Miranda Perry’s Diary

In 1871 my Gr-Gr-Grandparents, John & Miranda (Warner) Perry, and their two children Albert, 9, and Luena, 4, migrated from Nepeuskun, WI to Sibley, IA.  The 400 mile wagon trek took just over a month.  During the journey and continuing for the first few months of their new life in Iowa, Miranda recorded her daily experiences in a diary.

Thirty some years later, she apparently took the volume with her when she, by then a widow, went to live with her son-in-law and daughter, Alva & Luena Harding, in Garden City, SD.

Many more years later, after Miranda, and then Alva, had both died, Luena and her daughter, Lulu, moved from Garden City to Watertown, SD.  But before leaving, they had to clean out the old farm house.  As the story goes, it was who Lulu found the diary in the attic and asked “What should we do with this?”  Fortunately, it occurred to someone that they should KEEP IT!  And so they did; and it has subsequently passed through many hands before falling into mine.


I treasure this old book and in order to share it with as many as possible, I have scanned it in its entirety and transcribed the important journal entries.  I offer it to you here for viewing and download via a link at the end of this post.

The link will take you to a folder containing four items:

  1. A transcription of the daily journal entries in searchable text.  I encourage you to view and enjoy the images of the book itself, but the hand written pages are not always easy to read.  If Gr-Gr-Grandma Perry had know that I would be trying to read her diary 150 years later she might have sharpened her pencil a little more often.  Or, she might have burned it.
  2. Vol. I – The first 30 pages of the book consist of an 1871 Almanack which is interesting reading in itself.  Then next 30 pages were dated and intended for journal entries but were used mostly for scratch paper.
  3. Vol. II – This is the real heart of the diary and contains the daily journal entries made between April 9th and September 1st of 1871.
  4.  Vol III – 80 more pages of ciphering, accounting, scribbling and penmanship practice.


All four files are available for viewing and download here.



Titus Ellis Perry & Phoebe Maria Jadwin

When Titus Perry was born, there were only 19 States in The Union.  None of them were west of the Mississippi River.  Within his lifetime, Our Nation grew to 44 States and ranged from sea to sea.   My 3rd Gr-Grandfather was a farmer and apparently attracted to newly available and sometimes free land.  As the frontier moved west, so did he.   

Titus Ellis Perry was born April 15, 1817 in North Adams, Massachusetts.  He was the last of 10 children born to Isaac and Betsy Galloway Perry.   Good information is scant but I believe he spent all his early years in and about Berkshire County which is the western most county in Massachusetts and forms the boundary with the state of New York.

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Titus Ellis Perry and Phoebe Maria Jadwin 


On July 4, 1836 he married Phoebe Maria Jadwin.   She was born August 25, 1815 in Troy, NY but at the time of the marriage she resided in New Lebanon, NY.

New Lebanon is just across the border from Massachusetts and was noteworthy at the time for two things: the largest and most influential Shaker community in the country and Lebanon Springs which was a popular spa and well known for its healing properties.

I suspect New Lebanon may have also been a “Gretna Green” which a place where people go to get married secretly, quickly, or with fewer restrictions.  Kind of like we think of Las Vegas.  Many of the couples that were married by Justice of the Peace Ira Hand were from Massachusetts which with its Puritan background may have been more restrictive than New York.

Titus & Phoebe MR

In addition to when and where they were married, I learn from this record that they were married by a JP so no need tolook for a church record; Phoebe was from New Lebanon; and Titus was from Windsor, about 20 miles east and not surprisingly, in Berkshire Co.

But the most intriguing thing I see in this record is the mention of John Jadwin of New Lebanon as witness.

Nobody knows for sure who Phoebe Jadwin’s parents were.  Some say that her father was Jesse Jadwin from New York County (that’s Manhattan) and that he also had a son named John.  If that is the case, then Phoebe had a brother that was 34 years older than she, and her father was 53 years older.  Not impossible, but I am not ready to buy into that theory especially since I have yet to find any legitimate documentation linking Phoebe to Jesse.  John Jadwin, however, is well established in New Lebanon, the town where she was married.  He is listed in census records there from 1820-1860.  Not only that, he was at the wedding.   He also happens to be the right age to be her father rather than her brother.

Either way, soon after getting hitched, they hit the trail and a year later, their first child (my 2nd Gr-Grandfather) was born 750 miles away in Niles, Michigan.  That was on June 6, 1837.  And they named the boy John Isaac Perry.  Now remember, Titus’ dad’s name was Isaac and Phoebe’s dad’s name was….Jesse?…I think not.  How about John?

I may never be able to prove it, but my current working theory is that John Jadwin of New Lebanon was Phoebe’s father.

Titus and Phoebe had four more children, not far from Niles, in La Porte, Indiana.
Jane Marie – Dec 2, 1840,
Mary Ann – April 26,1843,
George Ellis – June 2, 1845,
Clark Albert – March 17, 1847.

After a decade in the northeast corner of Indiana, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan, Titus must have once again felt the call of the frontier.  This time, the urge drew him and his family 240 miles north and west to Winnebago Co. in the newest State in the Union, Wisconsin.

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In 1850, Titus Perry purchased this 120 acre parcel of land from The United States of America.

I was there in 2003 and it is a lovely place.  At least it was in May.

Right behind me, as I took this photo, is Nepeuskun Cemetery.  More about that at another time.


General Land Office Recortd

The Perry’s remained in Wisconsin for more than 20 years.  Long enough for all of their children to grow up, marry, and start their own families.  Then the whole clan started moving to Iowa.

John and his wife, Miranda Warner, may have been first to go.  They began their 400 miles trek by covered wagon on April 14, 1871.  Miranda kept a diary of her experiences on the road and during the first weeks in Iowa.  I have her diary.  It is a true family treasure and it is in my safe. 

Jane Marie and her husband, Wallace A. Spencer, may have gone at the same time. In her diary, Miranda speaks of the two families helping each other with the typical rigors of pioneer life such as claiming land, planting crops, baking bread, and building sod houses.

Titus Perry is reported to have arrived in Iowa in the fall of 1871.  But the first Land Record I have for him there is a Grant dated Oct 7, 1878.  By that time he was 61 years old but apparently still farming.  Two more Land Grants came in Oct, 1881 and May, 1882.

Titus Perry lived in Iowa for perhaps 19 years before he died on July 14, 1890 at the age of 73.

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After his death, Phoebe Perry moved to Sioux City, Iowa and lived with Jane Marie and Wallace Spencer.

She survived her husband by 13 years and died May 5, 1903 at the age of 87.




They are buried together in Holman Cemetery in Sibley, Iowa.


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