Days on the
Family Farm

From the Golden Age through
the Great Depression

By Carrie A. Meyer
U of MN Press, 2007


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From cryptic entries such as these below, Days on the Family Farm was crafted. Check here for periodic updates or follow along at MayDavisDiary on Twitter.

December 1918

12-1-1918  (Sunday) – Cloudy nearly all day.  Thaw very little in roads.  We go R in auto.  Roads rough.  Elmo take Beulah home in morn & we have dinner at Carrie’s, also mama.  She come home with us.  Mist a little before dark & soon turn to snow.  

12-2-1918  28o at 3:30PM.  Ground white in morn, but sun out early.  Then cloud over & snow little thruout day.  Elmo shred at Geo Brown’s. 

12-3-1918  Cloudy most of day & squalls in PM.  Thawing even tho cloudy.  Snowed last night.  Fred Davis come out in Whittle car to help while Elmo gone to Chicago Fat Stock show.  He and Elmo go CV before dinner.  Elmo go to Whittles after dinner, leave car and go to Chicago with Fred [Whittle].

12-4-1918  26o at 7AM.  Fred [Davis] shred at Reids. First time stalks been frozen down.    Elmo home from Chi about 10PM.

12-5-1918  Cloudy till middle PM.  Chilly wind.  Thaw in PM making roads slippery.  Fred take Whittle’s car home and come back to shred.    Elmo shred at Reid’s, then move to Barkley’s & work there till noon.  Then he go to Cole sale & leave me at Starr’s.

12-6-1918  Fred shred at Mat’s and then Kleckner’s till middle of PM when they put machine away.  Elmo go to CK’s in morn as he sick & then get colt & calves from Cole’s.  In PM get load wood for CK & then shred there. 

12-7-1918  34o at 7AM.  44o at noon.  Elmo go R with oats.  Fred go home.  Elmo home middle of PM, have cold.  Beautiful day.  Roads thaw so muddy.

12-8-1918  (Sunday) 34o at 8AM.  58o at 1:30PM. Beautiful spring day.  Elmo not feeling well.

12-9-1918  A rainy day, began last night.  E wind.  Elmo on lounge, but better.  We fix Xmas cards.

12-10-1918  Elmo much the same.

12-11-1918 Elmo no better & Dr come.  Mama tired out & Mrs Frigast come.  Elmo milk, but Clarence B do rest of morning chores.  Fred and Carrie Davis come out in AM. Roads bad.  Nice over head.

12-12-1918  Elmo about the same.  Dark, cloudy.  Fred do all sorts of odd jobs.  Mama better.  Fred take Whittle’s car home early before mud thaws and catch ride back. 

12-13-1918  Dark cloudy, rain little bit.  Fred take grist to CV & roads very bad. Elmo some better, go out little more.

12-14-1918  Elmo & Fred go to Perryville for pig.  Elmo have candy, $5, & book & card for birthday.

12-15-1918 (Sunday) Beautiful day overhead.

12-16-1918  Fine day.  Freezes little these nights.  Roads just like spring when frost going out.  Elmo take mama to R.  Fred try plowing by school till noon and then split wood. 

12-17-1918  Men finally get gang plow to work in AM and strike out land after dinner.    Both Fred and Geo Brown plow in PM.  Elmo take Carrie home and get Mama in PM.  Bernice & John B help me while Clarence sick. 

12-18-1918  32o at 7AM.  Cloudy.  Fred plow & Mr Brown plow too in PM.   E fix sulky in AM.  Get wash, dress chicken, go to woods to see where Edwin Molander cutting, etc in PM.

12-19-1918 34o at 7:30AM.  Beautiful day.  Elmo go R with auto.  Split wood in PM.  Get Kan box.  Fred plow.  School children have their entertainment at eve.

12-20-1918 41o at 7:30 AM.  Rain begin before light, rain at times thru AM.  Fred plow.  He & Elmo clean pig floor, etc in PM.  Elmo do odd jobs in AM.  School close for 2 weeks.  Dark & cloudy all day.

12-21-1918 Elmo take Fred to R in buggy. Rain hard much of AM.  Dark & cloudy all day.  Beulah here.

12-22-1918 (Sunday) Clear but pretty muddy.  Beulah & mama call at McLarty’s in PM.  Walter ride up horse-back in PM. 

12-23-1918 Cloudy all day.  Elmo go R in PM.  Plow in AM.  Just at freezing all day.  Starr’s all here at eve & to supper.  Snowing at mid-night when they go home.  NE wind.

12-24-1918  Awoke to blizzardy day.  E wind, snow, wet, over everything.  Quite drifts in places.  Elmo get up colts from pasture.  Not cold, but storm all day.  Elmo take Beulah home about dark.  Roads badly drifted. No mail.

12-25-1918 Nice sunny day, still not much cold.  Roads E & W so drifted no auto can get thru so Elmo go R for Fitch’s.  Howard & Irma come in bobs & Ed’s take his team home at night.  Postman get as far as McFarland’s & Starr bring our mail.  No milkman.

12-26-1918 Letters to Carrie, Mary Weaver, Lady Aunts, Puss, Kate & Mat.  Partly cloudy.  Elmo go R with sled for thresher co oil.  Mr Nichols come with wagon.  Elmo tip over with oil near F. Reids. 

12-27-1918  Nice day.  Starr, Franklin & Stan bring up beef.  Elmo get gang plow from field.  Go CV & around by Reid’s to get barrels of oil to Frank’s & Chas that he had tipped over last night.  Mrs McLarty & children here in PM.

12-28-1918  E take baled hay to R on sled.  Mr Frigast bring Mrs F & Clarence here in PM & they get house straightened out.  Send letter to May P.  Cloudy, snow some.

12-29-1918  (Sunday) Cloudy, but still & not cold.  Elmo & I go to H Fitch’s to dinner.  Breeze from E when we come home.

12-30-1918 Cloudy, but not cold.  Begin to rain about dark & soon turn to snow, which not last long.  Elmo go R with baled hay, tip over by Gus Nimtz. 

12-31-1918 Starr & boys in few min in morn when up to Mama’s for cutter.  Elmo to R with hay.  Letter to Mrs VanDyke.  Letters from Kate & Aunt Augusta.  Cloudy all day, snow at eve.


October 1918

10-1-1918 Cloudy, cold 35o at 7AM.  Gentle rain part of PM.  Mrs Frigast paper girl’s room.  Elmo fill silo at EMB’s.  Mr McLarty pick up a load of corn for Elmo & then get binder which Howard brought back in AM.  Howard bring pumpkins & rice[?]. Now only 3 little ducks, they get out of pen. 

10-2-1918 Nice sunny PM.  Cloudy AM.  Elmo fill at F Reid’s.  Mrs Brown call in PM. Mama have no way to go to Red Cross at Mrs Molanders.  Mr McLarty bring back corn-binder.  Starr not well.

10-3-1918 Starr better.  Elmo go CV in early AM, then pulverize in creek pasture till noon.  Then fill at F Reid’s (last job).  Home at 4 & again go to pasture.  Mama go to Mrs Barkley’s to Gleaners with Maggie J.  Lovely warm day.

10-4-1918 Warm, windy summer-like. Sprinkle about 5 AM.  Cloudy part of day.  Elmo pulverize & drag bogs at creek.  Frigasts here with wash.  Picken boys here at eve.  Spanish Influenza so bad they close school in R.

10-5-1918 70o above at 7AM.  80o above at 3PM.  Very windy, summer day.  cloudy morn.  Elmo, ma & I go R in AM. Subscribe for bonds at Hall on way.  In PM, Elmo at Hall.  Make pumpkin pie.  Elmo have to go back to Hall at eve and then to R.  Home at 10:15PM. 

10-6-1918  (Sunday) Churches close on acc’t of  Spanish Influenza.  Warm early, about 8AM.  Wind turn to N, get cloudy.  8:30 AM was 54o above.  Clear off before noon & nice day.  “Chugless” today but several autos go past.  Our school to be closed too. 

10-7-1918 43o above at 7:30AM.  Elmo dig potatoes.  I sit out in patch in auto in PM. Rather chilly SE wind.

10-8-1918 44o above at 7AM.  Sprinkle little before we up & a trifle thru day.  Cloudy.  Elmo dig potatoes.  Get what we want in cellar.  30 bu late ones, had 2 bu early already in.

10-9-1918 40o above at 7AM.  Lovely day.  Elmo dig potatoes, get load corn bundles for pigs, go CV towards evening.  Mrs McLarty & children here in PM.  Very foggy in morn, everything dripping. 

10-10-1918 50o above at 7AM.  Mostly sunny, warm beautiful days.  Foliage never prettier.  Elmo dig potatoes (all done but 2 pieces rows) till about 10 & then take them to town.  Epidemic waning in Camp, bad in R.  72o at 5PM.

10-11-1918 53o above at 7AM.  Cloudy, sprinkle at times.  Lovely day.  Bright leaves falling.  Elmo dig 1 ½ bu potatoes & then help Mr McL load hay, then fix auto tire & in PM, he & I go to see McKisky baler & on to Belv.  Then Elmo plow. 

10-12-1918  Just lovely outdoors.  58o above at 8AM.  Cloud till noon.  Elmo help Mr McLarty get his balky horse started with load hay after he get up bundles of corn for cows & pigs.  Howard [Fitch] bring home corn binder. Elmo plow & go CV at eve.  Very dry to plow.  Very hazy from Minn & Wis forest fires which are very serious.  Even smell smoke.

10-13-1918 (Sunday) 50o above at 7:30 AM.  A lovely day.  Starr’s drive in about 6PM.  Elmo go for walk to woods in PM.  A little cooler today, so we have furnace fire.  Still hazy.

10-14-1918 38o above at 7AM.  Beautiful day.  Elmo plow.  Mrs Frigast clean man’s & girl’s room.  Clarence Marteson help me in PM.  Ruth & Ruby Brown call in PM. 

10-15-1918 50o at 7AM.  Fine warm day, very windy.  SW. Elmo help Mr McLarty load hay, then fix fence by creek so cattle and colts can run up by school.  In PM we all go R.  Puncture in Knightville on way home.  ChasK & boys here in eve.  Epidemic bad yet in R. 

10-16-1918 69o at 12:30PM.  Beautiful, still.  Not so hazy.  Mrs McL & children here in PM.  Mr McL & Elmo each take a load of hay from our stack S of barn.  Real warm day.   Starr, also, down with hay.  Mama start Stanley’s helmet in PM.

10-17-1918 Ripe tomatoes & nasturtiums from garden.  Very warm, till about 5 PM when E breeze changed to strong NE wind.   Air full of haze and strong odor of fires.  Minnesota fires reported started again. Mr McL & Elmo take 2 more loads  hay today.  Ther drop to 68o about 5.   Mr. Lindstrum here to buy Mama’s incubator. 

10-18-1918 46o above at 7AM.  Cloudy till midle AM.  NE wind.  Elmo & Mr McL take last of stack (have to fill last load form barn).  Men take incubator from McLarty’s.  Elmo go Heidenriech’s at eve.

10-19-1918 Elmo go R with auto.  Warm & cloudy.  Begin to rain at eve.  Mr. McLarty pick up a load of corn for us.

10-20-1918  (Sunday) 40o above at 7:30AM.  Rained enough last night to lay dust.  Cloudy early AM.  Fine later.  Cool wind, NW.  We have early dinner & then go to Durand.  See Everett Green’s new son, born Oct 11.  Mama stay at Aunt Alice’s. 

10-21-1918 38o above at 7AM.  Beautiful day.  Elmo finish picking up corn in AM.  He & I go CV after dinner, then he work over corn husker.  Children go to school, but teacher not come. 

10-22-1918 Mr McLarty help Elmo husk corn with husker machine.  All right, but so dry & nubbin’s stick up machine, but get out 4 loads & begin about 9:15.  Fine day.  Warm.

10-23-1918 Elmo pick corn in AM.  Break wagon at noon.  Pick out 350 ears seed corn and hang in cellar in PM & then he & Mable go to CV with front wagon wheels behind car.   Mama go to Mrs Molander’s to Red Cross.  Nice day, partly cloudy.  Mable come about 10AM.  [Mable Fitch?]

10-24-1918 Rainy day, rained last ngith.  Roads real muddy.  Elmo to R in buggy, go over Liberty Loan list and find Guilford get about $60,000 bonds out of $100,000 quota.  Mable dust books.

10-25-1918 Nice day.  some cooler.  36o at 7.  Elmo plow.  Mrs Frigast clean mama’s room, hall & stairs, wash outside windows, etc.  Clarence here doing odd jobs.  Mable clean my closet, refrigerator.  Mama, Mable,  & Clarence to Mrs McL’s.

10-26-1918 Cloudy.  Elmo plow.  Mist from NE at times in PM.  Turn clock back 1 hr @ eve.

10-27-1918 (Sunday) Rainy till about 2PM.  Windy.  NE turn to SW.  Rained last night, too.  Poured in PM.  Then clear, thundered twice.  Some cooler.

10-28-1918 42o at 7AM.  50o at noon.  Cloudy, windy AM.  Then clear off & not cold.  Elmo go R in buggy, home about 4PM.  Cut corn.  Mama at McLarty’s in PM, to measure apron on Eunice.  I make needlebook.

10-29-1918 Clarence Bengston come & then try husker, but too muddy.  Then plow.  Clarence go home, Elmo plow in PM.  Clarence Marteson do chores in PM.  Maggie, Annetta, Emily & Stanley here in PM.  Rain & mist at times, very cloudy & dark.  48o at 7AM. 

10-30-1918 32o at 7AM.  White frost.  Elmo plow till 11 AM.  Finish at 10A with gang.  Then go see Garrett & CV.  In PM, he & mama go R in auto.  Roads some muddy.  Nice in AM.  PM cloudy, chilly, rain some before folks get home. 

10-31-1918 Chilly, cloudy rain, snow at times thru day till ground white, tho not stay long.  Mrs Frigast & Clarence here.  Clean dining room.  Clarence & Mable at Mrs McLarty’s on errands.  Elmo snap corn, pick out seed, dig last few potatoes & pull beets.  Elmo go to Lundvalls at eve with R. Watson to sign questionaire.


September 1918

9-1-1918 (Sunday) Home all day as no one is supposed to go pleasure riding.  Starr, Maggie, Emily, Joe & Stanley here in buggy in PM.  A lovely day.

9-2-1918 Dark, cloudy, at times drizzly.  Elmo go to N end bridge for Rena in morn, then to Lutton’s for ½ bu tomatoes.  Rather green, can 5 qts.  Then Elmo & I go to Van Epps to see about baler, find him at Linebaugh’s, then to H & D Price’s & home 12:30.  Kleckner here in PM.  Then Elmo begin fall plowing N of house with gang. Mama finish 9th sweater. 

9-3-1918 Partly cloudy.  Rena wash. School start.  Children in.  Elmo go R with grist.  Thresher men meet here at eve.  Also Molanders.  Mama call at McLarty’s in PM.

9-4-1918 Rain much of AM, gently.  Elmo clean timothy seed.  Plow in PM.  Get quite cool in PM.  50o above at 7PM.  NE wind.

9-5-1918 Can 4 ½ qts tomatoes.  Now 27 ½ qts.  Some warmer.  Pleasant.  Men here for timothy seed in morn.  Then Elmo take mama to Aunt Alice’s.  Thresh at Bengston’s in PM.  We have 1st young rooster for dinner.  Mrs McLarty & children here in PM.

9-6-1918 Elmo thresh at Bengston’s in AM, and Molander’s in PM.  Pleasant & some warmer.

9-7-1918 Elmo thresh at Molander’s till nearly 9:30AM, then take wheat & few potatoes to R.  Book agent here.  71o above about 4PM.  Some cloudy & rain a little about 1:30.

9-8-1918 (Sunday) A lovely day, quite warm.  Rena at McLarty’s in PM.  The 2nd of the Sundays the Fuel Admin asks people not to use their autos.

9-9-1918 Nice day.  Rena wash.  Elmo plow.  At eve he & C Kleckner go to thresher shed & take parts from engine.

9-10-1918 Cloudy, sprinkled a little about 11 AM.  Rena pick part of beans in PM.  H. Fitch & Irma call in eve, & Elmo have to go to silo meeting at M. Ralston’s.  Elmo thresh all day at Richardson’s & Van Allstine’s.

9-11-1918 Rain a good deal last ngiht & cloudy all day.  Rained this morning, too.  Elmo clean out stove pipe.  Go R in democrat for barrel oil for silo filler.  Vote at "Primaries."  Mama get her teeth in.

9-12-1918 Cold, windy, cloudy.  Mama come from R with Mrs J.F. Ralston to Gertie’s to Gleaners & home with Maggie Jane.  Elmo plow.  Rena at Mrs McLarty’s twice on errands.  Mrs McLarty & kids here in morn when Elmo go with Mr McL to register at Town Hall. 

9-13-1918 44o at 7AM.  Cloudy till noon, get clear & warmer in PM.  Elmo plow in AM.  Go to Mat R’s after dinner to help fix filler, then to R with Rena & her baggage.  She finish another time over the beans picking.  Starr's thresher Co finish work.  CK & Mat here at eve to fix something for silo filler. 

9-14-1918 Mostly cloudy, quite warm.  Elmo help fill silo at Mat’s.  Have had grapes from our own vines for several days.  Still have sweet corn.  Also a few pippins in pig lot. Sprinkle a little once.

9-15-1918 (Sunday) Beautiful day.  Elmo get no rest as he wash auto & while fixing it broke something & in PM, drove horses in search of Mr Grow & then to R.  Mr Grow come about 6PM & they fix stock pump again.

9-16-1918 46o above at 7AM.  Cloudy AM.  Sunny PM.  Elmo silo filling at Mat’s.  Get machine moved to Barkley’s.  Geo Picken here in morn for timothy seed.  Mrs McLarty & children here in PM.  Clarence Marteson begin to do chores for me. 

9-17-1918 Partly Cloudy.  40o above at 6:30AM.  Frost last night.  Ice in Starr’s pig trough. Stanley here while his father & Joe work on their corn binder at McLarty's.  Elmo filling silo at Barkley’s.  Corn not frosted.  Annetta came home from school sick at noon & stay till Joe come for her about 6.  Beulah H here in PM.

9-18-1918 Mrs Frigast here all day, send washing home in morn, by Mr F when he bring her up.  Cold, cloudy.  Elmo fill silo at Barkley’s & men get machine set here before noon.  Elmo take out old silage (6 ft left in silo) help Mr McL vulcanize tire and he help Elmo get out corn binder.  Elmo & ma go R in late PM, then Elmo cut corn till after 7PM.

9-19-1918 We go to Elkhorn Fair.  Leave Mama at Roscoe & McLarty's leave their car there & go up with us.  Ma ride with then to & from Roscoe.  Cold, cloudy, sprinkle few times.  Mr & Mrs F King call while we gone.   

9-20-1918 Fill our silo & have Red Cross meeting in PM.  10 men for dinner.  Mrs Frigast here all day.  Cold, cloudy.  1st time fire in furnace.  NW wind.  Move machine to Brown’s.

9-21-1918 Light frost last night, but much warmer today & sunny.  Elmo filling at Brown’s.  Mrs McL & children here in PM & Joe, Walter, Fr, Em & Stan drive in in PM.  At eve CK take Elmo to see baler & Mary & 4 children stay here, also Joe & Walter come in. 

9-22-1918 (Sunday) Frost again last night, but no damage here.  Lovely day & S breeze.  4th Chugless Sunday.  One buggy all that has passed here so far. (6:30PM) Now have 7 doz & 5 eggs in jar.  Elmo & Mama call at McLartys

9-23-1918 Elmo fill silo at Brown’s till middle PM.  Then we all go R in auto.  Fine day.  Warm in sun.  7 little ducks hatched in straw stack. 

9-24-1918  Elmo help Mat finish silo all AM.  Take grist to R in PM.  Partly cloudy, quite warm.  Starr filling silo.

9-25-1918  Starr finish filling at noon.  Lovely day, warm, cloudy towards eve.  Florence spend day here.  Starr & 3 children stop at eve.  Elmo go R in auto in AM.  Fill silo 4 hrs at Mat’s in PM.  Get R Grow after supper & they put new cylinder in stock pump.  H. Fitch get our corn binder from McLarty’s in morning. 7 doz 9 eggs in jar.  Look in back of book. [May’s B’day] Clarence & Russell pick beans.

9-26-1918  Clear & cooler.  N breeze, 40o at 7AM.  8 more eggs in Jar.  Elmo fill silo at Mat’s till noon, then at CK’s.  Mama tired & have cold in head. 

9-27-1918 Elmo fill at C Kleckner’s.  Mama better.  She send up Jr Red Cross work to school teacher by children.  Elmo find 1 ripe pumpkin.

9-28-1918 Elmo fill silo at CK’s & set machine at EMB’s by noon.  Home to dinner.  Beautiful day.  PM get up load corn bundles for pigs & then pulverize on bogs by creek.  Mable F[itch] spend day here.

9-29-1918 (Sunday) Now 9 doz eggs in waterglass.  We home all day.  No autos out.  Yes, Elmo saw one go into Lakes, big white car. 

9-30-1918 We all go R in AM, Mama & Elmo to sign McLarty’s questionaire.  Fine day, quite warm.  In PM, Elmo fill at Mitchel’s.  Cloudy part of AM.  Leaves are beautiful.