The Gerrish Family Papers contain several diaries and personal papers detailing rural farm life in Wisconsin, particularly the Ono area of Union Township in Pierce County, during the late 1800's through the early 1900's. Authors of the diaries are a mother and daughter, Jennie P. Andrews and Edna J. Gerrish. The diaries tell of hardships as well as times of plenty, and provide details on farm chores, domestic responsibilities and other family affairs while living on the Wisconsin plains. This collection also contains several miscellaneous family documents including the baptismal certificate of Edna's son, Carrol Orlando Gerrish, and a 1926 State Teacher's Certificate for Joyce Jennie Gerrish from the River Falls State Normal School. Diaries from this collection, as well as from the Gertrude Cairnes collection (River Falls Mss I), have been included in Diaries of Girls and Women: a Midwestern American Sampler, (2001) edited by Suzanne Bunkers, professor of English and director of the honors program at Minnesota State University.
Left: "American Diary" from the Gerrish Collection, dated 1900. Below: "Standard Diary" belonging to Jennie Andrews, dated 1881.
Diaries were kept for a variety of purposes. Some were intensely personal reflections and not meant to be shared; some were kept simply to record the weather or events on the farm; others were intended for the next generation as a way of preserving a family's history. Standard and American Diaries were quite small, usually leather or two-toned cloth bound diaries which often included information such as a list of U.S. Presidents; populations of major US cities; useful information for businessmen; anecdotes for various poisons; what to do in case of lightening strike or sunstroke; dates of eclipses; and current postage rates. View 1907 (postage rates and "Things to be Remembered") and 1909 (rate of income on stocks and weekly table of wages).
Jennie Andrews was born in 1851 as Jennie Blair. In 1874 she married Orlando J. Andrews and lived on a farm at Ono in Union Township, Pierce County, Wisconsin. Together they had four children: Edna, Sara, Ward, and Hiram, the last of whom died as a small child. On October 10, 1900, at the age of 49, Jennie Andrews died.
Jennie P. Andrews Diaries: 1876, 1882-83, 1893, 1899-1900
Edna J. Gerrish Edna J. Andrews was the daughter of Orlando and Jennie P. Andrews. She was born in 1877 and married Samuel J. Gerrish (1875-1923) in December of 1899. They, too, lived on an Ono farm at Union Township in Pierce County, Wisconsin. Edna Gerrish died in 1935 and is buried in Ono Methodist Cemetery.
Edna J. Gerrish Diaries: 1906-1909