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In Their Own Words

January 06, 1864

Diary Entry on Lack of Food

Julia Johnson Fisher wrote in her diary about the lack of food, although they did have a decent meal for Christmas.

We are now having our rainy season and we are drenched inside and out. The house leaks badly. Nails are so scarce that whenever a building is burned there is a quick demand for nails. Mr. Brazil has gone with his family to “Brookfield” to an old dilapidated house without windows and almost demolished by the pickets. It is two miles from here. They think they may bring the children over to Sunday School. I am sorry to have them go–they felt so interested and anxious to learn. Now we have only Frank Linn and Clarence. Yesterday Mr. Fisher and the boys went to Jeffersonton to Town meeting. Came home in a soaking rain and brought half a sack of flour which cost $35.00. We could easily eat it in a week, but it will be kept for a luxury. The best thing that we have now is a corn cake, mixed with water. Our corn is ground in a hand mill, which holds about 4 quarts, and is very hard to grind. The rice is beaten from the hull in a mortar made from a log and burnt out, which is also a very hard process–particularly when there is a large hungry family to feed. Those two articles with pork have constituted our living for a year past, sometimes not all of that. On Christmas day we fared sumptuously. Mrs. Lynn dined with us and furnished the turkey. We had some chickens and a piece of fresh pork. Gussie had been off ten miles and brought oysters–so we had an oyster stew and chicken salad, minus the greens, potatoes and rice. The turkey was dressed with corn bread. Our dessert was a corn meal pudding wet with water, enriched with bottled huckleberries and pork fat; sauce made of borrowed syrup and flour–it was excellent, how we did relish it! but we talked of the good pies and bread and cakes that linger in remembrance, and the nuts and apples that pass around so freely in that land of plenty. It is hard to be so entirely deprived of them but we try to console ourselves with the fact that we enjoy better health and appetites. We are always hungry – hungry the year round, but do not grow fat.

Source: Julia Johnson Fisher, 1814-1885 Diary, 1864