Monday, January 21, 2008
Mr. McGinley made a prayer roads blocked up (sic)
Photo showing inside the hoophouse yesterday. The thermometer dial reads 85 degrees, when the outside temperature was 20 degrees!
Our title for today is the last sentence in Jonathan Henry Wright's Jackson, Maine, farm diary entry for January 19, 1888. The weather was reported as "fair 8 degrees." The next day it was 2 below, then 4 below, then 14 below, and so on. All in all, the highest temperature Jonathan Henry records for the month of January 1888 is 40 degrees on the 2nd. We may safely assume that these are the daily minimum temperatures that he recorded, since that would be the winter temperature measurement a farmer was most concerned about, and since the full entry on the weather for the 15th was "rain 26 degrees" which suggests that the maximum for that day must have been more than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, for it to rain at all. The warmest minimum temperature this January was around 40 degrees.
A quick spreadsheet exercise reveals that the average minimum for January 1888 was 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The weather.com webpage gives the 30 year monthly average for January in Brooks, Maine, 3.5 miles to the south, and a little lower in altitude, as 12 degrees.
Jonathan Henry Wrights's diary entries are fascinating. He farmed just a little up the road from here, and he and his son "broke roads" open for the Town of Jackson in winter. Their father, also Jonathan ("Captain" Jonathan -- most probably a sea captain), was one of the first settlers in the town, buying land from Israel Thorndike, the proprietor of the Great Farm. The elder Jonathan pioneered a homestead and helped found the Congregational Church.
According to Robert Lindsey in The Wrights of Jackson, Maine, Jonathan the younger lived with his son, Fred, whose wife, Ruth, was raised on the great farm, the daughter of Nathanial Carpenter, a copy of whose deed for this land we have.
So little Ruth Carpenter used to run around this farmyard.
Not if it was this cold. If Jonathan were still making weather records, today's would have to read
fair 10 below
Brrrrr. Better get my coat on and go get another big armful of firewood.