Eva A. Twist and Bertha M. Connor diaries, 1895-1948
Collection Scope and Content
This collection contains 24 diaries; 22 diaries written by Eva Twist, two diaries written by Bertha Connor, and various newspaper clippings and receipts.
Bertha Connor’s diaries cover her daily life in rural Fairfield, Maine during the years of 1895 and 1896 when she was about 14 to 15 years old. Eva Twist’s diaries document her life in rural Waterville, Maine between the years of 1921 and 1947, from age 16 to 42, with diaries for the years 1922, 1923, 1928, 1934, 1944, and 1945 unaccounted for. Both sets of diaries reflect rural living in different Maine communities.
Bertha Connor’s written accounts revolve mostly around the daily happenings of her family along with the local weather. Beside mentions of other surrounding communities, Connor’s hometown of East Fairfield, Maine featured heavily in her entries, from interactions with neighbors, townsfolk and friends to attending the local school. Connor also speaks highly and frequently of her family and records important family dates, including birthdays and anniversaries. These diaries portray a teenage female perspective during the 1890s and also provide a link between the Connor and Twist families.
Eva Twist’s written accounts are more extensive and cover a wide range of years spent living in Waterville, Maine. Twist’s diaries detail aspects of her daily life over the course of a 26 year period. Much like the Connor diaries, Twist’s diaries focus mainly on her and her family’s daily activities and routines, local weather, family events and important dates. In a portion of Twist’s diaries from the 1930s, she wrote partial entries in shorthand. The Twist family were predominently farmers who sold and traded their wares. The diaries mention nearby communities to which the family frequently traveled, including Good Will, Fairfield, Old Orchard, Skowhegan, Augusta, Mapleton (a previous residence), Presque Isle, Moosehead, Hinckley, Clinton and many more. The Twists also took a few family trips outside of Maine, including a road trip to both the White Mountain area of New Hampshire near Franconia Notch, and a weekend trip to Canada in the areas of Quebec and Montreal.
Twist kept herself busy by making over garments in the evenings while listening to the radio, going to the pictures with her parents or friends, and taking frequent drives around town with her friends or her suitors, of which there were many. The entries that dealt with Twist’s tumultuous love life are the most interesting and the most revealing about her character. She had multiple romantic interests, often courting multiple men at the same time, along with one major and forbidden affair with an older married man.
Twist spent much of her free time at local Grange Halls. These were mainly locations for socialization, including dancing, community suppers, and political rallies, of which Twist attended quite a few. Family also played a major role in Twist’s life. She kept note of almost every important date and event each year, including birthdays, anniversaries, births, dates of family visits and trips, scholastic achievements, employment news, among other things. Her family’s influence on her life is especially evident in later diaries, after losing her parents and her first born child. During this time, she often laments at her lack of guidance from her absent mother and regrets not spending enough time with her parents. As a result, she spends more time with her in-laws and remaining family members in an effort to stay true to her family ties.
Eva Agnes Twist, daughter of Norval D. Twist and Anna L. Turner, was born on November 3, 1905 and died on May 14, 1974 at the age of 68. The Twist and Connor families were connected through the marriage of Eva Twist and Harold W. Connor, son of John E. Connor and Lena M. Wardwell of Fairfield, Maine. The marriage took place on November 9th, 1940. Bertha Connor was the older sister of Harold Connor, born on March 29th 1881 and died at the age of 24 on April 24th 1905. Eva Twist and her family resided in the area of Waterville, Maine during the recording of her diaries, before which the Twists lived in Mapleton, Maine. Eva Twist graduated from Lawrence High School in Waterville, Maine in 1923. Twist went on to attend Thomas Business School in 1927 and was a bookkeeper for J. E. McCormick and Son from 1924 to 1945.