Fulton Caldwell opened his personal diary with details of a trip from Ohio to Iowa in December 1859. His careful list of all expenses clues the reader in right away to a man concerned with the details. “Fulton Caldwell, now a prosperous farmer and a leading citizen, was born on the Caldwell homestead in 1833,” says his biography in the “History of Noble County [Ohio]” from 1887. “He was brought up a farmer, and has followed that occupation principally.”
Caldwell must have gotten waylaid by the business of living, however, since his next diary entry doesn’t turn up till 1873. The ‘History of Noble County’ profile gives a hint: “He was engaged in mercantile business four or five years, and for about two years was a stock-buyer and drover. With these exceptions he has devoted his time and attention to farming, stock-raising and dairying.”
But between January 1873 and December 1910 ‘Fult’ Caldwell managed the impressive feat of producing a daily journal entry. The typed, single-spaced document transcribes to 508 pages.
Caldwell’s entries typically note the weather, farm chores completed or in need of attending, neighbors visited, village births and deaths. He didn’t vary that writing strategy much over the entire 37 years of diary keeping. Here are his diary entries for the last week of April, 1873:
Sunday, 27…Pleasant day – sun shines warm – at home – Mr. and Mrs. Moor here.
Monday, 28…Cloudy morning – quit at noon – rain early all day – Mr. and Mrs. Moor went home.
Tuesday, 29…Cloudy morning – sprinkles rain a little – I went to Gouchenours and Moors. Corden got hurt.
Wednesday, 30… Clear frosty morning – I commence plowing for oats – turn all stock on pasture – good pasture on Glidden farm – Sam Archer commence work today at $13.00 per month – boys haul wood.
Thursday, 1…Cloudy morning – we made a little garden – and finish sowing oats in field west of barn – rain in afternoon – we commence post holes for ball lot – Worthy McKee here.
…and 37 years later, that same last week of April in 1910:
Wednesday, 27…40 degress – rain during nt – cloudy threatening morning, clears off, pleasant by noon – cloudy again before night though sun sets red – find spring growing day – I am home – assist Ruth cleaning kitchen.
Thursday, 28…75 degrees – cloudy threatening day – sprinkles of rain – I borrow of C.C.C. check, $100.00 and pay same to Hugh Nughart to be accredited Mrs. Dr. Martin, money borrowed one year ago today.
Friday, 29…48 degress – Clouding threatening morning – clears off pleasant warm day – I walked with Marsh Merry to Ruths land west of town, then went on to Wm. Treadways home in hollow on west part of H. Caldwell farm where I have not been for over 50 years – called to see Mrs. D. Gouchenour, Dave Devold, Peter Walters and Mrs. Brock – Ben Davis hoed our sweet corn in garden – planted March 24 and all grew and standing now – also hoes potatoes well up in garden, Irish Cobble variety.
Saturday, 30…60 degrees – Partially cloudy morning and day – Ben Davis and I place logs front of west porch and stick poles and I plant 40 hills lima beans at west side of garden – also first beans – this ends a very favorable April with just about enough rain, though not as pleasant weather on average as March.
Sunday, 1…60 degrees – Partially cloudy morning – bright breezy warm day, flying clouds – we are home alone resting after weeks house cleaning – George Kean borrowed field glass to go to Mc Thorlas hill for observation.
Caldwell’s second to last entry in the diary tells the reader “I raid part of day working on books – worked steadily, drinking no whisky or other stimulant, took no medicine.” He doesn’t specify whether ‘working on books’ meant the accounting books, or something else.
But it’s quite clear that his diary by the end was meant to be passed on. The diary we now have opens with an “Index of Deceased” which Campbell later added after the original diary was completed, since it references diary entries that apply to each person listed.
And page 6 is titled “Index of Items for Future Reference” which opens with the perfectly expected entry “Page 8, 13 July 1873, Presbyterian Church Dedication” on through “Page 486, 13 Sept. 1910, mention again of Poochville school.” Quite useful for future historians and genealogists. Caldwell’s diary was transcribed in 1986 by the Noble County Historical Society.
Source: www.digitalshoebox.org ‘The Digital Shoebox Project, Historical Treasures of Southeastern Ohio’