A Schoolmarm All My Life
Joyce Kinkead, editor

Chapter 13
Cynthia Burnham Fisher

[p.129]Born in Richmond, Utah, Cynthia Burnham was the granddaughter of converts to Mormonism. She attended primary school in northern Utah and then enrolled in normal courses offered at Brigham Young College in Logan, where she graduated. She was listed on the roster of teachers employed in the public schools of Cache County in 1892, along with the inestimable Miss Ida Cook. Her students in the one-room school ranged in age from six to eighteen.

Cynthia’s teaching career lasted from 1887 to 1893. She became the second wife of James Madison Fisher on 24 July 1885 when they were married in the Logan temple. References to “M” in her diary indicate the secretive nature of their marriage. Her teaching salary went to support his first family until she became pregnant and had to resign. Her first child was born in 1894, after the Woodruff Manifesto prohibiting plural marriage. In total she had seven children.

Cynthia died in 1949. Her family kept her diaries, which were mislaid until 1990.1


Sunday January 1st, 1889 Was at Aunt Mary’s, went to meeting in the afternoon. After meeting met Bro. and Sister [C]olten, who who came to Aunt Mary’s with their two children, Eli and Amy to stay until they could get a home.…

Monday 2nd Celebrated New Years at Aunt Mary’s. Fred and Alice Henry and Maggie, and Mr. Heber Goddard were there. Met Miss Nellie Stanford in the evening.

Tuesday 3rd Tacy and I went up to see Aunt Myra, and in the evening went to night school, then to Maggie’s and stayed that night.

Wednesday 4th Did Aunt Mary’s washing in the afternoon.

Thursday 5th Fast day went to Fast meeting, in the evening Uncle George and Aunt Sarah, Leonard and Sophia came and stayed the night.

Friday 6th We left for Silver Creek in a snow storm with a buggy. Stopped at Mr. Roacke’s for dinner got within seven miles of home that night and lodged with a Mrs. Buzzo. Arrived at Silver Creek about noon on

Saturday 7th Was homesick all the after noon after I arrived here. The weather was very cold.

Sunday 8th Still colder. Themometer about 40 below zero. Snow foot and a half deep. Spent the day in reading and writing, wrote to Aunt Mary to let her know we did not get buried in the snow.

Monday 9th Knit some and did a little writing.

Tuesday 10th Started school with ten scholars, finished toeing my stockings in the evening.

Wednesday 11th Went to school, a little more encouraged than the day before. Leonard and Sophia went home, wrote to Vira and Abba in the evening. The weather has moderated and is much more pleasant.

Thursday 12th After school Emily and I washed the supper dishes, then went to see Milton and Lizzie. Met Lizzie’s Father, Mother, and two sisters [Heales] and Lissie Thomas.

Friday 13th Still more encouraged with my school. Did some writ-[p.131]ing in the evening, has been snowing and drifting all day. Wrote to Mary and Mand the folks at home.

Saturday 14th Kept school to make up for Monday. Knit half the leg of a stocking in the evening.

Sunday 15th Very cold 20 below zero in our bed room. Did not get up until about ten oclock. Took a bath after breakfast, then read some from Perry’s Magazine. After supper Emily and I washed up the dishes then spent the evening in singing Hymns, joking, and passing remarks about dancing and the way the young people of today conduct them selves.

From Monday 16th to Friday nothing unusual occured, was in school every day, knit some evenings. One evening Em and I called on Mrs. Atkinson and stayed until nearly nine oclock. Were invited to attend a Leap Year Ball Friday eve but did not go on account of the weather being rather stormy.

Saturday 21st Spent at home, helped little with the work, in the after noon knit haft a stocking for my self, and Em and I went coasting down the hill. Rily came in home that evening, bringing his cousin Charles Pace.

Sunday 22nd Was windy but thawed all day. Em and I took a walk after breakfast went up the road far enough to get sight of Snyderville, came back and took a bath then rode down the hill a couple of times. Laid down and took a nap about dusk for my walk made me so sleepy and tired I was complete give out. After my nap I read a couple of hours, and that Finished up my third Sabbath in Silver Creek.

Monday 23 to Fri 27 The weather has been unusually pleasant all the week. Spent the days in school and had two more scholars spent evenings in knitting, finished a pair of stockings for my self. Em and I got up early Wed. morning and went to washing and rubbed out most of the white clothes before school.

Saturday 28th Em and I went to Park with Jas. Prescott & Amos Atkinson for a sleigh ride and to see the place. Park City is a mining town, about one block wide, near the main part of the city, from there up to the Outeris mine (about one mile) is a single row of houses either side of the road, built along the side of the mountain. Mr. the boarding boss at the mines treated us each to a couple of oranges. We then rode back to town and did some trading at Mr. Ashhuim’s a Jew’s [p.132]store, the largest store in the place. We there met Mr. Williams from Snyder an atheist and member of the S.A.M. and Mrs. Archibald. Three smelters, several Hotels, resturants and boarding houses are found there.

Sunday 29 Went to Snyder Ville. There were only twelve grown persons present, still we had a real good meeting. Uncle Michael, Uncle George, Bros. Buzz and Atkinson were the speakers. After meeting we went to Mrs. Archibald’s, and had the pleasure of forming the acquaintence of Miss Manter, a young lady from Nebraska who came to teach school.

Monday 30th Sunday evening I finished Clara M’s letter and started one to Vira and it was Monday eve that I finished Vira’s letter and wrote one to Mary, and the next morning they were posted.

Tuesday 31st Is beautiful and warm more like spring than the last day of Jan. After school Aunt Sarah and I washed the white clothes so she would not have so much to do the next day.

Wednesday Feb. 1st Seems a very little cooler than it has been the past week or so. After school starched and hung out the white clothes and cleaned the floor, and did some writing.

Thursday 2nd Fast day but I did not keep the fast. After school, done up the supper’s work then Aunt Sarah and I did most of the ironing in the evening.

Friday 3rd Closes the fourth week of school. The afternoon (or part of it) was spent in select readings, recitations, and a song. Each of the scholars taking part. …

Saturday 4th Cleaned the front room in the forenoon and in the after noon [H]ealen and I cleaned and scrubbed the school room.

Monday 6th Spent in school as usual the weather is colder, has been freezing all day in the evening wrote to Mother.

Tuesday 7th After school washed up the supper dishes, then ripped my linsey dress apart to mend and fix it.

Wednesday 8th Washday. helped Aunt Sarah out with the washing, after school.

Thursday 9th Received three letters one from Father, Mother and Aunt Mary, helped with the ironing in the evening. Stormy in the afternoon and snowed all night.

Friday 10th was not very clear. The afternoon we spent in review-[p.133]ing some of our lessons and recitations all the children in school took part.

Saturday 11th Cold and rain. Riley went to the Park to take butter and [H]ealen went with him. Hope Emily will come home with them I am getting lonesome without her. They came in the evening without Em, but brought me a letter from M__

Sunday 12 Uncle Michael hitched up and went up to Snyder Ville after the mail did not bring any mail but brought Em home and it was raining and thawing like fury when they came. I slept part of the afternoon away. In the evening wrote to Abba. Andrew came on his way to Salt Lake.

Monday 13th The first thing I did was to write a letter to M and sent it with Abbas and one to Amanda by Andrew to post. The rest of the week was spent as usual, in school, did a very little sewing during the week.

Saturday 18th Uncle Michael went to Bountiful. I got up and wrote a letter to Warren before breakfast to send by him, also sent one to Aunt Mary.

Sunday 19th The first thing I did was to eat my breakfast, got up from the table and went with Aunt Sarah up to Mrs. Atkinsons to see if Alpha had the measles and stayed there until about noon. After we came back Em and I took a couple of the boys’ sleighs and went coasting for a couple of hours and came back tired out. Went up the hill in sight of Snyder Ville but could not find a good place to coast. We came back took a bath and then had supper.

Monday 20th sent a letter home and one to Tacy. In the evening went in and sewed carpet rags for Ella. Riley and I went in partnership and sewed one good sized ball. …

Thursday 23rd received a good long letter and a book (The Report of the Cache Co. E. J.) from Vira also a valentine and some Journals.

Friday 24th The afternoon we spent in songs recitations and step jigs from the small ones. Altogether had quite a circus. Wrote to Vira in the evening.

Saturday 25th Washed up the breakfast dishes. In the afternoon finished the buttonholes in my linsey dress and sewed on the buttons.

Sunday 26th Took a bath before breakfast and after, Grandma and I washed up the dishes. Then read a while, then Em and I took a walk [p.134]up the track, came back and read some more (all from the Journals) then had supper after which I wrote to Ma. O, such lovely weather we are having and such a beautiful evening, full moon and clear just such an evening as suits lovers to take a moonlight stroll. O dear, O, dear how I would like to be with the loved ones at home, O, may they be blessed with health and prosperity. My darling sister Vie, how I would love to see her as well as all my Brothers and Sisters. Dear little Luther, if I could but see his sweet little dimples. And my darling Mame.

Dear hearts there must be separations, we cannot always be together, may we all be preserved to once more enjoy each others society.

Monday 27th Riley had the floor to sweep after school for being late. After school I made myself a skirt (all but button and button hole) then sewed carpet rags. Pard and I made a ball (small one).

Tuesday 28th Got up and went to washing Em and I washed the free clothes before school. The teacher had to sweep the floor for being tardy. Sewed rags all evening. Blowing, thawing, and storming all day.

Wednesday 29th We woke to find it snowing and kept it up nearly all day. Did a little sewing before breakfast. Frank had the floor to sweep for being tardy. Spent the evening reading, retired 9 p.m. earlier than usual.

Thursday March 1st Did not get up until after eight oclock. Cool and looks as though it may turn out a pretty fair day. In the after noon it clouded up and we had quite a storm. The evening clear and cold. Riley was late for school and had the floor to sweep. After supper Em and I washed up the dishes, then took a walk about [a] mile down the track. “Wrath is cruel and anger is outrageous but who is able to stand before envy”

Friday 2nd March 88 Stormed most of the day.

Saturday 3rd Went to Snyderville and did some trading. Bought me a pair of shoes, a dress, comb, perfume Stationary and a few other things. O, how it stormed before we got home.

Sunday 4th Warm and pleasant the folks went to SnyderVille but I stayed at home, sent a letter to Mary. We had pancakes for dinner. The folks came from Snyderville without having any meeting, Aunt Sarah came home sick. They brought me a couple of letters, one from Abba and one from M.

[p.135]Monday 5th In the evening Riley and Em and I wrote to Abba, sent it to Coalville with Uncle George next morning. Stormed nearly all the week. Had one new scholar, W. Prescott, and Helen Thomas left. Nothing unusual happened, made a resolution to rise earlier. Played checkers until nearly eleven oclock.

Friday 9th Cleared up in the afternoon. We spent part of it in recitations, songs, jigs from the little children etc. In the evening wrote to M and sent to the Park with the butter next morning. After school Friday Rile and I went in to Milt’s and played checkers until nearly dark and got a jawing.

Saturday 10th Salty and I had a row, he tore my paper and then gave me all his money $1.35 and purse to pay for it.

Sunday 11th Bob stole my ring then I Wished both rings on his fingers and he wished on one on mine for a week. The folks Uncle George, Aunt Sarah, and Uncle Michael went to Kansas. After dinner Em and I started out for a walk went down to the R.R. track but it was covered with snow so we came back and climbed the hill in front of the house. Read some from the Journal.

Monday 12th Sewed some on my dress. Nothing worth note happened.

Tuesday 13th Patriarch John Smith came while we were eating supper in the evening he gave me a blessing.

Wednesday 14th Amos swept the floor for being tardy, in the evening Em, Salty and I had a snow fight. I chucked his head in the snow and skinned his poor little nose, then he got us down till we yelled bloody murder. Thursday Em wished a ring on my finger, Salty had the floor to sweep again. After supper Em and I took a walk down the canyon half mile and after we came back washed up the dishes then wrote to Anna to send by Amos early next morning. …

Saturday 17th Grandma and I washed up to the school house. After we got through Preem and I had a snow and mud fight scrubbed my face first with snow then with mud until half the skin was off. I was so wrath[y] at him and declared to get even with him.…

Sunday 18th In the evening just before going to bed I got a good chance and dobbed his face with mud.

Monday 19th March 88 Uncle Michael went up to the Park after the mail. After school I was going to sew some, just got started when here [p.136]came Uncle with a bundle of mail for me. A letter from Tacy, one from M__ and one from ma, and a roll of paper from [C]easar so that ended the evening. In the evening I wrote to mother, Carlton and Chloe.

Tuesday 20th Uncle Michael went off on the train, we had to get up early to get him off, so we went to washing and did most of the white clothes before school. Wednesday did the pleating for my dress. Thursday eve wrote to Tacy. Friday after noon after we recited Arithmetic, spent the rest of the afternoon in songs, recitations yarns, and jigs. After school Em and I took a walk a mile and a haft down the canyon.

Saturday 24 made a pair of garments. Received a note from H. M. T. telling of [G.’s] free boy born Feb 9th. Sally came from the Park with a letter for me from Warren. I gave him his money and he gave me my ring and wished it on my finger for a week.

Sunday 25th All the folks except Grandma, Aunt Sarah, the small children and my self went to Snyderville to attend Chester Snyder’s funeral. Apostle F. D. Richards preached the Funeral sermon. O what a cold windy day it was, the folks came home nearly frozen. I spent most of the day in writing. Monday morning made another pair of garments all but marking. Tuesday did some [S]pooking for Grandma while she finished my garments.

Wednesday 28 Grandma and Uncle Michael started for home with a mule team after school cut out and partly made a shirt. …

Sunday April 1st Made an April fool potato peeling pie to fool the boys but only one of them got a bite of it. Read some from the Contributor. Wrote to mother and Abba in answer to theirs rec’d the day before. Monday kept school. Tuesday, washed some and sewed on my dress. Wednesday sewed all day Em worked the buttonholes in my bask. Rile went to Snyderville and brought me a letter from father.

Thursday 5th Left here for Conference, arrived in Salt Lake about 4 p.m. found Father, Wallie Lou and Amy, Uncle Luther and Hiram all there.

Friday April 6th Went up to Al’s and spent part of the day attended Confer in the afternoon. After meeting called on Aunt Margaret. None of the folks had been over from E. mc. Walked around town some with Aunt Myra. Guessed beans for a sewing machine [p.137]bought me a hat etc. In the evening Hiram and Tacy, Father and I attended the theater and saw “After Dark” played.

Saturday attended Conference all day. Met Lou at noon and we walked over to the store and ate dinner together also saw Margaret and Chloe Hatch after dinner left Lou and went up to see Ma and Nellie had a short visit with them and went to meeting together but to save me I could not get my mind on the meeting. After meeting I walked up to see them off. [M.] did not go. Went down town with Aunt Margaret then up to Aunt Mary’s. In the evening went up to see Amy. Spent a very pleasant evening there met her (Amy’s) cousin Ernest Underwood. Ettie Nell and Amy sang, Amy recited a piece. Amanda came that morning but I did not see her until the next. Sunday Amanda and I went to meeting together (and Nell). We all ate dinner at the store; after dinner father and I took a walk to see some of the folks up to the Lion house, found a whole house full. Went to meeting with ma and Evy. …

Monday April 9th Started for home got as far as Snyderville and stayed at Mrs. Archibald’s that night. Visited miss Manter’s school next day. Tuesday afternoon the team came after me.

Wednesday 11th Started school again with but nine scholars. Sunday Em and I took a walk down the canyon. The folks went to Kamas, and stay all night I should have gone with them. Monday crocheted some after school. Thursday made a bonfire in the evening & was out until nearly eleven oclock.

Friday April 20th School closed for the season. Sunday went to Snyderville to meeting, found a letter from Abba and one from Vira and Aunt Mary. Nothing much happened during the week. One evening was out making bonfires until nearly mid night, another Friday eve went down to Charlies and had a game of cards. …

Saturday 19th May Was in bed nearly all day with a touch of the pluresy but a mustard plaster and a morphine pill brought me out all right.

Sunday 20th went to meeting with Nellie. After meeting we went to hear the Salvation Army but stayed only a few minutes. Expected M__ after meeting so did not go to meeting in the evening, but he did not come. I don’t know but it served me right. I will learn better by and by than to put my self out expecting to see him. Such is life. We [p.138]will all learn better than to care for such little things if we ever expect to lead a contented life. He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul; he that getteth understanding shall find good.—Proverbs.

[Change in diary-book.]

Little Blue Book

Bought of G.M. Pace
Buttons and Stationary               $.50
Shoes                                                  2.50
Cloth                                                   1.25
Glycerine                                            .25
Comb                                                    .25
Perfume                                              .35
Writing Paper                                   .20
Thread&Braid                                  .20
Factry 12 yds.                               1.20
Mds.                                                    .80
Rubbers                                            .75
Calico                                              1.40
Thread&comb                                .15
Cash                                       39.00
”                                           5.25
Shoes and Writing paper              3.60
Received from Aunt Sarah
Cash                                       $4.30
Writing paper                               .05
Stamps                                       .16
Velvet and twist                            .25

Monday 27th In school as usual finished two shirts for the little girls after school.

Tuesday got up and went to washing but only got a few things washed before school, they were not all done when I came home in the evening so went to washing again. After we were through Abba and I took Carlton and stuck his head in the ditch.

[p.139]Wednesday Trustees came to visit school.

Thursday No school Decoration Day. Did the ironing, got through about two oclock, then went over to the old hall and played a little on the organ.

Friday in the afternoon the children practiced a piece they are preparing for the last day of school, closed with a song for a change sang We are the Children etc. went to Y. Ladies Meeting as soon as I got out of school, only had a short meeting. I gave a Book of Mormon exercise that was given one four weeks before. Marinda read a selection entitled “The Young Wife” and Hattie Skidmore gave a prepared exercise on the “Atonement.”

Sunday got cross with my class in Sunday school because they were so noisy. Bro. Apperly encouraged parents to take more interest in the S. School there should be more system in our schools, a plan of the work to be done laid out and all work to that plan and teachers register each week what work they are doing then when it is necessary to make a change in teachers they will know what work has been done and can go on with the class more successfully. Teachers should realize the importance of their calling or they cannot make a success of their labors. …

Monday June 3rd After school went over and practiced a song to teach the children.

Tuesday 4th Relief Society Annual Meeting. Was just about sick wrote a few lines to Tacy in the evening.

Wednesday 5th Mother did a little washing.

Thursday 6th Fast day. Kept the fast but was in school instead of meeting.

Friday 7th Went to Y[oung]. L[adie]’s Meeting. Sisters Traveler and Betty Brower were there and gave the girls good advice and council. Advised them to be prayerful and to store up useful knowledge, to learn the art of housekeeping as well as that of cooking for it was necessary that all should become good house keepers as well as cooks and prepare themselves for the duties and callings in life in order to be happy and contented. I was called to write for the manuscript.

Clara came up on the train at noon with her children brought us some strawberries. The first of the season for us. Received a letter from Blake Heywood Co. desiring me to meet them in S. L. went over to [p.140]Amy’s to see Abba and she said she would teach school if I would andmade up my mind to …  consequently wrote them a letter to that effect.

Saturday the 8th Went to Logan on the train arrived just in time for the institute. It is so gratifying to see the interest some are taking in school matters and the improvements that are being made in the interest of education.

Monday 10th My 23rd Birthday. …

Tuesday 11th Came back to Tacy’s had not been there long when I was very much surprised to see M__ come marching in the gate. No, I will not say whether I was pleased or not. Enjoyed a good visit and felt much better than I have for a long-time. Mame congratulated me on my choice and said she would be satisfied if she did as well. …

Friday November 21st Went to school with Abba, was very much edified hearing the recitations and gained several valuable points in conducting Geography and arithmetic classes. Also in the rhetoric class the teacher showed forth the merits of a new metal called illuminum which will indeed be very useful and if represented will shortly take the place of iron copper and brass in general use. It is most commonly found in clay. Visited the Museum, had the priviledge of reading the Logan Journal, attended Normal Class and was quite charmed with the President. After school called in to see Mame, nearly night when we got home.



1. Emma Hall graciously supplied her mother’s diaries for this study.