Recording your life
“We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd,” Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote.
And so it is with keeping a journal. The quiet moments spent collecting and recording thoughts may calm the writer and surely will enlighten the readers in future years. Have you contemplated keeping a written record of your family’s daily lives? If so perhaps this will be the impetus to get your started.
Laura Gamet, a veritable pioneer woman who kept a journal, lived four miles from our current farm. Her entries were mostly brief yet informative. I’ve read and appreciated her pages covering the years 1904 to 1934, in which she recorded the weather, what projects she worked on and the jobs she and her husband accomplished. In a few entries Laura became introspective about family and world affairs or wars, yet mostly she wrote of daily activities.
Gamet wrote on Jan. 13, 1904, “The telephones are all in today and work nicely.” In 1904 there were telephone lines on WG Flat, east of Oral, S.D., overseen by a local, elected telephone board.
Another item from July 15, 1904, she wrote, “An Editor from West Grove, Pa., who had been writing up the life of Roosevelt stopped here, his name was William Dantz. Was horseback and a had a pack horse and it had played out and we traded him Goodeye [a horse] and got $15 to boot.”
The recorded history gives insight into everyday endeavors, which opens windows for readers to learn about the joys and difficulties of the time. No matter if the journals are from 1904 or more recent, they are invaluable to the family or even the public.
A newly published book from a contemporary author and journal writer Linda Hasselstrom is “Gathering from the Grassland, A Plains Journal.” In an interesting twist she juxtaposes her own journals that she started at age 9, with the journals of her father John Hasselstrom, her mother, Mildred Hasselstrom, a neighbor, Bill Snable, as well as snippets from the journals of her uncle Harold Hasselstrom. With these resources Linda Hasselstrom creates a tapestry, primarily woven around a South Dakota ranching community. The fact that these individuals kept personal writings and author Hasselstrom has access is more than admirable.
Ranchers, who live by the seasons, have comparable work to accomplish around the same time each year. Hasselstrom notes the progression through the seasons and with the journals of others she is able to contrast the differences due to time and equipment. Just as ranch wife Gamet noted the weather, the journals Hasselstrom used also referenced it, which is typical of any farm or ranch enterprise; weather affects our lives perhaps more than any other profession.
Hasselstrom is a prolific writer, gifted speaker, and editor who shares her expertise by running writer’s retreats that she calls Windbreak House at her ranch near Hermosa, S.D., (windbreakhouse.com).
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