be a wonderful Wednesday. Take care of what needs to be done. Have fun with your family & friends. Share love with everyone, let them know they never have to feel alone. At the end of the day, look back at best things that happened today. Remember all the joy and happiness you had. Everyday has wonderful times for everyone. Look forward to another great day. God bless everyone with a beautiful Wednesday.

ago by Sally Mahoney G2G6 Mach 1 (13.9k points)
Your brother Joe sounds like a marvelously positive person. You are blessed!

Do you think our digital musings will last as long as the words our ancestors committed to paper? I hope so, but then I think about some websites, etc. which have come and gone. I'm downloading photographs our children and grandchildren share on Facebook. Recently, I decided to have a book made of them. I wish I'd been doing this all along. But your post has made me think that I ought also to be including in the future books some of the written posts they've made, just in case Facebook is one day gone away.
I agree that Facebook is not likely to last forever.

I have downloaded my posts and other data from the facebook setting, and have used an extension (DownAlbum) in the chrome browser to download photo albums from my friends.

I have not yet found a way to do a bulk download on the written posts of another user.
+5 votes
My dad's father was an avid diarist who regularly kept diaries for decades.  It was adorable when he described meeting his future wife on a bus (complete with the pseudonym she made up on the spot, not wanting to give her name to a stranger), and I always had a laugh reading the entries about my dad.  My uncle typed up some of the highlights of my grandfather's diaries so that all the siblings could have copies.
ago by K. Anonymous G2G6 Mach 5 (54.9k points)
+5 votes

My grandfather, John Lemuel Anderson, kept a daily diary from 1923 through 1974.  He died in 1977

These weren't little diaries, or full of gaps; he wrote in daily diary books.  It would not come as a surprise to any of my relatives, close or distant, or friends who knew his nature, that every day included whether it was hotter or colder, clear or changing, windy or still... the temperature or rainfall, or snow if it was something unusual, like the hottest or longest without rain, for what amount of time and he would even go back and update them to say that date xyz was the new record.

His entries were so dry and short and to the point.  He was definitely a "just the facts ma'am" kind of guy.

For example, when someone died he would list their name, date of birth and that they died on this date.  No emotion. Including his parents, and other close relatives.  The next day or so would be the funeral and what family was in attendance and with whom they stayed and for how long.

Most of the days had entries such as Tuesday August 6, 1935 - Hot   Mother took treatment (we don't know what it was, but she had some that day.) and off  in the sides there were monetary entries 3.-  .25     1.-  .50   Again, not sure what for but reckon it was housekeeping expenses or earnings from trading goods.   Other days would include something like " May 12 1935 Rained early this morning.  was good all day but began raining at 9 P.M.  Down home today.  Out to Lems (his father or grandfather, don't know, named the same and in the same town) Dinner at Alexs (my grandmother's father) Out to airport this evening. Got some fish of ships (? He was valedictorian at his college, I guess if he wrote ships he meant ships) Got eggs, rhubarb, shoulder meat."

The birth of his children and grandchildren were announced - Helen Marie was born today - nothing about how my grandmother was doing, how many days it took, again - just the facts. Same with weddings and other life events.

His family moved a few times in the early days for his job.  The moves seemed to happen rather quickly because he'd just say "moved into house in Macomb".  It has been easier to translate all of these entries as the years of the diaries went on because I stopped expecting or anticipating details on parts of the family story I knew about. 

In the 60's the diaries include the construction of his new brick home that he himself built.  Occasional help from other family members with trade experience but for the most part it was - went to such and such store, bought some kind of gutter thing to run along side the driveway, took it to the house, put up 4 pieces of drywall. Every single day.  I learned how to build a house, THE house that I remember spending so much time in.  And he was also helping his son build one on the other side of town.  At the same time.  Fascinating.

He was really into cars and talks a lot about fixing them but I was surprised to hear how often they drove these big cars on big day trips and back.  He was an avid horse race enthusiast.  He has entries of seeing great horses, Man O' War, Citation, Seabiscuit, and so on.  They would often take the whole family and sometimes he'd go by himself.  Would enter the miles driven, how much for gas, who he bet on, the odds, and the outcome.  At the end of the diary each year was balances, and one set aside particularly for racing. He did pretty well!

He sold tractor parts for Case and kept separate diaries for expenses, including the expense book and clothes he bought.  Occasionally my grandmother would fill in the blanks on those days and they were equally lacking in details.  But, my grandmother had a few surprises in her entries too.  According to my mother my grandmother used to put a tiny x on the corner of the page when my parents got "together" if you follow me.  laugh  And she was not shy about calling out her boys.  Something my grandfather would never ever do.  One year she started the diary.  On January 1st her entry included the usual details that my grandfather had always included, who was living where, how old, what they were up to, like school or work, etc.  So this particular year when she got to my uncles, her 2 boys, she wrote that John was in the navy stationed at some place and that Jimmy was just a bum.  That was probably the funniest thing I saw the whole time.  Still cracks me up.

He started these diaries shortly after he and my grandmother were secretly married. She was whisked away to another state and they were discovered when they returned to town.  It made the local newspaper.  When my grandmother was quite young she started getting sick and eventually died from a brain tumor.  That year and the years after were very difficult to read because my grandfather's grief was somehow not hidden by his stoic entries.  He called her his dear Pal.  So sad to even write about.  

 As you can imagine, having these 50 years of diaries is one of my greatest treasures. 

ago by Kathy Lochbaum G2G1 (1.3k points)
+5 votes

None of my ancestors kept journals; if they did, they ended up in the hands of other descendants or were lost. I can imagine my great-great grandmother Matilda Daisley keeping one. She immigrated to New Zealand aboard the ship the Dover Castle in 1875, and went on to have eleven children. She lived quite a life!

ago by Amy Utting G2G6 Pilot (136k points)
+4 votes
I think the closest I can get to a diary is the genealogy written by my 3rd great-grandfather, John William Shelton. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shelton-4220

He wrote a genealogy from his parents Josiah Cyrus Shelton and Elizabeth Orrand down to the most recently born of his siblings children. He wrote it in pencil beginning in 1901 and finished it about 1903 if I am remembering that correctly. It's pretty impressive a piece of work.
ago by Tina Hall G2G6 (7.4k points)
+3 votes

I am fortunate enough to have inherited a diary written by my great-great-grandfather, John Millidge Troop.  He was born and lived in Granville Center, Nova Scotia on December 25, 1842 and died in 1926.  The diary is a window into life on a farm at that time, and although it can be very monotonous it also contains loads of names of people in town as well as interesting events that took place.  The journal begins in April of 1859 and goes through May of 1892.  I started transcribing it quite a few years ago but haven’t done much with it lately as it is very hard to read the writing and takes a lot of time.  I’m also afraid of handling the pages too much as the diary is somewhat fragile.  Maybe this prompt will be the push to start again.


ago by Meredith Shaw G2G Rookie (290 points)
+4 votes

I have Annie Frohberger's travel diary. In 1952, Annie and her husband, Albert Frohberger had returned to visit the families they left behind to build a new life in the new world. First, they went to visit Albert's family in Germany. Albert had not seen them since he left for Canada in 1906. Then they went on to see Annie's family in England and Ireland. Annie had left in 1908 to join Albert in Brandon, Manitoba and marry there. The trip, visits, hotels, purchases and family are all there in a little black notebook. reading it, I see that Annie was find the pace very tiring and the space left to write in running out. I have scanned all of the diary into a free space on WikiTree and linked in the people's profiles. I'd like to illustrate it with some of her postcards sent then and pictures Albert took.

ago by Judith Chidlow G2G6 Mach 2 (24.1k points)
+5 votes

My Uncle Alan kept a diary of his time as an army medic during the Korean War. Unfortunately I have not had chance to read it.

It should be an interesting read as he went missing in action long enough for my Grandparents to be told he was presumed dead.

He is now 90 years old and still going strong

ago by Christopher Colwell G2G6 Mach 1 (15.7k points)
edited ago by Christopher Colwell
+3 votes

It's not a diary, but it is a detailed account of the history of the regiment in which my son's grandfather served during World War II...Steadily Advance, History of the 273rd Infantry Regiment. I never had the privilege of meeting this man, but I was told he was profoundly affected by the war and suffered horribly from PTSD. He took his own life while still a young man.

Profile: Robert Carroll Lough

ago by Nelda Spires G2G6 Mach 8 (82.3k points)
+4 votes
My Uncle, Douglas John Woodhouse, (1906-1979) kept a detailed diary from his teenage years till his death. In the 50 odd volumes, the entries include details about his work as a librarian at Manchester Central Library, his war years experiences, his visits to places of interest architecturally and historically and his own theological and philosophical thoughts and opinions.

I am the owner of these diaries - and have tried unsuccessfully to get them published. I really don't know what to do with them now.  Any suggestions?
ago by Celia Woodhouse G2G Crew (590 points)
+5 votes

I am fortunate to have the memoirs of my great grandmother Francis (Redhead) Elliott 


These where hand written and it has taken sometime to transcribe them. I plan to add excerpts to her profile this year

I also have two family bibles from both sides of the family. The transcriptions of the family births, marriages and deaths formed the backbone of our earlier research into family branches.


ago by Janet Wild G2G6 Mach 6 (69.8k points)
edited ago by Janet Wild

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