PREFACE back to home page


The early diaries of Wilbert S. Myers are small, dark-red, leather-covered books, 3 1/4 x 6-inches in size. They are written in pen and ink, and, fortunately, quite legible. The covers are worn and many of the pages are brittle and breaking free from the bindings. They are not in a condition to be opened page-by-page and laid flat on a photocopier.

sample pages from the 1892 diary of W. S. Myers

Thus, in deciding that their contents should be shared, my only option was to hand copy the pages. At one point I attempted to record them verbally, in hopes that I could hire a transcriber, but this proved expensive and the end-result lost some authenticity. So, in 1998, in spare moments, I began the project.

Sometimes I was glad that the books were so small, because it lessened my chore, but more often I wished for larger pages, so that events and conversations could be described in more detail. �W. S.� never wrote past the bottom of each page. If he had something to add, he would write a brief note, in red-ink, in the margin, or, sometimes, right across the page. Usually this was to add the date of a marriage, or funeral, or some appointment he wanted to remember.

His first diaries, of 1887 and 1888, contained sporadic entries, and, often, I think he just copied items from The Miami News. He seemed unsure as to what to write, how to express it, and whether it should be written. But by 1889, he seems to have put these concerns behind him, and the daily events and personal interactions begin to flow more freely.

However, he does limit the �personal details,� that make it into print, so we usually get only a hint of what transpired. Only a hand-full of times do we find gossip, or anything that might be hurtful to descendants, and should this occur, I hope the reader will place the event into its human context (and maybe take into account the bias of the writer!)

There are many references to the Negro-community in Miami, pertaining to baptisms at the River, church services, music, work and chores, crime, heroism, illness and death. When he identifies an individual of the Negro race, he uses the abbreviation �col�d� after that person�s name. Again, I hope the reader will put the times into historical context and suffer no offense.

W. S. Myers was �a townie.� He, and his brothers and sisters, were clerks, carpenters, buyers-of-goods, bookkeepers, and housewives. They participated in church and school activities, city elections, business enterprise, sports, and political celebrations. Most of the people named in the diaries were townspeople as well, but, as the farmers and their families were customers and classmates, many of them are named also.

I hesitate to remove the element of suspense, but think it is best to do so. When �Wib� is about 18 or 19 years-of-age, he takes notice of a young lady, five-years his junior. In the earliest diaries he refers to her only as �somebody,� and never by name. This is, indeed, Miss Emma Wheeler, my grandmother, and we are �invited-in� to watch this courtship and their eventual marriage.

The diaries from 1887 - 1905 are �the Miami Years.� But even after the family moved to Whittier, CA, in April, 1905, there are frequent entries regarding Miami friends and family.

To close, I would like to acknowledge my father, Robert Whitmore Myers, and my mother, Eva Joyce Aiken, for protecting these diaries through the years, with additional thanks to my aunt, Alice Margaret Myers Castell, and her children, Bobby Jo Castell Lowry, and Lawrence Russell Castell, for their assistance in providing photos and personal records.