Recently I have become obsessed with this young woman from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania:
This is my great-grandmother Sarah Rebecca Meixell, or "Sallie," as she was known to friends and family. She was born in 1844 and lived to the age of 86. From the age of 19 until she was about 24, she kept a diary.
Thankfully, her diary still exists. It's in the Special Collections of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. Recently the wonderful ladies at the university's library sent me an electronic transcription of Sallie's diary.
I've been devouring it. Daily, she noted the comings and goings of friends, the weather, the chores she did, the food she cooked, and what she was mending or sewing or cutting out or creating (she was a very handy and inventive woman). She also wrote of more sweeping, dramatic things, like the assassination of President Lincoln when she was 21, and the utimely death of her father when she was 22.
This is Sallie's family. Sallie is standing behind her father, Joseph, her younger sister Martha Elizabeth ("Mattie" to one and all), and her mother Mary Ann:
This is one of Sally's best friends, Lucy Bliss. Lucy's family lived very near Sallie's, and they ran a stop on the "Underground Railroad," giving runaway slaves shelter and food as they fled from the South and slavery. One of Lucy's brothers had a boy who grew up to marry Sallie's daughter, so the two girls were not only friends, but ultimately family.
As an old woman Sallie looked like this:
In her later years, she came to California to live with my father's family (his momma was Sallie's only daughter). Sallie taught my dad to knit when he was five or six years old.
This stately house on Third Street in Lewisburg was Salllie's home from the time she was a small child until her last few years when she lived in California with my father's family. My paternal grandmother, Ruth, was born in one of those upstairs bedrooms on July 4, 1885--the 100th anniversary of the town of Lewisburg.
It's a handsome house, and it is still standing:
I know all this because of the daily diary of a young lady who wrote everything down, a century and a half ago.
Thank you, Sallie.
P.S.: You have my dad's eyes. Or, he had yours.