Knapp Family Journal 1916-1924: Chronological Version

The following is an edited version of the transcript of the “Knapp Family Journal 1916-1924”.

In an attempt to learn more about their life in Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin, I’ve removed the poetry, songs, quotes, and hand tracings to leave only the diary, clearly identified original poetry, and family notes. In doing so, we discovered that there are no writings dated in 1919. Ah, a family mystery! These may cover events within the torn out pages.

Like the diaries of children and many authors, it is still a bit disjointed and lacks many details, but we hope that it will give you a better glimpse into their life and lifestyle.

March 9, 1916

Presented to my crippled Sister this ninth day of March one thousand and nine hundred and sixteen. For her special benefit.

Witness my signature
With best wishes
Miss Myrtle Kathryn Primley

March 10, 1916
I must begin to write something in this book or Merl will have a cat fit. She is getting ready for bed and so being invisible. I will try to scratch a few lines to please her.
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp.]

March 19, 1916, My birthday
Mother Flint came over and brought me a bottle of beer. Oh, um, it was good. Mother Flint was here to dinner. Merl washed her hair, preparing to go to Crivitz tomorrow.

Two eyes are shining filled with pain.
Two hearts are pining all in vain.
Two lips are calling font good-byes.
Two tears are falling from two blue eyes.
[Handwritten by Myrtle Primley, circa 1916. Credit: Unknown, possibly original work by Myrtle Primley, sister of Emma (Primley) Knapp.]

Mar. 31, 1916
Mert made beautiful ??? for mother.

April 23, 1916
Souviner of Frog Pond City
Knapp Family Journal - drawing of pipe from Frog Pond City

July 30, 1916, Taylor Rapids, Wis.

[Grocery List]
oat meal
B. pwd

Don’t be so foolish! Ha Ha some day you will know

August 4, 1916
In your chimney of affection
Please consider me a brick.
Grace Olson
[handwriting appears to be Nora Knapp or Emma Knapp. Credit: Either written by Grace Olson or credited to Grace Olson. Unclear from text.]

August 22, 1916
When will I see you again, Dear sister?
May you still improve in health, soul and body.
Nora Merrifield
[Handwritten by Nora (Cunningham) Merrifield, James Knapp Jr.’s half sister.]

Always leave the cellar where it belongs and never let yourself have an accident.

[Handwriting by “Bob”, unknown person and different from other writing styles. The signature “Bob” looks like more of someone writing a name and doodling than a signature of a person.]

Knapp Family Journal - Dear Mother heart and graphic by Nora Knapp for her mother
[Drawing by Nora Knapp titled “Dear Mother”.]

December 1916

A Christmas Quary

That I am to speak Christmas. Nora.

Oh, the merriest time of all the year.
Say all little girls and boys
Is when the dear Christmas tide draws near with all of its jingles and joys,
And when the school lets out for a week or two
So the children may snow-ball and skate,
And start snow soldiers in battle review.
Awaiting their awful fate.

They coast down the hill on their sleds so gay
Build snow men of wondores size.
While where the snow drifts the deepest lay
Tall ramparts now suddenly arise.

And the children storm them in battle array
Till their charge is turned into a rout
And the brave deffendors who held them at bay
Their victory proclaim with a shout
And when at knight the wind flowing cold
Piled the snow drifts higher and higher
Quaint stories by old folks and children are told
As they gather within round the fire.
Cracking nuts, popping corn, singing songs so gay
As they watched the flames roll up the flew
As if they were having a romp and a play.
Ah, this is a fairy land through.

But what is the use of my trying to tell
All the things that he girls and boys do
On this beautiful yuletide we all love so well
For you were children once too.
But the jolliest of all of these joys
Is when in my stocking I see
All the beautiful presents, the books and the toys
That Santa has left their for me.
[Handwritten by Nora Knapp. Credit: Original or unknown.]


January 15, 1917
Jim began work at Bird Center Jan. 15, 1917

January 15, 1917
Any fool can please a woman, but it takes a wise man to keep her pleased. – Whell now [illegible]
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp.]

“Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can!!
[Handwritten by Nora Knapp. Credit: Original or unknown.]

January 15, 1917
Here boys is one to our mother

No light do we need to guide us
Save that of friendship dear
Trough trouble and core betide us
We all welcome it with cheer

While hope and the smile of comrades
Turn night into joyous day –
in the morning’ flowing sunshine
Let us linger while we may

Here’s to the man whose vision
Is clear enough to see
And who says: What is wrong for the rest of the throng
Is certainly wrong for me.

Here’s to our boyhood chum you recall
The sincerest friendship of your youth.
Here’s to the sweetest sweet heart of them all
You’ll all say I’m telling the truth.

[Handwritten by Emma Knapp. Credit: Unknown.]

Life is but a working day
Where tasks are set aright
A time to work, a time to pray
And then please God a quiet night.
[Handwritten and credited to Nora Knapp.]

March 17-18, 1917, St. Patrick’s Day

March 17-18 in the morning
Knapp Family Journal - Four leaf clover drawing and writingWere I an author I should not hesitate to describe the scene I have in mind, but being a common everyday citizen, I think the undertaking altogether too great for one of my mean ability. However, nothing attempted, nothing earned.

Imagine E.M. parading the track in a green coat, white hat trimmed with two cabbages, young Christmas tree stuck in her matronly bosom, eyes rolling heavenward, feet tracking occasionally. When she started out, her step was sprightly but on her return, it “lagged” to an alarming degree. She had this in her pocket on her….[pages torn out]

[Handwriting very distinctive and unknown. Possibly Allen Knapp or father, James Knapp Jr. Image of a four leaf clover drawing with Jim Knapp, Effie M., Jack, and Pane Top written in the leaves. And the following:]

This is symbolic of us – The tail of the shamrock means E. M. also.

March 27, 1917
Mert is trying to use some big words. No matter how you try. O mush!

Jim came home and began cutting kiln wood March 27, 1917
The snow is most gone. It is storming today.
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp]

June, 14, 1917, Flag Day

What do we plant when we plant the tree
We plant the ship that will cross the sea
We plant the mast to carry the sales
We plant the plant to wist and the gales.

Flag Day, June 14, 1917, Thursday
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp.]

July 20, 1917
Friday P.M.
The four spot was derailed at Glyem Spurr. Caused by some person opening the switch halfway. No one was hurt. A week afterwards they pulled it out of the mud and began fixing it up. About 2 months later it was at work again “Better in health than ever.”

When Their Ma Goes Away

Allen and Melvin and Nonie and Loyd
Are the very best children I know
They work from morning until night
Altho’ they’re very slow.
They do not quarrel, they do not fight
They do not run and play –
They always stick around
And work and work all day.
When their ma’s away, they do not play.

Their meals oh um’ They’re very fine.
They’re very find indeed –
They have trout for every meal
And never are in need.
Their uncle on Sunday knight stayed with them you see.
And started in the morning for camp at half past three
It’s cheerful smile and happiness all three.
The live-long day
When their ma’s away, they do not play.

From N. and L.
[Handwritten and credited to Nora or Loyd Knapp, brother and sister.]

When this cat’s way, these kittens won’t play –
A, M, L, N, R, W

Knapp Family Journal - Hand of a virtuous maiden

“This one is ashamed of its owner” [pointing to middle finger]
“This poor sore finger” [pointing to the pointer finger]

Rings on ring finger with initials

C.A. N. E?

Ring on little finger with a rock and initials: J.A.B

The hand of a virtuous maid.
The only dishonorable stunt I can remember of her pulling off is the parading the track March 17 with two old “rips”
Mrs Flanagan
“The worst one of the bunch”

[Nora was often called “Mrs. Flanagan”]

Initials P.S.G.


1918 Diary from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Visit

[Note: The following sections have date conflicts. It appears that the book was taken by Emma Knapp on a trip to Green Bay and fairly faithfully journaled in daily. Yet, elsewhere in the book are found hand drawings, poems, writings, and saying dated within this same time period. We’re not sure if any of the children accompanied Emma on this trip, or if they wrote in the book during her stay.]

[Note: 6 pages torn out with a tiny scrap left that says “This is Jim, your husband” referring to James Knapp Jr., Emma’s husband. The next page appears to be in Emma’s handwriting, continued from torn out pages:]

…washed clothes. Myrtle came over and we all went down where Seal works, after supper we took a long walk, after the show. Dora, Myrtle, and I went to the show, Carl met us and we took Dora home and I went home with Myrtle. I rize out of bed about 30 minutes before dinner but I felt good even if I did sleep when I should have been eating breakfast.

May 9, 1918
Myrtle came over and we went up town and had a dandy time. Went to the “Grand”. After the show, we went home and ate supper and came back up town. But not alone. O no! Went over the Seats. Staid all night.

May 10 – A very sad day, 1918
Went to Merts, got my suitcase and came back. After supper, we went out for a ride. Had an excellent time. Went for another spin. Jack was over in the afternoon. We played the victrola and we sand some songs but that evening was some large one?

May 12 – Sunday, 1918
Staid home all day. Did not feel well all day. Myrtle went home. They have company from Gary, Ind. Sunday evening we had company. I took a walk thinking I could shake off the dogs or blues, whatever it was. The trip did me a little good anyway. I went to bed at 1:30. Had a good sleep.

May 13, 1918
This is Monday
I slept till 9:05, ate breakfast and helped Dora do up the work and now she has gone to the store. I’m waiting for Myrtle. Dora came back from the store at 12 o’clock. Myrtle called up from the North Western Depot. I had a nice talk with her. At 8 P.M. I met her uptown and we took a walk.

May 14, 1918
We saw the carnival parade which was very good.

Slept late today – not much doing. Dora washed clothes today. We all went uptown in the evening and got home rather early. Ate so many peanuts, we nearly died.

May 15, 1918
Everybody survived the peanut but we slept until 10 o’clock. Had breakfast at 12. Some early risers would be better for lunch than peanuts.

This P.M, Dora went uptown. Myrtle and I talked and slept and did a little ironing – Dora got supper, an Mert and I washed the dishes and Dora finished up the ironing and finished Toodles’ dress. Ate a lunch and went to bed at 10 o’clock. Got up at 9.

May 15, 1918
Dora cleaned her kitchen this A.M. Myrtle and I washed the dishes. After dinner, Mert and I went uptown. Mert had company in the evening, and Seal and I went to the Show. Dora crocheted around a handkerchief. We got home at 10:55. Went to bed at 11:30.

May 16, 1918
Got up this A.M. At 8:30 and after breakfast I fixed my dress. Ate dinner and Mert and I went uptown. Got home at 5:30, ate supper and Mert helped Dora wash dishes. It’s raining now. Have been here just a month.

May 17, 1918
Not much doing today. Seal played frog man and chased Mert and I all over the house and down stairs. We all went to bed at 9:30.

May 18, 1918
Mert and I went uptown with Eva. I staid all night with Eva. Came back to Seals Sunday morning at 7:15 and went to bed until 9:30 A.M.

May 19, 1918
It rained most all day. We had a lovely dinner and lounged around until 4 o’clock. Went to bed and slept till 6:30. It had rained just awful.

May 20, 1918
Got up early this A.M. We washed clothes. Mert had company all afternoon and we did all up the ironing. After a good hearty supper, Mert and I went out for a walk and arrived home early and went to bed.

May 21, 1918
Went uptown. Dora got her shoes today. I left Seals real early and took my grips to the Depot and intended going to the Show but it rained so hard we stayed at the Depot till train time. I left Green Bay at 10:55. Got to Wausaukee at 1:30. Spent Wednesday, May 22, at Wausaukee and came to ???? May 23. Have had a real good visit and had lots of good times. I’ve not ????? here but have just mentioned here the few important items.

May 24, 1918, 1918
Frog Pond City
Got a letter from Mert Friday. Sent her a card Saturday.

May 24, 1918
Jim and the boys loaded the third car of kiln wood. 24 and 25.

May 26, 1918
Sunday at Frog Pond City – it has rained and been cloudy all day. The boys are fishing. I wrote to Myrtle today.

May 27, 1918
Still raining Nothing doing.

May 28, 1918
We washed clothes today. I got two letters, one from Ruth and one from Carl.

May 29, 1918
Raining again. I ironed the clothes and we made a bed in the barn.

May 30, 1918
The boys helped Jim peel bark till noon then Jim got his box wood counted. Had $22.50 coming to him.

[Handwritten by Emma Knapp.]

May 8, 1918
The end of a Perfect Day. As I sit alone here this evening, my thots are wondering wildly back over the past few months of my life. I see where I have made so many foolish mistakes. How often, oh, how often I have wished for just a little foresight. Oh, how many snares and pitfalls we could avert. And there again when I have had sorrow and trouble, how glad I was that things are as they are. But what’s the use of tears and sighing after all these years of trying? And why is it that the ones we love the most have to be the farthest from us? And why is it the ones we do the most for, are the first ones to turn against us? Nuff sed. Who pays?

Memories, memories, dreams of love so tame. In the seas of memories I’m driving back to you. Childhood days, wild wood days, among the birds and the bees, you left me alone but still you’re my own in my beautiful memories.
[Handwritten by Myrtle Primley.]

May 31, 1918
Jim went to Wausaukee. I lounged around all afternoon. This morning, I did another washing. The boys cut some kiln wood today. I got my order from Christs. No Letters!

B. June 9, N, June 10 come, E June 7
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp.]

June 10, 1918
Us three and no more
Three of a kind
All in the same Bolt
uno all right next veek.
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp inside of a circle.]

We three all wrote to Pete

There are no friends like Old friends
Their welcome rings but true
When others pass you onward
You’ll find they’ll stick by you.
Amen E.B.K

[Highlighted and circled, but this appears to be in Emma’s handwriting:] Patie wrote this

June 8, 1918
Also a party at Ferclys – Sat. Eve
I went to Wausaukee with Nora and Blanch Sat. morning. Sunday I spent at Mrs. Bullion’s. Had a real nice visit. Monday, Nora and I went uptown. Wednesday, I came to Taylor Rapids. (Nonie got rainbow trout.)

June 10, 1918
I have been as happy since Saturday. More happy then I have been for so many long months. And I like my grandma now. Sister east all the gravy and moike and I have to sleep on the black built and cat tail pillows, so don’t forget the wheat clothes when you come again. You know. Saturday! August!

June 12, 1918
I washed clothes today and wrote to Jack and mailed a letter to Blanche. I got my order from Montgomery Ward and Co. Jim and the boys planted potatoes today.

June 28, 29, 30, 1918
Went to the W.SS. Sale. Got a letter from Myrtle and Blanche. Ans them today.

August 28, 1918
Well, I wonder how long it will be before you will notice this. It was Nonie’s birthday today. Granma Knapp was here all day. I wonder where we all will be a year from now. Melvin has the pounch ache so bad, he don’t know what to do. I am thinking of going back to the Boy Sat. nite. I shaved Jim. His whiskers were 6 inches long.
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp.]

Sunshine of the heart

It’s the sunlight of the heart that makes
Sweet the chosen way;
It’s the sunlight of the heart
Not the sunlight of the day.
It’s the sunlight of the heart
Keeps us toiling cold or heat
With the blossoms in our dreams
And the robins singing sweet.

By Nora Knapp
[Handwritten by Nora Knapp.]

Testimony of Nora Cunningham Merrifield

August 27, 1918, Tuesday

I am down to Emmas. I leave tomorrow. God knowns where and I don’t care. I Hope to come back some day maybe, yes, maybe no. Got Syba with me. Myrtle is here. She looks good. Good Bye and Good Luck and God Bless you is all that I can say.

Nora Cunningham Merrifield
leave this space until I return.
[Handwritten and signed by Nora Cunningham Merrifield, namesake of Nora (Nonie) Knapp, and half-sister of Nonie’s father, James Knapp Jr., husband of Emma. Parents of Nora (Cunningham) Merrifield were Elizabeth Brantt/Brau/Brandt and Charles Cunningham (second marriage for Elizabeth after James Knapp Sr.).]


[Note: 16 pages torn out, only bits of edges with two or three words remain. Next page reads:]

February 1920
Ma is up to camp. Working poar thing. She was down yesterday. Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Carl went away this morning. Robert had a mishap in bed last night. Wayne was sick. Ma took him last night up to camp.

February 1920
15 years of age
Robert and I both are awful lonely for Wayne. Mert all alone this afternoon. Water is on the heater getting hot. We make some coco. I am not feeling well. Boys were awful mean.

February 1920
I am very sad and lonesome today. I don’t know why. Ma was home from camp yesterday (Sun). Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Carl were here. Went away this morning. Wayne was sick. I wish I knew how he was.
[Handwritten possibly by Nora Knapp]

April 18, 1920
Emma Knapp
A beautiful Sunday.
[Handwritten by Emma Knapp]

August 22 , 1920
Emma getting ready to go home,
Miss Nora Knapp

Can’t tell fairy stories.

January 23, 19??
Today is Wednesday, January 23
I sewed on my apron today. I sent Jack his bond and also got a letter from him.
[Handwritten possibly by Nora Knapp, as she then practices signing her name.]

I am so lonely today. I just finished ironing.

Helen McCady

Don’t forget the pleasant times we’ve had.

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2 Responses to Knapp Family Journal 1916-1924: Chronological Version

  1. Pingback: Family History » Help Needed: Train Derailment in Northern Wisconsin 1917

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