Charles M. Byington diary  1863
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This diary (60 pages) recounts Julia Parker's daily experiences during a trip from her home in Reading, Massachusetts, to Florida and back between November 1869 and May 1870. The volume also contains around 16 pages of financial records pertaining to Parker's income and personal expenses in the mid-1860s, as well as 4 pages of recipes.

The bulk of the volume consists of Parker's "Journal of a winter in the South," regarding a trip she took between November 22, 1869, and May 20, 1870 (pp. 24-83). Parker commenced regular entries around November 29, 1869, after first describing her steamboat voyage from Boston to Savannah, Georgia. From Savannah, Parker traveled to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where she spent most of the season, though she also stayed in or visited Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Tallahassee, Florida. Her daily activities included playing croquet and cards, socializing with other travelers, and mending clothing. She occasionally visited African-American churches (p. 26) and helped care for an ailing African-American man; on one occasion, she mentioned a performance by a medium (p. 41).

In the spring of 1870, Parker left Florida to travel by riverboat up the Mississippi River, by way of the Gulf of Mexico. She discussed the scenery in Louisiana, noting the black workers on plantations (p. 68), and stopped in New Orleans, where she visited relatives' graves at the Giroud Street Cemetery. She continued to travel by riverboat up the Mississippi River and Ohio River to Kentucky and Ohio, where she boarded a train for New Jersey or New York. During this final leg of her journey, Parker attended a lecture by Henry Ward Beecher in New York City (p. 81). The journal concludes with Parker's arrival in Reading on May 20, 1870.

Pages 1-12, 113, and 115-118 contain accounts and other financial records. The first group of accounts pertains to Julia Parker's income, which included wages, and personal expenses, which included charitable donations and purchases of sewing supplies. Page 5 contains a list of clothing items for washing, with the name of Mrs. Tremble of Chillicothe, Ohio. Page 113 concerns money received from the former treasurer of "Reading Rill," and pages 115-118 are comprised of notes regarding United States bonds, dated as late as 1876. Pages 13-16 contain recipes for goods such as break, cakes, pies, puddings, and rolls. One entry concerns the preparation of tomatoes.

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