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150 Years Ago

150About 35 years ago, Janet Heslam bought from an antique shop in Brooks four daily journals from October 1864 to October 1871.  It turns out they were written by a man in Montville who farmed, but he also supervised the one room school houses. At the end of the first journal, she found the signature of H. M. Howard. The other journals are not signed. Janet determined the journalist was 27, in 1865, and his daughter Eva died in 1864. Janet decided to transcribe these journals to share in her weekly letters to her grandchildren. She offered to share these transcriptions so they could be posted on the Library webpage for everyone to read. We will post one a month. It will be interesting as we go through the year to compare the daily happenings of a man 150 years ago to the present day. We hope you enjoy!


Seems there was an April Fool snowstorm in 1867, too. The entries this month reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

Note: Spelling, punctuation, etc. are that of the journalist and was not changed in most cases.

Fran Gonzales, editor of the Montville Column for the Republican Journal, received this email from a very knowledgeable person concerning the history of journals, recently transcribed, from 150 years ago:

Thanks for posting the links to the 1864 Journal of the Montville School Teacher…they were very interesting to read. Using the clues included (sibling names, deaths of people mentioned, etc.) , I think I have solved the mystery about who authored these Journals.  The woman who donated the Journals indicated that the author had a young daughter named Eva die in 1863…this fits with Hollis Howard’s history.  I could be wrong, but I think the Journals’ author is, son of a farmer and one-room-school house teacher:

NAME: Hollis Howard

Birth: May, 1838

Death: August 22, 1913

Son of Samuel & Lucy (Ripley) Howard.

Husband of Mary Clark Howard (1839 – 1910)          

1860 Census Montville, Maine: listed as “son” and “School teacher” in household of (“Farmer”) Samuel Howard

1880 Census Montville, Maine: Hollis and Mary Howard 

children: Ralph W, Mark L, George C.   


Eva M Howard (1862 – 1863)*

Ralph W Howard (1866 – 1941)*

Mark L Howard (1872 – 1944)*


Whites Corner Cemetery, Whites Corner, Montville, Waldo County, Maine, USA

Permanent link to this article: http://liberty.lib.me.us/150-years-ago/