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Joshua Hempstead Blog

2707, 2009

a Tomb Stone for R. Christophers

By |July 27th, 2009|Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on a Tomb Stone for R. Christophers

[August 1731] Tuesd 13. I was at home most of the day & Cutting Some letters in a Tomb Stone for R. Christophers Esqr. Adm Mowed al d. Wednsd 14 fair. a Shower aftern. I was at home al day. I made 2 pr letters & Mended fence &c. Ad hilled Corn. Thursd 15fair. David Minerd Mowed. I mowed Some & Raked Some & adm Mowed & Raked. a good hay day. fryd 16 fair. … Saturd 17 fair. I was at home al day Raking & Stacking. Mr Coits Mingo helpt. wee Stackt about 4 Ld.

We could use “a good hay day” right about now after two months of rainy summer weather; the wettest June and July since records have been kept by the National Weather Service. Of course that service didn’t exist for Joshua Hempstead, so the hay that Adam mowed on Tuesday got rained on on Wednesday (Adam was put to work hilling the corn on Wednesday probably due to the threat of rain). But good weather on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the combined labor of four men, including two slaves, resulted in stacks of hay equaling four cart loads being put up. Interesting to note here that both […]

307, 2009

Tuesd the 4th

By |July 3rd, 2009|Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on Tuesd the 4th

[July 1738] Tuesd the 4th fair. this morning about 6. Clock my Daughter in Law Stephens wife was DD of a Son in a hopefull way to do well. I was at home foren mending the Cart. aftern in Town Executing Deeds of Conveyance for ye ministry Land to Divers persons. Adam began to Mow before ye Door.

A different view of the fourth of July, 40 years before it became known as Independence Day. Here we see some of Hempstead’s typical shorthand: foren, or fore-noon, for morning, and aftern for afternoon. The wife of Hempstead’s son Stephen, Sarah Holt Hempstead, was “delivered of a son,” Thomas, in 1738 who didn’t do as well as was hoped. A second son named Thomas is born in 1740.

Adam is Hempstead’s slave, whose work is recorded in the diary on a very regular basis. But in this case, Hempstead is recording something a bit more significant, the beginning of the hay mowing season. In 1728 Adam’s first mowing is recorded on 1 July; in 1732 on 10 July. In the seasonal realm of farm work this marks the beginning of one of the most labor intensive and all-summer-long tasks. A good mower would have been expected to mow about […]

2905, 2009

Mr ad pr al day

By |May 29th, 2009|Hempstead Diary|0 Comments

[May 1730] Sund 31. Sacramt Day. Mr ad pr al day. Joseph Southmayd of Midle town & Abiah Douglass John Brooks & Sarah Lester pbullisht. Samll Leech & wife ownd ye Covnt & had their Child Baptizd Abigail.

Mr Adams probably didn’t preach ALL day. This was Joshua’s shorthand to record that Mr Adams preached at both the morning service and the afternoon service.  Mr. Eliphalet Adams was pastor of the Congregational Church in New London from 1709 until 1753 when he died. An offer was made in 1724 to make him president of Yale College but the town voted in the negative their willingness to let him go — he was a town employee as the pastor of the church. This image is from a painting attributed to the “Pierpont Limner” and is matched by a painting of his wife Lydia. The paintings date from early in his ministry, perhaps as early as 1720, and may be some of the earliest paintings created in New London. The pictures hang in the Shaw Mansion.

Being “published” meant that their intention to marry was made known to the church and community. These two couples being recorded by Joshua as having their vows published may provide a […]

1505, 2009

Stones – The Labors of Hercules

By |May 15th, 2009|Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on Stones – The Labors of Hercules

[May 1739] Mond 14 fair. I was at home all Day plowing & helping plant & drawing Some Stones. Tuesd 15th fair. I was at home al Day writing &c. Wednsd 16thfair. I was at home al Day Diging & drawing Stones. Thursd . 17. fair & hot. I was at home foren Diging & Drawing Stones. aftern I went to Stonington & Josh & Lodged at Son minors.

Stones, stones, stones. Time of the year to plow and plant, yet it seems the greatest harvest in New England was one of stones.  One can visualize this work, a man and boy walking beside a team of oxen pulling the simplest of tools, a chain attached from the yoke to a stone boat. A stone boat being something akin to a large door-sized set of planks with a piece of iron at the front holding the planks together and with a hole for attaching the chain. Depending on how well trained the oxen are, there would be a third person, perhaps Adam Jackson, Hempstead’s slave. The team drags the boat round and round the field, the driver keeping abreast of the beasts, the two others rolling stones on to the planks. I […]

1305, 2009

The Joshua Hempstead Diary

By |May 13th, 2009|Hempstead Diary, The Joshua Hempstead Diary|Comments Off on The Joshua Hempstead Diary

In the early part of the eighteenth century, in New London, Connecticut, Joshua Hempstead kept a diary.  He recorded, on a daily basis, the weather, his business activities, baptisms, notices of marriage intentions, military trainings and wars, divisions of the Commons, court sessions, ship traffic, town meetings, New Light controversies, thanksgivings, fasts, deaths, his travels, celebrations both happy and sad, and all the other large and small events that made up life in that busy seaport.  The surviving part of the diary covers forty-seven years, from September of 1711 through early November of 1758.

At times during his long life Hempstead was a shipwright; carpenter; farmer; townsman; trader to Boston, New York, and the West Indies; representative to the General Assembly; justice of the peace; surveyor; writer of wills; and business agent for the Winthrop family. Hempstead’s thorough involvement with the life of the town, and the immediacy of daily entries, make the diary particularly valuable.

Scholars and Connecticut historians have been using The Diary of Joshua Hempstead as a major resource for information about 18th century New London ever since the first edition was published by the New London County Historical Society in 1901.
 Quoted from: A Useful Friend: A Companion to […]