Josiah P. Woolsey's Daybook

Ellis County TXGenWeb Banner

Pioneers of Ellis County

Josiah P. Woolsey's Daybook

Contributed by Faye Woods


The following information is copied from a daybook kept by Josiah Patterson Woolsey presently in the possession of my sister as part of her inheritance from the "estate" of our grandmother, Reana Woolsey. It contains mostly day-to-day accounts of items bought and sold by JP Woolsey, who was not only a farmer but also a furniture maker. Entries written in pencil have become so faded they are illegible. In addition, entries are not made chronologically and I have changed this in my transcription whenever possible. Some blank spaces on pages contain entries made at a later date by other people.

JP Woolsey wrote most of the information but there are entries by his wife, Naomi Laura Billingsley Woolsey and apparently his oldest son, William Young Woolsey,  who seems to have come into possession of the book after his father's death. William recorded a few business transactions but most of his writing consists of random sentences and doodling. He had an extremely flowery handwriting, but his spelling wasn't any better than JP's. He wrote Synthia Ann Woolsey's name in several places. On August 27, 1861, 23-year-old William Y. Woolsey married 21-year-old Cynthia Ann Hurst in Ellis County. Either William didn't know how to spell his wife's name correctly or the person listing the marriage in official records assumed it was spelled in the traditional way. William was home on leave in March 1864 and approximately nine months later, he and Cynthia had a son [probably Samuel Harrison Woolsey]. At some point, the book came into the possession of JP's youngest son, John Newton Woolsey, but I do not think John wrote in it. It is not clear just when the book finally came into the hands of John's daughter,  Reana Woolsey. She made a few entries, and also tried to ink over some of the fading pencil writing. Two of her brothers wrote their names and some dates. I have not corrected or changed JP's spelling. Letters or words in brackets [ ] are my additions to or interpretations of what was written and there are some entries which I just can't decipher. Throughout the book, Josiah Patterson Woolsey always refers to himself as JP - nowhere did he write his full name. One of the first entries is  " J P Woolsey is my name."

The earliest date listed is 1841, but since it was written over in ink, I suspect it was actually 1847 and the next entry was August the 20th - 1847. The following paragraph was originally written in pencil and has been copied over in ink to made it more legible. Because of that, I can't tell for sure whether the paragraph was originally in JP's handwriting.

James Woolsey was borned June the 29th 1823 and left home the 7th November 1846 and landed at J. P. Woolseys on 26 June and left on the 10 of December and returned home the 10 of August 1847 and will leave one [on] the 22th June. [I surmise James was either a younger brother or cousin of JP's who came for a visit].

The daybook was not used as a diary or journal of day-to-day activities other than noting financial transactions with two exceptions. He devoted two pages near the end of the book describing weather conditions on the first day of each of twelve months, and wrote the following information about a period of time when he was a trustee of a local church.

1853. A Record of the Proceedings of the truseus [trustees] of shilo [shiloh] congregation. Filip [Phillip] Chapman, James A. Lauthlin & J. P. Woolsey was elected by saide congregation and J. P. Woolsey was elected by saide trustees as cleark [clerk.]<
August the fourth, the trustees met and agreede and employed John Hurst to sink a well at the shilo campground twelve feete for which was agreed to give him two dollars per foot.
[The rest of this paragraph is written in pencil and only part is legible] ......Philip Chapman imploid [employed] to dig at the well another one foot & half for wich he was paide two dollars per foot.
August the 13th 1853. A hous[e] be bilt by the trustees to Elbert C. Newton A. R. Newton & J. P. Laughlin for the sum of five hundred & 15 dollars with an addition of 10 per cent for collecting the money which amounts to $575.00. The hous [sic] is to bee 40 by 30 ft squear 10 ft high out of good materials finisht in workman stile for the complesion of which the trustees hold a bond for a hundrid dollars as a forfet [forfeit]. The hous is to bee finisht in 6 mont [sic] from the above date.
Marth the 11th 1854. The trustees meat and examin the hous, and receive the same alowing the edisional [additional] sum of twenty five dollars to be raisd by the undertaken to pay for addisional work to be done on the hous.
June the 4th 1854. The old meating hous sold to Henry Beegum bey the trustees for 5 dollars beaing the hiest bid.
August the 1st 1854. All turned oout of offis [office] so I shall quit.

Excerpts from ledger pages:

1853: to R. King to preach $ .50
1858: Work done on the church - $12.00
June 1858: Beef for camp meeting $5.15
Camp meeting espences - 1.30
Jesse Billingsley commenst to work hear on the 2nd day of November 1854.

Most of the rest is in his handwriting.

May the 3 1860
J. P. Woolsey
Ovilla Texas
July 19th 1864 one day after date I promise to pay synthia ann Woolsey five thousand dollars for value received of her baring [bearing] at the rate of ten percent until paid. This given under by hand and seal William Y. Woolsey
Twelve months after date I promise to pay s. A. Woolsey ten dollars and ten cents for value received of her baring [bearing] at the rate of ten percent after July 1864. Given under my hand and seal William Y, Woolsey July 20th. [I suspect this was written in jest].
William Young Woolsey was bornd December 1st 1837
Mary Woolsey was bornd Ark year of our lord 1839
Synthia Ann Woolsey was bornd July the 9th 1840
[No information so far on Mary's identity]. James Henry Woolsey May 29th 1864  
[I don't understand the significance of this date]
William Y. Woolsey received furlough from the 13th day of Dec to the 13th day of January 1864.
William Y. Woolsey has a leave of absence for twenty-five dayes this the 18th day of March 1864.
J. P. Woolsey died the 17 day of April A. D. 1959.
[{written in William Woolsey's hand].
[Written Diagonally over writing on some pages:]

State of Texas County of Ellis January the 22nd 1865. William Young Woolsey
Samuel Harison Woolsey was borned on Dec the 9th AD 1864
[probably his son].
William waxed poetic in a few places: A man today in rich array, tomorrow may be laid in clay. And Death, the monster sting.
Near the end of the book, several names were written by William Woolsey:
Woolsey J. P. William Y. Woolsey
Samuel W. Woolsey
James H. Woolsey
John N. Woolsey
Jane E. Woolsey
Arena S. Woolsey
[These are the names of his brothers and sisters. Sister, Matilda is not named. I wonder if she was still living?]
Synthia Ann Woolsey was borned July 9 When will the war be over
When will the war be over

William Y. Woolsey was borned Dec. 1st 1839
February the 29th 1862
[there was no 29th that year] One day after date I promise to pay Wm Y. Woolsey ten hundred thousand million dollars for value received of him this given under my hand and seal C. T. Book {Obviously written in jest - on opposite page possibly in JP's handwriting:] March the 21st 1858
One day after date I promise to pay J. P. Woolsey one hundred thousand dollars with ten per cent per anum from date given under my hand and seal. S. Foot
{Following probably written by Naomi herself] Naomi Woolsey the wife of J. Pl Woolsey & Naomi Billingsley [sic] was married on the 20th of October in the year of our lord 1836 and now lives the 39th of April in the year of our Lord 1850.
This is May the 24 1902 J. J. Woolsey was bornd in 1882 [Jesse Josiah]
Jesse Woolsey 23 years old
Jim Woolsey 23 years old
Toll Woolsey 21 years old
Rosa Woolsey 11 year old
Susen Woolsey 17 years old
Reana Woolsey 14 years old
[Probably written by Reana or possibly Rosa. Susan would have known how to spell her own name right!]
Jan the 19 1904
Jess Woolsey age 21 years
[Following in different handwriting]Jess Woolsey Died 1907
Hamilton Texas
J. I. Woolsey 1955
[James Isaac "Uncle Jim}.
[At the end of the book Martha Arreana "Reana" or "Rena" Woolsey, wrote:
This is Friday Sept 13th 1957 A. D. this was my Granpa's book. I am his granddaughter Rena by his son John Newton Woolsey who died in May 1905.


Copyright © 2004-2016, Ellis County TXGenWeb. All Rights Reserved.


This page was last modified: Monday, 10-Sep-2018 10:23:11 MDT