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.

Mother says there seems to be no end to merriment.  However, she was not smiling when she said that this cloudy morning.  She appears to be a bit short of temper lately.  We have had very cold days and the babies have been ill.  Christmas was such fun and then many of our household became ill. The women who help mother in the house and kitchen also have children who are ill.  Today is New Year’s Day and it is being celebrated quietly.  In normal times, there is much visiting and gift exchanging between the adults and wonderful things to eat. This year will be quiet.  Father says Mother needs to rest when she can.

Father read us a poem this morning.  It was in the Virginia Almanac in 1765.  It was written by Mr. Joseph Royle.  1765……that was a long time ago.

Christmas is come, hang on the pot,
let spits turn round and ovens be hot;
Beef, pork, and poultry now provide
To feast thy neighbours at this tide.
Then wash all down with good wine and beer,
And so with mirth conclude the year.

I do not find much mirth in our house today.  Mother said she would be glad when this New Year’s Day was ended.  I think she must be very tired with tending to the babies night and day.  Brent and Josh are even quiet this day.  They asked me to go to the barn where we could be loud.  I wanted to very badly, but I am worried that Mother may need me.  She thinks the younger ones have catarrh of the larynx.  They cough all day long and when they try to speak, they are very hoarse.  When night comes, it becomes difficult for them to breath and they are very frightened.   Josh said his mother called it “croup”.  She would sit up with him all night long also and wrap his throat with a warmed cloth.  I shall have to ask if Mother has tried that.

by Mary Beekman

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