I'd seen this pocket diary from 1898 at a local antique shop on several visits there. Each time I looked at it, I decided the information was just too sparse to figure out who owned it. The diarist never recorded their own name anywhere in the diary pages, nor did they state outright, where they lived. On my most recent visit to the shop, I had yet another browse through the book. Filled with information about shopping trips and afternoon teas, this book didn't appear to carry any significant genealogical information, but I thought I'd ask the shop owner what he wanted for the diary, since it would take me some time to read through it thoroughly.
The price was right. I took the American Diary home. As I initially thought, it was a day-to-day account of the social life of the writer. Teas, visits, and the day's weather dominated each page. I had just reached the end of the first week of November 1898 when I read a most interesting and surprising entry:
Sunday 6. Weather - Bright. Babys birthday, five oclock. Weight 9 lbs. Our little daughter. Sam, Dr. Cook & Mrs. Hanna were with me & every thing went all right. All fixed up and had some coffee at six oclock. Mrs. Jacobus brought Thelma for me, some lovely flowers from Sam.
Mon. 7. Oh so tired. slept most of the day. Dr. Cook called.
I had no idea the writer of this diary was expecting a baby until I read that entry. On the 30th of November, we learn that Fanny Elizabeth was christened. On the last page of the diary, the writer gives us a significant clue that will help us figure out who she is:
She writes, Fanny Elizabeth Hunter's picture taken January 28th, were sent:
I went to the 1900 US Census. I suspected I was looking for someone living in Chicago because of the various landmarks referred to in the diary. I knew I was looking for Sam Hunter, who had a daughter Fanny Elizabeth Hunter. I also suspected that the writer had Canadian connections because 1) she mentioned Dominion Day in an entry on July 1st. and 2) the diary was found on Vancouver Island, BC.
I found a match in Chicago, IL:
Samuel M. Hunter, b. September 1864, Canada, immigrated 1894, married 1896
Jessie Hunter, b. Nov 1869, Canada, married 1896
Fannie E. Hunter, b. Nov 1898, IL
In the 1910 US census, the family is still living in Chicago's Ward 7. Samuel is now 45, Jessie, 44, Fanny E., 11 and a younger daughter, Isabel K, age 8 appears.
In 1920 the family resides in Ward 6, Chicago. Jessie's age now appears to be two years older than Samuel. In the 1930 US Census, Chicago, Samuel M. and Jessie Hunter's children have moved out of the home.
In Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1928, I found Samuel and Jessie's marriage record. Samuel Mancer Hunter, age 32, born Innisfil, Ontario, about 1865, son of David J. Hunter and Elizabeth Mancer Hunter, married Jessie Treleaven Borle, 35, born Toronto, Ontario to John Borle and Fanny Marwood, were married in York County on the 6th of September 1897.
It would have been wonderful to find the portrait of Fanny Elizabeth that Jessie mentions in the diary, but I did not see any infant portraits in that particular antique shop. I'm just happy that the information in the diary was enough to identify Jessie.