These diaries were kept by a father and his eldest daughter in 1915. Their home was a dairy farm in Kent, Connecticut (pop. 2,000), 200 acres of rocky hillside, about 4 miles above the town center on Seger Mountain. Frank’s family had farmed there for generations and Lucy and her husband Clarence (Jim) Jennings eventually bought the farm from her father and continued to farm until Jim’s death in 1945. As the year progressed, Lucy’s diary-keeping dwindled (she and Jim married in November of that year), but Frank kept on through the year.
Unfortunately, he made his entries on the thin paper with a purplish pencil that has bled through in the intervening years, leaving me with something that looks like purple spaghetti to pick through in search of meaning. He recorded the temperature, chores and recreation and the all-important note of who "took the milk down"—down the mountain, that is, the two miles to the railroad, where the train picked up the milk.
Bertha Petith, our family’s genealogist and Keeper of The Stuff, transcribed Lucy’s diary, which gives us the chance to see a day-to-day comparison of their experiences.
Knowing my grandmother and great aunts and uncles in their later years, I had imagined that their early life had been pretty grim: full of hard work, perhaps isolation. They did work hard—the chores were endless, but they managed to fit more living in than many of us today. These diaries opened my eyes to the lively social whirl between the farm families, their propensity for hopping the train to visit or shop, their houseguests, their music, their parties. My grandmother Lucy always loved music, but I never knew she had played the mandolin until I read her diary.
Lucy’s younger sister, Jnet, carefully labeled and preserved many family photos and other documents from the Seger and Jennings families. She married one of Clarence (Jim) Jennings’ brothers, Richard, in 1926, and lived for many years at the Walter Jennings farm on Geer Mountain, a cross-lots walk frequently taken by Lucy and Jim, as she mentions in this diary.