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Autobiographical Journal of Mary Anna Bishir Garman

Contributed by Julie Monson

Autobiographical Journal by Mary Anna Bishir Garman



Mary Anna Bishir Garman was the daughter of Lewis and Loruhama Bishir, born in 1869 in Pricetown, Highland Co., Ohio. Her early life was spent in Ohio, but after her marriage and conversion to the Morman faith, she traveled by wagon to Utah, and later to Washington state. In this journal, written late in her life, she reminisces about her childhood on her parents' farm in Ohio.

The journal was handed down to Mary Anna's granddaughter, Mary Lou Jensen. Bishir family researcher Julie Monson has been visiting Mary Lou regularly to help archive her photographs and other information about the family and was able to scan the journal for us. Mary Anna's recollections provide a vivid view of what life was like on an Ohio farm in the 1870s and 1880s.

The transcription that accompanies the images has been lightly edited for clarity.


I was Born in April the 9th 1869

My name is Mary Anna Bishir Garman. I was Born, near Pricetown, Highland County Ohio. I was Born in a log cabin with not many rooms. it had a large Porch in front. & it would be dear to my Hart to see it again. I wanted to see it when back there in 1940 but the Folks told me it had been weather boarded. & it wouldn’t be the same. so I never got to see it. But I think of it so much. & think how small I was then. that is the place I almost lost my life before I was a year old. this is how. My Father had to go to see Grandmother when she was sick & he would be gone all night. and he told my mother to go to the Barn + feed the Stock in the morning. & she did it. she told my little Brother to watch me & not let me get hurt. & he wasn’t quite 2 1/2 years older than I was. He told me when back there in 1940 how it happened. he said mother said now you take care of Anna & don’t let her get into mischieft. I’ll be right back. I didn’t pay much attention

  to you. he said he was busi doing things then. he said he heard me scream & he looked around & saw I was on fire. I had got some shavings & kindling wood out of the wood Box & stuck them in the cook stove front dore & got them on fire. it must of been in the coldest weather. I wasent a year old yet but could run all over when 9 mo. old. I began to walk when very young and I have been a good walker every since. Bro. Jake went to the dore & screamed for mother. & she saw me at dore all afire. she ran to the house & took off her wool shall & throwed it around me & put out the blaze. I was mostly dressed in woolen clothes. I had on a lincy dress with a checkard pink & white ghingam apron over my woolen clothes. that was what saved my Life was the woolen clothing. I also had on a wool qwilted Bonnet. My mother was so fritened & had nothing to put on my rite away. I dont know who got the medacine for her. I suppose
  She sent for Dr. Drake. Oh how I wished she had thot of Sodd for its a wonderful Burn Medacine. Now I dont remember eny thing about being burnt. Mother said I just moaned & didnt cry. My life was sparred for the Lord had a work for me to do. But I can remember living there & going out with my Mother to meet the Huster Wagon. she took her Butter & Eggs to Mr. Dike & she would get groceries & cloth the same as we when we go to a Store in town. There was a lot of catterpillars on the fruit trees one year & I remember seeing my Mother go get the Garden rake She kept under the proch & she would go to the trees & shake down the catterpillars & she had a lot of Ducks & how they would run to her when she would shake the trees & jrimb up & catch the pest when they fell & swing down on their webs. I also remeber of Pa, Ma going to town and I went with them and I had 2 great aunts that I loved very dearly.
  one was aunt Hulda Faris & the other one was Aunt Neomia Pullnose. they had me spoilt. we lived close to them both. if they didn’t have enny cookies in there jar they would make us some Buckwheat pan cakes. & was they good. & they had beautiful flowers. & Roses & all kind of other flowers. I loved the old fashioned sweet smelling pinks along the garden fence & there sweet Smelling odar. & I always got a large Boquet to take home. this was when we lived close together. Father then sold his Saw Mill & property & moved to Dotsonville Highland Co. Ohio & went in to the Store busness. he had a general Store of most every thing. 3 years was enough of that. I was about 3 yrs. old when we moved to Dotsonville & I as 6 years old when we moved to Hillsboro Highland Co. Ohio. My Dad was Born in Hillsboro Ohio & all his Brothers & Sisters Born near Hillsboro Ohio. I was 6 yrs. old when Grandmother
  Bishir passed away on the 23 of April 1875. I never got started to school untill I was about 7 1/2 yrs. old. had to walk about 1 1/2 mile to School. Father got the home place of my Grandmother when at her death Grandfather had given each one of his children a home. except my Father was to get the home place just outside the corperation of Hillsboro Ohio. Well Father dident like to live so close to Town on a large farm, for Rockey Fork crick ran thru it & the Town Boys would come out to Swim & it was close to the highway & they would come out naked & stand while People were passing by & people complained to my Father. He published them in the Hillsboro Gazette & called them names but that done no good. so Father got Discoraged & Traded that place for a nother one about 5 miles from Town. it contained 200.33 acres of land & he bought
  a nother Saw mill & Thrash machine to thrash wheat & timothy seed, clover, beans & Every thing to be hulled. there was a Big woods with a lot of big Oak trees & all kind of hard wood. so you see there was a lot of hard work to be done for both men & woman. My oldest Bro worked on the Farm untill he married. My youngest Bro mostly helped at the saw mill. so you see it kept mother bussy cooking for Hired men. & I was bussy helping my mother best I could. When I was 14 I could go a head with the meals when Mother had to be away from home and I felt it my duty to do all I could. We never nowed what it was to be taken to School on a Buss or wagon. We now had to walk at least 2 1/2 miles to School thrue snow & Ice. My Bro. walked a head & I steped in his tracks. We crossed fields & clum rail fences untill we got to the Pike & then
  the snow was broke & not so bad to walk. some times I cried my feet were so cold. we wore heavy leather shoes and wool stockings. I never went to School much longer than Xmas. it got too cold. and the big Boys mostly never got started to School untill Xmas. they had to work on there Farms. It was just one room School house. one teacher was all for atb 45 or 50 children of all sizes. the children that tried to learn got along pretty well, but some done more playing than studys. The teacher would give some of the older Boys & Girls problems in Rithmetic to work out in School. & then he would come around see if they had worked them out. when he come to Bro. Edd h ask if he had done his & Edd told the teacher tha Allen Willett Snatched it from him & eat it.
  A nother time Teacher found Edd Sitting on the flore in the isle & the Teacher said what are you doing down there & Edd said I dont know. Allen Willett shoved me off my seat. so some don more playing than Studeying. But Bro. Edd was one of the best pupils. I my self was pretty good. I never got a scolding nor stand on the flore eather. but when bitter cold weather came I had to stay home from School & the ones that lived close to the pike went all winter & I got behind. & I got discouraged & dident like the Idea of being behind. Eny way I was learning to do things that the rest couldent do. when Mother had to be away from home I could take her place in the Kitchen & get the meals for the hired men & the rest of the family about 13. I could make Bread, & pies, & cakes, & cookies. & put a pot of Beans on & a roast & get along all O.K. when mother was gone from home. Mother was interested
  in teaching us Girls to do all kind of work. I was the oldest girl & I had two younger Sisters. Ella & Emma. of course I was the oldest girl & always went a head with my mother. all 3 Girls could sew on Sewing machine & pice qwilts & knit our Stockings & Mittens. I cut out my first dress & made it when about 10 yrs. old & wasent I proud of it. I can shut my eyes and see it now. it was a pretty shade of Brown with a spray of light Tan leaves & mother got me some light Blue brocade ribbon to tie my Hair with. & I wore that dress to a celebration & every on thot it wonderful. I pieced squares enough for a qwilt before I ever went to School. & started a nother 9 pach[?] but finished this one after I started to school. My Girl friends gave me pieces of ther school dresses to put in my qwilt. but the most of the pieces were samples that Richards & Bro. saved for me to put in my qwilt
  They thot it wonderful I could Sew so well. the samples was just big enough to get one Square & several different Shades of the same pattern & in them days the cloth was called calico. 5 + 6 cts a yard. width abt. 27 in wide. so we was taught to make our own clothes while we were growing up & larned how to plant a Garden & milk cowes & take care of the milk & churn Butter at the spring house. how I’d love a glass of that cold Butter milk, fresh churned. we gave many a galon away to neighbors. I’ve also helped do work on the Farm like droping corn for the planter & gathering Sheaves at Harvest time. one time it looked like a storm coming up & Father was mowing the wheat. Jacob was Binding it in bundles & Bro Edd & I were gathering sheaves & Shocking the wheat. so it comenced to rain & Bro Edd put me in a wheat Shock to keep my dry.
  but it rained so hard I got soaked eny way. wasent a dry thread on me. & the Lightning flew all around us & finally Struck a rail in a old fence row wasent more than 15 feet from the horses. and Father & Brother Jake was shocked. the Horses stoped & neather Father nor Jake had nothing to say for a momet. Jake said he felt the shock in his little finger. Oho how it did rain. I couldent hardly walk with my wet clothing on & when we got to the Bridg acrost the Brance ar creek the boards had washed away & I had to walk a log to get over. & then it was a bout a qwarter of a mile home yet and it was a marical some of us dident get Killed. the Lightning shot all around in the wheat field. Mother was very much fritend about us untill we got home. we never had any cyclones in
  Highland co. that I could remember but up north in Clinton co. they had cyclones. Father & his helpers went up there to Thrash wheat & Oats Barley clover seed. while there they had the experiance of seeing one in the distance. it was like a large whirl wind about 10 miles wide and 30 long & it took everything before it. twisted large trees off & blowed large splinters in the bark of other trees. they choped out a large chip of a nother tree & braught it home for us to look at. and blowed houses off ther foundation & scatterd there house hold all over. one woman crazy qwilt was found 3 miles from home in a tree. Father & Boys went to see the ruens & we coul see the Black Clouds up north and Mother said she thot they were have a cyclone up north & she was right. I dont believe Father ever went from home so far again. there was a lot of wheat up
  north to thrash & they made good money & that is why they went.



Owner of originalMary Lou Jensen
Linked toMary Anna Bishir
AlbumsJulie Monson

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