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RG4295.AM:  Charles Hadsall, 1843-1915

Diaries:  1863-1903

Weston, Saunders County, Neb.:  Farmer, dairyman, beekeeper

Size:  8 reels of microfilm containing 39 diaries


Charles Hadsall was born in 1843 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. During his youth he worked on the family’s small farm. In 1863, at the age of twenty, he joined the 112th Regiment, 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, Battalion M. It was during the Civil War that he began recording his experiences and observations in a daily diary. Following the war, he returned to his parent’s home in Pennsylvania where he alternated between occasional school attendance, farm work and outside winter jobs.

Hadsall came to Nebraska in 1871, homesteading in Saunders County, approximately a mile east of Weston, Nebraska. He married Caroline O’Kane of Polo, Illinois, in 1874. They had eight children. Charles Hadsall was a successful farmer, dairyman and beekeeper. He was a member of the Republican Party, the Grange and the Farmers’ Alliance. In 1900 he and his family moved to University Place, a Lincoln suburb, so that his sons could attend Nebraska Wesleyan University. In 1909 he purchased land in San Patricio County, Texas, where he spent his winters. Charles Hadsall died on November 19, 1915, and was buried in Weston, Nebraska.


This collection consists of thirty-nine personal diaries kept by Charles Hadsall from 1863 to 1903 in which he recorded his experiences in the Civil War and on Pennsylvania and Nebraska farms. It is arranged in one series. The diaries served primarily as Hadsall’s daily business journals in which he recorded income and expenses. In addition, the entries include references to everyday activities, from family affairs to the weather. Hadsall recorded miscellaneous information such as addresses, records of cash accounts and incidents from his war service on the undated memoranda sheets and flaps of several of the diaries. He also filled extraneous items such as letters, photographs, clippings, bills and receipts and cards in cover pockets of the volumes. The diaries cover a forty-year period with two exceptions, 1880 and 1902.

The diaries may be grouped into five parts, with each part representing a distinct phase in the life of Charles Hadsall and his family: (1) The War Years, 1863-1865. In addition to recording the mundane events in a soldier’s life, Hadsall also described the progress of the war as he understood it from information obtained from other soldiers and newspapers. In 1863 he was stationed at Ft. Lincoln, Washington, D.C. In May of 1864 his company was sent to join General Ambrose Burnside. The unit was engaged in combat on June 5. Lists of the wounded in his company were kept in the back of the diaries for this period. (2) Life in Pennsylvania after the War, 1866-1870. The diarist described life on his parent’s Pennsylvania farm, his occasional attendance at school and various winter jobs away from the farm. In the memoranda sections at the end of the volumes, Hadsall recalled his war experiences. In 1869 his uncle James and brother Ike talked about going west.

(3) Settlement in Nebraska, 1871-1872. Hadsall moved to Nebraska in January of 1871. His family joined him later that year. Diary entries describe the early experiences of home building and farming. (4) Life on the Prairie, 1873-1898. The diaries depict life in Nebraska during periods of boom and bust. Hadsall describes his participation in the Grange, the Republican Party and the Farmers’ Alliance. He was a zealous Granger, skeptical Allianceman and ardent Republican. He and his wife, Caroline, had eight children and his diaries reflect family life on the Plains. Three of the children, all girls, died in childhood. Child mortality, common on the frontier, is chronicled. Caroline suffered from chronic illness, necessitating the use of hired labor to perform household as well as field work. The Hadsalls welcomed social contacts and often opened their home for Methodist prayer meetings. Confrontations with the harsh environment are illustrated in the journals by accounts of the grasshopper scourges of the mid-1870s and blizzards of the 1880s. The Hadsalls shared with other Nebraskans the economic hard times of the late 1880s. (5) Between Farm and Town, 1899-1903. The older children attended Nebraska Wesleyan University and in 1899 the family purchased a home in University Place, near the campus, while still maintaining the farm in Saunders County.


Series 1 – Diaries, 1863-1879; 1881-1901; 1903

Reel 1 (control# 16409)


  1. 1862

  2. 1864

  3. 1865

  4. 1866

  5. 1867 (through Dec. 17)

Reel 2 (control# 16410)


  1. 1867 (Dec. 18-end)

  2. 1868

  3. 1869

  4. 1870

  5. 1871

Reel 3 (control# 16411)


  1. 1872

  2. 1873

  3. 1874

  4. 1875

  5. 1876

Reel 4 (control# 16412)


  1. 1877

  2. 1878

  3. 1879

  4. 1881

  5. 1882

  6. 1883

  7. 1884 (through Dec. 26)

Reel 5 (control# 16413)


  1. 1884 (Dec. 27-end)

  2. 1885

  3. 1886

  4. 1887

  5. 1888

  6. 1889 (through Sept. 22)

Reel 6 (control# 16414)


  1. 1889 (Sept. 23-end)

  2. 1890

  3. 1891

  4. 1892

  5. 1893

  6. 1894

  7. 1895 (through Mar. 2)

Reel 7 (control# 16415)


  1. 1895 (Mar. 4-end)

  2. 1896

  3. 1897

  4. 1898

  5. 1899

  6. 1900

  7. 1901

Reel 8 (control# 16425)


  1. 1903



Agrarian radicalism — Nebraska

Agricultural laborers — Nebraska

Agricultural societies — Nebraska


Blizzards — Nebraska

Dairying — Nebraska


Farm life — Nebraska — Saunders County

Frontier and pioneer life — Nebraska — Saunders County


Hadsall, Charles, 1843-1915

Homesteads and homesteading — Nebraska — Saunders County

Patrons of Husbandry (Neb.)

Saunders County (Neb.) — History

United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Personal narratives

Weston (Neb.) — History


Encoded TMM   04-16-2010