Feb. 8-15, 1919

Feb. 8

Saturdays work, crocheted two ends for a towel and finished one side of some insertions for pillow slips, washed my hair, took a bath, read, got supper.

Feb. 9

Went to S.S and church. helped get dinner. Eudora was here. went to practice, got sick, rested from 4 to 6. got ready for church. gave our Cantata and there was an awful crowd. my feet went to sleep. studied, went to bed at 10:30.

Feb. 10

Got a new Edison at school. it rained at noon. went up town, got a letter from Edgar, helped wash, went down to Jones’ to see about our League meeting, got supper, crocheted, translated Virgil.

Feb. 11

Went to school, and up town, ironed.

Feb. 12

Went to school, up town at noon, got a letter from Edgar.

Feb. 13

Got mad at Prof. and came home about 1:30. he bawled me out and made me move to a front seat. cleaned up the house for the party, got supper, the kids started coming about 8. there was quite a crowd. helped Austa make sandwiches. we had a Valentine box and I got one Valentine. Wrote to Edgar and went to bed at 1.

Feb. 14

Valentine’s Day. Didn’t go to school. Prof said I couldn’t come back anymore. Har! went to the train with Mrs. Sheldon and Mama. went up and spent the afternoon with Harriet, came home after school and washed dinner dishes. got a letter and also wrote one. went to choir practice.

Feb. 15

Nearly sick all day, made one pie and scrubbed the kitchen. wrote to Edgar. went to bed early.

Pillow slips with trim and insertions

Clara starts the week out with a lot of crocheting: two ends for a towel and an insertion for a pillow slip (pillow case). All give decorative touches to what could be very plain linens. I hadn’t thought about it previously, but I wonder if she is making doing all of this crocheting, knitting, and sewing to add to her hope chest.

A sheet with an insertion

On Sunday, it’s the usual church and Sunday school. Eudora came to the house. I don’t know who Eudora is – this is the only time she is mentioned in the journal. Then she participates in a cantata, with an awful crowd and feet that fell sleep.

The next day at school, she gets a new Edison. I can only imagine by an Edison that she means a record player although I am not sure why she would be getting one at school. And I was curious about how common it would be to have such a player in 1919. But apparently they were fairly common.

Between 1901 and 1920, record players became a part of most households, whether rich, middle-class or poor. Some models sold for very cheap even for the time, while other phonographs were deluxe models for the rich only, made of fancy milled hardwood and gold or brass parts. By the first years of the century, most phonographs (or gramophones, or graphophones, depending on the brand involved) no longer had those big external horns that most people at the time found unsightly (today, these are the most valuable phonographs.) Instead, the horn was curled under the turntable, a design pioneered by Victor in their Victrola.


And Clara receives a letter from Edgar (so they are writing each other during this separation). And she continues to translate Virgil (the Virgil never ends!). But it appears that her devotion to her translations did not soften her relationship with the Prof., for he “bawled” her out and eventually sends her home, forbidding her from coming to school the next day. She doesn’t seem too concerned (her reaction for her diary is “Har!”). Besides, being home allows her to spend more time preparing for a Valentine’s Day party (another party on a school night).

Clara helps Austa make sandwiches for the evening. Austa Harrington, 24 years old, was Ray Harrington’s younger sister. Clara writes of Ray’s death from influenza on November 13, 1918, at 25 years old, leaving behind a pregnant wife. 

In my research of Austa, I was able to paint a brief picture of their family that I’d love to share not so much because I find it interesting but because I find their story doesn’t appear to be terribly unique. 

After their son’s death and sometime between this 1919 journal entry and the 1920 census, Austa’s parents retired from farming and moved to St. Petersberg, Florida. I can’t help but wonder if the recent death of their son Ray influenced their decision. Ray’s two older siblings were both married and with children in 1920, so they, of course, stayed behind in South Dakota.

The next two oldest were Austa (24) and Eda (22), both teachers. The two girls moved in with the Hedricks family, a family that held League meetings at their home according to previous journal entries by Clara. In addition to their two boarders, the Hedricks had two of their own children, a 7-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. But they also housed one other boarder, a 23-year-old bank bookkeeper: Robert Petrick. Robert was the youngest of nine children, all born in Minnesota. I’ll get back to him…

The next oldest Harrington child is Mabelle, who is 17. She is boarding with another family, the Grangers, who have been in South Dakota since the 1880s. Only the youngest two Granger daughters (16 and 17 years old) of six children still lived at home, so they must have had plenty of room for Mabelle. Only the youngest Harrington, John (11), followed his parents to Florida. 

This separation of families seems pretty common. According to our family papers, my dad’s oldest brother, Uncle Keith, moved to Minnesota from Cresbard about six months before the rest of the family so that he could complete his senior year of high school all at one school. I don’t know who he lived with during that time, however, but he certainly boarded with a family there.

But back to Robert Petrick, the third person who was boarding with Austa and Eda Harrington at the Hedrick’s home. A few years later, Eda and Robert marry. A similar thing happens to Robert’s older sister, Bertha. She is widowed with a daughter and moves in with a widower to work as his housekeeper. It should probably come as no surprise that the two end up married. I’ve seen this a number of times in my research. I suppose that is as good a way as any to meet someone!

The Valentine’s Day party is a success. Clara had a Valentine box, made to collect Valentine cards and postcards. Hmmm. She received 1. But she doesn’t seem concerned about that. She writes to the one she really cares about at the end of the night: Edgar. And she writes him again the next day. And the next.

Clara “went to the train with Mrs. Sheldon and Mama.” I am going to have to do much more research on the trains in South Dakota at this time and report back. The closest major train facility is in Aberdeen, where three different railroads each have their own depots. But Aberdeen is 45 miles from Aberdeen. There is also a local train depot in Faulkton, that changed the history of the city, as the railroads did to cities around the country. Lafoon was the Faulk County seat until the railroad made the decision in 1886 to run its tracks through Faulkton instead, thus moving the county seat to Faulkton. Today, the only remainder of the town of LaFoon is a marker on a remote rural road. 

In fact, this was the same situation Aberdeen faced.

If a town did not meet the [railroad] company’s demands it could quickly find itself at a serious disadvantage. When the Milwaukee [railroad] was surveying its line through Brown County in 1880, conventional wisdom held that the line would be routed through Columbia, which was the county seat. Columbia’s town fathers, feeling that they were in a strong negotiating position, refused to provide the Milwaukee with land for a right of way and a depot free of charge. C. H. Prior, then chief surveyor of the Milwaukee, resurveyed the main line to bypass Columbia and then platted a rival town (on a tract of land owned by his wife) some 12 miles from Columbia. This site became the City of Aberdeen, which was designated as a railroad division point, became the junction for several Milwaukee lines, and eventually grew to be the third largest city in the state. Columbia stagnated and lost the county seat to Aberdeen several years later.


Once again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  

Finally, it always makes me nervous when we end an installment with Clara feeling sick. She seems to be feeling sick more and more often…

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