Boston to St. Louis travel diary  1837
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Boston to St. Louis travel diary recounts an arduous month-long journey between the two cities made by rail, steamboat, and stagecoach in the fall of 1837. The anonymous author, a staunchly religious man, refused to travel on Sundays and attended Sunday religious services at Presbyterian churches throughout his travels, which took him through northern New York, down the Erie Canal, across lower Michigan and northern Illinois, and finally down the Mississippi River to St. Louis. The diarist wrote daily entries about frequent delays, bad weather, his route, the scenery, and various traveling companions, many of whom he knew. Though the initial leg from Boston to Rochester, New York, proceeded without difficulty, he became stranded in Cleveland and was frequently held back by poor, muddy roads as he proceeded by stagecoach from Detroit to Chicago. He finally reached St. Louis on November 28 and concluded the journal on November 30, a lonely and homesick Thanksgiving. Though the author's daily entries fully chronicle the hardships of travel in the early 19th century, they also provide interesting anecdotes and commentary, including encounters with wild animals along the road, and news of the murder of abolitionist minister Elijah Parish Lovejoy, which the diarist first heard about in Chicago, but also later in Alton, Illinois, where the murder made "abolitionism…more than ever the topic of conversation" (November 25). The final two pages of the volume consist of a table of distances, fares, and expenses incurred throughout the trip.

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