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Monday, Oct. 4, 1819.–Dr. Hall and myself left Philadelphia at 1 o’clock p. m. after taking an affectionate leave of friends and acquaintances. Fair and pleasant weather, and the roads very fine in consequence of a refreshing shower of rain which fell on the night previous to our setting out. After traveling twenty-two miles and passing some rich and well-cultivated farms we arrived at West Chester at 7 o’clock. West Chester contains about 600 inhabitants, several places of worship, a gaol, etc., etc. A man named Downey is confined in the gaol of this place for debt. He was once in affluence, but from misfortunes and some imprudence he became reduced in circumstances. During his confinement he determined to starve himself to death, and for seven days had refused nourishment of every description. Even the clergy waited on him and endeavored to dissuade him from his rash determination, offering him food of different kinds, but all without avail. He was able to stand. No doubt one or two more days will end his troubles. How long, O my country, will your cheeks continue to be crimsoned by the blush that must follow the plunging an innocent and unfortunate being, a debtor, in a dungeon, amongst murderers and cut-throats?
Tuesday, Oct. 5.–Left West Chester at 7 o’clock a. m. Traveled a rough road. Passed some travelers on foot migrating to the west who were able to keep pace with us for a considerable distance. Breakfasted with an old Dutchman who, for unpolished manners and even a want of common politeness, surpassed in expectation even the wild men of Illinois. He had been a tavern keeper for forty years. Roads rough. Lands tolerable, but so well farmed that the traveler is compelled in many places to admire them. Arrived in Strasburg at 6 o’clock p. m. Neat little village. Distance twenty-eight miles. Lodged at a private house near the village. Was treated with great civility. I was extremely sore and tired, riding on horseback. Saddlebags very heavy. A refreshing sleep fitted me for the labors of the next day.
Wednesday, Oct. 6.–Left Mr. —- at 6 o’clock a. m. The day pleasant. Roads rough. Traveled nine miles and arrived at Lancaster, a large and handsome inland town. Inhabitants principally German, very industrious and good farmers. Buildings chiefly brick. Considerable business done in this town. Left Lancaster, traveled ten miles and arrived at Columbia, situated on the bold Susquehanna, but placed without much taste or beauty. The bridge over the Susquehanna is the longest in the United States. It is placed on regular pillars for one and a quarter miles. Its beauty and strength reflect much credit on the designer and those who executed the work. Its erection has added much to the comfort and convenience of the public. Left Columbia 4 o’clock, and arrived at Little York at 6 o’clock p. m. Here the lands are rich, the inhabitants look healthy and appear happy and independent. The village is built with much taste and judgment and appears to be a place of business. No lands for sale for many years past in the neighborhood, but the supposed value about $200 per acre. The eyes of the traveler light on this part of the country with rapture. He would even venture to barter all his fair prospects in the west country, collected from travelers, for one of those beautiful farms to be seen every mile.
Thursday, Oct. 7.–Left Little York 6 o’clock a. m., traveled twenty-nine miles and arrived at Gettysburg, a small village, at 5 o’clock p. m. The inhabitants very religious. Bad roads, owing to their making a new turnpike. Nineteen miles to be finished in six weeks. About 300 hands employed, principally Irishmen. Delightful weather for traveling.
Friday, Oct. 8.–Left Gettysburg 5 o’clock a. m. Overtook and passed many travelers bound to the east and west. The lands only tolerable. Here we had the first view of the mountains, which present a romantic and novel scene to all who have never traveled out of the confines of large cities–or have never seen an object higher than a lamp-post or lower than a gutter. Traveled fifteen miles to breakfast on the top of the mountain. The landlord drunk, the fare bad and the house filled with company who had more the appearance of penitentiary society than gentlemen. Hard scuffle for breakfast. Ran an old hen down. “Moll” cut off the head with an ax. An old sow and a starved dog made a grab before the feathers were stripped. One got the head, the other the body. Then all hands were mustered to join in the chase, landlord and “Moll” with the broom, the hostler with his spade and all the boys with sticks and stones. In about ten minutes after hard fighting, the materials for breakfast were recovered, and in fifteen minutes the old hen made her appearance on the breakfast table, large as life. Bad appetite. Made a light breakfast and set out on our journey from the tavern at 10 o’clock a. m. Traveled over a rough, barren, mountainous and poor country to McDowell’s, a distance of thirty-six miles. Every traveler must be astonished to find persons settled on a barren and mountainous country, whilst there are in the United States so many million acres of land of the first quality unoccupied and for sale at so low a rate that a day laborer can in one year with prudence lay up enough to purchase one quarter-section–160 acres.
Saturday, Oct. 9.–Left McDowell’s 7 o’clock a. m. Traveled over an extremely rugged, high and uneven range of mountains. The lands generally so poor not worth cultivating. Arrived at Dennis’, on the old road, distance twenty-seven miles, near the Juniata. Breakfasted at Camel Town, a small village, one-half the houses taverns. Crossed the dreary and lofty mountains at 4 o’clock. This is called Sideling Hill, where a Mr. McClennan was robbed on the 3d instant by the notorious villain and robber, D. Lewis, lately pardoned by Gov. Finley for forgery. McClennan had no arms, nor did he make the least resistance, yet one of Lewis’ accomplices insisted on murdering him. He was robbed about 9 o’clock in the morning, and in sight of the house he breakfasted at. He was conducted to their camp, a little way from the road, threatened with death if he spoke. Although the stage passed full of passengers and several wagons in sight, he dared not give the alarm. After keeping him in a state of suspense for six hours and rifling his letters and pockets of a large sum of money, they left him. On the 8th instant they were taken at a little village fifty miles off, and a large amount of cash found on them–$2,800. The hardihood of this Lewis surpasses the boldness of most robbers of his day. When he and his two companions were found asleep they were handcuffed. One of the guards laid his pistol on the table, whilst Lewis was surrounded by twenty persons, and in a room. He knocked out the candle, seized the pistol, flashed at the nearest person, made his way through the crowd, outran them for fifty yards, and, when about to be overtaken, snapped a small pistol which he had concealed at his nearest pursuer. He knocked down the second with his handcuffs, then fell and was retaken. The poverty, barrenness, unevenness of this part of the country perhaps was never surpassed. But few homes on the road. Met a number of travelers and overtook some. About 4 o’clock it commenced raining. Unpleasant traveling. Wet to the skin. Arrived at the crossing at dark on the old road two miles from the turnpike. Tavern kept by Dennis. Bad house; high charges. Rainy night.
Sunday, Oct. 10.–Left Dennis’ 6 o’clock a. m. Breakfasted at a little village called Bloody Run. Great many travelers. Poor country. Reached Bedford at 2 o’clock. Whilst our horses were resting we walked to the celebrated springs, a distance of one and a half miles.
These springs are romantically situated, gushing from the foot of a mountain. They are fitted up with great taste and beauty and offer to the wearied citizen a treat of retirement and enjoyment. Two of the houses are painted white. They are two stories high and 150 feet long. These springs are said to possess important medicinal properties. Arrived at Shellsburg at 6 o’clock, a distance of twenty-three miles. The road stony and unpleasant. Well entertained and the charge moderate.
Monday, Oct. 11.–Left Shellsburg at 6 o’clock. Poor country, full of mountains. Crossed the lofty Allegheny. High ridges, deep valleys and steep precipices. Roads good for such steep mountains. Here one of the most sublime and beautiful scenes presented itself my eyes ever witnessed. After ascending the Allegheny nearly to the top, as far as human sight could reach, in every direction, there were chains of mountains, occasionally checkered by small farms and low bottoms, covered with forest trees. The cleared or cultivated land has lost the agreeable green, owing to the season, but we were amply compensated by the variety of color, the beautiful tints from the scarlet to the lighter shades, occasionally interspersed with evergreens, which were to be found on the sides of the mountains amongst the great variety of trees. Yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, black and all the shades between formed ornamental curtains to those cloudlike heights. Poets and painters would have envied us the sight. We continued our journey to the top of the mountains. Breakfasted at Stolter’s. Arrived at Wray’s log house at 6 o’clock, a distance of twenty-eight miles. Fare bad, charges high, pretty females with glowing faces. After resting and having supped, recollected that it was this day last week that we left home. Drew a long sigh for those left behind and almost involuntarily turned our heads to look for Philadelphia.
Tuesday, Oct. 12.–Left Wray’s log house at 6 o’clock a. m. Country poor and mountainous. Traveled thirty-five miles. Overtook some eastern and southern people, men, women and children, all travelling to Illinois. The roads a little improved, and the land a little better in quality. The towering mountains disappearing and hills substituted in their place. This being election day, passed a great many people on the road. All merry. Great contention between the Dutch and Irish. Arrived at a small village called … where the election was held. Saw a shocking fight, which ended in murder. A small man knocked down by his adversary and his intestines literally stamped out. I pressed through the crowd, and insisted on bleeding the unfortunate young man. Just as I was about to open a vein his senses returned. He begged I would not bleed him, as he had never been bled. I declined the operation. He died on the 14th instant. Left the election and arrived at a trifling village called Adams Town, where we overtook a number of travelers for the west. Left Adams Town 6 o’clock a. m., and arrived at Pittsburg at 11 o’clock, Hunters’ tavern. In approaching this dirty hole I felt the height of disappointment. Pittsburgh is situated in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains. It is placed a short distance above the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, to form the Ohio, over which there are two neat and lengthy bridges, built on Wernwag’s plan. In approaching Pittsburgh the traveler would suppose the town was laid in ashes by fire. The surrounding heights, its low situation, the fogs from the rivers, together with the universal use of stone coal for fires, added to the smoke and dust from the large number of mills and manufactories, form a cloud which almost amounts to night, and overspreads Pittsburgh with the appearance of gloom and melancholy. At this place we met a number of travelers, rich and poor, Gen. Miller and suite, straggling play actors, and others. Coal dust was well ground in until I might say with much truth that I did not see a white man or woman in the place. The more you wash, the blacker you get. I am confident that I carried some of this coal dust 1,000 miles in spite of my efforts to get rid of it. Convenient place for performing “Zanga” or “The Moor of Venice.” Visited all the manufactories and curiosities of the place. Their glass manufactories seem to excel all others–a great treat to those who never saw a bottle blown. Pittsburgh in appearance suggests the idea of Moscow smoking and in ruins. It is a town of considerable manufacturing importance. Its inhabitants deserve fortune and a more salubrious atmosphere to spend it in.
Thursday, Oct. 14.–Remained this day at Hunters’. Had my good little horse shod. Careless smith pricked him and produced temporary lameness.
Friday, Oct. 15.–Left Pittsburgh at 7 o’clock. Traveled over a poor and hilly country for thirty-six miles. Passed a few travelers bound to Ohio. Remarkable fact: About eight miles from Steubenville passed out of Pennsylvania into Virginia, out of Virginia into Ohio in the short space of two hours. Crossed the Ohio river after night at Steubenville. Stopped at Jenkinson’s, an intelligent, gentlemanly, hospitable man. Visited the market. Beef, good, 6-1/4 cents a pound.
Saturday, Oct. 16.–I omitted to mention that we, on the mountains, fell in with Mr. Cooper of Philadelphia, who has been our companion for several days. We had to part with him today, which we did with much reluctance, as he proved a very agreeable companion. Rainy day, fatigued by the broken country, determined to spend this day in Steubenville, a busy little village on the bank of the Ohio. Purchased a plain Jersey wagon and harness for $60.