Julia Stockton Dinsmore
Julia S. Dinsmore was a child of nine when her family moved up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers from Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana to their new home in the Belleview Bottoms section of Boone County. She was the middle of three daughters of James and Martha Dinsmore.
Her sister, Isabella, married a first cousin and died shortly after the birth of their second child, and the father sent these children to the farm in Kentucky to be raised by their Aunt Julia. Julia’s younger sister was drowned in a boating accident. Thus, by the time her father died in 1872, Julia Dinsmore had lost all of her immediate family and was left with two nieces to raise and a mediocre farm to manage. The work was rough and hired help often tried to cheat her. She was discouraged often in those early years alone. Her journal of 54 years revealed her various moods.
Sept. 23, 1873
Came home more discouraged than usual and rode along in the dark and mud crying.
Dec. 31, 1873
I have been so bothered and felt so discouraged to-day that I have been right unhappy. God grant me a happier year this next.
Jan. 21, 1875
…I drudge and worry to no avail. Lose money and temper and hope. I feel so unlike a lady in my externals that I have no doubt I shall be less of a lady in reality…never having one day of leisure or pleasure in which I can be my own old self again. Lord send me a fool who wants to pay a good price for this place. Time proved to be a healing agent and Julia settled in to raise her nieces and see that they received an education as good as Julia and her sisters had enjoyed. She became accustomed to farm work. Her diary of 1879 recorded the rhythm of her days.
(14 below zero @ 8a.m.) Tom tried to haul wood but broke an iron on the sled. Went to Bellvue for mail. River is frozen over.
I spent most of the day in a crusade against mice.
Found two new lambs and one old ewe down to die apparently…tried to count the lambs – made out 85 in all…
Found one dead lamb in the pen and one we had in the kitchen. Charlie and Tom both worked, put rings in the hogs and pigs noses. Hauled a load of barrels to the wine house…
…I put fire in 2 stumps…Killed copperhead on my way home to dinner…
Went to Rising Sun to see Uncle Jillison (a former family slave) – found him dying and he died while I sat by him. Poor old man – I wish him a blessed rest. Got Mr. Whitlock to go and attend to him – bought clothes, ordered coffin, etc, and came home.
Twelve years to-day since sister Belle (Isabella) closed her eyes on this world, – “Love’s not Time’s fool’ Thank God…Tom Nettles took a spring wagon down to the ferry to meet Uncle Jillison’s coffin in the hearse and to bring it out home.
One of 7 little pigs dead. Went to church in eveing. (Another time Julia writes that she was late getting to church – got there at Putting-on-Hat-Time.)
As the girls grew up and married, Julia Dinsmore maintained the farm as home, as a haven for rest, for childbirth, and for sickness and dying. All the time she recorded her day book and kept up a lively correspondence.
In her leisure after age fifty, Julia Dinsmore began to write poetry, and her Verses and Sonnets was published by Doubleday in New York City in 1910. In 1926, she suffered a fall that eventually led to her death. She is buried in the family graveyard at Dinsmore Farm.
*This biography appeared in Kentucky Women, edited by Eugenia Potter, c. 1997
President Theodore Roosevelt would write of Miss Julia…”My dear Miss Dinsmore…long before I had met any of your people Mrs. Roosevelt had put various poems of yours in her scrap-book, which we regard as the book of our household.” – (Sept. 16, 1910).