The Daily Prompt – Record

I’m trying something new today. Monday is the day that I get weekly digests of the blogs I follow. I tend not to be very productive on Mondays, so it is a good day for me to read what other bloggers have to say. I follow a variety of bloggers from around the world – USA, Scotland, France, Australia, Egypt, England, Canada, India, Norway, and South Africa. I follow the blogs of other writers, as well as a young man who is a music composer, photographers, historians, pastors, stay-at-home mothers, a father whose daughter died of cancer at the age of 19, and an autistic man in the United Kingdom.

This afternoon I found a blog that was new to me: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/challenge-instructions/. The site offers a writing prompt every day. I’ve never done much with writing prompts, but this might be a way for me to blog more often than my usual Tuesdays and Fridays. It has already prompted me to do a little writing on a Monday, which is an accomplishment in itself. Today’s prompt is the word record.

Right off the bat, I’m faced with the decision of whether to use record as a noun or a verb. I chose to use it both ways.

I immediately thought about the daybooks one of my great-grandfathers kept in which he wrote daily from 1891 until his death in 1914. His daybooks (or journals) are a RECORD of life on his farm in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. What a gem for his descendants! I wish he had RECORDED more current events. He had fought in the American Civil War, so on the anniversary dates of the battles in Richmond, Virginia, and New Bern, North Carolina were always noted.

In April, 1896 he wrote the following note in the margin:  “We Built this house in 1886 and moved in it   Earth Quake Aug the 28 the Same year.”

On May 31, 1897, after commenting on the weather, that he didn’t feel well (“I am on the Sick list.”), and what was being done on the farm, he ended the day’s daybook entry with, “a Earth Quake this Eavning 12 m to 2 o clock.”

Lee Dulin kept a daily RECORD of the weather and that day’s activities on the farm. He was a widower raising six children, his wife having died in childbirth in 1881. Trips into Charlotte for supplies were duly noted, as was his trip by train to the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. A man of few words, though, he merely wrote down the day he left for Atlanta and the day he returned. It was probably the first time he saw electric lights, but we’ll never know. He didn’t write about anything he saw at the event, which was very much like a World’s Fair.

Photo of part of a page of ciphering in one of Lee Dulin’s daybooks.

There was one fact Lee Dulin RECORDED in one of his daybooks that proved to be valuable to my sister and me as we worked on our family’s genealogy. If not for this almost overlooked note on a page of ciphering in one of the daybooks, we would not know the name of his father. In case it’s not legible here, he wrote, “James J. Dulin my Papa name.”

In today’s computerized world in which it is said that young adults have no interest in keeping a photograph or a piece of paper, I’m glad I came along in a time when family RECORDS like great-grandpa’s daybooks were valued and saved.

Incidentally, I blogged about Lee Dulin’s daybooks a year ago tomorrow, May 14, 2016, in case you want to read more about it.

Until my next blog post (which will be posted in about 11 hours)

I hope you have a good book (or an ancestor’s daybook) to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Janet

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Thomas Lee Dulin’s Daybooks

One of my great-grandfathers, Thomas Lee Dulin, kept a daybook almost every day from 1891 until 1914. Perhaps the roots of my desire to be a writer can be found in that part of my gene pool. Being born in rural North Carolina in 1842, Great-Grandpa did not have benefit of a great deal of education. For that reason I especially admire him and appreciate the fact that he sat down with his pencil and ledger and wrote nearly every day. He seldom used punctuation and his spelling was not perfect, but he probably did not have a dictionary. He made the effort almost every day, and by doing so left a great example for me to follow suit.

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Great-Grandpa wrote about the weather (which was of utmost importance to him as a farmer) and what was being done on his farm in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He noted the going price for a pound of cotton in Charlotte and surrounding markets because cotton was his main cash crop. If a neighbor stopped by to visit, he made a record of that.

According to official records, Great-Grandpa enlisted in Company H, 35th Regiment, North Carolina Troops in 1861. He gave his age as 21, although he was just 18. As a veteran of our country’s civil war, he made note of the anniversaries of the two main battles in which he participated – New Bern and Richmond. He was wounded in the left shoulder at Malvern Hill in the seven-day Battle of Richmond.

Some years ago, my mother and sister painstakingly hand-copied Great-Grandpa’s daybooks. Without realizing that today was the 154th anniversary of the Battle of New Bern, I checked that transcription to see what was going on in Thomas Lee Dulin’s world through the years on March 14. It was sobering to read his daybook entry for March 14, 1899: “37 year today I was in the Battle of Newbern, N.C.” Although in the interim he had married, been widowed at the age of 38, and left to raise his six surviving children, March 14, 1862 was forever engraved in his memory.

As the years went by, Great-Grandpa almost never failed to mention on March 14 how many years it had been since the Battle of New Bern. Oral history is valuable, but sometimes the stories get changed as they are passed down from one generation to another. The written word, especially when kept daily in a daybook, journal, or diary is a powerful record that we can hold in our hands and refer back to in order to make sure we get the facts right. My great-grandfather’s daybooks are a family and local treasure housed in the North Carolina Collection at the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.