Anna's Diary


You may remember that the day we had our talk on the road to FredoniaI spoke of having two men at work cutting wood. Well, they loafed and fooled over the job in spite of my constantly urging them to hurry. The best wood was at the other end of the Van Buren woods near Days' cottage. There was only one way to get it out when cut, and that was by a road that had been used so long that it was constantly soft, even in the driest weather. The first rain would make it impassable. After I had endured the men's fooling for one week and saw that they didn't intend to hurry, I paid them and dismissed them with the remark that I could do it faster myself.

That was on Monday morning. Monday afternoon I went at it with ax and saw and Tuesday morning and afternoon also. Wednesday morning I got Nell and the wagon and worked from about ten until five. During that time I hauled seven loads, big ones. Five loads were cut wood, logs and limb wood, and two were planks for kindling. The logs were anywhere from six to ten feet long, and from four to ten inches in diameter.

I was pretty hot and tired when I drove Nell home and went for the milk after dark. But the sight of that wood pile more than repaid me. It was the next evening, I think, that I was sitting by the lamp reading. I happened to scratch my neck just by the trapezius muscle when, to my horror, I discovered a large lump there. I worried over it for about a week and then, drawing a sketch of the muscles of the neck and indicating the location of the lump by a dot, I sent that and a description to Mama and asked her to see a doctor for me. To my great relief, Dr. Moore said it was nothing but an enlargement of a minor tendon caused by over-straining and a too rapid chilling after some exertion. It must have happened the day I drew the wood, for the logs were - several of them at least - very heavy, and as I lifted most of them in the middle and then with a swing of the other hand on the end, threw them several feet to the wood pile, the strain was rather severe.

But that wasn't the end of it by any means. Mama became worried and told Dr. Dods about it and that she hadn't heard from me for a long time (it was really three days and I was too busy to write then) so he promised to drive out and see whether I was a corpse or a kicker. So one evening about six I heard sleigh bells and upon going to the door saw an unknown man step out of the dusk and roar, Well you're a nice young lady, you are, scaring your mother half to death! It was Dr. Dods and after assuring himself that I was really alive and only suffering (!) from an enlarged tendon, he took his departure.

A day or so ago, Mr. Jackway came over with Nell and together we hauled four more loads of planking, and now I believe I am fixed for the winter. I am as far as wood and food are concerned, anyway. Today (January 4th) I finished papering the sitting room, and tomorrow I hope to do the dining room also, and cut a lot of kindling and wood for the sitting room stove. That one is a small chunk stove and has to have very small pieces of wood as the firepot is only 1 foot long. The wood that I hauled was over half a cord - what I'd cut by myself.

The wood cut by the men, I helped a farmer haul. He overcharged me, so I bounced him also.


Smith, Anna Clift


Chapter VII, "Wood", Van Buren Life




Illustration / Written Document





Smith, Anna Clift, “Ax,” Anna Clift Smith's Van Buren Life, accessed April 21, 2024,