Guy Sabin, my great-grandfather, was born in Naperville, Illinois in 1853. His grandparents had migrated with their childen and spouses from Massachusets and Connecticut, through New York, arriving in Naperville in 1833. His father, Albert S. Sabin, was 11 years old when they arrived.
Guy was in one of the first classes of North Central College (then North Western) when it moved from Plainfield to Naperville in 1870. His family owned a sheep farm on the outskirts of town, adjacent to the Stenger Brewery, and much of his diaries tell of everyday life on the farm and about his college days.
My great grandmother, Nannie Sevier, also attended North Western College in Naperville, and was in the first graduationg class in Naperville in 1875. An East Tennessee girl, she stayed with her aunt and uncle, Rev. John Whitfield Cunningham and Elizabeth Sevier Cunningham, while attending college. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister, but his last church was the Congregationalist Church in Naperville. Guy Sabin's diaries cover began in 1871 in Naperville, and ended in the early 1880s in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I'm just including a few passages here. Along with other letters, daguerreotypes, newspaper articles, jewelry and other memorabilia, the diaries were found in an attic trunk in 1985. Our great-grandmother had saved all of these family treasures and they had been safely packed away since her death in 1935. My immeasurable gratitude goes to her for preserving their history, and my great thanks to my cousin, Mary Sabin Floyd, for transcribing the first diaries.
|Friday, February 10, 1871: I was on debate at the Chrisophic Society this evening. Question should a compulsory system of education be adopted in the United States. Tried to make them think it should, but Mr. Cody scared all the ideas out of me, it being the second time I had tried before an audience.
Saturday, February 11: The folks went to Aurora this morning. It snowed most all of the time they were gone. About a foot and a half of snow or at level and over the fences most places. Began a picture frame, but don’t know if I’ll ever finish it. Will try it though.
Sunday, February 12: Still snowing. Guess we are bound to have sleighing all summer. Enough to last until March, at least. Have not got my lessons yet. They are awful hard.
Monday, February 13: Fred came up with me this noon. Talked of getting up a sleigh ride, finally put it off until Saturday. Don’t know as we will have it then either. Got fine in Latin and I think the same in Algebra.
Tuesday, February 14: Prof. Rassweiler made the class a visit but did not hear it. Helooks very pale. Said he would try and be there tomorrow. Let out before time, about 10 minutes. Rode down town after kerosene on horseback. It’s nice sleighing. Wish I had a cutter and a team that could go.
Wednesday, February 15, 1871: Fred Orcutt came up this noon saying there was to be a sociable at Goodrich’s next Tuesday and wanted me to get a girl and go. He showed me a letter he had ready to send for a girl. In the afternoon at 4:00 p.m. took a horse and went riding. Met Miss C. Asked her to go with me. Said it was a good while beforehand but would go with me if she could possibly go. I had a discussion with Prof. Smith in the Latin class. He finally decided that both sides were right. I knew my side of the question was right.
Thursday, February 16: Prof Rassweiler heard the Algebra class, though most sick. Saw Fred Orcutt and asked him if he had his girl engaged. He said, “All right on the Potomac.” Told him I was too. The snow has been melting very fast for two days past. Hope it will be good sleighing next Tuesday evening. Sacked out wool and took it to the depot. Baby put on short dresses for the first time today.
Friday, February 17: Went to the society this evening. Had nothing to do. The critic said I held my head on one side when I went to my seat from debate. He corrected my grammar, got it wrong himself. It is snowing and raining, don’t know which. spoke in the rhetorical class half past 3 before we got through. Was nearly the last one he called on; the company had all gone out; was glad of it.
Saturday, February 18: Rather colder; windows covered with ice and snow. F. Belden came from Lockport and stopped to dinner; went home about 2 o’clock. Jessie had her hair cut; looked as if the mice had gnawed it off; rather uneven.
Sunday, February 19: Victor was missing this morning. Father and I went out after him but could not find him until near dark. I got him up above the saw mill; got him home a quarter before seven. Mark Miller asked Mary to go to the sociable; she declined going with him.
Monday, February 20: Received a letter from a young lady this afternoon. Will give a copy, “Friend Guy - I am very sorry that I cannot go tomorrow evening. Mother is quite sick and I can’t be spared. Considering the circumstances, you will excuse me for disappointing you, I know. Ever your friend, R.M.C.” (Rose Marie Cody) Sent it home by Mary at half past 2 o’clock. I wrote answer at 3 o’clock but got no chance to send it. Guess I’ll have to wait until morning at school. Prof. adopted a new system of marking
in the algebra class.
Tuesday, February 21: Sent an answer this morning in the form of a Latin oath. The whole sleight ride has gone up; don’t care. Was invited up to Powell’s this evening to a supper, but did not go. Concluded that I would stay at home and get my lessons; can stay well enough but don’t know as I can get the lessons as easy.
Wednesday, February 22: There is a sociable at Mr. Daniel’s this evening. Studied Latin instead of going. Prof. discussed the problem of lights today. Had a bad smashup a little way east of here; kept the trains waiting half a day. The prospects are good for a storm of snow.
Thursday, February 23: Has been thawing all day and is very muddy. Prof. Smith now assigns the review to someone in his class beforehand. In the Algebra class we drew lots for the problem of the lights. I got it, the number being 28; had guessed 20, the number nearest to it. Got 4 yesterday. Ought to have had 5. Good lesson.
Friday, February 24: Went to the society; had nothing to do but listen. Confounded muddy now. Got my boots all covered. Let Einsel take my gold pencil; forgot to get it from him.
Saturday, February 25: Sawed wood this forenoon, that is part of it. About one o’clock went out to shovel snow; had to open the road. From the railroad north was about 4 or 5 feet deep. Have got all my Algebra examples for Monday and can get my Latin before that time.
Sunday, February 26: Ground covered with snow this morning. Great for a sleigh ride. Went to Sunday school through the snow and mud. The horses tried to get away from me going to water. Will exercise them enough some of these moonlight nights.
Monday, February 27, 1871: Half past ten and only got one of my lessons; don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow. Einsel returned my pencil this morning. Pres. Smith wants to hold prayer meetings every day during term time; I don’t care. Snow melted very fast today; don’t like the mud.
Tuesday, February 28: Did not get up this morning until nearly 6 o’clock. Victor has been very sick all day; don’t know what is the matter with him. Father got a letter from Chicago saying his wool had been sold for 48 cents per pound. the sale was first rate satisfactory for he hardly expected as much. Is going into Chicago Thursday. Prof. Rassweiler was absent. Augustine heard the class. Went up to the depot at 2 o’clock to give a letter to Fred. Pres. Smith was there; can’t tell what he will say, as it was in study hours; expect a lecture. It is now half past 10:00 P.M. Growing colder.
Wednesday, March 1: Father gave me his watch, “an American Appleton and Tracy”, number 64712, case number 4513. Good present.
Thursday, March 2: Father went to Chicago this morning. Fred Babcock helped me do the chores; rained all the while. Wrote an essay for tomorrow afternoon, subject “Andrew Jackson”. Have not got a single example, tougher than tripe.
Friday, March 3: Read an essay in the rhetorical class; am off for two weeks. Went to the society; was appointed on the discussion next time. Got another 5 in Latin. Goodrich got 4. He doesn’t like it much. Expect he will have his lessons better.
Saturday, March 4: The folks went over to Aurora this morning. Bought a solid gold chain for $11. Cost $40 when new, besides $3 for a box. The jeweler said my watch was worth $55 dollars any time. I now have a watch and chain worth $100. Will show out tomorrow.
Sunday, March 5: Heard and saw meadow larks, blackbirds and bluebirds this morning for the first time this year. Put on my chain for the first time when I went to Sunday School. George Swank said it was magnificent. Going to have a storm, I guess; began to rain a little before dark, about 5 o’clock.
Monday, March 6: Prof. Grimes of New York was over at the college this morning; made a short speech; kept them all roaring. He lectures at Hunt’s Hall three nights; think I’ll go tomorrow evening. Went up to the depot at 2 o’clock. There were a lot of emigrants there. Fred said maybe he would stay to the lecture tomorrow. Heard the prairie chickens this morning; guess winter is about “bushed”. Messrs. Richmond and Skinner came up to hear us recite Algebra. I had a poorer lesson than usual. Good deal.
Tuesday, March 7: Went to hear Prof. Grimes’ lecture; was pretty good. Miss Dreisbach fainted; had quite a time bringing her to. Yaggy went out, I guess for a carriage to take her home. Think I’ll go tomorrow night and hear him. Pres. Smith, Prof. Rassweiler, and Heidner and Smith were there tonight.
Wednesday, March 8: Fred Babcock and myself went up to Hannah’s this evening. Didn’t study much; made such a noise. Father got a letter from Chicago enclosing a bill of sale for his wool, and the rest of the money. Commenced raining about dark; quite a storm. It is now 20 minutes to twelve.
Thursday, March 9: Did not have extra lessons today, at least not Algebra. Tried to have Fred stay out; but he would not. Decided on a question for tomorrow evening. Don’t know anything about it. Guess I won’t speak long. Commenced snowing this morning, but melts as it falls. Father bought 60 bushels of corn.
Friday, March 10: Debated at the Chrisophic on the question, “Should San
Domingo be annexed to the United States”. Told them it should not, and gave a few reasons. Commenced raining a little after dark.
Saturday, March 11: Prof . Grimes did not lecture tonight as he was going. Fred came out. We are going to church tomorrow evening if nothing happens. Will take some girls if we go. Don’t know who yet.
SunSnday, March 12: Went to Sunday school today; did not go to church. Is going to rain; am confounded sleepy. Fred is asleep. We were calculating to go to meeting, but it stormed. Clock struck 8 - about bedtime.
Monday, March 13: Had company to school. Messrs. Richmond & Haight in the Algebra and Haight in our Latin. Let him take a book; looked over with Miss C. Had pretty good lesson; got 5 on it any how. Tried to fuzzle me in Algebra; didn’t do it much. Fred went home this afternoon half past 2.
Tuesday, March 14: Carried water to the horses, it is so muddy. Prof. Rassweiler is about sick, has got a bad cold. Was raining this noon when I came home. Tried to borrow an umbrella; couldn't get one anywhere. Fred said he would stay out Friday night and go to the society. Hope it won't rain then. The entertainment is to be on the 24th of this month. Glad I am not one of the performers in it. Mr. Bigelow was her to dinner; went home at half past 5. Guess we are going to have a storm.
Wednesday, March 15: Fred bought a nice pair of boots. He paid $9 for them; a pretty good pair of sewed boots. Went riding tonight. Was very muddy. Saw Turner and Earnest. Was passing some girls and my horse got scared. They screamed and run, one of them falling in a not very dry place. Turning our sheep out this morning. Short of hay.
Thursday, March 16: Got Fred to write a note asking Hattie P. to go with him to the society tomorrow night. Left it with me to give to her. It's the first time he ever sent an invitation to anyone. I am going to try my luck tomorrow for the same. Richmond and Prof. Fisher of Wheaton College came up to school, asked lots of questions; wanted me to give a synopsis of the verb video; finally blundered through it. Don't like so much company.
Friday, March 18: This evening Fred took Miss Peasley to the society. I went with Miss Rose C. Didn't walk very fast, took it slow and easy; was nice walking so kept at it. Was appointed for narration next week; Blast it! Saw the northern lights streaking up north. Fred says he guesses he will keep in the same track for the entertainment; wish him success.
Saturday, March 18: Worked all day cleaning grain and taging sheep. Took a ride tonight. Prince tried to throw me. Couldn't do it though as I had spurs on. Mr. Rogers came out at 6; will stay until Monday.
Sunday, March 19: Went to Sunday school today. Had to shell corn for our sheep. Have not got more than 4 bushels left. Was quite cold this morning but warmer this afternoon. Looks like rain now.
Monday, March 20: Father went to Wheaton; is on the grand jury. Drew lots for the review. Kendig got it, had to go through with the courier problem. Went to town after yeast and the mail. got a Chicago Times. Came before time. Pitt Orcutt got home from Gilman today. Turned colder, almost cold enough to freeze. The sheep are out through it all.
Tuesday, March 21, 1871: Father went out on the prairie and got some corn. It is not shelled; wish it was. Had company at school. Prof. Rassweiller gave me an example to do. Made a mistake and took me half an hour. got it finally.
Wednesday, March 22: Victor has gone. Father was looking for him all day without success. Think someone has poisoned him. Pitt came up this evening a little while. Frank Justice came here, said he had hired out for 9 months at $20 a month. Fred stayed out.
Thursday, March 23: Fred asked Miss Hattie for tomorrow evening. She couldn't give him a certain answer, but I guess he is all right. I am going to try tomorrow. Fred Orcutt came up this evening. Said he would work here for a month at $17.
Friday, March 24: Went to the society, asked the president (at the time of general business) if motions were in order. He said yes. I then made the viz: "I move that we reconsider our vote on Mr. Castle." It was seconded by Miss Foran; the president Chris Beyner; and Charles Rassweiler said it was out of order and would not put it to vote. It made me mad as thunder, for it was in order. I proposed his name for next week if he is rejected. I would withdraw and am not along as Charlie Dreisbach and Hiram Cody said they would too. Don't like to be used that way much. The folks from DeKalb came this afternoon. Father went to Aurora, bought one of Sillman's Common Sense rat traps. Guess it is pretty good. Fred took Hattie Peasley to the society. After it was out, he spent the evening at her house and didn't get here until a quarter past ten o'clock.
Saturday, March 25: Made a rat trap this afternoon; expect a barrel full of rats. Played cards until 12 o'clock; got beaten for fifteen straight games.
Sunday, March 26, 1871: Went to Sunday School; was rather rainy. Snowed some this morning, melted as fast as it touched the ground. Looks like snow or rain now.
Monday, March 27: Class in Algebra was examined on the principles. Don't know whether I was perfect. Thought I saw them mark me down. Tomorrow will be examined on Latin and on examples in Algebra. I don't care much about it.
Tuesday, March 28: Passed examinations in Latin and Algebra. Went to the entertainment. Rose Cody spoke Angels of Buena Vista. It was the best performance of all. Let out quarter past ten o'clock.
Wednesday, March 29: Fred commenced painting Grandma's house. I sawed wood in the forenoon, in the afternoon tagged sheep. Got out 146.
Thursday, March 30: Saw Jep go up with Emma Hannah to carry her milk for her. Rose Cody, Hattie Peasley and others went to Hinsdale to the "Teachers Institute". Guess I can't go this year. Fred has been painting all day. Took a walk this evening, just before dark.
Friday, March 31: Sowed oats today with Hess's machine. Dick Clark waS here from four to six, came out after an iron for a cultivator.
Saturday, April 1, 1871: Dug a drain from the west door. They finished sowing oats. Fred Babcock threw a bouquet over in Peasley's yard marked for Hattie. G. C. Knoble came up to sell some books.
Sunday, April 2: Fred and myself went to Sunday School, but not to church. We talked of going to hear the lecture this week, girls being understood, of course. Expect to get thunder and lightening tonight.
Monday, April 3: Fred and myself went on a hunting excursion, got wet, some little fish about 3 inches long, one woodcock, three or four birds; started about 10, got home a quarter of seven.
Tuesday, April 4, 1871: Commenced school today, didn't recite. Bought a Geometry, paid $2. Today is Rose's birthday, 18 years old, beautiful as a butterfly, bright as a queen and more, too. Went after ducks at 6 o'clock, didn't get one. shot a lark on the wing, a blackbird sitting. [Rose is Rose Cody]
Wednesday, April 5: Commenced school today in earnest. Prof. gave us 8 pages in Geometry, all questions too. Smith gave us a lesson in Virgil. My book cost $1.10. Paid for my scholarships this noon, $6.00. Found a pearl sleeve button in the chapel, gave it to Prof. Smith. Fred B. gave Hattie a cigar. She said she would smoke it.
Thursday, April 6: Pres. appointed me to take the names of those who wished to take writing lessons of Prof. Cross; only got 3 beside myself. Recited for the first time this term today. Fred commenced Physiology, says they gave him long lessons, one chapter at a time, long ones at that. The folks went to Joliet this morning.
Friday, April 7: Folks got home this noon. We talked of going down on the Des Plaines fishing next week, Saturday. Will take a boat and spears with us; Amos says can get lots. Went to the society. We voted on seven names, were all checked except Mark Castle. I will not go again as a member. I asked Beyner after the society adjourned how it was. He said there were three blackballs for him.
Saturday, April 8: Pruned the orchard. Took me from 8 to 3 o'clock. Borrowed a saw of Butz to do it with. Fred Dudley came up tonight, stayed an hour and a half or more; had a first rate chat. He starts for Dakota Monday, has promised to write to me. Met Pitt Orcutt promenading with Miss Foran, "time" about half past eight, quite dark.
Sunday, April 9: Went to Sunday School. Pitt and Sykes came up this afternoon; asked them to come up some evening and play "croquet". They said they wood. Looked at the grain; wheat is up good, oats just show.
Monday, April 10: I drew a blank in the Geometry class; but Rose was absent and he gave hers to me. It was the one in second, book first. Got my air pistol from Maine, that I sent for. It is the greatest hunting going. Did not go to prayers this morning. It rained; has not stopped yet.
Tuesday, April 11: Fred Dudley and Will Loomis went off on the 9 o'clock. I did not get to prayers at the college. Fred Babcock has on a new hat, a black one. Hattie Peasley taught the grammar class. Prof. H. is absent.
Wednesday, April 12: Drew a "theorem" in the re-review. got through all right. Tried to get Henry Hines' spear, but he says he is going to use it. I am going to have one made. Don't think we will go this week, has been raining. Fred is going to bring a spear out. Looked in Prof. Smith's book, have got all fives.
Thursday, April 13: Drew a theorem number twelve; could not go through with. This noon I went down and ordered a spear head at Dan Strubler's; cost $2. Fred is going to bring his rifle out in the morning.
Friday, April 14: Withdrew from the Chrisophic Society. Powell and Yaggy also withdrew. The president got scared and said, "I hope you'll not all withdraw." Got my spearhead this noon, it is a first rate one. The tines are steel, the socket Swedish iron.
Saturday, April 15: Fred B. and I went out shooting gophers, got 8. Made some spear handles; they are fourteen feet long. F. went home on the "Six thirty-six", left his rifle. Saw a small lamb in the field today.
Sunday, April 16, 1871: Went to Sunday School. The bay mare had a colt last night; found it dead this morning. Two men came here, wanted to stay, were rough looking chaps. I loaded the rifle so as to be ready in case they make a nocturnal visit.
Monday, April 17: Fred Orcutt says we can get Strubler's boat for 50 cents, cheap enough. I guess we'll take it. Planed off my spear handle. It was too large. Have got a wire basket to keep the light in.
Tuesday, April 18: Prof. Cross of Aurora lectures here this evening. Father saw Sheldon, who said we could not get a fish; am going to prove him a liar if possible. Must make a "jack" for the boat. Sheldon says it will take 10 gallons of Benzine. Looks like a storm. Don't want rain now. Swartz came over about half past nine, woke us up and wanted us to go fishing. He said they were running over the riffles by hundreds. Went down but did not get one. Had a lantern but could not see to spear. Got home before twelve.
Wednesday, April 19: Drew a theorem in the Geometry class. Prof. Cross gave a lesson in writing today. He charges $1.50 for 30 lessons, one hour and a half each. Got the boat. Is a pretty good one, 16 feet long. Will hold four easily.
Thursday, April 20: Took a writing lesson. Bought a card of Prof. Cross. Looks awful stormy, guess it will rain tonight. The thermometer is down to 40, quite cold. Fred says the boat is a good one and cheap.
Friday, April 21: Rained some last night but not enough to hurt anything. Went over to Rhetorical exercises through the rain, got some wet. Has been raining a little all day, a cold wet, drizzling rain. If it rains tonight it knocks our fishing tour endways; guess it will.
Saturday, April 22, 1871: Cleared off about 8 o'clock. We started with our boat, got there and found the river high and awfully muddy. Found could do nothing, so came home. Tried it on this river, no go.
Sunday, April 23: Went to Sunday School; was very pleasant. Fred B. went home on the milk train. Had a horseback ride, hour and a half at least. Has clouded up again, guess it will rain.
Monday, April 24: Took a writing lesson today. Castle said he was going to have a party Thursday evening. There are some Italians in town with harps. Weather keeps good. Hope it will until we go.
Tuesday, April 25: We had four theorems in our lesson today. I drew a blank; had them all. Fred says he don't think he'll go on Saturday. I am going if it is good weather and warm. Guess I will get Hank Hines to go if I can. Looks as though it will rain before long. It is cold enough to snow.
Wednesday, April 26: Went over to the writing class to college. Father got his end of his finger cut off in the "marker". Commenced plowing the college grounds so as to level it. Pres. gave students a lecture.
Thursday, April 27: Castle had a party this evening. Came up this afternoon. We played cards a while. He wanted me to go up there. Told him I could not go. Fred has given up fishing. He don't know what to do with his oil. I don't want it.