Nora Gowdy Diaries  - 1898




  "Nora M. Gowdy
Coldwater, Michigan
January 1st 1898"
Nora M. Gowdy Coldwater, Michigan
"Excelsior Diary"
Printed in gold on the flap
  Saturday January 1st clearing, cold, some snow  
  Worked at Shoe Factory all day. Did not do very much as I had to undo work I did on Thursday. Walked home with Miss Hall, my forelady.
Nora works as a bookkeeper at the Tappan Shoe Factory in Coldwater, a small town in Branch County in south western Michigan.
  Found Mort and Idah here. Harry was not home to supper. In the evening went to see Homer Van Akin he was not home. 

Went to the store and mended Charles' pin (Odd Fellow). While there Misses North, Hopkins and Mrs. Hall came in. Miss M. went skating with Ralph Staddord. Miss Hopkins bought a stick pin. 

Went home with them to Mrs. Stone's. Miss Hall was there reading, had a pleasant call. Misses H. and N. came home with me. Mama is sick at Mrs. Footes'. Wilcox, Harry and I told stories till nearly 11 o'clock. 

Then they went to bed and I wrote this. Pay day at the factory.

Charles is her beau. He was unknown to our family before reading this diary. His name was not on any of the stacks of Nora's family pictures.

However after seeing this diary entry noting that Nora fixed Charles' Odd Fellows pin, I noticed a metal pin on the picture of the young man below.  Metal pins were not common place in the 1890's. So I thought there was a good chance this photo was Charles.

So I enlarged the pin in this photo, and compared it to the Odd Fellows' Web page logo and voila - we know what Charles looked like.

The front of a novelty photo showing the front and back of Charles and Nora

The back

This photo is on card has pictures on the front and the back.

  Sunday January 2nd . Weather clear windy and cold thermostat -16. 
Got breakfast for Wilcox and Jack. Mama staid at Mrs. Foote's not here. Wilcox and Jack went to church.

'Staid' is the older, but still correct, way of spelling 'stayed'.

  I packed the skull that Cast (?) found, to send to Uncle Abe. Mama did up the work.
This may be Abram Pelham, who lived in Lenawee County, Michigan, who was  probably her mother's brother.
Unfortunately there is no further explanation of  this skull. 
  Homer Van Akin came after dinner. I gave him the photo of Katie she had sent. Wrote to Mary Wells and Katie Eldred in the P.M. August Visel was here in the evening. Albert also. Wilcox and I sang some and he sang alone a great deal. I expected Charles but for some unknown reason he did not come. Wilcox went to church.
Wilcox is their boarder who also works at the Shoe Factory.
  Jack is at Minnie's as usual. I have loafed and slept most of the day. Wanted to write to Banks but did not as Wilcox wanted to sing. Must go to work in A.M. so went to bed at 10:15.
'Jack' is her youngest brother Harry.
  January 3rd weather clear and warm. 
Worked at the factory all day did not have much to do so wrote a letter to Uncle Abe in the P.M. in my account book. In the evening at home I copied it. Had a letter from Charles. he was sick yesterday. Wanted to know my further pleasure so I wrote him tonight. Also wrote to Banks. Ethel Clark had a party tonight but I thought best not to go. Wilcox spent the evening at Ethel Frotters. I have felt very good today had lots of fun at the factory. Lots of visitors there today and several new girls. Miss Burton was here are and left S. S. quarterly to distribute. Came home by Mrs. Richard's. She is quite sick although some better tonight. Nettie Hajen has been there. Went home today. I retired at 10:15

S. S. is Sunday School for young adults like Nora. This is probably for a Methodist church.

  January 4th weather bright and beautiful.  
  Not much work to do today. Tried hard to kill time but could not make it out. Mama, Mrs. Waters and Mrs. Jaggers were at the factory in the P.M.. Had a letter from Ida, one of the old Time letters just like her old self. Got my skates out for this fall but she did not come for them. A lovely moonlight night. Charles spent the evening with me he is to be in town every day this week as the Board of Supervisors meet. We had music and a good time. He went home at 1030 and I retired at 11. Mrs. Van Lands' baby was buried today.
Ida Gowdy Cornell is Nora's sister
Ida Gowdy Cornell is Nora's sister, who lives in Minnesota.
  Charles has the Klondike fever. I wish he might go. I will do all I can to have him.
Klondike fever refers to the Alaska Gold rush.
  January 5th weather pleasant and warm. Not much work in the A.M. Laid off in the P.M. When uptown and got a hat and mittens.  
  Mama was at her church social so I got supper for Jack, Wilcox and myself. I went to Mrs. Richards with S. S. quarterly, she is quite sick. The others I called upon were not home. Walked home with Miss Morrisson. Met Miss Addax. Took my skates up to have them have new straps put on. Miss Hall called for them in the evening but they of course were not here. Harry went to the Opera House ("At the French Ball"). I did not want to go. Mort and Idah were here. He goes to work in the mill in the A.M. He told me Mr. Harry Hurley was to be buried tomorrow. Charles did not come tonight. I hope he will tomorrow.
Morton Gowdy
Morton Gowdy is the oldest brother. Idah is Mort' s daughter, named after his sister, Ida.
  January 6 weather mild  
  "A thorn in the rose" [at the top]
This may be a coded way of saying there is a problem with her romance.
  Worked as usual. Plenty to do today. Not very many visitors. Brought home a pair of shoes for Mama. Art Williams walked home with me. Went to work with Bruce Rawson. Had a fire in the wood stove and settled by it all through the evening. Wrote to Pearl. Keystone's Club tonight. But as Charles could not go I thought best to stay home and it was well I did as I am not able to dance if I went. Some snow fell today, but not enough to do any good. The girls went skating last night and said it was fine. Want me to go tonight. How I would like to. Wilcox went to prayer meeting. This is the week of prayer. Retired at 9:30.
Nora wrote the cost of these shoes in her January Account entries
  January 7 weather mild  
  Came home to dinner today for the first time into weeks. Had a card from cousin Addie saying she and her husband were coming Monday. She has married Uncle Albert's hired man Abe Slaught. I knew him when I was at Stetson four years ago. Wilcox went to prayer meeting, has been every night this week as it has been the week of prayer. I am so tired tonight that I cannot think. 

Walked with Mr. Morris this noon. [Five lines erased or faint] Talked with him about church going. He thinks I ought to attend service dead or alive.

Cousin Addie is probably Uncle Philo Gowdy's daughter. Uncle Albert Collins Gowdy.

Marion Love Morris

Marion Love Morris, known as Love.

  January 8 Weather dull  
  [at top] Got a pair shoes for Anna 25 cents

Saturday night and my day's work is done. I am in bed flat on my back. To sum up today's proceedings, went to work as usual. Claude Abbot walked with me. Came home to dinner was very tired. Had very bad headache. Did not want to go back but did. Eva Whaley walked with me to Alden Street. Took some tablets and went to work feel better tonight. 

  Walked home with Love Morris. I am so sorry for him. He has had a sad life. He told me of his wife's death. I hope someone can brighten his life. Maybe I can. God grant that someone may.
According to family legend, Love Morris was tricked into his first marriage to Mary M. "Mollie" Ashley. After spending the night at Mollie's parents' home he was told that everyone would think something immoral had happened so they had to get married. The marriage, in 1894, supposedly was never consummated and was annulled as quickly as possible.

Love's statement of that his wife died and apparent sadness seems to contradict that.Mary "Mollie" Ashley Morris
Mary "Mollie" Ashley Morris

  January 9 weather dull and rainy  
  [at top] AG was here this evening  
  Arose at 9 A.M. Went to church with Jack and Mother. Wilcox went to S.S. Some of us went to Mrs. Adam's class. Mrs. Rudalph taught it as Miss ... was absent..

Jack did not come home to dinner. Mr. Morris called before I had finished with my work. He stayed till 10 o'clock, had a splendid visit.

Mr. Green called. He did not stop for very long as he had to go to a reception. he say me at the Clinic this PM but his sister... I'm glad Mr. Morris has no sister to dictate to him.

  January 10th weather clear and mild  
  Addie, her husband and child came today. Mort, Anna, Idah were here in the evening. Also Charles. He still has the Klondike fever. I do hope he can go. It'll be very hard for me but I should not hinder him in the least. Went to work this A.M. with Miss North walked with her and Mr. Morris this noon. Minnie, Jesse C. Kruth and Daisy were at the factory today, as I was out of work I went about with them a bit. Mr. Tappan said I must not do it again, Anna was not pleased with her shoes, a size too large, I think I will not trouble to get her another pair very soon. Had a good visit with Charles. He is coming Wednesday.
 Anna Gowdy is Mort' s wife.
  January 11th dark and warm  
  Again I am in bed summing up today. It is only a little past seven o'clock so why will be apt to get an enough sleep for once. Addie and a have gone to see Ella and later they are going to spend the night with ... folks. Had a letter from Banks of good jolly too. Saw Mr. Morris this noon, said he was "bluer than ever". I felt blue too. The thought of Charles going to Klondike make me [sic] shutter. It seems I cannot bear it that made each will not go. At present ... is only imaginary trouble but both the thought seems to stop my press. I cannot let him go and leave me! Still I will say no word to him to let him think I care so much it would only be harder for him.
Ella Van Schoick
Ella Van Schoick is Albert Grant's wife. A.G. is Nora's second oldest brother.
  January12 warm, rain last night  
  The clock has just struck for 8:30 and I am in bed and tired, have had steady work and good luck all day. Miss Harpham walked part of the way with me to work this P.M. and Mr. Morris the rest of the way. He was feeling fine. Charles did not come, he will surely be here tomorrow night though. Addie and Abe ... went on to Aunt Sara's. Uncle Oscar came after them about nine. They're coming back to our home and start for home Friday. The wind blows at Gale tonight but it is a long. From Miss North to come board with me she thinks she will next week. Miss Mansh ...'s people have moved into the house Bidells vacated.
 Aunt Sarah Gowdy is Uncle Oscar Swift's wife.
  January 13 warm cloudy some snow  
  At 11:20 I am about to retire .Charles was here and we have had good time although he still talks Klonedyke [sic] and seems I cannot bear, and even the thought is going is almost more than I can stand. But strings will begin me I supposed to bear the burden whatever it maybe. Harry is at the Opera enjoying "In ... Paris". Wilcox went to church as usual, several services. Mr. Morris walked with me this noon and tonight. I must not let him again as it troubles Charles. He is coming against Saturday night. I am to him [Charles] meet uptown. I hope that ...
 The Opera is a local theatre used perhaps by traveling acting companies. This was before sound movies, even before talkies. Her family is too conservative to attend any vaudeville shows.
  January14 weather dull  
  Addie and (?) went back today and to train for home in Hart. Mama gave Rial the old big chair. Work went off finally. Did not do quite as much as yesterday however. Mr. Morris walked with me this noon. Miss Rawson this A.M. Had a letter from J.S.P. a long one too. I did not enjoy his letters so much for I think it would please Charles to have a stop writing to him. Though when I asked him he said he did not care. Harry went with me this noon as far as Mrs. Dinere's after his clock. Retired at 830.
Probably Rial Swift, a cousin of the Gowdy's.
  January 15 weather warm snow.  
  Went to work is usual walked with Claude Abbott and Claude Roseman. Saw Mr. Morris this noon. Miss Marshall walked with me as far as her home. Lena Spring came in the evening and we went up town together. Saw the Morris boys at the store. Albert came in and Lena and Charles and I went to the Gallery. He gave me Charles' locket. He has had it so long so [he] put my face in it. Got some large pictures too. Charles came home with me. We left Lena at Perry Street. We had a good a time the best I think we ever had together. Showed a letter from Honda it rather pulled down a little. Retired at 1230.  
  January 18 Weather bright and beautiful to surprise came off grand style Mama and Jack being the victims all the neighbors were here and had a good time Lena came to furnish us with music and did it in style as she always does. walked with Mr. Morris on the way to dinner. They have patched up quarrel they had and two boys now walked together the girls are little edgewise yet however Minnie did not stay very long tonight as she was sacked. A letter from the Gertrude came this morning that I have not had time to read.
 Morton's birthday is Jan 17th
  January 19 weather dull  
  Read my letter from Gertrude this noon. work at the factory was hard today as I do not understand .. saw Mr. Tappan at noon in regard to ... and how I'd cost him of job. Stopped at Misses Morris is at night. After supper went to take a paper to ?? then went to see Mrs. Richards. she is better where she came when I did. Mrs. Foster was at the door Mrs. a tort is sick mother tonight as I was on my way home was talking with Burt ? and she and Paul came along walked with Miss Marshall afternoon and retired at 9:30.  
  January 21st weather dull

I did not work this P.M. My eyes are very bad today. do not think I will be able to work anymore. Saw Mrs. Morris this morning on my way to work. Slept most of the P.M. Mrs. Jagger was in a little while and Mama went up town Grace Love ... came so she went to get her mother's pay.

  January 22nd Weather snow and rain.

Saturday night! Or rather Sunday morning Charles was here and we had such a good time. The paper says he is going to the Klondike. He says he is not nearer then he was last month. I have worked all day but am not going back Monday as Dr. Waters is going to test my eyes. Mr. Tappan says I can come back when I get well again. Rain is falling and Charles went to home without an umbrella. He will be wet to his skin. Mr. Morris walked with me at noon and at night to let him take L. H. J. he wants to call on me tomorrow.

Ladies Home Journal
  January 23rd Weather windy and dull  
  arose at 9 A.M. Mrs. Waters came and bought some papers went to Sunday school Mr. walked so she came with me wrote to Ida. Lena spring was here all the P.M. went to ... and church with her sang in the choir ... good came home alone finished letter to Ida. waited for Jack to come home he has been sick all day but of course had to stay home with Emma ... after ten o'clock told Love about Banks she was  ... surprised as I was our way home sought Albert Morris and Miss ... evidently made up. Oh, this quarreling.  
  January 24th weather bright  
  Washed the breakfast dishes swept the hall upstairs wrote to ... asking for the return of my photos. Went up town stopped at Ella's. She is feeling pretty well. Went to Dr. Waters office and had glasses fitted. went back to Ella's for dinner in the P.M. went up to ... Staid to supper had a good visit. the lead daily called while I was called had a good visit with her . Anna had my waist ready. So ... on it was already? As I started on home met Lola and her sister going to Arnold's went down to the store and talked to Jack he came home with me. he and Mama visited ... 10 P.M.
Nora uses the expression 'not doing well' to discuss how someone's pregnancy is going. To discuss it more directly would be indelicate. Here Ella is pregnant with her first child.
  January 30th  
  weather some snow in P.M.  
  Went to church and Sunday School. Miss ... came home with me. Had a good visit in the P.M.  

Account Book
  CASH January  
  Date Description Rec'd Paid  
  1 Tappan 2.50   Nora's weekly salary
  1 S. P. Gowdy 1.00   From her mother, Susanna Pelham Gowdy
  1 Diary   .60  
  3 postage   .10  
  5 hat   2.50  
  5 wrapper   .50 A wrapper is light housedress.
  5 mittens   .75  
  5 Jack 1.00    
  15 Tappan 1.45    
  15 Mama (shoes) 1. 25   Nora bought her mother shoes from her employer's factory and her mother pays her back.
  15 dress lining etc.      .38  
  15  Harry on account    1.85  
  15 Sen Sen   .05 A licorice chewy candy for mild sore throats and covering up bad or smoky breath. Nora certainly did not smoke!
  16 .  Mama    .25  
  18  soap   .10  
  24  postage    .10  
  25  Mama    .05  
  25  brouch (on min) [?].      
  25  postage    .06  
  25 Lock [locket?]     .10  
  25  Sunday school    .05  
  29  Tappan  3.25    
  29  ribbon    1.35  
  29  unreadable    .50  
  29  medallion    .25  
  30  washing    .35  
  30  shoes   .28  
   bal.  11.15  9.29