This entry describes a fairly typical Saturday in Cornelius N. Weygandt’s life. By the 1890s people generally did not work a full day on Saturdays. One of the things that Weygandt enjoyed doing in the nice weather was driving around northwest Philadelphia and the immediate suburbs in his phaeton, a small carriage. On this particular day Weygandt and his wife choose to drive out to the Andorra Nurseries which were located near the present-day Andorra Natural Area in the upper Wissahickon Valley. Having built his house on open farmland, Weygandt wanted to fill in the open space with a variety of trees, some of which might still be on the Upsal Street property today.
The disparaging reference at the beginning of this diary entry to Wendell and Smith relates to the West Mount Airy real estate development known as Pelham. Wendell and Smith were hired by a group of investors, whom Weygandt refers to as the “Syndicate,” in 1893 to create an upper middle class planned community similar to ventures they had in Overbrook and Wayne. Weygandt had some unfavorable dealings with the group when they put Pelham Road through the back of his property. The house Weygandt refers to in this entry is 328 Pelham Road and was built for John Boltz on plans prepared by local architect Mantle Fielding, well known for his Colonial Revival buildings throughout the area (such as the former barn at Wyck).
Saturday October 27, 1894
Rose at a few minutes after seven. Temperature at 52. Sunshine with clouds. Took breakfast with Lucy, sitting down before 8. Corney had had his breakfast. I was driven to the station in the trap, with Lucy. John driving. And, on the way, we took a look at the Pelham pond & the Billmyer meadow. The pond is still there.
At the station I met Mantle Fielding who gave me an account of some of his experiences with the contractors Wendell & Smith and their man, Albright. He found them dishonest and told them so. He thinks that Albright is the worst. I suppose the especially dirty work is put upon Albright. Smith was knavish about land transactions with Boltz, cheating him out of a fourteen feet on account of a change in the curve of the road; and W. & S. failed to rough grade B’s lot as promised. A bad lot. After being at the station a while, I found that I had left my diary at home, and went back for it. This caused me to miss the 8.47 train. So I went in by the 96.
Bought three ties at Milton & Co’s. for $1.; and four camels hair stockings for a dollar, at the same place; as I walked downtown. And I bought at [Jacob] Reed & Son, afterwards, two medium weight drawers, one pair, for $2.30. All of the Amer. Hosiery Co’s make. The shirts are 44 inches, and the drawers 42 inches in width around. All these purchases were sent to bank later in the day.
We are $37.000. in debt at the C[learing].H[ouse]. Net deposits at $3.200.000. Reserve 28¼% Surplus reserve $103.000. Parted with $50.000. N.Y. funds for certificates to the F[armer’s]. & M[echanic’s]. Nat[tional]. Bank; to replenish our home cash.
Aunt Mary came in for her dole, $16, which I gave her, and, along with it a piece of my mind about her insensibility as to her obligation to me for benefits conferred, and her constant mention to me of the benefits she receives from the Kellogs, as if they exceeded mine. (And they do not). No doubt she does this to try to get more from me! She is a very mean creature. And then she is continually groaning to me, about not getting dividends from Lehigh Valley [Railroad] stock; to indirectly suggest that I might make it up to her – probably. I cannot abide her anyway.
Sent Archie to pay Elwell & Weygandt, for a half barrel of oatmeal $3. A charming bright morning. We are heavily in debt at the Runner’s Exchange; and consequently, had to drop $50.000. more New York finds. This time for a due bill. Our deposits continue to fall off. Nead, the Receiver of the Nat. Bank of Middletown writes for information as to the details of our relations with & claims upon that bank, etc. And we refer him to our Sept. letter to Hardt, the bank examiner, with its accompanying statements, for all he asks for, except the collateral notes paid and protested since then[,] a statement of which we sent today. I posted our banks stock ledger just before leaving the bank; rather hurriedly; and I shall have to look over the work on Monday morning.
Bought a dozen crumpets, and a half pound of shelled pecan nuts at Flicke’s on my way to the train. Went out in the 1.18 train. Dinner with Lucy; of beefsteak, boiled white potatoes, our own spinach, “brown betty” pudding, lemonade, etc.
Drove out in the phaeton with the pair afterwards, with Lucy; and went to the Andorra Nurseries, by Pelham, Carpenter, McCallum, Cherokee, Seminole, Main, etc. and were there some time, driving around the grounds with Harper & looking at and selecting trees for planting in our grounds. These grounds are beauti-[fully] located for views around the country, and they contain many fine old trees, as well as the numerous young ones in nursery. We also went to Harper’s house, at his invitation, and were shown over it by him, seeing the tall Mrs. Harper whom H. calls “Cherie.” He is proud of and fond of his house, which is an old farm house, fixed up. We drove home by the Wissahickon Drive, Park Avenue, on the road by Levering Jones’ new house, on Cherokee Av., McCallum, etc. etc.; going to Main & Johnson Sts. for chipped dried beef, before getting home, and getting in at ten minutes of six.