I an known to friends and family as “the girl who wrote things down.” I started writing in a journal more than 60 years ago. There are some gaps and some years I kept track of things on calendars when the kids were little (I wish I could go back in time and re-do those years, preserving those memories with more words).
I often wonder why I feel so compelled to write my fingers to the bone, every day of every week of every year. I think part of the reason is because I long to know more about my ancestors and I search and hunt for mention of them in libraries and in archives and in digitized records. Their lives are interesting to me–what they did, what they thought, how things worked.
For example, here are two random pages I turned to in John Bushman’s 1875 journal which I will post this week. He wrote this 147 years ago. John is the brother of Jacob, my 2nd Great-grandpa. It doesn’t take many words for me to learn a lot about John and those around him, including my dear Grandpa Jacob.
Here is a transcription of his entries:
The most routine things become fascinating with time. Especially chores and daily routines that may seem unimportant in the moment.
Sunday he went to church. Monday he killed his pig, then helped Jacob kill his. Tuesday he did “choring around home.” Wednesday he put a door and a window in his house, then went to a church meeting. Thursday he hung a stable door and paid 55 cents for 3 hinges. Friday he went after a load of wood. Saturday he made a fence for a neighbor and paid his tithing in pork. Sunday he went to his church meetings.
That was his week. He was 32 years old and he lived in Lehi, Utah. Those few words tell me a LOT about Uncle John–about his faith, his life, his brother, his work. Any words are better than no words. If you write them once, they will be read forever.