Forward by J. Douglass Klein
Union Mills Tennis Club, Aug. 24, 1891"
Standing, L-R: Louis Edwin Shriver (Uncle
Lou), Mary Winifred Shriver, Henry Wirt Shriver, Jr. (Harry),
This is a transcription of a diary written one hundred and nine years ago by my grandmother, Mary Winifred Shriver, started when she was thirteen years old. The diary, which begins in March, 1889 and goes through Christmas day of that year, is a description of everyday life at the Union Mills homestead. It gives the reader a good sense of the pace of life at the homestead. One cannot help but be impressed with the constant stream of visits to and from friends and relatives throughout the year covered by the diary. At the same time, the peace and simplicity of life in the1880s comes through. Trips to town were done on foot. Ice cream or candy was a rare treat. Telephone calls came rarely, and only then the nearest phone was across the road. Letters, on the other hand, were exchanged frequently. Travel was by buggy or bicycle.
Toys and games mentioned include Hyspie (I spy?), marbles, still pond, checkers, chess, base ball, pig ball, tennis, blind man buff, anagrams, "quaker meeting", store, backgammon, card games (whist, pedro, solitaire, euchre), swimming, fishing, wading, music (piano, duets, singing), blocks, dolls, and boating. Among the events mentioned in the diary are the Johnstown flood, the birth of Benjamin Franklin Shriver, and of course the holidays Easter, the Fourth of July, Winifred's birthday, and Christmas.
Winifred, born August 8, 1875, was the daughter and fourth child of Henry Wirt Shriver and Mary Jane Winebrenner. Henry Wirt Shriver was son of Andrew Kaiser Shriver, and he and his family lived in the original homestead at Union Mills. Winifred's diary is full of references to her brother Henry, who was 18 in 1889, sister Elizabeth (Bessy), aged 19, sister Catharine, aged 11, and Uncle Lou, brother of Henry Wirt.
The family of Benjamin Franklin Shriver and Helen Nicholson McSherry lived across the road, and the families spent much time together. Madeline, aged 10, and Helen, 7, were frequent visitors. Many other aunts, uncles, and cousins came and went. For reference, I include copies of the genealogy pages for Andrew Kaiser Shriver and William Shriver, taken from the 1888 edition of the "Green Book". The index provides a list of the friends, neighbors, and relatives mentioned in the diary.
The diary came to me from my Uncle Frederic Shriver Klein through my father, Philip Shriver Klein, both sons of Mary Winifred Shriver Klein. The diary is a seven by nine inch bound book, black with red spine, with pages ruled like an accounts book and numbered 1-96 in blue type. Fred has written in pencil inside the cover: "Winifred Shriver Diary - Union Mills - 1889 (Mrs. H.M.J. Klein)
In transcribing, I have tried to be faithful to the layout and text of the original
diary. Each page was pre-numbered in the top outside corner, and Winifred wrote the month
and year centered at the top of (nearly) every page. Each page has the day and date down
the left had column, and the text fills the 28 ruled lines. The writing is a fairly neat
cursive in brown or black ink, with occasional scratch-outs. Where it seems interesting or
relevant, I have indicated the words scratched out,
grammar, and punctuation are somewhat inconsistent. I have tried to stick to the original.
To confirm blatant errors, I have indicated that they occurred in the original with [sic].
A few words were undecipherable, and I have given my best guess with the notation [?]. I
have included transcriptions of two poems which were on separate sheets folded into the
book, although the handwriting does not appear to be Winifred's, and one letter written
two years before the diary starts.
While this diary has special significance to me because of my relation to its author, I hope that you too will find it to be a charming slice of life in a bygone era.
JDK (son of Philip Shriver Klein, son of Harry Martin John Klein
and Mary Winifred Shriver Klein)
Niskayuna, New York
Diary Table of Contents
Page created and maintained by J. Douglass Klein. Last updated 07/26/04 07:12 PM