Saturday, May 7, 2016

Diary of James Milo Nosler: Tired of Nebraska and Distracted by "Kissing Bees"

James Milo Nosler (1843-1886), my 3rd great uncle who kept a diary for many years.  He was the youngest brother of my 2nd great grandfather, William "Will" Nosler (1840-1914).  The following is continued from my post "Diary of James Milo Nosler: Time in Nebraska and "Total Defeat".  The following passage is likely in 1859.

James Milo Nosler boarded a riverboat somewhere in Nebraska (I'm assuming Nemaha County) and arrived in St Joseph about 3 am on July 9.  Closeup from Colton's Kansas and Nebraska (1855).

On the 8th of July, having become tired of Nebraska, I boarded a boat and started for Mo., having worked out and got a couple of dollars or so.  This was the last time I saw Wieth [James' brother Wyatt or Wieth Nosler].  I took deck passage to St. Joe, got there about three in the morning with fifty cents in money and about sixty miles from home, but I got me a little something to eat and bravely set out on my journey.  That night I layed on the Jaraini [maybe this meant "train"?] and I reckon dreamed of the Prodigal Son.  The next day resumed my journey, got lost and oh what a time finally got to Mirable but the next four miles was a big thing, however made the [unintelligible], but I had to stop every hundred yards or so and rest my weary legs.  Well here I was, black, ragged, and dirty.  My five acres of corn in Nebraska.  So much for experience.

From St Joseph to Mirabile proved to be a harrowing trip for him.  Closeup from Colton's Kansas and Nebraska (1855).

My father [John Nosler, ] never in his life refused me a good chance to make money when I asked it--but on the other hand often solicited me to tend his farm.  Well, I worked around during the summer and toward fall father wanted me to come home and stay and go to school.  At this I consented.  He got me a good suit of clothes and fixed me up and after we had the corn gathered, I started to school to a splendid teacher by the name of Slocum (?) [the transcriber wasn't sure of the name.  I find a Geo Latimer, a 26-year-old school teacher from Ohio in the 1860 Census in Rockford, Caldwell, Missouri--is this him?] who thought a great deal of me.
Will [James' brother] had in the mean time gone to Neb. and returned, having sold my corn for $25.  Well, I went two or three weeks and was getting along fine when came to be the day they began having those sissy infernal play parties or "kissing bees" in the neighborhood, which soon so completely drew my mind from my studies that I give up the school entirely.  I shall always be a bitter opposer to all such amusements.  Soon after on some frivolous account, I left home and staid at Johns [James' brother John Nosler] the rest of the winter, who by the way had moved to Mo. during the summer previous.

I find a description of these hated "kissing bees" from "Stories of Missouri" by John Roy Musick:  
"A substitute for this sort of amusement [dancing] which was tolerated by the church members was the "social party," "play party," or, as they were sometimes called, "kissing bees."  At these, such games as "Weevilly Wheat," "Sister Phoeby," "We're Marching down to Old Quebec," and "King William," are played for the amusement of the young people. If it was announced that there was to be a dance, "frolic," or "kissing bee" at a house on a certain night, soon after dark the young people would begin to arrive.  They came from all parts of the country, some on foot, some on horseback, and a few, who came from a distance, in wagons. 
The dancing was usually of the rudest sort.  The fiddler sawed away on his cracked instrument all night long on such airs as "Old Dan Tucker," "Zip Coon [now known as Turkey in the Straw"]," "Natches under the Hill," "Rickets," Fisher's Hornpipe," "Sailor's Hornpipe,[the tune is probably most associated with Popeye today]" "Run, Nigger, Run[from the film "12 Years A Slave"]" "Soap Suds," "Great Big Taters in the Sandy Land," and others of like character.  When not engaged in dancing or talking with the girls, the young men usually discussed farming, logging, or clearing off the forest and plowing the land.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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