If you follow the Twitter account @SeamstressSLV, here's all the lowdown. Ethel Watson Wyley, the voice of SLVSeamtress, kept a compact diary in the 1930s about her day-to-day life in Monte Vista, Colorado. She was a housewife, mother, grandmother, and self-employed seamstress. From her sewing she made a sizable contribution to the household income when times were hard.

Ethel's grammar and spelling are idiosyncratic; I tweet the diary as she wrote it. Judge not, that ye not be judged.

Thumbnail biography: Ethel was born in Independence, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, in 1884. She came to the San Luis Valley at the age of 7 or 8 by train and then covered wagon with her parents and six siblings. Her parents Robert Watson and Pearliette Adell Tubbs Watson were adherents of the Strangite sect of Mormons and were part of a small community that established the Strangites in the Valley. Neither Ethel nor her siblings stayed in that faith. Ethel attended the Presbyterian Church.

Ethel left school after 10th grade. In 1907 at age 22 she married Clint, who was from another family of early Anglo settlers in the Valley. They had all four of their children in the 1910s. Ethel's mother died 15 years before the diary begins. Her father dies during the period covered by the diary.

Clint, Ethel's husband, was a housepainter and decorator. Her sons at the time were mainly carpenters and also helped their father in the housepainting business; her daughters were housewives with some part-time work outside the home. For most of the period of the diary Clint and Ethel lived in the 200 block of Batterson Street in Monte Vista.

The people she refers to often in her diary are mostly her immediate and extented family. One way to get a feel of who's who is to explore her family tree. But here's a cheat sheet, for the people she mentions most often. They all lived in or near Monte Vista.

    • Her husband Clint, aka James Clinton Wyley

    • Her older sister Elme and husband Tom Johnson

    • Her younger brother Glenn and wife Mary Rose

    • Her younger brother Bob, a bachelor

    • Her eldest child Leona and her husband Fred Ragland

    • Her second daughter Elma and husband Bill Barger

    • Her older son Clinton (Jr.) and his wife Velma

    • Her youngest child Wilbur and his wife Viola

At the beginning of the diary (January 1st, 1936), Ethel is in her early 50s. None of her children has been married more than 5 years.

When the diary begins Ethel has three granddaughters:

    • Leona's daughter Ordean (born 1931)

    • Leona's second daughter Barbara (born 1933); Ethel calls her "Barbary"

    • Clinton's daughter Connie (born 1934).

Other grandchildren come along during the course of the diary.

You can find more information on everyone in her family tree and also find pictures of most people talked about in the diary; just click the various links there.

The diary is written in a blank Five Year Diary of a kind fairly common at the time. It may have been a gift to her. She kept it pretty faithfully for three years, sporadically thereafter. Here's a sample:

During the period covered by the diary, Monte Vista was a town of about 2700, second largest in the Valley after Alamosa (as it is today). Like other towns in the San Luis Valley, Monte Vista was mainly a commercial center for the surrounding agricultural land (barley and potatoes). Nearby towns mentioned in the diary include Del Norte (15 miles west), Alamosa (15 miles east), and Center (12 miles north).

Clint and Ethel were fond of travel, usually by car. During the period of the diary they visit Kentucky, Texas, California (where several of Clint's siblings lived), and New Mexico (where they were fond of enjoying the hot springs at Truth or Consequences and Ojo Caliente).

Ethel lived to be 103. Her mind was sharp until the day she died. She spent about the last 20 years of her life at the at the Veteran's Home in Homelake, Colorado, near Monte Vista, and she died there in 1988.

Details about Tweets:

Tweets that are actual diary entries always begin with a date in the format (e.g.) Wed 1 Jan 1936. Material in square brackets within diary tweets is explanatory, clarifying, or expository information. All other tweets from this account are responses, amplifications, commentary, or other secondary information about the diary or its author.

In months that have an odd number of days, the diary has a blank memo page at the end of the month. Ethel often made an entry here as well, as if it were another day. When she does this I tweet it along with the tweet for the last day of the month.

If there is no Tweet for a particular day it is because Ethel didn't write in her diary that day (or, that something has prevented me from Tweeting, but I'll make up for it later if that's the case).

My intention is to give interested followers a glimpse into the everyday life of an industrious Depression-era housewife, as she recorded it. I hope you will enjoy it. I welcome comments and responses.

Orin Hargraves (great-grandson of Ethel Wyley)