Black History

Crime & Scandals


In 1919 Archie Spencer was 18-years old and kept a diary as he writes "to remember each item for reference." and faithfully recorded events daily for 52 years.

Archie was born in Minnesota in 1901. After moving with his family his family back to New York he left home at 15 to work for Curtis Aircraft in Hammondsport. During the next 2 1/2 years he lived on and off at home in between moves to Bath where he worked for Westinghouse, then to Buffalo, Toledo OH, Erie PA, Pittsburgh and Correy PA. In Pennsylvania he worked Correy Electric and Thayer's in Oil City,. Archie was 5'4" inches tall weight 140 pounds with a shock of thick dark hair.

On the South Howard Farm he lived with his parents Newell & Carrie Wentworth Spencer; and his siblings Evelyn, Shirley and Ward. Originally from Jasper, the family moved to Minnesota in the late 1890s and returning to Steuben County in 1913 living in Canisteo and later South Howard, roughly half-way between Canisteo and Bath. They farmed field crops, raised horses, rabbits and Poland China Swine.

These are the excepts of Archie's summer times on the farm and a few jobs in between. As we join the Archie - he has been in Corry and Oil City PA working. He is headed to south Howard after getting a letter from his mother, Carrie, that both his father and younger sister Evelyn are seriously ill. Archie himself is also ill.


Wed Feb 5 Got train. Landed in Corry (PA) then night in HOR.
Thurs Feb 6 Over ran to Cameron. Walk home 7 miles (?) Found all o.k. Got load of wood and other things.
Friday Feb 7 Went to Canisteo and Hornell got medicine and started taking sandlewood.
Sat Feb 8 Went to Bath came back. I am nearly dead with the pain. Some worried.
Sun Feb 9 Sawed a little wood stuck around all day. There can’t much happen here.
Mon Feb 10 Hauled a lot of wood. Dad got out.
Tues Feb 11 Done out some washing
Wed Feb 12 Got a load of wood. Not much happening,
Thurs Feb 13 Things are ok I am nearly well.
Friday Feb 14 Folks went to a dance at night. I got a letter from Corning.
Sat Feb 15 Went to Canisteo in forenoon. Got trunk and wrote a few letters. Dad cooked. (?) Mother sick.
Sun Feb 16 Went to Chases in afternoon.
Mon Feb 17 Did up house work. Went to Rosses at night. Sacks went home with Chases.
Tues Feb 18 Got a small load of wood in the forenoon. Laid around in the afternoon.
Wed Feb 19 Husked out some corn. Cut up some wood.
Thurs Feb 20 Done up chores. Fixed sled. Cut a load of wood.
Friday Feb 21 Got a load of wood in forenoon. Laid around in the afternoon.
Sat Feb 22 Went to Canisteo had an awful time.
Sun Feb 23 Laid around in forenoon got a load of water.
Mon Feb 24 Helped Mother wash.
Tues Feb 25 Got load of wood.
Wed Feb 26 Dad went to Wilson . Saved wood in fater (local slang for woods)
Thurs Feb 27 Went to Chases in the forenoon showed horse in afternoon.
Fri Feb 28 Showed horse in forenoon. Got load of wood in afternoon.

Sat March 1 Cut wood in forenoon and went to Canisteo in afternoon also to Gramas (Wentworth in South Canisteo).
Sun March 2 Was at Gramas and Gussie came home at night. Meet Sarah.
Mon March 3 Forenoon piled up wood afternoon cut wood.
Tues March 4 Cut wood in forenoon. Went to sale in afternoon. To Greeny at night. Started taking medic.
Wed March 5 Went to cut wood at 8 it rained. I husked corn all day.
Thurs March 6 Cut and piled wood all day.
Fri March 7 Wrote a letter to Green and Sarah. Hauled wood all day. Got letter from Clara .
Sat March 8 Laid around in afternoon. I came down with Greeny.

Sun March 9 Fixed rabbit’s pen in forenoon. Wrote some letters.Mon March 10 Worked in woods all day
Tues March 11 Went to Canisteo.
Wed March 12 Wilson saw in afternoon
Thurs March 13 Cut wood all day
Fri March 14 Laid around had a fine time at Rice (?) Dance.
Sat March 15 Cut wood all day seen blue spots all day before my eyes. Dad went to town after my medicine. Did not get it.

Sun March 16 Wilson Ross came over Jess Chase and Kenneth Rose came later stayed 8 p.m.
Mon March 17 Started fishing with Wilson. Dad went to Adrian and Hornell. Seen Waight went around town and also to farm
Tues March 18 Got some medicine from J.C. I am in some condition. Things look dull. Walter Rose came home. Kenneth came home.
Wed March 19 Fixed rabbit pens.
Thurs March 20 Got load of wood. Went to party/ sawed wood. Rob Stuart stayed all night.
Fri Match 21 Threshing beans started plowing for potatoes
Sat March 22 Started taking Blades Medicine. Husk corn in afternoon. Dad went to town. J.C.

Sun March 23, Got two loads of wood. One load of water Kenneth came up at night fix shoes for kids.
Mon March 24 Dad went to Bath with wood I split and piled the rest in the woods.
Tues March 25 Got three loads of wood and water.
Wed March 26 Dad hauled two loads of potatoes to Adrian. I went to Chases and fussed around
Thurs March 27 Dad went to Bath it rained hard. I stayed around the house all day.
Fri March 28 Worked all day for dance, got things ready. A few come.
Sat March 29 Don’t do more than necessary. I slept all day. Do no chores.
Sun March 30 Went to Rosses in the forenoon. Went to Chases in the afternoon.

Mon March 31 Dad went to Hornell. I got wood and water and I went to the Johnson’s

Tues April 1 Went to Canisteo and Hornell. Big parade. A big parade on for all the soldiers. Got more medicine - Blades.
Wed April 2 Went to Thompson’s forenoon. Put up potatoes in afternoon. Went to the Rosses.
Thurs April 3 Got load of wood. Sorted potatoes. Weighed potatoes.
Fri April 4 Dad went with potatoes. I worked potatoes, cut wood, husk corn. Killed hen. A heck of a deal.
Sat April 5 Husk corn. Dad went to Bath with wood. Went over to the woods got bark Sun April 6 Cleaned rabbit pen. Fixed rabbit. Cleaned hen house. Fix fence. Got wood Water set up all.

Mon April 7 Night with Raymours House. Cut up wood, Went to Howard in the afternoon. No luck.
Tues April 8 Cut wood in forenoon plowed potatoes in afternoon potatoes ground wrote green
Wed April 9 Rained some. I went to Adrian in Afternoon.
Thurs April 10 I plowed a little in afternoon. It rain on ad off in afternoon.
Fri April 11 Fussed around all day. Had dance at night. I took care of the horses and I left.
Sat April 12 Slept in forenoon fitted ground in the afternoon.

Sun April 13 Dad went around with paper I went to both Rosses. Bummed around all day.
Mon April 14 Bussed wood for Wilson. Dad went to Bath wrote to Greeney.
Tues April 15 Went to Hornell with eggs got med. Dad went to Thompson worked in forenoon
Wed April 16 Will this ever come to an end 4/16/20 (?) Grama was sick. The folks went I stayed and done Hwork
Thur April 17 Hauled out a load of manure dragged rolled plowed cut wood.
Fri April 18 Hauled stone, dragged, husk corn, Went to dance at Dibison’s (?)
Sat April 19 Went to Canisteo also to North Cameron, Avoca (?Avon) some fam (family?)

Sun April 20 Easter Just stuck around home eat 7 eggs. Planted potatoes in afternoon.
Mon April 21 Cut some wood. Things not clear.
Tues April 22 Vor here weather. (?) Planted potatoes 21 & 22
Wed April 23 Went after mother in afternoon
Thur April 24 Stormed most all day. Got load of wood for town.
Fri April 25 I went to dance night. Danced all Knight (sic). Stormed all day.
Sat April 26 Went to chases in evening, Took N. G. S. (?Aunt Nellie Gertrue Spencer?) back. Slept most all day.

Sun April 27 Dad and I cut wood in forenoon. Went to Rosses in afternoon also fishing.
Mon April 28 Went to Chases got hold backs Jess went to Hornell with me.
Tues April 29 Dad went again to Thompsons (?) Had a little party Chases. Hauled manure all day.
Wed April 30 Hauled manure in forenoon. Rolled clover in afternoon. Dead tired a night.

Thur May 1 Hauled manure fussed around plowed garden in forenoon.
Fri May 2 Went to Adrian at night. John Thompsons in afternoon. Hauled manure.
Sat May 3 Floted (sic) potatoes in afternoon. Hauled manure went to grand also to sleep.

Sun May 4 Slept until 3 o’clock went fishing with Jess to bed at 10.
Mon May 5 Hauled manure fixed fence babe (made?) manger went to Chases at night. Hungh (?) many baskets.
Tues May 6 Burned potatoes vines and dragged oat ground went to Chases at night.
Wed May 7 Rained in forenoon slept in afternoon Hauled manure M. Ross came over ask me to go went (Wentworth?)
Thur May 8 Dragged all day had a date with Chase D.P. no luck. Ran out of pills. J.C. (Jess Chase ?) was over.
Fri May 9 Went to Chases with drag in forenoon to Canisteo the rest of the day rained all day.
Sat May 10 Laid around most all day went to Chases in the afternoon.

Sun May 11 bummed around with Stanley most all day got load of wood in morning.
Mon May 12 Hauled manure all day wrote some letters
Tues May 13 Hauled manure all day received no mail went and got drag Chase.
Wed May 14 Plowed all day.Got letter from Canisteo on C.S. (older sister Cassie Spencer ?) no mail of importance
Thur May 15 Dragged in forenoon broke drag double tree. Dragged some in after noon a bit too.
Fri May 16 Plowed all day.
Sat May 17 Rained all forenoon. I dug ditches and went to chases in afternoon. Hauled manure pay Ed $1.00 for drag shoe.

Sun May 18 In forenoon went on sears place got the plow fixed ditch also plow in afternoon Ken Stewart.
Mon May 19 Plowed in forenoon also took plow home dragged in afternoon.
Tues May 20 Dragged most all day rained in afternoon.
Wed May 21 Things no clear. But I guess I hauled manure.
Thur May 22 Got plow from Geo Stewart. Went to Adrian afternoon and plowed until dark.
Fri May 23 Plowed on nolls it rained most of the day.
Sat May 24 Plowed in forenoon. Rained all day.

Sun May 25 Fixed docking in afternoon hauled wood and afternoon Kenneth and Wilson came.
Mon May 26 Went to Adrian vis Hornell some tired seen Blades. Got G.C. –M (mail?).
Tues May 27 Started to work for ERR (Erie Rail Road?)Worked an hr overtime. Night board started.
Wed May 28 Work on switch . Also fixed chicin (?) steps
Thurs May 29 Worked below on section fixed more steps. Walked home.
Fri May 30 Just lulled around all day. Fixed fence made garden went to Rosses walked to Adrian.
Sat May 31 Missed a days work on section. Mowed two lawns

Sun Jun 1 Frances and Fred came back. Will (?) Stewart came down, some kid.
Mon Jun 2 Worked all day some time at night with R. Silsby (?). Stayed with a France buddy.
Tues Jun 3 Worked on section made up my mind to work for circus. Don’t know. Came home.
Wed Jun 4 Worked. Nothing muched happening,
Thurs Jun 5 Worked the same.
Friday Jun 6 Fri Worked. Went to dance with Miss Chas Jackson. Did not dance.
Sat Jun 7 Worked. Went to Canisteo by freight. Got freight back to Corning found Carnival.

Sun Jun 8 Just bummed around Corning with greene. Greeney payed my fair back to Adrian.
Mon Jun 9 Worked, it rained a night
Tues Jun 10 Came home, walked up to Adrian. Worked all day.
Wed Jun 11 Worked all day cut grass for neightbors (?)
Thurs Jun 12 Worked all day. Haldey’s over the hill
Fri Jun 13 Worked all day. Had a talk with Frank decided to bunk in box car.
Sat Jun 14 Worked all day. Came home at night. Planted potatoes Rode up with Chase bought stove $2.00 John Thompson . (?)

Sun Jun 15 Planted potatoes in the forenoon. Greeney came in p.m. Bored some. Walked to Adrian.
Mon Jun 16 Worked on track rained some in p.m. Frank left car. I moved stuff in.
Tues Jun17 Finished moving into car. Worked all day. Papered walls.
Wed Jun 18 Worked on track things about the same. Went swim at night xx-car-ride 10-12.
Thurs Jun 19 Went home at night for eggs and corn. Got both. Worked all day.
Fri Jun 20 Came down to Brown’s crossing with Dad. Freight in the morning went to work from there. dance N.Gat. (?) night.
Sat Jun 21 Work all day at Rathbone. Same gangs at car. Got letter from D.P. at Buff Parks got car Ford wrote for mailing case (?)

Sun June 22 Stuck around shack all day on hopes Greeney would come
Mon June 23 Worked all day just for fun
Tues Jun 24. Don’t remember much.
Wed Jun 25 Worked the same as usual.
Thurs Jun 26 Worked all day went home at night vis Thompsons.
Friday Jun 27 Started to work. Got left so went to Hornell in Hope of work J.T. sometimeSat June 28 Worked all day had meeting at church some time Rev. Stanton Preached (?)

Sun Jun 29 Greeny came up from Corning. Went home. Decided not work after week out.
Mon, June 30 Just worked around. Greeny went back to Corning in morning.

Tues July 1 Put in ties on rail road. Not much doing. Got mail in case from NYC
Wed July 2 Mailing case went but worked for Rennolds section.
Thurs July 3 Worked all day on Rennolds sections got ready and went to Hornell waiglets (?)
Fri July 4 Got up and went to Glenwood inn stuck around in a.m. P.M. Rode freight up a night
Sat July 5 Built section in; Dad came to town to Adrian got stuff rode some ways with Mrs Chase

Sun July 6 Wilson came over. Just laid around all dayMon July 7 folks went away I cut wood in forenoon Mowed in afternoonMon July 7 folks went away I cut wood in forenoon Mowed in afternoon
Tues July 8 Fixed barn in afternoon
Bunched hay in afternoon
Wed July 9 Fixed barn in forenoon Hauled hay in afternoon
Thurs July 10 Cultivate in forenoon. Mowed in afternoon. Went to Adrian at night
Fri July 11 Bunched hay. Folks went to dance a night
Sat July 12 hauled hay all Day I went to Grange at night.

Sun July 13 Hauled Hay all day. Jess came down at night
Monday July 14 Sprawed (spaded?) potatoes And fixed binder In afternoon Sprawled potatoes in p.m. Dad cut wheat
Tues July 15 Cultivated some. Had a lot of trouble with colts
Wed July 16 Mowed a lot
Thurs July 17 Don’t remember. Wrote a lot of letters.
Fri July 18 Finished hay at Spencer.
Sat July 19 Finished haying at W. Ross. That all.

Sun July 20 Laid around some Went to Chases. Seen P and P.
Mon July 21 Fussed with the hay. I went to Adrian at night. Got a letter from D.
Tues July 22 Cultivate potatoes and mowed
Wed July 23 Hauled hay all day.
Thurs July 24 Mowed in after noon fussed around
Fri July 25 Mowed in forenoon. Bunched in afternoon. Got letter from Thayer Oil City
Sat July 26 Hauled hay all day rain is off and on . Sent letter to Thayer, Oil city

Sun July 27 Finished hay and went to Hornell vis Hornell
Mon July 28 Took 4:48 train out for Hornell to Oil City. Went to work at night.
Tues July 29 Went to work. Wrote Home.
Wed July 30 worked same
Thurs July 31 It rained at night went home with Ruth.

Fri Aug 1 Washed windows. Iceman threw ice pick through plate glass window.
Sat Aug 2 Worked all day. Turned in my quit notice.

Sun Aug 3 Work same dull. Ethel King of Correy came down
Mon Aug 4 Worked all day some hard. Got a date with Ruth all night.
Tues Aug 5 Got pay also morning train for home land in H (Hornell) about 2. Walked home.
Wed Aug 6 Went to Hornell just stalled around.
Thur Aug 7 Cultivated all day
Fri Aug 8 Cultivated, mowed and cut tomatoes
Sat Aug 9 Finished timothy Went to Canisteo with potatoes. Got R Hat, med, sox, tie

Sun Aug 10 Dug and picked up 11 bushels potatoes. Hauled in two pigs/fags of Thonathe seed (?)
Mon Aug 11 Dug and picked rest of load wt them in after dark.
Tues Aug 12 Went to Hornell and Canisteo Sold all of potato. Got J.C. (Jess Chase) wheel in trip.
Wed Aug 13 Made Dansville in 3 hours not much of a time got home 10 or 11
Thur Aug 14 Got another load of potato, Ready for market. Very stiff and sore
Fri Aug 15 Took load of potato in. Sold all in afternoon. Came home.
Sat Aug 16 Dug small load potatoes .Sold them in afternoon

Sun Aug 17 Claude Taylor was up. Just stuck around, broke cold. It rained in forenoon
Mon Aug 18 Went with Claude to Dudley’s to press hay. Got work in afternoon
Tues Aug 19 Pressed hay all day
Wed Aug 20 Pressed hay in a.m. noon. Went to Bath in p.m.
Thurs Aug 21 Pressed hay all day
Frid Aug 22 Pressed hay all day.
Sat Aug 23 Pressed hay all day. Came home at night hot.

Sun Aug 24 Came home fussed around. Went to Chase. Went to Buena Vista (Buena Vista -- A hamlet near the south town line .)at night
Mon Aug 25 Went to Bath with Claude in p.m. Vis Buena Vista. Pressed hay in a.m.
Tues Aug 26 Pressed hay all day.
Wed Aug 27 Laid around all a.m. Tore down porch and old house.
Thurs Aug 28 Moved to other Dudley’s. Pressed a.m. and p.m.
Fri Aug 29 Pressed again
Sat Aug 30 Pressed in a.m. Broke down p.m. Walk home vis Adrian seen aero plane..
Sun Aug 31 Went to Corning. Stayed with Greene. Went to post freight at night for Penn Yan.



In September he does just as he planned in June and heads out to .."Join The Circus...." check back later for what life was like for a farm boy who runs away to join the circus.