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Philip M. Farnsworth Diaries

Identifier: RH-A-3399

Scope and Contents

The first diary runs from 1854 to 1858. It appears Philip along with being a farmer worked in the lumber industry as he notes a day to day schedule of what he did, how long he did it and how much he was paid. That part of the diary goes from 1854 to 1856. In 1857 and 1858, Farnsworth covers his daily activities.

The second and third diaries cover the period September, 1870 to December 2, 1870 and December 2, 1870 to August, 1871. He notes in the second diary that it was purchased in California. In both of these diaries, he writes about the weather, work, and other daily activities. It appears that he may have been working at some type of mill because he notes on a regular basis how many posts he made that day. He also notes seeing Native Americans around.

There were two letters and one recipe in the diaries. The recipe is for “Cherry Bounce” without the cherries. There is one letter dated March 24, 1871 addressed to “Dear Friend Steve” written by an unknown writer discussing how they “long” to find him. (Philip’s brother whom he lived with at the end of his life was named Steven.)

The second letter is addressed to “Beloved Sister” and dated “Worcester, March 12, 1819.” The signature appears to be from a Lucretia Freeman discussing everyday life and mentioning brothers Robert and William and daughter Betsy Matilda Freeman. There also is an envelope addressed to “Mrs. (Mr.) S.H. Farnsworth in Catawissa, Franklin County, Missouri.” It is not known if this envelope is for the 1819 letter. Also found in one of the diaries were newspaper clippings, one dealing with the end of the village of Pine Creek and two others dealing with James S. Farnsworth who served as a State of Michigan State Representative 1963-1974. It is not known if James Farnsworth is related to Philip Farnsworth. James’ father was Lewis (Lew) Farnsworth whose father was Sylvester whose father was Joseph Farnsworth although this family lived in Pennsylvania where Moses Farnsworth was from so there might be a possibility these two Farnsworth families were related. The newspaper clippings were copied and put in the donor file.


  • Creation: 1854-1871


Biographical / Historical

Philip Farnsworth was born in Pennsylvania in 1804. By 1850 he and his family were living in Otsego in Allegan County working as farmers. In 1860 he is staying at a hotel in Otsego and again working as a farmer. By 1870 he is living in Mud Springs, El Dorado County, California working as a miner. He cannot be found in the 1880 census but by 1900 is living with his brother and sister-in-law in Wexford County, Michigan. On it reports that he died on May 7, 1908 in Wexford, Michigan at the age of 84. He was single all his life and was identified on his death record as being a merchant.


.10 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection amounts to .10 cubic feet and is composed of three diaries, two that are 5 ½” x 3 ½” x ½” and one that is 5 ¾” x 3 ¼” x ½”. There additionally are some separate papers found in the diaries that range in size from 8” x 5” to 12” x 7 ½”. Two of the diaries are light brown leather bound with writing on the covers. The other diary is covered in black leather with a metal clasp. The diaries for the most part are in good shape. The two light brown leather ones are slightly worn at the spine on the inside of the front cover; the third one’s back cover is separated from the book. There is a slight yellowing and dirt on the three diaries. The writing continues to be somewhat legible although two are written in purple ink which varies in legibility. One of the three letters is slightly faded and the oldest one, written in 1819 has writing that has bled through from the second page.In addition to the letter, there is a remnant 9” x 5” which one can assume belongs to the 1819 letter.There also is an envelope addressed to a “Mrs. S.H. Farnsworth” in Missouri with a postmark that has a date but no year.

Philip M. Farnsworth Diaries Finding Aid
Lynn Houghton
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490