Diary of Thomas McClelland July-September 1861
Wednesday 3rd-- The eve of another national anniversary. How different from that of the past generation! A few years ago all was friendship. The Fourth of July was devoted to festivities as well in South Carolina as in New York. Now patriotic sentiments and lusty cheers for freedom are alike restrained. The eastern to-morrow morning instead of bringing us the booming of blank cartridge and the happy shouting of millions, may bring us the crash of arms and the groans of men engaged in deadly contest.
This evening I witnessed the installation of the Rev. Mr. Humphrey, in the Congregational Church vice Dr. Brimsmade resigned. Prof. Blaisdell preached the sermon.
A very brilliant comet87 appears to-night. Weather cool.
Saturday 6th-- The examinations of the term commenced to-day. We were examined in Herodotus and the Greek Testament. Professor Emerson was just as severe on us as he could be. Indeed I think he asked grammatical questions, which he did not ask during the term. In the Greek Testament we all done well. The Freshman class assembled as Peters' to have the phonographs [in the diary it is "phonographs, but it is assumed Thomas meant "photographs"] of the class taken. After three sittings the would be artist failed to get a picture and we had to leave disappointed.
I made a purchase of a new cap to-day. I fear I am getting beyond my means. O misery! misery! to be poor. Henry Cunningham wrote a letter to-day saying that harvest wages will be good and he wants me to help him. May wages be two dollars a day! Frank Woodruff of the Junior class, who has been absent all term, is in town to-night.
Sunday 7th-- The Rev. Dr. Squiers preached in the Presbyterian Church this forenoon. Text, "Sirs, what shall I do to be saved." The aid [he probably meant "air"] was so dense that I could not attend properly to the sermon so I went to sleep. President Chapin delivered his Baccalaureate sermon to the graduating class this P.M. The sermon was an excellent one.
He urged upon the class the absolute necessity of obeying human laws, when that law does not conflict with the divine law of God. The political condition of the country at the present time suggested the theme, and he made good the occasion to impress on the minds of his hearers the rightfulness of obedience to constituted authority.
The Rev. Mr. Kinney, of Janesville, delivered the regular annual address before the Missionary Society, this evening. His theme "Go ye, teach all the nations + c" was very well developed.
Monday 8th-- The terrible ordeal of examinations is over for this term and year. In Horace I done very well. In Mathematics better than I expected. Dr. Squiers, Rev. Kinney and Rev. Mr. Adams were present during examination in Geometry.
We have been blessed to-day with a fine rain. There is still indications of rain.
Tuesday 9th-- This has been a regular do-nothing day. Owing to the foulness of the weather the boys could not enjoy themselves out of doors, and to think of studying was against our creed. Luckily Frank Woodruff brought down a loaf of maple sugar, which gave employment to us from time to time during the day.
Rev. Mr. Patton of Chicago, delivered an address before the Archaen Union Society to-night. The subject "Cant" was finely developed. Every person seemed well pleased.
There is more indications of rain to-night. Results of our examinations were handed to the Jun. & Fresh. classes, this eve at prayers. The standing of the greater portion of the students is low.
My old roommate, J.L. Taylor, lodges with me to-night.
Senior Preps. seemed in good spirits to-day when they received the report of their examinations. I presume they were all entered though none told whether there were any conditions or not. Very mysterious class, ye Senior "Preps."
Wednesday 10th-- The last day of school for this year. The exercises of the day were tolerable pleasant. The Oration by Helmes this morning was a splendid thing. His subject "Masculine Feminine & Neuter." A curious subject yet the orator made a good deal out of it.
After the cleaning up shower this morning the day was very fine. There was no sweating. I am nearly wearied out. To-morrow morning early I go into the country to work. I dread the harvest this year--for fear of it being too short. Give me forty days work to do at two dollars per day!
Thursay 11th-- Weary! Weary! Weary! Oh how terrible it is to be poor! This morning at 5 o'clock I started in search of work, and after traveling all day I did not obtain anything to do. Going down on the east side of the river I journeyed nearly to Rockford, then crossed the iver and came back on the West side. After changing my clothes and washing myself, I went to Dea. Gregory's to get permission to stay in my room until harvest commenced. When I got through talking I started for my room but by the time I got out of the gate, I began to feel light about the head. All at once I forgot myself and dropped. My next sensations found me stretched on the ground. Some good Samaritan, in Prof. Blaisdell's house came out to see whether I was drunk or sunstruck. Finding out that I had only fainted a little, the good woman insisted upon my going in and resting. My senses came back all right after taking some cold water. I must not forget the kindness of the lady.
The fact is I came home completely exhausted. I had walked nearly 40 miles in the hot sun with my carpet sack--no light load-- and no protection to my face and head, except a cap. This is the legimate result of being poor. All the other boys either went home or to Rockford to have a good time, but I must needs to go into the country and go to work, to earn some money to pay my little bills next year. My only cause for lamentation is that I was disappointed. I fear I shall be hard up the coming college year for funds to pay my bills.
Bob's last letter stated that it would be doubtful whether he could help me any or not. So far the Lord has spared me health and prosperity in everything I have undertaken. If he continues his beneficence I think I can get through the year without involving myself but little in debt. Time will best tell the tale.
Friday 12th-- To-day I have been engaged in cleaning out the cellar in M.C. An awful dirty job I have had too. The weather is very cool for the time of year.
Received a letter this evening from Wm. Read. He will not be ready to harvest for two or three weeks yet. I shall stay in Beloit, doubtless, until harvest comes in. My limbs are a little sore after my journey yesterday and my work to-day.
Saturday 13th-- Finished cleaning up the cellar of Middle College to-day. It has been a hard, dirty job. I am somewhat afflicted with a boil on my neck. Saml. Erskine and Wm. B. Lewis are still inhabitants of Middle College with me. Thompson is in North College. With these exceptions the old buildings are deserted. All but myself will go on Monday. I only wish that harvest was ready that I might leave also. Douglas says he wants to buy my edition of Addison's work. As I will have access to the College Library, it will be policy to sell them.
Saturday 27th-- A fine rain fell to-day and there is indications of more to-night. I did my first harvesting of the season to-day. At an early hour this morning I set out towards Roscoe in search of a day's work in some man's harvest field. After traveling two and a half miles I found a job, and went to work. At noon it began to rain and consequently our work for the day was completed. In the evening, my boss Mr. Nichols hitched his horses to the wagon and brought me up to town.
Mr. Newcomb of the firm of Wright & Newcomb sent me word that he wished me to call on him. I called in after evening and learned that the company had resolved to make a reduction on all books sold to the students, providing I would not send east for any more books. He said he would let students have books at the beginning of the Terms at 15 percent discount and during the Term in small quantities at 10 percent. He will also pay the banking premium for gold, silver, and Eastern currency. In the book business I have accomplished my purposes. The book-sellers find they must come to just terms. It is but right that they should sell students books at a discount from their regular retail prices. On Monday I must go to Mr. Read's and get at work. No letters from any source.
Wednesday 21st-- My journalizing comes in squads now. Notes of the last three weeks may not, in future, be uninteresting so they will be given, but without a strict regard to the chronological order. On Monday, July 29, as per agreement, I started at an early hour for the farm of Mr. N. Read, ten miles north east of Beloit, for the purpose of helping him to harvest. When I got to his house, I made the inquiry, "how much I might expect a day for harvesting." He replied that he would give but one dollar per day. This I regarded as treacherous, as he had promised me in a written communication that he would give me the customary wages, and refused to work for him. Leaving my carpet bag at his house I started for Rev. Mr. McArthur's where Dock was at work. About noon I found him. After chatting a little while I started for Beloit determined on the next day to find work at a fair remuneration. On reaching Beloit, D.P. Miller, refered me to one Hollister, living 6 miles west of Beloit, as a person wanting help. I went out the same evening, saw Mr. Hollister and engaged to work for him at $1.50 per day. Next morning Hollister failed to get a machine to cut his grain, and so I was again thrown out of work. My next move was to go down the river. Arriving at Tom Loonan's about noon I stopped and got my dinner and tried to "hire out" but could only get $1.12 1/2 per day which I refused. I started back to Beloit, and arrived at town about three o'clock, went to the post office, got a letter from Bob, and just as I was coming out a person by name Joseph Goss hailed me and hired me to commence the next day at $1.50 per day for four days. That night (Tuesday) I lodged with Mr. Goss, the father of Joseph, 6 1/2 miles west of Beloit. On Thursday night I was put with a Norwegian family to board, on account of the nearness to Goss's wheat field.
Mr. and Mrs. Lunn, my landlord and lady proved to be real Scandinavians in language, but well bred Americans in keeping house and cooking. The fact is Mrs. Lunn kept me stuffed with good victuals all the time I was there. I became so attached to my boarding place, and Goss was so well satisfied with me, that instead of working four days, I worked fourteen and a quarter days, and only quit because there was no more work to do.
Early on Saturday morning the 17th I arose, and after eating a hasty lunch and bidding farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Lunn, with promises to call and see them in the winter. I started for Rock prairie on the east side of the river, hoping to get a few more days harvesting to do. I traveled to the river, forded it, and made my way to Reads farm with the intention of getting my carpet bag. When I arrived there he was finishing up his cutting and the indications were that there was little to do on the prairie. Leaving my satchel I traveled on in the direction of Johnstown Center inquiring frequently for work, but no work was to be found. At one o'clock I found myself at Horace Cunningham's the Center and twenty-one miles from Beloit. Learning here that the harvesting was about done I resolved to go to Beloit. Wearied I retraced my steps and between hard walking and running I reached Mr. McArthur's at 1/2 past 4 o'clock. After reading a letter from home which Dock had received that day, and talking a few minutes, I took a cut across Read's after my carpet bag. This took me out of my road about five miles and I was within eight miles of Beloit, and it was three to Read's and ten from there to town. At Read's I got some cakes to make my supper on, took across the fields and reached the main road nine miles from town at sundown.
At nine o'clock at night- I was marching up the College Campus but more tired and sore I never was and hope never to be again. When I was at Read's I was nearly wearied out, their adding a load of, at least, thirty pounds made the matter doubly worse. Summing up, I had travelled about forty five miles between five o'clock in the morning to nine at night, much of the time across fields and some on the Rail Road, besides being burdened the last ten miles with a heavy load. This on an empty-stomach certainly ought to attone for my sins of the vacation, if there is any virtue in physical torture for sin.
Next day (Sunday) I hobbled down to town and got something to eat. Early on Monday morning I started east and passing Clinton Junction I could find nothing to do except stacking, so I set myself up for a stacker (Although I never built a stack in my life except two or three stacks of slough hay about six years ago) and immediately found a job with one Martin Rider, an Irish Catholic. I worked until Tuesday evening 1 3/4 days, when his wife took sick and was not able to cook, so Martin had to engage his neighbors to do the remainder of his stacking, and consequently the hired hands were discharged. Receiving my wages, at 7 o'clock started for Beloit--a distance of ten miles, and made the trip in exactly two hours. To-day I am rusticating--to-morrow I shall finish my job of cleaning the college buildings.
Friday 23rd-- The Beloit City Guards returned from Virginia to-day. A grand reception was given then. A dinner on the college grounds, and address by Prof. Emerson, and a speech from judge Noggles of Janesville.
Saturday 24th-- Almost sick and the old building not finished. It seems that the two lower floors take more labor than all the rest of the building. One room in the cabinet and the lower hall are to wash yet. Monday morning I must be at it early enough to do a days work threshing at Bement's if necessary. Boarding myself after the good living at Mrs. Lunn's does not go well. I dislike boarding myself another year but rather this than to stay away from school.
Thursday 29th-- To-day I dined on beef soup. Early in the morning I went to Prof. Emerson's to complete sawing and splitting his wood and after working until ten o'clock and not finishing I quit, came home, went to town got a bone and had Miss Dewey to cook it.
About five o'clock I went to sleep, and did not wake until dark. Read some from the "Tatler" "Rambler," and "Guardian," to-night.
Wednesday 4th-- Hurrah for the merry school days! To-day is the first of the new college year. Some of the old students have returned and here and there a strange face is seen. The Freshman class have a strong representation from abroad. Rood of our class I fear will not come. We are Seven. Alas for the Sophomores! To-day from five o'clock, I have been packing and disposing of Lewis's effects. I have just finished writing to Lewis. 12 o'clock midnight.
Thursday 5th-- Studying and reciting has been the order of the day. The following will be the order of the recitations for the term. Latin from 8 to 9 o'clock--Greek from 11 to 12 o'clock--Geometry from 4 to 5 o'clock P.M. Sophomore class officer, Professor Emerson. I have disposed of nearly all of friend Wm. B. Lewis's books. Received a letter from Bob by evening's mail. He wants me to go to Chicago on the 10th inst. I fear I cannot go.
I expect, if Prof. Kelsey does not take his instruments to his own room, I shall, get the place of taking observations for the Smithsonian Institute. I hope I may get this job, as I will learn a great many new scientific principles.
Wednesday 11th-- At 11 1/2 o'clock Monday night 9th inst., Dock and I got aboard the train on the Racine Road, and were on our way to Chicago, to see Bob and the Fair. We had a good run to Clinton Junction, and after waiting two hours to the cars on the C.S.P. + Fon DuLac, we were again going with good speed. About ten miles from Clinton a misfortune occurred which detained us some two hours. Something went wrong about the Engine and wait we had to on the prairie until another Locomotive was produced from somewhere. At 7 o'clock we got into Chicago amid a dull rain. Making our way to the Metropolitan Hotel we looked over the register but found not the name of Bob on it.
We went to the C.A. & SL RR depot and learned the hours that trains would arrive from Pontiac and then we commenced our travels going to the Hotel ever and anon to see if our brother had come.
Until about 12 o'clock we prominaded the city visiting the Court house, Book stores and other places of minor importance. In the afternoon we called on Montgomery who at present clerks for a Lead Pipe Company on the Corner of Fulton and _____ Streets. Took supper at the Metropolitan and at 8 o'clock took the cars for Beloit, without seeing the Fair or Bob either. At one o'clock we reached Beloit and in half an hour more I was safely in bed. I left Dock in Chicago. He calculated to leave for Pontiac this morning.
Day before yesterday I commenced taking observations for the Smithsonian Institute. The following will be the principal observations. Thermometer in the open air; Rain and Snow; Clouds; Winds; Barometer; Psychrometer or Hygrometer. These observations are to be taken three times per day-- 7 A.M. 2 P.M. and 9 P.M.
Thursday 12th-- Rood arrived to-day to join the class. The loss of any member is keenly felt in the class as eight constitute the class
I am blessed with a chum this term. J.H. Dixon88 of ----- somewhere in Wisconsin. To room with a companion is a sign of poverty.
Monday 16th-- Received a letter from Dock this evening and also one from Lewis.
Tuesday 17th-- Wrote to Lewis to-day sending him a draft for Forty dollars.
Monday 23rd-- Mailed a letter to Uncle William also one to Dock. Received a letter by this evening's mail from Dock, and one from Fill and Ann. Professor Emerson's being absent to-day our lesson for 11 o'clock was omitted. We have a double dose to-morrow.
Have been trying to get up a club for the Evening Post, but make but little headway. Completed the job of arranging pamphlets in the Library drawers, to-day. Eleven o'clock. [three words are blacked out here.]
Wednesday 25th-- The Publication Association met this afternoon and appointed a committee to reorganize and provide for the publication of the College Magazine for the ensuing year. The Magazine will be published Quarterly or one each Term--making three issues a year. Each member of the committee will solicit subscriptions and ascertain on what financial basis we can start. Wrote to Dock to-day. Also a letter to the Chicago Tribune to learn on what terms they would print the College Magazine.
Saturday 28th-- Received a letter from Wm. Beale Lewis, containing three dollars. This three dollars Lewis sends me to replace the $3.00 I lost while selling off his things. I did not expect it but will keep it since it was given so freely. Lewis is a whole souled fellow.
Sunday 29th-- This evening Rev. Adams gave us a sermon on the war. I think he made his best effort. His interpretation of the constitution in relation to the slavery question meets my hearty approval.
Monday 30th-- Received a letter from Dock to-day. He speaks of meeting my old School teacher, J.A. Johnson, who is now preaching in El Paso on the Central R.R.in Ill. This being the last day of the month I must make out my report for the Smithsonian Institute.
on to October-December 1861