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The Boys


This transcription of Sheffield Peabody's diary shows an example of the numerous accounts that he kept for the employees who worked on his farm. Amounts in both monetary and supplies are detailed in his journals so he was able to keep track of his debts to the men who worked for him.


If Sheffield Peabody's farm was a home office, then his neighbors often were employees. Since families were seen as reliable sources of labor, it was very common for different farmers to send members of their families, as well as themselves, to different farms that scattered the area. Due to the convenience that the neighbors provided in terms of location, these traveling farmers were an easy source of labor for the different families in the county, and because allowed for different family members to earn themselves extra supplies and money for their families. These relationships also built up a network of trust between families, as it not only allowed neighbors to perform their different chores and duties with more relative ease, but also provided a way for the community to bond with one another.

While there were many different workers that came to and left the Peabody farm, there were a few that stayed consistent in their visits. However, even though they were constantly coming and going to the farm, and giving each other a significant amount of help, Peabody refers to them offhandedly, as if their constantly matriculating presence gives them a sort of amorphous identity. In different entries his will either simply refer to them by their initials, or even call them their full name. For example, during one entry he writes, “Cleaned some oats, A.M. George Lamont fitted potatoe ground. Henry Muck got 33 potatoes for seed. I took 3 calves to Depot. Sold to Alley Becker. Mary went to the valley with me. Moose cut a colt for me.” (May 21, 1888) Here he shows a daily interaction between him and some of his neighbors working with one another, and yet he never refers to them as friends or with a shortened title, aside from his wife. It demonstrates how the different farmers were addressed, and how he treated his friends in comparison to how he addressed his family.

It was a strong network of aid that these farmers had with one another, and in today’s modern workforce it can be seen as an unusual notion. This network, however, of farmers aiding farmers allowed for these men and women to create their own strong community, even though they could be miles apart. They strongly relied on one another for work and aid, and their help was accounted for within Peabody’s diaries, as evident in the above photo. It helps to ensure that “the Boys” were given their fair share for their part in this communal network of farmers.