Pieces of the Past
Artifacts, Documents, and Primary Sources
from Letchworth Park History

A Study of Daily Life At The Glen Iris

Part II

Mary Anne Crozer, the widowed sister of William Pryor Letchworth, lived at the Glen Iris from 1877 to her death in 1893.

This is the second part of our look at the Crozer Diary, which includes actual passages as well as our commentary. Click here to see our full introduction and diary passages.

Glen Iris before the work in the diary began.
Click here to see an "after" view

Further Notes on Daily Life at the Glen Iris
More excerpts from the diary of Mary Anne Crozer

By Tom Breslin

I will try to distinguish my words from Mrs. Crozer's and hope I can do that by just starting out with the day and date when quoting her diary, and with the use of parenthesis or brackets , quotations and italics.

A note that I found interesting was from May 11th, while William was off to Batavia, she was moving a bedstead and part of it fell on her foot. On June 5 th she comments that it is a rainy day and she sat with her foot on a chair most of the day, then on June 21st there is a note that the nail came off her hurt toe. This is a woman who reports walking in the woods to gather flowers and ferns and pretty things and walking up to "the cars" meaning the railroad station on the east side of the Erie High Bridge. Lots of gumption for a woman her age because walking is not all she comments on. She is also cleaning at Glen Iris and the Swiss Cottage, picking berries and cherrys and making preserves from them, entertaining their guests etc.

She often mentions "people on the lawn" and sometimes gives a number. On Nov 2, 1877 she says "in looking over my memorandum of the number of persons to have visited the lawn and falls since we came here in May I find 4170." Does that seem like a lot of people to you to have wandering on your front lawn during the summer? What is even more astounding is the number of times she comments to the effect that some were invited to tea, and children were given milk "which they seemed to enjoy".

I did a count for the month of July 1877 as best I could and found that 9 people visited for longer than overnight and 10 visited but not for overnight and this does not count the 300 that were counted on the lawn on the 4th of July. One day she commented that a company of Shakers were there during the afternoon. On the 18th she made coffee for a group from Warsaw that were visiting the Council House. Late this same month there was a railroad strike for about a week and the only thing that ran was the mail train and still they had visitors.

Sunday July 22 she states that they returned home from Church and spent the day by themselves and it was the only sabbath without company since she had come to the Glen which was May.

"Friday(July 20th 1877) We assisted at planting a White Oak on the new part of the lawn. The men brought the tree down with the oxen. Dr Anderson & wife, Dr Foyet(?), brother William, Miss Cartwell, Ella Smith, Lillie Howland, Mr A. Crozer, Mr Lucas Granger (+one unreadable name) were present. {This in probably the huge white oak that still stands on the left as you descend the hill to Glen Iris and is identified by the Park staff as a historic tree.} A Mr Humphrey & family from Warsaw were on the grounds this morning. Their horse broke loose and went off which created some alarm ­ brother sent one of his men in search of the horse and he was soon bought to his master...."

At about this time in August she begins making comments that relate to the changes to be made to Glen Iris in the way of remodeling and I will list them by date as she makes mention.

"Thursday the 9th Wm made a bargain with a man to make a cellar under the whole house.

Friday 10th. A carpenter Mr Smith was here to dinner. He is planning for altering our house.

Saturday 25th Masons commenced laying wall at the entrance this week, also commenced digging cellar under the library.

Sunday 28th Commenced putting things away in Josiah's room preparatory to taking down the chimneys.

Saturday Sept 1 Rainy part of the day. Suppose the rain is needed but it makes hard work for our cellar we are digging. William returned this afternoon - brought plans for altering the house.

Monday 6th Commenced digging the cellar under the kitchen

Wednesday 12th Carpenters came today and commenced their work.

Thursday 20th the carpenters are making plenty of noise in raising the roof. I wish they had more help

Saturday 22nd ..the carpenters made so much noise we were almost deafened

Wednesday 26th the men are getting along nicely with the house. The chimney in the middle of the house has been taken down

Monday Oct 1st Our days are so full of business - carpenters, masons, and diggers - scarcely a place to sit or stand.

Friday 5th Our chimney in the library is finished and the one in the middle of the house is to the first floor.

Tuesday 15th finished the middle chimney this afternoon.

Wednesday 16th Masons topped out the small dining room chimney and we moved the kitchen stove into the dining room while they were (unreadable) the kitchen chimney. New cistern finished and the old one repaired so that we will have plenty of rain water when the pipes are attached.

Thursday 17th Window being made in the dining room today

Saturday 19th We have our kitchen chimney finished and the kitchen stove up ... and a good coal fire in it which makes things seem wonderful.

Monday 30th Mr Harding commenced laying the piers for the porch.

Nov 12 Brother's rooms had the first coat of plastering put on - it seems as if it might be a long time before we are all settled at home again."

That ends the commentary on the house remodeling and the end of the available copy for the year 1877 , the year when she first moved to Glen Iris.


Also see

A Study of Daily Life at the Glen Iris

A Glimpse of the Glen Iris

The Letchworth Genealogy

A Glimpse of William Pryor Letchworth

Historic Photo 32



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