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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Time Travel Anyone?

Time Travel Anyone?

At one time or another, most if not all of us have probably considered how awesome it would be if we could travel back in time. I know I talk about what it would be like to go back to a time when I was younger, and relive things with the wisdom and experience that I now have. Yet, if you’ve ever read any books or watched any movies about time travel, the one rule that is loud and clear is that you can’t change anything if you go back in time. (Remember the movie “Back to the Future?”)

But what if you could go back to a time in history that especially interests you or relates to you in one way or another? I’ve always thought that it would be really neat to go back to the turn of the 20th century in New York City, or experience what it was like to head west in the late 1800s (was it really like Little House on the Prairie?).  And now after attending a historical society meeting in the hometown of our founding editor, I started thinking it might be really neat to be able to time travel back to 1818 and meet David Young.

There seems to be a lot of mystery about our founding editor. We know he was born on January 27th, 1781, in Pine Brook, Morris County, New Jersey and died on February 13, 1852. We also know he was a poet, teacher, astronomer and was known to be somewhat eccentric or aloof in his behavior

There is no photograph or likeness of David Young known to exist but he is pictured in many minds and described  as a man tall and spare who carried himself with a natural dignity. He is said by one woman to have reminded her of the pictures of the Duke of Wellington and others say he resembled actor Basil Rathbone.

Supposedly his manner was always deferential and kindly although he often outwardly appeared absent-minded.

He was well respected in astronomy, and was supposedly hired by the French to determine if there was an eclipse on the day that Jesus was crucified (he proved that there was no eclipse that day). He didn’t have much money. He authored two books besides the Farmers’ Almanac, and was known to be very kind to his cows and farm animals and loved gardening.

We know his wife’s name was Mary, that he loved numbers and the sky, but I would like to travel back in time and ask him about the very first edition of the Farmers’ Almanac that he published. What were his goals with the Almanac, and would he believe or dream that his Almanac would still be published today, 197 years later? And why did he choose to use the title “Philom.” after and his surname, and sometimes as a middle name? And how did he know about sunspots and the weather …

Yes that’s when I’d go back to … 1818. How about you?

2 comments

1 Dee { 11.22.13 at 6:52 am }

I’d wager that the “Philom” after his name was short for Philomath: A lover of learning; a scholar.

2 Marg { 11.13.13 at 8:29 pm }

Very much enjoyed reading about David Young, Sandi. All this time, it never occurred to me to wonder about who founded Farmers’ Almanac – especially appreciated the fact that he loved numbers and astronomy — and that he was reputed to be kind to his animals! Thank for this info.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.