Diary of Thomas McClelland April-June 1861
Tuesday 2nd-- Entirely too fine a day for study. Our examinations closed to-day. I made a miserable "flunk" this evening on Mathematics. Professor Kelsey was hard on us this term. To-night I made out my account for the Library and reported to Prof. Nason through Prof. Kelsey. I have received six dollars and sixty five cents fees and fines. Yesterday I made out my bill for taking care of room and working, total $13.32. I will have a small salary for acting as Librarian. To-morrow I must fix up my room. I hope next Term to keep my room a little neater than we have this.
No lettters yet. What is the matter. Mr. Miller loaned me six dollars to-day to pay Dr. Nason what I spent of the library money.
Wednesday 3rd-- Have been at work all day in the Library. Weather warm and appearance of rain. No letters from home yet.
Friday 5th-- Ed starts to-night for Chicago. To-day I have been engaged in finishing labeling the books, cleaning up the Library and numbering the books. The first pleasant day that comes along I will go into the cellar and sift the ashes. I must get a few days work in the open air gardening.
It has rained nearly all day. To-night the wind blows a perfect hurricane. Settled my Post Office rent this evening. Postmaster Fisher charges twenty five cents a quarter for boxes, the same as Pasco.
Sunday 7th-- I attended the 2nd Congregational church Rev. Mr. Graves pastor--this forenoon. His text was from the New Testament--"Bring up your children in the nurture and fear of the Lord." The sermon was the most practical of any I have heard for a long time. The preacher gave "indulgent" fathers and "Lothing" mothers a good lesson on the way they should bring up their progeny. A missionary from Burmah Farther India; lectured in the Baptist church this afternoon. His lecture was very good for the most.
The day was very pleasant until about five o'clock it began to rain.
Monday 8th-- Weary, weary, weary. This morning I was at work at five o'clock and was at it until six. At first I swept out the halls of Middle College from garret to cellar, after that I helped Taylor to put up a stove in the Chapel, then I went to clearing ashes. When ten o'clock came I abandoned my job of ___ ashes and went into the Library, at my old job of numbering books.
Short called in about four o'clock in the afternoon and stayed until evening. I got the key, for the showcase in the library, from President Chapin.
It has rained nearly all day. The river is rising. The mail brought us the Sentinel, but no letters.
Thursday 11th-- The long expected letter came at last. To-night I received a letter from Bob, with three dollars in good Illinois money, but how long it will remain good is more than a nonprophet can tell in these times of bank failures. If it remains good two days I will try and dispose of it. To-day I worked eleven hours for Beloit College. I have got about two thirds through the catalogue.
There is appearance of rain to-night.
Friday 12th-- Repairing room has occupied part of this day. A man came up to do some plastering this afternoon and I carried the "hod." We are all to pay topsy turvy, and the worst is our disorderly arrangement cannot be remedied for two weeks. The authorities of Beloit College (Deacon Gregory) say that I must have no papering done until the lime in the plastering gets deadened so that it will not take all the color out of the paper.
Walking so much in the library has made me quite lame. Fourteen more Illinois banks have "went up" or rather "down."75
Saturday 13th-- One more week gone. To-day I have been hard at work in the library and succeeded in finishing the catalogue. The Chicago Tribune of to-day, announces that war has actually begun. The forts in the vicinity of Charleston have begun to bombard Fort Sumpter, and this fort has opened its ports, upon the rebels. God and the right prevail! It rains hard to-night. I am perfectly wearied out with my week's work.
Monday 15th-- The Chicago Tribune announces that Fort Sumpter has been delivered up to the secessionists. President Lincoln calls for seventy five thousand volunteers to retake all government property. The Pennsylvania Legislature voted five hundred thousand dollars towards equipping an army. The governor of Ohio promises ten thousand men. There will be much slaughtering done before the affair is ended.
The day has been very cold. Weather clear to-night and appearance of fair weather for some time. To-day I have been hard at work in the Library. Short helped me three or four hours this afternoon.
Wednesday 17th-- The first day of the Term. At five o'clock the old College bell began its old tune to the music of which only a few came. Prayers were attended by about half of the College students. I did not succeed in finishing my job in the library to-day.
A war meeting is held in Hanchett's Hall to-night. I stopped in a few moments. Converce was speaking. He did not seem to get up much excitement.
There seems to be a hearty desire on the part of the people to sustain the administration.
Friday 19th-- The excitement and war preparations are the only themes. To-night a meeting was held in Hanchett's Hall. President Chapin was on the stand--called for and made a speech. He uttered some noble sentiments. May of the Freshman class, Kendall of the Junior, Cooper and Powell of the Sophomore class have enlisted. Besides these one or two from the Preparatory Dept have enlisted. The Chicago Tribune of today says "The Very Latest, Harper's Ferry safe, Pennsylvania troops have arrived at Washington, Virginia seceded.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars are being subscribed towards defraying the expenses of the war. In the South the work of getting recruits is revived.
Our college community is thrown entirely out of its equilibrium. No student pretends to get his lessons. To-morrow the Stars and Stripes will be displayed from Middle College.
Saturday 27th-- I must, it seems, limit my Journal to one insertion a week, as long as there is so much war excitement and military preparations going on. News from the seat of war are favorable, to Union, some days, and on other days, the Rebel army seem to be the conquerors. The review of the week may be summed up as follows. The report that Fort Pitkins was taken by the Secessionists is false. A telegram announces that Gen. Beauregarde sent word to Lincoln to have all the women and children removed from Washington city--indicating that he was about to bombarde the city. The reports that the New York and Mass. troops were burning Baltimore and that half a million stand of arms had arrived from Europe for the use of the Government, has not been confirmed. Telegraphic communication between Washington and the North have re-commenced. Large quantities of Provisions and arms are being captured from time to time, on their way south. Vigorous war preparations are being made all over the country. The armory at St. Louis has been cleaned and the munitions and arms removed to Springfield, Ill. This was a splendid move. Should Missouri take the course of Virginia, the arsenal would have fell into the hands of the Rebels. The Beloit Miliitia--Capt. Clark, left for Milwaukee on Friday. I understand, they have been ordered, to Cairo, as their field of action. The volunteer company Captain Slaymaker, will rendezvous at Madison. It occupies the place of company six, in the second regiment of the state. The Independent rifle company is nearly full. The company has not been accepted by the Governor yet.
The College company in prospectu [probably Latin] is about to fizzle out. When Captain Riecert, put the question whether the company would stand to the compact agreed upon, some of the valiant grew weak in the back, and wanted to preface their resolutions with such conditions that they virtually said they were afraid to battle for their country.
These heroes' names should be handed down to posterity. Solomon H. Moon76 of the Sophomore class--R.L. Adams77-Senior, and Hill78, Johnson79, and Evans80 Preps. These brave men, when the company was about to be organized, began to quake, and entering into an argument as to the course of the company would take they saw the battle field in advance---wasted the afternoon in contention and the meeting was broken up to the disgust of every decent man present. Some more of our students are gong home to escape the odium which they justly deserve for not aiding by word or deed to defend our common country. Rood81, Bascom82, and Davis of the Freshman class---and Southworth84 of the Soph. may be enrolled in this band, and how many more is hard to tell.
The Faculty do not seem disposed to make sufficient provisions for the students to drill and everything is averse to the welfare of all. Some definite course will be adopted next week.
The weather of the past week has been pleasant. The bank money of Wisconsin has become almost valueless. The number of good banks have become so few that they are published rather than the broken banks.
Sunday 5th-- Cough, cough, cough, has been my business for a week.
Thursday 9th-- This has been the pleasantest day of the season. At half past four I was up and at work. Last night was the first night I had slept in my own room for a week. I have not got straightened up yet. Maxworthy has not finished my wardrobe yet. He is one of the most careless fellows I ever saw. To-day Prof. Blaisdell went into the library with me and picked out four copies of the N.Y. Post, containing a history of the Nullification acts of South Carolina in 1831. I am going to write this time "on the relation of J.C. Calhoun to the present secession movement.
Professor Fisk is in town. News from Washington and the South not special. President Chapin is absent.
Tuesday 14th-- I am making but little progress on my oration. I have read the four articles on South Carolina's Nullification, contained in the Evening Post; also Webster's speech on the Force Bill in reply to Mr. Calhoun. President Jackson's Proclamation now engages my attention. I need the life of John C. Calhoun, together with his speech on State rights, to get at my subject. Yesterday I recieved a letter from Griggs & Co. Chicago, stating that did not have the life of Calhoun, and did not know where to get it. The report abroad is that a regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers will be quartered in Beloit. The company which left here for Madison will not all enlist for three years. Most of the Students I believe design remaining. Webster Porter Moor First Lieutenant, is in Beloit, I understand, endeavoring to get enough to fill out the company.
The first great deed since the reenforcing of Fort Pitkins, is the capture of some fourteen hundred Secessionists at St. Louis, Missouri. A mob attacked a german company of U.S. troops, the order was given to fire and some twenty persons in the mob killed.
Yesterday I received a letter from Bob. The military preparations for war in Livingston County are not inferior to those in any other part of the state.
I have not got thoroughly settled yet. I must stain and varnish by book-case, varnish my wardrobe, and get up my flower pots.
My lessons go off first rate this term. The Greek is easy, Geometry not so difficult as last term. Horace is so sentimental, that I do not like him. I wish we could be permitted to read some other Latin author.
On Monday morning I mailed seven letters to publishing houses in the East. I must write a dozen or so more. I must have a complete lot of catalogues, wholesale and retail.
Professor Fisk preached in the Chapel on Sunday afternoon. He gave us one of his own fiery discourses. The Professor is too much of studied orator. To judge from his appearance, I should say that he, studied all his gestures, inflections and tone before coming before the public. His gestures were school boyish, not to be compared with Prof. Blaisdell or Pres. Chapin's gestures.
Wednesday 15th-- This evening the officers of the Archaen Union Society were elected for the Term. The result of the election was F.B. Hunt, President--Delian S.D. Hastings, Sec. Alethian; T.S. McClelland Treasurer, Delian; and G.R. Hayden Librarian Delian. To-day for the first time in my life, I passed a Bank bill for less than its face. It was a one dollar bill in the city bank of Beaver Dam, Wis. Forty cents on the dollar is all it is worth now. News to-day not important.
President Chapin adjusted my fees as Librarian to-day. For service last term I get fifty cents per week--this term twenty cents per week. The compensation is what I have anticipated. My bill against the college for work in the Library during vacation, and salary for services last term amounts to Twenty Dollars and Seventy One cents.
The wind is high. Weather cold.
Monday 20-- Received letters from Little Brown and Co., and Tickner and Fields. The war news of to-day are unimportant. This evening I took a boat ride with Hayden. Last night it rained continually. My room leaked in several places. The water found its way into the library also. To-night the atmosphere is cold.
Monday 27th-- Journalizing is becoming to be a neglected thing with me. On Saturday Dock and I went to Peters' and got our likenesses taken, which I sent to Aunt Lize this morning. May and Wright85 returned and took their places in the class to-day. Their military ardor has greatly abated. News from the seat of war are prosy, nothing seems to be doing.
The weather is warm with occasional rains. To-night I commence to read, "Washington and his Generals," by Headly. For my evening reading--that is immediately after prayers until dark--will be "Up the Rhine," by Tom Hood. This book contains a good amount of sense and plenty of fun. We have resumed our Latin Prose, Composition, Lessons will come every Monday instead of Friday as last term.
Saturday 1st-- I called on Prof. Blaisdell this evening and got my composition. With his view I leave out that part of the oration relative to the difficulty--between Calhoun and Andrew Jackson. My oration will now be longer than it ought to be, to speak before the College.
The Senior class have had their appointments for commencement made out to-day, Keyes, Valedictory, Heath Salutatory, Adams and Simmons have orations.
The weather is growing warm. There is plenty of rain this spring, as the grass in the College yard indicates.
Sunday 2nd-- President Chapin omitted his remaining on the Life of Paul this afternoon. This Lecture will be delivered next Sunday. This evening, being the first Sunday of the month, all the churches, held their regular monthly concert for prayer for the conversion of the world. I attended the Methodist. I become more and more convinced every time I go to Methodist meetings, that neither my intellect nor soul receives any benefit. The generality of Methodist preachers are unlearned men, and their discourses are so irregular and random that no satisfaction is rendered. Their meetings are attended by the [here he crosses out the word "offal"-probably meaning "awful"] of community. All kinds of irregularity are tolerated, and, except by a few the little exhortation from the minister is unheeded.
Monday 3rd-- To-day I mailed a letter to Bob. It has been a long time since I have received a letter from home. I cannot imagine what they are doing.
Tuesday 4th-- The lessons went off good to-day. This morning I demonstrated the third and fifth propositions of Book sixth, Loomis's Geometry. The third related to inscribing a square in a circle, the fifth to inscribe a regular decagon in a circle. I like Geometry much better than I did last term. I have commenced to-day to learn my oration to speak before the college one week from to-morrow. I fear I will not have time practice enough on it.
There is a Panorama, exhibiting the Polar Regions, as described by Dr. Kane. The exhibition is very highly recommended by President Chapin, who attended last evening.
Wednesday 5th-- Instead of waiting for the debate this evening, I went to see a Panorama, exhibiting the Rout of Dr. Kane to the Polar Regions in search of Sir John Franklin. To say the view was good is doing injustice to the exhibition. The sight was grand. From leaving the harbor of N.Y to his return--were given scenes showing the different places visited by Dr. Kane and his party, even as far as what was believed to be the open Polar Sea over 82 degrees North Latitude. There was also exhibited an American flag which Morton and Hans Christian (I think) unfolded to the breeze on the shore of the Polar Sea. Dr. Kane attempted to get to the same place but was foiled in his attempts. A gun, which shot the seal, on the return of Dr. Kane's party, and saved the party from starvation was on exhibition--also a native Esquimaux dog, one of the two surviving ones out of the four which Dr. Kane brought on his return.
A thorough reading of Dr. Kane's works after seeing this Panorama would certainly make one familiar with the Northern regrous.
Friday 7th-- I have been putting in vigorously on my speech to-day. I want to have it ready for Monday noon, so if Maxworthy fails to meet his engagement I can speak in his place. My oration will be long. I know not whether it will be policy to undertake to speak it all before the college or not.
Thursday 13th-- The usual quiet of our town was disturbed last night by a fire over the river. About 12 o'clock, I was wakened up by the violent ringing of the College bell, and upon getting up and looking out of the window I could discover there was a fire in town from the light. Pulling on my clothes I made a start for the scene of action. The buildings were a planing mill belonging to Mr. Hammond and a plough factory of Bar and Cox. Nearly all the men of Beloit were on the ground. Among these were Dr. Chapin, and Prof. Kelsey. The Rev. Dr. Chapin helped to run the engine over the river and then worked on the breaks, manfully. The buildings were a total loss-no insurance.
Friday 14th-- To-night it threatens rain. The wind has been very high all day. No news of importance from seat of war.
Saturday 15th-- Professor Kelsey gave us a cosy lecture this morning on the importance of getting better Geometry lessons. He cooly informed us that at least six out of seven would be conditioned at the end of the term if there was not a decided improvement in the recitations. Certainly there is a looseness in the Mathematical studies of the class, yet the Professor will never accomplish anything by his eternal grumbling. This afternoon I rode out with Morgan and spent a pleasant afternoon. The Morgan family belong to the old school---my favorite.
To-night I read the Tribune and Independent.
Thursday 27th-- The most important news of the day is the reports on the condition of "Stump Tail" Currency86. There are no Illinois and Wisconsin bills passing at par. The country is in a deplorable financial condition. There is any amount of this money abroad, all of which is valueless. I am nobly in debt, and afraid to send home for money, for fear of having to lose it all. My creditors, I trust will be as lenient as possible.
The war news continue to be of peaceful nature. There are now concentrated in Virginia at least Sixty Thousand Federal Troops, and probably more than that number of Secession forces. The summer willl certainly not pass without some severe battles.
To-day I made a raise of a new pair of pants. Yesterday I bought a new pair of boots. My success during the past year prompted me to enter into the clothing line pretty steep. Since the College year commenced I have earned about Sixty seven dollars. This amount paid my tuition, rent and incidental bills, with a balance in my favor.
To-day we had our last exercise, as Freshman, with Professor Blaisdell. The instruction of Prof. Blaisdell in the department of English Literature, has been of paramount value to us. Although the lessons in Chaucer have, as a general thing, been slighted, yet we learned enough to know how to read the Author with understanding hereafter.
Weather very pleasant. The Sophs. were examined in Greek to-day. The class has no easy time.
Saturday 29th-- This afternoon after fitting Mr. Fisk's room and the library I came to the conclusion that I would call and take tea with my friends Durgins, four miles east of town. Dust, heat of sun, and fording Turtle Creek, were the characteristic features of my trip, yet with all my reverses I arrived alive at my destination a little after five o'clock. I find more real enjoyment in Mr. Durgins family then any other I was ever in. An Eastern man by birth, a Californian by character, and a citizen of Wisconsin by adoption, he combines the taste of the east, the openheartedness of the extreme west, and the hospitality of Wisconsin.
After a two hours chat, [here a line and a half is blacked out] I prepared for my return trip--not on foot for a friend brought me more than two thirds of the way in a carriage. Day before yesterday I received a letter from Aunt Lize, and to-day one from, Bob. The people of Illinois are suffering not a little from the embarrassment of the financial crisis as well as we of Wisconsin.
Sunday 30th-- Rev. Mr. Adams preached this morning on the duties of a Christian in relation to his obligations in paying church dues. Prof. Blaisdell was obliged to preach on the same subject last year. It seems that some of our Presbyterian brethren are more than ordinary indolent about settling pew rent, and the incidental expenses of the Church. The members of the church are, as a general thing, in good circumstances, and it is a great discredit to the church that the minister is obliged yearly to preach a public sermon exposing those who are deficient in paying church dues.
Dr. Squiers lectured in the chapel this afternoon. The Doctor gave us one of his regular old theological discourses. The lecture was a good lesson for all who listened attentively to it.
This evening I attended the Methodist church and heard the Rev. Mr. Tilton of Milwaukee, the Presiding Elder of the State, preach on the state of our country. He gave us a regular political speech and not a bad one at that.
on to July-September 1861