Photo of four Siglin family members

Diary 1862, Part 2: The writer’s identity

See part 1 of this story for the background on this family diary and why I questioned its authorship.

Whoever the writer is, it’s certainly not Catharine’s husband Amos, unless he’s in the habit of referring to himself in the third person.

a wet and Slopy
Amos and John went
to singing but was none


John and Amos helped
Kimpler husk corn
rained hailed and
frose Jewitt stoped
fluted for us


cloud and cold
i took some sowing
to Fetherbees
Amos and John built
the schoolhouse fence


The writer seems to be close with their parents.

whent to the grove
John helped Father
John hunt was here
with a cumpeny


astormy morning
whent to Adrins
rained hailed
and snowed whent
to fathers paid Mother 30


modrate again
took home the sausage
stufer and agut [a gut, presumably for sausage making]
Father was down in
evning for his mail


The writer has not just parents but an uncle – Uncle Adam – nearby.

avery pleasant
morning uncle was
all day at home


still rains and frees
made a drag [a sledge? or a harrow?] for nick uncle Adom
here Snows like


whent to singing
Howlitt came home
with us uncle came
down in the evning


I knew from my grandmother’s genealogical work that Catharine Siglin’s parents were William Sutton and Barbara (Miller) Sutton. The 1872 plat map for Willow Township, Lee County, shows William Sutton’s land right across the way from that of Catharine’s husband Amos, and an Adam Miller right next to William Sutton.

Diagram from 1872 plat map
Diagram based on Willow Creek Township map from
Combination Atlas Map of Lee County, Illinois (Everts, Baskin & Stewart, 1872)

But is there any evidence that the Adam Miller on the map was related to Catharine’s mother, Barbara Miller Sutton?

In fact, there is. The diligent volunteers at have transcribed an 1892 book with the imposing title Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States. This book contains a biography of Willow Township’s Adam Miller which informs us:

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Catherine Brown; it is thought that she was a Pennsylvanian by birth, and she was a daughter of Sebastian Brown. She died on the home farm.

Our subject is the only survivor of a family of seven children, and the names of his brothers and sisters are as follows – Elizabeth, Frederick, Peter, Barbara, Catherine and Sarah.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Lee County, Illinois, p. 374

So the Adam Miller of Willow Creek Township had a sister named Barbara who had died before 1892. Barbara Miller Sutton died in 1879. Adam Miller had a mother and a sister named Catherine. Barbara Miller Sutton named her daughter Catharine. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Adam Miller was Barbara Miller Sutton’s brother.

The only person in the Siglin household who lived close to their parents and their Uncle Adam was Catharine Sutton Siglin. Who wore an intricate beaded collar, owned handsome silver spoons and, as I now know from her diary, made sausage, built a drag, chopped wood, skinned a calf, split posts, and broke prairie.

Next time: Great-Great Grandmother Siglin turns out to have something in common with both me and V.I. Warshawski.

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