[Semi-Literate’s 1854 Pocket Diary from Lindenwood, Ogle County, Illinois with Original Literary Essays].
“I sleep up 5 stories high and on a maters [mattress] as hard as a pine plank…”
“What is there more beautiful than the rolling prarie? [sic]” Interesting ante-bellum diary kept by an older boy or young man in the summer and early fall of 1854 in northern Illinois. Includes four short original essays, some almost poetical and one autobiographical. Legible, but challenging to read.
The diary was kept by C. Blanchard of Lindenwood, Ogle County. Blanchard is semi-literate and the entries in his journal are typically brief. Out of the 37 total manuscript pages, 29 pages comprise the diary.
Blanchard’s diary begins with his arrival in Lindenwood after a two-day journey where he meets his uncle and helps with building a house. Rockford, Illinois is often mentioned in the diary. Subjects he chronicles include haying, hunting and fishing, playing, writing and receiving letters:
[July] 13 went to the big [Indian?] mound with Mr. talbert there was 11 of us went 14 went a hunting…17 went to work for talbert a framing…19 raised the house…21 went to work on the house… [August] 6 Sunday went over to uncle Kep’s[?] and ant [aunt] had some parie chicking [prairie chicken?] soup 7 worked for [indistinct] stacking wood built 3 stacks. [August] 13 sunny very hot went down the crick we did it about one mile and cached a few small fish there was 11 of us had good time went up on the brakin [bracken] ... [September] 28 not very well this morning thev shakes come at 11 o’clock and lasted about an hour the doctor came in and give me another potion of pills and took 5 lefit [left] me some powders of quinine…Oct first sunday felt better this morning began to take quinine at 6 took it all day until night once in a hour felt quite well all day. ... [October] 7 went over to the store in the morning and swaped [swapped] my [indistinct] to the store for a hood and a jack nife.
On the back pages of the pocket diary Blanchard wrote four short essays: “My bourdon [boarding] place,” “Beauty blusted by pride…,” and two poem-like or lyrical works. The latter are “My childhood home” and “What is there more beautiful than the rolling prarie.” A sample:
What is there more beautiful than the rolling prarie [prairie]
tis there I like to roam
there nature rules in all its power
tis there you see the works of nature
Blanchard’s essay “My bourdon [boarding] place” appears to be an autobiographical description of a five-story New York (City?) boarding house where he may have lived before going west to the prairies of Illinois:
My bourdon [boarding] place at new york what of it it is first [indistinct] I have rosat [roast] beef twise a day…buiscuit and butre [sic] for super…I sleep up 5 stories high and on a maters [mattress] as hard as a pine plank…my fellow boarders…they have not spoken to me since I have been here most a week but i don’t care nothing about that I think I am as good as they…
Blanchard’s diary is an interesting manuscript of a semi-literate and thoughtful individual. His efforts to put his daily life on paper are augmented by a literary desire to write about the places he lives.
Description: [Semi-Literate’s 1854 Pocket Diary from Lindenwood, Ogle County, Illinois with Original Literary Essays].
Lindenwood, Ogle County, Illinois, July 10, 1854–October 12, 1854.  pp., manuscript in pencil. Wallet-style, leather-bound Diary with flap closure and gusseted rear pocket. 4¾ x 3 inches. Some wear at tail of spine and at edges; cloth gusset separating; toning; very good.