Dana Selwin Logan was a farmer from Blandinsville, McDonough Co., Illinois. He moved to several different counties in Kansas, once returning to Illinois for a short time. That did not work out and he soon returned to Kansas permanently.
For most of his life, Dana kept a diary. About 30 years of it (1881-1910) have been preserved. There may be more of it in other branches of the family. Current whereabouts of the original is unknown. It was typed in the early 20th century, by one of his two older daughters, Essie or Elsie. I received a copy of it from a great grandaughter (my wife’s aunt) about 1985, but discovered recently that the photocopy toner was smearing on the pages. To preserve it, we retyped it, which had the added advantage of making it available on the web.
The diary also includes a few notes and remembrances of Elsie and Essie, particularly in the later years. Where obvious, these are bracketed: [ ]. Unless they were obviously typographical errors, I left most of the spelling “as is”, but place names have been corrected where possible. The diary mentions various genealogical events (births, marriages, and deaths/funerals), and not just those of his own family. I’ve extracted those on a separate page, grouped by County and year.
As you will see, Dana took his family on a 30 year search for greener pastures; whether he was satisfied at the end, we are not told. The diary ends in 1910, 18 years before his death. Most of the entries reflect what happened or what he did that day. There is little or no reflection of how he felt about it or why he decided to move at various times. He does mention being discouraged during the short stay in McDonough Co. (1892). One thing is very obvious: a farmers life was hard work in extreme weather conditions. He didn’t seem to mind it though; even seemed to thrive on it.
It’s often thought that a farmer’s life is one of isolation, but I don’t see that here at all. He was active in the community and church, serving on juries, helping with prairie fires, and served as clerk of the school board. The family had many visitors, and went to visit many others. When bad things happened, the neighbors always seemed to be there to help each other through the bad times and celebrate the good times. There is a continual interaction among the businessmen of the nearby towns as he bought what he needed to keep the farms going, and selling what he produced.
The years covered were times of great change, and he mentions getting a telephone, going to a matinee, and touring an electric plant and a car factory. He sent his kids (at least the older ones) to the St. Louis World’s Fair. He made sure they were educated, and music was part of their life: music lessons, an accordian, and an organ are mentioned. There’s no mention of seeing his first airplane, but he did take time out to watch a lunar eclipse or two.
To the family, genealogy researchers, and to those who just want to know what a farmer’s life was like a hundred years ago, please come in, make your self comfortable, and get to know Dana, his family, his life, his world.