Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Emma Carson Taylor’s Journals—1886 until 1916 By Evelyn Laufer Taylor

There is something invasive about reading another person’s personal Journal. I was slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, but as I continued reading, I found that Emma was not one to go deeply into her personal feelings. Unlike today, where everyone is supposed to be “finding herself” or figuring out where she “is going”, in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, this was not thought about by most people. A woman’s lot in life was to be what she was and to do what was demanded of her without analysis. In the words of the old cliché: “Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to do or die.”

October 4th, 1886: Emma is 26 years old when she first begins to write in a Journal. She went to visit her mother to tell her she was pregnant with her first child. This word ‘pregnant’ was not mentioned outright. Even in the Journal, she told that her mother and she were doing a lot of talking on “a certain subject”.
Emma was a Christian woman who expressed her spiritual feelings freely in her Journal. She spent the winter with her parents until the baby’s birth. Bryant visited off and on and then returned to Oakfield to farm. She and the other women of the West Bethany household (her mother and sisters) busied themselves with an endless round of washing, ironing, sewing for themselves and each other, butchering, knitting, crocheting, visiting friends, having company in, going to church and participating in church related activities.

1887: Motto—“Pray Without Ceasing” or “Pray About Everything”
Each New Year’s Day, Emma chose a motto to live by in the coming year. Some years she and Bryant chose one together.

Their first child, Clara, was born January 5th, 1887. On January 17th, just 12 days after the baby was born, Bryant left for California to see how he would like it and to take charge of Mr. Henry’s land. He would be gone possibly a year! And this is what is hard for me to accept—Emma was not told that Bryant was going until the baby was a week old! Apparently, he felt it was the time to do it before settling down here.
In Emma’s words, “It seemed to me that he would never be satisfied until he went and saw for himself the country. God bless and keep my darling husband is all I can say, and if it seems best that our future be there, I will go with him—although I never want to leave NY state or Genesee Co.”

Emma and Baby Clara

June 14th: Bryant and her brother Albert Carson each bought a city lot for $500.  I cannot imagine when I will get my husband back, or what it will come to.”

November: Bryant sold his team and wagon, started a Real Estate Insurance business—B.W. Taylor and Co. His partner is Albert Carson, Emma’s oldest brother.

December: Emma shows some irritation at the situation, “I cannot help but murmur a little at this separation…I am terribly setabout by this uncertain waiting. God help me bear it like a Christian.”
Then, on Christmas Eve, Bryant surprised them all by returning for good, leaving Albert in California.

1888: Motto  “Thy Will Be Done”
Starts on a note of disappointment as Bryant returns to his father’s farm to work. “I did so hope we might go to housekeeping by ourselves. But trust God is leading—and I will try and use my new motto, ‘Thy Will Be Done’.
Once again she sacrifices her desires for the sake of her husband and returns to Oakfield for at least ‘another year’. 

September 21 Friday: “I expect to have another ‘little one’ to take along the next time. I tried to be as cheerful about it as I could be about it with God’s help. It is to be his child indeed—given to him from the very first.”

October 13,1888: Birth of a baby boy. Still no name mentioned yet on October 22nd.

January 1, 1889   Motto: “Never Ask anything of God that you are Not Willing to Work For”
“What darling little ones I have! They are worth all the cost. Both so bright.”

February 10: First mentioned name ‘baby Leon’ (four months old).

Emma, Clara, Bryant and baby Leon

Apr. 23, 1892:   “My limbs trouble me swelling.  Shall not expect to get rid of it until after August.”
Emma is pregnant, but again does not mention the word even in her private Journals.
Before leaving for Springville, she mentioned that she and her mother “had some special little talks.”

July 12     They had a lot of company over the 4th of July, so Emma had a lot of the usual preparations.  Emma does not go to church one Sunday but stays home with the little ones.  “I sometimes think I would have a wonderfully good time if it were not for the third little one I am expecting soon but God only knows it might be worse with me.”

Little did she know that her “third little one” would be twins!

Aug. 12 Friday   This date is highlighted by Emma.
“Here I am sitting up in bed writing.  My twins a week old tonight (Aug.5) God has indeed been with us so far.  It looks dark enough on ahead but we will trust on.  He who helped will help again. I have not dared to think how we will manage two babies… We both felt bad at first –to think of two at once-they seemed so much work and expence [sic]-but the day may come when we will be blessed indeed in these two darling babies.”

Sept 7  “Cannot find names to suit yet.”

Nov. 29    On the 16th babies were baptized:  William Lloyd and Daniel Floyd. William is Emma’s father’s name and Daniel is Bryant’s father’s name.  Twins always went by middle names of Lloyd and Floyd.
As Emma ends this Journal of 1892:  “God bless my four lovely children for sweeter little ones never lived.  I think I am happier now than I have ever been before.”
“The coming year I want to grow in grace more than ever before and in the knowledge of my God and saviour Jesus Christ.

1893 Motto “In His Name”

November 18: 8th Wedding Anniversary “I am a happy wife most of the time.”

1894 Motto “I Will Try”

1894 November 18th Tenth Wedding Anniversary
Emma speaks of “hard times” with low prices for crops. There is no special celebration because of these hard times.

Some of the Journals in this period are missing. During this span of years, Florence and then Harold and then Mildred are born. Harold dies in infancy. Mildred dies in 1907. Lloyd is kicked in the head by a horse and near death for some time. Floyd has appendicitis and an operation performed on their dining room table.

1910:  “A good motto for the fiftieth year of my life—TRY  TRY  T.R.Y. to the end of everything but most of all try to be a better Christian in the highest sense of the expression.”

July 12, 1912 With both Daniel and Cordelia dead, dividing things among the four children –Arnon Henry (husband of Clara who died in 1904), Orrin—Geneva, Carlton—Dunham’s Corner, and Bryant—The Homestead in Oakfield Emma writes:

“It passed off very pleasantly—but to tell the truth heart strings were pulled some, as each saw something he had set his heart on go to someone else of the other three.”

First mention of Lloyd and Ethel  who came to help care for Clara, once again fighting typhoid. Of Ethel she writes—“never a girl did more nobly”.

July 30—Emma is not well. “wish I were all right and well again.”

This is Emma’s last entry in her Journals. She died August 4th, 1916 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

On December 19, 1909 Emma heard a sermon that she liked, preached on

2 Timothy 4:7

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course—I have kept the faith.”

A fitting summary of Emma Jane Carson Taylor’s life.


Pat said...


Wonderful! Emma is so alive to me when I read her Journals. You have highlighted some of the best parts of her writing and so, helped keep her alive for future generations.

I find myself wishing she did share more with her Journals, because she did not always seem thrilled to be pregnant again, she did seem to have worries and concerns I wish she had put down on paper.

But, I love your last paragraph. I am proud she was my great grandmother.

Thank you again for writing this, and for sharing it with us on the blog!


Evelyn Taylor said...

Pat, It was my pleasure to do this. The pictures you added, made it so much more real.

I, too, wish I had known her. Floyd always spoke of his mother as if he adored her.


CB said...

Yes, Lloyd also loved her! His response to my Query, "what was she like?, was, " she was a kind and gentle lady'> My mother's was " every one loved her and depended upon her!" Aunt Florence's[ her youngest daughter] was, " she was the heart of our home" .
I am so very grateful to her for taking the time frtom a very busy life, to write in her journal! We would know very little about their life if cnot for her! I am sure GOD takes this into account! [ The tone of her married life was very different from that of the family she was raised in!]