January 1894: A.C. Woodworth, Traveling Salesman

By Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

Several years ago, I launched an annual blog series transcribing a diary from exactly 100 years ago, month by month, for the Beehive. It’s been a fun way to get to know the everyday voices in our collection; since I began we’ve followed a year in the life of Boston matron Margaret Russell (1916), architect Lady Gertrude Codman Carter (1917), high school student Barbara Hillard Smith (1918), and George Hyland, a casual laborer living in southeastern Massachusetts (1919). This year, we are returning to the type of diary that inspired this project — the travel diary. In 2015, I published a series of posts featuring the travels of anonymous woman’s pleasure cruise down the Nile. As none of the diaries in our collection from the year 1920 stood out as particular candidates for a full year’s worth of transcription, I am going to offer up a bouquet of excerpts instead … one month for each diary, and each diary a different journey.

For the month of January, I have selected the diary of A.C. Woodworth, a businessman who was based in Chicopee, Mass. at the turn of the 20th century. The MHS holds two of his daily diaries covering the years 1894 and 1905 in which he kept records related to his travels and business dealings, expenses, family, and personal matters. The entries transcribed below recount his regional travels for work during the month of January 1894. At the beginning of January 1894 Woodworth accepted a position as traveling sales agent for the Field Life Guard Co., which sold “life guards,” or fenders, to be installed on the front of streetcars to prevent pedestrian fatalities. The below entries document his first few weeks in his new position.

* * *

Friday, January 5, 1894


I had a long talk with Lawyer Nash, 19 Congress St. yesterday, and he told me he had brought Suit against Sam’l May to collect the notes amounting to $15,000 — which I hold against him. The suit is brought in Springfield though Mr. McClough may want to […] Nash and said he wanted a personal interview with me, and Nash made an appointment for me to meet May today at 11 o’clock but May did not turn up — Mr. Nash will push the suit to judgement but I hope May will offer to settle on some […] before that time. Had an interview with Lawyer Fowle — 53 State St. — about the […] Elevated R.R. Stock (yesterday) the stock is simply worthless. Fowle asked me to try to get Chicago people interested.

Saturday, January 6, 1894

Boston.                                                                                                                                    Prov’c

I came to Providence this a.m. and took room 34 at the Hotel […]

I find Mr. Harris has not yet returned from Brooklyn where he went to have a trial […] but he is expected home today. Mr. Makepeace is sick in bed and […] me until tomorrow.

Met Mr. Wheeler on the […] went to the theater in the evening.

Sunday, January 7, 1894


I had a long talk with Mr. M […] today, at his home, where I took tea. M […] says he has cancelled […] $100-note I sent him, and will give me […] $200-note he holds on which I paid him $100 — I think he thought to do this because I have put as much money in working up […]

M […] told me all about […] in the Fender business & Harris Connection — also the chalk business.

Monday, January 8, 1894


Harris has gone to Portland today to hold the annual stockholders meeting […] Field Life Guard Co. tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be a meeting after directors of that company held here in Providence when, if what Harris and Makepeace says comes true, an arrangement will be made with me to become their Western Agent on a salary of $2,500 per year and a commission of 10% on my sales — they to pay all my expenses.

Tuesday, January 9, 1894


I had a long interview with Mr. Geo. H. Corliss and Miss. Corliss. I went to their house, cor. Angel & Prospect Sts. abt. 12 o’clock, by appointment made by Mr. Weeden (nephew) The interview was a very satisfactory one — but I am obliged to wait until the 20” of this month, before they will put a price on their property — at that time they will give me a price for the Geo. H. Corliss Engine Co. — Complete as it now stands, if the partners who are now negotiating for it have not closed the bargain.

[…] Exp. Bkft. 60c. Cigars. 50. Lunch .45c. Supper 1-. Papers .10c. Ames came tonight. $2.65.

Wednesday, January 10, 1894


I have this day engaged with the Field Life Guard Co. of this city, for six months at $200 per month salary and all my expenses — I am also to have 10% com on all the new business I bring the co. Salary to begin January 1/94.

Exps.    Breakfast                     1.25
Papers                                         .05
Dinner                                       1.30
Supper                                       1.25
Ames (personal)                   25.00
Cigars                                          .25
Expenses                                   1.25
Expenses                                     .25
                                    $           30.85

Thursday, January 11, 1894

Providence & Chicopee.

Ames […] came to Chicopee this p.m. I have started my work for the Field Life Guard Co. Am going to Holyoke tomorrow morning & to Rochester in the afternoon.

Life Guard act.
R.R. to Chicopee                  $2.44

Genl exp. act.
Hotel bill                               $8.96
Meals                                      $1.70
R.R.                                         $2.44

Friday, January 12, 1894

Chicopee, Holyoke & En Route.

Went to Holyoke this a.m. Saw Mayor Whitcomb & City Clerk. They have taken no action on the Fender business. Perkins out of city. Callahan dead. Am going to call Perkins Monday.

Life Guard act.
R.R. to Holyoke & return      .24 c
Shirt […]                                   .10
Dinner                                       .75
Ink stand                                  .50
Copy book                              1.30
To Springfield              .10  $2.99

R.R. to Rochester               $6.94
Sleeper to “                             2.00
Supper on cars                       1.00                 9.94
Hotel                                           .15
Cab to Hotel                              .50

Saturday, January 13, 1894

See […] in other book.

En Route, Rochester & Syracuse.

Arrived here this a.m. 3.20.

Went to Powers Hotel.

Lodging, Bkfst & Dinner        3.50
Other Exps.                                 .45
Bus to depot                                .25
Telegram to Harris .35 .46       .81
Ticket to Syracuse                    1.68
“         “   Sprg                             5.30
Sleeper “     “                               1.50

Supper                                           .75
Exps                                               .25
Stamps                                          .20
Porter                                            .25
Breakfast                                       .75

Saw Prest & Secy of Rochester Railway Co. and arranged for trial of fender in about 10 days. Took measurements of car — gave price at $40 per car job at Worcester […] furnish man to supt putting fenders on cars — they have 150 cars to be fitted up. […] has been given the authority to fit up tr. cars — they have one very fine car that is to be fitted with nickel plated fender — they are going to have the Pittsburgh fender. […] $5,000,000–

John H. Beckley, Prest. F. P. Allen, Treas. C.A. Williams, Secy.

[gap in record]

Tuesday, January 16, 1894

M[…]                                                                                                    Providence

Stayed at the Bay State House all night — Mr. F[…] came this AM and we went to the […] Co. together.

Telephone to Prov.             .45
Car fares                               .20
Cigars                                    .25
Bill at hotel                        3.00
R.R. to Providence   1.10 5.00
Supper                                    45

F.L.G. Co. settled for Exp.

Chiropodist                    $5.00
Theatre                               1.50
F. Co. Exp. to date        $40.14

Wednesday, January 17, 1894

Providence & Brockton.

Field Life Guard Co. act.
Breakfast                             .65
Hotel                                   1.50
Dinner                                  .50
R.R. to Taunton                 .60
Supper                                 .35
R.R. to Brockton               .80
Expenses                             .25

Thursday, January 18, 1894

Worcester, Brockton & Providence.

I reached last [night] arriving at 9pm. Stopped at the B […] Hotel. Mr. C.B. Ragans Supt of this City .. will not put on fenders until he is obliged to.

Hotel                1.20
R.R. to Prov.   1.22
Papers               .05
Dinner               .60
R.R. to […]       1.10
Cigars                .30
[…]                     .05
Telephoning      .29

Received from the F.L.G. Co. p/c of Expenses $150

Friday, January 19, 1894

Mashpee & Boston.

Spent the day at Ames Plow Co. Field did not come as promised. Went to Boston at 4.22pm. Hotel                     4–             R.R. to Boston 1–

R[…]                .35       Street Car       .10
Messenger      .28       Supper           .90
F.L.G. Exps $6.60

Personal $5–

Mr. Field met me at Reynolds hotel this morning.

Saturday, January 20, 1894

Boston, Worcester, and Chicopee.

Took 7am train for Worcester, Field with me.

Hotel                              2–
Breakfast                      […]
R.R. to Worcester        1–
Papers                             .10
R.R. to […]                   1.24
R.R. to Chicopee           .10

[additional calculations]

Sunday, January 21, 1894

Chicopee & New York.
R.R. to New York                2.75
Street Car                               .05
Supper                                     .75
Cigars                                      .25

I came to New York this evening and am stopping at the New Amsterdam Hotel cor. 21” and 4” Ave. Mr. Harris met me here at 11 o’clock.

Monday, January 22, 1894

New York & Brooklyn.

Breakfast                      .75
Street Cars                   .10
Papers                          .05
Dinner                          .65
Supper                        1.05

Spent most of the day at the DeKalb […] shops with Harris and Field getting […] ready for […] Fender tomorrow. Saw […] a few moments.

diary page
Page from diary of A.C. Woodworth, 23 January 1894

Tuesday, January 23, 1894

New York – Brooklyn – En Route.

Breakfast (2)                   1.65
Cab fares                            .15
Lunch (2)                          .80
Papers                                .05
Supper                               .75
Hotel Bill                        3.00
Cigars                                 .50
R.R. to Binghampton   8.00
Gave Field                    20.00
Porter                                .75

Had live [demonstration] of our fender today. Chauncy, Linton, and Supt. of DeKalb Short Railway being present. The test went off fairly well. I leave for Binghampton tonight at 8-30pm.

Wednesday, January 24, 1894

Binghampton & Rochester.

Arrived here this AM at 3-55 went to the […] Hotel. Saw Mr. G. Linny Pagus Prest. of the Binghampton Rd. Co.

Hotel Bill                      1.25
R.R. to Rochester       3.65
Papers                           .05
Telegram                       .35
H[…]                              .50
Cigars                            .25

Thursday, January 25, 1894


[illegible list of supplies and prices]

At work getting fenders on cars for trial.

[…] H. Moffett tonight that fender that would come off […].

Rec’d telegraph from Harris.

[gap in records]

Sunday, January 28, 1894


Sunday papers            .75

Monday, January 29, 1894

Rochester – En Route.

Briefly went to New York yesterday — Had talk with Williams & Rasborough — Am to make a new fender & put on a car here. Packed up the 2 fenders and sent home by Express.

Helpers                                      1.25
Cigars                                           .75
Car Fares                                     .20
Papers                                          .05    – 2.25
Hotel Bill (5 days)                  17.50
Telegram from Moffitt              .50
Buss [sic]                                     .25
Supper                                          .95
R.R. to Sp […]                           6.92
Porter                                            .25
Waiter                                           .25
Sleeper to Sp […]                      4.00
Cigars                                            .25
Porter                                           .50

Tuesday, January 30, 1894

En Route & Chicopee.

Porter                          .50
Breakfast                    .75
Dinner                         .50
Car fare                       .10

Wednesday, January 31, 1894

Mashpee & […] & Prov.

R.R. to Prov.               $2.44
“           “                           .10
Exps                                .35
R.R. to […]                     1.10
Papers                             .05
Dinner                             .65
Cigars                              .25
Telegram to Harris       .55
Car Fares                        .10

Came back from Providence to Worcester this morning.

* * *

Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original. The A.C. Woodworth diaries are unrestricted and may be consulted in our reading room. If you have questions about the collection, or about planning a visit to the library, please contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.