Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Williamson Family Journal, 1828-1874

Finding aid created by
Richard C. Bates, August 2006, and Meg Hixon, May 2012

Summary Information
Title: Williamson family journal
Creator: Williamson, Peter, 1795-1886
Inclusive dates: 1828-1874
Extent: 1 volume
In this volume, Philadelphia pharmacist Peter Williamson transcribed his descriptions of 4 bird-hunting trips he took around the 1830s, his daughter Sarah's account of a trip taken from Philadelphia to northeastern New York in 1828, and genealogical information obtained from three Williamson family Bibles.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Alternate Format:

Pages 1-10 were published in The Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports, with Illustrations . Philadelphia: J. & T. Doughty, 1830, pages 118-120.

Preferred Citation:

Williamson Family Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Peter Williamson, son of Jesse and Sarah Williamson, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 6, 1795. As a boy, he attended a local Quaker seminary, and later learned the pharmaceutical trade under John W. Bryant. He became a partner in Dr. Joseph Kapp's drugstore around 1813, and owned it outright by 1828. His son Jesse joined him in 1845, and they sold the business in 1854. Peter Williamson was a founding member of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1821 and served as its vice president in 1874. In addition to his son Jesse (d.1854), he had at least one daughter, named Sarah. He died on March 6, 1886.

Collection Scope and Content Note

In this volume, Philadelphia pharmacist Peter Williamson transcribed his descriptions of 4 hunting trips he took between 1829 and 1832 (16 pages), his daughter Sarah's account of a trip taken from Philadelphia to northeastern New York in 1828 (5 pages), and genealogical information obtained from three Williamson family Bibles (9 pages)

The volume's first section recounts hunting trips Peter Williamson took around Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The first, entitled "An Excursion to the Chesapeake" (pages 1-10), covers his experiences hunting birds near the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal. Williamson recalled the trip in a humorous tone, and described his bad hunting luck. He and his companion, "C.," encountered a nearby family, with whom they shared a meal, and later hired local residents to serve as guides. Instead of assisting the hunters, however, the guides failed to retrieve fallen game, forcing Williamson and his companion to purchase birds previously shot by the locals. This account was published in The Cabinet of Natural History and American Rural Sports, vol. 1 (Philadelphia, 1830), pages 118-120.

The account, entitled "Journal of Sport for 1832 by one who has heretofore never been very fortunate in securing an unusual quantity of Game" (pages 11-15) describes Williamson's bird hunting trip near Thompson's Point, New Jersey, on March 22, 1832. In addition to his hunting activities, Williamson recalled a mishap with his dearborn carriage, in which the vehicle was nearly swamped by floodwaters on a country road. The trip was ultimately successful, as Williamson and his colleague shot 16 birds. The remaining stories (pages 16-17) also recount bird-hunting excursions. The first took place in the Delaware River near League Island and Maiden Island on April 14, 1832, and the second near Chesapeake City, Maryland, on an unknown date. The hunters sought ducks, geese, swans, and wading birds.

Peter Williamson's daughter Sarah wrote an account of a family trip from Philadelphia to northeastern New York in the summer of 1828, when she was 9 years old; his transcription is in this volume. The 5-page narrative, entitled "A Trip to Saratoga and Lake George," begins with the author boarding the steamboat Pennsylvania , which hit a sloop only an hour into its journey. After arriving at Bordentown, the family traveled to a town called Washington, where they embarked on a steamboat for New York City. Sarah briefly gave some impressions of the scenery and listed some of her sightseeing destinations in New York City. The Williamsons soon left for Albany aboard the steamboat Independence , and from there to Troy and Saratoga. Along the way, she recorded impressions of the Catskill Mountains and West Point. After arriving in Saratoga, the Williamson family visited several local springs, and Sarah mentioned seeing workmen boring for salt and an encampment of Oneida Indian families. On her way to Lake George, she described Glens Falls and other natural features in the area. She also visited the remains of Fort George and Fort William Henry, and briefly reflected on nearby gravesites and on a massacre that took place during the French and Indian War. The remainder of the account is a brief description of the family's return route to Philadelphia.

The final section of this volume consists of 9 pages of genealogical information that Peter Williamson copied from 3 family Bibles. Most entries consist of birth, death, and marriage dates. He explicitly mentioned his father and grandfather. Peter Williamson wrote this section of the journal on October 26, 1874.

Subject Terms

    • Delaware--Description and travel.
    • Fowling.
    • Genealogy.
    • Maryland--Description and travel.
    • New York (State)--Description and travel.
    • Pennsylvania--Description and travel.
    • Saratoga (N.Y.)
    • Snipe shooting.
    • Waterfowl shooting.
    • Williamson, Sarah.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Essays.
    • Genealogies.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Williamson family journal,  1828-1874 [series]
    Pages   1-17  
    Peter Williamson hunting excursions
    Pages   18-22  
    Sarah Williamson diary
    Pages   23-31  
    Williamson genealogy
    Additional Descriptive Data

    The First Century of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy 1821-1921. Joseph W. England, Ed. Philadelphia: Published by the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, 1922.