John Montelius was a farmer and calligraphy teacher who lived in Springvale, Maine, in the latter half of the nineteenth century. His journals chronical his daily life from 1838 to 1866. Entries in the journal generally focus on the weather conditions for that day and how it affected his farm and major events in his family and social life.
Montelius was a young man with a several children when the entries begin in 1938. Montelius lived most of his life in Springdale, Maine, but often traveled to other cities on the East Coast and had relatives in Chicago, Illinois, and Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania.
Montelius was involved in several social and political groups; he mentions attending several temperance meetings and helping to create a local debate club. A number of historical events are mentioned in the journals, including the assasination of Abraham Lincoln, battles of the Civil War, slavery in the United States, "The explosion of the great gun on board of the Princeton," and "The Great Tornado of 1861."
Significant events in the journal are often noted in the margins with a short phrase or word about the event.
In the fall of 1847 and the winter of 1853, most of Montelius' family died. Reasons for death are not noted for all members of the family, but his son Howard had scarlet fever. His last remaining child, Charles Edward, was sent away to live with relatives. In 1857, Montelius remarried and had a son. The last entry in the journals was made on February 18, 1866.
The majority of the journal entries are about keeping records of his finances, the weather conditions for maintenance of his farm, and various clippings for his own reference; however, there are scattered examples of Montelius' relationship with his family. The entries after the death of his first wife are heartfelt, and the journals contain drawings Montelius made with his children. The pamphlets were created to teach his children mathematics, penmanship, geography, and history.
The photographs in the collection depict various members of the Montelius family and some friends. The majority of photographs are carte de visite, and the name and state of the studio are printed on the verso. Many of the photographs were taken in Illinois and date around the 1860s and 1870s, but the majority are undated. There are two larger images and three tintype images.