Diary of a veterinarian from 19th century reports on more than sheep ticks

We review the diary of former McCleary resident Arthur S. Broadbent.

The McCleary Museum has recently received old diaries from Christine Poage who got them from her friend Jody Whitney. They found them in Jody’s grandfather’s home on Oyster Bay Road on the way to Steamboat Island. The diaries are written by a man named Arthur S. Broadbent, who lived in McCleary for about six years. He was here when the 1902 fire swept through the region. Mr. Broadbent was a veterinarian, by trade, if not by schooling.

I confess, I am so fascinated by the diaries, I have not taken a thorough look through them all. I must don my white gloves to look through these treasures.

The first one I picked up has his name written in bold, proud script at the top of the page. It is written in a Composition book, like one might find school children using. There is a picture of a girl with long hair and a bonnet tied in a tidy bow under her chin. The book was once white and the decorations are blue flowers and the girl’s profiled in blue.

The first few pages of this first book look as if he was translating English language words into Chinook. The reason I say Chinook is because it is printed so neatly at the top I cannot tell if it was preprinted or the work of a very talented calligrapher. Samples of some of the entries are: above, sag-a-lie; always, kwan-e-sum; basket, opekwar. This goes on for many pages and everything is in alphabetical order.

Carefully turning the pages, I find odd keepsakes. There is a Motor Vehicle Operator’s License, State of Washington – Department of Licenses No. 203099, date 7-31-29 issued to 43-year-old female with brown eyes named Alvena Whitney. This comes years after Mr. Broadbent wrote in the book. The name Whitney is familiar. We know it came from Jody Whitney’s grandfather’s home. Perhaps this is Grandmother Whitney’s license. Very progressive for a woman in the early years of the past century.

Beside this treasure is a carefully saved instruction sheet on How to Use a Razor issued by Royal S. Palmer & Co., Chicago, Illinois. There is a newspaper clipping from December 15, 1898, titled Some Poison Plants, Their Names and Where They Flourish. Now that would be good information for a self-proclaimed veterinarian. The article teases the reader saying, “There Are More of Them Than Most Suppose – Jimson and Climbing Nightshade.”

A little further into the first book there are descriptions of pests, such as the sheep tick. It is reddish brown, leathery skinned quarter inch long, sharp claws, sucks blood, produces a living pupa roundish and red in color. Lung and bronchial worms are described as small white worms in the lungs and windpipe. He does not limit his description of pests to what is harmful to animals, but includes cucumber and squash beetle or the fall army worm that devours grass and grain and vegetables. The onion maggot has its own paragraph in this diary.

Beyond what looks like his self-written instruction book he has actual diary entries.

“London May 6, 1898, new of battle of Atbara between 12,000 Anglo-Egyptian army and 60,000 Dervishes.” He goes on with what seem to be a collection of facts and random thoughts. I knew nothing of this Battle of Atbara, but once again, I Googled it and learned a bit about it. He ends this entry with “Battle of Ondurman later” and goes into tips for transplanting rutabagas and cabbage and finishes the page with “Emergency Rations For One Day, 10 oz bacon, 16 oz hard bread, 4 oz peameal, 4 oz coffee or 1/2 oz of tea, 4 grs sacchrine, 64/100 oz of salt, 4/100 oz pepper, 1/2 oz tobacco.”

His June 18 entry records, “Mrs. Meays said that it was hard to sell strawberries grown on sandy land as the berries are full of grit on account of rainy weather.”

June 27, 1898: “Chris Simmons predicted a wet June on account of an early sprint and also says there will be no suitable haying weather till after the full moon in July. I mowed hay on 25th and also before breakfast and he claims I am crowding the season.”

He goes on to record a weather report. “June 4th full noon. Hay cut at P. Hauled in on 10th. Hot days. Strong wind after 50s on 10th. 11th cloudy day. 12th, 13th 14th slight showers. 15th good rain. 16 cloudy, 17 showers, 18 thunderstorms, pouring rain in Olympia. 19 sunshine and showers. The sky clouds up from NW. 20 rain, 21 rain, 22 showery, 23 sunshine and clouds 70° warm, 24 showers in forenoon, 25th 70° at 10 o’clock, saw Mt. Rainier. 26th saw Mt. strong north wind from NW. rain in forenoon, 28th clear sky before 6:30 a.m. Clouds from N.”

As I review these pages I will surely be able to share more with you.