[The author of this journal was Margaret Van Horn Dwight, born December 29, 1790. She was the daughter of Doctor Maurice William Dwight, a younger brother of President Timothy Dwight. Margaret Dwight was brought up in the family of her grandmother, Mary Edwards Dwight, in Northampton. In 1807 she went to live in the family of her uncle, William Walter Woolsey, in New Haven. Three years later, in 1810, she left New Haven to visit her cousins in Warren, Ohio. The journal was kept in fulfillment of a promise to her cousin Elizabeth Woolsey, to whom it was sent immediately after her arrival in Warren.]
MILFORD, Friday Eve. At Capt. Pond’s.
SHALL I commence my journal, my dear Elizabeth, with a description of the pain I felt at taking leave of all my friends, or shall I leave you to imagine? The afternoon has been spent by me in the most painful reflections, and in almost total silence by my companions. I have thought of a thousand things unsaid, a thousand kindnesses unpaid with thanks that I ought to have remembered more seasonably, and the neglect of which causes me many uneasy feelings. My neglecting to take leave of Sally, has had the same effect — I hope she did not feel hurt by it, for it proceeded from no want of gratitude for her kindness to me. I did not imagine parting with any friend could be so distressing as I found leaving your Mama. I did not know, till then, how much I loved her, and could I at that moment have retraced my steps! but it was too late to repent. Deacon Wolcott and his wife are very kind, obliging people, and Miss Wolcott is a very pleasant companion; I do not know what I should do without her. We came on to Butler’s this afternoon, and I came immediately down to Uncle Pond’s and drank tea. Miss W. came with me and both Uncle and Aunt invited her to stay and sleep with me, which she accordingly did. Cousin Patty has been with me, to say goodbye to all my friends, and to-morrow we proceed to Stamford.
Sat. night. D. Nash’s Inn, MIDDLESEX.
We had a cold, unsociable ride today, each one of us being occupied in thinking of the friends we had left behind and of the distance, which was every moment increasing, between them and us. We stopt to eat oats at a Tavern in Fairfield, West Farms; an old Lady came into the room where Miss W. (whose name, by the way, is Susan, not Hannah, Sally, or Abby) and we were sitting. ’Well! gals where are you going?’ ‘To New Connecticut.’ ‘You bant tho’ — To New Connecticut? Why, what a long journey! do you ever expect to get there? How far is it?’ ‘Near 600 miles.’ ‘Well, gals,— you gals and your husbands with you ? ’ ‘ No, ma’am.’ ‘ Not got your husbands! Well, I don’t know — they say there’s wild Indians there!’
The poor woman was then call’d out to her daughter (the mistress of the house), who she told us has been ill five months with a swelling, and she had come that afternoon to see it launch’d by the physicians who were then in the house. She went out, but soon return’d and told us they were ‘cutting her poor child all to pieces.’ She did not know but she should as lieve see a wild Indian as to see that scene over again. I felt very sorry for the poor old Lady — I could not help smiling at the comparison. The country we pass thro’ till we are beyond N. York, I need not describe to you, nor indeed could I; for I am attended by a very unpleasant tho’ not uncommon, companion, — one to whom I have bow’d in subjection ever since I left you, — Pride. It has entirely prevented my seeing the country, lest I should be known. You will cry ‘For shame,’ and so did I, but it did no good: I could neither shame nor reason it away, and so I suppose it will attend me to the mountains; then I am sure it will bid me adieu; for you know the proverb, ‘ Pride dwelleth not among the mountains.’ I don’t certainly know where this proverb is to be found, but Julia can tell you — for, if I mistake not, it is on the next page to ‘There is nothing sweet,’ etc. I do not find it so unpleasant riding in a waggon as I expected, nor am I very much fatigued with it; but four weeks to ride all the time, is fatigueing to think of.
October 22, Monday
Cook’s inn, COUNTY WESTCHESTER.<BR/> I never will go to New Connecticut with a Deacon again, for we put up at every bye-place in the country, to save expence. It is very grating to my pride to go into a tavern and furnish and cook my own provision — to ride in a waggon, etc., etc., — but that I can possibly get along with; but to be oblig’d to pass the night in such a place as we are now in, just because it is a little cheaper, is more than I am willing to do; I should even rather drink clear rum out of the wooden bottle after the deacon has drank and wip’d it over with his hand, than to stay here another night. The house is very small and very dirty — it serves for a tavern, a store and I should imagine, hog’s pen, stable, and everything else. The air is so impure I have scarcely been able to swallow since I enter’d the house. The landlady is a fat, dirty, ugly-looking creature, yet I must confess very obliging. She has a very suspicious countenance and I am very afraid of her. She seems to be master, as well as mistress and storekeeper, and from the great noise she has been making directly under me for this half hour, I suspect she has been stoning the raisins and watering the rum.’
All the evening there has been a storefull of noisy drunken fellows, yet Mr. Wolcott could not be persuaded to bring in but a small part of the baggage, and has left it in the waggon before the door, as handy as possible. Miss W’s trunk is in the bar-room unlock’d, the key being broken to-day. It contains a bag of money of her father’s, yet she could not persuade him to bring it upstairs. I feel so uneasy I cannot sleep and had therefore rather write than not this hour. Some one has just gone below stairs after being as I suppos’d in bed this some time; for what purpose I know not, unless to go to our trunks or waggon. The old woman (for it was her who went down) tells me I must put out my candle, so good-night.
I went to bed last, night with fear and trembling, and feel truly glad to wake up and find myself alive and well; if our property is all safe, we shall have double cause to be thankful. The old woman kept walking about after I was in bed, and I then heard her in close confab with her husband a long time. Our room is just large enough to contain a bed, a chair, and a very small stand; our bed has one brown sheet and one pillow. The sheet however appear’d to be clean, which was more than we got at Nash’s: there we were all oblig’d to sleep in the same room without curtains or any other screen, and our sheets there were so dirty I felt afraid to sleep in them. We were not much in favor at our first arrival there; but before we left them, they appear’d quite to like us, and I don’t know why they should not, for we were all very clever, notwithstanding we rode in a waggon. Mrs Nash said she should reckon on’t to see us again (Miss W. and me), so I told her that in 3 years she might expect to see me. She said I should never come back alone, that I would certainly be married in a little while; but I am now more than ever determin’d not to oblige myself to spend my days there by marrying, should I even have an opport’y.
I am oblig’d to write every way, so you must not wonder at the badness of the writing — I am now in bed and writing in my lap. Susan has gone to see if our baggage is in order. I hear the old woman’s voice talking to the good deacon, and an ‘I beg your pardon’ comes out at every breath almost. Oh! I cannot bear to see her again, she is such a disgusting object. The men have been swearing and laughing in the store under me this hour, and the air of my room is so intolerable, that I must quit my writing to go in search of some that is breathable.
Having a few moments more to spare before we set out, with my book still in my lap, I hasten to tell you we found everything perfectly safe, and I believe I wrong’d them all by suspicions. The house by daylight looks worse than ever — every kind of thing in the room where they live; a chicken half pick’d hangs over the door, and pots, kettles, dirty dishes, potatoe barrels, and every thing else; — and the old woman, — it is beyond my power to describe her, — but she and her husband are both very kind and obliging; it is as much as a body’s life is worth to go near them. The air has already had a medicinal effect upon me — I feel as if I had taken an emetic, and should I stay till night I certainly should be oblig’d to take to my bed, and that would be certain death. I did not think I could eat in the house, but I did not dare refuse; the good deacon nor his wife did not mind it, so I thought I must not. The old creature sits by eating, and we are just going, to my great joy; so good-bye, good-bye till to-night.
Ferry House, near State Prison.
It has been very cold and dusty riding to-day. We have met with no adventure yet, of any kind. We are now waiting at the ferry house to cross the river as soon as wind and tide serve. The white waves foam terribly; how we shall get across I know not, but I am in great fear. If we drown, there will be an end of my journal.
SPRINGFIELD, NEW JERSEY
Pierson’s Inn; Wed’y P.M. 4 oclock.
‘What is every body’s business is no body’s’; for instance, it is nobody’s business where we are going, yet every body enquires — every toll-gatherer and child that sees us. I am almost discouraged —we shall never get to New Connecticut or anywhere else, at the rate we go on. We went but eleven miles yesterday and 15 to-day. Our waggon wants repairing, and we were oblig’d to put up for the night at about 3 oclock. I think the country so far much pleasanter than any part of Connecticut we pass’d thro’, but the Turnpike roads are not half as good. The Deacon and his family complain most bitterly of the gates and toll bridges, tho’ the former is very goodnatur’d with his complaints. Also the tavern expenses are a great trouble. As I said before I will never go with a Deacon again, for we go so slow and so cheap, that I am almost tir’d to death. The horses walk, walk, hour after hour, while Mr W. sits reckoning his expenses and forgetting t o drive till some of us ask when we shall get there. Then he remembers the longer we are on the road the more expensive it will be, and whips up his horses; and when Erastus, the son, drives, we go still slower for fear of hurting the horses. Since I left I have conceived such an aversion for Doctors, and the words expense, expensive, cheap, and expect, that I do not desire ever to see the one (at least to need them), or hear the others again, in my life.
I have the greater part of the time, till now, felt in better spirits than I expected — my journal has been of use to me in that respect. I did not know but I should meet with the same fate that a cousin of Mr Hall’s did, who like me, was journeying to a new, if not a western country: she was married on her way and prevented from proceeding to her journey’s end. — There was a man to day in Camptown, where we stopt to eat, not oats but gingerbread, who enquired, or rather expected we were going to the ’Hio. We told him yes, and he at once concluded it was to get husbands. He said winter was coming on and he wanted a wife and believ’d he must go there to get him one. I concluded of course the next thing would be a proposal to Miss W. or me, to stay behind to save trouble for us both; but nothing would suit him but a rich widow, so our hopes were soon at an end. Disappointment is the lot of man, and we may as well bear them with a good grace — this thought restrain’d my tears at that time, but has not been able to, since.
What shall I do? My companions say they shall insist upon seeing my journal, and I certainly will not show it to them, so I told them I would bring it with me the first time I came to Henshaw (the place where they live) and read it to them; but I shall do my utmost to send it to you before I go — that would be a sufficient excuse for not performing my promise, which must be conditional.
MANSFIELD, N. J. Sat. morn, October 27.
We yesterday travell’d the worst road you can imagine — over mountains and thro’ vallies. We have not, I believe, had 20 rods of level ground the whole day, and the road some part of it so intolerably bad on every account, so rocky and so gullied, as to be almost impassable. 15 miles this side Morristown we cross’d a mountain call’d Schyler, or something like it. We walk’d up it, and Mrs W. told us it was a little like some of the mountains, only not half so bad; indeed, every difficulty we meet with is compar’d to something worse that, we have yet to expect.
We found a house built in the heart of the mountain near some springs, in a romantic place. Whether the springs are medicinal or not, I do not know, but I suspect they are, and that the house is built for the accommodation of those who go to them; for no human creature, I am sure, would wish to live there. Opposite the house are stairs on the side of the mountain and a small house resembling a bathing house, at the head of them.
At last the road seem’d to end in a hog’s pen, but we found it possible to get round it, and once more found ourselves right again. We met very few people, yet the road seem’d to have been a great deal travelled. One young man came along and caus’d us some diversion, for he eyed us very closely and then enter’d into conversation with Mr W., who was walking a little ahead. He told him he should himself set out next week for Pittsburg, and we expect to see him again before we get there. Erastus enquir’d the road of him, and he said we must go the same way he did; so we follow ’d on till we put up for the night; he walking his horse all the way and looking back at the waggon. As soon as we came to the inn, he sat on his horse at the door till he saw us all quietly seated in the house and then rode off. Which of us made a conquest I know not, but I am sure one of us did.
We have pass’d thro’ but 2 towns in N. J., but several small villages — Dutch valley, between some high hills and the mountain; Batestown, where we stopt to bait; and some others, all too small to deserve a name. At last we stopt at Mansfield, at an inn kept by Philip fits (a little f). We found it kept by 2 young women, whom I thought amazons, for they swore and flew about ‘like witches.' They talk ’d and laugh’d about their sparks, etc., etc., till it made us laugh so as almost to affront them.
PENNSYLVANIA, Saturday eve. 2 miles from
BETHLEHEM - HANOVER, Oct. 27.
Before I write you anything I will tell you where and how we are: — we are at a Dutch tavern, almost crazy. In one corner of the room are a set of Dutchmen talking, singing, and laughing in Dutch, so loud that my brain is almost turn’d; they one moment catch up a fiddle, and I expect soon to be pull’d up to dance. I am so afraid of them I dare hardly stay in the house one night; much less over the Sabbath. I cannot write, so good-night.
Sunday eve; sundown.
I can wait no longer to write you, for I have a great deal to say. I should not have thought it possible to pass a Sabbath in our country among such a dissolute vicious set of wretches as we are now among. I believe at least 50 Dutchmen have been here to-day to smoke, drink, swear, pitch cents, almost dance, laugh and talk Dutch, and stare at us. They come in in droves, young and old, black and white, women and children. They are all high Dutch, but I hope not a true specimen of the Pennsylvanians generally.
Just as we set down to tea, in came a dozen or two of women, each with a child in her arms, and stood round the room. I did not know but they had come in a body to claim me as one of their kin, for they all resemble me; but as they said nothing to me, I concluded they came to see us Yankees, as they would a learned pig. The women dress in striped linsey-woolsey petticoats and short gowns not 6 inches in length; they look very strangely. The men dress much better — they put on their best clothes on Sunday, which I suppose is their only holiday, and ‘keep it up’ as they call it.
A stage came on from Bethlehem and stopt here, with 2 girls and a welldress’d fellow who sat between them, an arm round each. They were probably going to the next town to a dance or a frolic of some kind, for the driver, who was very familiar with them, said he felt just right for a frolic. I suspect more liquor has been sold to-day than all the week besides. The children have been calling us Yankees (which is the only English word they can speak), all day long. Whether it was meant as a term of derision or not, I neither know nor care. Of this I am sure, they cannot feel more contempt for me than I do for them; tho’ I most sincerely pity their ignorance and folly. There seems to be no hope of their improvement as they will not attend to any means.
After saying so much about the people, I will describe our yesterday’s ride — but first I will describe our last night’s lodging. Susan and me ask’d to go to bed, and Mrs W. spoke to Mr Riker the landlord (for no woman was visible). So he took up a candle to light us, and we ask’d Mrs W. to go up with us, for we did not dare go alone. When we got into a room, he went to the bed and open’d it for us, while we were almost dying with laughter, and then stood waiting with the candle for us to get into bed. But Mrs W., as soon as she could speak, told him she would wait and bring down the candle, and he then left us. I never laugh’d so heartily in my life. Our bed to sleep on was straw, and then a feather-bed for covering. The pillows contain’d nearly a single handful of feathers, and were cover’d with the most curious and dirty patchwork I ever saw. We had one bedquilt and one sheet.
I did not undress at all, for I expected Dutchmen in every moment , and you may suppose slept very comfortably in that expectation. Mr and Mrs W. and another woman slept in the same room. When the latter came to bed, the man came in and open’d her bed also. After we were all in bed, in the middle of the night, I was awaken’d by the entrance of three Dutchmen, who were in search of a bed. I was almost frighten’d to death, but Mr W. at length heard and stopt them before they had quite reach’d our bed. Before we were dress’d the men were at the door, — which could not fasten,— looking at us. I think wild Indians will be less terrible to me, than these creatures. Nothing vexes me more than to see them set and look at us and talk in Dutch and laugh.
Now for our ride. — After we left Mansfield, we cross’d the longest hills, and the worst road, I ever saw: two or three times after riding a little distance on a turnpike, we found it fenced across and were oblig’d to turn into a wood where it was almost impossible to proceed — large trees were across, not the road for there was none, but the onlyplace we could possibly ride. It appear’d to me, we had come to an end of the habitable part of the globe; but all these difficulties were at last surmounted, and we reach’d the Delaware. The river, where it is cross’d, is much smaller than I suppos’d. The bridge over it is elegant, I think. It is covered and has 16 windows each side. As soon as we pass’d the bridge, we enter’d Easton, the first towrn in Pennsylvania.
Wednesday, Oct’her 31.
We pass’d through Reading yesterday, which is one of the largest and prettiest towns I have seen. We stopt about 2 hours in the town, and I improved my time in walking about to see it. I went into the stores enquiring for a scissor-case. Almost every one could talk English, but I believe the greatest part of them were Dutch people. As soon as we left Reading, we cross’d the Schuylkill. It was not deeper than the Lehi, and we rode thro’ it in our waggon. A bridge was begun over it, but the man broke and was unable to finish it.
I was extremely tir’d when we stopt, and went immediately to bed after tea, and for the first time for a long while, undress’d me and had a comfortable nights rest. We are oblig’d to sleep every and any way at most of the inns now. My companions were all disturbed by the waggoners who put up here, and were all night in the room below us, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, and swearing. Poor Mr W. was so disturb’d that he is not well this morning, and what is more unpleasant to us, is not good naturr’d, and Mrs W. has been urging him this half hour to eat some breakfast. He would only answer, ‘I shan’t eat any,’ but at length swallow’d some in sullen silence, but is in a different way preparing to ride. If I were going to be married I would give my intended a gentle emetic, or some such thing, to see how he would bear being sick a little, for I could not coax a husband as I would a child, only because he was a little sick and a great deal cross. I trust I shall never have the trial—I am sure I should never bear it with temper and patience. Mr W. is, I believe, a very pious good man, but not naturally pleasant-temper’d; religion, however, has corrected it in a great degree, but not wholly overcome it. Mrs W. is an amiable sweet-temper’d woman as I ever saw; the more I know her, the better I love her. Susan is a charming girl, but Erastus is rather an obstinate boy; he feels superiour to his father and everyone else, in wisdom. Mrs Jackson is a clever woman, I believe, but I have a prejudice against her which I cannot overcome. She is very inquisitive and very communicative. She resembles Moll Lyman, or rather crazy Moll of Northampton, in her looks. She has considerable property and feels it very sensibly. Her youngest son is almost eighteen and has his wife with him, who is not quite as old. They have been married 2 months, and are a most loving couple. I cannot help thinking whenever I see them together, of ’Love I Sophia?’ etc. Her name is Eliza and his, John. The other son is a very obliging but not a very polish’d young man. I like them all better than at first.
I have been very much diverted at hearing some part of our landlady’s history, which she told last night, after drinking a little too much, I suppose. She says she has property if she is not married; — she had her fortune told a short time since, and was told to think of a certain gentleman living about 300 miles off, which she did, and thought so hard that a drop of blood fell from her nose. She was telling Mrs Jackson of this and ask’d how far she was going; being told about 300 miles —well, she said, she really believ’d her oldest son was the young man she was to have, for he looks just like the one she thought of. The young man will be flatter’d no doubt.
EAST PENSBORO’S TOWNSHIP, P-.
We left Mr Rees’ yesterday ten o’clock, and after waiting some time at the ferry house, cross’d the Susquehanna with considerable difficulty. The river is a mile wide and so shallow that the boat would scrape across the large stones so as almost to prevent it from proceeding. We only came 8 miles; the riding was awful, and the weather so cold that I thought I should perish riding 4 miles. This will do well for us — 8 miles in 3 days.
We put up for the Sabbath at a tavern where none but the servants deign to look at us. When I am with such people, my proud spirit rises and I feel superior to them all. I believe no regard is paid to the Sabbath any where in this State: it is only made a holiday of. So much swearing as I have heard amongst the Pennsylvanians both men and women I have never before heard during my whole life. I feel afraid I shall become so accustom’d to hearing it, as to feel no uneasiness at it. Harrisburgh is a most dissipated place, I am sure, and the small towns seem to partake of the vice and dissipation of the great ones. I believe Mrs Jackson has cast her eyes on Susan or me for a daughter-in-law; for my part, though I feel very well-disposed towards the young man, I had not thought of making a bargain with him; but I have jolted off most of my high notions, and perhaps I may be willing to descend from a judge to a blacksmith. I shall not absolutely determine with respect to him till I get to Warren and have time to look about me and compare him with the judges Dobson and Stephenson. It is clever to have two or three strings to one’s bow. But, in spite of my prejudices, they are very clever. Among my list of cast offs I would rank Dutchmen, a Pennsylvania waggoner, ditto gentlemen.
Tuesday night, Nov. 6.
We have only counted 17 miles today, although the riding has been much better than for several days past. We stopt in Shippenburgh at noon. The town contains only one street a mile and a half in length and very thickly built. The street is some part of it pleasant, and some part dirty. I saw in it a handsome young gentleman who was both a Dutchman and Pennsylvanian, yet in an hour and a half I did not hear him make use of a single oath or prophane word. It was a remarkable instance, the only one I have known, and I could not but remark it. We are 4 miles from Strasburgh and the mountains, and one of our horses is ill, owing to Erastus giving him too many oats. Erastus is master rather than his father, and will do as he pleases for all any one. He is a stubborn fellow, and so impudent to his mother and sister, that I have no patience with him. We are not as bless’d as the Israelites were, for our shoes wax old and our cloathes wear out. I don’t know that mine will last till I get there.
Saturday morn [Nov. 9.]
I am now in despair: it continues raining faster than ever. The house full of drunken prophane wretches, the old woman cross as a witch. We have nothing to eat and can get nothing but some slapjacks at a baker’s some distance off, and so stormy we cannot get there. Mrs Jackson frets all the time. I wish they would go on and leave us, we should do as well again. Mr Beach and his wife and child and the woman who is with them, are here, and the house is full. It rains most dreadfully and they say it is the clearing-off shower. Oh, if it only proves so! ‘Oh had l the wings of a dove, how soon would I meet you again!' I’ We have never found the wretches indelicate till last evening, but while we were at tea, they began talking and singing in a most dreadful manner. We are 4 miles from Sidling hill, the next mountain; and a mile and a half from this there is a creek which we must cross, that is so rais’d by the rain, as to render it impossible to pass it.
Our ‘clearing-up shower’ has lasted all day with unabated violence. Just at sunset we had a pretty hard thunder shower, and at dusk there was clear sky visible and the evening star shone bright as possible, but now it is raining fast again. After giving an emetic, I would take a long journey with my intended, to try his patience; mine is try’d sorely now. I wish you could just take a peep at me — my frock is wet and dirty a quarter of a yard high, only walking about the house. I have been in my chamber almost the whole day, but was oblig’d to go down just at night to eat, and look at the sky. I was very much frighten’d by a drunken waggoner, who came up to me as I stood by the door waiting for a candle; he put his arm round my neck, and said something which I was too frighten’d to hear. It is the first time the least insult has been offer’d to any of us. One waggoner very civilly offer’d to take Susan or me on to Pitts’g in his wagon, if we were not like to get there till spring. It is not yet determin’d which shall go with him. One waggon in crossing the creek this afternoon, got turn’d over and very much injur’d. We have concluded the reason so few are willing to return from the Western country, is not that the country is so good, but because the journey is so bad. Mr W. has gone to and from here there, 5 times, but thinks this will be the last time. Poor Susan groans and sighs, and now [and] then sheds a few tears. I think I exceed her in patience and fortitude.
Mrs Wolcott is a woman of the most perfect equanimity I ever saw. She is a woman of great feeling and tenderness, but has the most perfect command over her feelings. She is not own mother to these children, but she is a very good one. I have learn’d Elizabeth to eat raw pork and drink whisky; don’t you think I shall do for a new country? I shall not know how to do either when I end my journey, however. We have almost got out of the land of Dutchmen, but the waggoners are worse. The people here talk curiously; they all reckon instead of expect.
Tuesday eve, Nov. 13.
4 miles east of BEDFORD, PENN.<BR/> We rode some distance on its [the Juniata’s] banks, and had the road been tolerable, it would have been pleasant. I have said so much about the badness of the roads that you will hardly believe me when I tell you we saw some of the worst to-day we have ever found, and some as good as any in this state. I should not have suppos’d it possible for any thing to pass it. Mrs W. said it seem’d like going into the lower regions, but I had always an idea that road was smooth and easy. I am sure if it was as bad as that, it would have fewer travellers. We went down, however, till we came to a lower region. It was really awful. We saw some men to-day mending the roads; I did not think a Pennsylvanian ever touch’d a road or made a bridge, for we are oblig’d to ride thro’ every stream we come to. We have been nearly 20 miles to-day, and have been oblig’d to walk up hill, till we are all very tir’d. I felt too much so to write, but I am unwilling to omit it. I only wish now we could get rid of what company we have left; but that we cannot do.
Friday night, ALLEGANY M’T’N. After a comfortable night’s rest, we set out on foot to reach the height of the mountain. It rain’d fast for a long time, and at length began snowing. We found the roads bad past description, — worse than you can possibly imagine: large stones and deep mud-holes every step of the way. We were oblig’d to walk as much as we possibly could, as the horses could scarcely stir the waggon the mud was so deep and the stones so large. It has grown so cold that I fear we shall all perish to-morrow. We suffer’d with cold excessively to-day. From what I have seen and heard, I think the State of Ohio will be well fill’d before winter. Waggons without number every day go on. One went on containing forty people. We almost every day see them with 18 or 20; one stopt here to night with 21. We are at a baker’s, near a tavern which is fill’d with movers and waggoners. It is a comfortable place, but rather small. One old man has been in examining my writing, and giving his opinion of it in Dutch, to a young fellow who was with him. He said he could not read a word of any thing. He found fault with the ink, but commended the straitness and facility with which I wrote, — in English. I was glad he had not on his specs. We came but 10 miles to-day, and are yet on the Alleghany. It is up hill almost all the way down the mountains. I do not know when we are down them for my part. I’m thinking, as they say here, we shall be oblig’d to winter on it, for I reckon we shall be unable to proceed on our journey, on account of roads, weather, etc.
2 Miles from LAUREL HILL, PENN. We came but 9 or 10 miles to-day, and are now near the 6th Mountain, in a tavern fill’d with half-drunken noisy waggoners. One of them lies singing directly before the fire; proposing just now to call for a song from the young ladies. I can neither think nor write he makes so much noise with his love songs ; I am every moment expecting something dreadful and dare not lay down my pen lest they should think me listening to them. They are the very worst wretches that ever liv’d, I do believe — I am out of all patience with them. The whole world, nor any thing in it, would tempt me to stay in this state three months — I dislike everything belonging to it. I am not so foolish as to suppose there are no better people in it than those we have seen; but let them be ever so good, I never desire to see any of them. We overtook an old waggoner whose waggon had got set in the mud, and I never heard a creature swear so; and whipt his horses till I thought they would die. I could not but wonder at the patience and forbearance of the Almighty, whose awful name was so blasphem’d.
We also overtook a young Doctor, who is going with his father to Mad River in the state of Ohio. He has been studying physic in New Jersey, but appears to be an uneducated man from the language he makes use of. I believe both himself and his father are very clever. I heard them reproving a swearer. He dresses smart , and was so polite as to assist us in getting over the mud. Susan and I walk’d on before the waggon as usual, and he overtook us and invited us into the house and call’d for some brandy sling; we did not drink, which he appear’d not to like very well, and has scarcely spoken to us since. He thinks himself a gentleman of the first chop, and takes the liberty of coining words for himself. Speaking of the people in this state, he said they were very ignorant and superstitionary : perhaps you have heard the word before — I never did.
A mile west of the mountains.
Rejoice with me, my dear Elizabeth, that we are at length over all the mountains, so call’d. I do not suppose we shall be much better off than we were before, as it respects roads, — for I had just as lieve go over a mountain, as to go over the same distance of any part of the road we have had this fortnight or three weeks, But it sounds well to say we are over the mountains.
Nov. 23: Friday morn.
TURTLE CREEK, PENN.
One misfortune follows another, and I fear we shall never reach our journey’s end. Yesterday we came about 3 miles. After coming down an awful hill, we were oblig’d to cross a creek; but before we quite came to it, the horses got mired, and we expected every moment one of them would die; but Erastus held his head out of water, while Mr W. was attempting to unharness them, and Mrs W. and Susan were on the bank, calling for help. I sat by, to see the horse breathe his last; but was happily disappointed in my expectation. No assistance could be got, till Mr W. waded through the water, and then 2 men with 3 horses came over. We came to this inn, and Mr W. thought it best to stay till this morning. All our company have gone on. Mr Smith invited me to ride with his wife, to Pittsburgh, and I, on some accounts, wish I had accepted his invitation — indeed I could scarcely get beside it.
We found a gentleman (Doctor, I presume by his looks) here, who was very sociable and staid an hour with us. He appear’d to be a man of good information and considerable politeness. We found the landlord very goodnatur’d and obliging, and his wife directly the contrary. We find the men, generally, much more so than their wives. We are 12 miles from Pittsburgh, and here like to be. The landlord offers to keep Susan and me till spring, and let the old folks go on.
We got into the Slough of Despond yesterday, and are now at the foot of the Hill Difficulty — which is half a mile long; one waggon is already fast in the mud on it, and Mr W. is afraid to attempt it himself. I think I will winter here.
Nov. 24; Saturday night,
3 1/2 miles beyond PITTSBURG.
Just as we were getting into the waggon this morning, Mr W. found he had left his great coat 4 miles back, and went back on foot after it, while we proceeded to Pittsburg, which we reach’d about noon. Mr W. came about an hour after. After getting well warm, Susan and I were going out to view the town, when Mr W. came and hurried us away, as he wished to cross the river before night. From the little we did see of the town, I was extremely disappointed at its appearance. It is not one half as large as I suppos’d; but I am unable to give you any account of it, from my own observation. It is situated at the confluence of the 2 rivers, the Alleghany and Monongahela. The town suffer’d very much by the flood: one house floated down the river; its inhabitants were in the upper part of it calling for assistance; none could be render’d and what became of them I did not learn: I believe it is not known.
Wednesday Nov. 28.
7 miles from GREENSBURG, PENN.
I have had no opport’y of writing you for 3 days before now. We set. out in the rain on Monday, and came on 13 miles — to a hut with a sign up call’d a tavern; and such a place! I found the people belong’d to a very ancient and noble family. They were first and second cousins to his Satanic Majesty. I could not but wonder that he should suffer them to lead so laborious a life, for they are among his most faithful friends and subjects. Probably they are more useful to him in that station, by increasing the number of his subjects. Their dwelling resembles that of their royal cousin, for it is very dark and gloomy and only lighted by a great fire. No one who is once caught in it, ever wishes to be again. The man is only related by marriage to his lordship.
The house had only one room in it. There was a number of travellers and we got but one bed — that was straw or something harder. The pillow case had been on 5 or 6 years, I reckon, so I pin’d over my hankerchief, and put my night-gown over my frock. We rose an hour before daybreak, got breakfast, and set out in the snow for another hut. We came 10 a/2 miles today, and are at a very comfortable inn, just in the edge of Greersburg. We expected to get a little further, to Hart’s tavern quite in the town; and there I hop’d to see Judge Austin again, and I determin’d at any rate to accept his offer of getting me a horse, and go directly on with him, for I do not intend to walk 9 miles a day till we get there, if I can help it — even if it will not hurt me. I won’t take the good deacon’s word for that. The horses are really tir’d out and out, and every day by the time we get 4 miles they will stop, and it is extremely difficult to get them on at all; but it is so expensive hiring a horse to go on, that as long as the waggon alone can be drawn 3 or 4 miles a day, it will not be done; but I feel provoked, as you will easily see, so I will write no more on this subject. I am so anxious to end my journey, that I have lost all interest about the country I pass through. It snows or rains every day, constantly. I think in good weather the ride from Warren to Pitts’g must be pleasant. If that were at present the case, my journal would be as much more interesting as my journey would be pleasanter.
10 miles as usual, has been our day’s ride. I have not walk’d my 9 miles, but I walk’d as much as I could. We are in a comfortable house before an excellent fire. It is snowing very fast.
Saturday, P.M. —WARREN!
After so long a time Friday morning we set out early, with the hope of getting to Youngstown at night and to Warren to-night, but 4 miles from Youngstown the horses were so tir’d they would not stir, so we stopt at a private house for the night, an hour before sundown. We had been in the house but a little time, when Susan look’d out and told me she thought there was some one after me, and I soon saw Mr Edwards and 2 horses. ‘I was never so happy, I think.’ I ran out to meet him. He came in and set a while, and just at dark we started for Youngstown. Mr Edwards insisted upon Susan’s going with us, so she rode behind him, and I rode the single horse. We reach’d Cousin Joseph Woodbridge’s about the middle of the eve. They got us a good supper and gave us a bed. Mrs W. is a very pretty woman (I mean pleasing). They have 3 children, and appear to be very well off (you understand me), and happy. They live in a very comfortable loghouse, pleasantly situated. A cousin in this country is not to be slighted, I assure you. I would give more for one in this country than for 20 in old Connecticut. This morning Mrs Todd came over to see us, and urg’d us to stay and spend the day with her. But spite of her solicitations, we set out for Warren soon after breakfast. My horse was extremely dull and we did not get here till near 2 oclock.
Cousin Louisa was as happy to see me as I could wish, and I think I shall be very happy and contented. The town is pleasanter than I expected, the house better, and the children as fine. Cousin has alter’d very little, in any way. I found a Mrs Waldo here just going to Connecticut, and lest I should not have another opport’y, I intend sending this by them, without even time to read it over and correct it. I am asham’d of it, my dear Elizabeth, and were it not for my promise to you, I don’t know that I should dare to send it. I will write your Mama by mail, I have not time for a letter now. My very best love to everybody. I have a great deal more to say, but no more time than just to tell you, I am ever and most affect ’ly
M V D —.
Let no one see this but your own family.
[A little over a year after her arrival in Warren Miss Dwight was married to William Bell, Jr., a wholesale merchant of Pittsburg. She lived in Pittsburg until her death in 1834, bringing up a large family of children, entertaining many friends; and the family tradition is that she was active and very vivacious.]