Summary of Ebenezer SPARHAWK’s diary
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.
January 1st – Went to Capt. CLEMENTS. met the Selectmen “about giving orders to those who had done work for the Town.” There were more preparations and he set out for Boston with fat oxen. Mr. AUSTIN driving the oxen and Ebenezer with a sleigh. “…Very thawy, bad sleighing travailed to my Father’s at Templeton.” Attended meeting on 12th. His father preached. That day visited Doct. SHATTUCK who was very sick and died on Tuesday following. Set out on horseback, rode to Boston and Little Cambridge. Lodged at HASTINGS tavern. Sold their cattle. Returned to Templeton with Mr. D. AUSTIN. Attended meeting on 19th. Revd. Mr. RICE of Westminster preached. Next day collected his load and at evening left for Rochester, driving “all night on account of the thawy weather” — rough going — did not get home until 26th and back to work getting wood, thrashing and drawing fence timber.
February 2nd attended meeting. Winnowing. Drawing logs to mill. Thrashing cloverseed. (th attended meeting at Capt. CLEMENTS. 16th Mr. HOW preached at meeting. Ebenezer prepared to set out another journey to Walpole. Traded with BELLOWS and REDINGTON. Set out next day for Rochester. Attended meeting in Barnard. Revered Mr. BOWMAN preached. Lodged with Mr. BOWMAN. Worked much about home.
March 1 surveyed for James DEAN in Kingston. On 4th attended Town Meeting. Changed horses with Timothy PRINCE. M. B. ROBBINS “came to my house to do joiner work.” Attended meeting 16th. “Rivers very high and ice broke up.” On 18th attended Town meeting and went to I. WINGS to get clothes. Carried logs. Getting out rails. “Work’d at turning the water on my Mowing Land.” 23rd attended meeting. Went after doctor for Charles WHITECOMB. On the 27th attended the “Tendure of Land at Esqr. CLEMENTS.” 30th attended meeting.
April. Sugaring. Logging. Plowing. Chopping. Watched with Charles WHITECOMB on 4th. April 6th attended meeting. Ebenezer and Henry hired Phineas AUSTIN for 6 months. Some kind of work. April To Jesse PARKER’s to look at cattle. Surveyed for Anthony WHITECOMB and laid top of his chimney. Henry went to Otter Creek and returned. On 27th attended meeting. On 30th “found my cow in a Trap.” Surveyed the Road from Bethel Line through “The Great Hollow to the Meeting House in Rochester”.
May. “It may be observed that the latter part of last month has been very warm and that trees and grass are more forward than ever was known at this time of year.” Cleared near house. Attended meeting on the 4th. Training and Town Meeting on 6th. Mended fence on S. TUCKER’s lot. Sowed wheat. Attended meeting on 11th. May 16th “some frost”. 17th “terrible frost”. 18th, attended meeting. Clearing piece of land on the hill. On 25th attended meeting. “Revd Mr. HUTCHINSON, old Gent. preached.” On 27th Henry sets out for Brandon. On the 28th, “This Day completes the 30th year of my Age.”
June – 1st attended meeting. 2nd went to lecture. Mr. GROSS preached. Ebenezer “borrowed a horse to to a journey.” He rode to Col. KINSMANS at Darmouth. (Dorothy McClure notes, “He does not mention the name of Miss Sally FISK, but I am sure she is the one he promises to see. She must have said ‘No’ because he rode from ‘College to Rochester’ the next day and never does he mention her again.”) And attended meeting on the 8th. Ebenezer worked at making trap. Getting timber for bringing water to the house. On June 12th he went to Kingston to attend the Nuptials “of my Brother Henry (Lucinda Lam).” On 15th attended meeting. On 18th he set out for Walpole and Templeton. Attended meeting June 22nd in Templeton. His father preached. On his return to Rochester he took his brother George, ten years old, with him (to Keene or all the way to Rochester is not clear). Home on 28th. 29th attended meeting.
July – All the farming, fencing, plus working on the road leading from Rochester to Bethel – surveyed Road by Amos ROOTS and Moses WHIPPLE’s. “Assisted El. Pt. MORSE about raising a Barn.” Attended meeting on 6th. Revd Mr. RUSSEL of Bethel preached on the 13th. Revd Mr. WASHBURN preached 28th P.M. Went to Training to Enlist men to stand ready for the defense of Country.
August – 1st, bouth a calf of Jon EMERSON, on the third attended meeting. He and Henry got cattle from CLEMENT. Attended meeting on 10th. Attended Town Meeting on 12th. Surveying and helping with more road building thru the Great Hollow to Bethel. Worked building a bridge over the Branch. 24th attended meeting. Revd. Mr. BOWMAN of Barnard preached. Brother Thomas came for a short visit.
September – Attended Freemans meeting. Worked about fencing, reaping oats, pulling flax. Measured the new road to Bethel Line. Rode to Windsor. Came home. Surveyed for Esq. EMERSON. Ebenezer’s father sent cattle from Templeton to be kept. Assisted Henry at killing beef. Assisted David AUSTIN raising his house. Made fence about his own garden on the hill. Began digging his cellar.
October – 5th, attended meeting. Training and Town Meeting on the 7th. Drove cattle to Walpole and sold them. Attended meeting at Walpole on 12th. Mr. FESSENDEN preached. Went on for Templeton. Tarried visiting family and friends, his sister. Priscilla returned to Rochester with him. Worked about the house. (Attended meeting 19th in Templeton and 26th in Rochester.)
November – Nov. 2nd attended meeting. Threshing. Fixing cellar. Moving potatoes. Assisting Charles WHITCOMB about raising roof of his house. Covering water and “storing” (?) his spring. Helped Henry kill hogs. Attended meetings 16th, 23rd and 30th.
December – 4th. Thanksgiving Day. Now that Priscilla is here there is much more visiting with friends in the evening. “Went with others to Esqr. CLEMENTS to try to have matters settled with Esqr. CLEMENTS and Dr. EMERSON”. He does not say what the trouble was.
Dec. 7 meeting at Enos MORGANS. Dec. 14 meeting at Mr. SHELDONs. Dec 21st and 28th meetings, Rev’d Mr. RUSSEL preaches. Dec. 30th Town meeting to choose Representative.
“It may be remark’d that the last month has been very pleasant and warm, little or no snow, many nights so warm as not to freeze. Scarcely any man remembers the like.”
Transcribed by JMK 2003