Amherst Alden Journal (1847-1848)

Page of Amherst A. Alden’s journal.

September 28, 1847,

Left Duxbury at 10 o’clock AM.  My birthplace; the town where I have always resided, left all friends, acquaintances, my home, to make my abode in the far West.  There is a feeling upon leaving home which no pen can describe, “there is no place like home.”

Thus begins the journal of 15 year-old Duxbury native Amherst A. Alden (1832-1909) as he embarked on his journey to Illinois.  At the time Amherst left Duxbury there was little to keep an educated young man at home. The decline of the town’s great shipbuilding era left scant employment other than the ill-paid and laborious work of shoemaking. Luckily the United States was full of places a man of ambition could make his mark.  Many moved to Boston (see previous blog post about Eugene Sampson), some went to sea and others followed the country’s manifest destiny and went west.

Prior to leaving Duxbury in the fall of 1847, Amherst was presented a journal by his neighbor, Ann Thomas Porter, the wife of the local doctor, John Porter. His travels to the “far west” took him through western New England, down the Erie Canal, and eventually to Pekin, Illinois where he became employed as a teacher.  He diligently recorded his day’s activities every evening until the book was complete on April 19, 1848.  It is a wonderful look into daily life in Illinois during this period – names, places and events are recorded that would be of interest to anyone whose ancestors founded the towns of Pekin or Tremont.  Also fascinating are his use of exclamations such as “Oh Scissors” and “My Conscience.”

After only a year in Illinois Amherst made his way back to Massachusetts.  He became the private secretary to Daniel Webster and then a clerk in the Boston Post Office.  In 1853 he married Georgina Cook, the daughter of a shipwright. They had one child, Jennie. The family split their time between Duxbury (366 Washington Street) and Boston.  Amherst A. Alden died in 1909 and is buried in Mayflower Cemetery in Duxbury.

The following is the complete transcription of his diary:

Sept. 28, 1847

I left Duxbury at 10 o’clock AM My birthplace; the town where I have always lived, left all friends, acquaintances, my home to make my abode in the far West. There is a feeling upon leaving home which no pen can describe. “There’s no place like home.” Home, it is the paradise of infancy, the refuge of old age. What associations, what recollections cluster around it? But to go on. I arrive at Quincy at 12 N. Remained there one night.Sept. 29, 1847

Sept. 29, 1847

Beautiful morning. Left Quincy for Boston at 12. I stopped in Boston until 4 PM. Took the cars for Springfield, and arrived there at 8 o’clock PM. Stopped there until next morning. Springfield is fast growing to become a city, it has an enterprising population consisting of about 9,000 souls. It is situated about 70 miles West from Boston.

Sept. 30, 1847

Very little rain in the morning. Left Springfield at 8 1/2 AM and arrived at Greenbush opposite Albany at 2 PM. Left there immediately for Troy, arrived there in 1/2 hour. Troy is a fine place containing about 20,000 inhabitants. Streets are rather muddy, and to add to their pleasantness hogs are constantly running about. The streets are not very wide but are regularly layed out. Left Troy for Schenectady at 6 1/2 PM. Arrived there at 7 3/4. Schenectady is a beautiful place: wide streets, regularly layed out. I did not have a chance to view the place as I wished as I immediately left for Rochester by canal. Travelled all night, rather slow travelling.

Oct. 1, 1847

Stormy day. We pass through a beautiful country, splendid scenery. Think of old Duxbury occasionally. Get somewhat acquainted with a gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Francis H. Bond, formerly from Massachusetts. PM – very pleasant traveling; pass some very handsome places. Arrive at Utica at 6 PM. Exchange boats. Rather better accommodations, larger boat; travel alright.

Oct. 2, 1847

Beautiful morning. Pass through a delightful portion of the country. Do not feel quite so homesick as I did yesterday. Arrive at Syracuse at 9 3/4 AM. Change boats. Smaller boat. Syracuse is a very handsome place, pop. 11,000. At 10 1/2 o’clock I stood upon the border of the Lake Oneida. One of the most beautiful sheets of water I ever beheld. There it lay, calm, pure, serene, as it’s Maker. PM Tired to death of traveling on a canal boat. Feel unwell. Wish I was at home. 5 o’clock, pass through Montezuma. Had a jolly time there. Saturday night, well here I am still on this dismal canal boat. Women make such a hurrah by their confounded nonsense that it is hard to tell whether you are in a civilized country or not.

Oct. 3, 1847

Sunday. Pleasant morning. Heavy frost last night. Still on board the canal boat. Pass through the village of Buston [?]: handsome buildings, country, level. Arrive at Rochester at 10 AM. Large flouring establishments. 3 PM pass through the pleasant town of Brockport. There is a large academy in this place. Arrive at Holley at 4 1/2 PM. Now at my uncle’s.

Oct. 4, 1847

Monday. Beautiful morning. Remain in Holley. Glad to get on shore again where I can turn around. Took a walk in to the village. Holley is quite a pleasant little village situated abut 25 miles east from Buffalo. Most of it’s inhabitants are moving farther West. Attend a singing school in the evening kept by a Mr. Marsh. One of the best singers & performers on the violin that I ever heard. Heard the songs: The tomb of Washington, & My Ocean Home. Splendid pieces of music. Singing held in the Orthodox church. Not much regard paid to religion here. All kinds of liquors sold here on the Sabbath.

Oct. 5, 1847

Tuesday. Remain in Holley still. Today I was strongly solicited to drink a glass of wine, which I of course refused. And immediately gave him who offered it a STRONG SPEECH on the evil tendencies of spiritous liquors upon such susceptible youths as him and myself.

Oct. 6, 1847

Still in Holley. May cousin very unwell. Think of leaving soon for Buffalo.

Oct. 7, 1847

Cloudy in morning, looks like rain. Tomorrow I leave Holley for my destined port of Pekin.

Oct. 8, 1847

Left Holley with a heavy heart. Left my friends, my sick cousin whom I never expect to see again on earth. Now I am among strangers, no familiar faces present themselves, no friend speaks to me. I am getting farther every day from the scenes of my childhood.

Oct. 9, 1847

We have got on the slowest old horses that can be imagined. Going at the astonishing rate of 2 miles an hour. If this isn’t discouraging. I should like to send these horses home to be used in some of our Duxbury funeral processions. They might be too slow for that use however. Travelled about 4 miles last night. Getting on surprisingly. I am rather ? whether or no we shan’t get to Buffalo before we know it. Railroads are not a circumstance nor never was. Arrive at Medina at 10 AM. Very pleasant day. Arrive at Lockport at 3 PM. Very pretty place. 7000 inhabitants. Here the canal descends by 5 locks something like a hundred feet. Find buildings, wide streets but muddy. Hogs in abundance running about.

“How pleasant is Saturday night when I’ve tried all the week to be good;

not spoken a word that was bad, but obliged every one that I could.” [poem written by Nancy Denis Sproat (1766-1826)].

Oct. 10, 1847 Sunday

Arrive at Buffalo at daylight much to he gratification of myself and other passengers. I immediately went on board the steamer James Madison which was to leave for Chicago yesterday but owing to the heavy gales did not. We had all kinds of people on board. Yankees, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans & worse than all, confounded Dutchmen. We had a piano on board. I hear as I sit a brass band playing the familiar tunes of Old hundred, The Lord is my Shepherd, Lucy Neil, etc. It recalls to my mind recollections of home. But, Alas! I am far, far from home & will endeavor to drown all thoughts of it. It does not seem like Sunday here. All confusion, stores open, bowling saloons in operation, drunkenness, cursing, swearing going on. Lake Erie is very rough. We sail from Buffalo at 1 PM. I am very seasick as well as most of the other passengers. Find day. Cool upon the lake. Pop. of Buffalo 22,000.

October 11, 1847 Monday AM

I did not sleep much last night on account that a number of bed bugs had taken possession of my stateroom before me. I was greatly annoyed by one large one who made such an outrageous noise by clattering of his hoofs when running about over my head that is was impossible to think of wrapping myself in profound slumber. Accordingly this morning we got a tackle fall rigged to the engine and by means equal to 150 horse power succeeded in getting on to the deck where he was knocked in the head by the carpenter (he being the bravest man on board) and one of the hind quarters sent to James K Polk as a token of old acquaintance. It weighed 225 lbs. I trust that to night I shall sleep sound. Helen Mary Blaine sung and played by a young lady on board this morning. Sounded natural. Arrived at Erie (Penn) at 3 o’clock. Stayed here some time. Erie is finely situated on an emergence of about 5 feet above the Lake. Well built, etc. etc. Left here at 1 PM Lake not quite so rough as it was yesterday. Not sick today. Arrive at Grand River at the town of Fairport at 9 1/2 PM. Went on shore. Went into quite a number of Groceries, tried to find some fruit, none to be had.

October 12, 1847 Tuesday

Arrive at Cleaveland at 12 o’clock. Rather rough, very bad storm. 11 o’clock in sights of the Canadian shore, quite smooth. Enter Detroit River at 1 1/2 PM. Rain. Beautiful prospect on shore. View at the fort and garrison of the British. See a horse race. Arrive at Detroit at 4 PM. Flourishing city. Neat public buildings, wide streets. Visited a music store, came across a splendid violin. Had quite a jolly time here. Layed here all the evening. Got some apples, peaches, grapes & have quite a number of passengers get off here. My friends Paul & Crofts among others.

October 13, 1847 Wednesday

AM Cool.  Pass up St. Clair River and Lake.  Squally.  Beautiful prospect.  Put in at a port on the river.  Stop some time.  The Niagara arrives.  A most scandalous array comes off here.  Went on board the Niagara.  Splendid boat, highly finished.  Snow squall. PM wind rises.  Cold rain & hail.  Enter Lake Huron at 4, quite smooth.  Make great progress on Huron, until midnight when we are obliged to put back 40 miles into Port Sarnia Canada.

October 14, 1847 Thursday

Very cold morning.  Heavy front last night.  Well here we are in Canada again.  See a company of indians. Went on shore into a number of stores.  Left here (Port Sarnia) at 10 AM.  Try to get a brig off that was washed ashore last night in the gale. Very rough, high wind.  Got my violin out of my trunk had some music and mirth.  I’ll bet Our R? officer pretty well conned last night.

October 15, 1847 Friday

AM Quite cool.  Now crossing Lake Huron.  Out of sight of land for the first time in my life.  Wind rises.  Feel as if I should to be at home.  Grows cold.  Quite an army of babies on board.  Plenty of liquor. 12 N Close in to Thunder Bay Island.  Beautiful scenery on shore shore.  Very pleasant.  8 PM Pass the Manitou light house.  Arrive at Mackanaw at 9 1/2.  Go on shore.  The in dans assemble here annually to receive the pay from government.  Pop 700.   Pass up the straits of Mackanaw into Lake Michigan.

October 16, 1847 Saturday

AM Very rough.  Not well.  Homesick.  Most of the passengers sick. 2PM arrive at North Manitouline.  This island consists about 6 dwelling houses, 1 store.  It is the most dreary, lonely & inhospitable places I ever been or read of.  The indians have a religious superstition in regard to this Island.  The word Great Spirit comes from Manitou.  The steamer Empire arrived also a propeller.  Lake Michigan very rough so that no boat could live upon it.  Evening. Not very well.  Saturday night comes round again. O! dear.  Well “How pleasant is Saturday night” comes into my mind.  Tired to death of steamboat life.  Never like to get to Chicago.  More passengers get on board here.  Confounded squalling of young ones enough to take a fellows head off.  Fairly disgusted with the sight of spirituous liquors.  Our  R? officer get off last night.

October 17, 1847 Sunday

Leave Manitouline early in the AM.  Very rough with head winds.  Got some more informal outlandish  men on board.  Troubled with the tooth ache.  Feel savage as a meat axe.  Sunday comes again bringing with it strong recollections of home.  Evening.  Very rough. Heavy gale all hands sick.  I wish some of my Duxbury friends were here to see the men, women & chairs tumbling about, rolling over the floor.  We are now in one of the heaviest gales ever experienced by man.  Tonight we retire not knowing whether we shall wake up in the morning & find ourselves at the bottom of the Lake or safe on board.  12 midnight.  We are obliged to anchor on account of some accident in the machinery.

October 18, 1847 Monday

8 AM arrive at Sheboygan one of the most beautiful places I have seen since I left home.  Situated on an eminence overlooking the harbor.  Pop 1500.  PM arrive at Milmarik at 4.  Large city pop 12,000.  Evening. Very  pleasant now.  Here as I sit on the taffrail of the steamer I look on the placid waters of the lake Michigan not a ruffle disturbs its calm bosom.   The moon rising in the far East is reflected back by the waters.  I am alone.  Around me all is confusion.  I hear the distant voice of a sailor in a brig afar on the Lake.  I know not scarcely what is passing around me.  My thoughts are far far away.  The Niagara comes into port.  She comes proudly around.  Lord of the lakes as she is.  My chum Mr. Allen S. Harris left here.  I feel lonesome now, I am much interested in him.

October 19, 1847

Arrive at Racine at 2 AM.  As I was wrapted in slumber, I did not have a chance to visit this place.

Arrive at Chicago at 8 1/2 AM much to the gratification of myself & others.  Chicago.  Fine city, regularly laid out, wide streets, muddy as fury.  Dirty hogs running about the streets. Stop at the City Hotel.  Chicago bigs fain to become one of the most important cities in our country.  It has a country back of it that cannot be surpassed by any in the world.  Find mu friend Wilson to whom I have a letter of introduction.  Also saw a young man who has been a pupil of Mr. Fuller my former teacher we had a jolly old time.  Museum in evening.  Heard an organ.  A person tried to grind something she called music out of it.  I had much rather hear a wheelbarrow that wants greasing.  The one that Geo Whitney carried a young lady to ride in for instance.  Well I retire early as I have to get to get up tomorrow morning at 3 o’clock & ride all day in the stage for my comfort.  Is not this high life?  “Speak ye who best can tell.”

October 20, 1847 Wednesday

AM Very cold.  Leave Chicago at 3 o’clock. Get into a small, cold, uncomfortable stage coach with nine inside passengers crowded almost to suffocation.  We rod 10 miles before breakfast.  Change horses.  Like to froze to death.  Arrive at the small town of Summit.  Get some breakfast, hungry enough.  If I did not walk into the affections of a beaf steak & Indian cake, then don’t talk to me of methodist preachers.  My Friend Mr. E. Herrick, a fellow passenger.  Arrive at xxxx at 9 1/2 change horses.  Not much of a place.  Put in steam again & arrive at xxx at 4 PM.  Quite a place 1500 inhabitants.  My friend Herrick gets off here.  Arrive at xxx at 7 cold, stormy. Change horses.  Arrive at Ottowa at midnight, change horses.

October 21, 1847
Arrive at Peru, the last place at 8 AM.  Get some breakfast.  Go on board a small steam boat for Pekin after almost being killed by riding 8 hours in stage.  Stop at small places not worthy of note.  The Illinois is a beautiful river.  The most splendid scenery I ever saw on its banks.  Ducks and geese in abundance.  This is the most pleasant part of my journey.  Feel rather unwell.  Last night my eyes were feasted with the rich sights of a prairie on fire lighting up the country for miles around while the moon coming up from another quarter gave sufficient light too read.  Became acquainted with a Mr. Edwin W. Somers of New York bound to Mississippi, a school teacher.  Arrive at Chllicothe at 7 1/2 PM.  Get to Peoria at 11.  Remain here all night. Very pretty place bids fair to become an important place, pop 2500.

October 22, 1847 Friday

Still in Peoria.  Cool morning.  Go on shore.  Arrive at Pekin my destination port at noon.  Go to Dr. Lincoln to whom I have a letter of introduction.  Go to my cousins, Mr. Flints.  Then did not know me of course.
October 23, 1847 Saturday
Still in Pekin.  Fine day.  Wrote letter to Duxbury to Seth.  Went to a sing in evening.  No more music in them than there is in a cart wheel nor not half so much.
October 24, 1847 Sunday
Very stormy day, no meeting here, the people do not have much regard for the Sabbath.  Wrote home to Mrs. Porter.  Gloomy day.
October 25, 1847 Monday
Beautiful morning.  [?] one after a heavy shower. Cool. PM Saw for the first time in my life a person drunk so he could not walk.  Cursing. Swearing.  Shocking sight.
October 26, 1847 Tuesday
Very cold boring.  I will give a description of Pekin today.  It is situated on the right bank of the Illinois a few feet above the river. It has a few pretty buildings.  The two principle streets cross each other at right angles.  The pork trade is extensively carried on.  It is a very unhealthy place in the warm season of the year.  Contains 1 church. Dutch reformed.  Population 1500.
October 27, 1847 Wednesday
Fine morning.  Heavy frost. Cold.  Think of leaving for Tremont.  1 o’clock start for Tremont.  Arrive there at noon.  My Uncle and Dr. Perkins were keeping batchelers hall.  He did not know who in the name of common sense I was.  Was very glad to see me.  School teachers wanted.  Splendid farm here.  The most lovely spot I ever beheld.  Large, extensive gardens, walks, etc.
October 28, 1847 Thursday
Very fine morning.  PM  Took a ride into the town of Tremont.  Beautifully situated in the midst of an extensive prairie.  Regularly laid out.  Population 500, chiefly yankees.  Delivered my letter to Mr. Ingalls and find him to be a distant relative of one.  Also delivered Capt. G. W. Holmes his letter.
October 29, 1847 Friday
AM Went to Post Office got a most interesting letter from Duxbury.  PM Take a ride to Liberty.  Had a jovial time with an old lady at the office.  Sent 2 letters and paper to Duxbury.  Cloudy looks like rain.  Wind.  S.W. prairie on fire in the evening, very bright.
October 30, 1847 Saturday
Cool, cloudy morning. Went down to Tremont. Visited the court house, fine building.  The way they whale the law into the suckers here is a caution.  PM Took a ride over to Pekin. fine weather.
October 31, 1847 Sunday
Stormy, dismal, rainy kind of day.  Don’t think of such a thing as going to church here when it is pleasant much more when it storms like fury.  Wrote to Rufus.  Stormy night. O dear.  Tomorrow November sets in my conscience, wonder if they will have any Thanksgiving here.
November 1, 1847
Very find day.  Go to Peoria. Beautiful place it is destined to become a large city in course of time.  Cross the Illinois by ferry.  Took dinner a the Clinton House.  Prairie on fire in evening.
November 2, 1847
Find morning.  Warm wind SW.  PM go to Tremont.  See some of the school district.  Thunder & lightening in evening.
November 3, 1847
Cool AM.  Go to Pekin remain all day.  Nothing new.  Saw a recruiting officer here after men for Mexico.  Good mind to go.
November 4, 1847 Thursday
Very pleasant day.  Down at Tremont.  Get a letter from George Whitney.  Get buy fiddle bow mended.
November 5, 1847 Friday
AM Keeping batchelers hall all hands gone to Peoria but me.  I am now “lord of all I survey”  Feels like snow.
November 6, 1847 Saturday
AM Stormy.  Went to Tremont. Nothing happening today wonderful or surprising.  Feel rather unwell.  “How pleasant is Saturday night.”
November 7, 1847 Sunday
Take a ride .  Didn’t go to church to day too much business on hand for that. Do a little carpentering.  Wrote to William.
November 8, 1847 Monday
AM Stormy warm.  Wind SE.  Our new workman came this morning.  Write letter home.  William & P?? to GRW.
November 9, 1847
Fine morning.  Heavy frost, cold. Feels like winter.  “O! for a lodge in some vast wilderness, some boundless contiguity of share where wars are over.”  Go to Trement spend the day there.  Muddy as fury & cold enough to freeze you.
November 10, 1847 Wednesday
AM Very cold, feels like snow. Thermometer 24 above zero.  Visit the school district. Engage to keep the school for them.  Quite a comfortable school house for this country.  Wo unto ye, ye generation of vipers.  Visit Parson Merriand.  Commence my school work from next Monday.  40 scholars.  I can thrash them all up in 3 days. Nov 22 Our orangoutang keep about the same.  Write to Mr. Ritchie.
November 11, 1847 Thursday
AM Very cold.  Thermometer 21 1/2.  Grows warmer as the sun rises.  Engaged in Horticulture this morning buying fruit trees.  Satin jacket on hand.  Do not feel over & above well.  Who did a certain gentleman carry to ride in a wheelbarrow.  Evening.  Spend it at Mr. Leonard’s.  Miss Leonard performed admirably on the piano.  Received a letter from J and M. Weston.
November 12, 1847
Cloudy morning looks like a storm. Cold. PM Take a ride to Pekin.  Nothing new.
November 13, 1847
Stormy AM.  Dismiss Satin Jacket. Cold.  Looks like clearing up.  Tap a barrel of cider.  “Come all ye saints & hear me tell the wonders of immanuel.”  How pleasant is Saturday night.
November 14, 1847
Fine morning Sunday again do not attend church today as there is some pressing engagement on hand. PM Go to Tremont nothing new there. Saw Dr. Perkin’s wife.
November 15, 1847 Monday
One of the most lovely mornings my eyes have ever beheld.  Warm.  PM Take a ride over to Tremont.  Write to Middleboro.  See a Mr. Thomas in Tremont a nephew of my friend Goodspeed of Duxbury Massachusetts.  Had quite a sociable time with him talked over Old Duxbury scrapes at the rate of 40 knots an hour.
November 16, 1847 Tuesday
Beautiful morning.  Very warm.  Take a ride into Tremont. PM Go to Pekin.  Evening at Mr. Leonard’s.  Looks like rain. Uncomfortably warm.
November 17, 1847
Very warm morning.  Looks like rain.  Clears off before noon and is a very pleasant day.  Go to Tremont.  Purchase 6 [??] at 18.  Go to the courthouse see Mr. Jones.  Thermometer 66.
November 18, 1847
Very cool.  Confound such changes in the weather.  Begin school next Monday.  O dear!  Wish I was in Africa or some other place.  Wrote to Reuben.  Snow squall.
November 19, 1847  Friday
Write to Augusta & John Frazar.  Yesterday I was examined by the school commissioners.  Mr. J M Bach to see if I was qualified to keep school for the young suckers.  Passed examination without a failure.  Go to Tremont.  My Uncle starts for St. Louis.  Cleared up very fine, looks like a fine day tomorrow.
November 20, 1847  Saturday
Very fine morning.  Cool heavy frost.  Write to Charles B. Thomas. Next Thursday is thanksgiving.  Should like to be at home to go to that spree in the evening.  Write to Mr. Moore.  Cold uncomfortable day as I want to see.  Get where it is warmer before another winter I hope.  Go to see the school directors & much to my joy they don’t want the to commence until the 30th. Hurrah!  Now for a spree this week.  Live while you live and enjoy yourself is my motto the present week.
November 21, 1847 Sunday
Very pleasant & warm. O hear!  I should like to be at home today to got to church.  Today is the 9th sabbath that I have not seen the inside of a church.  Wish I could hear from home once more.  I suppose my friends have forgotten me, but I know all have not.  I will think of them often if they do not of me.  PM Took a notion to go to church or what they call church here.  One of the simplest fools I ever saw try to spout before.  I thought I have heard silly preaching in Duxbury but by gracious this beats that all hollow.  Don’t catch me there again very sudden.  O thunder & lightning? O scissors!
November 22, 1847 Monday
Wirte to Henry Southworth.  Moderate and very foggy.  Confound these sudden changes.  Continued rain all day.  Well! Let it rain, I don’t care.
November 23, 1847
Stormy AM.  Very muddy not very cold for the season.  Received a letter from Seth.  Very interesting glad to hear from home once more.
November 24, 1847  Wednesday
Snow storm.  If this isn’t unhealthy weather I don’t know.  Nothing strange today. It is so stormy that I can’t get anywhere.  O solitude where are thy charms?”  Tomorrow is thanksgiving. Hope my Duxbury friends will enjoy themselves at the ball at the “academy.”  I should like to be in Duxbury about a week now.
November 25, 1847
Thanksgiving day today.  The time has come round again for the annual thanksgiving.  Friends flock towards home from which they have separated for years perhaps.  Let us keep in mind the object of this day.  For what has it been appointed.  Write to Seth & James.  Send a paper to “Miss whats her name” who lives under the hill.  Well here I am away from home all my friends in Duxbury are no doubt enjoying themselves to the utmost extent.  Let them do so.  I don’t care.  All I wish is I was there for a day or two.  Stormy, Stormy. O! dear I feel so uneasy every time I hear from home that I have a good mind not to write home again.  “Airthquake & Apple sass” Ah few shall meet where many part.  I must confess that I am a little homesick today.  Will now spend the evening at Mr. Leonard’s.  Had music & mirth.  Piano & violin.  Thankgiving spree.  O scissors.
November 26, 1847
Beautiful morning.  Snow on the ground. Cold enough to freeze you my conscience.  Go to Tremont.  Nothing new.  Murderous traveling.  Snow & mud under foot.
November 27, 1847
Find day. Warm. Snow melts. Horrid traveling.  Today the funeral of the lamented Live & Nott takes place. Senator Baker present.  Brilliant speaker. “How pleasant is Saturday night.”
November 28, 1847 Sunday
Fine day.  Cool.  Do not attend church today as there is some little business on hand & besides that I wouldn’t go if there was not.  Should like to be at home tomorrow or tonight.
November 29, 1847 Monday
Fine morning.  Commence my school. Not a very full school.
November 3o, 1847 Tuesday
Pleasant morning.  Cold.  Ex Senator Baker lectures this evening at Pekin.  No letters today.
December 1, 1847 Wednesday
School.  Cold with snow.  Disappointed again in my letters.
December 2, 1847 Thursday
Snow storm.  Cold & disagreeable weather.  O dear wish I was at some warmer place.
December 3, 1847 Friday
Cold & cloudy in morning.  Go to Tremont after school with the hopes of getting a letter but am disappointed.  Clears off in the evening.
December 4, 1847 Saturday
Cloudy, grows warmer.  Go to Tremont in the morning do not keep school today.
December 5, 1847 Sunday
Very cold.  Don’t think of such a thing as going to church.  PM Go to Tremont did not get any letters from Duxbury.  Confound the luck.  Well, I won’t go to the post office until next Saturday if I know there is half a dozen.
December 6, 1847 Monday
At school.  Some improvement in reading.  Wonder if there is any letter in the post office for me.  Don’t care if there is.  I am not going after them if there is a dozen until Saturday.  Very cold.  Thermometer 16 only.
December 7, 1847 Tuesday
Fine morning.  Windy.  Grows warmer feels like rain.  Wonder if my letters have come yet?  Well they may stay there.  Evening. Go to the post office.  Get 2 letters from Duxbury highly entertaining.  My conscience glad to hear from Miss whats her name who lives under the hill.  Thunder & ginger.  I am about half dead jawing my noisy young ones at school.  Mrs. Porter’s letter very interesting, some good advice as well as other things. I have a mind not to write to Duxbury again as long as I stay here. They are dying off at a terrible rate.  Pity the sorrows of me a poor old man.
December 8, 1847 Wednesday
Fine day. Read my letters over 40 times today.  I can say them by heart.
December 9, 1847 Thursday
Warm & muddy as fury.  Spending the week with Mr. Nichols. Fine family.  Very stormy in the night.  Grows cold.
December 10, 1847 Friday
Cold & cloudy. Go to my uncles.
December 11, 1847 Saturday
My conscience, how the weeks do fly off.  Winter is going off in a hurry.  Go to Tremont.  Send a letter to Sodom, one to Mrs. Partridge, 1 to Mr. Harlow.
December 12, 1847 Sunday
Don’t attend church to day.  Too cold.  Great deal of business on hand today such as sawing wood, etc.
December 13, 1847 Monday
Fine morning.  Very cold.  Thermometer only 10 above zero.  My conscience.
December 14, 1847 Tuesday
Cold & Cloudy.  Stopping at Grovenor.  Find fold.  One darned pretty daughter he’s got too.
December 15, 1847 Wednesday
Well its most time that the rest of those letters were along.  Find day. Grows warmer.  My conscience I should think it was time it did.  “Man never is but always to be blest.”  Pope’s essay on man.
December 16, 1847  Thursday
Cool & cloudy.  Spend the night at my uncle’s.  Got Mr. Polk’s message.  It is quite a treat.  Not a full school today.  Who did George Whitney carry to rind in the wheel barrow.  Well another year comes and before long.  Go to the office in the evening. Get a letter from Boston.  Not from No/2 Cherry St but from John A Frazar.  Hear some more news about the ball. I guess they had a harry of a time.  I wouldn’t have been there for ten dollars.
December 17, 1847 Friday
Well, today closes this week’s labors.  To night I go to my uncle’s.  Well it’s time the rest of those letters got into Tremont.  I saw a real pretty girl last night at the post office.  I was by the hokey block it well paid me for going to the office.  Black eyes.  My conscience. (I never knew a charming critter but some one else was sure to get her).  Thus saith the poet. and in another place.  Red is the rosy posies here that grows down in the hollers; and red is Uncle Nathan’s barn that cost a hundred dollars.  And red is sister Sally’s shall that cousin Levi bought her but redder still the blooming cheek of Squire Jone’s daughter.
It is my determination to visit those unfortunate beings who are as race almost entirely extinct, persecuted driven from their long owned possession until they are almost overwhelmed in the far distant Pacific.  From the time of the settlement of Plymouth the time of Miles Standish who indignantly shot 2 of them for not offense what can we say of them.  They had taken some of the early settlers of Plymouth, nursed them in their infancy, administered to their various wants in sickness, rejoiced with them in health & prosperity.  Look at the manner in which their labors have been reciprocated.  Their fields have been wrested from them.  Their hunting grounds have become possession of a stranger race.  Every year their numbers are decreasing. In a few years we shall look in vain for even one who can tell the story of their aggrieved persecution & wrongs.  Tell about unjust wars with Mexico.  Search creation around but unborn millions arise. Spread forth the histories of all ages like a map and where will you find the parallel of this.
December 18, 1847 Saturday
Beautiful day.  Go to Tremont didn’t get those letters.  They are a long time on the road.  I write to my cousins Sam’l Torry and Henry James.
December 19, 1847 Sunday
Another find day. Go to church.  The Rev. Mr. Andrews preached a very good sensible discourse.  Write to Capt. Benj Smith.  This winds up my writing to Duxbury.  Snow storm in the night.  Spend the evening at Mr. Leonard’s.  Miss Julia Maria performed upon the piano to the admiration of all.  Old Hundred came off tolerably well.  Wonder if Mr. Atwater held forth in Duxbury last night & to night. I hope he’ll make lots of converts.
December 20, 1847 Monday
Snowstorm in the morning.  The sun comes out occasionally.  Quite cool.  Feels winterish.  Pity the sorrows of a poor old man. Stopping at Mr. Myers this week.  Real suckers.  Some fool in the mess. If I don’t have some tough yarns to tell the folks in Duxbury then I don’t know.
December 21, 1847 Tuesday
Fine morning.  Cold as fury.  At school today.  Who is there in this audience Mr. President that favors or can favor this measure.
December 22, 1847 Wednesday
This morning I was gladdened by 2 letters from D.  Ad & C.B. Knowles.  I am glad to find that I am not forgotten.
December 23, 1847 Thursday
Moderate.  Nothing strange today.  Had an evening school last night.  Had some good music to I’ll bet.  Mr. Grundy’s first rate singers. O! didn’t it put me in the mind of old Duxbury.
December 24, 1847 Friday
Snow storm.  Well this closes another week’s labors.
December 25, 1847 Saturday
Fine cold morning.  Christmas.  My conscience.  Write to the Poor house and send a paper to Miss Cook.  Received a letter from Medford. W. H. Smith.
December 26, 1847 Sunday
Cold as fury.  Thermometer 4 below zero.  If that is not cold I don’t know what is.  Write to Charles B. Thomas.  Visit Mr. McLean.  Don’t go to church today.
December 27, 1847  Monday
Fine snow storm in the morning clears off. Snow melts. My conscience.  What a solemn responsibility rests upon every individual in the use or direction of his own personal influence, etc.
December 28, 1847 Tuesday
Very warm and muggy.  Today I indulged in the recreation of game of ball. It was first rate & no mistake.  We are but parts of one stupendous whole (whale).  Tomorrow the grand supper comes off. I shall endeavor to be on hand so as to see some of those pretty girls.  “My Conscience.”
December 29, 1847 Wednesday
Warm & cloudy.  This AM I saw the stars shine over the beloved paradise of Illinois.  Receive a letter from Mr. Ritchie.  To night the supper comes off.
December 30, 1847 Thursday
Warm and rainy.  The Supper came off first rate last night.  All the elite of Tremont were there.  Enjoyed myself finely received an introduction to several young gentlemen & ladies of both sexes. Continued until 12 M.  Dark & muddy coming home.  Tables dressed beautifully.  Looked like old Duxbury picnics.  The object of this supper was to add to the fund of the Presbyterians for the purpose of building a church.  May they prosper in their undertaking.  May their church rise. May its spire soar into the air.  May the inhabitants of Illinois not be backward in the cause of religion & education. And may all enjoy the benefits of a liberal education.  Let the temple of the true God arise in the wilderness.
December 31, 1847  Friday
Still continues very warm.  Today closes the year 1847 one of the happiest years of my life.  Another will be spent to better advantage with me. ’48, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52 will pass off before I visit home again.  Well let them come.  I don’t much care if I don’t see Duxbury this 40 years.
January 1, 1848 Saturday
Well another year commences and I commence a new life.  This year is to be devoted to study & usefulness.  I must devote myself to my studies with renewed energies.  “Excelsior” is my motto.  Next summer I go to Jacksonville.  I have spent enough of my life in uselessness hereafter I will endeavor to exact the moral & intellectual condition of the community.
January 2, 1848 Sunday
Fine day.  Warm.  Got to church in the morning.  Send a letter to Mrs. Smith & I. F. Wadsoworth.  Papers to Mr. Moore.  Today is the birth day of a certain person in Duxbury.  I remember it with pleasure.
A new year comes.  Alas? how time
Upon the ages rolls;
Study and usefulness are mine,
This years instruction tolls.
Can mortal call back ages past?
Time spent in idleness & vice,
Death, the dread tyrant comes at last,
His spear subdues, his touch is ice!
The seasons roll. Time’s fleeting toll
Strike on each person’s ear its tone
Bids angels rise unto the skies,
And mortals hasten to the tomb.
January 3, 1848
Monday commences with a storm,
Implying man’s not e’er blest
It comes from clouds: siren like in form
And tells us life will soon be part.
Virture & honor, youth & life
Are set before us for a goal
May truth & wisdoms ??? rife
Ne’er cast tween wise man & the fool.
January 4, 1848 Tuesday
Today is a solemn anniversary with me.  8 years ago this very day of the week my dear father lie on his death bed.  I am left an orphan.  How solemn is the thought we must all die. When we come to lie on the bed of death.  When our earthly existence is about drawing to a close, we feel the force of that sentiment “death makes cowards of us all.”
January 5, 1848 Wednesday
Quite cool.  Pleasant day.  Last night we had a rory tory or musical festival at Mr. Grundy’s. Went off first rate.  “Music hath charms to soothe the savage to open a rock & split a cabbage.”
If the battles in which the selfish ambition of rivals for power has deluged every corner of the earth in fraternal blood or held in everlasting remembrance by the posterity of the victors to keep alive the national spirit & to nourish that enthusiasm which tho blind & preposterous as it may sometimes be is yet the strongest safeguard of a nations honor, union & independence.  To night the Duxbury lyceum takes place.  Mr. Moore lectures.
January 6, 1848 Thursday
Find day.  Cool.  Had some more music last night first rate.  Well this week is most gone again.  Weeks fly off like mischief. Boarding at Deacon Morses this week.  Fine folks “Lemonade walks Pizzaro all round”  Wonder if Miss Cherry Strut is in B. [words in shorthand or code] at Jacksonville next summer.  Minister. “My Conscience.”
There’s beauty in the silent wood,
Where restless man doth ne’er interlude,
The bubbling brook there silent flows,
Reflecting Heavens arch azure hues,
The pretty birds throughout the day,
Warble their sweet instinctive lays,
The crickets chirp, the insects hum,
Are music when the day is done:
The lofty trees their branches wave,
Sighing o’er many a red man’s grave,
The first they were wont to roam
Which was their shelter & their home.
These mighty woods, their father’s graves,
Were wrested from the? and the slaves.
January 7, 1848 Friday
Beautiful day.  Receive two letters from the East. “My Conscience” what a poet I have got to be.
January 8, 1848 Saturday
Snow storm in the morning.  Last night took a walk into Tremont for the benefit of my delicate health.
January 9, 1848 Sunday
Cold as fury.  Thermometer 1 below zero. Don’t go to church today.  Go to Tremont in the afternoon.  Write to “Mother.”  Like to froze to death riding from Tremont. “My conscience”
Jan. 10, 1848
Monday. Cloudy day, feels like a storm. Cold. Boarding at Mr. McLean this week. “Pity the sorrows of a poor old man.”Jan. 11, 1848
Tuesday. Warmer day than it was yesterday. Northing new to day. Plymouth bay “The race is not forever got” “Bitterly by him.”Jan. 12, 1848
Wednesday. Find day. Preaching this evening in my schoolhouse. I can smell the brimstone in mere expectation of it. Confounded Baptists. I hope they’ll succeed. “Tis pure religion I confessed.”
Jan. 13, 1848
Thursday. Foggy. Looks like rain. Warm. Got two papers from Duxbury last night. “Lo the poor Indian whose untutored mind.” Went to meeting last night. My conscience.
“A soldier of the legion lay dying in Algiers”
“There was lack of woman’s nursing there was dearth of woman’s tears
But a comrade stood beside him while his life blood flowed away
And he bent with pitying glances to hear what he might say
The dying soldier faltered as he took that comrade’s hand
And he said I never more shall see my own, my native land
Take a message & a token to some distant friends of mine
For I was born at Ringen. At Ringen on the Rhine.”
New England’s Dresden
Jan. 14, 1848
Friday. Foggy. Warm. Feels like rain. Got a letter from Duxbury last night. From friend James Weston. Expect another tonight. I think I adjust the boy to be on hand for that spree which is coming off next week. Cider is the staff of life. Twill be tonight I’ll bet, for what saith the poet “There is nothing like cider. Especially in such foggy weather.”
Fifty years ago the West was in her infancy. These beautiful prairies, these extensive plains, were then a howling wilderness. The husbandman of the East had scarcely dreamed of the existence of this extensive & beautiful domain. No footsteps save those of the fierce Indian & the tramp of thousands of thousands of buffalos and wild horses & voracious wolf and bear. These extensive, the beautiful forests were then the abode only of the graceful deer, the fox & a thousand variety of birds. The Indians then roamed land of all he surveyed. He cooked his simple repasts beneath the forest oak. His wife, his dog & gun were his delight & only solace. He knew of no horrid dissections of religion, no sectarian forms of divine worship. He saw the Great Spirit in every passing gale & cloud. What knew he of Eastern worlds. His soul was wrapped up in the silent wood. But, years rolled on, the ambitions & avarices white man were encroaching upon his rightful possessions. And cheated & oppressed the persecuted redman sought his home in the distant West. “No wonder that they are so implacably vindictive against the white man.” “No wonder that they refuse to adopt the measures of the white man.” No wonder that the rage of resentment is handed down from father to son. Well may the unjust white man recoil at their gaze. Well may the infamous conduct shown toward them be now a death knell to their ears. Well may ??? start out up before them like the Ghost of the murdered Banquo to throw it in their teeth. Never as long as memory remains, etc, etc. etc.

January 15, Saturday

Foggy raining.  Clears off finally in the afternoon.  Muddy as fury.  Go to Tremont court house. See Mr. Bush, Dr. Cromwell, etc. etc.  Party at Dr. Perkin’s next Wednesday.  Last evening at Mr. Leonard got most horribly beaten in playing backgammon. Miss Richmond on hand for frolic.

January 16, Sunday

Fine day. Go to Pekin. Go to church, Dutch Reformed. Harry of a sermon. Murderous traveling, rough in the morning & muddy in the evening. O! is not his high life.

January 17, Monday

Fine day.  Warm.  Nothing new today.  Boarding at Mr. Buckley’s this way.  Have a ciphering school tonight. Beautiful evening.  Get a letter from ?.  First rate. Glad to hear from home again.  Quite a long letter fro her I must confess.

January 18, Tuesday

Another fine day break, its highly upon us. Beautiful weather for the season.  Have a spelling school in the evening.  Cloudy, looks like rain or snow.  What fine weather we we have for winter.  What a horrid & gloomy hole old Duxbury must be.  Snow over the tops of fences.  My conscience.  Fine times time they have I guess.

January 19, Wednesday

Fine day for my business.  Think of going to Tremont to night to that party at Dr. Perkins.  My conscience.  Party. “Lemonade walks”  What a beautiful country is this Western country. I long to see it clothed in all its beauty of lovely spring & summer.  What can be a more lovely sight that to see the prairies clothed in their dress of spring.  How must the heart and mind be transported by him above who rules over this beautiful & intensive domain.

My soul O God to thee I raise

To thee for they protection call

O I ever sing thee praise

Till death (stearn monarch) sinks us all

January 20, Thursday

Fine day. Warm.  My Conscience what winter weather.  Snow is 40 feet deep in Duxbury.  Last night I went to a spree in Tremont at Dr. Perkin’s.  Had a first rate time.  All the belles of Tasewell were there my conscience what a time I did have.

January 21, Friday

Splendid day. Warm and mild as spring.  Tonight there is a large party at Mr. Lenard’s.  I shall endeavor to be on hand.  I shall have to sleep all day tomorrow in order to be on hand for Sunday.  Tomorrow I will answer ??’s letter which I can do.  My conscience wonder if they think I am fool enough to come home next summer.  They don’t catch me in D in two years I’ll bet.  Pity the sorrows of a poor old horse.

January 22, Saturday

Had a fine party last night.  Music & mirth.  Wine & whiskey, etc.

January 23, Sunday

Today I go to Tremont & worship with the Baptists.  Fine day.  Write to Sodom.

January 24

Lecture in the evening.  Mr. Blockreve lectured at the Baptist church.  My conscience what a time.  Write to “Sodom.”

January 25, Tuesday

Warm rainy.  Boarding at Parson Merriam’s.  Music on the melodian.  Mr. Ladd’s party comes off to night.  Tomorrow night Mr. Wright’s arty come off.  I shall endeavor to be there.

January 26, Wednesday

Cloudy & foggy.  Warm.  Muddy as fury.  Harry of a time for the party to night. My conscience.

January 27, Thursday

Fine day.  Spree last night at Parson Wright’s.  Muddy and dark as fury. First rate time.  Hot as fury. Dark as thunder. “My conscience” Pity the sorrows of a poor old horse.

January 28, Friday

Fine day for my business.  Cooler.  Evening school to night.  Savage to day as a meat axe.  Parson Merriam on hand.  “Whither now are fled those dreams of greatness, those longings after joy: those unsullied hopes.”  Fine evening for spelling. “My conscience.” “Another weeks work done.”  According to the words of the poet, Vis. [unknown grouping of symbols or code] “Another 6 days works is done”

January 29, Saturday

Fine day. Go to Tremont.  Nothing new in town to day.  Get Mr. C Payton’s speech from Washington.  Very able document.  Most equal to Mr. Calhoun. “My conscience.”  See Mr. Caswell of Dellyvan.

January 30, Sunday

Rainy day.  Can’t get to church to day.  Go to Tremont.  Folks sick.  Who did a certain Gentleman carry to ride in a wheelbarrow?

“Tell my brothers and companions when they meet ??? crowd

To hear my mournful story in the pleasant vineyard ground

That we fought the battle bravely & when the day was done,

Fall many a curse lay ghastly pale beneath the setting sun”

January 31, Monday

Thus endeth January.  How time flies.  O! How important is every passing moment.  Tomorrow another month comes in and how quick will that pass away.  Years roll on unheeded. “We take no note of time but from its loss to give it then a tongue.”

February 1, Tuesday

Grows warmer.  Fine day.  School very thin to day.  Today another month comes in.  Old winter’s icy hand has stayed his course.  Poor mortal man what thy destiny?  Get into a row with the Baptists. What foolish people make up this world.  O vanity all is vanity.  “Lo the poor Indians whose untutored mind” Safely! Lightly!

February 2, Wednesday

Splendid day.  Warm.  Feels like spring.  Musical rory-tory this evening at Mr. Buckley’s.  No letters now for a fortnight.  Well who cares – I don’t!  I hope they’ll get snow enough in Duxbury this winter.  Wonder what the Baptists are going to do with me?  My Conscience.

February 3, Thursday

Another fine day.  Warm.  Wonder what the Baptists think of me now.  I don’t know nor care one whit.  Quarterly meeting next Saturday in the Grove.  On hand for them.  Mr. Ladd.  My conscience what a fellow.  I am almost tempted to sip out something that they don’t like.

February 4, Friday

Thus endeth the 11 week.  Receive two letters from home.  Highly edifying to me.  This eve I must go Mr. McLean’s. Cold & snow squalls to day.

February 5, Saturday

Very cold with snow squalls.  Nothing new only the jail was burned up last night my conscience now I can’t get my lodgings there next summer.

February 6, Sunday

Fine cold day. Don’t go to church to day.  It is too cold.  Go to Tremont. Lecture in the evening.  Temperance  meeting.  Give them some music that they hadn’t heard for some time.  Melodian. Stay in all night.  Write to William’s wife. feels like rain. Weasles thick as mustard seed.

February 7, Monday

Walk up from Tremont in the A.M. Cloudy looks like a storm.  Going to Mrs. Platt’s this week.  She’s got a handsome daughter my conscience.  Who did the Baptists get mad with is the question in the West.



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