The papers include the diary of 16 year old Olive, which runs from 13 January to 14 March 1880. The collection also includes one letter from a boyfriend to Olive written in 1884, two letters written by members of the Ingle family in 1849, five other family letters, a funeral notice, notes for a funeral service, a family record album, and photographs of Olive, her father, her friends, and her husband, James Bortel.
In her diary Olive wrote about the things that were important to a young girl living in a rural area in the 1880s: home life, school, family, friends, and above all, boys. A young man who received much consideration in the early pages of her diary was a fellow named Frank. On Friday, January 16 Olive wrote, "Oh, I wish he would write for I want to hear from his so bad." On January 20 she did receive a letter from him and wrote, "I was fearful glad to hear from my darling once more."
One of Olive's recurring problems was how to handle competing suitors. On January 21, she considered one boy, Will Doll, who seemed to like her. "He thinks I like him but I do not it will never do him any good to think any thing of me." On January 25 she discussed two other boys, "Johnie Hartsell and Mr. Golden wanted to go home with me but I would not let them. Oh how I wish that they had not asked me for I did hate to say no but I would not let either go with me as long as I am corresponding with Frank he is all the one I care a bout at one time." It seems that Johnie Hartsell was persistent; Olive noted three occasions when he did serve as her escort. Soon, his name appears with frequency and there is no further mention of Frank. The relationship between Mr. Hartsell and Olive can be characterized as slightly competitive as well as affectionate. She wrote on February 6 of a social event that she and John Hartsell both attended, "he thought he was going to act so smart that evening but I did not care. I can act just as smart as he can." By February 13, Olive and her friend Esther were scheduling rendezvous with John H. and his friend Dan G.
Olive wrote about her young girl friends, Amy, Daisy, Nancy, Emma, and in particular, Esther. Olive and her girl friends spent their days in school or at home ironing, baking, cooking, and cleaning. Their social lives revolved around choir meetings, social functions, Church, Sunday school, and house calls. Their greatest thrills were being a little bit bad and flirting with boys. On February 18, Olive's school teacher had to separate her from Esther for talking too much during class. On February 28, Olive and Esther had an adventure together:
Esther and I went out calling went to Simptons and then to Uptergrass and while us was thair, thair was to tony fellows cam a long on the side walk they was a going to Fremont one he through a kiss at me and I through one back and then Esther and I both got to flirting with them (Oh we had a boss time).
In the same entry, Olive divulged, "Had my fortune told to night. She told me I would have an offer of marrage from a tall heavy set person light completion blue eyes dark brown hair She does not know everything."
In addition to news about boys and friends, Olive's diary also discussed her parents, especially when they were absent. Her parents were often away, presumably because of Thornton Ingle's work on the circuit. Olive did not write about her father's work. Instead, she discussed its impact on her, particularly her sadness about being left alone and in charge of the house keeping.
The Ingle collection also includes several letters. The first, written July 25 1849, is from Ann E Cowdrick, Olive's relative on her mother's side. Ann wrote home from Turkey, [New York] to her friend Sarah A. Clapp of Henry Co. Ohio. Ann apologized to Sarah for behaving badly before leaving Henry, regretting that they parted on such bad terms. "I am a great way from you I may take sick and die or perhaps a watery grave may be my doom on my return you know there is danger on the lake and on the land also. But I hope Sarah to return safe home to meet you in friendship for I am sure there is nothing else between us."
A later letter is directed to Olive Ingle from a suitor, known only as A.F.W. He wrote to Olive on September 22, 1884, relieved that she had written, as he thought she no longer wanted to correspond with him. A farmer, he seemed to want to convey a sense of his financial success, and discussed why his career was more promising than others. He responded to Olive's mention of attending a holiness meeting, which suggests that Olive was following the family tradition of religious involvement.
The last part of the Ingle family papers is Olive's family record album, in which she recorded the detailed history of her family. She recorded birth, marriage, and death dates for several generations. By the time that she recorded her family's history, she had married James Bortel and had two children; Doris, born in 1892, and Genevieve, born in 1894.
Olive's family record begins with an account of the life and death of her maternal grandparents, Joseph and Margrat Cowdrick, and her paternal grandparents, Isaac and Susan Ingle. Of her grandmother Cowdrick's death she wrote, "I remember when I stood beside her coffin, the peaceful smile that rested on her dear old face and the hands folded on her breast that had so often waited on me."
Religion is a recurring theme in Olive's album. Of her parents she wrote, "I have all way[s] had good Christian parents who tryed to raise us in the way of christians and the fear of the Lord. How thankful we aught all to be for good Christian parents, for how may children have drunken fathers and mother, who never speaks a pleasant word." Olive also described the conversion experiences of her father and mother, "My mother was converted when but a girl she was a good Baptist. She was baptized when thair was ice in the river. they cut a hole in the ice a baptize them."