Diaries & Letters of Chemung County

All of the people pictured here, and more, can tell you about their life and times on these pages.
Chemung County NY
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Table of Contents - Diary and Letter Collection
Diary & Letter Collection of Joyce M. Tice
With additional contributions from site guests

The following table lists the diaries and letters presently in the collection of the Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project. As time goes on more of these will be presented online. They tell of the lifestyle of our predecessors in Sullivan and Rutland Townships. Once in a while they give us some important genealogical information. Rarely, they give an opinion, but most of these people were more involved in doing than thinking, or at least of writing about what they thought. The collection runs the full range of ages and gender. The lives were fairly similar one to another. Over time modes of transportation were the major changes. while the basic life style and community interactions remained much the same over the century represented here from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.

Any additional contributions to this collection are very welcome. Photocopies are the preferred method of transmitting the data, unless you have already transcribed it.

About the Diarists and Letter Writers

 The unifying elements of Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice are TIME, PLACE and CULTURE. The best qualified persons to tell us about all three are the diarists whose work is included here. The following collection includes letters and diaries from the residents of Sullivan and Rutland Townships in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Rutland is north of Sullivan and both are on the border of Bradford County, PA. The writers were located near or on the Sullivan-Rutland border. My original collection has been supplemented extensively by submissions from other locales in the Tri-County area represented by my web site.

 One of the elements the diaries share is that the  writers express few opinions. Mainly they serve as logs of work done, people who visited and places they went. Farm life was about work and that is the central focus in the diaries. The most extreme expression of emotion or feeling is an occasional  reference to feeling “blue.” They didn’t  focus  on  their feelings, only their work, and occasional social, activities. Rarely do any of the writers  express an opinion about another person. They simply record events.  As farmers, they are very focussed on the weather as it was, and is, such a controlling factor in their farming success. They also frequently use the diary as a log of expenses and revenues, debts owed, debts paid and so on. The Eugene Crippen diaries are refreshing in that they do offer opinions about events of the day.

 Together, these diaries record the changing lifestyles of rural Americans. Tractors and cars replace horses. The phone comes as a novel invention and then is forgotten as it becomes too common to notice. Electricity and new furnaces are installed.The roads are maintained. New kitchen equipment and television comes into households. Genealogists will find many birth, death and funeral dates of note. Many burial datres are noted in the Eugene Crippen diaries as he was caretaker of Watson Cemetery in Roseville in the 1930s. The Burt Strange diaries also are full of burial dates as he dug graves.

 Most of these people lived in what we would think of as very small worlds. They did not travel far from home and did not see or know as many people as we are accustomed to. With the exception of Lois ZIMMERMAN McConnell and Jim McCONNELL who traveled more than most in the 1930s and 40s, Joe HOLLY’s 1880 trip to Wisconsin to see his brother is one of the most distant journeys. For the most part, they went to Roseville or Elk Run (Chandlersburg, Bungy) or Mainesburg for horseshoing or church or Grange. They went to Troy or Mansfield for more extensive shopping. In later years, they went to Canton, Towanda, and elsewhere. A big shopping trip meant a trip to Elmira, New York either by train in the earlier days, or by auto in the more recent era.

 I have transcribed the spelling as it was written. We have to remember that many of these people, particularly in  the earliest dates,  may have had no more than 6 weeks of education a year. They were not stupid people, and we must keep their environment in mind as we read what they write. We may be amused by their grammar and spelling, but keep in mind that they reflected the standards of their time and place. In later years many did not attend schooling past the eighth grade. Herman TEARS  graduated form high school and Carrie McCONNELL Beardslee graduated from Mansfield Normal School. Jim McCONNELL and Lois ZIMMERMAN McConnell, whose diaries are here represented only in excerpt, were both Cornell University graduates.

 The few letters we have show much more personality and opinion than the diaries. Through these we can really get to know our Sullivan Township neighbors we missed in time. Through the sequence of these writings we can watch the changing times, the changing lifestyles, babies born and dying of old age, the flow of time in Sullivan and Rutland Township. It’s a quiet journey. Enjoy yourself. 

Since the original introduction was written several years ago, many diaries from other areas in our three counties have been submitted by guests. These are the voices of the diarists and give them a prolonged opportunity to tell us about the world they lived in. It is with the utmost respect and admiration that we present these here and give the writers the opprtunity to extend their world views.
1779 Indian Settlement on Seeley Creek in 1779 from the Journal of Lieutenant Erkuries Beatty
1817 Peter Loop Letter
1819-1858 Israel Parshall Diary - Off site
1828 Letter - Keziah PARSHALL Hulce to son Jesse
1837 Letter from Sally Banks of Veteran to her Aunt in Connecticut
1837-40 Albert M. Potter of Elmira Diaries
1839 Two letters from Millport NY to Mass.
1840s Daniel Doud to parents in Mainesburg
1847 Miss Parsons to Miss Ford
1850-1875 Marilla Park of Erin NY (diary excerpts)
1854 John Densmore of Elmira - letter
1857 Journal of a rail trip by Robert Bulkley
1865 Evelina Jane Green of Elmira - Diary Excerpts
1868 Diary of Carrie Bowers of Horseheads
1875 Wallace William Bronson of Sullivanville
1876- Thorne - Macumber Letters
1891 Emma Pease [Wells] of Chemung NY and Elmira NY
Twentieth Century Diaries
1900 Harry Cleveland of Elmira (Off Site Link)
1905 Berneice Reed of Town of Veteran
1907 Berneice Reed MacDougall of Town of Veteran
1908 Robert Smith of Big Flats
1909 Berneice Reed MacDougall of Town of Veteran
1917-18 Chemung County World War One Letters
1925 Emmeline SINCEBAUGH Ellison
<--Start Here--->
1930 Emmeline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison"
1931-32 Emmeline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison"
1933 Diary of Emmeline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison"
1934 Diary of Emmeline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison"
1935 Hazel FORREST Pease of Big Flats
1936 Helen STERLING Turner of Veteran
1937 Hazel FORREST Pease of Big Flats
1937 Berneice REED MacDougall of Veteran
1941 Berneice REED MacDougall of Veteran
1942 Berneice REED MacDougall of Town of Veteran
1942-43 Emmaline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison" of Spencer NY
1942 Letter from Dewitt Smith about World War Two
1943 Lee Dewitt TICE Diary
1944 Lee Dewitt TICE Diary
1944 Marcella MILLER Tice Diary
1944 Berneice REED MacDougall of Veteran
1944 Emmaline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison" of Spencer NY
1945 Lee Dewitt TICE Diary
1945 Marcella MILLER Tice Diary
1945 Emmaline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison" of Spencer NY
1946 Emmaline SINCEBAUGH "Ellison" of Spencer NY
1947 Memoirs of Pearl BROCKMAN Swick -
Growing up Late 19th Century
1952 Helen BARBER Ellison Diary
1953 Improvements to Fitzsimmons Cemetery
1953 Helen BARBER Ellison Diary
1954 Helen BARBER Ellison Diary
1955 Helen BARBER Ellison Diary
1956 Helen BARBER Ellison Diary
1957 Helen BARBER Ellison Diary
1969-70 Family History Letters - Desc. of Hannah Kimber and Josiah Bennitt
1978 Dorothy SMITH Diary
1979 Dorothy SMITH Diary
1980 Dorothy SMITH Diary
1981 Dorothy SMITH Diary
1982 Dorothy SMITH Diary
Chemung County NY
Published On Site 23 DEC 1997
By Joyce M. Tice

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