In Their Own Words
September 02, 1880
Financial and Marital Struggles Recorded in Journal
In Richmond County, the financial woes of Gertrude Thomas (or more accurately those of her husband) continued well past Reconstruction. Eventually, she opened a school to supplement their meager income. On this day, as she was searching for strength to get back to work, marital problems also are evident in this day’s journal entry:
“Dixie Farm. September 2, 1880. I believe that this is the first moment since I closed the school the last of June that I have thought of resuming it with a feeling of pleasure. I have shrunk from it with a morbid fear of taking up my cross. I have thought ‘Is there a necessity for this trial of my time, patience, and strength?’ And all the while I have been unwilling to give my own consent to resume the duty of keeping school. I knew that we needed the money I would make, but I was selfish and unwilling cheerfully to place myself in harness again. As the time draws nearer somehow, I know not how, the prospect does not seem so dull. I say I do not know, yes I do. I remember yesterday I was worried, a reaction from Mr. Thomas who was fretted about something. I found that I had lost my self command and going into the parlor I knelt and prayed God for self control… .”
Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 408-409.