William L. Davis - Life on a Coram farm in 1871

Abstract by,
Mrs. Eleanor Davis Erhardt
Daughter of Daniel R. Davis

William Lester Davis was born in the Davis Town Meeting house in Coram on July 5, 1850. He was one of ten children of Lester H. Davis, a prosperous farmer, innkeeper, and politician.

As an adult he farmed his property on the Coram Mt. Sinai Road, one mile north of his birthplace. William died March 3, 1930.

This diary illustrates the daily life on a typical Long Island farmer of the period.

Introduction written by,
Davis Erhardt
June, 2000

May, 25- Daniel and I have been planting watermelons

26- fixing to plant garden

27- Daniel, Chris and William planted garden. In P.M Chris and Wm. Planted 4 acres corn where it did not come up or was pulled up by crows

29- plowing out corn- Pa went to mill in AM, left his grist and fetched back load of lumber

30- Wm., Daniel and Chris driving team on highway
31- plowing out corn-rain-

June, 1- Carting manure (Chris helping) from around barn so as to be ready to lay foundation

2- Carting manure to Raynor farm for turnips and plowing out corn

3- Wm. and Daniel helped carpenter pull down barn. When finished, helped mason lay foundation of new barn, which we half finished.

5- Helping mason most of day

6- Plowing and harrowing turnip piece

7- Plowing out corn- (Daniel and Wm.)

9- Dank and Wm. Plowing out potatoes and corn

10- Cultivating out corn

12- Dank and Wm. Each went with load of wood part way to Port Jefferson so as to make up a full load. It is very sandy till we get part way over-

13- Went with one load of wood and cultivated a little corn- In P.M Chris and I planted potatoes and spread one load of fish scraps on corn

14- To Patchogue with load of wood and back with load of fish scraps which Chris and I spread on corn

15- greasing harness- In P.M Dank and I have been filling in with sand around foundation of barn

16- Patchogue with load of wood, back with load of fish scraps

17- Dank and I plowing out corn. Finished raising barn without accident

19- Daniel and I went to Patchogue with load of wood and back with load of fish scraps, Chris and I spread on load

20- Spreading fish scraps and cultivating corn

21- Plowing out corn- now high

22 - "

23- " " " and in P.M working in garden

24- Plowing out potatoes. Dank (Daniel's nickname) and I carted 2 loads wood to Town House (Town Poor House in Coram)

Daniel R. Davis

26- Plowed out potatoes- Then Pa and I each went to Patchogue with loads of wood, back with fish scraps

27- At Raynor farm plowing out turnips and buckwheat

28- At Raynor farm Dank and I have been plowing out buckwheat. In P.M. helped carpenters raise rafters of the barn

29- cultivating corn

30- At Raynor farm, made commencement of moving- In P.M Dank and I raked hay, then I mowed more

July-1 Finished mowing field commenced yesterday at Raynor farm- P.M started carting hay cut yesterday. At 4 P.M. Pa and Daniel came up so Dank and I went to raking and Chris and I went carting- not a good hay day

3- Rained all night. Plowing out corn and Potatoes in A.M, in P.M finished plowing out potatoes in A.m., in P.M. finished plowing out potatoes. Set out a few cabbage plants

July-4 In A.M plowing out corn- In P.M Pa and I got in hay left out over Sunday at Raynor farm "fourth of July is an holiday but I have not made it so"

5- plowing out corn

6- Wm. and Elbert Hammond, young man who is helping through harvest sowed buckwheat at Raynor farm- In P.M Wm. And Daniel raked hay

7- Finished harrowing buckwheat and sowed clover seed at Raynor farm- P.M have been raking and binding wheat. Shower last night

8-Raking and binding wheat until 4 P.M- Then Dank and I carted in - 140 shocks. It was all got in the barn today- kept six of us busy-

10- A.M plowing out corn- warm -90

11- At Raynor farm cutting, raking and getting in hay- not a good hay day. Rain stopped them at 4PM

12- Plowing out corn which looks fine and has prospect of being a good crop. PM- Pa went to mowing in swamp. Wm. And Chris raking and carting in hay at Raynor farm- Hay cured fast

13- Wm. And Elbert finished getting in hay at Raynor farm- In PM getting in hay at home

14- Carting in hay- have put in ten loads
15- A.M plowing out corn. P.M- Wm. and Daniel raking scattering of wheat stubble

17- A.M- Plowing and harrowing turnip ground. P.M mowing

18- AM- Plowing out corn and mowing. PM- Raking and carting in hay

July 20- A.M- Plowing and mowing. P.M- Pa, Wm. And Daniel have been raking and carting in hay, -raining a little

21-Pa and Daniel finished getting in hay. Wm. Raking oats at Raynor farm

22- Plowed out corn until dew was off, then went with Elbert to Raynor farm to rake oats- took up 33 shocks

24- Raking oats at Raynor farm with the men. P.M- carted two loads home

25- Wm. And Christopher cradling oats in piping tree lot
26- Rain most of the day- clearing rubbish from around new barn

27- Have been ½ way to railroad with load of wood- Wm. and Chris cradling oats in swamp

28- Wm. And Chris finished cradling at piping tree- P.M raking and binding- brought one load home

31- Wm. And Daniel raking and getting in oats at Raynor farm

Aug. 1- To Port Jefferson with a load of wood- went from there to piping tree lot to help Daniel and Chris rake oats- We each got in a load of oats

2- Plowing ground for turnips where we had early potatoes, P.M harrowing the ground and Chris went to drilling them in- got last load of oats from Raynor farm- Harvest over

Aug.- 3- Wm. Daniel and Chris, threshing oats with machine

Aug. -4- Carting manure for wheat, stopped by rain

5- Wm. and Elbert carting out manure for wheat- 90 degrees
7- carting manure for wheat

8- Elbert and Wm. Carting manure for wheat

9- Carting out manure, made a commencement of plowing oat ground which will be plowed twice

10- Two loads of wood to Patchogue, back with two loads of shells

12- Wm. And Daniel to Port Jefferson where they got 550 bushels of ashes

13- Wm. And Daniel each went to Port Jefferson with a load of wood and brought back 4 loads of ashes

14- Wm. And Daniel to Port Jefferson with a load of wood and each fetched back a load of ashes to the Raynor farm- Later plowed a little in the swamp

16- Plowing the oat ground

17- Finished plowing oat ground and sowed it

18- Plowing for Rye at Raynor farm

21- Wm. Daniel and Elbert have threshed with machines- about 100 bushels. Very dry weather

22- Sowing Rye and later grass seed

24- Fixing a fence at Raynor farm- looking for lost sheep without success

26- Wm. Daniel and Elbert cleaning up oats- P.M carting turf in the hog been and carting away old timbers from around the barn

28- Both Wm. And Daniel to Port Jefferson with loads of wood and back with ashes for the Raynor farm

29- To Port Jefferson with wood and back with ashes for Raynor Farm

30- Wm. And Elbert hoeing turnips at Raynor farm

31- Wm. And Elbert carting turf and leaves in hog pen

Sept. 1- Plowing for Rye at Raynor farm

2- Threshing seed wheat- a good day- never threshed when it worked better

4- Wm. And Daniel to Bellport for salt hay

5- Took about 20 bushels of grain to mill and from there to Bellport for salt hay

6- Wm. And Elbert hoeing turnips and cutting wood in the swamp

7- To Port Jefferson with a load of wood, returned with load of ashes and spread it on the ground where rye will be planted- mowed grass that was cut yesterday

8- Plowing for wheat at Raynor farm in A.M- In P.M Wm. And Daniel spread fish scraps and finished spreading ashes on Rye ground

9- Plowing for wheat at Raynor farm in A.M. In the P.M Wm. And Daniel loaded up the clover- 2 loads- took it home and threshed it

11- Elbert Hammonds time is up and Charles Crosier takes his place. Wm. And Charles cut about two acres of corn
12- Plowing for wheat at Raynor farm, tedious work as the ground is hard

13- Cutting corn was stopped by rain

14- Have been half way to Port Jefferson with two loads of wood. The first part of the road is very sandy- from there on we put on more wood

15- Plowing for wheat at Raynor farm- until 10A.M when it began to rain

16- plowing for wheat at Raynor farm- the ground being wet enough now

18-Wm. And Charles have been cutting corn, 95 stacks, very good corn- In P.M Daniel and Mr. Clark helped

19- Wm. And Daniel spread a load of fish scraps on the wheat ground- then spread 400 bushels of ashes

20- Wm. And Daniel spreading fish scrap and ashes on ground

21- Wm. And Daniel spread a load of fish scraps, then sprouted a few bushes around the hedge- In the P.M cutting corn

22- Wm. And Charles spread a load of fish scraps at Raynor farm- Then Wm. Went to sowing wheat- sowed it both ways and Charles harrowed. Then sowed Timothy seed- A heavy frost last night

23- Plowing for wheat in the swamp

25- Plowing all day with the exception of spreading one load of fish scrap

26- Plowed for wheat until 3 O'clock - halted by rain

27- Plowing and spreading fish scrap and ashes for wheat

29- Plowing and spreading manure, getting ready to sow wheat tomorrow

30- Finished sowing wheat, about 10 acres

Oct. 2- Wm. And Daniel raked buckwheat at Raynor farm and fetched home a load- threshed it in the P.M

3- Pulling beans that we planted between hills of corn

4- Wm. And Daniel carting cordwood and firewood where they intend to clear

5- Carting fire-wood in A.M. Wm. and Charles cutting wood in P.M.

7- Wm. and Daniel carting sand and filling in around the barn. Looking for 10 lost sheep

9- cutting wood with Charles

10- Clearing up around barn and cutting wood

11- carting sand

Oct. 12- Carting sand and looking for lost sheep

13- Killed two shoats- cutting wood in swamp

14- threshing oats

16- Helped butcher 2 shoats- cutting wood in swamp

17- Cutting wood

18- Cutting and carting wood- husking corn

19- carting sand- filling in old cow yard

20- Clearing up around barn

21- pulled a load of turnips at Raynor farm and went to Port Jefferson with them

22- Husking corn in the A.M.- getting in stalks and plowing for rye in P.M

24- Plowing for rye in swamp- stopped by rain. In P.M cleaning up oats 88 bushels

25- Carting manure and spreading for rye in A.M. In P.M Charles helped Wm. get in one load of stalks, then carted sand around the barn

26- Carting sand and plowing for rye

27- Carting sand

28- In A.M. finished plowing for rye then sowed it and Daniel harrowed. In P.M sowed on the grass seed and finished barrowing

30-Carting sand and leveling around barn in A.M. In P.M burning new ground- In evening saw a light in the east which proved to be burning of Mr. King's barn

31- Threshed 30 shocks of wheat

Nov. 1- Cleaning up wheat

2-plowing new ground

3- plowing new ground

4- Chas, Daniel and Wm. pulled a load of turnip and will went to P.J. with them and put them on the packet to go to NY

6- plowing new ground

7- plowing new ground

8- plowing new ground

9- Finished plowing new ground- not sorry for it is very tedious work

10- rain- no work

11. Wm. and Daniel spread shell line on the new ground, plowing and husking corn

13- Wm. and Daniel finished spreading lime, got in one load of stalks, then spread a load of fish scraps on new ground

Nov. 14- Husking corn in the barn on account of rain

15- killed 4 in number- In P.M spread gass lime on new ground

16- husking corn and helping cut up pork

17- Finished pulling and cutting turnips- we raised between 200 and 300 bushels- They turned out more than 400 bushels to the acre

18- sowed the new ground with rye- husked corn

19- cleaning out horse stables and husking corn in barn

20- Husking corn with Daniel and two others

22- Daniel and Wm. putting leaves in hog pen - loaded one load of corn- husking corn

23- Husking corn

24- Helping father cut and stack stalks

25- Husking corn in A.M- In P.M. Wm. and Daniel each carted a load of turnips to Port Jefferson

27- Husking and storing corn

28-In A.M Wm. and Daniel finished getting in turnips- In P.M husking corn

29- Wm. and Daniel stacking stalks

30- National Thanksgiving Day- To church to hear Thanksgiving sermon

Dec. 1- Got 2 loads of stalks in barn- husking corn the remainder of the day

2- Husking corn

3- Wm. and Daniel each carted a load of wood to P.J.

5- Carting sand in cow yard, filling it up so as to get the cows in the yard for winter for it is very cold

6- Working around the barn and yard

7- Husking corn

8- Husking corn

9- Stacking stalks in the barn

11- Work diversified- stacking stalks, removing turnips from barn to cellar, storing corn

12- Threshed 54 shocks of oats

13- Finished threshing and cleaning oats

14- Helping clean up oats in A.M and in P.M threshing wheat
15- Threshing wheat

16- Finished Threshing wheat

18- Pressing hay at Raynor farm

19- Pressing Hay

20- Cleaning up wheat

21- Finished cleaning yp wheat and in the P.M fixing the sheep stables

22- Killing a hog

23- Cutting up a hog, cleaning out stables

25- The school children had a x-mas tree here in the evening- very pleasant

26- Spreading gass lime on the corn ground

27- Spreading gass lime on the corn ground

28- Cutting wood at wood pile, carted one load of old board from around the barn to burn

29- Carted load of wood to wood-pile and cut some

30- Father and Wm. each carted a load of hay (pressed) to P.J. to send to NY

31- Alas a year has gone- Tempus Fuget and we are now to welcome the New Year

Contact with neighbors

March 2, 1871- Attended Davis Norton's funeral in Selden. Dr. Baker took dinner with us. The girls spent the evening with Emma Norton

March 5, 1871- Family attended the funeral of Mrs. Charry Ritch, 80 years old

March 26, 1871- Attended funeral of Thos. King in M.I. church, a large congregation

Political meetings

June 3, - Town trustees met

March 1, - Supervisor of the Town met here for purpose of paying interest on Town Bonds

March 28, -The justices, Supervisor, Town Clerk and other officers of the Town met here with their accounts for this year, and the Democrats of the Town met to nominate their officers

April 4, - Town Election- unpleasant day

May 1, - Justices met here to grant licenses

Nov.- Annual election- Wm. cast his first vote


March 31, - Wm. and sister Ada attended Divison at Millers Place- had a very pleasant evening and got home about midnight

June 10, - Attended a trial that originated from a horse trade. Went to a circus at P.J. - warm day 90 degrees

Aug. 4, - Went to Patchogue with George Thompson to procure a boat to take a company to Fire Island. Raining hard by spells

Diary from the collection of
Davis Erhardt

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