In May 1836, seventeen-year old Elizabeth and her parents left Newark "on an excursion partly to visit western friends, and partly to see the far famed West." The family's travels by land and water took them to many cities and towns, including Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Akron in Ohio; and Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Poughkeepsie in New York. In this very interesting diary, Elizabeth described the places she visited, sometimes in exquisite detail, sharing her impressions of travel, people, buildings, gardens, institutions, and everything else on the journey that piqued her interest.
Elizabeth recorded her encounters with the many people she and her family met on their trip. At the beginning of the trip, Elizabeth and her parents met the "gentlemanly" Judge John Banks of Pennsylvania, who had been a member of Congress, elected on an Anti-Masonic platform. Several days later, she was introduced to Judge Goddard from Connecticut and his family. Once the Tuttles got to Cincinnati, they saw many old friends and acquaintances, especially those who had lived in Newark. They stayed with their friends the Blachlys on Sycamore Street. Elizabeth paid visits to Miss Grandon, "a former boarder at the Academy;" Charley Hornblower, a hardware store merchant; and Mr. Messer, the former principal of Newark Academy. At least three ministers from Newark had moved to Ohio: Rev. Baxter Dickinson, professor of sacred rhetoric at Lane Seminary; Rev. Richards of Auburn Theological Seminary; and Rev. Philip Hay of the Geneva Lyceum.
The Tuttles were members of the First Presbyterian Church in Newark, founded in 1667, and were keenly interested in religion and the intellectual pursuit of Christianity. On their travels, they not only attended Presbyterian services, but they also visited Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, and a Shaker village. Of the German Separatist settlement of Zoar, Elizabeth wrote: "in order and neatness, they resemble the Shakers, as well as in their being a community of interests and under one temporal head....In one field, where they were making hay, there were eighteen persons working, fourteen of them were females all dressed alike." Their intellectual curiosity extended as well to education, reform, politics, and social culture. They toured the Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, the Ohio Deaf and Dumb Asylum, a penitentiary in Columbus (where "300 male convicts and one negro woman" were confined), a coal factory, a cotton factory, a college and female seminary in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the Auburn Theological Seminary, and a prison in Auburn, N.Y.
On the trip back to Newark, Elizabeth frequently noted the trials of traveling by various means of transportation, including carriage, stage, canalboat, and steamboat. Travel was far from smooth and comfortable. For example, when they left London, Ohio, Elizabeth and her mother were seated on a large trunk situated over the back wheels of a barouche. "The driver thought by going through the woods, he would miss some of the mud, and he did in part, but such a jouncing as we had, I never want again, that over the back wheels, on a trunk constantly slipping forward, it was too much....The driver then got two boards, fastened to the top, Ma and I taking the middle one, we thought a board a great luxury." Finally, on July 14, they made their "last start for home, sweet home," arriving in Newark that evening.