2/25/15 & 5/21/15
INTRODUCTION LIFESTYLE/RELATIONSHIPS LANGUAGE/EXPRESSIONS FOOD: DIET & PREPARATION REGULAR CHORES FINAL OBSERVATIONS CONCLUSION
Annie Lee “Mom” Krause (1885-1971) was born the second of six children to a traditional Somerset County, PA, Amish family. A drive through the Springs community today reveals life almost exactly the way it was when Annie was born, with horses and buggies, farm work being done by hand, and maple sugar water being turned into syrup, all in due season. My wife Susan is Annie’s granddaughter and our daughter is also named Annie. Folks in these Northern Alleghenies take pride in traditions and ancestors and remember them whenever possible. One of the treasures we discovered a few years ago was the existence of “Mom” Krause’s diaries from 1950 through 1952. It’s a unique look back 65 years in time to a way of life gone by. These snippets may be compared to a cross between The Andy Griffith Show and Little House on the Prairie. There’s a way of speaking that comes from Annie’s Pennsylvania “Dutch” German background and a lifestyle not unlike our pioneers on the American frontier. In fact, Annie’s Amish ancestors were among the first white settlers to call the Casselman Valley home in the late 1700’s. For more details, have a look at what has been written about her associated families: Brenneman, Bender, Speicher, Musser, Lee, and others. The diaries have generated so much information and so many questions that two separate articles are being researched and written with more factual detail. Look for one about the earliest Lees in Somerset County entitled, “On the Lee Trail,” and the other specifically about Mom and Pop entitled, “A Journey between two Passages.”
Annie’s “Krause” married name entered the picture with her union to a Lutheran family who had emigrated comparatively late from Prussia to Western Maryland in the mid-1800’s. Also from a farm family, her husband, Charles “Charlie” “Pop” Krause (1884-1973), was born the sixth of eleven children to parents who spoke broken English. His associated families include the Smearmans and Georgs, who still inhabit that part of Appalachia, and the Krauses still hold their annual reunion in the Cove, where “Pop” was born. Read “Introduction: Krause” for more information.
How this young Amish woman and Lutheran man met is not known, but a good guess has to do with Annie’s mother, who was a Speicher who lived on a farm in Maryland near the Krauses. The various religious communities along the Mason-Dixon line have lived and worshipped side by side in harmony for over two centuries. Perhaps the couple first encountered each other at a store in Grantsville along the old National Pike, Rt. 40. Maybe they first spoke to each other at a livestock auction in Friendsville along Rt. 219. Both small towns lie between Springs, PA, and the Cove, MD, and still represent commerce for families who can’t make the longer trips to the bigger boroughs of Somerset to the north or Oakland to the south for supplies, or “vittles” as they would say.
The day came when Charles and Annie decided to marry. I imagine that dating would have been difficult, to say the least, between young people of such different faiths. Annie would have no longer been considered Amish after she married, but apparently no hard feelings existed between the families or communities over that relationship. Thy made regular trips back to see their families. In fact, when “Mom” Krause died, a contingent of her Amish family and friends attended her church, singing at her funeral.
Their affectionate nick-names, “Mom” and “Pop,” began, we believe, sometime during the arrivals of their eight children. The monikers have stuck for over a century among family and friends. According to the 1910 Federal Census for Accident, MD, Charles Krause was listed as “Head of household,” so the couple probably first lived on his family farm. It’s said that he worked as a sales clerk in a local store there. Later that year, the couple moved north to the tiny town of Salisbury in Somerset County. But, their first permanent home was farther north of Springs in the old German town of Berlin, part of the Bruder Thal, or Brothers’ Valley. After tragedy struck (read about this in the “Passages” article) and they were forced to move back to Salisbury, Pop entertained the notion of finding better work and a bigger place for his growing family. Within a few years he took the job of managing a Presbyterian church camp about an hour farther north, in Jennerstown, PA. The job came with a large house and farm for his growing family, and his lasting accomplishments there included the restoration of an old log chapel and a grist mill that became the professional summer stock theater known as the Mountain Playhouse. Both are still in use.
The couple was able to save enough money that, when a prosperous farm became available just across the Lincoln Highway, Rt. 30, in Jennerstown, they moved everything there to start yet another new life. This was when “Mom’s” writing and recording abilities became evident. As far as we know, up until then, her communications were limited to regular letter writing to family and friends and, of course, oral discourse in church, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, missionary meetings, and the multitude of family meals. In one entry, she tells of sending out 30 Christmas cards, many I imagine with personal letters.
The Krause family lived on and worked the Jennerstown farm until the sudden and unexpected death of son and co-laborer Harry in 1970, when ownership was transferred within the family and the fields were leased to neighboring farmers. “Mom” passed away the following year, and “Pop” could no longer stay with Harry’s widow in the big house; he went to live with son Ernest and then daughter Hilda. He enjoyed the care and cooking that she had learned under her mother, with many visitors and guests, until his passing in 1973.
All this having been said, perhaps the best way to consider the uniqueness and interesting nature of the diary entries that began January 1, 1950, and ended July 25, 1952, is to categorize the subjects and analyze the language she shared. Our discussion will include the family’s lifestyle and relationships, language and expressions, diet and food preparation, regular chores, and some final observations, to name a few.
First, while “Pop” did own a tractor and some simple farm implements and tools, the couple also owned a car, but seldom used it. Of course, “Mom’s” Amish relatives didn’t drive cars in those days, but why didn’t these Krauses use their car very often? Why did they depend so much on others for rides to the store, to church, and to all the places near and far where even the poorest families today would depend on personal transportation? We don’t know, except perhaps that automobiles were expensive to own and maintain, and they just didn’t allow themselves to rely on it as a necessity. My wife Susan says that “Mom” loved to ride in cars and rode every time she got the chance but that she often got “car sick” doing so. “Mom” walked most everywhere that she needed to go when the weather was nice and when the destination was probably less than a mile: church, stores in Jennerstown, and son Ernest’s, which was on the southern corner of the farm. The diaries tell us that she sometimes caught a bus to go to Somerset or Johnstown. Once, she refers to riding the street car in Johnstown. All of these conveniences no longer exist.
Other items that we would consider necessities today were not always present in that Krause household: television and telephone. We know that the Amish do not have either, but they are permitted to use a non-Amish neighbor’s phone or community installation. Susan remembers that eventually her grandparents did have a TV and phone, but earlier mostly used son Harry’s downstairs. “Mom” often refers to using son Ernest’s phone and delighting in other family’s TV. In addition, she seemed to love to attend movies in Somerset, or as she calls them, “shows” and “pictures.” We don’t know why this Krause family were reluctant to use their car and were late owning a telephone and a television, but maybe we could all learn from this.
The diaries suggest that “Mom” was a reader. In addition to receiving many letters from family and friends, she mentions finishing and enjoying certain books. Although she was faithful to her church, her Sunday school, and missionary society, her record doesn’t mention reading the Bible, list individual scripture verses, or having daily devotions as one might think an ex-Amish woman might. Perhaps, this is just understood, and her writing is more of recording events rather than contemplating theology.
The dominant impression, to me, from Annie’s diaries is the communication and contact she kept with family and friends. Writing, visiting, and having these folks as guests in her home was a constant preoccupation. Their health and well being seemed to be foremost on her mind. We’ll talk later about the burden of meal preparation, but one entry that sticks out is how she had “13 for supper and 8 for dinner.” The picnics and reunions in the front yard often had 40 or more. She helped prepare food for fund raisers at the Jennerstown fire hall and missionary society meetings.
As many as 90% of Somerset County families who lived here before World War I had someone in them who spoke or understood the German language or the Pennsylvania “Dutch” dialect, according to some historians. A look at the Federal censuses will tell you why. The vast majority of residents had Germanic names and descended from German immigrants. As we said in earlier articles, although Annie’s Lee surname probably originated in the British Isles, her grandfather Thomas had settled with the Amish in Somerset County and her maternal lines were all German and Swiss: Bender, Brenneman, Speicher, Musser, and so on. Growing up in the Amish community, Annie heard the dialect spoken regularly in commerce and everyday life. The church services were conducted, hymns sung, and the scriptures read in High German. Charles’ family entered America from Northern Germany, or Prussia, much later but also spoke German in their home. In fact, the Krause family church in the Cove was German Lutheran, the land having been donated by non-Amish relatives of Annie’s, the Speichers. Today it sits next to an English Lutheran, so surely when they were founded in the mid-1800’s, the religious communities operated in separate languages. It’s no wonder that this all carried over into the couple’s communication after they were married and moved away. For example, instead of saying, “morning” (morgan) or “before noon,” Annie writes, “afore noon,” a rather confusing mix of a German dialect “afore,” meaning before or previous to, and Old English “beforan.” The strict High German is “bifora,” and the Low German is “bevor,” meaning until. My son Matthew, fluent in German and a former exchange student there, reminds us that the literal translation of “forenoon,” and the word the Krauses and Lees would have used, is “vormittag.” Ironically, I heard “fore noon” from my father-in-law Richard Miller, another Somerset County native, for years before I ever saw it in Annie’s writing. His ancestors were mostly German also.
When Annie talks about “dinner,” she refers to what we would call lunch, the noon meal. The term “lunch” is never used. This “dinner” was generally a larger, cooked meal, prepared for the farm workers, whereas “supper” was the evening meal, often a smaller affair, perhaps because the men would work until dark and the women never knew exactly when they would come in to eat. This is still the practice in many parts of Germany today. The family gathers midday, or “mittag,” from school and work, eat a hot meal, and rest until about three o’clock, then everyone goes back to work or study until perhaps six o’clock, when perhaps bread and cold cuts are served. I still remember our shock when we visited our exchange student son in Deutschland in 1990 and breakfast was the same as supper had been the night before, bread and cold cuts. Yes, the hot-cooked dinner at noon was a delight, but there seldom were eggs and cereal for breakfast as we Americans are used to. Matthew concurs that lunch, or “Mittagessen,” is still the main meal. He usually ate muesli and yogurt for breakfast and was allowed beer at the evening meal instead of coffee.
Annie’s daughter, my mother-in-law Hilda, repeated many German practices that she heard growing up. I finally got to see these usages in writing with Annie’s diaries. For example, instead of saying, as I would, being that my ancestors were from the British Isles, “I have a headache,” using the article “a.,” Annie wrote and Hilda said, “I have headache.” According to Matthew, the Germans say, “Ich habe kepfschmerzen.” My internet source explains that there is no article needed in German with a “non-counting” noun. That is, “headache” is considered a condition, similar to “nausea,” thus not requiring the article “a.” We wouldn’t say, “I have a nausea.” Another interesting usage is the no long accepted medical terms for certain diseases: “Pop has grip.” First, as we said above, a non-German speaker (an proper speller) would say, “the grippe.” This is an old-fashioned word for influenza (no article?) or “the flu.” The origin of this metaphor is evident in the German “to grip or take hold of,” a description of the disease. Today we say “stroke” rather than apoplexy and “chills and fever” rather than ague. These are all good to know when filling out a crossword puzzle. In one entry she simply describes her neighbor’s health this way: “John isn’t too good,” using a grammatically incorrect adjective. We’re not certain what that means exactly, but it doesn’t sound “good” for John.
Many other of Annie’s words are spelled in what is probably a more archaic fashion, perhaps influenced by her original language: “staid,” for example, the past tense of our modern “stay.” There is no “y” in German, so this makes perfect sense. In German the “j” is used for our “y.” After all, we spell the past tense of “he says” as “he said,” not “he sayed.” Other charming folk-like expressions that Annie uses in her diaries, similar to the Scots-Irish of Western Pennsylvania that I heard growing up, are actually verbs converted to adverbs. Take for example her descriptions of the weather: “It’s drizzly” and “It’s drippy.” At other times she omits the “ly” from adjectives, such as “It’s terrible cold.” Not unlike our modern practice of omitting prepositions, such as “He graduated [from] college,” she writes, “We went over [to] town.” Her other weather-related expressions are true idioms, i.e. there is no literal meaning. In sentences like, “It’s snowing to beat the band” leave us wondering what music has to do with precipitation. Her enthusiasm is fun to read in, “Boy, you should have seen it snow today.” At the other end of the spectrum, Annie simply writes, “Weather is fine.” Exactly what are the criteria for this kind of weather, or does it really matter if she knows what she means? Surely the reader also knows what she means when she says, “It snowed something awful,” although she has several spellings for “awful.” My favorite observation is, “It’s so wet out; the overhead is nice, but it’s wet underfoot.” I believe that many of her descriptions include a consciousness that, as we said before, she had to walk everywhere, so the description comes in that context.
Annie writes, “I sewed on a dress.” We probably wouldn’t say that today, but we know what she means; she’s working “at” it, not needing to complete the job anytime soon. Another time she writes, referring to the hired men in past tense, “They ‘eat’ dinner.” Ironically the correct past tense would use the same letters, “a-t-e,” but she seems to be capturing a scene, like in a movie, using present tense. Today we might call that a journalistic style heard constantly on the local news or seen in the newspaper. I challenge you to listen to your own tense when you tell a joke or a story. Present tense always makes that narrative more interesting and inclusive.
Perhaps the most common practice in the diaries is “Mom’s” adding an “s” to first names in referring to entire families. It is found so often that I have added a glossary to help identify the members of these families. For example, she says, “Dicks” were here.” That simply refers to the entire family of her daughter Hilda, as labeled by her son-in-law’s first name, Dick. Probably to be grammatically correct she should add the possessive apostrophe to indicate that it is his family, “Dick’s”. Without the apostrophe, the name is plural, meaning all therein: Dick, Hilda, their son Dan, and their daughter Susan. I guess either way works, which is the final test of language. One wonders why the husband, or head of the household, is used sometimes and the wife is used at other times. Should we read anything into this practice?
Finally, Annie refers to “Decoration Day,” what we call today “Memorial Day.” Indeed, the first tribute of planting flowers on, or decorating, graves was arguably first practiced in Boalsburg, PA, to honor Civil War veterans. Annie and Charlie, as did my parents, saw the day as more than picnics and parties; they actually decorated graves, expanding the practice to include more than the veterans and keeping the name “Decoration Day.” This is a nice, old-fashioned touch.
FOOD: DIET & PREPARATION
So many references in the diaries pertained to work on the Krause farm. “Pop” and son Harry did most of the ground preparation for producing crops: hauling manure from the barn, plowing and harrowing, planting and weeding, and of course, harvesting. “Mom” helped occasionally at the barn milking the cows several times a day, when Harry was sick, or grading and cutting potatoes, in season when many other family and friends had gathered. Grading took place in the fall after the harrow had brought the ripe potatoes to the surface. They were picked by hand and placed into a farm wagon. From there the workers would sit in the cold barn and sort them by size and place them in burlap bags for various markets. Cutting took place in the late spring and involved slicing what were known as “seed potatoes” into smaller units so that each piece had a fertile “eye,” which then would be placed into the ground, again by hand, to sprout, forming legumes which would be harvested, starting the process all over again. In one June entry, “Mom” says, “We cut 74 bushels of potatoes today,” an incredible amount that must have taken up most of the barn floor. In the same way, Annie says that the men husked corn in the fall. Without modern corn pickers, each ear had to be hand-picked, husked, and allowed to dry in the “crib,” waiting to be ground into feed for the cows, pigs, and chickens.
The farm fields were mowed two to three times a summer, depending on the rainfall. Most of the hay, after being raked into rows and drying in the sun, was loaded by hand on the wagon and stacked loosely in the mow for the cows over the winter. In one March entry “Mom” says, “The hay balers were here for supper.” Apparently, the leftover hay was turned over to men who went from farm to farm with a baling machine. She later says that excess bales of hay and straw were sold, probably after the cows were turned out to pasture in April or May. That lessor quality grass and stalks was often used for bedding and mulch. In another entry, in September, Annie says, “We had thrashers here for dinner.” We said earlier that “dinner” was the noon meal. Not unlike something from a scene in Amish southern Somerset County today, she writes, “The boys shocked the wheat.” When the grain was ripe in mid summer, it could be cut with a sickle bar pulled behind or attached to the tractor, but each stalk had to be lifted by hand off the ground and leaned together with a cap placed atop. This protected the grain from moisture and rain until the men and wagon could come around to gather the sheaves. They were then carefully laid in the barn until the migrant threshers could come around with their machine and separate the kernels from the stocks, blowing the grain into a bag for sale or grinding. Similarly, Annie refers to “cutting the oats.”
Perhaps the most regular, tedious, but monetarily rewarding job was gathering, washing, packing, and refrigerating the eggs for sale. Unlike the fieldwork, his had to be done everyday. It seems that no matter what other regular chores our Annie had, cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc., she always had to wash eggs. Today, it’s not unusual to see “Fresh eggs for sale” signs in the yards of local farmers and hobbyists, and we don’t know if the Krauses had wholesale customers such as groceries and restaurants, but this was a staple in their economy. Today, it’s not unusal to pay $2 or more a dozen for eggs at the store. “Mom” writes on several occasions, “Eggs were 52 cents today” and “Eggs were down to 40 cents last week.” While this seems like the price has increased greatly until now, when compared to gasoline and some commodities, eggs have always been a real bargain.
Another regular task on the farm, and one which Annie didn’t seem to mind, was processing, or “dressing” as she would say, chickens. The killing, cleaning, and boiling, which allowed the feathers to be plucked easily, seems to have been, done almost every day or so. In one entry she says that she dressed eight chickens, but in another she and a neighbor processed twenty. We know that egg laying birds have a relatively short span of production, and eating them is an efficient way to recycle them, but we wonder how they kept track of which lived and which died. In one entry she writes, “We bought pigs and peeps [young chickens],” so these must have been ordered and picked up locally, probably at the feed store, on a regular basis, rather than produced on their farm.
Sometimes when livestock was bought or sold, auction markets in Grantsville or Friendsville, MD, were used. Each is about an hour’s drive south. Annie records “taking pigs to sale,” and a “sale” usually means an auction. However, in order to give milk, adult cows must “freshen,” or deliver a newborn. “Mom” mentions the birth of “newborn calves,” so some livestock was homegrown. One May, unfortunately, a milk cow got sick, but the vet couldn’t heal it, so she says someone came and got it, perhaps the rendering company. This was all part of life – and death – on a farm.
Speaking of pigs, and they seemed to be called this when they were young and “hogs” as they were ready for butchering, the men, probably “Pop” and Harry, did the killing when the weather was cooler. Similarly, cows were called “beef” when their productive, milk-giving life ended. Some of the internal organs were saved for family use or sale, and in the case of hogs, intestines were washed and packed with ground meat for sausages by the women. When the meat was cut, it was said to have been “worked up.” Then it could be canned [actually sealed in jars] or smoked. Nothing was wasted: the hides went to the tanner, the insides and bones went to the rendering plant, and much of the fat [lard] was “melted for soap,” according to the diaries. When mixed with lye or ashes, the heavy liquid was collected in a pan, cooled, and cut into bars or chipped for the laundry. Annie writes on one day, “I have about 55 pounds,” which seems like a lot, but considering the washing and cleaning she did, it surely isn’t. Perhaps she sold some or gave it away, also.
A great deal of what “Mom” and “Pop” ate and served to family and friends throughout the year was homegrown or purchased nearby: beans, corn, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes, carrots, beets, peas, lettuce, huckleberries [blue berries], apples, peaches, cherries, and rhubarb. With just a small refrigerator, that didn’t seem to work half the time and the other half it was probably filled with eggs, and no chest freezer, the fruits and vegetables had to be canned, hot-packed, or preserved. The diaries say that many of the cucumbers were made into pickles, the cabbages into sauerkraut, the tomatoes into juice and sauce, the apples, peaches, and pears into sauce, jelly, or pie filling. At our house, the goal is to have eaten most of the goodies by the next growing season, but “Mom” writes that the boys “had a stand out at the road.” My wife Susan worked at what she called “the Krause fruit stand” when she was in high school and college. Her cousin Dave ran it and taught her the secrets of merchandising, i.e. how to treat customers and what to look out for with deliveries from vendors. We know that his operation supported several families in season and provided an economical way to move the homegrown produce.
While Annie took care of her flowers and vegetables in the summer, Charles tended his strawberry patch. This required setting new plants, weeding, mulching, dusting, and of course, picking. To get some idea of how successful he was and how much work went into this part of the farm, in one June diary entry Annie writes, ”They picked 350 quarts of [straw] berries today and they all sold.” I imagine the Krause Fruit Market was very popular then. Today, that small building houses a car repair shop, but next door to it is Krause’s Tasty Freeze. Harry had the idea of offering dairy treats and thought it would attract more people if it was in the shape of a Swiss-style chalet with a red roof. His son Dave ran the walk up business for many years using local youth. Like her mother before, our daughter Annie helped pay her college expenses by working summers there. Ernest’s son John took over a few years ago, but it’s as successful as ever, especially when the Jennerstown Speedway is racing in the field behind. That attraction started as the home of one of Somerst County’s two fair grounds, which Annie mentions in her writing.
In addition to feeding family and friends with homegrown meat and produce, Annie would bake something nearly every day: pies, custard or meat pot pies, for example, and cakes and cookies, even donuts. Filling those was as easy as reaching on the canning shelf. But, she also mentions churning butter. We know that the Krauses sold raw milk in one-gallon glass jugs to the public from a cement block “milk house” next to the barn that Susan’s father built. Other milk went to the dairies in Johnstown. As other local dairy farmers, they would want to move as much as possible to earn a sizeable “milk check,” as they called it. So, with grocery stores as close as Jennerstown, Boswell, and Somerset, she probably didn’t do too much churning and butter making, because it was hard work, but we know that she at least knew how.
In addition to making clothing, or “cutting” as we said earlier, “Mom” mended and repaired items that we probably wouldn’t think to fix today: socks, underwear, aprons, and so on. She talks of making and mending buttonholes, which today we take for granted and would almost never repair. Some of the items of clothing were made from cotton feed sacks, material that is truly rare these days. Do you know what Annie means when she says “a plaited [braided] rug”? Old, worn clothing, towels, sheets, and cloth of most any kind would be torn into strips, and using a type of loom, forced together or woven to make rugs and mats for around the house that could be shaken clean and even washed. As we’ve said before, nothing was wasted, and these lost arts enabled the household to be comfortable and clean. Other journal references mention quilt and layette making, but whether these valuable blankets were for family, friends, or missionary projects, we’re not sure.
“Mom” washed clothes several times a week, which wouldn’t be unusual for a farm wife. Farming was dirty work. But, American families in those days had ringer washers, not automatic ones. She talks about borrowing a separate washboard on which to scrub clothes. In March of 1950, she had to purchase a new set of rollers for the washing machine. To make matters worse, sometimes, especially in the summer and autumn, Annie often describes the weather as hot and dry, and the springhouse contained little water to feed the kitchen and bathroom. My wife Susan remembers that the family used an outside latrine until a toilet was installed in the downstairs in the early 1950’s, so that saved a lot of water. Annie writes in one late summer entry, “Still no rain.” Her concern finally dissipates with the first significant snowfall on November 3 of that year.
Annie, with everything else she had to do, wasn’t above doing what today we would consider truly difficult jobs. Most homeowners now paint rooms periodically for a fresh look, rather than scrubbing the walls and ceilings, which she did often. “Mom” even bought and put up wallpaper. I’m sure she had help, but it’s difficult to imagine her up on a ladder, hanging the sticky stuff to those aging farmhouse walls.
Perhaps the biggest burden Annie shares in her writing is that which she had for her beloved husband, Charlie. On March 1, 1951, he entered what is now Conmaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown at the age of 67, the age I am right now. He had some sort of operation a week later, and by March 26th she says he was “anxious to come home.” The next day, she writes that the hospital has been paid, “so far $316.” Surely this can’t be the entire bill thus far, even taking into consideration that this was written in 1951. We know that son Ernest had been applying for health insurance on “Pop’s” behalf. We also see that on May 14 an insurance check is received for $280, but we don’t know if this is for medical expenses. Annie and her entire extended family was faithful in visiting “Pop” in the hospital, a distance of about fifteen miles, one way. On April 19, fifty days after being admitted to the hospital, she writes, “Charlie came home this evening.” We hope to learn more about this terrible illness through interviews with family.
Apparently, “Pop’s” serious illness had a profound effect on his spiritual needs because a month later “Mom” wrote, “Pop went along to church this evening, the first time in 4 years.” The diaries show that he made some attempt to attend regularly after that.
As Annie’s journaling continued into the second and third year, her entries became shorter and much less detailed. In 1951, she quit the first week in November. It’s possible the weather became burdensome and/or her chores caught up with her. Maybe she just didn’t feel well. But then she starts up again in the new year, January 1952. However, the final entry that we know of is dated July 25. We are left with no explanation.
Surely the best way to understand and value the writings of our Annie Lee “Mom” Krause is to allow her to speak for herself, and the way to do that these many years after her passing is to quote her diaries. Possibly the most amazing description of a day in her life is found on Friday, June 1, 1951: “I did the milking this morning then cooked dinner for Ernest & Mary and dressed two chickens for Herbs and did my cleaning. Now I must pick some potatoes and then press Hilda’s skirts. Then get cleaned up to go down to Herbs this evening.” More than Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith Show or Carolyn Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie, our “Mom” Krause comes across more like Super Woman in all her many modern media manifestations.
In yet another unbelievable entry, October 19, 1951, she writes: “These two weeks we had people from Texas, California, Massachusetts, Erie, Pittsburgh, Springs, Johnstown, Hollsopple, Belmont, Baltimore, Florida, Jennerstown, Corsingsville, Ligonier, Berlin, Derry.” She seemed to delight in “keeping score,” yet her life was more “work ethic” than “works righteousness.” All this social interaction certainly didn’t come without a price. We wonder how many of the visitors brought food or contributed to their keep. I’m reminded of what my late father said of his farmer father in the early 1950’s: “If Dad had earned $200 in cash by the end of a month, he thought that was a pretty good month.” Dad explained that they too had lots of family and friends stop by and never went hungry, with milk and meat, fruits and vegetables, and all the things from down on the farm.
Finally, even without an automobile, “Mom” and “Pop” certainly got around during her three years of journaling, always with family. There was the trip to son Clyde’s in Baltimore that included a day at the shore. The winter drive to son Pud’s in Texas in 1952 took three days. That included an extension into Mexico and the return home through Mississippi, Virginia, and everything inbetween. They were glad to get home that leap year day, February 29. Other outings included day trips to the battlefields of Gettysburg down east and the amusement park at Idlewild just over the mountain toward Pittsburgh.
The discovery of the diaries of Annie Lee “Mom” Krause was quite a find. Researching post-war America and interviewing surviving family members has certainly enlightened this genealogist, and I hope that my deep appreciation for her work has been accurately transcribed and adequately translated in this project. I’m certainly open for other interpretations of Annie’s words and new historical insights. Please feel free to question and comment below, and we’ll share your thoughts with interested folks around the world.