Hiram through History

In 2011 we began to feature the diary entries of Hiram Leonard, highlighting the life of a Warrenville resident during the American Civil War years. This glimpse into local life 150 years ago continues, and as we all see the community through Hiram’s eyes it is hard to not notice how hard life was for him in those days. The Civil War years were hard for everyone on both sides of the fighting, but Hiram had a hard life that left him sick and tired before the War broke out as well. Learn a little more about Hiram and then read some earlier June 5th entries from Hiram’s diaries here.

Hiram Leonard, born in 1810, was from the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts and arrived in Warrenville in the fall of 1835.  His diaries are an almost continuous record of his Warrenville residency.  More than likely, he kept diaries prior to the March 1843 entry, the first entry the Museum has in it’s collection, but it is doubtful that they were preserved.

Hiram E. Leonard

Hiram E. Leonard

Hiram was a farmer, druggist, broom manufacturer, merchant, a justice of the peace, and Warrenville’s Postmaster from July 1, 1861 until his death November 6, 1878—a man of importance in the village.  His home at 3 S 381 Winfield Road still stands; the Leonard Store was located at 28 W 180 Warrenville Road.

Hiram turned 53 in 1863, so although it is unlikely that his age accounted for his constant illness, he lived a hard life and his sickness was most likely caused by the large amount of stress in his life.  He was running multiple businesses in the growing community of Warrenville, including his position as postmaster, and for many years took care of his sister, who was mentally unstable.  There have been a few entries about his sister being “sick” or “unwell.”  She was generally irrational and oftentimes violent, which was a lot for Hiram to deal with by himself as no other family lived in the area.

Hiram also took on other taxing responsibilities in his personal life.  He had a live-in housekeeper, Mary Wray, who was divorced with two children.  Hiram was not married at the time and cared for Mary’s two kids after her death, and later the William Wray Jr.’s (Mary’s son) family as well.  Hiram was most likely completely exhausted each night from fulfilling all of his duties.

William Wray Jr. left Hiram to care for his family when he went off to fight in the Civil War.  William Jr. died in battle in 1864 and his 34 year old widow, Caroline, later married Hiram in 1874.  Hiram was 64 at the time of the wedding and died 4 years later.

June 5, 1846: “5th Friday  A cool cloudy damp morning & rather a cold squalley disagreeable day, several sprinkles with conciderable wind, more pleasant in afternoon & quite fine in the evening, the ground wet & roads bad, I run round conciderable in the morning to the post office store etc & then worked in my orchard a grafting & trimming, was tiard at night, George Hull & wife called at Carpenters & his sister called here & took tea, & then he came after her. Bridges & another person called a short time as the were on their return from Bristol from the Association.”

June 5, 1851: “5th Thursday  A warm cloudy rainey morning the thurmometer stood at 52 degrees above zero in the morning 76 at noon & 60 at night, rather a cloudy damp day but the sun shone out some, a tremendous heavey thunder shower in the night with wind, I choared round, & started about 10 for Joliet with Raynoldses folks, got to Joliet abut 6, stayed at Inghams all night & went to bed about 9, tiard & about sick.”

June 5, 1853: “5th Sunday  A warm & some cloudy morning the thurmometer ranged at 60 degrees above zero in the morning 88 at noon & 74 at night a warm pleasant day with some cloudy & showers round us, a fine evening, fine growing weather  I did my choars fixed some upstairs was at home all day did my choars & went to bed at 9 tiard & nearly sick, George & his wife, Mrs. Wray & Sol Williams went to Mr. Hovarths on a visit & got home before sunset.”

June 5, 1855: 5th Tuesday  Rather a fine cool day & evening, I did my choars & was at the shop all day & evening came home about 9 & went to bed verry dry weather  Mrs. Hammond took the cars in Chicago for the East about 6 A.M.”

 

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Hiram E. Leonard Diary, August 26 – September 1, 1863

26th Wednesday  rather a cold morning & frost on railroad a fine day. I arrived at Springfield between 5 & 6 in morning & stayed till 4 ½ in afternoon, went I left for Jacksonville and arrived there at 6 & arrived at the hospital 6 ½. Saw Sister & came back to the villiage between 7 & 8, put up at the mansion house for the night & rested verry well, but slep on a matras.

27th Thursday  rather a fine cool day & some cloudy, I got up about 6 eat breckfust at Mansion House at Jacksonville went to the Hospital about 8 & got sister & started on the cars a little before 9 & got to the Illinois & St Louis Junction 10 ½ stayed till 11-3/4 & started for Joliet, got there a little after 6, eat supper, went to bed about 9 at the Aubern House kep by Austin rested verry well, rained during night [in margin] Caroline moved to Willsons. J Pollard got home from East. Caroline mooved to Wilsons in part of Gary house].

28th Friday  A cloudy damp morning but a cool windy day & cold evening, I eat breckfust about 7 & started about 7 ½ for home with Sister & Netty Fowler & got home a little after 12, took the horse & carriage home eat dinner & went to office about 2 ½ stayed in evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

29th Saturday  A cold morning with some frost a cold day & night I did my choars was at the office all day came home at 8 ½ went to bed about 9 tiard & nearly sick. Caroline called & went home for stove.

30th Sunday  A cold pleasant morning with a pretty heavy frost which cut potatoes & vines pretty bad & corn some. I did my choars went to office & Hoyts came home was at home the most of the day a choaring round etc went to bed about 9 tiard & nearly sick.

31st Monday  rather a fine day & evening. I did my choars was at the office all day & in evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick with a cold.

September 1st Tuesday  A fine cool day & evening. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick [in margin] Alvaro Drulard died near Murfreesboro.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, August 19 – 25, 1863

19th Wednesday  rather fine hot weather & a getting dry. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick with a cold.

20th Thursday  rather a fine warm day & evening. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & sick.

21st Friday  rather a fine day & evening some showerey at night.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick.

22nd Saturday  rather a fine day & evening some cloudy and damp in the morning but cold in afternoon & evening. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick, Gary got the bed & put it up Sarah Russequie stayed with Caroline [in margin] Layed out Winfield Road part.

23rd Sunday  rather a fine cool morning & cloudy more warm during day but some cloudy. I did my choars was at the store & Hoyts in morning came home about 10 was at home achoaring round, writing etc most of the day went to bed about 9 nearly sick with a soar in my ear.

24th Monday  rather fine weather & cloudy, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed at 9 ½ nearly sick with a sore ear etc.

25th Tuesday  rather a fine day & cool a cold night. I did my choars was at the office the most of the forenoon got ready to go to Jacksonville, started about one oclock with H Fowlers horse & J Pollards carriage for Joliet Netta Fowler went to Joliet with me, I got there at 6 & left on cars at 10 ½ J______.”

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, June 24, 1862

24th Tuesday  rather a fine day & evening & cool.  I did my choars got ready to go to Jacksonville with Sister & Griffeth & I started with her a little before 10 & got to Joliett about 20 minutes past 3 P.M.  we got dinner & Griffeth started for home about 5 I stayed till near 11 when we went & took the cars for Springfield began to rain during the night.”