Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Edward L. Buttrick Journal, 1843-1844
Finding aid created by Rob S. Cox, July 1996
Title: Edward L. Buttrick journal Creator: Buttrick, Edward L. Inclusive dates: 1843-1844 Extent: 138 pages Abstract:
The Edward L. Buttrick journal is a witty account of a young easterner's life in rural Kentucky in the 1840s.
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: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
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Edward L. Buttrick Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Edward L. Buttrick, nicknamed Ned, left his home in Clinton, N.Y., on October 7, 1842, to take work in Kentucky as an itinerant schoolteacher. His accepted his first position at Maysville, but in October, 1843, moved to Helena to teach at the Richland Academy. His sister Harriette joined him in Helena, and also worked as a teacher.
Buttrick was a true northerner, a graduate of Hamilton College, but he was captivated, not always favorably, by his new southern home. Although his exact age is not known, he was probably in his early twenties in 1843, for he refers (p.85) to shaving, where he "scraped off considerable dirt and very little hair." Regardless, whether viewing cigars chomping women or hog butchering, or commenting on slang, slavery, or Kentucky politics, Edward Buttrick dove into his new experiences with the enthusiasm of youth and the eye of a comedian.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Edward L. Buttrick journal is a lively, often witty, account of a young easterner's encounter with rural Kentucky in the 1840s. With an ability to be critical and funny at the same time, Buttrick continually reflects his northern home in writing of his new southern experiences, soaking up the local language, customs, and scenery with equal relish.
In keeping with its humorous content, Buttrick included an elaborate, hand drawn "title page" with his journal, declaring:
Random Sketches of a Sojourn in the State of Kentucky by the author of the "unknow[n] admirer of his own genius" &c. &c. Vol. II. Tenth American Edition. Revised & corrected (New York: E. L. Buttrick; London: Peter Knockimstiff, 1843)
Buttrick kept his diary daily from September 10 through December 23, 1843, when there is an eight day gap. After January 4, 1844, the journal was kept only sporadically. Buttrick was generally careful in keeping his journal, but there are two page 30s, the lower half of p. 36-7 is ripped out, and pages 124-125 have been removed. The sporadic nature of Buttrick's entries at this period makes it difficult to determine whether there was any loss of text when the page was removed.
Helena (Ky.)--Description and travel.
Kentucky--Description and travel.
Maysville (Ky.)--Description and travel.
Sectionalism (United States)
Container / Location
Edward L. Buttrick journal, 1843 September 10-1844 July 2 [series]
Thrown by horse; good description of riding in the rain
Use of "ain't"
Idiom: he feels a "heap" better, but has "the blues"
Description of thunderstorm
Description of his bedroom and furniture; idioms: "these diggin's" and "slept like a top"
Comparison of North and South; Kentucky idiom
Dreadful family singing
Irritation with "blockhead" scholars
Ponders fate of former girlfriends and buddies
Family ill from food poisoning; is black cook at fault?
Sour milk popular in Kentucky: "there is no accounting for tastes"
Visits town of Maysville
Women's fashion: bustles. Snobbery
Discussion with newly-arrived Yankee who intends to "drive niggers" for a living
Reflections on completing first teaching assignment. "Class struggle" hinted at
Arrival in Helena
Exorbitant board bill; miserly hostess
Closing examinations at school
Idiom: "Chicken hearted"
Meets up with graduate of Miami University
Emptiness of frivolous society
Appointed to teach at Richland Academy
Popularity of fruit "preserves" in Kentucky. Idiom: "Not to be sneezed at"
Irate Kentuckian blasts Yankees; Buttrick drums up students
Fondness for novel-reading is not good
Good description of Gen. Forman, a typical Kentuckian
Fleminsburg holds County Court; description of hill-folk in attendance
Thoughts of home; reflection on life since coming to Kentucky
Reflections on hearing of death of a young professor from Hamilton College
What is the job of the poet?
Begins duties at Richland Academy
Reads book by Lady Morgan, emphasizing woman's subservience to man
School discipline; postage due at post office
Refers to "blacks" and "niggers" in same paragraph
Sermon on converted Jew; philosophizing on Jews in general
Idiom: use of "vimmins" for "women"
Makes "mud fenders" for his pants
Irritation with students who WILL not learn
"I see that the great main-spring of all human action is utter selfishness"
Hillbilly Kentuckians; woman smokes a cigar
He and sister Harriette fall off horse into the mud
Should a lady eat "fat bacon"?
Hog butchering in unsanitary conditions
Book review on Ten Thousand a Year
Idiom: horseback riding is "not what it is cracked up to be"
Critique on a singularly poor sermon
Thoughts on his college days
Longs for home and describes a typical scene there
Critique of Gutherie's Arithmetic
You cannot argue with a woman
Nearly illiterate adult joins his school
Memories and news of Hamilton College
Christmas Day: his black boy servant asks for a present
Thoughts on the year's end
New Year's Day: classes held as usual
Attends (and takes part in) a debate
More about the cigar-smoking woman
Book review on Henry Lee's (1787-1837) Observations on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York: C. DeBehr, 1832) and Jefferson's "defamations" of Washington and other early leaders of the U.S.
Campbellites hold evangelistic meetings
Visits with an early Kentucky settler who knew Daniel Boone; the romance of early Kentucky
College classmate moves to Louisiana and becomes thoroughly Southern