Beard, Helen Knapp and Minnie A. Beard
Manuscript Diaries of Helen Knapp Beard, of Pompey, Onondaga County, New York and her daughter, Minnie A. Beard, 1867-1872

Three diaries, as follows: 1. Diary of Minnie Beard, daughter of Helen Beard, 118 manuscript pp., and 16 manuscript pp. of memoranda, notes and cash accounts; entries dated 1 January – 22 December 1867; 16mo, pocket diary bound in original leather, three days entries per page format; entries written in pencil in a legible hand. This diary was written when Minnie Beard was a child of ten to eleven years old. 2. Diary of Helen Knapp Beard, 341 manuscript pp., and 5 manuscript pp. of cash accounts; entries dated 1 January – 28 December 1869; bound in original leather, 16mo pocket diary, one day entry per page, written in pencil in a legible hand. Mrs. Beard turned 38 years old while she was writing this diary. This diary, and the one listed below, detail the hardships and extreme amount of work responsibilities of a farmer’s wife and the mother of small children. 3. Diary of Helen Knapp Beard, 365 manuscript pp., and 4 manuscript pp. of memoranda, notes and cash accounts; dated 1 January – 31 December 1872; bound in original leather, 16mo pocket diary, one day entry per page format; entries written in pencil in a legible hand. Includes one tintype photograph (somewhat oxidized), measuring 2” x 2 ½”, of a woman, presumably of the diarist Helen Knapp Beard.

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Helen (Knapp) Beard (1831-1906) and her daughter Minnie A. Beard (1856-1881)

The 1870 Census finds Helen (Knapp) Beard enumerated in Pompey, Onondaga County, New York. She is listed as having been born in 1832, in New York. She is living with her husband Randolph Beard (born 1832) and their four children: Gertie (born 1855), Minnie (born 1857), Frankie (born 1859), and Robbie (born 1863). Randolph Beard is listed as a farmer. All the children are listed as attending school, with Helen keeping house. Randolph’s farm is valued at $12,000 and his personal estate at $3,000. Everyone in the household is listed as being born in New York State. The diaries tell us that Randolph farmed peas and barley, amongst other things.

The New York State Census of 1875 has the Beard family enumerated in Cortland, New York.  Helen is enumerated with her husband and her son Robert.  Randolph Beard is now listed as a furniture dealer and not a farmer. In the 1880 federal census Randolph is still listed as a furniture dealer and his son Robert a clerk. The family in 1880 is enumerated in Cortland, New York. By 1900, Helen is listed as a widow living at Cortland’s 5th ward in her own mortgage free home by herself.

The diary of 1869 is not signed, but in it the diarist states that on 6 April 1869 she turned 38. Helen Beard’s cemetery record at Cortland Rural Cemetery, Cortland, New York, shows she was born on 6 April 1831, in Pompey, New York and died on 17 October 1906, in Cortland, New York, thus the internal evidence in the diary matches the birthdate of Helen Beard. This 1869 diary further mentions Helen’s husband by name (Randolph) as well as her children by name.

The diary of 1872 is inscribed “Mrs. R. Beard,” and the diary of 1867 is inscribed “Minnie Beard.”

Helen A. Knapp was born on 6 April 1831 in Pompey, Onondaga County, New York. She was the daughter of Harry Knapp (1804-1891) and his wife Mary Hayden (1809-1883) who were married in 1826. Helen married Randolph Beard (1831-1899) in 1852. She died on 17 October 1906 at the age of 75 in Cortland, Cortland County, New York, and was buried in the Cortland Rural Cemetery.

Randolph H. Beard, Helen’s husband, was born on 24 June 1831, in Pompey, New York, and died 17 February 1899 in Cortland. He was buried there with his wife Helen. Randolph was the son of Beach Beard and his wife Frances Curtis (1798-1880). Beach Beard was from Harwinton, Litchfield County, Connecticut, and moved to Fayetteville, Onondaga County, New York. His wife Frances Curtis was from Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

      The children of Helen and Randolph Beard were:

Gertrude L. “Gertie” Beard (21 May 1854 – 24 June 1925); was born in Pompey, New York; she married Charles Houghton Price (1854-1931) in 1878; she died in Cortland and is buried with her parents.

Minnie A. Beard (29 May 1856 – 29 Dec 1881) was born in Pompey, New York; she married Seth Delevan Baker (1851-1918) in 1877; she is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Syracuse, New York, she died of a fever. Minnie is the author of the 1867 diary offered here. Minnie would have been a young girl of about 11 years old when she started to keep the diary, turning 12 on 29 May 1867.

Francis A. Beard (26 April 1858 – 7 February 1874), born in Pompey, New York; he died young (not quite 16 years) and was buried in Cortland Rural Cemetery with his parents.

Robert Huntington Beard (30 March 1863 – 24 November 1943) married Carrie M. Peck (1864-1904) in 1884. He married a second time in 1908 to Florence I. Weeks (1881-1959); he is buried with his parents in Cortland Rural Cemetery.

      Sample Quotes from Diaries:

Diary of Minnie A. Beard:

Monday, January 7, 1867

Did not wash. We had thrashers…Did not go to school because Gertie had the toothache. Uncle Alfred and Aunt started to go home.”

 

“Tuesday, January 8, 1867

Did not go to school because Gertie had the toothache. We had thrashers. It snowed and blowed all day long.”

“Saturday, January 12, 1867

Gertie went to the city and had her tooth out with Papa on a load of peas…it snowed.”

 

“Monday, January 14, 1867

Went to school. [Alma] took us up and we walk home and got real cold.”

 

“Wednesday, May 29, 1867

My birthday. Went over to Aunt Frank[‘s] baby, it is just as pretty as it can be.”

 

“Saturday, June 1, 1867

Went and see Papa work sheep. Aunt Frank come and staid all night and Kenie Senter and Kit Wheton came and staid in the afternoon.”

 

“Sunday, June 2, 1867

Did not go to church, Gertie and I staid home and took care of the baby. Cold.”

 

“Wednesday, June 5, 1867

Went to school, after school Dora Beard and I went a horse back ridin. Pleasant.”

 

 Diaries of Helen (Knapp) Beard:

 

“Sunday, January 4, 1869

Washed. Ranson and Kate came. Mary Garrett called. Dried my cloths outdoors for the first time in a long while.”


“Tuesday, January 5, 1869

Snowed. Cut out shirts went up to Mr. Wills in the Eve.”

 

“Sunday, January 10, 1869

All went to church. Was invited with Br. Hales to Mr. Ellis to eat prairie chickens.”

 

“Sunday, January 24, 1869

Went to Syracuse. A beautiful day got home went up to Br. Hales to sing.”

 

“Monday, January 25, 1869

Washed. Cut out Frank a calico dress, sewed what I could. Randolph carried Gertie to Fayetteville to school. This commences the school year. When she commenced one year ago we didn’t expect her to go so long.”

 

“Tuesday, January 26, 1869

Finished Frankie’s dress”

 

“Wednesday, January 27, 1869

Albert Garret and wife finished a shirt. Br. Hale delivered his lecture.”

 

“Thursday, January 28, 1869

Tired out got discouraged indeed went to work as hard as I have to, and do the best I know how it takes very little to make me feel bad.”

 

“Friday, January 29, 1869

Ironed. Ma and Pa here to dinner. They were invited to Albert G in the afternoon. Randolph has gone to Syracuse with his peas, he gets $2.”

 

“Wednesday, February 3, 1869

Carried the girls to school. Helped Randolph off to Fayetteville, scowered the kitchen floor, &c...”

 

“Thursday, February 4, 1869

Took me all day to do a small ironing. Very tired…”

 

“Friday, February 5, 1869

Made cake, cookies, fixed mince meat, a good sleep this afternoon, mended some this eve, a terrible stormy day.”

 

“Monday, February 8, 1869

Washed. Thrashers came this afternoon.”

 

“Friday, February 12, 1869

Gerty home. We are making her a Greek Empress Uncle Hunting gave her. The thrashers are gone, they have been here since Monday.”

 

“Sunday, February 14, 1869

The first Sunday in our new church, it is very pleasant. Rawson and Kate and Deal here to tea.”

 

“Tuesday, April 6, 1869

I was 38 years old. Hunting married in Church. We all had a pleasant time. Came back to Albert Smith’s to tea.”

 

“Friday, April 9, 1869

Gertie’s school closed. Randolph went for them. Robbie and I went up to Mrs. Kenions. We stayed to tea, walked home.”