Compiled by Sarah Hundley Wilf (and Internet posted with permission)

Lillie Frank Hundley was born near Milo, Arkansas, on September 15, 1875. Her grandparents had migrated to Ashley County in the 1850s. Her father, Joel Ebenezer Hundley, and two of his brothers served in the Civil War. Upon his return, he married Josie Thacker and they had eleven children. The first two children died in infancy. At the time the diary was written the family consisted of Lillie, the oldest, Louis Ebenezer Neal, Emma, Katie Laura, Henry Vergil (Tony), Mamie, Thomas Crow, Bennie Simpson, and Nannie Jo, who was born three months after her father's death in 1895. The family lived in Berea, a small community about 10 miles from Hamburg. After her husband's death, Lillie's mother remained in Berea as the postmistress until the early 1900s at which time she moved into Hamburg with her son, Thomas Crow Hundley, and remained there until her death in 1920.

Sarah Hundley Wilf, daughter of Thomas C. Hundley, notes in the introduction to her transcription, "The diary was written on multiple scraps of paper and it is remarkable that it has survived. It was found in an old trunk along with other family papers. It was a pleasure and a privilege for me to put this diary to print. We might have hesitated to share this work more widely, but Lillie herself mentions that she hopes the diary would be in print and that perhaps her experiences might help others. Also surviving are some of the letters written to Lillie by her future husband Mr. Will Edmiston."

The transcriber also notes that there are some things which will aid in understanding some of terms used in the diary.

"To appreciate Lillie's teaching experiences it is helpful to understand the educational system of the day. In 1896 Arkansas had 4,757 school districts consisting mostly of one or two room schoolhouses. There were no compulsory attendance laws and free education had only been available since 1874. Teachers were required to contract with an individual district to teach for a term of anything from a few weeks to a few months. Unless the school was in the teacher's immediate area, they had to board in the home of a family in the district. Weekends were usually spent at home if transportation could be provided. Teachers were required to take examinations to received their certificates. These tests were administered periodically by the county examiner. Short training sessions called 'normals' were held now and then to improve teaching skills. The average salary for a teacher in 1892 was $34.59 a month.

"Lillie felt a great responsibility to help support the family after her father's death. She was reluctant to marry because of this commitment. Mr. Will Edmiston was instrumental in securing the postmistress position for Mrs. Hundley so that Lillie would feel free to marry him.

"The town of Berea no longer exists. There are no buildings standing as a testament to a once thriving community. However, Old Central Cemetery is still there and Mr. Hundley's grave is marked with a headstone. Lillie's brother Tony and sister Mamie are also thought to be buried there but their graves are unmarked. The property on which the Hundley home stood remains in the possession of Hundley descendants.

"The last of the Hundley children, Nannie Jo Hundley Harriman Hoy died in 1985 and is buried in the Hamburg Cemetery along with her mother and brother, Thomas Crow Hundley.

"Do not be tempted to construe all Lillie's entries of being ‘blue' as a sign of depression. This has been something of a family characteristic that is lovingly referred to as having the 'Hundley' come out in us and is usually short-lived and soon replaced with, as Lillie puts it "jolly good times."

"None of my family living today ever knew Aunt Lillie personally, but through this diary we were given a wonderful opportunity to know who she was and what life was like in this community in the 1890's. We can look into the heart and mind of a young girl struggling to come of age and take her place in the world. Although she became a teacher, she never realized her dream of high education," the transcriber notes.

Lillie Frank Hundley married Mr. Will Edmiston in November, 1899, shortly after the diary ends. She had no children and died June 4, 1903, at the age of 27 years. She is buried at the Snyder Cemetery in Ashley County, about seven miles from Berea.

The diary is divided by year in order to reduce the file sizes and loading times for the entries. Follow the links below to access each year's entries.

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