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Ellen Wilson Diary

Identifier: RH-A-3519

Scope and Contents

At the time the diary was written, Ellen lived with her husband, father, daughter, and two granddaughters in Pittsford, MI. The family owned a farm that they rented out to the Marlow family.

Ellen and her family must have just recently moved to Pittsford, because in the 1900 census, they were living in Toledo, Ohio. Agnes and her husband were living in Sandusky, Ohio.

Her daughter, Agnes (who is listed as Ella A. Lemmon in the 1900 Census), and Agnes’s daughters, Grace and Blanche, lived with Ellen in Pittsford by 1904. Agnes was recently divorced. Later, Agnes married John Lake and moved to Murray, New York. According to the 1920 census, Blanche went with her.

According to Ellen’s diary, Orson had bought their farm on October 11, 1847 from Grove Spencer of Ypsilanti for $300. He returned to New York in 1849 and married Sarah in 1850. In 1852, he built a barn. He planted a chestnut tree on the west end of the house in 1856 that Mrs. Lewis Hunker brought from Ohio. The evergreen trees were planted in 1865. From a search on, Orson’s draft registration cards were found for the American Civil War. However, there is no record of him actually fighting in the war. Although it shows two years of previous military service, it was most likely for another war (possibly Mexican-American).

According to the 1900 Federal Census, Ellen’s son Harry married Minnie in 1893. They had two children: Clare and Agnes. Agnes, Harry, and Minnie frequently traveled from Jackson, MI to visit Ellen.

Howard Wilson married Addie Robbins and eventually became a jeweler. He fought in WWI and was honorable discharged with wounds that made him 75% disabled. When the diary was written, he was about seventeen years old.

Ellen frequently mentions Henry and Aunt Rilla. Henry and Rilla Wilson were married in 1873. Henry worked on the train depot as an operator.

Ellen’s diary contains some interesting information about events in the community and nation. In the beginning, she writes about the smallpox epidemic in her town, and how her house has to be quarantined when Grace contracts the disease. At the same time, her daughter Agnes is declared rheumatic. Also, Ellen was a strong supporter of Teddy Roosevelt and hoped for his re-election. Ellen was present in Jackson for the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Republican Party.


  • Creation: 1904


Biographical / Historical

Ellen Wilson (1852-1945) was born in Michigan to Sarah (1823-1901) and Orson (1825-1915) Lake. Ellen married George Wilson (1846-1914), a minister, on November 10, 1867 and they had three children: Harry (1870-unknown), Agnes (1874-1949), and Howard (2/25/1887—7/2/1961).


1 Volumes

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection measures .25 cubic feet and contains one diary made by Excelsior. Physically, the cover and binding of the diary are in poor condition. There is no binding on the side and the front cover is about to come off. The pages are fine, however, and the writing is legible.


The collection is a diary written in 1904 by Ellen Wilson, a resident of Pittsford, Michigan.


The collection was a Starring purchase

Ellen Wilson Diary Finding Aid
Tara Bell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490