1901. Original manuscripts. Hardcover. Present are pocket diaries for 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, and 1908. All are about 5" x 3", wallet-style with tab closures or wrap-around flaps. Nearly all entries are written in ink by a readable hand. Ledger sections at the rear of each diary are used to record income and expenses. As an archive, the diaries cover many topics, including daily weather reports, JWP's job news, family news (even such personal notes as his smoking a cigar, shaving, getting a haircut, how many valentines Horace received, Horace’s school report-card grades, what pieces Horace is learning on the piano, what “required reading” Horace does in school, etc.). They also contain much local town news: weddings—esp. in June--, births, funerals—including several children, one hit by a street car and one by lightning, town-wide celebrations and parades, fires, election results—including a long-drawn out contested mayoral election in 1907 where “Dagos and Negros” are suspected of voting illegally--, the 40th annual G.A.R. Encampment in 1906, a huge Homecoming Week celebration in 1907, the 50th Anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (on the grounds at Knox College) in 1908, where attendees include Taft, Douglas’s grandson Robert, and—a day later—Wm Jennings Bryan. In 1908, the town goes dry, as the temperance movement hits it with a vengeance. The diaries also occasionally mention national news, including the McKinley assassination, the Great Fire in Chicago, the San Francisco Earthquake, including locals killed there (4/18/06), election results, the third and fifth playing of the World Series (1906—Chicago Nationals vs. Chicago White Sox, and the 1908 Chicago Cubs vs. Detroit Tigers and even a mention of the Russo-Japanese War (1904). Very Good. Item #039853
The diarist, J. W. Powelson, is a resident of Galesburg, Knox County, IL, a medium-sized city which is, and was then, the home to Lombard College and Knox College, institutions whose sports scores JWP frequently records. It was also Carl Sandburg’s birthplace. Sandburg worked odd jobs at the Galesburg Drive Park, a horse-racing facility frequented by the diary’s author. At the start of these diaries, JWP lives at 674 Cherry St., then shortly afterward moves to 85 W. Losey St. in May of 1901. He is 39 years old when the 1901 diary opens, and his family consists of his wife, Maggie (nee Brennan), whom he married in 1883; his son Horace (who turns 9 in the first volume and is 16 by the last); his mother and brother Ed (with his wife Doll and child Blondell) who all live in nearby Rio and sell/supply the family with eggs and butter, although Ed eventually owns a store (he buys a show case and stores it in JWP’s barn); his sister Ida May and her husband Ward (Labar) and son Will, who live in Rio then move to Galesburg in ’06; and the infrequently-mentioned “Aunt Em” and Aunt Jane Powelson. ~~ Except for a 3-month stint as a Galesburg town assessor in 1903, JWP is employed at the O.T. Johnson store, a 3-story (+ basement) department store, a magnet that drew people to downtown Galesburg for years. O.T. Johnson had first bought a store in Altona, then in 1864 bought a former employer’s store in Galesburg, renaming it for himself. A department store which eventually employed 225 people, “O.T.’s” sold furniture, pots and pans, rugs, jewelry, shoes, clothing, etc., as well as having a lunchroom and an elevator. The diaries note that the store offered the public concerts by its own house “orchestra”, usually on Thursdays and Saturdays in the “p.m. and eve.” The store even fielded a local baseball team, the Crescents. Experimenting with sales ploys, in late Dec. 1905, the store held a big public lottery for an automobile and a piano, but the following year, in April, this “stopped by legal process” and the store was fined $10 and costs. “O.T’s” tried a variety of other gimmicks to increase sales during the period of these diaries, including frequent, usually seasonal, “Grand Opening Sales”, special sales in various departments, and even an art exhibition. O.T. himself moved to California in 1916 and became a successful businessman there; but in its heyday, his Galesburg store was a town fixture, and Carl Sandberg even visited it for a book-signing. One of its shoe salesmen was Jack Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s father, and Ronald attended Galesburg first grade. The store’s sign painter, Dick Blick, opened a highly successful (and still operating) business in mail order art supplies in Galesburg.) ~~ Most of JWP’s diary entries describe the day’s business at O.T. Johnson’s, including almost-daily sales figures, his (mostly lunch or dinner) meetings with suppliers of goods, costs of various goods bought by him for his department, comments on the number of customers each day, occasional names of customers, names and reports on fellow employees (who asked for raises, who was out sick, who went to Chicago on business, etc.), details on customer buying trends (e.g. “C B & Q” Railroad workers’ payday is usually good for sales), and of course, he notes how he spent his work day (e.g. invoicing, preparing for the big sales periods, buying merchandise). He starts out making $13 week (1901) and by the end of 1903 he is in the “linens, bedding and domestics dept.” with four people working for him. In the last few diaries, he concentrates on the Linens Dept., does the buying for it, and gets pay raises, first to $15, then to $18—although his take-home pay remains at $15 and he receives yearly “bonuses”. He wines and dines sales reps regularly (usually at the Union Hotel) and eventually takes a buying trip for the store to Chicago. ~~ In addition to his store work, the JWP family takes in boarders, mostly young women, often 3 or 4 at a time, and JWP writes of their doings as well as those of his own family. Maggie spends much time “washing.” JWP is also “bycycle” enthusiast, often riding his “Imperial” model to work, and often attending to the bike’s repair needs, and he is also a coin collector. ~~ In addition to enjoying frequent visitors and (Maggie) attending meetings of the “Ladies Social Tea”, the JWP family has many other forms of entertainment. These include enjoying the St Louis World’s Fair in 1904; the annual local 1- to 2-week “Street Fair” (which even features the Pabst Brewery “team” of 12 dappled horses in 1905); the town’s “Homecoming Week” festivities-- political speeches, Crowning of the Queen, an air ship display featuring ace Horace Wild, a military band, and elaborate decorations including electric lights (1907); the 1908 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates mentioned above; traveling circuses (Sells Brothers, Barnum & Bailey--twice, Ringling Brothers—twice, Pawnee Bill’s Circus, Younger & James Wild West Show, Carl Hazenbeck’s Wild Animal Show, and the Gartry Brothers Dog & Pony Show); the elaborate Free Kindergarten Baby Carnival and parade (1905); concerts (esp. at the store); Clarence Darrow’s speech on Decoration Day (1905) and on the “saloon” question in 1908; going to “The Big Races” (at Galesburg Driving Park, usually attended during JWP’s summer vacation, and often mention is made of horses and times); visiting or local theatrical shows (“Happy Hooligan”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “Old Arkansaw”, etc.) and even the Sousa Band (1907); the annual Chautauqua lectures; revival meetings by famous traveling evangelists (Billy Sunday, Gypsy Smith, Dr. Dawson—usually in venues seating “thousands; and “base ball” (JWP plays and umpires), including games played by the store team, Knox College, and Galesburg League, and JWP reports most of the scores (along with occasional scores from football games, basketball games and track meets). In 1907 and 1908, he also writes about the World Series’ competitors and scores. JWP is a dues-paying member of the Woodmen of the World, who hold drills as well as offering insurance, and he goes on his first auto ride in June, 1905. The local court seems to serve as entertainment, too, and JWP and family often attend. Trials include the Cain Murder trial (1905), the Etherby Store Burglar (1903), the trial of the “Cole Sutton Correll Murder” suspects (1905), the freeing of Ed Morrison, who shot his wife in a “Drunken Family Brawl (1904), the Hahn Murder trial (1906), ~~.