1/3/1908 Will and I have now been married six moths and at his off-repeated request I shall now begin to write a diary, the first part of which will be a reminiscence of our six months of married life and of our courtship and previous acquaintance. The plan is, in short, that this shall be the story of our lives. I feel somewhat as Robert Louis Stevenson must have felt when he made answer to the question as to when he was born by giving the date of his meeting with Fannie Osborne. He was right for to love is to live. It is not my intention to write each day of that day. Often days succeed days that are so much alike that ditto marks would do as well; I shall instead write of things of interest to us as they occur and then at stated periods, perhaps at the end of each six months, write a summary of that period. Thus I shall avoid needless repetition and accounts of every day occurrences which would only add t the length of this diary without adding to its interest. Each evening Will will read what I have written and then he may make either common or correction. I shall leave a space for about two inches at the bottom of each page for that purpose.

Will has urged me to write this diary for many reasons and I have wished to do it for the same ones, the chief among them being our desire to remember in the coming years many little incidents now fresh in our minds but which in time memory may let slip. It doesn’t seem possible that we can ever forget memories so sweet and little incidents so momentous but it must be so for others have forgotten and even now we often recall to one another things the other has forgotten. Then, too, though an occurrence may be as fresh in your mind as if it had happened yesterday, can you put yourself in your place as you were then and feel and think as you did then? It will be interesting when many years have passed away to turn to these pages and see what impression events made on us as they passed and what change time has wrought. Even now, I can see that I shall have some difficulty in remembering my feelings and thoughts on such occasions as our first meeting, Will’s first proposal, etc. I can’t but wish that I had kept a diary all my life and that Will had done likewise. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to compare notes now!

Then, parts, at lest, of this diary will be of interest to the children which we hope will come to us. How often have we not wondered about the lives of our fathers and mothers and our grandfathers and grandmothers and wished that they had written as we plan to do! Just as our children will, in their turn, be interested in our lives. Besides, I plan to write about them as they come, about their babyhood and childhood, their looks and characteristics and whatever else may be of interest to them when they are grown to manhood and womanhood and have children of their own. Will and I wish we knew more about our own babyhood that we might know wherein our children resemble us. So will they. Just to show how well we need an aid to memory I will tell in a short paragraph here, what Mother was able to tell me of my baby days.

I was the second of five children, four girls and a boy who came in this order: Anna, Jenny, Dora, Roy, Ruth. I was born on October 23, 1883, a red faced, fourteen pound baby with long black hair which had to be cut soon after my birth. I was not pretty nor did I make up for this lack by being particularly good. I wanted to be carried much of the time lying on her shoulder. I walked when a year old and was then very small. I hadn't gained as promised. I seem to have been rather quiet. When not playing with my sister outdoors and in the barn, I liked to sit in a corner buttoning and unbuttoning my shoes. When about three years old I acquired the habit of crying myself to sleep but was broken of it by sound spanking from father. The car on my right elbow is the result of a scalding with soft soap and the line on my left cheek from a cat scratch.

This is practically all I have been able to ascertain of my own babyhood and I wish to be able to tell my children more of themselves. What I write of Will and myself they may like to know, as they my find our experiences of value to themselves when they are confronted by like situations. We hope, therefore, that this book will be of help to them as well as of interest to them and to ourselves.

Though this diary is to be as much Will's as mine, it will be my duty to do most of the writing because I have more leisure time than he. I have no doubt but that he could do it better but he asserts that I, too, can write. However that may be, at least I shall try, and if I have a talent I shall not hide it but make it bear interest. Though this diary be the extent of my writing, the end thereof should be better than the beginning and should it prove that he is right, I will owe the development of my talent to him who urged me to write out our common experiences, "lest we forget."

Jan. 4. It was early in the year, 1898, that our new minister, Rev. A. P. Monten, came to the Sheyenne-Herby Congregations, of which we attended the Herby branch which was ten miles from our farm. The parsonage was situated close to the Cheyenne "place" and twelve miles from the Herby church. The minister preached on alternate Sundays at each church and often during the summer months at both churches on the same Sunday, at one in the morning and at the other, in the afternoon.

Rev. Monition was followed by three of his family in the spring. Mrs. Monten and the two youngest children, Albin and Florence, fifteen and thirteen years of age. My mother and sister Dora visited them shortly after their arrival and on their return told us what they had learned. Mother thought Mrs. Monten a very fine woman and an exceptionally good housekeeper. The children were not very good looking but well behaved and jolly, Dora said. Albin wore his hair long and Florence was lame, in spite of which she could get around as quickly as the rest. There were three older children: Esther, William and Lillie. Esther was visiting in Duluth "arranging" her engagement to Rev. Elmquist to whom she was married a year later. Lillie and William were attending the West Superior Normal School, the former being a sophomore, the latter a junior.

The "new minister's family" made their first visit to our farm in the summer when all the children had come home, including Rev. Elmquist, then Esther's fiancé, and Martha Habelitz, a very dear friend of Lillie's. Esther and Rev. Elmquist came in a buggy by themselves, Albin and Will on bicycles and the rest in a double buggy. Rev. and Mrs. Monten and the girl arrived first. I remember Lillie and Martha so well. It was the first time we had met and though only two years older than I, they were young ladies and brought their sewing. They looked upon as children of Albin's and Florence's age which we were or Albin was as old as I, and Florence as old as Dora. Two years later, however, we were the best of friends, and young ladies as well as Lillie.

Dora and I were always together. Though I was a high school girl and she two and a half years younger we were of the same size. When the guests were all assembled in the parlor we came in and Mrs. Monten put her hands on our heads and said to Will, "These are the two little girls who look so much alike." He looked at us and said, "They are really not so much alike after all." When I tell him of this now he says, "Well, you see, I felt the difference even then." He says that then I was a little girl with short dresses over a pair of slim legs and wore my hair smoothly parted and braided down my back. Dora, I suppose looked much the same but I remember she always wore her hair in two braids while I had only one. I don't remember where Anna, Roy and Ruth were but they probably were introduced as well as we and the two families knew each other thence forward.

I don't recall Will's appearance very well but as he was then nineteen and fresh from the city, he impressed us as somewhat of a citified fellow. He admits now that he thought himself somewhat of a dud when he and Albin were on the way to our place and he discovered that he had forgotten his necktie. Of course it wouldn't do for him to appear without a necktie so he bargained with Albin for his. Albin was not so particular and was finally induced to part with his tie for the consideration of twenty-five cents and so Will made his first appearance in the eyes of his future wife in proper style. It is too bad but I'm afraid she did not notice his tie or that Albin was without one. Grandma entertained him mostly that day by showing him around the farm and they must have become pretty good friends for on returning to school he sent her a picture of himself.

Will was at home only two weeks that summer and returned to the normal for his senior year shortly after the visit to my home so I saw him only once that year. Lillie and Martha went back in September; we saw them once or twice before they left but did not become very well acquainted with them. They were great friends and sufficient unto themselves. For company they preferred the Laudbloms and Hogelunds, already their age. Of the Landblom's there was Ida of Lilllie's own age and Herman, Alex, Jack and Ed, all older than she. Of the Hogelunds, Selma, Steven and Garfield. These were all.

Then we spoke of a visit to Cheyenne as "going to the minister's" and a visit there meant a stay of four or five days and seeing the whole crowd. Dora and I, at least, made such a visit each Christmas vacation and often Anna too. Such good times as we used to have! We visited, skated, and made merry! "Our minister's" was a jolly place.

The next summer Will and Martha and Lillie came home again for vacation and Esther's wedding in June. Mamma and Papa were there and Anna and Dora but I stayed at home. This summer also we saw little of Lillie and Martha. They were even then mostly with Landbloms. Lillie and Ed had begun to go together and Martha and Alex. After this summer, however, Martha did not return and we soon learned to know Lillie better. When she went back to school in the fall Will taught the Cheyenne School. The next Christmas our yearly Christmas vacation visits to Cheyenne began and continued until Monten's left in the spring of 1904.

I remember one evening "our crowd" skated on the Cheyenne. We then thought of Will as Ida Landblom's beau and Albin and Dora were already the best of friends. That evening, however, Will seemed to prefer to skate with me. We had two bonfires on the river one at each end of the skating place. While the crowd was gathered mainly at the starting place we skated, in couples to and fro. When Will and I got to the other fire no others were near and he asked if I would not rest but I declined. What there was in his maner to tell me he preferred me I do not know but after that my childish ease when with him was gone. I had a beau! I, who never was going to have one, who thought no girl should have a beau, until after she was eighteen, at least!

Jan. 5 After Christmas Will taught school near Herby and gave music lessons to the Pearson children who lived about six miles from home. He rode a bicycle and often came our way back home to Cheyenne. Later in the summer he worked for a harvest company setting up harvesters in small towns northwest of Casselton. During this time e wrote occasionally. I remember one letter in particular, a very long description of a freight train ride from Casselton to Arleta.

In September of nineteen hundred Will and Albin entered college at St. Peter and I began my senior year at High School. Will did not find the college or his work there satisfactory and besides, had trouble with his eyes so came home after having been there about two months. However, as he was having his eyes treated by Dr. Beaudeauex in Fargo, I saw little of him until Christmas. During vacation the Cheyenne crowd had a sleigh party to Casselton or rather part of them did. The ground was not entirely snow covered and Will drove a buggy. As usual, they arrived at our house early in the morning and in the afternoon went with four of our horses on a large bob sled to Casselton to "wake the town," as they said. On this particular afternoon I had two pupils coming to take music lessons so had to stay at home. When the others had gone I was surprised to see Will at home and asked why he had not gone, to which he replied that he thought he would stay at home and keep me company. I thought he ought to have gone with the rest because I didn't want anyone around listening while I gave lessons. Moreoever I had the same pupils which he had had a year before so I wouldn't let him stay within hearing distance while I gave them lessons.

In the evening when the Cheyenners were getting ready to go home they asked Dora and me to go with them and stay over New Year's. They were talking about it -- in the sitting room when I came in and nearly everyone wanted to go in the sled. Florence and Will rushed up to me at once, the first asking if I didn't want to go in the sled and the second in the buggy. I didn't understand the situation and must have seemed to prefer the sled. Will took that for a refusal to go with him and decided that if no one else would ride in the buggy he would go alone. Then Ida said she would ride there also. When the time came to go and we were all ready it was evidence that four would have to ride in the buggy and Jack Landblom asked me if I would not do so and I did. So Will and Ida rode in the front seat and Jack and I behind. It was very cold and no one talked much except to ask, "Are you cold?" The atmosphere was cold, literally and figuratively.

While at "the Minister's" we were all invited to Pinkham's for New Year's Eve. Lillie had criticized Will's driving on the way to our place before and had gone back in the sled so he, being provoked, determined to let some more competent person drive this time and walked the three miles arriving shortly after we did. I felt sorry for him and as he came in, I held out a sympathetic hand, which he did not notice, until I drew it back. Then he insisted on shaking hands much to my embarrassment. That evening when we got back and we girls had gone to our room -- Florence, Dora, Lillie and I -- Will knocked at the door and asked to see me. I wondered what for and was surprised when he apologized for his behavior during the evening. I asked why he apologized to me when, if any apology were due, it was to Lillie and not to me. I can't remember what he said but things were smoothed over and the episode forgotten.

After Christmas, Will went to the University of Minnesota entering with the sophomore class. We had not spoken of writing but in order to provoke a correspondence as he has since told me, he sent me a sheet of music for which I wrote to thank him. I was not a good letter writer and writing was not a pleasure. I couldn't write good letters and I didn't want to write poor ones so wrote seldom. That spring I graduated from High School and during the summer Will not only urged me to go to college -- which didn't take much urging as I had long wished to go -- but also advised about the entrance regulations and got me the necessary blanks. That summer I saw him often. Dora and I and Florence were getting ready to be confirmed and so we saw some one from the family two or three times a week. Once the confirmation class met at home and Mrs. Monten came with Rev. Monten and Florence. She brought a large bouquet of sweet peas which she said Will gave her for Jenny. After that he sent some whenever opportunity offered. Dora and I and Florence and two other girls prepared papers for confirmation and I remember it gave me some trouble to read mine knowing that Will was listening and perhaps criticizing. I didn't look up to see just where he sat in church. He has told me since that I was as quiet and dignified as usual.

By this time Will's liking for me had become evidence to others as well as myself. He was no longer Ida Landblom's beau. Dora used to tease me about m fellow and I always indignantly replied that I didn't have any and didn’t' want one. Even Mamma seems to have noticed it. She once jokingly told me that I would probably have to choose between Will Monten and Herman Holmquist. [A somewhat limited choice but then I didn’t' have a lot of fellows like Dora.] I was never going to marry but I decided on the spot that it wouldn't be Herman. Then when Will made his last visit to the farm before we went to college, Mamma said as he drove off, "Take care of Jenny down in Minneapolis," and he answered that perhaps I was more capable of taking care of him. How I did resent Mamma's asking him to take care of me! We were to go to Minneapolis together too and room at my Aunt Hammargrens. It was too compromising, the thought of being entrusted to his care and having all the relatives in Minneapolis think of him as my beau was too provoking and I fear I visited my resentment on him.

Papa went with me to Minneapolis but once there it was Will who helped me. I don't know how I would have blundered along without him. It is not an easy thing to go from a small High School where one is watched and guided at every step to a large University in a strange city and I was completely bewildered. Will did all he could to help me. He showed me about the University, advised me about my courses, got me a post office box and a locker and helped me register. I was indeed thankful to him then and glad to have his advice and help.

All went well for a time. I was taken up by my studies and too busy to think of other things. We walked to school together and often back and were good friends. But it was not to last. We could not be only friends. I was eighteen on the twenty-third of October and on my birthday Will gave me "The Crisis." There should have been nothing significant about that but something embarrassed me and I accepted awkwardly. Not long afterward, in November I think, he proposed for the first time. It was a Thursday evening and the Hammargrens had gone to church.

Will and I were at home alone. He went upstairs to study and I took m books out into the kitchen to work Algebra problems. I wasn't interested but pretended to be hard at work when I heard him coming down the stairs. I did not look up, as he came in and sat down near the table, until he asked me to give him a few minutes as he had something to say to me. "I love you, Jenny," he said. That was all. I trembled and was unable to look up or say a word, until he asked, "Have you nothing to say, Jenny?" It took me some time to recover control of myself. I was surprised for though I knew he cared for me it hadn't occurred to me that he would proposed. I told him so and added that we were both too young to think of such things and moreover had many years of school life yet. I shall never forget how Will looked. He turned red and in spite of his efforts to control it, his lips quivered. I was so sorry for him and so awkward and embarrassed but though I liked him I did not love him as I felt I could love some day and I recovered soonest. We sat quietly for a moment. Then we heard the Hammargrens outside and with some remark, Will went back upstairs.

After that our relations were of course strained. Living in the same house with a rejected lover whom you really like and admire is, to say the least, awkward. Try as I would I could not be natural and, being self-conscious and ill at ease in his presence, only succeeded in seeming discourteous and unkind. Will went home a couple of weeks before vacation that Christmas to be home on his father's and mother's wedding anniversary and before he went, wishing to show him some friendliness, I gave him "Kim" with a handkerchief in it which I had made. I was afraid lest he should misunderstand but I need not have feared that. He thanked me naturally and kindly.

When we came back to college after vacation he roomed at another place and we saw less of each other though still quite often. Our meetings were so unsatisfactory. Will persisted in his friendliness and did all in his power to bring our relations back to the old friendly footing but I couldn't forget. He took me to church, to the library and to musicals and received scarcely a "thank you." I was too ill at ease to be interested and too self-conscious to be thankful. He says that I was not evens courteous and never asked him to call unless asked to do so. It does seem that I was incapable of thought when he was near; I was miserable when with him but if he did not come as often as I expected I was disappointed. [Was I in love and didn't know it or was I beginning to love?]

Once when I was sick he brought me some flowers. I carried them quickly to my room not wishing to let Auntie see them but yet glad he gave them. As they withered I remember I took a rose and pressed it though I smiled at myself for a sentimentalist as I did so. I kept it long but in the years that passed while he was away at Harvard I would not let myself care for it and lost it as well as the picture which Dora teasingly put in the back of my watch.