Manuscript Diaries Collection Edit


Mss. Coll. Diaries


  • 1835-1892 (Creation)


  • 2 boxes (Whole)

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  • Abstract

    This collection is composed of original and copies of diaries. They include diaries by Miami students, and diaries written during the Civil War.

  • Language of Materials

    The records are in English

  • Physical Location

    Special Collections Vault

  • Scope and Contents

    Diary of David SpenceThis diary begins with Spence's decision to enlist in the service of his country for three years on August 7, 1861. Leaving Pleasant Plain, Ohio for Camp Denison, Spence spends most of his time during his first month drilling, but he also marks his 23rd birthday. "Have never accomplished anything yet but my youth is gone still the future remains," Spence writes on September 8, 1861. Spence then moves to several camps throughout Kentucky. He experiences his first skirmish on October 23, 1861, followed by the Battle of Ivy Creek, Kentucky on November 8, 1861. Spence's unit then traveled to several camps in Tennessee, working on rebuilding a railroad bridge. After traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, Spence concludes his diary soon after arriving in Jasper, an "old dilapidated town situated three miles from the Tennessee river." Diary of Edward MorrowAnother Civil War diary was kept by Edward Morrow, a member of Company A, 26th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry; 15th Brigade, Woods Division, 14th Army Corps, Department of the Cumberland, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Morrow's diary records his experiences while stationed at Camp Union, in Fayetteville, Virginia; Camp Henderson, Kentucky; Camp Morton, Kentucky; Camp Glenwood, Kentucky; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Camp Andrew Jackson, near Nashville, Tennessee; Columbia and Savannah, Tennessee; Camp Shiloh, Tennessee; Corinth, Mississippi; Iuka, Mississippi; Florence, Alabama; Tuscumbia, Alabama; Decatur, Alabama; Mooresville, Alabama; Shelbyville, Tennessee; Winchester, Tennessee; Franklin, Kentucky; and Louisville, Kentucky; and Silver Springs, Tennessee, among other locations. The diary concludes with an account of the battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on December 31, 1862. Diary of Nelson Wiley EvansNelson Wiley Evans, who was born June 4, 1842 in Sardinia (Brown County), Ohio, is the author of another Civil War diary. While studying at Miami University from 1861 to 1864, Evans served as First Lieutenant in Co. G, 129th Ohio Volunteer Infantry from July 1863 until March 1864, and as First Lieutenant, Adjutant and Captain, Co. K, 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, from September 1863 until June 1865. Although the bulk of Evans' diary spans from January 1, 1864 through July 13, 1864, it includes a few entries from the fall of 1865. The majority of the diary entries provide details of Evans' experiences while serving with the Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky and his return to Cleveland, Ohio in preparation for being mustered out of service. While in Cleveland, Evans records his thoughts on hearing Frederick Douglass speak about the issues of the day (February 19 and 20, 1864), attending bazaars, religious services and entertainment events, such as the "Stereopticon of Fallon" (March 1, 1864). After being mustered out of service, Evans returns to Oxford to resume his studies at Miami University, where he was "received uproariously by the assembled students" (March 23, 1864). During the four months leading up to his graduation, Evans describes the Erodelphian Literary Society's 75th semi-annual exhibition (March 25, 1864) and an outing to College Corner with a female (April 2, 1864). On June 30, 1864, Evans records his thoughts on his graduation day. Leaving home to begin the "battle of life" on July 13, 1864, Evans writes of his plans to enter a Philadelphia military school to prepare to enter the army. The diary picks up again in the fall of 1865, when Evans, a self-described "impoverished invalid," is studying to become a lawyer in West Union, Ohio under "dark and gloomy prospects" (September 10, 1865). Also included in the diary are essays about funeral discourses and the impact of slavery on state government. The diary also contains miscellaneous notes on military formations, Napoleon, incidents in Greek and Roman history, and lists of financial expenses. Diaries of Thomas B. Marshall Thomas B. Marshall kept five diaries between 1863 and 1865. Marshall enlisted in Company K of the 83rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment on August 14, 1862. He mustered in as a Corporal on August 26, 1862, but was soon appointed First Sergeant. He mustered out July 24, 1865 in Galveston, Texas. Marshall graduated from Miami University in 1861 and was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Marshall's diaries provide accounts of everything from the mundane daily routine at camp to fighting in battles. Descriptions of camping in pouring rain, preparing meager rations, reading books like Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities, and Peg Woffington, and even sightseeing in the areas in which he is stationed. In his first diary, Marshall records traveling through Kentucky, experiencing firing near the Arkansas river, and adjusting to the very cold, dreary conditions of a soldier's life. At the conclusion of the diary, Marshall writes: "Six months of my service ends with this book. In closing it, I look back on an eventful period of my life; on a period fought with my best interests. I have just concluded my college course was ready to enter some business in which I might make myself comfortable and happy. It is a period which will leave its mark upon my whole life, but whether for good or evil, who can tell, for good, I hope sincerely. Though the war has not blasted my hopes and expectations, it has postponed my trial of them. My sincere wish and desire is that this war may soon cease, that we may all return to our home, to pursue occupations congenial to several tasks." Marshall's second diary chronicles his participation in various engagements and sieges which successfully ended the campaign in Mississippi, including the Battle of Champion Hills, the siege of Vicksburg, the seize of Jackson and encampment at Vicksburg. Experiences in New Orleans, Carrollton, Brashear City, and Vermillionville, Louisiana comprise the third volume of Marshall's diaries. On January 1, 1864, Marshall writes: "What a New Year's. Cold, disagreeable to the last degree….Take it all in all, it was much better than the last New Year's…Camp presented the same appearance as it always did. Groups around the fire, shivering, swearing, and growling continually. It was not such a day as I passed at Oxford the last year I was there. Here not a female face can be seen hardly, and no knowing then but what they would rather see your coffin than you. But I am in hopes to spend the next New Year's at home." In the fourth volume of Marshall's diaries, he records his experiences stationed near Memphis, Tennessee; Natchez, Mississippi; Ft. Barrancas, Florida; and Blakely and Selma, Alabama; among other locations. On April 20, 1865, Marshall writes about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward: "Such a feeling of indignation and revenge I never before saw or felt. The rumor proved true, by official dispatches. It was hard to believe. Can it be possible that we are approaching anarchy? Is it possible that the way to power must be by the use of the dagger or pistol? Then arises the question of who could have done the bloody deed? At this stage of the war it is a most impardonable crime, and stamps the perpetrator as a villain of the worst description. Then the question, is this the result of war? Has war such an effect upon the morals of a people? It cannot be. The perpetrators of the action will live a life of remorse regret, and die a death filled with all the horrors of a hell. War cannot have such an effect on the people, because we have seen all Europe engulfed in a war, no such scenes were enacted. It was done by a set of Northern fanatics and desperadoes, who will never again show their heads among a crowd of those who were once soldiers." Marshall's final diary chronicles his days in Mobile, Alabama and embarking for Galveston, Texas. On May 29, 1865, Marshall visited the ruins of Mobile after 30 tons of gunpowder had exploded and 30 squares of buildings lay in ruins, writing, "I never saw such a spectacle in my life….Some shattered into kindling wood, others not so bad owing to distance. Men and animals are yet buried the stench is stifling. Large details of men are at work or hunting bodies. Nearly the whole town is more or less injured. Little piles of glass and plaster are visible in front of many houses." While sailing for Galveston, Marshall and his company experienced such severe seasickness that he lost nine pounds during the voyage. Upon his arrival, Marshall writes, "I don't think I will go home via New York," meaning he prefers traveling by land instead of by water. In Galveston, Marshall spends his time hunting for seashells and horned frogs. Mustered out on July 24, 1865, Marshall returned home to Lima, Ohio on August 11, 1865, after one day short of an absence of three years. By December 1865, Marshall was teaching languages at a school in Lansing, Michigan, living with his father and enjoying "an abundance of time for reading and plenty of matter to choose from." Diary of Joseph Cannan SmithJoseph Cannan Smith was born December 5, 1833 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The five-year-old Smith accompanied his family when they decided to travel west by covered wagon. However, the family got only as far as Preble County, Ohio. The 19-year-old Smith entered Miami University as a member of the Class of 1855, but did not graduate. Smith's diary records his daily routine as a Miami student. Reading Charles Dickens' sketches of London life, studying political economy and researching the progress of civil liberty during the reign of Edward I of England are some of the scholarly activities that Smith mentions. After all, Smith writes on March 17, 1855, "A man's mind is certainly of little worth if he learns nothing in a whole day. So I have to say, that, as mine has not become so worthless, I have picked up some little information once and a while, throughout the day." Smith describes celebrating his 21st birthday by receiving a copy of Shakespeare's works from his friend William Craighead and a full edition of Byron's works from Caspar Schenck. He also reports his almost unanimous election as president of the Miami Union Literary Society on April 14, 1855. As he writes, "I have always attended to any duty the Hall assigned me from study and such is the reward I receive. So would all be treated in their turn if they but do right. This has taught me, that where you desire preferment, always be honest and punctual, and it will surely follow." Like other Miami students of his day, Smith writes of attending chapel. On February 7, 1855, Smith writes that John W. Hall, Miami's new president, "officiates in the Chapel exercises with a Christian dignity that few men possess to a greater degree than him. This is his first session here, and he begins very auspiciously -" all the students having an unqualified admiration for him." Another name familiar to Miami historians makes an appearance in Smith's diary. On March 23, 1855, Smith records that he heard a lecture on neurology given by Professor Stoddard to the senior class. "The proff is a small man, but has a great intellect, and fills the chair of Philosophy, Geology, Physiology and Chemistry, with great credit," Smith writes. "He is an excellent scholar, and is gifted with that peculiar eloquence which makes the driest details brilliant and interesting." Smith also writes of his fondness for his father. After receiving a letter from him on February 17, 1855, Smith records, "It does me good to hear from home, and specially from Father. If he is a passionate and sternly impulsive man, he has been and is a self-sacrificing and indulgent Father to me." In one of Smith's final diary entries, he writes of hearing a lecture on the Arabs by the American travel author and poet Bayard Taylor on May 1, 1855: "As he is one of the celebrities of our Country he shall head my list of Portraits. He is a fine looking man, about 6 feet in height, slim and agile looking, walks a little like a Sailor with a rolling gait. Has dark hazel eyes, thin aquiline nose, high sloping forehead, prominent cheek bones, florid complexion, thin black beard, which he wears on all parts of his face, and lastly fine long black hair, making him look like an Arab -" or a Genius I don't know which. He is a very affable kind, and unrestrained gentleman, and he excels in conversational powers. I do not regard him as eloquent or even forcible in his manner of speaking, yet he has the ability to keep an audience unfatigued for 3 hours, even on a warm day. He delivered an able and instructive lecture here to a well filled house….Altogether for a poor boy, he has done as much for the world and himself as any other young man of 27; for that is now his age." After attending Miami, Smith read law in Dayton, Ohio, and began practicing law in Cincinnati in 1857. He joined the Union Army as a cavalry officer in 1861. During the war, he rose to the rank of Major and fought at the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, and Missionary Ridge. After the war, Smith became involved in various business ventures. He was one of the founders of the first streetcar company in Baltimore, Maryland and took over the Highspire Distillery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1891. Active in Republican politics in both Maryland and Pennsylvania, Smith was president of the Board of Trade of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was active in various fraternal organizations, including the Grand Army of the Republic. After Smith retired in 1910, he returned to Baltimore and died there on March 12, 1912. Diary of Jerome B. FalconerJerome B. Falconer of Hamilton, Ohio also kept a diary during his studies at Miami University in 1861 and 1862. Those same years, Falconer fought in the Civil War as a sergeant of Company C, 93rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but the diary does not include information about his wartime service. Falconer was mortally wounded at the battle of Stone River on December 31, 1862. He died in Hamilton on August 15, 1863. Falconer's diary begins with his feelings about leaving home to become a student at Miami University. "I can't say that I am glad to leave home just now, for several reasons," Falconer writes on September 2, 1861. "It will be impossible to pay as much attention to ‘war matters' as I would like, if I want to make any progress in my studies. But, nevertheless, I am glad and, I hope, thankful that I am allowed the opportunity of attending College." Suffering with frequent bouts of homesickness, Falconer often visits his home -" sometimes walking the 12 miles when he is particularly eager to get there. During the week, he reports on his daily routine, how his studies are progressing, and his relationships with his roommates and friends. When not doing his homework, Falconer is playing football, eating oysters and pies, and attending literary society meetings and social gatherings with female students in Oxford. Falconer's January 21, 1862 entry reveals details of how fortunate young men like him were to be able to pursue higher education at a time when the country was experiencing such financial difficulties, and how they realized that they needed to work hard to make their parents' sacrifices worthwhile. Falconer writes, "I disliked coming very much, as I didn't feel at all like studying, Oxford is so dry that I am afraid I will die before the session is over. Besides "times" are so hard that I hate terribly to take the money from Father, when he needs it so much himself, nevertheless, I guess it is the best thing I can do I came back with the determination to accomplish more than I did last session, I hope I may keep it." Diary of Isaac Newton SnyderIsaac Newton Snyder was born on April 7, 1856. He was the youngest of the seven children of Simon Ely Snyder (1804-1890) of Lee County, VA and his wife Sarah Witt (1808-1879). Isaac married Maria Antoinette Martin (1854-1902) in 1884. Together Isaac and his wife had at least eight children. The census shows that Isaac was listed as a farmer, living in Brownsville, Indiana. Isaac died on September 19, 1920 and was buried at the West Point Cemetery in Liberty, Indiana. While the census records record Isaac as a farmer, he studied at Miami University graduating with a B.S. in 1871 and A.M. in 1886. Isaac had an interest in astronomy and wrote a popular science book called Looking Skyward and the Earth published in 1911. The diary plan is one day per page. Isaac kept this diary when he was attending Miami University. There are 262 days of handwritten entries. Our writer does a good job of filling up the page when he does write. His entries are steady, one for every day from January 1 through June 27, at which point he breaks for summer break and returns home. There are a few entries while at home, but mainly they start up again when he goes back to school in the fall. However, during this time frame he came down with a terrible infection in his ear and almost lost his hearing. During his illness, he did not keep his diary. Diary of Joe BogueSpanning the year 1889, Joe Bogue's diary includes details of a family's daily chores, such as making clothes and tending to their farm property. Planting crops such as peas, corn, beans, and sweet potatoes are documented in the diary, as is the family's efforts to sell eggs and strawberries. Bogue also describes doing a number of chores, such as knitting, mending, and sewing. Attending Sunday School and religious meetings are frequent occurrences throughout the diary, but Bogue also documents that his family also helped a neighbor raise a house and read Pilgrim's Progress. Two special events that Bogue recorded during the year are the birth of his son, Walter, on May 21, together with celebrating his 40th birthday on November 26, which he also shared with his 12-year-old daughter, Maudie. No information is available about where the Bogue family lived. Diary of Nancy (Nannie) Mae Coppock During 1892, 21-year-old Nancy (Nannie) Mae Coppock from Tippecanoe City, Ohio kept a diary that recorded her daily activities. When she wasn't helping her mother keep house, she worked on quilt blocks, made pillow shams, and crocheted mittens for her little sister. In the kitchen, she tried her hand at making a "railroad cake" and baking sugar cookies a new way, but a recipe for a "snow cake" with a chocolate "stripe" wasn't as successful. She also made chocolate caramels and cracked hickory nuts for taffy to send to her older sister, Effie, at college. Diary entries reveal that the Coppocks' leisure-time activities frequently included attending debates. Some of the topics that were discussed included whether there was more pleasure in pursuit than in possession, whether novel reading is detrimental to humanity, and whether young men should receive a more thorough education than young women. On January 26, 1892 -" referred to by Nettie as election night -" a group debated whether "the signs of the times point to a downfall of our country." Nettie's diary takes an interesting historic turn on March 22, 1892. That day, Nettie traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan with her aunts, Phebe Studebaker Karns and Kate Senseman Studebaker. They met her uncle Joe Studebaker and his wife, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Fouts Studebaker, and were later joined by Nettie's mother. The purpose of the trip was an extended stay at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a popular destination of the time for those who sought relief from nagging physical difficulties in search of a more healthy future. Under the leadership of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the Battle Creek Sanitarium was transformed from a small Seventh-day Adventist health establishment into a healthful retreat, spa and hospital that accommodated 700 guests seeking refreshment for the body, mind and spirit. The most common ailments of those who visited the Sanitarium included chronic gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, and stress. Women represented about half of its visitors. Kellogg attributed illness to eating improper food, breathing impure air, and using alcohol and tobacco. Diet and exercise removed poisons from the body, strengthened muscles, and helped resist illness. A healthy -"preferably vegetarian -" diet, exercise, fresh air, water therapy, massage, good posture, and clothing that did not restrict the body were all advocated by Kellogg. The Sanitarium's restful setting and daily routines were conducive to the peace of mind and healthy living that Kellogg promoted. After being examined by Dr. Kellogg, Nannie had an operation. As part of her recuperation, she had hydrotherapy and electrotherapy treatments and performed exercises that were called "Swedish movements." These carefully planned and monitored muscle exercises provided relief from physical problems. As the patient tried to move, a Sanitarium worker exerted resistance to those movements. Nannie heard lectures by Dr. Kellogg, in which he talked about "Shoes and Walking" and answered questions that had been placed in the Grand Parlor's "Question Box." She also attended lectures by Kate Lindsay, a doctor on the Sanitarium staff who received her medical education at the University of Michigan and frequently wrote articles about health reform. Seeing a need for trained workers who cared for the sick, Dr. Lindsay advocated for a nursing school at the Sanitarium. Her philosophy of care focused on the welfare of the patient and natural remedies in the treatment of the sick. Participating in breathing exercises, sitting on the piazza, visiting the Sanitarium's park and greenhouse, and attending Easter services at the local Congregational Church were some other activities that Nannie recorded in her diary. One of the highlights of Nannie's stay was hearing Susan B. Anthony talk about "Woman's Rights" on May 6, 1892. "After the lecture I shoved through the crowd and managed to get her autograph in my book of illustrations," Nannie wrote. "I did not take my treatment until after the lecture which made me late. I scarcely got through till ‘Rest Hour.'" Nannie left Battle Creek for Tippecanoe City on May 13. "It seems so odd to have three meals a day," she observed after arriving at home the next day. "We had chicken for dinner," she added. Life soon returned to normal for Nannie, as she spent her days cleaning the hen-house and baking bread and pies. Other summertime activities for Nannie included picking strawberries, canning tomatoes, and making ice cream. She also made over an old dress into a "Mother Hubbard," a long, loose-fitting gown with long sleeves and a high neck that was popular during the Victorian era. Intended to cover as much skin as possible, it was introduced by missionaries in Polynesia to "civilize" the inhabitants of the South Seas islands, and is still worn by women in that area today. Nannie's extended family continued to have a significant presence in her diary. Whether attending church in their company or visiting her grandparents, Nannie also documented important genealogical events, such as the funeral of her aunt, Naomi Funderburg Studebaker. On December 3, Nannie and her parents took a trip to Dayton. While her father had all of his teeth extracted, she bought a calico dress, a fascinator (or headpiece), and a few more articles. After having her eyes examined, she learned that she had to get new glasses. The Coppocks ended the year with a trip to Mt. Morris, Illinois. They toured the buildings of Mount Morris College, one of Illinois' first institutes of higher learning. First a Methodist school, it was later affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. The family also attended prayer meetings in the chapel. After participating in a December 31 prayer meeting focusing on "what have I done for Jesus," Nannie pronounced it "the best prayer meeting I ever attended." Diaries of Joel ButtlesThe collection includes three photocopied diaries kept by Joel Buttles (1787-1850). In 1804, Buttles settled with his family in Worthington, Ohio, where he also taught school until August 1811, when he went in partnership with George Smith and bought the weekly newspaper, Western Intelligencer. The following year, the partnership was dissolved and Buttles moved to Franklinton, Ohio. In 1814, he was appointed postmaster in Columbus, and held that position until 1829. Buttles became a successful businessman in Columbus, including serving as president of the city bank for many years. His diary provides an excellent account of pioneer life in central Ohio (Ohio Authors and Their Books, ed. William Coyle, 1962). The originals of these diaries are held by the Ohio Historical Society.

    1. Spence

  • Organization of the Collection

    Series I: Original DiariesSub-Series I: Civil War Diaries Sub-Series II: Miami University Student DiariesSub-Series III: Other Diaries Series II: Photocopies of Diaries

  • Related Material

    Diary of Nannie Mae Coppock (the following book is about her parents): Hoy, Virginia Senseman. What Beautiful People!: The Story of the Family of Samuel and Nancy Studebaker. Hamilton, Ohio: Virginia Senseman Hoy, 1984 (Spec Cov CT 274.S78 H 69 1984).

  • Processing Information

    Processed by Betsy Butler, 2008

  • Restrictions on Access

    This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries.

  • Preferred Citation

    The Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries

  • Provenance

    Joe Bogue's diary was donated to The Walter Havighurst Special Collections by Dorothy Greensfelder. Virginia Senseman Hoy of Hamilton, Ohio (Miami University 1929) and Evangeline Senseman Hoyt (Miami University 1936) donated Nannie Mae Coppock's diary. Isaac Newton Snyder's Diary was purchased in 2014.