Country Life in 1880

Footnotes to Long Island History

Country Life in 1880



Thomas R. Bayles



By Thomas R. Bayles


The following items are take from a dairy of an old Miller Place family in 1880.  There were no dull moments on a farm in those days, and money was not plentiful, but they ate well and didn't count calories.

            “Jan 3. 1880 – Clear and lovely.  Baked pumpkin pies and hard sugar cake.  Aunt Fanny called this afternoon and we had bread, biscuit, cold chine, celery, pickles, crullers, jelly cake, hard sugar cake, and citron preserves for tea.”

            “Jan 5. - Father went to Port Jefferson and had the farm wagon mended.  Carried our dried lima beans, 24 quarts, to go down on the packet.  I sold seven of my ducks at 8 cents a pound.  Came to $2.50.”

            “Jan 13 – Joseph and father went to the harbor and got a load of seaweed.  Baked bread, biscuit, mince and pumpkin pies.  In the afternoon they went into the woods for a load of firewood.”

            “Jan 31 – Cold and commenced to snow.  Aunt Fanny spent the day and took dinner.  We had roast chine, fried ham, potatoes, turnips, pickles, celery, pumpkin and mince pies.”

            “Feb 18 – Joseph went to Port Jefferson with a load of feed to be ground at the steam mill.  I backed hard and soft sugar cake and mince pies.

            “March 3 – Joseph split some pine wood and took it down to the landing, and then cut firewood for next Winter.  I was invited to Nancy Davis' for tea.  We had bread, biscuit, cheese, smoked beef, succotash, stewed prune, creamcake, fruitcake, hard sugar cake, jelly, tea, and coffee.

            “April 16 – Joseph went with 13 bushels of potatoes to the steamboat at Port Jefferson to send them to Bridgeport.  He carted manure in the afternoon and spread it back of the barn.

            “April 19 – Joseph plowed for beets and carrots in the morning.  Hen came off with 11 ducks.  Sold our two calves, one 179 pounds and one 165 pounds at 6 cents a pound.  I baked bread, biscuit, soft sugar cake, custard pie and boiled some porridge.

            “May 6 – Cleaned the parlor and prepared the sitting room for cleaning.  Frank planted watermelons and white beans.  Set a hen on 12 duck eggs.  We had dock greens for dinner first time. 

            “May 30 – Joseph and I went to see Terry and Lydia and stayed for dinner.  We had chickens, fried ham, potatoes, string beans, asparagues, plum pie, rice pudding, oranges and bananas.  Had a hen come off with nine ducks.

            (No date) - “Joseph, Wille and I went fishing.  Got five black fish, one 3 ½ pounds.  William cradled rye in the afternoon.  Joseph went to the south lot and got bugs off potatoes.

            (No date) - “Joseph commenced to cradle oats today.  Ploughed for buckwheat in the afternoon.

            “July 28; Joseph went to Port Jefferson and took a pot of butter.  Had the horse shod.  Josephdug potatoes and then took Horace to the cars for home, and also went to mill.  Had the first watermelon today.  Weighed 26 pounds.

            “Aug 23; Joseph took 11 ducks to go by the packet.  He went to the meadows this afternoon and carted two loads of salt hay then went up to the south lot for some watermelons. 

            “Thrashing machine came about ten o'clock and finished thrashing about six o'clock.  Had 50 bushels of oats and 41 bushels of whea
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