140 years ago . . .


. . . 15-year-old Henry Nathan Robb, a farm boy from Munson, Illinois (couldn’t find it on the map; checked ePodunk – population was 488 in 2000), begin jotting his doings in an 1872 Excelsior pocket diary.  I bought the diary and have transcribed it here both as a random act of genealogical kindness and as an insight into the life of a young man somewhere in the middle of 19th century America.

In 1872 Grant was president (again), Mark Twain was publishing Roughing It, Whistler had just painted his mum and America was in its Gilded Age – none of which seem to have made even the most minute impression on Nathan Robb. Instead, with all the prolixity of a typical teenage boy, Nathan Robb gives us brief but dutiful entries about the weather, the fields he cleared, and the occasional cryptic grammatical gaffe (“Fred dided today” – Wednesday, April 17th, 1872). Consider yourself invited to ramble through rural America in 1872 with him, day by day.

I will attempt to footnote it as time permits.  You can contact me at Robb1872diary_at_gmail.com with questions or comments.