Book 07, Diary of J.P. D'Ooge from 1896 December to 1899 July


Book 07, Diary of J.P. D'Ooge from 1896 December to 1899 July
Electa Jane (Jennie) Pease D'Ooge
The seventh volume of Jennie Pease D’Ooge’s diary documents December 1896 through mid-July 1899. It is a period of personal and professional growth for Jennie and her husband, Benjamin L. D’Ooge, as they prepare for a sabbatical in Bonn, Germany. She meticulously keeps track of transactions to and from her personal cash account, as well as social calls to be paid, in the back of her diary. Also in the back of this volume, Ben has written ten sets of questions on Marcus Tullius Cicero’s Third and Fourth Catilinarian Orations.

The D’Ooges continue to rent 423 Ballard Street in Ypsilanti and have dinner out of the house. After domestic servant Rose Sauture becomes ill, Minnie Ellenbush Brummel returns to work for the D’Ooges. Mrs. Ruth Vroman and Mrs. Wilson at times do the family’s laundry; Miss Leonard, Miss Hess, and Minnie variously help with mending and sewing; and Mrs. Reinl and Miss Smith are hired as dressmakers. In July 1898 a newspaper obituary announces the death of “Rab D’Ooge, one of the most intelligent and best dogs in the city.”

The D’Ooges experience a range of minor illnesses, which Jennie tends to diligently. She suffers from a troublesome ear ailment and goes to the dentist to have a nerve in a tooth killed. Measles sweeps through the family. Ida is only able to attend classes in the morning, as she struggles with headaches, backaches, dizziness, and worries about school. She gets new glasses for her farsightedness, and Helen is instructed to rest her eyes more to avoid glasses for the same condition.

Now that the children are older and even the youngest is (eventually) potty-trained, Jennie is able to devote more time to long-neglected pursuits. She enrolls in a Latin class taught by Ben’s assistant, Miss Alice M. Eddy, and takes German conversation lessons. “My brain cells are expanding too rapidly, I’m sure, from so much German and Latin and things, after having been unused for more than twenty years.” Jennie also goes out sketching and, while in Charlevoix for the summer, takes swimming lessons.

The nationwide bicycle craze of the late nineteenth century reaches the D’Ooge household. After Ben and Jennie successfully ride a tandem bike, in October 1897 he orders her a Rambler bicycle “at a great bargain” for $50. “I have the same jumping, squealing happiness inside that one of the children would show at such a prospect.” Ben is an avid cyclist and in October 1898 is involved in a legal dispute with the city of Ypsilanti over an ordinance banning cycling on sidewalks.

After four years as pastor of Ypsilanti’s First Congregational Church, Rev. Bastian Smits leaves for Charlotte, Michigan. He is replaced by Rev. B. F. Aldrich in May 1897. Ben pledges $150 and Jennie $50 toward a major remodel of the church, anticipated to cost more than $6000. The cornerstone is laid in September 1898.

Jennie serves as chairman of the Sappho Club’s nominating committee and sits on the finance and entertainment committees of the local Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) chapter. She is also active with the Young People’s Society for Christian Endeavor (YPSCE) and the Ladies’ Literary Club, and she teaches the Congregational Sunday school infant class. Among the papers she presents at various club meetings are: “Rights of a Child” (“Expect to stir up a hornet’s nest by some of my views,” she comments), “Sanitation in the home – Physiology in the Schools,” and “The Domestic Problem.”

Much of the extended D’Ooge family makes an appearance during this volume, as Ben and his siblings travel to visit their aging mother. On February 23, 1899, Johanna Quintus D’Ooge dies at the age of 81 in Grand Rapids. In the following weeks, Ben and his brother Martin L. D’Ooge divide up their parents’ estate among the heirs, Ben taking a house and lot on Spring Street in Grand Rapids as an investment property.

There are whispers that Michigan State Normal College president Dr. Richard Gause Boone will be asked to resign, and several have suggested Ben take his place, but Jennie is “so glad he will not think of it.” The D’Ooges hope to move on from Ypsilanti soon. Ben is offered a position at Adelphi College in Brooklyn, New York, but the college is unable to pay him enough. As it is, he must stay behind to teach summer school for the extra money while his family goes up north to Charlevoix. Outside of teaching, Ben is invited, along with Jennie, to serve as chaperone at an Arm of Honor banquet in February 1899, and he is active with the Schoolmaster’s Club.

Ben’s textbook Easy Latin for Sight Reading is published by Ginn and Company in 1897. He then works with Harvard professor James B. Greenough to revise Joseph Henry Allen and Greenough’s edition of Caesar’s Gallic War. Jennie assists by researching Gaul and copying references, and the new Caesar is published in May 1898. Other publishers approach Ben to edit more Latin texts, and Jennie writes: “Of course it is all a great honor and some money too – but I wish the work outside his School work did not pile up so fast.” Ginn and Co. agree to pay Ben $1200 a year to study overseas, and in January 1899 the state board of education grants him a one-year leave of absence. Spending time abroad may help him get a position at another school. “But I don’t worry a bit about his chances for promotion,” Jennie asserts. “A man who has done such first-class work always – must win.”

In May 1898, following the explosion of the USS Maine and the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, more than 4000 soldiers from Michigan’s National Guard formed four volunteer regiments, which were trained at Camp Eaton at Island Lake, near Brighton. Ben takes seven-year-old Len to see the encampment. They have supper in the mess tent with a friend, Mr. Glaspie (likely recent Normal graduate and football player Andrew Bird Glaspie), who gives Len a badge bearing an eagle and the slogan “Remember the Maine,” which, Jennie says, “is our watch-word in all engagements.” “We are wondering what a week will bring forth in the way of battles. Still we go on quietly living just as if the air were not so full of war and battles down around Cuba.”

Jennie loses ten pounds during the family’s last month in Ypsilanti, as she rushes to sell investments for cash, withdraw money from banks, and procure last-minute necessities. At the end of the journal, Ben travels to Cambridge, Massachusetts, while Jennie and the children travel past Niagara Falls (“a bit disappointed”) to Canaan, Connecticut. They plan to meet at the home of Ben’s sister Nellie D’Ooge Utterwick in East Canaan, before journeying on to New York to board their transatlantic ship.
Date Span
1896 December to 1899 July
Ann Arbor (Mich.); Bicycles; Canaan (Conn.); Charlevoix (Mich.); Children; Church entertainments; Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.); Clothing and dress; College teachers; Community and college; Congregational churches; Cycling; Detroit (Mich.); Diaries; Families; First Congregational Church (Ypsilanti, Mich.); Home economics; Latin philology; Manners and customs; Michigan State Normal College; Michigan State Normal School; Motherhood; Printed ephemera; Recreation; Sailing; Scholarly publishing; Sewing; Social life and customs; Societies and clubs; Study and teaching; Textile fabrics; Universities and colleges -- Faculty; University towns; University women; Ypsilanti (Mich.)
Collection Location
Book 7
Alexis Braun Marks and Katie Delahoyde
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Item sets
D'Ooge Journals