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[Submitter's Note: I have typed this just as it was supplied to me. I changed none of the punctuation or spelling of any of his words. This was written by my Grandfather-Frank McNair Wooten.]

Diary of Frank McNair Wooten
Mattoon, North Carolina
Age: 11 years old

Laurinburg, N.C.
October 21, 1888

Dear Uncle:

I take pleasure in writing you a few lines to let you know that we are well. I am going to school now at home and cousin Carrie Monroe is teaching.

Pa has been out canvassing the last two weeks and Mr. McGirt has been attending to his business at home. I made thirty dollars on my watermelons this year. We had a family frolic last night and we children tried to dance.

Mr. William Cellars died last Wednesday evening and was buried Thursday evening. Mr. Johnny Blake was married to Miss Ever Burns last Thursday night in the church at Maxton.

Write soon,
Your Nephew
F. McN. Wooten

March 9th, 1888
Hunter Mcarn and Dan McDougle came over to play croquet this evening with Cousin Carrie. Mr. Daniel McDougle and Cousin Carrie played against Mr. McArn and Lizzie. Cousin Carrie and her partner came out victorious as usual for every time Cousin Carrie plays, she come out victorious. The second game Cousin Carrie played with Mr. McArn. (Part of diary missing here)

On very well on both sides at the first play but Mr. Dan didn’t get through the centre wicket at the second play and every time he got in position, Mr. McArn would knock him out. They kept Mr. McDougle dead for nearly half an hour. I never was tickled so much as I was that evening. Every time Mr. Dan would go to strike a ball, Mr. McArn would say, “Dan, you can’t do that, you are dead”, and Mr. Dan would say “ yes, that is a fact, I can’t do anything but go in position” and every time he would get in position Mr. McArn would go and put him out. Mr. McArn made a mislick after awhile and Mr. Dan got through his wicket. Cousin Carrie and her partner came out victorious again and just as soon as Mr. McArn got out he put his hat on the end of his mallet and crowed, and he says, “Dan, why don’t you laugh? Mr. McDougle said, “ I don’t see anything to laugh at.”

March 10, 1888
Pa came home this morning from Raleigh and we were certainly glad to see him as he came home to stay. We went to Sunday school this morning and recited our lessons well. Lizzie, Birdie, and myself walked while Cousin Carrie and Mr. Dan McGirt rode. Cousin Carrie said that while she and Mr. McGirt were riding along, Mr. McGirt said, “ Miss Monroe, why didn’t you go to the party at our house the other night?” Cousin Carrie said she told him because her Uncle did not approve of young folks running around at night. (The Uncle she spoke of was my father). Mr. McGirt said, “ Oh, is that all, I thought it was because I asked you to go with me.” Cousin Carrie said the next time he says anything about her going with him she is going to say, “ haven’t I got a right to go with anybody I choose to?” Cousin Liz and myself went to preaching at Cetre Church this evening and we got there about three o’clock and left about twenty minutes past five. Our staying so long was owing to Dr. Hill’s long sermon. He preached about or over an hour. As we were going along to church there were three buggies ahead of us, and just as we got within a mile of the church, we had to cross a bridge across a large ditch. Upon the side of the road was a sign saying: “ This bridge is dangerous.” Mr. McGirt got down and examined it and said we could cross it on one side so we all got across safe and sound. Mr. McGirt rode in the front, his name was John McGirt.

March 11, 1888
This morning I got up at 10 minutes to five o’clock. I made a fire in our room and in Cousin Carrie’s room and one in the dining room. Then I went out and fed up everything and came back and got my bucket and milked a cow. We then ate breakfast and after dining, I milked another cow and after I got through with everything else, I went to school. The schoolhouse is in our yard and I got in school at eight o’clock. I and all of us recited our verses. (We always got a verse from the Bible and recited them just after we got school.) We then said our Geography and next came my grammar, arithmetic, science, and spelling. We then wrote and had Calisthenics. We then turned out at 12 o’clock. My schoolteacher’s name is Carrie Monroe. She came from Goldsboro and lived with her brother, Mr. Willie Monroe. He is a lawyer. I like her very much. I plowed part of the evening and helped to haul water on the compost pile. The way we put it on was to take a stick and drive it down and pull it up again and then we poured the water in these holes. I went to bed early that night.

March 12, 1888
I got up at five o’clock this morning, attended to my usual duties. Pa and Ma went to Maxton this morning, and Pa told me to raise the storeroom. I said I wouldn’t raise it very high. After they left, we had school in Ma’s room and I thought I’d cut up a little, so when it was time for me to get my grammar, I got my arithmetic and I couldn’t get my grammar, it was too long. I worried Cousin Carrie and worried her and I ought to have been ashamed of myself. After dinner I rode my colt some and then I turned him in the rye. I cleaned out the store as I was told, and then I went down in the field to see if I could get to kill a dove with my gun. I killed a hawk with two shots and shot at a dove but missed him. By the time I got to the house Pa and Ma had come and Mr. Dan McGirt had called to see him and when I got there he was playing croquet with Cousin Carrie and Lizzie. Pa got two pair of andirons and brought lots of flower roots from Grandma’s. Uncle Lawrence was better. We put the flower roots in the pit.

March 13, 1888
I got up pretty early this morning and attended to my duties and went to school as usual. After school, before dinner, Ma told me to fill up the pit to the first shelf, as it was full of water to the shelf. I did so before dinner. After dinner, Pa told me to help set out the flowers and so I did. I attended to my evening duties and sat up till after nine o’clock composing a composition with a title on “What Constitutes a True Gentleman”. I also had a nice time because Cousin Carrie was there. I always do have a nice time with her. I love her better than anybody or girl I mean on earth. I went to bed a little after nine o’clock.

March 14th, 1888
I got up this morning at five o’clock a few minutes later than usual. After I got up I found that it had been raining last night and is raining yet. I was to go to Maxton this morning after some peas for Pa but it rained so I couldn’t go. After dinner I went to Laurinburg after the mail.

Just as I got to the creek on the other side of our house and was going across old Beck (for that was the name of the mule I was driving) stopped and commenced to back. She liked to backed me in the creek. I liked to fainted but I managed to strike her a blow with the whip and she went across. I got the mail and the kerosene that I was sent for. I got pretty wet coming back, but never got wet going. After I got home and was warming myself by the fire, Mr. B.F. Little, a Life Insurance agent drove up to the gate and came in. He had been here several times before. He stayed here all night. I went to bed at nine o’clock.

March 15, 1888
I rose at 15 minutes to five this morning. I made five fires too and carried water in Mr. Little’s room. Mr. Little left around nine o’clock and I went to school. Pa went to Laurinburg this morning and got back about one o’clock. He got a new book for the store and a smaller one for himself to charge things on. He let me have one of his old ones that was not used up much. Pa told me to keep the account on the new book neat and I mean to do so. I made a large mallet and started a chicken trough but never finished it for lack of time. Pa went to the mill this evening and when he left here he told me to mix the feed if he did not get back in time. I shot a dove this evening but missed him. I call the doves Dutch and I am at war with them.

Saturday, 16th:
I rose early this morning and attended to everything. Pa gave me five dollars, $5.00, this morning as I was going to Maxton. I arrived in town about 10 o’clock. I got 3 bushels of peas, 5 cotton hoes, 1 pair shoes and stockings for myself, 1 pair shoes for Ernest, powder and shot. I brought out a box of chain that took two men to lift it for Mr. Gus McGirt. As I was going along John McKinnon overtook me and I had a pleasant chat with him. He said he killed about 35 squirrels this year and he said that there was a man below him that was going to plant ten acres in watermelons. I got home a little after two o’clock. When I got home Cousin Carrie and Lizzie had gone to Mr. Flower’s on a visit and to ask some of them to the quilting. I finished the chicken trough this evening. It was pretty warm this evening and we younger children pulled off our shoes and had a nice time running about.

I killed a Dutchman this evening. After Cousin Carrie and Lizzie got back they said that Mr. Flowers said somebody broke in their and Mr. Jim McLean’s potatoes and stole a few. I put a block on my dog to keep him from sucking eggs. Tom McNeil got back from Laurinburg and brought a rocking chair and extension table. I attended to everything assigned to me a little after sundown. I went to bed about 8 o’clock tonight. So this day is closed.

March 17th, Sunday:
I rose at half past five and fed up. I then got ready for Sunday school after breakfast. We rode to the schoolhouse this morning. I took up collection as usual for you must know that Karl McLean and I were appointed to collect the money. I had to do all every Sunday because Karl was scared somebody would laugh at him. We heard that there would be preaching at the schoolhouse this evening. Mr. McIntosh was to carry Cousin Carrie to Centre this evening so she did not go. We arrive at the schoolhouse pretty early. Jonah Russell was there. He is a Republican and some of the boys said where did Jonah come from? Mr. Ealic Shaw said that the whale threw him up on the shore.

Mr. Phillips preached and we had a very large crowd. His test was “It is impossible but offences will come but woe unto him through whom they come it were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he was cast in the Sea”. I liked his sermon better than any I have heard in a long time. We got home two hours by sun. Cousin Carrie and Mr. George McIntosh rolled up about dark. We went to bed early.

Monday 18th:
I rose 10 minutes to five. Attended to everything and went to school. After school, I cleaned out from under the raspberries and looked under the storehouse for eggs but got none. I had to burst up the floor to get under. Pa told me to burn off the watermelon patch this evening while he went to burn off some in the new ground. I burnt mine after a while and Pa left his to burn after setting it afire. After a while we saw a pretty large smoke, down towards the new ground and Pa sent me down there to see what caused it. When I got there the fire had crossed the fence and was burning on this side. I got some wet dirt and brushed it out. I then went to the next place and the fire was burning the fence like anything. I pulled it down on both sides of the fire, although there was a great many briars that tore up my legs pretty bad. This day closed.

March, Tuesday 19th:
The clock was stopped when I rose and I didn’t know what time it was. But I got up and made my fires and fed everything. After breakfast Pa told me to go around the pasture fence and see if any of it was down. I went down through the swamp and way round by Peters field but never found any down. When I got home I had a bad headache. I got home about 9 o’clock.

After school I put on some clean clothes and went over to Mr. McArns’s to tell Mrs. McArn to come to the quilting Thursday. It was Cousin Carrie’s quilt. Mr. McArn said that he didn’t know whether she could come or not. I had my gun along, and Mr. McArn was out in the field hunting birds. We did have a nice time hunting birds but they were so wild that we couldn’t get up with them. Mr. McArn killed one and I killed none. I got home after four and when I got home Ma and Lizzie were cooking pies. I forgot to say that I got above Birdie in the spelling class today. I had to milk Lizzie’s cow this evening. I went to bed after eight o’clock and so this eventful day closed.

March 20th, Wednesday:
I rose at ten minutes to five. Tom was sick this morning but is better now. We went to breakfast and Tom didn’t eat much. He went to bed after he got worse.

I went in the school and got behind the Library intending to scare the rest when they came in but I couldn’t do it for they knew my voice. After school Pa told Lewis to bridle my colt. After he was bridled I rode him some. We then put him up and I did some little jobs around the farm. I killed the old gobbler for tomorrow is the day we are going to have the quilting. I made a desk to go in my room. Lewis said he would make me a pair of Martingales tonight if I would give him the rings after I got back from the mill for I had to go to the mill after the meal. After I got back I burnt out two rings from some harness and gave them to Lewis.

March 21, Thursday:
I rose early this morning as I had a right smart to do today. I fed up and after breakfast I jumped up and ran out to the crib to get my martingales as Lewis was to bring them up this morning. I found them and then I fixed up a back band. I caught the colt for me and he rode splendid this morning.

The Quilters came early or not ver early either. We planted corn today and I dropped a while. I threaded needles for the guilters this evening. We had a kind of a party tonight. We played a lot of games:viz, Shakers dance, Weild the thimble, ( I dropped the thimble several times), and some others. We went to bed at 10 minutes past one o’clock. So this eventful day ended.

March 22, Friday:
I rose at five o’clock this morning and got through with everything. We finished planting corn at dinner. I rode my colt this evening. I took him out the gate and when he got out he just ran so fast that he threw me over his head. I had a very bad headache this evening and went to bed early.

March 24, Sunday:
I stayed home today owing to the affects of my getting thrown. Mr. McLean came over and took Cousin Carrie to church.

March 30, Saturday:
I planted 2 rows of my watermelons and Pa planted 3 of his.

March 31, Sunday:
I went to preaching at Montpelia. Cousin Carrie, Lizzie, and myself went. I had a nice time going. Mr. Hunter took Cousin Carrie home from church.

April the 1, Monday:
We planted or set out 6 rows of cabbage today.

April 3rd:
Mr. Hunter brought Miss Ora Thomas over to play croquet this evening. I didn’t play and I didn’t think she was very pretty.

August 14th:
Old Rose’s calf was born today.

Submitted by Brady Wooten Kerr