Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

The year is 1864. It is summer. The time is morning. Enter Sallie Meixell, a young woman.

Wearily, Sarah Rebecca Meixell trudges up the stairs to the attic of her parents’ home in Lewisburg, lugging the cradle Annie Cowden had used. After returning it to its proper place, she gratefully sinks down and falls asleep until noon. Upon awakening she hurries to McMahon’s Store to purchase pins and a dressing comb, quickly return­ing home to pack and board the train for her journey to Williamsport with Aunt Rebec­ca Moore.

It was a busy time for Sallie, this Commencement Week of July 1864 at the Uni­versity at Lewisburg, renamed Bucknell University two dec­ades later. Monday began with the arrival of the William Cow­dens and their infant and nurse. Since one of the trust­ees, Dr. Shadrack, and an alumnus, John Shanafelt, were also expected, Sallie “redd up” the attic so she, her sister Mattie, and cousin Mary Meixell, would have a place to sleep. Beyond her routine work, there were many prepa­rations for numerous guests at meals. Sallie finished her grenadine frock and helped some of the Institute girls with their dresses. On Tuesday she finished correcting Ella Parker’s graduation essay, attended choir rehearsal, then walked out to the college for the alumnae meeting, listening proudly as her good friend Lucy Bliss presented, “Our Duty as Alumnae in These Times.” From there, Sallie went to the family farm for butter and vegetables, hurry­ing because there was barely enough time to help with tea before the evening meeting of the Alumnae.

On Wednesday she at­tended the Theological Depart­ment’s commencement exercises in the Baptist Church, choir meeting, the Female Institute’s graduation exercises, and the anniversary program of the university’s Society for Moral Inquiry. Thursday was not quite as hectic. In the morning, she attended the university’s com­mencement exercises, helped with dinner, and spent the afternoon bidding farewell to her College and Institute friends, exchanging photo­graphs and promises to write. She had a musical interlude with her beau Tom Shanafelt before getting ready for the university president’s levee. Afterward, they ordered glasses of ice cream at Rhawn’s. When she got home, she found Mattie and her special beau Charlie Wolfe had gone for a stroll. Sallie spent an anxious hour awaiting their return which was climaxed by a particularly affectionate parting she and Mary ob­served through the window.

Charlie left on Friday for his one hundred days of serv­ice with the U.S. Army. Sallie helped her mother fix lunch for the Shanafelt brothers, who were also departing. When Hannah Bright and friends stopped by, obviously in a mood for fun, Sallie, Mat­tie, and Mary went with them to watch the buses go by on Market Street. The merry group left that diverting pas­time to climb down the river stairs and play on a raft before wandering out on the cross-cut canal dam to gather snails for Hannah’s aquarium. By Satur­day most of the house guests were gone. It was time to sweep and dust, and receive the stream of afternoon callers. Mr. Maul, Sallie’s very atten­tive gentleman friend, also appeared. The day ended unpleasantly, however, for, goaded unmercifully by her sister and cousin, Sallie threw dirty water at Mattie, then fled to the “little” room in which she locked herself.

Sallie Meixell did not feel well upon arising early Sun­day morning, and was pleased not to have to teach her usual Sunday School class. Resolv­ing their differences, she and Mattie sang a duet at church. After helping with dinner, Sallie spent the afternoon reading Rutledge. The follow­ing week did not promise much leisure with the upcom­ing trip to Williamsport, Jersey Shore, and Montoursville, but at least she would be the guest, not the hostess. She would enjoy visiting relatives and friends, recording all her adventures in her diary.

The diary of Sarah Rebecca Meixell, a gift of her daughter Ruth 5. Bliss to the collections of the Bucknell University Archives, is the window through which Sallie Meixell’s life can be observed to this day. The journal offers a heightened, eyewitness ac­count of the mid-Victorian era, which differs markedly from the idealized stereotype por­trayed in contemporary peri­odicals and novels. Sallie’s diary was not a secret, person­alized outpouring meant for the writer’s eyes alone, but was shared with her friends and beaux. It offers modern readers a rare, richly detailed record of the experiences of an educated, upper-middle class young woman who remained at home, active and produc­tive, during the crucial contest for our nation’s Union. Sallie documented her activities in an almost moment-by-moment account, noting names, places, exact times, and expenditures. The three volume manuscript opens on March 25, 1863, and concludes May 29, 1869. With few exceptions, Sallie made lengthy entries each day, end­ing just eighteen months be­fore her marriage to Elisha Shorkley. A frontispiece lists memorable events from 1859 through 1862, including Sallie’s baptism and her friend Kate Wolfe’s death. An appen­dix describes her five day visit to Washington, D.C., in 1894 to celebrate the thirtieth wed­ding anniversary of her be­loved friend Hannah Bright Jones. The journal highlights the intertwined backdrop of Sallie’s life: family, community, the Baptist faith, the Univer­sity at Lewisburg, and the nation.

Sarah Rebecca Meixell was born in McEwensville on June 12, 1844; her sister Mar­tha Elizabeth was born three years later. The Meixell family moved to Lewisburg when the girls were young, and both sisters attended the Female Institute where in 1860, at the age of sixteen, Sallie graduated at the head of her class. She was a resident graduate stu­dent in music and art from 1861 to 1865, and taught music for a brief period.

Sallie’s father, Joseph B. Meixell, born near Muncy in 1806, was a deacon of the Milton Baptist Church, and a founder and trustee of the University at Lewisburg. He purchased his brother’s patent rights to a threshing machine in 1833 and opened a factory in Milton, establishing several branches in various parts of the Commonwealth. In 1835 he married Mary Ann Moore, whose brother James Moore III, and brother-in-law Dr. William Ludwig, were also founders and trustees of the University at Lewisburg.

Chronic illness forced Meixell to dissolve his busi­ness in 1843. He first moved his family to McEwensville and entered into part owner­ship of a general store; later, he purchased a two hundred acre farm near Milton. In 1850 the family settled into a Fed­eral style, two story residence adjacent to the Lewisburg Baptist Church on South Third Street. Meixell also bought Brook Park, a farm located a few miles outside of town, from his wife’s brother James in 1858.

Advantageously situated on the Susquehanna River, Lewis­burg was a thriving commu­nity of about three thousand residents. Centrally located in a fertile valley well-suited to agriculture, this commercial and transportation center served as a focal point for economic and political affairs in the region. Prosperity had arrived with the cross-cut canal and was further strengthened by the coming of the railroad. In 1855 the mov­ing of the county seat from New Berlin to Lewisburg in­sured the town’s continued development.

The University at Lewis­burg, chartered in 1846, nur­tured the area’s intellectual and cultural climate. The insti­tution included an Academy, a preparatory school for young men; the College; a Theologi­cal Seminary to train Baptist ministers; and the Female Institute. Although non-de­nominational, the University was founded by Baptists who formed the nucleus of its gov­erning structure. Because it was the only Pennsylvania institution with a Baptist theo­logical division, the University at Lewisburg drew the atten­tion of prominent Baptist clergy and businessmen from throughout the Northeast.

The Meixells played signifi­cant leadership roles within the tightly connected realms of community, education, and religion. They were members of Lewisburg’s elite class and the growing University intelli­gentsia. Their residence stood, literally, in the center of the town socially, culturally, and geographically: shops were not far away; the Baptist church was next door; several other churches were nearby; it was only a short distance from the campus. Thus, the house was always full of friends and neighbors traveling back and forth from the College to church and the business dis­trict. The family frequently housed guests visiting Lewis­burg for church and University functions.

Young Victorian women – and Sallie Meixell was no exception – were taught the attractive dress and demure conduct of the era’s standard for true femininity were neces­sary steps on the road to ideal­ized wifehood and an economically secure, con­tented domesticity. They were neither to know about nor care what happened outside their homes. The perfect wife was to imbue her children with moral strength and create a haven of perfect calm where men could recover from battles with the evil in the world.

Sallie’s enviable position as a member of a genteel family demanded that she be the epitome of a well educated, well dressed, properly be­haved, highly cultured lady. Eloquent, and blessed with a pleasant singing voice, as well as proficiency in both piano and organ music, she was able to greet guests, conduct charming musical entertain­ments, and attend to the fami­ly’s correspondence. She always wore fashionable clothes, some of which were “shelf” purchased in Milton, but most of which were made by her or village seamstresses, from the latest patterns such as those featured in Harper’s. Her interest in dresses was exceeded only by her love of the bonnets she decorated as the seasons changed, adding the iridescent hues of fresh summer flowers or the bright flames of autumn leaves. As the weather turned chilly, she stitched quilted hoods. Sallie delighted in braiding Mattie’s hair, curling “waterfalls,” and “fixing” her mother for special occasions. Her everyday stock­ings were neatly darned, her gloves spotless.

Sallie strictly observed the rigid rules of etiquette in mak­ing calls, exchanging invita­tions, and welcoming a seemingly endless procession of visitors. Her meetings with young gentlemen were by formal introduction only. “Mrs. Bachus called on me,” she recorded. “Among other things, wished to ask permission to bring Mr. Townsend to be introduced and invite me to attend the ‘Junior Exhibition.'” The next day Sallie found “… Mrs. Bachus and Mr. Town­send in the parlor waiting. The gentleman was introduced, at close of the call proffered his invitation and it was ac­cepted.” She was frequently a guest at teas and soirees hosted by leaders of the com­munity, such as Congressman George Miller; the Billmeyers, manufacturers of canal boats and Buckeye Reapers and Mowers; and Eli Slifer, Secre­tary of the Commonwealth. Sallie commented on Col. and Mrs. Slifer’s “quartre­centennial” marriage celebra­tion on February 3, 1865: ” … pleasant time … although it was a large party it was a success and the supper grand – Mattie fixed my hair.” She was also a frequent visitor to the homes of university trust­ees, professors, and presidents.

Her background, proper behavior, and social graces admitted Sallie to a large but select set of contemporaries. She and her friends made sugar taffy, boated in the sum­mer, sleighed and skated in the winter, and gaily made the rounds of Lewisburg’s ice cream parlors, oyster saloons, magic lantern exhibitions, and tableaux. Her circle sent valen­tines, “april-fooled,” and “took advantage” of Halloween. They traveled out of town for picnics or gathered on Sallie’s front steps to share tidbits of gossip. Many evenings were spent in the Meixell parlor playing the piano, singing, and matching wits at back­gammon, authors, or old maid.

Sallie and Mattie Meixell invited their beaux to tea, and were serenaded in apprecia­tion. Often unchaperoned in their frolics, the sisters enter­tained young men until well into the evening hours and maneuvered situations in typical “belle” style. When Charlie came to call on Mattie, Sallie “skidaddled” into the sitting room so the couple could be alone. One evening she and Hannah schemed to leave Sallie alone with Tom Shanafelt in the darkened parlor. In an effort to juggle three gentlemen callers simul­taneously, Sallie got into “a peck of trouble” scrambling madly to soothe male vanities when she waited until the last minute before deciding upon an escort for the Commence­ment Week levee.

Showered by gifts and attention, Sallie refused to commit herself to any one suitor. Tom Shanafelt, George Spratt, John Probasco, and Jud Rowland were all worthy of her, for they achieved distinc­tion in their chosen profes­sions of law, medicine, and the ministry, but it was Web Maul whom she most favored. He challenged her intellect and awakened her sexuality. Theo­logical discussions turned to, as she succinctly put it, “flirta­tion, etc., etc.” She tolerated from him what would have been “condemned in others as coaxing.” Her confidence was shaken, though, when, be­cause of religious differences or her father’s disapproval, the happy couple became es­tranged, leaving Sallie baffled, angry, and humiliated.

The void in Sallie’s life was soon filled by Elisha Shorkley, an older man, well-established as a partner in the Geddes, Marsh, and Shorkley Foundry. Shorkley first visited in fall 1866 accompanied by Sallie’s friend, Bella Swisher. Three months later he called on her father, perhaps to discuss his intentions, his inventions, or the manufacture of reapers, an interest the two men shared. When Joseph Meixell unex­pectedly died the following week, “Lish” paid the custom­ary condolence call, but then dropped out of Sallie’s life for two months.

Elisha Shorkley eventually resumed his visits but Sallie showed no romantic inclina­tions. When he first proposed, Sallie declined. Persistent, he visited the Meixell house nearly every evening begin­ning in 1867; his efforts were not in vain, however, for fi­nally – three years later – on Monday, November 14, 1870, Sallie married him. Elisha left the foundry which had been his chief interest to assume management of the Meixell farm. Although there are no extant Shorkley diaries docu­menting the details of their married life, the dedication of a privately published volume given by Elisha to Sallie for a Christmas present in 1888 evidences his deep love and respect for her as his wife and mother of their four children.

Steadfast in her religious beliefs, Sallie was the prover­bial pillar of the rapidly ex­panding Baptist church, which she supported with her time, talent, and money. The church was central to Sallie’s routine. On Sunday she went to Sun­day School, two church serv­ices, and a choir meeting. On Monday and Wednesday she attended prayer meeting. Cov­enant meeting was held on Friday. On Saturday she par­ticipated in choir rehearsal and prepared her lesson for Sun­day School.

In Lewisburg, as well as throughout most of the nation, monthly concerts and lectures attempted to stiffen the moral fiber of young Victorian era women. Sallie served as secre­tary for the choir, played the organ, and raised subscrip­tions for the minister’s salary and a new church building. She sewed baptism robes and carefully tended the fuchsia beds and spirea she had planted in the church yard. Her consideration for others extended to the “darky” Sun­day School where she and her mother taught. Sallie, Lucy Bliss, and several young men of their set joined the Black residents for Christmas so­cials, Easter services, and the annual Sunday School picnic.

Not only did the church nurture Sallie’s spirituality, but it showcased her musical tal­ent and management skills as well. She organized the Sun­day School picnic, “engaging” butter and glasses at Kreamer’s, arranging transpor­tation, and readying the site at the spring. The church also widened her horizons. The Sunday School Association and Missionary Society meet­ings were held in Lock Haven, Jersey Shore, Williamsport, and Philadelphia. Sallie packed “a big box, a little box, a bandbox, and a bundle,” and traveled by carriage or train, either alone or accompanied by friends and relatives, to points as distant as St. Louis. During these excursions she stayed at boarding houses and private homes, faithfully at­tending services and meetings, yet always managing to find time for shopping and sight­seeing. In ‘Philadelphia she saw Masonic Hall, and the “Great Cathedral” on Eight­eenth Street elicited an excited exclamation she recorded for posterity in her diary. “Its grandeur goes beyond any­thing I have seen.” She visited the Northwestern Sanitary Fair in Chicago with its display of Harriet Hosner’s statues, join­ing the crowds to watch Ul­ysses S. Grant make his way to the exhibition. After shak­ing hands with President Johnson at a White House levee, she toured the Smith­sonian Institution, Ford’s The­atre, the Patent Office, and General Lee’s home.

The lure of faraway places and her touch of worldly mate­rialism notwithstanding, Sallie’s faith was never a hypo­critical sham practiced by mechanical rote. To her, ser­mons were infused with sa­cred meaning. She rated many as “excellent,” and identified the biblical text on which they were based. The baptism of Lucy Bliss held profound reli­gious significance. Sallie de­scribed with awe the sunny green summer vistas or frozen, fog-enshrouded winter scenes of immersions at the river. Upon hearing news that “made her blood run cold,” she prayed that God would give her strength, and also asked for support in resolving her differences with Web Maul. She was grateful for the resolution of a spate of prob­lems: “How can I thank God for His goodness unto me?”

Since the typical Victorian woman was confined to a separate, private sphere, close female friendships lent a vi­brancy and an undeniable flavor to an otherwise narrow existence. Classmates in wom­en’s educational institutions formed meaningful relation­ships that endured throughout their lives. As a founding member of the Lewisburg Alumnae Club, Sallie corre­sponded almost daily with many of her former school­mates, and visited the Institute several times a week, calling upon the principal nearly as frequently as she did the teachers and students. But of all these acquaintances, Sallie was most devoted to Hannah Bright.

Inseparable, Sallie Meixell and Hannah Bright met as often as three times a day to exchange patterns, flowers, and books, and to share secret thoughts. Hannah lived with her grandmother, and this became Sallie’s second home until Hannah’s marriage to Capt. Tom Jones. Sallie sewed “ruffling” and buttons on nightgowns for her friend’s trousseau, completed many of the wedding arrangements, and stayed at Hannah’s house several months later to help the couple pack for their move to Washington, D. C. Sallie shared Hannah’s joys – and her wrenching sorrow on the death of an infant daughter, Minnie.

There were other good friends as well. Lucy Bliss introduced Sallie to her first New Year’s party, “with Christmas tree and all.” a She became the role model for an independent woman. Mem­bers of the Bliss family were staunch abolitionists whose barn served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Lucy is reputed to have provided food and comfort to runaway slaves. When Lucy Bliss left home to become principal of the Highstown Female Semi­ nary in New Jersey, she and Sallie corresponded often. Another close friend, Mary Bell, had also been an Institute student, and her visits to Lewisburg were “jolly” occa­sions filled with fun and frivol­ity. The two “raised a rumpus,” stayed up all night whisper­ing, and locked Maul in the church, a clever trick which did nothing to sweeten his disposition, but amused the girls immensely.

Two of Sallie’s friendships were cut short. The deaths of Kate Wolfe and Mattie Tucker, members of her baptism class, were painful for her, and she always noted the May 1 anniversary of the trio’s common baptism date. Sallie often visited her friends’ graves as well.

Sallie was never too busy to stitch a balmoral, garibaldi jacket, shirt bosom, or a pair of wrist cuffs for her friends and neighbors. She “doctored” their sewing machines, shared slips of plants and sheet mu­sic, and traded the latest edi­tions of Godey’s, a popular nineteenth century magazine. She touched everyone’s lives, from the widow who ran boarding house, to the wife a of the university president. At the close of her life, Sallie was fondly remembered by towns­ folk and alumnae alike for her many kind acts and abiding loyalty.

While Sallie’s sphere was larger than that of most Victo­rian women, encompassing the rare privilege of advanced education, travel, and leader­ship roles in a great number of community organizations, it was her family that provided the basic training for woman­ hood. She needed to learn how to provide a comfortable home for one of the legion of suitors who would eventually become her husband. The cult of domesticity required careful sheltering of delicate young female blooms, but domestic­ity was not always a delightful schedule of leisure hours de­voted to reading romances such as Sophia Stephens’ urban melodrama, Fashion and Famine. Although she was reared in an affluent house­ hold with servants and hired daily help, Sallie was no Scar­lett O’Hara or Mary Chesnut, floating through her days unsullied by the dreary tasks essential to a well-regulated home. She performed the myriad duties associated with managing a busy household, and was left with full responsi­bility during her parents’ frequent absences for farm business or church-related activities.

Her work.swung between indoors and outside, manual labor and the lighter tasks of a regimented, formal lifestyle. It was spread among routine duties, seasonal toil, and prep­arations for entertaining visi­tors. Sallie “canned and jammed,” waited on guests, churned, made breakfast, dinner, and tea, and cleaned. There was the repetitive work of sweeping pavements, wash­ing dishes, cooking, setting the table, dusting, making fires, and scrubbing stoves. Wash day meant gathering up the clothes, ripping the seams of garments apart, bleaching, washing, starching, wringing, hanging up and taking down, sprinkling, ironing, and re­sewing. It is little wonder Sallie got a “stitch” and could not straighten her back after sweeping the parlor or wiping walls. Her day usually began at six o’clock and continued long past midnight. Much of her work took Herculean ef­fort. Outside she milked the cows, trimmed trees, dug the garden, weeded, boiled soap, carried plants inside at the end of the summer, and helped pack the winter apples for storage. She picked strawber­ries and gathered acorns in the woods. Inside work could be equally exhausting. Sallie helped put up and take down the parlor stove; she moved her bed from one room to another, beat carpets, and scraped sausage skins.

Although she was often tired, doctored regularly for toothaches and skin rashes, and admitted having “doleful” days, Sallie seldom com­plained. Her labor tran­scended drudgery, for much of it was a symbol of her caring about others. She framed pictures, arranged flowers in a cornucopia, sketched designs for slippers she embroidered as gifts, and made “appleseed mice” for Christmas. Beading, braiding, tatting, quilting, and knitting added ornamental touches to her home and her friends’ lives. Whether making traveling dresses or drawers, sheets or shrouds, Sallie genu­inely enjoyed giving of herself. To see Sallie merely as a housebound domestic man­ager, however, is to miss the broad sweep of her period. Her affection for family and friends spilled over into in­tense caring about the larger world around her. She was cognizant of community tensions, and kept abreast of the rapid swirl of national events by reading local and Philadel­phia newspapers and by sub­scribing to many periodicals and journals.

Following her mother’s example, Sallie attended vari­ous political meetings, listen­ing attentively to the Copperheads, then hearing Democratic arguments coun­terbalanced by Republican voices. Her interest in politics soon blossomed into an assert­ive stance on local affairs and issues affecting the entire country. She gave the “princi­pal address” when the choir held an “indignation meeting,” argued Freemasonry with the family physician, and attended lectures on the controversial Freedman’s Bureau. Even though she firmly upheld the principles of the Union League, Sallie vigorously defended the minister of her church when many in Lewis­burg suspected he held sym­pathies with the South.

The war crept from the church, where Professor Curtis preached “Rebellion is the Sin of Witchery,” to the parlor, where Sallie decided to prac­tice Picket Guard for her music lesson. She and her friends sang Maryland, My Maryland, while the local companies marched off to the Civil War. Upon their arrival in Harris­burg, the student soldiers sent Sallie a souvenir piece of hard­tack. But in time the melody changed to Officer’s Funeral.

The thrill of uniforms, ro­mantic gifts, and boldly stolen kisses diminished with the onslaught of trepidation and grief. After Sallie read a letter to Hannah from Captain Jones, the two friends had a “sober talk.” Tom Shanafelt was conscripted. Friends were wounded or reported missing in action. Andrew Tucker was killed at Gettysburg. Sallie dutifully recorded the “very bad war news.” She immedi­ately thrust herself into the serious business of the home­front, working for the Lewis­burg Soldiers’ Aid Society making haversacks, canvass­ing the town for provisions, crocheting caps, and “machin­ing” red flannel shirts.

Much like the rest of the community, Sallie Meixell was wildly jubilant when news of the South’s surrender reached Lewisburg. She ” … spent the evening running around” while martial music blared, bells rang, bonfires flared, and flags “of all sizes and descrip­tions” waved. How quickly, though, the residents of Lewisburg fell silent when they learned of Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. As bells tolled, a dreary, dismal rain added to the gloom. Sallie was so deeply affected she tried to write a letter, but could not. Although she “forced herself” to make new hall carpeting, she wrote, “We could talk nor think today but of one thing.” Expressing sor­row in both word and deed, her eloquent tribute to Lincoln conveyed her sense of loss as much as the sombre black fabric she draped in the church for the president’s memorial service: “Never in any nation’s history have so many tears, and so much true mourning been given to any man.”

In concert with the nation – sobered and saddened by conflict, bowed down under Reconstruction, and shocked by the murder of a president – Sallie strove to pull the pieces of her life together. The horror of war, loss of her child­hood friends, the confusions of courtship, and the death of her father, accelerated her maturation. She was plunged into full adulthood status. “At fifteen minutes of 11:00 I was ‘Fatherless.’ To me how bitter a word. Then for Mother’s sake I had to do the work keeping my mind clear to give direc­tions and get the things needed.” In true Victorian fashion, Sallie’s mother and sister Mattie took to their beds, leaving Sallie with the entire burden of making the funeral arrangements. Following her mother’s legal renunciation, Sallie assumed more responsi­bilities and served as executrix of the estate and head of the shattered household.

Although young girls are never entirely ready to take the final step into womanhood, Sallie was better prepared than most. Perhaps because of his chronic illness and the lack of a male heir, Sallie’s father had given her more responsibilities than the typical Victorian daughter. She had written his business letters, attended to banking and legal matters, and was included in “money talks” and “poor discussions.” She had accompanied her father to negotiate major household purchases, and had hired and supervised the servants. Her mother believed Sallie had been “trained up in the way she should go.”

Probably condemned by some as a hoyden, Sallie ran at life at full-tilt, never losing her intellectual curiosity, the joys she found in nature’s beauty, and her fundamental love for humanity. Sallie’s eyes were wide open. She had found confidence, not in youth’s fanciful dreams, but in the truth of her own mature real­ity. I “watched the most beau­tiful and perfect rainbow I ever imagined,” she recounted. “I could see the veritable ‘end.’ both, in fact, close beside me, but failed to find the pot of gold in which my childish belief had put full confidence.”

Sallie Meixell was no longer a child. The enthusiastic girl who rhapsodized over a cozy sleigh ride to Danville with Web Maul now managed a farm and a family. The American Agriculturist supplanted Peterson’s Ladies’ National Maga­zine, just as the Grange and the Good Templar Lodge, a temperance organization, replaced the Blue Stocking Club. The free spirit which had once reveled in riding across meadows “hoopless” and “daddy-fashion,” and snickered at guests who “gas­sed” late into the night had metamorphosed. Gone was the unconventional girl who had broken the lock off the church tower to climb up into the spire for a better look at the flood of 1865. The unre­pentant Sallie, recipient of a “regular ‘Fourth of July’ scold­ing” from irate parents, was only a memory recorded in her diary. The young lady of Lewisburg had grown up.


Diary Entries

October 21, 1863
Grand day in Lewisburg. Curtin and Lincoln Jubilee & Ox roast. Evening illumination and torchlight parade. Busy all morning getting apparatus ready to illume the house. At times Mattie, Father and Uncle Hewett Helped me …. Very busy to get my lights ready by 6 1/2 o’c ….. There was a whole “forum” of folks here to tea did not know them. Went with Tom S around town to see the Illumination procession, hear band, & etc & etc. A most beautiful day & evening, but I am awfully tired.

April 11, 1865
…. Professor Townsend’s lecture. Subject “Courtship and Marriage.” It has put some rather sober thoughts into my brain.

October 14, 1868
Mr. Shorkley in …. The discussion is a very important point to ourselves …. Do we know wherein we walk and the effect of our very least words. My constant prayer is that Our Father would guide me in all.

June 15, 1863
Bad war news. Lee’s reble cavalry are making a raid into Penna. The Militia are called out.

July 6, 1863
Glorious war news. The rebles are driven out. But our town comps. have suffered terribly. Reported Major Tom Chamberlin, A. G. Tucker, Capt. Charley Evans etc. etc. killed, wounded or missing.

April 10, 1865
This morning the news came that the rebel Gener­al Lee had surrendered his army and such a time of rejoicing I am sure this town has never seen. Flags of all sizes and descriptions were displayed everywhere this aftn. At 4 112 all the bells were rung for almost an hour and the firing of anvils has not ceased since. now bonfires, burning balls, martial music, and noise and racket I spent the evening running around with John Probasco, Mattie and Charlie viewing the excitement. Past ten o’c now & the noise as great as ever.

April 15, 1865
The terrible news came that President Lincoln had been assassinated last evening while sitting in his private box in Fords Theater. The bells were tolled. Stores closed. and flags draped in mourning. It has crushed us, saddened every heart. even strong men shed tears & muttered vows of vengeance have sunk down deep in the hearts. During the day I forced myself to shake the new hall carpet and put it down. Aftn gave Tom “his birthday present,” a white lily. Father took him up to the Milton ferry …. Tried to write to Mary Bell but could not. To add to the gloom a dreary, dismal rain set in continuing all day. this evening falling in torrents. We could talk nor think today but of one thing. Never in any nation’s history have so many tears, and so much true mourning been given to any man. At the same time an attempt was made to kill Secretary of State Seward in his bedchamber, confined to his bed from injuries received in a late “runaway.” Also his son the Asst Sec & several attendants.

April 12, 1865
Cleaned house all day. At tea Mat provoked me into an awful passion & I threw a glass of water in her face. Milked. I am too tired & my eye pains me too badly to go to meeting. am going to bed.


For Further Reading

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. New York: NAL Pen­guin, Inc., 1983.

Baker, Jean H. Mary Todd Lin­coln: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1989.

Baym, Nina. Woman’s Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and about Women in America, 1820-1870. Ithaca: Cornell Uni­versity Press, 1978.

Cogan, Frances B. All-American Girl: The Ideal of Real Womanhood in Mid­-Nineteenth Century America. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989.

Kalp, Lois S. A Town on the Susquehanna. Lewisburg: Colo­nial Printing, 1980.

Motter, Frank Luther. Golden Multitudes: The Story of Best Sellers in the United States. New York: The Macmillan Com­pany, 1947.

Nicholson, Shirley. A Victorian Household. London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1988.

Rothman, Ellen K. Hands and Hearts: A History of Courtship in America. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1987.

Santmyer, Helen Hoover. And Ladies of the Club. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1982.

Snyder, Charles M. Union County, Pennsylvania: A Bi­centennial History. Lewisburg: Colonial Printing House, 1976.

Sutherland, Donald E. The Ex­pansion of Everyday Life, 1860-1876. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.


The authors wish to thank the director of library services of the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library, Bucknell University, and the Bucknell University Archives for permission to quote passages from the diary of Sallie Meixell, as well as for providing illustrations for this article.


Nada Gray, researcher and lec­turer on Victorian era holidays, is a graduate of the University of Missouri. She is borough man­ager of Lewisburg and serves on the boards of the Slifer House Museum and the Pennsylvania Historical Foundation. She is the author of Herald Angels (1982) and Holidays: Victorian Women Celebrate in Pennsyl­vania (1983), in addition to an article entitled “Pennsylvania’s Gift: The Decorated Tree,” which appeared in the winter 1985 edi­tion of Pennsylvania Heritage.


Doris Dysinger, former teacher of English, is the Special Collections/Archives assistant for Bucknell University, where she is a candidate for a master of arts degree in American studies.