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Submitted by McCreary County Museum
R. L. Stearns kept diaries dated 1911-1918, 1924, and 1926-1929. I thought readers might be interested in reading daily musings from this time period in 1911 and 1912. R. L. (1872-1939) and Laura Estelle Freeman Stearns (1873-1962) had three children: Paulina Dean Stearns (1900-19566); R. L. Stearns, Jr. (1902-1965); and Freeman Ross Stearns (1904-1951). His children are referenced in the excerpts included in this article. Others mentioned are William Waddle –Attorney for the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company; J. E. Butler – General Manager and Stearns Company President; Forest C. Ebling – Manager for the Stearns Coal and Lumber Company c. 1908; Lucius K. Baker – Secretary/Treasurer and General Manager of the J. S. Stearns Lumber Company in Michigan; and Edward E. Barthell – Stearns Company attorney and brother-in-law of R. L. Stearns in whose honor Mine #1 was named.
December 25, 1911 – Children up at 6:30 A.M.. All three of them slept in one bed last night. Not the usual toys for them as most of our Christmas presents have not as yet arrived, people not knowing our address. However, Bob got a canary bird and Freeman a goldfish, which they had desired, and they seem happy. Aunt Hattie sent me a magnifying glass, Laura gave me Mark Twain’s complete work, Emily Gary a bottle of brandy, H. Baker a bottle of booze, Bess some socks, Martha the same, Edward Barthell a gold pencil, and J. E. Butler a gold knife. Laura received many presents which I do not remember. I sent but few presents – Mr. Earle a pipe, Baker cigars, Butler same, Kinne cigars.
We all went to the Bakers for dinner which was most excellent and played bridge in P.M. till Mr. and Mrs. Andrews came in, then played 6-handed till six. Later in the evening Mr. and Mr. B came in and we had more bridge.
December 26, 1911 – To Somerset on #1. Had expected to go to Stearns but Mr. Waddle sent word he wanted to see me, and his messenger got me off the train at Somerset. To Waddle’s office where he told me Belsby & Co., who have option on our Cumberland River Imp. Co., are lodging. The price was to be to us in cash if they elected to take property (free of all com.) $67,500 They have paid $4,000 leaving $63,500. They now wish to pay $13,500 leaving $50,000 which they desire to give paper for in equal payments of 4-, 8-, and 12-months interest at 5%. Waddle is to see them this week and they to decide whether they elect to take property. Gave Waddle written permission to close on these terms if he could do no better, but he is to try for $23,500 in cash.
Quickel got on train at Lexington and had dinner with me. To Stearns at 5:00 P.M. Small tonnage today at mines – only about 500 but will get fair run tomorrow. Raining hard today and plenty of water at Stearns in ponds. I understand everything was quiet at Stearns and mines this Christmas.
Mrs. Ebling had her Christmas tree Friday night and it was a great success. She was presented with a gold watch by Sunday School. She provided presents for nearly 800 children.
December 27, 1911 – To Cincinnati on #2. Sharp joined me to Lexington rom Somerset. Mrs. Walker on train and I saw her to the Havalin. I am sick with a cold. Told Ebling this day ‘twas better all round he leave. Sharp told me McCloskey has engaged Ernst to take his case against our company.
December 28, 1911 – Called Dr. Grieve and made arrangements to see him today at 11:30. I went to see Dr. Grieve who told me I had severe bronchitis and to go home to bed. I went home.
December 29, 1911 – Fooled about house all day taking medicine. Sharp called saying he had not left Cincinnati but was going at 8 and was out of money. I hustled to the depot and gave him $15.
December 30, 1911 – Laid about house painting all day. Mrs. Baker came up in evening and we played auction bridge. Letter from father advises he does not think Moon can handle bond deal. He to take to Clark Poole if he cannot and see what can be done. This is the last day given on Cumberland River Imp. Company option but I’ve heard nothing from Waddle. Ebling advises over phone that mines will run over 33,000 tons for December – this as against 25,600 for December 1910. Swingley advises prices named on coal are too high and we to quote on 5” Steam.
December 31, 1911 – Painted all day. Children going to zoo in P.M. Children stay up to watch the New Year in. Bob got sleepy but all managed to keep awake.
January 1, 1912 – New Year’s Day. Dined at Bakers and played bridge in P.M.
December 24, 1912 – To Cincinnati on Carolina Special, arriving 12:30 P.M.. Jimmie Talker on train from Lexington up and took dinner at Sinton with me. Purchased electric pocket lamps for Christmas presents for people at Stearns. Arriving home found picture by Elizabeth Nourse which Laura purchased ($300) for my Christmas. It is beautiful and I could not have had anything more acceptable. All evening fixing tree and arranging presents. To bed at 2:30 A.M.
December 25, 1912 – Father arrived before we were up. Will and Mary to dinner. Called on Biles and Bakers and Mr. Baker served eggnog. Father to Grand Rapids at 9:10 A.M., Pina and I taking him in car to town. Father gave Laura check for picture so present is from him. Played seven up with Marguerite Baker while others whisted.
December 26, 1912 – Cincinnati all day and to Sinton with Laura and Miss Gano to lunch, thence to museum and saw German collection of stuff bordering on the Futurists order. Pretty rotten but some pieces of pottery. To Miss Gano’s for dinner and whist there with Waite in the evening. Waite to our house for lunch tomorrow.
December 27, 1912 – Left Cincinnati 11:20 A.M. with the boys. Larua and Pina to go to Chicago tomorrow night. Boys good as could be on trip. Captain Morrow on train Lexington to Somerset.
December 28, 1912 – Boys and I occupied my room. They slept in their clothes last night so as not to have to dress in the morning in a cold room. When I awoke, I found them ready to leave and giggling at what they had put over on Pap. They walked to Whitley to see Chester Perkins and had dinner in the woods – baked potatoes cooked over an open fire.
December 29, 1912 – Larry and I painted through the morning. Snow, of Durham Coal & Iron Company, arrive on #2 and we talked contract of 20,000 tons on basis of 1.15 R.O.M or 1.07 ½ – 5” Steam. He returned to Chattanooga on the 5:30 P.M. train.
December 30, 1912 – At Stearns
December 31, 1912 – At Stearns
January 1, 1913 – Jim Sharp arrived on Helenwood Special today and we went over various matters.
January 2, 1913 – Freeman’s birthday. Chocolate cake and ice cream for dinner and I gave Freeman an electric light to carry in his pocket. He had children to surprise him in the evening. Sharp left last night for Knoxville.
For comments or additional information contact Deborah E. Kidd-Trammell at firstname.lastname@example.org.