What was life like for the typical Effingham County resident in the early 20th Century? How was daily life different from today’s experiences? Those are questions which many people wonder about when studying their personal family history. What are the sources of the needed information?

One fascinating way to answer the questions is to look at diaries from the past. A great example is the diary of W.H. Wines, a life story recounted in the Mildred Green Kilhoffer book, “W.H. Wines His Diary and His Descendants.” A sample reading from the book tells about Wines’ life in rural Effingham County in 1903. There were threats to existence which are not so common today, as well as hardships which made life difficult:

Friday, October 9 — Weather fine. This morning while we were eating breakfast, the house caught fire overhead in the loft around the chimney from a defective flu and we had to take some of the roof off to put out the fire and I have been at work all day repairing the damage and fixing the flu. We had a narrow escape from being burnt out. The neighbors helped us.

Saturday, October 10, 1903 — Weather fine, but a little cool. More new corn than common to grind. The pump on the engine got out of fix and I had to put the fire out before I could fix it. ...

Monday, October 19 — No change in the weather. It’s fine for anything. I got the miles and went to hauling stove wood from the sawmill out over the hills and had bad roads so couldn’t haul a full load to town.

Another fascinating and quick way to learn about life in Effingham County’s past is to study old city directories. The reader can learn about transportation, local businesses, and city leaders through the content of such documents. The photos related to this story give a glimpse of the social, economic, religious and political life in the county seat in 1912.

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