[1864–1882 Diaries of New Jersey Farmer and Teacher, Elijah Hankinson].
An interesting and very substantial group (over 600-pages) of handwritten, large-format diaries kept by Elijah Hankinson (1827–1882) of Pahaquarry Township, Warren County and later Stillwater, Sussex County, New Jersey, from 1864 to 1882, when he died. All unpublished.
This 19th century diary offers a good glimpse into rural life in northern New Jersey. The entries through 1872 mainly describe farming activities including chopping and hauling wood, thrashing oats, butchering beef, killing hogs the day after Christmas, husking corn, sheep shearing, tapping sap trees, building “cow stables,” nearly constant repairing of his wagon and wood sleigh, repairing a small bridge, a “stone frolic,” where one’s neighbors come and help clear a field of stones, etc. Hankinson’s personal life includes weekly Sunday church, with the subject of the sermon usually given, going to singing school, going to town with his wife, children or friends, dealing with illness and financial matters, and more.
Hankinson records voting for Abraham Lincoln in the election of 1864. The following April there is an entry mentioning Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and funeral, with services at churches across the land. Later he mentions Grant’s election, cabinet choices etc.
There are no diary entries from April 1872 to April 1874, Hankinson having business reverses during this time and losing his farm in 1873. After this setback, he returned to work as a teacher, a profession he had followed for two years as a young man. After Hankinson lost his Warren County farm, he moved his family—wife Mary C. née Schooley Hankinson (1832–1889) and 4 children (possibly 6 by this time)—to Stillwater in nearby Sussex County, where he qualified to teach again. For a while he taught at Mt. Pleasant School.
Through these years, Hankinson often writes details on the subjects he’s teaching, and seems more keyed in to events. In one diary entry, for February 11, 1876, he writes poignantly a visit to the grave of Rev. Jacob S. Harden who poisoned his wife and was hanged for her murder in 1860: “The grave is in the north corner of a square field, a short distance west of the dwelling house, on the farm then occupied by the murderer’s father. It has settled until it is even with the surrounding earth, and has neither head nor foot stone, overgrown with blackberry briers, and nothing marks his last resting place…now intermingled with the wild briers of the field.”
Hankinson became ill in the summer of 1881 and needed to give up teaching that fall. He was a life-long member of the Stillwater Presbyterian Church, and the pastor, Rev. T. B. Condit, who is mentioned often in the diaries, preached at his funeral.
Some of the places mentioned in the diaries include Flatbrookville, Pahaquarry, Newton, Hardwick, Blairstown, Paulina, Hope, Columbia, New Harmony, Middleville, and more, and he often talks about going to “The Fort,” likely one of the French and Indian War-era fortifications in Sussex County.
Description: [1864–1882 Diaries of New Jersey Farmer and Teacher, Elijah Hankinson].
[Various places in Warren County and Stillwater, Sussex County, New Jersey, January 1, 1864–March 2, 1883]. Approx.  manuscript pages. Hand-sewn fascicles or gatherings of leaves, some leaves loose and others lacking; all leaves approx. 12 x 8 inches. Some gaps in the narrative (see description). Brief handling and some foxing; light wear with some folds, closed tears and minor losses; very good.
Ref. Fretz, A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Andrew Newbacker of Hardwick Township Warren County New Jersey… (Netcong, N.J., 1908), pp17–18.