Recap of Diary One

The following are highlights from Diary One…

St. Johns Park, Winter, 1866

Diary one opens on September 5, 1838, when Julia and family are returning from a month’s vacation to Stone Ridge, New York. They often spent time during the summer months traveling upstate trying to avoid summer illnesses, also taking the opportunity to visit Garret’s brothers’, Benjamin and Cornelius, and his sister, Maria. Back in New York City, she and Garret purchase pews at the Broome Street Church. Julia writes about taking frequent walks to St. John’s Park. Most of her time is spent sewing and reading spiritual scripts.

By October, Julia writes of her first visit to the doctor since her marriage. She mentions shopping at Middleton’s and spending time with Henry and her mother (Catharine Lawrence). Garret reads her to sleep at night. On Friday the October 26th, Julia remarks that she thinks herself “enceinte”, which translates from French to English as “pregnant”.

By November, Julia writes of hiring a girl for sewing. She mentions that she, “coughed at night until my breast became sore, took Paregoric.” Paregoric is camphorated tincture of opium. She writes, “Without religion, happiness is a shadow.” Garret finds accommodations on 19th Street for her family who has been previously living in Bloomingdale (present location of Harlem).

By December 2, Julia writes of feeling the pulsations of life. Cricky (a new servant) is doing the wash.  She thinks herself four and a half months pregnant. She hires Mrs. Lee to come and help in April, when the baby is due. On the 16th, Julia writes of Garret going to the Tabernackle.

On New Years day, Julia writes of being disappointed at not having more than a dozen calls. She contemplates the birth of her third child and remarks, “My spirits cheerfull [sic], my mind tranquil, in the anticipation of an event, fraught perhaps with life, perhaps with death. Garrets love for babies, reconciled me to the pain and agony I must suffer in giving them birth. She is constantly sewing, especially making baby clothes.” By the 25th, she writes, “feel worried about my confinement, no room in this house convenient for sickness. Do not know what will be my fate, cannot bare the thoughts of spending 5 or 6 weeks in Garret’s bed room, so dull, cheerless and foreign to all my former accommodations and ideas of comfort.” On the 29th she writes that it was Garret’s brother, Benjamin’s wedding day and also Garret’s birthday.

On February 21, Julia articulately writes of her love for her daughter, “Conclude my love for Julie, the most overwhelming passion of my soul. The manner and nature of her birth, rendered her peculiarly dear to me. The possibility of a separation from her; just as her affections cling to me, often presents itself  to my saddened thoughts. Who can supply the mothers place with all her tenderness, and love?”

On February 27, Julia mentions having to enlarge her mousseline de laine (a thin worsted fabric, often having a printed pattern). This is the first mention of Julia’s figure changing due to her pregnancy. She is seven months pregnant!

By March, Julia begins thinking about her confinement and dreading having to be upstairs.

On April 5th, Julia writes that on April 7th, “in one hour a little boy was born”. On Tuesday, April. 9th, complications from the birth set in. “Had some difficulty in making the babe nurse, my breast sore; continued so for six weeks.  Had a nurse come eleven times. Paid her seven dollars, and a ½.” She writes, “Suffered a great deal of pain with haveing [sic] them drawn. Kept myself quiet for one month, lived on oysters, crackers, and tea, Mrs Lee, remained with me six weeks. Had the baby vaccinated in the fourth week, his arm quite sore. I cannot recall,  nor do I wish to remember all the troubles, and pains of those six tedious weeks. – The sleepless nights, and trying days. Five months have elapsed since I have committed to writeing any of these events, so that my journal, has been almost forgotten, in the midst of other cares. Still memory will serve me to mark the time of such incident as I may wish to note down.”

In August, Julia has some thoughts concerning her brother’s David’s profession. In a revealing statement she writes, “Should not like a farmers life; too much work in her rest. Witnessed too many troubles, and trials to wean me from a romantic partiality. No servants to be procured in this country; a miserable state of society.”

Niblo's Garden

In September, Ann Shanely is hired as the family cook. Julia mentions going off to Niblos to see the Ravels. Niblo’s Theater was built in 1828 by William Niblo. It was located at Broadway at Prince Street. It seated about 3,000 and included an outdoor garden. Musical entertainment was performed in the center of the garden where there stood an open air saloon. In the evenings the Garden was illuminated by hundreds of glass lanterns.

On November 21, Julia writes that she has gone to Broadway, to the Tabernackle. She enjoyed a lecture by Mr Cushings on the rights of men and women.

4 thoughts on “Recap of Diary One”

  1. Great recap. This is very helpful for anyone who has some catching up to do.

  2. Laurie Hancock said:

    Susan, this recap was excellent! Thank you. I am just getting started and it was so helpful. I am captivated. 💗☺️

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