Primary Source: Diary of a Farm Wife

Penelope Alderman lived in Sampson County and kept a diary spanning January 1851 to January 1856 that documents events that impacted her, her family -- including her husband, Baptist minister Amariah Biggs Alderman -- and her neighbors and friends. Excerpts below discuss work on the Alderman farm as well as the visits of family members and friends. 

April 1854

  1. Mond. 3. Wove some. Mr. A. ploughingA plow (plough) cuts through dirt and turns it over in preparation for planting. Plows at this time were pulled by horses, oxen, or mules. The fact that Ameriah Alderman ploughed his own field suggests that the Aldermans were not wealthy enough to own slaves or to hire day laborers to do the farm work. It is possible that the Alderman owned one or two slaves, but on small farms slaves and farmers often worked side by side. By the 1860s, the Alderman's fortunes had improved, and they owned three slaves. and took the head ache very hard, cool and fair. Not well
  2. Tues. 4. Mr. A had hard head ache all night. Some better, not much work of any kind. Do not read much, and the time is so rapidly going.
  3. Wed. 5. Washed, wove some, warm and fair Mr. A. with head ache
  4. Thur. 6. Mr. A. planted his corn. Martha A. Blane [and]David Newton going to be married. Fair warm
  5. Fri. 7. Mr. A. started to the soundA sound is a narrow passage of water or a strait between the mainland and an island. There are many sounds along the North Carolina coast, so it is difficult to know which sound Alderman was referring to.. EmryEmry could have been a slave or a free black employed by the Alderman's. went to BoneysBoney was a neighbor of the Aldermans. and brought the horse back. Wove some. Fair and warm not very well. Mother A. came down to stay but did not by my self.
  6. Sat. 8. Home, worked some. Mother and HoseaHosea is most likely Penelope's brother. came down to stay with me. Half past 1 o clock Enoch AldermanEnoch was her brother-in-law. wife, two children, Elizabeth, Anne Jane Heighsmith her daughter Susan and Harriet came from Georgia headed to Fathers. Was very sick
  7. Sun. 9. Anne Jane Heighsmith and her daughter went to Weddles Chapel, we went to Hoseas. Rained very had in the evening faired off some. I came home rode the horse. Very lonesome and in much trouble, want to hear from Father.
  8. Mon. 10 Went to Hoseas a while, came back in James F. Bland cart. Sent Emry to meet Mr. A. They came back. He got his Smith tools, brought me five yards calicoCalico is an inexpensive printed cotton fabric that has a small, colorful over-all pattern, which is often floral.. We went to Hosea. I worked mottoA motto is a type of needlepoint that contains a phrase such as "Home Sweet Home" or a verse from the Bible. to send to Kitty.
  9. April Tues. 11. We went to Fathers to see him. He had got better all the rest were tolerable well we were very tiard. Left Emry at Hoseas. The children took very bad colds. Very cool windy but fair went through ClintonThe Aldermans lived close to Clinton, North Carolina.
  10. Wed. 12. Went to Thomas A. and Uncle Winson [and] Aunt Dicy met us there after dinner mother went. We went back. I was very sick with sick stomache and misary though me. Bro Jacob and wife and her granmother went to see me but I could not sit up. Aunt Polly went; fair.
  11. Thur. 13. Better but very sore. Aunt Polly came and Isabella, mother give me some cloth, children very unwell. Cloudy and warm.
  12. Fri. 14. Very unwell after dinner. Mr. A. Started to Limestone meeting house to preach in Kennedys place and see Dr. Thomas and Kennedy coming to Bethel. Fair and warm. I wrote a letter and started it with a drawing in it to Mother Howard. Mr. A. weather boardedWeatherboarding is a series of panels nailed to the side of a wall or door. The panels overlap and help keep out rain and wind. the far side of his shop before he started. By myself, worked a large motto for Mr. A.
  13. Sat. 22. Worked some on papas plants, Hosea came down, planted some wine seed that came from Georgia, worked at small motto for Mr. A. Susan came down to stay, thundered very heavy this evening but no rain. Fair and warm the beautiful spring.
  14. Sund. 23. Susan went home. Beautiful day [with] Enoch and family, Elizabeth, mother went home with J. N. Bland. By my self.
  15. Mon. 24. Mr. A. returned bought one stayMr. Alderman stayed one night at a lodge or tavern in Kenansville. at KenansvilleKenansville is about 22 miles west of Clinton., 1 00 At Kenansville, one candle 25 3 bunches cotton [illegible] 1. 95 2.85 Worked some. Hosea came down to stay. Fair and warm.
  16. Tuesday 25. Worked some fair and warm. Hosea came to stay. Mr. A not well.
  17. Wed. 26. Mr. A. went to Clinton and back to get some things for his buggy. [illegible] very busy at worked J J not wellJ.J. was Penelope's son. Mary Eliza came down and then back. Enoch and family return to Hosea
  18. Thurs. 27. Washed piece of cloth for countprints. Mr. A went [to] Taylor Allen Johnson to get collard plants but failed and to. Hoseas and Joseph then fixed my harnisess Enoch went to Louise, then took supper here then to Hoseas. Fair and warm.
  19. Fri. 28. Went to Williby Powells and got some collard plants, and set them out. Planted some. Bernice, Susan, Sallie Rogers came down. Cool and rainey
  20. Sat. 29. Drew my count prints in the harness. Hosea ploughed some. Enoch come and worked some on his wagon. Lucy Ann Rackly, James Rackly, Hiram Page came, cool and cloudy. Not very well. John Thomas walking.
  21. Sun. 30. Went to Bethel. Mr. A. and cousin R. Newton preached. Left children home at 7 o clock Mr A. preached at Hoseas. Carried Penny AnnPenny Ann was her daughter.. Mary Hams Feby Newton come with us cool and fair. J. J. walking

Primary Source Citation: 

From Diary 1834-1893, Penelope Eliza Howard Alderman Papers #4479, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Credit text

From Diary 1834-1893, Penelope Eliza Howard Alderman Papers #4479, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.