Monday, December 30, 2013

The Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, 1884-1899

Ann Prior Jarvis. Picture from Washington County DUP.

Ann Prior Jarvis (1829-1913) started a diary in 1884 [1] and kept it regularly for several years and then sporadically through 1899. Ann and her husband George Jarvis were English immigrants and members of the original 1861 Cotton Mission to St. George, Washington County, Utah Territory.

Ann's diary includes autobiographies, business notes, addresses, patriarchal blessings, and other contents. 

Many entries are brief and repetitious, but can be used in conjunction with other existing records to help create a vital record of the community, provide a glimpse into the day-to-day life of the family, and provide historical context. For example, the question came up in the Jarvis Family Organization whether the Jarvis family had been present in 1899 at Lorenzo Snow's well-known tithing speech. A glance at her diary suggested that members of the family had indeed attended. (George and Ann Prior Jarvis and "The Windows of Heaven.") In another case, another family had not kept a careful record of the death of their ancestor's first wife, but Ann had noted the occasion of the woman's funeral. (Jennett Potter Oxborrow.)

Over the next several years, I will be serializing and annotating her diary, a few entries at a time. [2] Many entries are not earth-shattering. For example:
19 [May 1884] Mon[day] Weather changable
One of the first things you will notice as you read her entries is that she was in poor health. Her health was often so poor that she couldn't get around, but the family had somehow managed to have a horse and buggy for her use and that provides some of the folksy drama and social interactions during the first years of the diary.

So, single entries might be underwhelming, but taken altogether, her diary is an intimate portrait of an immigrant family, not wealthy by any means, but fairly secure two decades years after they were the first settlers to drive their wagon onto their newly assigned town lot in St. George.

[1] The original copy of Ann's diary is not known to be in existence. There are various photocopies held by family members and archives and a digital copy has been kindly provided by Mark Jarvis on the family web site. (Jarvis Family Web.) This copy of the diary is called "Book C" so it is possible that she created other diaries previous to this one.

[2] I will begin with the March 10, 1886 entry since that's when she started keeping her diary reliably and go from there. I will add the autobiographies and other materials later. I will be preserving her spelling but will add light punctuation as needed. I will index the diary separately from Ann Prior Jarvis's main index entry, so these diary entries will be found under "APJ Diary (year)."

Jarvis, Ann Prior. Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, Book C, 1884-1899. Digital scan of photocopy of holograph, George and Ann Prior Jarvis Family Web Site, accessed February 29, 2012,

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