Josiah William Fort was born in 1833, the son of Nancy Carr Metcalfe and Joel Battle Fort. He lived until 1877, and he too kept journals. There are four volumes of these, and they cover 1859-1877.
Inside the cover of the first volume is written “Diary of Weather and Farming Operations – Jan 1st 1859.”
David Gardner is listed as overseer from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1. For the nine months he was employed, he earned $400.
Fort later added that they had lost one day’s work that January, two-and-a-half days in February, and one day in March.
Like other journalists, he noted the weather, day by day. On Feb. 2, 1859, there was rain with thunder, lightning, and some hail.
Despite the weather, the plant bed was prepared and sowed. Twelve bushels of corn were sent to the mill. Work continued as far as plowing and cutting briers.
By Feb. 4 and 5, there was snow, but Fort recorded “Work same.” Eight bushels of wheat were taken to the mill, for example.
Through the years, the farm work was listed – killing hogs, stripping tobacco, and so on. The weather reports continued, too – Fair, Rain, 88 degrees.
Josiah William Fort was also a preacher, however, and by the end of the first journal can be found his “Scriptural Notes.”
He wrote information from Genesis and Exodus here – the order of Creation, the ages of Old Testament people, the plagues of Egypt.
Fort served as pastor at several Baptist churches – Red River, Harmony, Little Hope, and Springfield.
An attached note tells that the name of Little Hope Baptist was changed to Living Hope Baptist about 2009. The church is located on Highway 76 near the junction with I-24. The road beside the church still carried the name Little Hope Road when the note was written on Aug. 9, 2010.
In his last journal (Jan. 1, 1885-June 6, 1887), Josiah William Fort wrote about many of the same things – church work, the weather, farming.
In September, 1885, Fort went to Port Royal with two Methodist preachers – Bro. Craig and Bro. Beale – for a meeting. He stayed with Cull Atkins.
On April 14, 1887, they were “suffering for rain.” On April 17, rain fell.
Fort kept a careful account of his chickens through the years. He recorded the particular hen and the number of chicks she had hatched. (“Straw Neck” hatched 14 chicks in 1887.)
On June 1, 1887, he wrote of killing two large raccoons that had slaughtered about 100 chickens.
Perhaps journals may be seen as boring - day to day trivialities that make up life.
The family that owns even one journal is fortunate. Each journal provides a look at that particular day in that particular life.
It is important that journals be preserved – treated carefully. It is equally important that journals be read. Stuck away somewhere and allowed to slowly disintegrate, such a journal shows little respect, little concern, for the person who took the time to write.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.