Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From The Writing Cottage: The Diary.....

"Nulla dies sine linea"
~No Day Without A Line~
In a recent post I shared with you what was on my worktable and today I though I would share with you my latest writing project from the writing cottage. The account you read below is true and tells how I came upon The Diary...In a dimly lit corner of an antiques store stood a rustic wooden table filled with items once useful in days gone by. Underneath sat an old battered pasteboard box filled with outdated maps and musty smelling books. I'd never have known it was there had my toe not tapped it as I scooted closer to the table to reach for an item displayed on a shelf above. The contents looked intriguing enough to investigate. This is where I found the diary.

As I shifted aside road maps of Route 66 as well as those of countries I've only dreamed about visiting, my eyes brushed across a small book. My heart skipped a beat of anticipation as I reached for the small red cloth bound volume. Gently blowing away a fine layer of dust from the surface of the well preserved book, bright gold embossed lettering and scroll work blinked at me from the crimson surface. The lettering read, A Line A Day.
Turning the book over in my hands, examining the binding, spine, and page edging I discovered near perfect condition. My heart tripped with even greater delight when I opened the cover, flipped through the pages, and noted the copyright date of 1892 by the Samuel Ward Company, 49 Franklin Street, Boston, Mass.

Inscribed inside the front cover in an old fashioned script were a name, date, and address. The diarist name was Katherine. Hastily scribbled inside the front cover is the following quote:

"The price of wrath is to serve
The price of happiness is to give
The secret of peace is faith
The pathway to health is lovers love"

As I stood in the dim lighting, diary cradled in one hand while fingers of the other caressed the yellowed pages, I felt weight of history in the palm of my hand. The first entry was written on October 27, 1903, I held over one hundred years of living history.
As my eyes drank in the entries with the thirst of a desert terrain I well imagined that I could hear the scratch of the pen nib across the surface of each page. I could hear the ink blotter wick up the excess ink residue. I could imagine Katherine in the period costume of her era sitting at a small writing desk by a window in her room, head bent over the quick movements of her hand from ink well to page as she made her daily entry, fulfilling the inscription, "Nulla dies sine linea." (No day without a line) Perhaps without knowing it, Katherine became a writer and historian on the day of that first entry, her twentieth birthday.

Carefully carrying my treasure to the store front I made my purchase and returned to my aunt's home, where I was visiting. My family and I were gathered in her living room as I sat and read aloud each entry, at least as much as I was able to decipher as penmanship was not Katherine's strong point, to their eager and listening ears. We laughed and marveled and wondered as the pages of history unfolded in this first hand account of life in the early 1900's through the eyes and words of an extraordinary young woman.
I have had the diary in my possession for some time now and recently decided to translate it as I noticed that some of the ink is beginning to bleed and blur the words. I don't want Katherine's story to be lost. I feel I have been given the noble task of preserving her memory as well as sharing her faith.

I am getting more excited about this writing project as I have been able to trace Katherine and her family through census records. I am learning about the era and area she lived in. I would dearly love to find a photo of her. Although that hope is dim, it is still hope, after all, her diary made its way into my hands and perhaps her image will too.
My hopes are that I can trace her family forward and find a present day relative and make contact with them if there are any.

I am not exactly certain what I will do with Katherine's story once all the transcription and research are done. Any suggestions?

Miss Sandy

Photos are of the writing cottage, Quill Cottage, where I write to you from.


Anonymous said...

The writing cottage is simply beautiful and inspirational. What lovely views the windows afford. How interesting to have those words that were penned over 100 years ago. Maybe as you translate, some line will make an impact on you personally and you could make a shadow box with the words inside and if not her photo/keepsakes, something from the time period.

Lady Farmer said...

I have chills running up and down my spine as I read of your exquisite find! Turning it into a published book would be a delight for many, I am sure. I would love to read a personal, first hand account of the life of a young girl of that era. What a treasure you have, indeed! I know that whatever you do with the writings, it will be a delight for both you and the readers.

Vee said...

It is very exciting...her story sounds as if contains more than a list of events or chores...sounds as if it contains her thoughts, which is of far more value. There's so much that could be done with it once translated or restored, whatever the correct term is... You could write a historical novel; you could have it self-published or perhaps a publisher would find it intriguing. Is there a historical society where she lived? Perhaps they'd be eager to have such a treasure. You could become an actress and do a one-woman show based on it. :>

Vee said...

Did I leave here without telling you how wonderful your creative space is? Do you also entertain there? It looks so cozy and so close to the outdoors. Just charming!

KathyB. said...

I am so glad you are the one who discovered this hidden treasure in the shop, and for Katharine's life in a book to even be contemplated so thoughtfully is probably the secret realization of everyone who records their day , that what they did and wrote might be worthy of remembering long after they are gone!

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

What a breathtaking post.

I don't have any suggestions. You will think of them, yourself. When you have finished your project.

How wonderful, that you came upon this treasure. Wouldn't Katherine be happy, to know that her Diary had been rescued by someone who would cherish it, and keep it alive?

Aunt Amelia

Brian + Cheryl B. said...

You must combine your finding of the diary and your encounters affliated with it thereafter - with the writings in the diary itself - and then contact a publisher - such as the company that published 'Little Women'. After it is published - PLEASE reserve one copy for me ;-}

Cheptoek said...

Sandy, I love your cottage. Wouldn't it be lovely to sit there and share a cup of tea with you!
I am sure the Lord meant for YOU to find that book and He will put in your heart what you need to do with the project you have in mind. I am such a romantic and reading what you wrote about it just made me smile and imagine a lot. Thank you for sharing.

Shopgirl said...

Under the fine dust you have found a truly wonderful treasure. I think there is a reason for this find, I am sure it will bless your life. Hugs, Mary

Bonita said...

At last I get to see the diary! Sandy, you did a beautiful job of sharing in detail about how you found it. The style in which you wrote about finding it is very much in keeping with the style I'd expect the diary to have been written in.

I am 100% in love with your writing space! It has that feel of being outside while you're inside, as if nature and your writing space are one. The decorating reminds me very much of the office that Billy Graham's mother had in her house. The Billy Graham library is ten minutes from my house and her house is on display on the property. I've been through it several times, but never tire of the warm atmosphere there. Your writing office has such a simliar feel.

The Feathered Nest said...

How wonderful that this treasure fell into your sweet hands ~ it was meant to be! xxoo, Dawn

Carol said...

Oh, how exciting! I can't wait to hear more. :) That makes me want to go antiquing for some treasure!

Holly Campbell said...

What a wondeful discovery! Perhaps as you translate Katherine's story, you will be inspired as to what to do with it.

Miss Sandra said...

What a wonderful find! How exciting it must be. I must also add, what a beautiful writing space you have. Many and inspiration can be had within such lovely surroundings.
I'm glad I stopped in...upon Aunt Amelia's suggestion. She knew I would enjoy my visit here. She was absolutely right!
Have a beautiful evening filled with the writings of Katherine.

Amy O./picketfencemom said...

I found you via Bonita's Encouraging Words for Writers, and I must say...you have a lovely and delightful blog! I, too, am a writer and my heart quickens over this post! The early 1900's are a favorite era for me, and I am just amazed at your awesome find. Definitely grist for the mill for a writer and lover of history. When I scour thrift stores, I am always on the lookout for old books/diaries/etc. Recently my husband found a beautiful leather Bible from the late 1800's. I always wonder about the 'life stories' of the owners. But in your case, you actually have the 'living history' right in your hands!
I can't wait to visit again and read through your older posts.
Take care!
Amy O.

kathy said...

Sandy , what a treasure , I would have bought it also -- Love History antiquities and the written word - Never could purchase books as a child - and reading was a solace for a child with a thirst for knowledge -so books are to be cherished -- I think maybe it is time for you to write a novel -as this intro started out -- keep researching -or fill in the gaps as you imagine them -
THis was a delightful post . Kathy -ga

Scrap for Joy said...

I would love to read Katherine's thoughts from her journal. Of course, I would love to read it curled up on the couch of your writing cottage. I immediately felt a warm connection to your room and I'm so glad you shared the pictures. I hope you share more of the journal as you translate it.

Andrea said...

So amazing! What a wonderful blessing you have in this diary so rich with personal history! It was preserved there just for you, for the Lord knew you would take such care with it.

Many blessings! I so enjoyed reading!


Susie said...

Your writing cottage is gorgeous!

What a neat diary. The history of it is really interesting.

Shopgirl said...

Thank you for coming by....I am so glad you enjoyed Ruth. There was a Ruth Carpenter, but no one knew why she had been locked in the room. The owners of the house found her grave. They found out as much as they could, but could not come up with her story. My sister lead me to this unfinished, untold story. So I wanted to give Ruth a story, a voice. I loved the research of the time she lived and died. I began to love her, as I gave her a little life.
So you have a treasure. I hope one day you will find a way to share it. I am not a writer, but I love to open my mind to a posiblity, a place or time I have not been. So I hope to continue with another story one day.
Thank you, Your Mary

Catherine Holman said...

What a priceless item and it fell into the hands of such a talented lady. I'm sure that Katherine would be honored that it's treasured by you. Thanks for sharing the photos of the writer's cottage. Lovely!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful find! I can't wait to learn more about the diary penned by Katharine. What lessons to be learned from her young life...

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story.

Debbykay at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

bluemuf said...

Miss Sandy, what a great find and a wonderful writing project. You will find this to be so interesting and inspiring.

Hugs Karen

Domestically Inclined said...

Miss Sandy,
It seems you have been given a wonderful, daunting task to re tell and preserve this lovely diary concerning a life over a hundred years ago for reasons only God knows! May He give you the gifts you require to continue on this path.

Christine Edwards said...

What an amazing story, not just of finding the diary, but the eloquent way you write about it. It's great that you are able to find out some additional details about this young woman. I can see why this would be an inspiring place for your writing. The room is very serene, calm and inviting.

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