Lucius kept a diary over a long period, how long we can't be sure because not all of the diaries have come to light. We do know from those available that they extend from some time in 1855 to August 12, 1871. His approach was to write down in a somewhat abbreviated form what he did and/or what was done to him, so to speak, on a particular day, day by day, week by week, month by month. Putting his life's experience down in that way involved some choice of course. First and foremost was what work he did. The Diaries are work diaries of a familiar kind in that period. They were meant to satisfy, to give evidence of, an individual's functioning according to a work ethic, instilled at an early age. Very young children were assigned and carried out chores in the house, barns, fields.
But Lucius' entries are varied. Many of them have to do with personal relationships, his strained relationship with his mother in law, for example, his relationships with his own family members and with members of families he became part of through marriage. His business dealings are set down at length. There is much self-reflection and estimates of his success and/or lack of it in life. And there are reflections on the quality of the kind of life he found himself immersed in. Before the time covered by the present diary, he has been a school teacher, a business man manufacturing sorghum molasses on his father's farm, and half owner of a grocery store in Columbus. He reads a daily paper and is knowledgeable about national and international events.
He has a perceptive mind of a kind replicated in the population in town and country without the refinement of education pursued energetically at an advanced level. This is a considerable asset because he views daily life in the agrarian midwest in the middle of the nineteenth century from the inside, so to speak. More than any formal historian, he can make the reader feel the reality of life at the grass roots.
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As a background to Lucius' 1869-71 Diary, the file below reproduces the Autobiography of Lucius' father, Archibald (1803-83).
Archibald Smith's Autobiography
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