Maplewood History: From the Fennell Trove – Sam Bland’s Journal

Included amongst the large assortment of interesting artifacts that make up the Fennell Trove is a journal that is the feature of this post.  At first I just gave it a cursory flip through. I assumed it was a workman’s record of his jobs, bids and expenses, etc. Not that those aren’t interesting, they are.  But if that were all it was, it might play to a very limited audience. I would be in that audience, don’t get me wrong. But as part of this job I have to decide just how much time should I spend deciphering and translating an artifact such as this.

The journal has entries from 1907 through 1923. Sam’s handwriting was precise and clear though it was necessarily rather small. In order for me to read it easily I need either a magnifying glass or to scan it and magnify it on the computer.  At first I thought I’m not going to scan the whole damn thing. (Do you realize how much time I spend scanning stuff?) Anyway I scanned about ten pages and then began reading them. Guess what? I scanned the whole damn thing. Sam put so much in there that I found it fascinating.

The journal begins as a workman’s daily record but quickly becomes a record of life on the farm in Bismarck where he and some of the other family members had moved.  He includes his chores and plantings on the farm, visits from the various members of the family, when they arrived and when they left, his health and the health of some of the others, the weather, the temperature and so on.  And he has a sense of humor. It is documents such as these that really put flesh on the bones of our ancestors.

The best way to understand it is to see it for yourself.  First we’ll review what we know about Sam from the previous Fennell posts.  The following note is from Nancy Fennell Hawkins, our benefactor.

Note: Jeannette Hakes was married to Robert Carpenter in England and they had 6 children, Robert William (Bill), Agnes Jane (Nessie), Percy John and Julian Henry (Juke) (twins),  Kate Evelyn and Jeanette Caroline (Janie) Carpenter. Robert Carpenter died in May 1884 in England. Jeanette married Samuel Bland in 1885 in England.

The Bland/Carpenter families left Sunny Hill, England in 1891 and came to St. Louis.  The family consisted of father, Samuel Bland, mother, Jeanette Caroline Carpenter Bland, Children Robert, Agnes, Percy, Julian (Juke), Kate and Jeanette Carpenter and Mietje Bland.  

The family lived in Maplewood and Webster Groves.  Later Samuel, Jeanette and Mietje moved to Bismarck, Missouri.

Another interesting fact about the Carpenter/Bland families is that all of the husbands and wives of the Carpenters died young. So they all moved to the country where Mietje lived.  She never married. She looked after all her brothers on the farm until they died. The two girls, Nessie and Janie, also moved to the country. They had a new home built for them just down the lane from the farm.  Unsure who built their new home but I believe my Uncle Jule Wolf played a part in that.

Floyd Alonzo Fennell (with suspenders) is sitting, his wife Kate is next to him (I think she is to his right, our left). Sam and Jeannette Bland are far right & Mietje is to Sam’s right, our left, just behind the girls. The others are Carpenter boys and girls. The young fellow in front of Jeannette Bland may be Nessie’s son who died very young.  Some readers may want to refresh their memories by looking again at Part One.

 

The cover of Sam Bland’s journal.  Notice his address: Laclede Station Road – Edgebrook.  Laclede Station was once a train station located, as far as I have been able to determine, exactly where Hanley Road now exists immediately north of Cousin Hugo’s.  It may have been gone by 1907.  Edgebrook was a small community that has now almost completely disappeared.  Three or four houses may still exist west of Hanley and south of the BMW dealer.

 

These are the first pages with Sam’s handwriting.  Nov. 20,1907.  My guess is this an estimate to build a house for Nicholas Becker of Pennsylvania Ave. which later was renamed Big Bend north of Manchester.

 

Next we have a bid to build a brick house for Herman Bartold with an address of Manchester Rd.  The Bartold family owned and operated the resort and hotel known as Bartold’s Grove once located at present day SE corner of Hanley and Manchester.  That date might be Jan. 7, (19)11.

 

Here we apparently have a bid to build a house on an old foundation for C.F.Kraushaar at the SE corner of Oakland and Woodlawn (He may have meant Woodland).  Then on the right page he begins his “diary”. The year is 1919.  The date December 26.  Sam writes, “Rec’d letter from John of 14th. Settled at 99 Richmond Rd, Putney for winter.” He probably is referring to Putney, a district in southwest London.  He also says, ” Sis Sally is weak from bleeding of leg. Lost her dog – poisoned.”  And more.  Interesting stuff!

 

On these pages he apparently has decided to make this book his “Diary”.  At the top, “1919  Mrs. J.C. Bland’s – 40 acres, Sunninghill farm- 3 miles east of Bismarck Mo.”  This is a record of their purchase of their farm at Bismarck probably named after the town where they lived in England.  First entry, “Paid on land – 270 , Jany 1st 1919.”  Farther down, “Paid on land to R.W. Mottaz (?) – 400 including Jany 15, 1920.”  Paid on land to – 510, Jany 1 -1921.”  That adds up to 1,180.  I wonder if that was the entire purchase price of the 40 acres?

 

I love his title on these pages, “1919 Sam Bland’s Operation in Work & Mischief & Loafing Around.”  Hopefully you can read the small print on your telephone if that’s what you are using to read this.  He is off to a poor start in 1919.  First entry is, “Wednesday 1st. Laid up – Mietje operates on left foot.”  Farther down, “25 – Ju to sale to buy horsey.” I speculate Ju is his abbreviation for his wife Jeanette.

 

Here he writes, “April 1 – Ju’s back queer.”  and  “20 – Sunday Easter – Clean shoes & doll up.”

 

Throughout he records when the members of the family visit.  Such as, May 5 , “Nessie and Janey down.” And again  on May 29, “Leo Moore and Janta (?) down.”

 

June 3 – “Clean out shop- bugger about -.” June 7- “Bee hives arrive.” June 13 – “Bees swarming- Mietje swearing.”

 

July 6, “Doll up – Dr. Calligan and wife visit”.  July 27, “Sunday – Bath & loaf.”

 

Sept. 7, ” Sunday – Clean shoes – Kerosene body.” Huh?

 

October 5, ” Sunday –  Write Sallie.” His sister in England, I assume.  “12- Mietje & Ju go fishing.”  “17- Mietje & Daisy with Will to cake sale.”

 

November 1919. “17 – Piano tuner down in petticoats.” What? “Reconstruct privy vault.” On the same day?

 

December 1919.  Tax time.

 

That’s one year – 1919.  The journal ends after May 1923 when Sam ran out of space.  I find this very interesting.  His sense of humor shows in spite of his time with his bad leg and the incredible amount of work he did.  Let me hear from you.  Is this interesting enough to continue?  Would anyone like to see more of these pages published?  Let me know.

Thanks again to Nancy Fennell Hawkins for sharing these family items of hers with us all.

As always, I appreciate the support of you readers. If you’ve asked for something and I’ve not responded, ask again.  The way my Gmail stacks up emails causes me to sometimes overlook a few.

“Tis the season to be jolly.  Back soon.”

Doug

5 thoughts on “Maplewood History: From the Fennell Trove – Sam Bland’s Journal

  1. Kerosene was used as an agent in early dry cleaning applications. Maybe he was making a quip about his state of cleanliness after some serious work. Good sense of humor. I’d read more if you posted it.

  2. It’s interesting how I came to have all these pictures and documents. For several years I wrote to my Dad’s Aunts in Bismark asking for information about their family. I wanted names, birth dates, when they came to the U.S., and stories about their lives in England. Aunt Mietje was the only one that responded and she said that Aunts Janie & Nessie did not want any of that information made available. It was personal and private. So I gave up. Then after the Aunts had all passed away, Daisy, who was the daughter of one of Dad’s uncles, wrote to me and said she had a box full of pictures and things that I could have if I wanted to make the trip to the farm. So my son, Steve, and I made the trip. And in the box was a treasure trove of information. I so glad I was able to share this information with all who are interested.

    • That is interesting, Nancy. You have to wonder why Janie and Nessie didn’t want the information out here. We can’t possibly guess. I think it is all great stuff. It adds a lot to what we know of life in your family and in our community. I have to think that if they saw the way it is presented, they’d approve. Thanks again.

    • I agree, Gary. Ever hear of a piano tuner’s petticoats? Another Maplewood History exclusive! Thanks for your comment.