On April 7, 1860, Alice Watts was a dreamy, headstrong 15-year-old who attended school while helping to run her family’s farm in Peacham, Vt.
She was smart and bookish, and her mother Roxana Watts, had reluctantly let her go away to school the previous year more than 100 miles away because she was offered free tuition. In a letter, Roxana explained her daughter was
…rather a wild girl, but she is an extra schollar and that is almost all she is worth for she dont want to work much.
She went off in the fall of 1859 to Castleton Seminary, where her stepbrother Lyman was teaching (hence the free tuition). On Jan. 1, 1860, Lyman gave Alice a diary. She would keep it for almost her whole life. Three days later, her mother summoned her back to the farm because she needed Alice’s help with chores. Alice was moody and depressed, and her father enrolled her at Peacham Academy, two miles from the farm.
Went to the woods and enjoyed a “sugaring off.” Was verypleasant. Miss [Lucy] Perry called—rode up to the door this afternoon. Havelearned two lessons for a wonder but that composition. Made some cake today—my first attempts in culinary business for a long time. –15 +3 I amvery negligent not to read but—