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Introduction to the 1850 Installment 


by Julie Callahan

2nd great granddaughter


From the time I was a small child, I knew there was an old doctor's satchel containing family diaries in Grandmother Charlotte's attic. In 1995, when my grandmother and both my parents passed away within little more than three month's time, and as my brothers and I prepared for an estate auction, retaining the diaries for subsequent research was without question. Once the auction was over, however, estate issues remained unresolved. The doctor's satchel went up on a shelf.


Several years passed and I vowed to myself many times that one day I would transcribe the diaries, all the while feeling pangs of guilt for not actually doing so. Finally, during the 2008 Christmas season, I thought about the diaries again. I pulled them off the shelf and took an inventory; there were twenty diaries in all. Some were written by my great grandfather, Henry Robbins. A few belonged to Mary Robbins, my great grand aunt. Still others were written by my second great grandfather, Ebenezer H. Robbins. I finally settled on Ebenezer's diary of 1877 to begin my transcription project. From that effort, I learned an immense amount about the daily lives of Ebenezer and his family, and I discovered the name of a third great grandfather. With great anticipation for what I might find next, I began to transcribe Ebenezer's single volume diary which spans the years 1850 to 1854.


Ebenezer Robbins opened his narration of 1850 on a momentous day in his life: his wedding day. With immense respect for God and deep consideration of the bond he was forming with his young wife, he recounted the day's events. Little more than a year before, Ebenezer was a day and singing school teacher in Root, Montgomery County, NY. Now he was a married man and owner of a 100 acre parcel from the Wallace patent, granted in 1770.


In the subsequent three months, Ebenezer busily engaged himself in the many activities required to run his newly acquired farm. Yet he continued to pursue his interest in establishing and conducting singing schools. Interspersed with these pursuits, he served as clerk of the election board, got caught away from home during a major blizzard, reflected upon Thanksgiving, (then celebrated in December), and had a laborious and humorous experience with a "curious kind of root called 'Skunk cabbage'." 


To the extent possible, I have replicated Ebenezer's spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I have enclosed text in square brackets where I am uncertain of my interpretation of Ebenezer's handwriting. Siblings mentioned in the diary of 1850 are Eli, Elizabeth (York), Eleanor (Blanchard), and Ellison. Ebenezer's father-in-law was Henry J. Storms and his mother-in-law's maiden name was Voorhees.




Nicholas Robbins Family

Diary Background

Diary of 1850

Diary of 1851

1851 Funeral Summary

Introduction to the 1851 Installment 


by Julie Callahan

2nd great granddaughter



During 1851, Ebenezer continued the hard work of developing his farm. He planted and harvested a wide array of vegetables and grains while he also tended to his cows, horses, pigs, sheep and hens. He continued his faithful church attendance, but created a sensation one Sunday by playing his melodeon at the Methodist service. An early snow thaw and extended rains caused the Susquehanna River to flood widely, filling Ebenezer's cellar with three feet of water. Throughout the summer, Ebenezer turned his beer making skills into a rather lucrative sales enterprise. October brought his first wedding anniversary and a flurry of apple harvesting. Throughout the entire year, Ebenezer attended the funerals of several acquaintances. Of particular note was the funeral for Mr. Rowley, a Revolutionary War soldier, age ninety-one.


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