A Month in the Life: Lucelia Mills Clark
“Clear and pleasant and not very cold” was March 1898 according to homesteader Lucelia Mills Clark. In addition to taking note of the weather every day, Lucelia recorded the hardships and bright spots of life in the Adirondack Mountains. In between rearing eight children and doing countless farm chores & household tasks, Lucelia kept a daily journal for almost forty years. This incredible account chronicled her family’s experience as early settlers in the Cranberry Lake region and is now housed in the museum’s archives. In celebration of National Women’s History Month, the museum presents these entries for the entire month of March 1898.
Tue 1 Clear and pleasant and not very cold. H. went guming1. I dyed 4 pair of stockings and two pair of mittens & made Merton a pair of pants. Have a cold all of us. Just a year since I began to keep a diary.
Wed 2 Cloudy in morning but pleasant in p.m. Arthur went guming. H. went to barrell out the road between here and the farm2. I have spun 20 knots3. hard cold. snif. snif. snuf & sneeze. for the last two days.
Thurs 3 Pleasant and thawed in the sun H went guming. Arthur shoveled out the arch as it acts like sugar weather4. I finished my spining.
Sat 5 Yesterday was pleasant & warm. H. went guming. I did some cooking and washed out a dress for Gladys and mended a pair of pants and we all went down to Mac’s to a dance5. we stayed until daylight. There was a croud numbering 60. children and all 18 of the latter. came home got breakfast did up the work and went to the lake with H. he went to draw stove. guess we shall sleep tonight
Pass right through and ballance again and swing with the girl behind you.
Sat. colder and cloudy
Sun 6 Very pleasant. Chans folks were all over here. Arthur drove down to the mill. Archie came down and went down to Mac’s with him. H. went down to Mac’s this morning came right back
Mon 7 Warm & pleasant. I washed. Lena twisted yarn6. H. went guming in a.m. Arthur went down to Hamiltons after the 3 gallon jug in p.m. Randolph came over to go to Russel with in the morning [sic]. Heard Ina Shurt-leff was married yesterday.2 year old [calf] came into the woodshed and jumped out through the window.
Tue 8 Warm & pleasant. H. & Randolph start-ed for Russell. I papered the bed room. Lena & Agnes went guming got about a pound. Steamed it out. Arthur got a stick of hoop timber. Churned.7
Wed 9 Warmer than ever. I straightened up the woodshed and planted some seed and worked. Arthur built a fire in the arch. H came back tonight. Lena sliped on the ice and hurt her back.
Thurs 10 Pleasant & warm. The men went to overhawling the [sap] buckets H went down to Mac’s to make hoops and I went with him. Carrie B. was there. Scattered some of the buckets and broke out the sugar road.
Fri 11 Pleasant but windy threatning rain. Taped the sugar bush or part of it. colared some yarn & stockings. and knit. Lena made a chair cushion
Sat 12 Rained nearly all day. Arthur went after the mail. H. fixed the rocking chair. I moped the floor all over. and made a chair cushion. got a letter from Bert8.
Sun 13 Rained part of the day. snow nearly all gone in the clearing wind shifted in p.m. and blew very hard from the west. Colder H & I took a walk up on the plains and salted a lick. Arthur went down to Mac’s with some letters to mail. I have laid around and read
Mon 14 Wind blew hard nearly all night but went down befor morning and turned cold. Thawed today. sun shone They finished tapping and gathered in what sap was in the bush Did not wash as my boiler is at Clifton
Tue 15 Pleasant but a cold wind. Boiled sap. H. went to Mac’s to get a boiler to sugar off in. Arthur hawled out manure
Wed 16 Pleasant and warmer with a high wind towards night and increasing H. went to lake. got sack flour. Arthur hauled manure. and he and the girls drove down to Mac’s to return the boiler. I sugared off 25 lbs
churned & sugared off 25 lbs.
Thurs 17 Hard thunderstorm last night and high wind. Syruped down. Pleasant but rather cold and windy. gathered sap and boiled all day.
Fri 18 Very nice day. H. went to Clifton Arthur Boiled sap till about 4 oclock. Then he got ready and went to the lake to a dance at Fred Loups. I washed all the forenoon. H. got back a little after 6 got the pan.
Sat. 19 Warm and rainy nearly all day. Hard thunder in evening. Arthur did not get home till most 4 oclock. Sugared off 35 lbs and put up 24 bottles of syrup. H. and Agnes gathered sap. moped the floor after 6 oclock
Sun 20 Spring begins with a high wind from the west Syruped down a batch. and H & I went down to Mac’s. Freezing
Mon 21 Warmer. and a good sap day. Men cut wood and I sugared off 15 lbs and filled 10 bottles. Mr. & Mrs. Hamilton were up this p.m. to eat sugar. staid till evening
Tue 22 High wind all day. Washed. and moped. The men cut sugar wood and boiled sap. Agnes found a nest with 13 eggs in it.
Wed 23 Rained all night. last night stoped at morning and the wind changed to the west. cleared off at sunset. cold. Sugared off 25 lbs. H. went down to Mac’s and got 26 lbs pork. Arthur went to the lake horseback. I have been sick all day. Lena laid up all the forenoon. Arthur just got back
Old Mell had 2 lambs
Thurs 24 Pleasant but cold. Boiled sap and sugared off 25 lbs. Mr. Hamilton came up and brought his beartrap. Randolph came over and Agnes went back with him. am about sick.
Fri 25 Pleasant. Sugared of 30 lbs. Mac was over just as it was ready to come off and stayed to eat some. Arthur went over to the sugar party at Chan’s. They cut schoolhouse wood. Don’t feel much better
Sat 26 Pleasant but windy. H. gathered sap and boiled. Arthur got home about 11 o’clock. got a letter from Em and Seba(?) a man buying deerskins and a boy were here to dinner sold him 4 skins and got two pair of gloves.
Sun 27 Pleasant and windy. White cow calved. H. went to Surtleffs [sic]. got his pay— $3.50. We girls went off in the woods after moss. Syruped down a fine batch of surup.
Mon 28 Rain and wind all day. first one then the other. then both. Sugared off 30 lbs. Boiled sap and H. went to the lake. Ice went out yesterday. The earliest it was ever known to go out. Agnes came home today. Sent for garden seeds. Agnes & my birthday Mollie gave me a wall pocket.
Tue 29 Rainy. Sugared off 30 lbs. Boiled sap. Moved the stove into the shed. H. put a new window in the shed. Arthur went up to the camp after some stovepipe. got some white violet plants.
Wed 30 Pleasant. Sugared off twice 50 lbs in all. Mr. Hamilton came up in the forenoon to set some bear traps. Was here to dinner. Mrs. MacAleese came up in the afternoon afoot and brought the children. Mr. M. came up with the team later. They plowed the garden. and drew a load of wood to the schoolhouse.
Thurs 31. Pleasant but cold. I washed. H. took some wood to the schoolhouse and set up the stove. then gathered up the sap I finished up the day mending pants.
- “H” is Henry Clark, Lucelia’s husband. Like many other Adirondackers of the time, he made a little extra money-gathering spruce gum in the wild. It was then melted, cleaned of twigs and debris, and cast into little bits for sale as chewing gum.
- Dragging a barrel behind a horse was a substitute for rolling or plowing the snow. Arthur was Henry and Lucelia’s second son.
- A knot is a measure of thread or yarn spun— usually 80 yards. Lucelia was spinning knitting yarn.
- A major source of income for the Clarks was maple sugar. They generally had about 300 taps.
- William MacAleese was an Irish immigrant who ran a farm for the Canton Lumber Company near Clark’s. Historian Jeanne Reynolds wrote “Many a happy night was spent at “Mac’s” farm, which became noted for impromptu square dance parties and plenty of food.”
- Lena was the Clark’s fifth child and about 15 in 1898. She was plying the yarn her mother had spun.
- Lucelia Clark made butter for home use and for sale in Cranberry Lake. This is an early churning; the cows were “dried off” in the winter.
- Elbert Vedder was the Clark’s oldest child. He had left home around 1890 and later in life became an expert locksmith with a professional relationship with Harry Houdini.