July 1, 1881 - September 30, 1881

July 1, 1881 - September 30, 1881

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John Jay Johns Journal
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Pen of John Jay Johns
Pioneer Families of MO
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Wilhelm Ahrens Speech
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Chambless, Sanderson, Simmons

Disclaimer:The opinions on these pages are those of the writers and don't necessarily reflect my own views. More...

Apr. 1, 1881.
Clear and cold.  I missed my neuralgia today for firt [sic] time in two weeks.  I feel very much weakened.  I have suffered very little pain in my life.  The Lord has been very tender to me in that respect.

Apr. 4, 1881.
Reverend John Boal of Cincinnati called on Mrs. Durfee.  His father, Robert Boal, lived here many years ago.

Apr. 5, 1881.
Clear and cold, mercury 27°.  Some new cases of meningitis.  I am still better today.  William Parks and Mrs. (Dr) Johnson called.

Apr. 6, 1881.
Louisa and her children left for home this morning.  They have been with us four weeks.  She is the picture of health, looks very young, though she is 39 years old and has had nine children.  She spoils her children more than any mother I ever saw.  Her children are very bright and good looking.  I went down town for the first time today in three weeks.  I am weak and feel a little of the neuralgia every day.  Miss Naomi Barron and her sister, Cora Holke called in afternoon, Miss Charlotte Shaw too.  Fred brought his horse for me to use a few days.

Apr. 7, 1881.
Commenced raining during the night and is still raining freely this morning.  Wind east, mercury 36°.  This rain will be very fine for wheat and grass, if it clears off warm.  I haven't planted a seed in my garden yet.

Apr. 8, 1881.
I got a letter from old Patsy (colored) in St. Louis, begging me to send for her.  She went to St. Louis last summer with her two daughters, one has died and the other gone to the dogs with drink.  But have no place for the old woman.  I feel sorry for her, she is a hard-working honest old woman.

Apr. 9, 1881.
Reverend Thomas C. Smith called on me in forenoon with William Parks.  I called on Mr. Smith at Dr. Martin's after dinner.

Apr. 14, 1881.
I have a man raking and clearing the yard today.  Sowed some Trophy tomato seed.

Apr. 16, 1881.
Bright, fine mild day.  It really looks like Spring, the first day like it.  Had my garden plowed today.  Planted a bushel of Early Rose potatoes, seven rows next the grapevines, and a bushel Burbanks next below towards the meadow.  I also planted four potatoes in 14 hills in the lettuce bed, sent my [sic] by Judge Buckner, called the White Elephant,-- late variety, formed by a cross of "Garnet Chili" and "White Peach Blow", twin brother of "Beauty of Hebron", - gross, large, good keeper.  Ground loose, manured last fall.  The sun is quite warm this afternoon.

Apr. 17, 1881, Sabbath.
Warm this morning, the sky hazy - mercury 82° by noon.  This is easter Sunday.  Fred and Annie came up in afternoon.  Mrs. Durfee has become very deaf in a few days.

Apr. 19, 1881.
Cloudy and cooler.  I went to my farm on the prairie this afternoon.  The wheat on my place is fair for the season.  good deal of water in the lake.

Apr. 20, 1881.
Cloudy and light rain before breakfast, very heavy dew.  I planted onion sets and three double rows of early peas today.  Mary Gerhart who has been living with us nearly ten years as a servant leaves us today.  She has been a faithful, good girl. Lizzie Poser comes in her place.  Had a square spaded for strawberries.

Apr. 21, 1881.
Cloudy and warm this morning.  Mrs. Durfee is suffering very much with her ears and is very deaf.

Apr. 22, 1881.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin called on Mrs. Durfee.

Apr. 24, 1881,  Sabbath.
Cloudy, warm, his [sic] threatened rain.  Communion in our church today.  Old Aunt Katy, the old colored woman, has pneumonia.

Apr. 27, 1881.
Went up to Mallinchrodt's nursery and got 200 Cresent seedling strawberries

Apr. 28, 1881.
Very cloudy and thundering this morning and before 8 o'clock raining -- cooler.  We are eating the last of our apples.  I never knew them to keep so well.  They are a drug on the market, 50¢ per bushel.

May 1, 1881.  Sabbath.
The Missouri River has risen very rapidly last night and today.  We expected Dr. Farris to preach for us today, But Mr. Morrison came in his place, a great disappointment to many people.

May 2, 1881.
We had a heavy rain last night and still raining some this morning, clouds heavy.  Continued rain now would be very disastrous, as the rivers are so high.  If the Gasconade and Osage Rivers were to rise now, at the present stage of the Missouri River, we would have the terrible scenes of 1844 repeated, and so much worse, as there are so many more people living on the bottom lands.

May 3, 1881.
Renewed the leases on my farm today.

May 4, 1881.
Cloudy and raining nearly all day.  Mrs. Glenday, my wife, Shirley and I went to St. Louis today.  The rain made it very unpleasant.  It is a fearful sight to pass over the bridge now with the great flood of waters, the bottom on the other side like a sea.  We walked nearly across the bridge at St. Louis with Arthur and saw a grand sight, the great expanse of waters in East St. Louis, the whole levee in St. Louis covered with water.  It is a grand solid bridge.  We took dinner with Arthur.  These continuous rains, with the present high water, are alarming.  The Marais Coche Lake is full, and my land on the bottom, and many other, is under water, and the wheat crop lost on it.  Captain Owen had to leave his house today.

May 7, 1881.
The river falling.  Captain Austin Owen's house fell in the river last night.

May 10, 1881.
Called at Ellen Johnson's (colored) where her mother, old Aunt Katy, lies dead.  She was our servant for ten or twelve years, faithful old woman and I hope she died a Christian.  I called on Mr. Robert Parks in forenoon.

May 11, 1881.
I received a very kind letter from my cousin, Thomas Johns, in Virginia, in view of my visit there.  We separated fifty years ago.  We were raised together and the same age.

May 14, 1881.
Planted nine hills of cantaloupes in the foundation of the old cabin and mulched them with straw.  I planted four hills of watermelons for Shirley near smoke house.  We have had another day without rain, though it rained around us.

May 15, 1881. Sabbath.
Clear and cool, wind in the west and looks settled.  Dr. Irwin preached for us today.  Dr. Martin is in Montgomery City assisting in an ordination service of a new pastor.  I was appointed a commissioner by the Presbytery to the General Assembly which meets in Staunton, Virginia on the 19th of May.  I expect to leave tomorrow.  This will be a long journey for me.  I expect to go by the Ohio and Chesapeake Railroad from Cincinnati.  After the Assembly adjourns, I expect to go to Richmond to see my niece, Mrs. Virginia Cowan Wooldrige, thence to Farmville, to see John J. Walker, my cousin, and then to Thomas Johns at Appomattox County, -- places I left fifty years ago.

May 16, 1881.
Clear, bright, cool morning, mercury 58°.  I start to Virginia this morning.  May the Lord bless me in my journey and bless my dear family in my absence.

(Journal garden record kept by wife in absence (partial copy))

May 17, 1881.
Town is considerably exercised over the kidnapping of little Mary King by Robert Parks.

May 19, 1881.
Cleaned house down stairs, had a fine day.

May 30, 1881.
Glover mowing the yard.

June 17, 1881.
I reached home last night after an absence of one month, at Staunton, Virginia, to meeting of General Assembly, then to Washington and Philadelphia where I spent a week with Mattie and Mr. John walker, and then to Appomattox where I spent three days with my cousin, Thomas W. Johns, and then home by Lynchburg and Staunton, via the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad to Cincinnati, and then on the Mississippi & Ohio to St. Louis.  the weather has been rather dry here since I left.  This trip has been a great treat to me.  I have remained at home closely for thirty years.  I saw a great deal that was very interesting.  Staunton, where the General Assembly met, is a beautiful town of 8,000 people.  It is most beautiful, situated on hills and surrounded by hills and mountains.  The town is flourishing, good trade.  The people are highly intelligent, refined and religious.  A good deal of wealth, as is seen in beautiful, private residences, surrounded by beautiful grounds.  The Presbyterian element very strong -- descendants of the old Scotch-Irish stock that originally settled the place.  It is a great center of female education, five large female seminaries.

(End of Excerpts copied from J. J. Johns Diary by Anne D. Gauss, his granddaughter)

June 17, 1881.
I spent a day and night in Washington City (D.C.). It is a magnificent city, splendid wide streets.  The public buildings are very grand.  I spent six days in Philadelphia.  Here I saw a great many interesting and beautiful things, Carpenter Hall where the first Congress met, Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed, the table on which it was signed, the chair and the furniture all preserved as it was and in the adjoining room a great many relics of the Revolution are kept.  I saw the great city building not yet completed which will be the largest and finest in the country.  I went to Fairmount Park containing 3,000 acres where the Centennial was held and where several of the finest buildings still stand and filled with the articles which were on exhibition then.  The Park is laid out beautifully with broad roads on both sides of the Schuylkill River.  I went to and through Greenwood Cemetery, a vast and beautiful city of the dead, ornamented with elegant and costly marble monuments.  I went to Richmond, Virginia and here spent 3 days with my niece, Mrs. Virginia Wooldrige, in Manchester.  Richmond is a famous city as the Metropolis of the old dominion and the last stronghold of the Southern Confederacy.  It is a pretty city of 70,000 people.  It has some things of great interest.  The old stone house where Washington and Lafayette held their headquarters.  The old St. John's Church where Patrick Henry made his famous speech for Independence, the State Capitol with its beautiful grounds where is the splendid group of statues of Washington on horseback, surrounded by Jefferson, Mason, Nelson and other heroes.  Also a fine statue of Stonewall Jackson.  I then went up to Farmville and spent 3 days with John J. Walker, my cousin.  He is about my age, were boys together 50 years ago.  His mother was Aunt Betsy Walker, sister of my mother and daughter of Joel Jones.  He seems to be in easy circumstances and lives in good style.  He is a member of the Presbyterian Church but not a spiritually minded man.  His mother was a most devoted pious woman I ever knew.  He married Susan McKinney whose father I knew well when I was a boy in Virginia.  He has only two children living, a son and a daughter, both married, Charles and Jennie Scott.  I went to Appomattox to visit my cousin, Thomas Winston Johns.  He and I were boys together 50 years ago.  He is the adopted son of my uncle Colonel John Johns and his mother was my cousin the daughter of Uncle Anthony Winston, M. D., and his father's name was McCormack.

***  Copyist NOTE:  The above seems to be a contradiction to other records in that his cousin, Thomas Winston Johns, was the son of John Johns' sister who married a McCormack and they had two children, a boy and a girl.  Both parents died when the children were very young. *****

Thomas lives on the plantation of his father who died in 1868, age 85.  He has a very interesting family, wife, five daughters and one son.  The oldest married, the wife of Captain Trent.  His daughters are very interesting ladies, well educated and refined.  His wife is a cultivated woman, good woman.  He is a very energetic Christian man.  His son is a very worthy man, living in Lynchburg in a wholesale house.  I stopped an hour in Lynchburg and saw him and then came on via Charlotteville to Staunton where I spent the night.  Great deal of eastern Virginia is very poor land, pine barren old fields turned out exhausted.  They think they are improving it in the state, recovering from the destruction of the war.  They need capital in immigration.  The negroes are unreliable, they seek employment in the towns, on the railroads.  On my return I came on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad from Staunton to Covington on the Ohio River.  The most beautiful mountain scenery in the world for 250 miles along the New River and the Greenbrier.  It is a scene of enchantment from one end to the other, beautiful rivers and beautiful mountains.  I had no accident of detention in my whole trip.  I saw a great deal and enjoyed a great deal, received a great deal of kindness from friends and will be a bright page in my history and the memory of it will ever be dear to me.  The Lord was very merciful and gracious to me in this whole journey.  My wife and Shirley are absent in Sedalia.  Home is not home without them.

NOTE:  From here on starts his regular daily entries which will be copied at a later date.  Anyway, this completes the story of his visit back to Virginia. (F.J.)

June 17, 1881.
Very hot and dry here.  Vegetation has suffered some.  Early vegetables were not good, the late vegetables promise well if we get rain.  No fruit of any kind, the peaches were killed, cherries and pears and apples have all fallen off, especially the early ones.

June 18, 1881.
Warm.  Glover went to St. Louis.  Heavy cloud in north in afternoon, only a sprinkler, went east.

June 19, 1881.  Sabbath.
Heavy clouds and thunder in early morning in north -- passed by us.  Another about 12 o'cl. while we were in church, good deal of wind, passed us on east.  Fred and Annie came up in afternoon.

June 20, 188i1.
In afternoon between two and three o'clock heavy clouds from northwest with good deal of wind and afterwards a good rain cooled off very much.  Glover returned by late train last night.  The harvesting just commenced fairly today though some have been at it a few days.  Much later than usual.  Lizzie gave birth to a son last Friday and it died on Saturday afternoon.

June 21, 1881.
Cool, cloudy and rainy this morning.  This rain will be good for many things.  My potatoes under the straw have been too dry.  Not straw enough on them.  I got a small mess yesterday.  We have had a few messes of raspberries.  Election today on restraining swine.

June 22, 1881.
Clear and cool this morning, mercury 55°. This is a most delightful day, mercury at noon 72°.  Had all my corn and garden plowed, strawberries hoed and mulched, old pea vines taken up and ground spaded for popcorn.  Very cool in evening.

June 23, 1881.
Cloudy and cool all forenoon, mercury 60° in morning.  Harvesting generally about 8 days later than usual.  Wheat crop much lighter than last year.  For some reason, did not fill well, too light colored straw where last year there was 35 bushels per acre this year will be 20 bushels.  The corn on my place is in fine condition.  Everything is late.  Very heavy rain down there Monday and good deal of wind.  Went by Mrs. Durfee's, wheat about like mine, corn not so good.

June 24, 1881.
Cool this morning and during the night, mercury 65°.  Planted some corn on pea ground.  Set out cabbage plants.

June 25, 1881.
Nights cool, cloudy today, mercury at noon 80°.

June 26, 1881   Sabbath.
Pleasant, cloudy.  Arthur came up this morning.  He is very busy, taking stock at the end of six months.  Dr. Martin gave us a very good practical sermon on the text "The Strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.  Let each please his neighbor for edufication [sic].  James I ".

June 27, 1881.
Clear early this morning, soon clouded up, little shower, heavy clouds in west and northwest and thundering.  Heavy rains passed around us last night, good deal of rain today, this is trying on the wheat, standing in the field uncut.  It has occurred to me that this is my sixty-second birthday.  What can I say in view of it.  When I think of the many events that fill up a space of sixty years how long it seems and yet how short it is.  I am conscious of a great many errors and sins in my life and nothing but the sovereign grace of God has kept me from ruin, temporal and spiritual.  I can sum is [sic] all up in this -- Goodness and Mercy have followed me all the days of my life and after this life is ended I am looking by faith in the Lord Jesus to that house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

June 28, 1881.
Cloudy in the morning and very warm.  Wrote to Mattie and Louisa.  Cleared by 10 o'cl a.m. Very hot day, mercury at noon 95°.  Everything will grow well now.  Went to jail this afternoon to see a young man by name of Birdsey who was arrested for getting money under false pretenses.  He is of good family in Louisville, Kentucky.  I wrote to his father asking him to send money to get out and get him home.  He took one false step and that led to others.  Called at Judge King's this afternoon.  A comet is visible every evening about 9 o'cl in northwest and every morning at 2 o'cl.

June 29, 1881.
Clear and very hot, the mercury at 6 o'cl a.m. was 80°.  This is a very hot day, mercury at noon 96°.  Mrs. Reid, Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Stuart spent the day with us and Mrs. Walton and Mrs. Alderson took tea.  Young Birdsey's father came and took him home.

June 30, 1881.
Cloudy and threatens rain this morning.  Heavy clouds and lightning all around last night at 9 o'cl.  Rain in forenoon, got much cooler in evening.  Robert Pouris came out in evening, he is going to Scotland soon.


Source: Location of handwritten original unknown.  Transcription and excerption by Florence Johns in 1960s.   Transcribed to softcopy by Susan D. Chambless, 1999.

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