Summary of Ebenezer SPARHAWK’s diary
Years 1784 to 1789
Summarized by Dorothy Mitchell McClure
Note: On the diaries. Ebenezer Sparhawk Jr. (28 May 1764 to 31 Oct 1836) of Rochester VT (here’s how he works into the family tree) kept a diary for 30 years. How Dorothy Mitchell McClure came into possession of the diaries is unknown, other than Ebenezer being gggrandfather of her husband, Albert, but they were quite delicate so she made a summary of them. The diaries were kept in a safe deposit box and I was never privileged to view them but received a copy of the summary. The style of her summarizing changes several times as it progresses, and shortly moves to being primarily direct abbreviated quotes. The transcriptions I’ve made of the summaries aren’t religiously exact as the style of summarizing was confusing at points where it was difficult to distinguish between direct quotes and what were her notations, but the transcriptions are close.
Though summaries, there are numerous accounts of transactions of various types with neighbors and others, accounts of illnesses and deaths, trading and selling of goods, mentions of town meetings, who was preaching, record of his surveying work for the towns and individuals, mixed in with notes on weather (and whether it was exceptional) and general and unusual chores.
Ebenezer Jr. first came to Rochester in the fall of 1784 “to look of the land my Father had purchased, tarried in Rochester 7 or 8 days, went and carried chain for CHASE the surveyor 3 days in laying out the east part of Rochester. Worked some for Capt. CLEMENTS and N. CHANDLER.”
After returning to Templeton, he kept school three months in one location and two months in another and then worked for his father until the first of June when he returned to Rochester. Every available moment that he was not teaching or working for his father during the next few years, he spent in clearing of his land, “worked out a fee on the lot up the branch,” sowing, “sowed 4 or 5 acres of wheat and rye on the river lot”, reaping, “reap’d my grain in August and carried it to Capt. CLEMENTS barn.”
In 1787 September his brother Henry came to Rochester and the brothers worked together. Ebenezer “bought a lot of land of Dr. CHASE of Cornish.”
In 1788, “built my barn” — October snow, ground froze very hard. November very pleasant” – and that fall he went back to teaching school in Walpole N.H.
1789. Teaching school in Walpole must have been far from boring for Ebenezer. He speaks often of visting with many friends – names of these families appear often. JENSONS, BUNDY (?), BELLOWS, FESSENDEN (pastor), Thos SPARHAWK (cousin), SMITH, KNIGHT – also a Capt. CARLISLE and Mr. WOLCOT are mentioned. On January 31st, “It may be observed that there has not been a large snow this winter. Not more than 5 or 6 inches at a time and except this morning very little wind with ye snow.”
Early in April he left for Rochester and stayed at the home of Mr. CHANDLER, working part of the time for Mr. CHANDLER with sugaring (?) – scouring (?) potatoes for heimself. May 25 – “burnt my land at ye meadow – on the island”. May 29th – “Set out some apple trees”. Every day is filled with work either for himself or some one else. When his early summer chores in Rochester were finished he went on for Walpole and Templeton working a month in each with the fhaying, reaping. On August 31st he set out for Rochester and also reported the weather “very cold and a great frost.”
At home again he worked at reaping, cutting corn, putting up fence, digging potatoes, burning, clearing. On the 12th of October, he “worked at digging my cellar”. October 14th, “getting boards from ye mill.” The 20th, “hewing timber for my house”. 31st, “work’d at sawing shingles.” Early November, scouring potatoes, threshing, farming wheat. November 11, “W. pleasant. Finished framing my house and Raised it.”
Transcribed by JMK 2003