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Ruby M. Cusack
  Eliza Perley Eldridge's 1879 Diary

Picture taken in the 1940's of Eliza’s Son-in-law Bill Barry; daughter Pearl Barry;  Eliza (Perley) Eldridge; grandson Carman Eldridge and grandson Milt Barry - Photo Courtesy of Great Grandson Roy Eldridge

Once September rolled around friends and relatives from far and near came to visit. In my opinion the present guests were two fussy ladies that no one could please.

They made extra work for Aunt Sadie as they were very demanding in their needs. For example the eggs for their breakfast were to be boiled with instructions to not put the eggs in the pot until the water came to a boil. One wanted hers to be boiled for exactly three minutes while the other one watched the egg timer and immediately asked hers to be removed at five minutes.

Lunch was to be served at twelve noon not five to twelve nor five after twelve.

As was the custom, a cake of soap in a wire holder would be shaken to make soap suds for the dish water. One lady complained she had pains in her stomach as the dishes had not been rinsed thoroughly.

After breakfast they were discussing, close to arguing, the date when a certain friend had taken the boat to Boston to get a position in nursing.

Out of the blue they started to put the questions to Gram about the year and place the twins started their teaching careers. They even wanted to know with whom they boarded.

I knew Gram was stalling for time to think so she was very intent on unravelling the heal of the sock she was knitting. When I saw her take the knitting needle and scratch her head, I sensed she was going to be in trouble with coming up with the correct answers.

If these ladies had kept diaries on the everyday happenings as did Eliza Perley who was born May 17, 1855 in Maugerville, NB., they would have had a reference to consult.

Eliza’s father, Thomas Horsfield Perley was a farmer and owned a lumbering business.

In her 84th birthday announcement in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner on May 18, 1939 it states when about 19, she drove on the river ice from Maugerville to Saint John and then by stagecoach to Pennfield where she took up teaching school.

Her handwritten diary was transcribed by her great grandson, Roy Eldridge. It reflects day to day life in an era without radio, television and motor cars

Here are a few excerpts from 1879.  Eliza lived in Maugerville until she moved to Pennfield to teach.

Sat, Jan 18, 1879, Ella Harrison died this morn at two.

Sat, June 28, 1879, Mr Boyd went to Digdeguash all day. Mrs Boyd and I took Tea at James Gillespies. We had a practice for Sunday. Maggie went to John Miller all Afternoon. Susie Spear called tonight.

Wed, Sept 17, 1879, Charlie Mann was here this Afternoon. Bob went to Spree down the Ridge at McGarigals. Mr Magill and Charlie McQuoid of St Andrews spent the Evening here. We expected Alf Mealey and wife but did not come. Rained heavy part of day cleared off tonight.

Thurs, Sept 18, 1879, Mr and Mrs Mann spent Day here. Mrs Hawkins and Eliza Carlyle spent Afternoon here. We all went to Mr Gillespies to practise. Had a pleasant time. Sam McKay was there. Georgie washed. Very fine.

Fri, Sept 19, 1879, George Tatton took dinner here. Mrs Boyd poorly. Men mowing Oats. Alf Mealey spent Evening here. Maggie and I were down in the field getting peas. Very fine.

Sat, Sept 20, 1879, Minnie Fraser and Florence Hunter spent Afternoon here. Charlie Mann bid goodbye and left today. Mrs Miller called. I went up to practice at Prescotts. Then walked to the Harbour got down at dark had Tea. Called at Jim Eldridge's. Fred was sick. Mart and I had good time. Fine.

Sun, Sept 21, 1879, I went to Sunday School. Taught Mrs Dixons class. Silas Calder spent the morning here. Amanda and I walked up to Church. All the Boys were up but Mart. Large Congregation. Mr Bogle and Miss Sherwood took Tea here. I wrote letter to Mrs Peters St John for Jane Cross. Very fine.

Mon, Sept 22, 1879 Georgie drove to her Father's for Tom Ferguson. Mary Justason took dinner here. I took Tea at Mr Prescott's. Had Music lesson and a good practise. Joshua drove down here for Mary. The Gillespie girls came up here with her. She was cutting their suits. Cloudy.

More of the Diary can be read at

On Feb 19th, 1881 Eliza Perley was married at her father’s Residence (Maugerville) at half past ten a.m. by Reverend G. H. Sterling to James Martin Eldridge of Beaver Harbour. Dinner was served half after Twelve. They took train at two for St. John. Spent Sunday. Left in American Boat Monday at Eight for Eastport.

They lived for a while with Martin's parents. After the accidental death of Mart in 1918, she resided first with son Clare, and later with daughter, Pearl Barry. Eliza lived until December 4, 1945 and is buried at Beaver Harbour.

Roy Eldridge has posted information on the Eldridge Family at , and of Eliza’s Perley ancestry at

It is interesting to note the houses of both James “Martin” Eldridge (Eliza’s husband) and James Eldridge, his father, are still in use in Beaver Harbour today. James’s house is occupied by his great great granddaughter and her family.
Diaries sometime provide information that possibly can not be found in any other source.

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