A mid-March day in 1863

Julia Wilbur, like many of her contemporary diary writers, always included a note about the day's weather. It's hot, cold, squally, showery, pleasant, etc. etc. Without weather forecasts, each day's conditions were always a bit of a surprise. And without much in the way of heat and no air-conditioning, the weather was something sometimes enjoyed but more often merely endured. As we end--we hope!--our severe winter of 2015, here's what Julia recorded in mid-March 1863....

March 15, 1863 Sunday

Very cold. Have not been out. Mrs. J. called. Read a little. Cleaned up, labeled specimens, wrote some. Letter from S.A. Ferris. She is not coming at present, too bad.

This P.M. it has hailed & snowed. There has been thunder & lightning & this evening the thunder roars & the lightning flashes. Unusual for this season.

"Mrs. J." would have been her friend and fellow relief worker Harriet Jacobs.

The "specimens" were the bits and pieces that people gathered at various sites most improvidently. (The Illustrated History of Civil War Relics by Sylvia and Michael J. O'Donnell talks about how often this occurred, to the point that excursion trains were organized in some cases for Northern civilians to forage at abandoned battlefields.) In this case, she wrote about visiting Mount Vernon and Fort Washington several days earlier on an expedition of 12 people, and these were no doubt some of her pickings.

Finally, S.A. Ferris was a friend from Rochester who often sent letters and boxes of supplies.

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