Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

There has been snow falling for two days now.   Father decided it would be a good time to begin to cut wood for the next season.  The snow makes it easier to move the heavy loads of felled trees through the woods by sled.  We use our horses, but some of the farmers use oxen to pull the sleds.  The wood has to be cut and split so it can dry for the next season.  Maybe that is why the dried wood is called seasoned wood.  I hope the boys bring back some pine cones for the decorations for Christmas. I shall ask. When they come to supper after a day of wood cutting, their clothes smell like pine pitch.  It is very difficult to remove pine pitch from your fingers.  When I play with pine cones, my fingers get sticky in-between and it is fun to move them slowly apart.  The skin on the side of each finger stretches out like a web.  But when everything begins to stick to them, I really want them to just be clean.

Father said when there is plenty of snow to move the loads of wood, the price of wood is not as dear.*  People in the city have to buy their wood.  Mother uses birch, hickory and white oak and ash for baking.  She says they make the best heat and provide the best coals.  We have seven fireplaces in our house.  Father and the boys calculate we will need about forty-four cords each year for cooking, laundry and warmth.  Brent and Josh told me that was a lot of wood.  I do not really know about cord measurements.

Splitting wood is difficult.  The boys set up a solid chopping block that is about twenty inches tall to use as a base to stand a log while it is split.  They use a splitting maul with a wooden handle…. also a kindling axe and a poll axe.  Wood chopping can be dangerous and Father makes certain the men and the boys have sharp tools and are cautious and alert.  Mother told the boys about a five year old boy who was blinded in a wood chopping accident.  One of the men who works on the farm is missing the tips of two of his fingers on his left hand because he was not paying attention when he was chopping wood for the fires.  If it is cold, the frost may cause the wood to slip on the block.

*  In 1807 wood was selling for about $3.00 a cord.

A cord of wood is the amount of wood in a stack of 48-inch logs (or cut logs equaling 48 inches) that is 4 feet high and 8 feet wide.

by Mary Beekman

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Mary

Phyllis, oh my, you do have many Halloween birthdays in

your family. Perhaps you can give each person a log to

burn in memory of your doctor friend. He would like to be

remembered with such warmth.

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Mary

Susan, I am happy you are still warm. We have a Harvest

Festival that we celebrate and some of us remember, with

fondness, friends and family who have passed on.

We also play games with apples and a big pan of water.

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Mary

Teri, there is a woman who helps our family and she

keeps our fires burning and safe through the night.

If you go to sleep you are warm………….until the morning

comes. Then it is very cold. I have never seen Josh or Brent

chop firewood. The older boys do it. I think I would close my eyes

if Josh and Brent began to chop. Happy Christmas to you also.

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Phyllis

PS!!!My mother was born on Halloween, my brother was born on Halloween, and my brother's son, wanting his own birthday, came at 11:30PM, October 30th.! My, that is a lot of October birthdays!

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Phyllis

Dearest Mary, I used to work for a doctor who is called a Radiologist. He was often in the dark. One day he ordered a cord of wood to be delivered to his house without knowing how much wood a cord is. He had wood from here to yonder. He wound up giving it away for Christmas, along with pound cakes! Everybody had a good laugh! See you!!!

Phyllis

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kate madison

thanks for the info. I love learning stuff like this. started pulling Dahlis tubers today. tis the season.

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Susan

Dearest Mary,

Here in Tennessee we are scarcely into the fall season. The days are still warm and sunny. Everyone is decorating their houses and yards with pumpkins, fakes witches, paper black cats and scarecrows for Halloween. I am not sure that Halloween was celebrated at your house. It's mostly just about having fun and dressing up in silly costumes. Oh, and children your age go from house to house and say "Trick or Treat" and get candy for their efforts! More fun than chopping wood:)

Your friend,

Susan

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teri tighe

Hi Mary,

I hope you are enjoying the winter, so far and are getting ready for Christmas.

I can't believe you have so many fireplaces in your house. Does your father light the fireplaces in your bedroom when it is time for bed? If so, do they keep you warm?

How are Josh and Bret at chopping wood? I'm sure it's quite comical.

Enjoy your Christmas, sweet girl.

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