Monday, December 12, 2016

Amanuensis Monday ~ My Grandmother's Diary Part 2

My grandmother, Gertrude Hitchings (1905 - 2001)
This photo was probably taken near the year of Gertrude's diary 1920

Last week I started to scan and transcribe my grandmother's tiny 3" diary and publish those pages on my blog.  You can read the first installment HERE.  I'll be posting sections of this diary every week for Amanuensis Monday.  

Page 6
Fri. Jan. 16, 1920
Got up at 6:45 went
To school.  Awful cold this
Am 15 below 0.  Stayed
Home all afternoon.  Went
Sliding down Prospect
Hill  great sliding came home
10:30 went to bed 10:45


Saturday 17
Got up at 8:15 snowing
Hard.  Worked all
Morning and afternoon
Quite warm today
Home all the evening
Gordon got his violin
Went to bed at 9:30


Sunday 18
Got up at 10 o’clock
It is awful windy
Today.  Home all morning
Home all afternoon and
Evening.  Went to bed
At 9:00 Awful cold today.

 [Note:  Imagine temperatures 15 below zero and they went sledding!  Prospect Hill is near where she lived, and I went to elementary school at the Prospect Hill School in the 1960s.  It was a very steep climb up that hill every morning! A fun place to sled, I imagine.   I was interested that Gertrude's little brother Gordon got a violin.  No one ever mentioned that he played the violin!]

Page 7
Mon. Jan. 19, 1920
Up at 7:15 went to
School.  Home at 1:15 home
all the afternoon.  Snow-
ing this afternoon.  Home
all the evening and played
base ball went to bed 9:15.


Tuesday 20
Up at 7 went to school
Mildred came down
with the mumps.  Home
All the afternoon.
Home all evening.  Went
To bed at 9:30


Wednesday 21
Got up at 7:00 went

To school.  Marion
Come up this afternoon
Stayed home all the
evening and played Base
ball went to bed at 9:45.

[Note:   It is interesting to note that despite all the snow (and all the sledding) Gertrude played baseball several times during January 1920.  And another sibling caught the mumps!]

page 8
Thurs. Jan. 22, 1920
Got up at 7:00 went to
School home at 1:15 ate
dinner home all afternoon
Went down to Alberta G.
came home at 10
and went to bed at 10:15
Had our pigs killed today.


Friday 23
Hollis’ birthday got up at
6:45 went to school.  Home
At 1:15 had dinner worked around
the house all afternoon.  Went on a
sleigh ride had a great time,
                   (see memorial day)
Came home 11:30 went to bed 12:00


Saturday 24
Got up at 8:45 awfully
Tired this morning worked all
day.  Snowing hard.  Terrible fire
up to Swiche’s [sp?]  barn, house, 24 cows, horse
burn’d at 10 o’clock out 12 am bed 8 o’clock.

[Note:  I could not identify the Swiche's family or property in Beverly in 1920.  Even the Beverly Historical Society was stumped.  I need to return to Beverly soon to check out some newspapers on microfilm in the public library. 

If anyone knows the correct spelling of this name, please leave a comment.  There was no "SWICHE" in the Beverly censuses or city directory.  Thank you in advance.]

UPDATE -  8am, Dec. 12-  Although my grandmother wrote SWICKER it turns out that the family name was ZWICKER!  Thank you to Betty Fredericks, a blog reader, who suggested the surname was "Zwicker".  This family lived nearby in Danvers.  See the story below from The Standard, Volume 86, page 153, found via a Google Book Search


$15,000 Loss on Farm Buildings at Danvers
Danvers, Mass. January 24.  A Loss estimated at $15,000 resulted 
from fire tonight which damaged the farm building owned by Joshua N.
Zwicker and leased by Robert A. Fielding.  The farm is on the Beverly
and Danvers line.  The Danvers department was called on for assistance.
The blaze was caused by an overturned lantern.
Insurance involved follows, loss estimated at $12,000:
Home............................. $3,200                Traders & Mechanics......... $1,250
Ohio Farmers...................1,900                 Berkshire Mutual...............   1,250
Pawtucket Mutual............1,500                 Northern, Eng. ..................   1,025
Merrimack Mutual...........1,550                 Fitchburg Mutual...............     600
Providence- Washington..1,500
Salem Mutual.........1,325                           Total.................................$15,100       

Page 9
Sun. Jan. 25, 1920
Up at 9:30 had breakfast
Went to see the fire an
awful sight, helped pa shovel
paths.  After dinner tried to take some
pictures of the fire.  Home
all the evening took a
bath went to bed at 9:30


Monday 26
Got up at 6:45 had breakfast
went to school home 1:15 had dinner
home all the afternoon
Home all evening and
studied and played victor-
la went to bed at 10:10pm


Tuesday 27
Got up at 7:00 went
to school home 1:15.  Gordon
and I went to the fire and took
some pictures. home all evening
and studied bed at 10pm

[Note:  Twice this week Gertrude took photographs of the fire at the Switche's [sp?] farm.  I wish I could find those photos!]

Stay tuned for more of the diary next week...

Click here for a transcription of the newspaper account of the Zwicker fire

Click here for part 1 of Gertrude Hitchings' diary:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Amanuensis Monday ~ My Grandmother's Diary Part 2", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 12, 2016, ( accessed [access date]).


  1. Could the name be Swicher or Swicker? Is it possible it's a first name or a nickname?

    1. You were close! It was actually ZWICKER! See the update on the blog post above.

  2. How wonderful to have such a family document - to see your grandmother's writing and to experience the words in her head on the page.