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Edith Colby Banfield diary transcription

William S. Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0241, Box 7, Folder 83, transcribed by CC students Kate Vukovich and Emma Mitchell, 2010-2012.

[Note: Edith Colby Banfield was the sister of Helen Banfield Jackson, Helen Hunt Jackson's niece. She was an author in her own right, publishing several articles in late-19th century periodicals. She moved to Colorado Springs and took care of Helen Banfield Jackson's six children after their mother died in 1899. This diary covers a short period early in her guardianship. Misspellings have been transcribed as written.]

Helen H. Banfield
Washington – February 24, 1885
Edith C. Banfield
Colorado Springs
May 1900

May 27, evening.

The children all in bed after a grand Sat. night folio. I begin this little book never used by Helen, to tell of their “sayings and doings.”
Roland puzzling himself tonight over languages. Did I know German and I told him my overall vocabulary. Then “who teaches the Germans german? How do they know that it is German?”

I wish I had kept a book of Roland’s questions – beginning from his first questions last summer about the sea. “Are there any waves under the sea-shore?” “Which is the biggest, the moon or the seashore?” He puzzles his brain over so many things – and makes so many fine descriptions and distinctions. The snow this winter was “level as a ruler” and the sky, on a snowy day – astonished him. “Why Aunt Kitty – look at the sky: there isn’t anything there – just a dark white!” Poor little boy, always […] to be a girl – longing for pretty things – dresses, long hair, everything feminine –noticing gowns with the eye of a […] so deft with his fingers—loving to sew, knit, crochet!  Edith the same irrepressible she was last summer. “Oh I am so rested I want to pick some daisies.” This winter it is – “Oh Aunt Kitty, [I’ve?] all the well I can be to-day” (After a day or two’s illness – when I made her wait another day before jumping rope. Her Papa pries her love – spanks but “you can’t hurt me. I am such a tough!” We [twit?] her about her fatness and she very innocently (?) says as she gets down from the table – “I shouldn’t like to be stho fat as sthome ladies.” (Query from Aunty Mary “Was that a thrust at me?” […] expect it was.) Gardner full of window and amazing thought. “You shpattered me. That isn’t de way Oceans do.” He calls Edith a “chatterboxh” but […] near being a bigger him self. He picks up the boys slang very drolly. “Well I’ll be jigged (in a soliloquy) full of sweetness and loving thought. On his Mamma’s birthday - “Is she coming down?” “What is she going to have?” So grieved that I could tell him nothing of the birthday she was to spend. All we knew – that she had little Margaret of whom he says “I did love she” And of his Mamma “I wish she would come down Den she would put on dat shimble.”

The night after Aunt Mary had gone – he kissed me good-night very sadly—His father was not yet home. “Only one pershon!” And Mrs. Slocum, calling was prepared by him to find “only one pershon” !

The older two are my little comrades – too precious for me to write easily about them. Evvie gets off some very good things – as to-night in speaking of something faded past recognition he said it had “shrunk” so you wouldn’t know it.
When Aunt Mary  and I each said we “guessed” he might have an apple, […] the other agreed – he said he “guessed two guesso’s made a yes.”

June 27
The upset yesterday – Gardner this morning said “That weren’t a bery strong bridge” Outside seats not in demand on our drive home this morning. Edith held my hand tight all the way 00 Roland clung to Sallie – Beautiful [rawhee?] yesterday to Cheyenne – red and blue [Reustamen?] – creamy [columbuie?] Tow hard for Garner and Edith – Katherine carried  […] as in Ireland. Edith “I wish there [weren’t] so many sticks and bushes.”
Evvie very glad to sleep in his own bed to-night “I always feel safe at home.” Roland and I sighing for the ranch – Roland slept with me there – very sweet and easy. “ have you come to bed  Aunt Kitty? I did not know you had come.” All waked early to see the sunrise and the milkings – i.e. Everett, R. and I – Plains more than ever like the ocean. Katherine love[s] them – loves her ranch – Cheyenne– everything. All enthusiad [sic] over nature—longs to write about it all – the clouds rolling in over the plain – her imaginary ships on the horizon – “but I haven’t the grammar Miss Edith” Plucky Katherine – alone in that ranch where few men would dare to live alone – armed with her rifle and shotgun – against the skunks, coyotes – and all enemies of herself and her animals. Met a bear and its cubs on the mountain one day – and is going to hunt it when the kinnikinnick berries are red. (The bears come down to eat the berries.)

So lonely coming home without William Helen  -- Everything seems blank to me without William and it is so hard to keep heart for my work with the four left. I fear that 2 understand only too well the emptiness dear Helen felt without her darling Margaret. I fell capable of anything so long as I have William and utterly incapable without him. I can’t  help it and try my hardest. How long will it seem to September? Postals from them but day before yesterday – […] them. Roland “likes it pretty well without William. Tho [Though] for something he is sorry. But [he did?] tease him so – and kick his doll.” Evvie really very lonesome I think “He would like to have gone too but he is glad for W and H. to have the good trip and we need him here”. He is a sweet little helper. We are going to make a doll house for Helen all of us together – including [Thurga?]. Roland calls me ver “ma[..]z-able’ (When I spoke of Cousin Rose as very musical – “You are very Makesble!”)

On that beautiful Sunday several weeks ago – when we picked the lovely  blue flowers – and vetches – The meadow larks were singing gloriously – Roland ran to me “Here’s the merry Bobolink. Telling us its May” “Only this is a meadowlark.” I said – “O well, you might as well call him a Bobolink.”

Yesterday we passed and picked some mariposa lilies. Roland: “There’s some merry Multiplication or what you call it!”

Bible class very lonely but very serene without Winnie and Helen. Edith beginning to listen and learn. “What did God do on the Seventh Day Edith?” “He had a day all to himself!”

Little Dot the kitten thriving on [clear?] broth. Edith beginning to learn to let her alone. Had to “chain” her like Rex one morning for watering her with watering pot!

Long to be back at the ranch tonight – but pine trees outside my window – and the sound of the sea in their branches. Gardner remembered the ocean enough to recognize it instantly. “I hear de shea”. Sight of the plains – sound of the pines – comforted my sea longings more than I could have believed – but to-night oh how they are upon me!  And no boy in the third story can comfort me in any homesickness. Oh Winnie, will you ever know all I’ve drawn upon you for! Katherineso sorry not to have W. and Helen at the ranch. She dearly loves cute Helen – she is a favorite with so many – and deserves all the sweet praises she gets.

Katherine’s so earned of our Helen that she came to her and laid Little Margaret in her arms saying “You like little Margaret, don’t you? You love all my children.” I thought we were all going and Helen and little Margaret when the horses plunged yesterday but how thankful – for William and Helen’s sakes (my thoughts flew to them) that so dreadful an end did not come to us all and for my own dear family’s. “Thank God no me is hurt” cried Katherine’s Sullivan – “Yes, that’s right” answered William – I thought he surely was to be killed but he is merely lame and “got […] shkin off” as Gardner says. Comedy and tragedy all interwoven. He slept in on of K.S.’s nightgowns all ruffled and frilled. Sally went in the morning to get Edith and almost died laughing. W. sound asleep his beruffled hands peacefully crossed upon his chest – frills and ruffles fine as any lady. It was indescribably funny.

[Newonies] birthday part and I have not written her. Bessie’s too. Bessie and Charlie so happy. O I hope all will go well with them news from Bessie – but I know it before- felt it so surely.

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