This collection is made up of 7 letters that George Franklin Lee of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote to his father, wife, and son while traveling through in 1844. He described the scenery, towns, and people that he encountered along the Ohio River, Mississippi River, Missouri River, Illinois River, and Great Lakes.
Lee's letters (approximately 20 pages) are dated from April-May 1844. He wrote 4 letters from St. Louis and Independence, Missouri, and 1 letter each from Chicago, Illinois; Buffalo, New York; and Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. Lee traveled by river steamers, including the Valley Forge , Lexington , Jasper , Panama , Bunker Hill , and Emerald . He reported the names and populations of cities and towns he passed and visited, and often compared them to northeastern cities. He occasionally encountered migrants headed west.
While in Missouri, Lee visited Indian agents and spent time with the Shawnee and Kickapoo Indians, noted the denominations of local religious missions, and described some aspects of Native American life. He also responded to news of his family's health, mentioned his business affairs, and commented on riots in Philadelphia. On his return journey from Missouri, Lee traveled on the Great Lakes, where he saw Mackinac Island and Detroit, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio. After reaching New York, he visited Niagara Falls, where he hiked behind one of the waterfalls and discussed English customs in Canada. One letter includes an engraving of the Cathedral of St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri (postmarked May 11, ).