[Williams, Mary Elizabeth, attributed to]
1835 Woman's Manuscript Travel Diary of a Trip from Boston, Massachusetts to Quebec, Canada, via Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York

12mo, 53 manuscript pages, bound in thin reddish-brown roan backed wraps, written in pencil, in a legible hand, dated June 24 -August 2, 1835.

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This 1835 diary documents a trip from Boston, Massachusetts to Quebec, Canada, via Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Unfortunately, the diary is not signed and the name of the writer is unknown, but it is clear that our writer is a woman and she is travelling with two others, her brother George and Elizabeth,  While the diary is not signed, it is full of names of people that the travelers meet along the way and gives insight to how difficult, laborious, time consuming and interesting traveling was in the first half of the 19th Century. 

While the diary is not signed, there is a clue given in the diary, where the writer receives a letter on July 10, 1835, from home, telling of "Uncle Davis Weld's death." Davis Weld is likely Aaron Davis Weld, who died on June 26, 1835; he was from the Boston area, from whence the travelers began their journey. Weld had been married three times to 1st) Betsey Williams, 2nd) Susannah Morey, and 3rd) Martha Williams.

Viewing ancestry.com we found a brief genealogy of the family that shows Aaron Davis Weld had a sister named Hannah Weld (1775-1804), who married a man by the name of John Davis Williams. The couple had at least six children: David Weld, George Foster, Hannah Weld, John Davis, Sarah Ann, and Mary Elizabeth, an ownership signature on the inside of the front wrap, although scratched out seems to read Mary Elizabeth Williams.

The author's trip starts in Boston on Wednesday June 24, 1835 where she and her party took passage on the "Worcester Cars" (Boston & Albany Railroad) and travelled as far as Westborough, Massachusetts, which at the time of this trip was the end of the line. The diary writer comments how they "travelled 30 miles in two hours." From Westborough they boarded a stagecoach. Most of the journey is traveled by stagecoach and steamboat; however, they also travel by canal boat from Schenectady to Utica, New York, an experience which our diarist found to be not too pleasing.

The writer documents most of the stage changes and the names of the inns were they slept and dined as well as the names of many of the people they meet along the way. Also documented are the names of the steamboats as well as the names of some of the Captains. Our writer mentions how many miles were traveled each day, the names of all the towns traveled through and also gives the weather conditions for each day of the trip. There are a number of times where the travelers depart the boat, or stage, and tour the towns, visiting the principal attractions in each place at that time.

The diarist appears to have been somewhat wealthy, as she and her companions tended to stay at the best places in each town. One of the more interesting places they visited was a Shaker village outside of New Lebanon, New York, probably the Mount Lebanon area. Here the diarist spent the day:

"We left about 10 for the Shaker's Village, which is two miles from our house [the hotel in New Lebanon], and went in a coach, here we visited the shop & made some purchases, also the garden & apothecaries shop, the dairy, we then took some refreshments & came home over the flats...I was pleased with the experience, they are so perfectly neat."

     The following day our writer attended a Shaker Meeting:

"We attended the Shaker meeting at Lebanon, which was composed of about 250 men, women & children & there were a great many strangers, the ceremony becomes uninteresting & tedious we were there 2 ½ hours we then left at 1 o'clock."

      At one point in their travels, near Manchester, New York, they came upon some Native Americans:                                     

"We changed horses at Manchester... at Oneida there were some indians & a number of the little boys, kept up with us & we gave them some cents."

       At Auburn, New York, the writer visits the State Prison, which she rather enjoyed:

"..visited the State Prison, which is well worth going to see, there are 650 prisoners & 770 cells, we saw them all at work manufacturing all kinds of articles, at 12 they marched into dinner indian file, the chaplain then said grace & they commenced eating, their fare was soup, bread, water & potatoes."

The trip's itinerary took the writer and her companions across Massachusetts to the Hudson river, then across the river by steamer to Albany, where they toured Albany and continued to Troy, New York, which they also toured, then continued by canal boat to Utica from Schenectady, then across New York State to Buffalo and Niagara stopping at the falls near Utica for a visit, as well as other towns along the way.

At Niagara she toured the falls and describes the various scenes and views at that location. From here she and her companions went to Buffalo and traveled by water to Montreal and Quebec. They made friends with two couples they met in upstate New York, Mr. and Mrs. Adams and Mr. and Mrs. S. Dorr (possibly Sullivan Dorr from Providence R.I.). Apparently they became friends and travelling companions. The diary ends on the way from Montreal to Quebec.

A very interesting diary, written at a time when the modes of transportation were in transition, the railway locomotive was in its early years, as was travel by steamboat, not to mention canal boat. The stage was the main mode of transportation for this trip. At one point a bridge was washed out and they had to walk a bit down the creek and lay planks down across the creek to get to the other side.