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John A. Frenger Diary and Account Book

Identifier: SC 0008

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The John A. Frenger Account Ledger, 1880-1892, bulk 1881-1884, consists of one ledger of 180 pages and two loose newspaper clippings. The ledger documents household and farm expenses and also includes periodic diary entries (generally written on a semiweekly basis). Various newspaper clippings are pasted to the front inside cover and flyleaf. Topics include home remedies and political news. Also included are two loose newspapers clippings concerning a death of Juette Larett and a new fencing regulation put into place in Virginia. These clippings have been removed from the ledger and foldered separately.

The accounting portion of the ledger concerns Frenger’s household and farm expenses (payment of fire insurance policy, tobacco, medicine, and axle grease) and receipts for goods sold (produce sold at store, bacon sold, and beef sold to butcher).

Frenger’s periodic entries primarily document the weather and general farm activities including planting, harvesting, and the overall condition of the farm. He records his church attendance, social visits, and travels to surrounding communities. Frenger also comments on local deaths and general town gossip. Many entries conclude with “No News.”

Of particular interest are Frenger’s extensive accounts of the assassination attempt and eventual death of President James A. Garfield. He writes on July 3, 1881 of the assassination (attempt) of Garfield: “Special Sad News: President Garfield was Assassinated yesterday in Washington yesterday just as he was boarding the cars by a man by the name of Grottoe [sic]. Mr. Garfield is my special friend and his sad end I can hardly bear. Tears do Flow when I think of the Great and Good man. May God Take care of him is my Hearts desire.” Frenger writes on July 10, 1881, presumably after the news had reached August County, that President Garfield had been shot and only wounded: “I am Truly Happy to Record the fact that President Garfield is Improving and is likely to Recover.” However, Frenger’s August 21, 1881 entry describes the inevitable: “President Garfield is growing Worse I fear he will Die.” He continues to write about President Garfield throughout September 1881 and concludes with a heartfelt entry on September 25: “I am Sorry beyond Expression to note the Death of our venerable President James Abram Garfield which occurred at Long Branch on last Monday night at 10:35 P.M.” Finally, Frenger mentions on July 2, 1882 that Guiteau, Garfield’s assassin, was hung the week prior.


  • 1880-1892
  • Majority of material found within 1881 - 1884


Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

John Alonzo Frenger (1847-1922) lived in Greenville in Augusta County, Virginia. Frenger married Severine Bell Muse (1849-1904) and together they had at least three children, Robert Muse (1872-1948), Mary, and Odessa. He was a farmer by trade who recorded daily diary entries as well as financial accounts in this account book.


0.1 cubic feet (One 180-page ledger (in one half-Hollinger box))

Language of Materials



The John A. Frenger Diary and Account Book, 1880-1892, consists of one ledger that contains periodic diary entries in which Frenger, a farmer from Greenville, Augusta County, documents the weather, his local travels, farm activities, and commentary on political events. The ledger also includes accounts of Frenger’s household and farm expenses and income.


Two folders in one half-Hollinger box containing one ledger and two newspaper clippings.

Acquisition Information

Acquired from L&T Respess Books on October 15, 2012.

Related Material

John Alonzo Frenger Diary and Account Book, SC 00659, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.


  • "Find A Grave – John A. Frenger, 1847-1922." Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials. Accessed September 09, 2016.
  • "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 August 2016), John A Frenger, Riverhead, Augusta, Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district ED 18, sheet 241A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1354; FHL microfilm 1,255,354.

Processing Information

Two loose newspaper clippings were removed from the ledger and foldered separately.



A Guide to the John A. Frenger Diary and Account Book, 1880-1892 (bulk 1881-1884)
Brianna Melchione, Tiffany Cole,
September 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612