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Commonplace Book, Pocket Diary of August Maria Ward Bissell

Augusta Maria Ward Bissell was born on June 24, 1830 in Warwick, Massachusetts to Sylvanus Ward (1802 -1856) and Anna Draper Ward (1801-1856). She grew up with three siblings, one sister, Harriet Anna Ward (1828 - 1856), and two brothers Artemas Draper Ward (1837 - 1914) and Justin Edwards Ward (1847 - 1929). She married late in life, at age 39 to Rev. Oscar Bissell (1822 - 1910) on November 1, 1869. Together they had three children Frederick Bissell (1871 - ?), William Foster Bissell (1872 - 1945) and Alma Ward Bissell (1875 - 1869). Augusta died in Brimfield, Massachusetts on December 30, 1898 of La Grippe, otherwise known as influenza.

New York: 1868. A wonderful commonplace book of Augusta Maria Ward Bissell, who lived in Warwick, MA. This commonplace book is a small pocket diary for the year 1868. While each entry is short, normally consisting of a few brief sentences, the details Augusta Ward chooses to record about her life give the reader a robust outlook on her life and that of the local townspeople. Each entry starts off with a note on the day's weather, generally including the mornings temperature and a few words on the weather conditions such as "wet day", "summerish", "some sprinkles". She continues on next with short notes on the day, who visited who, what sermon or lecture she heard that day or small notes on the doings of her family, friends, and neighbors. Additionally, marriages, sicknesses, and deaths are recorded as well. Below are some examples of her entries:

"7 above morning, cloudy some. A surprise party at Mr. Richards in the evening. Went to meeting as Ms. Conants, Minister Association at Charlemont this week." Feb. 13

"14 morning, fair 30 at one. Dr. and Mary Draper called. Alin Felder called. Sleighing is growing poor. A subscription was started on Sunday to buy Sabbath school books for our library."

"63 morning, fair 84 at one, fair. Rev. Mr Brooks called. Sarah Ball called. Ann Marie & I picked some strawberries. Mrs. James Derby has moved into Mrs. Fashe's house." June 19

"55 morning very rainy. Horace Mason called. Justin [brother] and I visited Aunt Catherine. Charles Hill's son died today of fever. Mr. Young and his family went west Tuesday." Sept. 4

In addition to all of her regular notes throughout the year, it seems that she meets Rev. Oscar Bissell, her future husband about midway through the year. He appears to have been a traveling Reverend who preached at several local churches and meetings. One can see the growth of their relationship as the year progresses. What starts as any other entries of the detailing the sermons she goes to, become notes of Mr. Bissell calling on her to spending the evening (Dec 15) to them exchanging letters. This is clearly the beginning of their courtship that would result in their marriage in November 1869. This marriage was rather unusual for the time as she was 39 years old. Augusta would go on to have 3 children within the next five years with Oscar.

Lastly, at the end of the journal there are a series of list, starting with a list of the year's marriages and deaths, continuing with several accounting lists of expenses (such as the extraction of a tooth or purchases of a diary) and work she was paid for.

Black leather covers. Gilt edge pages. Completely filled. Measures 4" x 2 3/4" Minor damage to covers. Minor soiling on interior pages due to age.

Price: $325.00

Item #28000105