Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John Williams Journal, 1814-1836

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, May 2012

Summary Information
Title: John Williams journal
Creator: Williams, John, 1790-1877
Inclusive dates: 1814-1836
Extent: 1 volume, 7 documents
Abstract:
John Williams, a farm laborer in Chester, Massachusetts, composed 183 pages of daily, one-line journal entries from January 1, 1814, to October 9, 1836. He recorded news about his own family and neighbors, such as births, marriages, and deaths; wrote about his labor on farms and travel to nearby towns; and provided brief remarks on local events and politics.
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
Acquisition Information:

1990. M-2577.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

John Williams Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

John Williams was born in Massachusetts on August 6, 1790, and lived in Chester, where he worked as a farmer. He often attended local town meetings, school board meetings, and church services. He married Sophia Mallory on May 9, 1816. They had several children, including Lucretia (b. February 26, 1818), a daughter (b. March 22, 1819), Ann Olive (b. May 21, 1820), William (b. August 28, 1821), Sophia (b. December 1, 1822), Betsey (b. June 8, 1824), William (b. February 20, 1826), and a son (b. June 27, 1827). Lucretia married William E. Moore and had at least one son, F. W. Moore.


Collection Scope and Content Note

John Williams, a farm laborer in Chester, Massachusetts, composed 183 pages of daily, one-line journal entries from January 1, 1814, to October 9, 1836. The volume (16” x 6 ½”) holds 3 additional pages of his financial accounts, kept in 1830.

Journal entries document the author's daily labor on farms around Chester, Massachusetts, and his travels to nearby towns. Williams performed a variety of different tasks including planting, tending, harvesting, and processing crops (wheat, hay, potatoes, corn, flax, and others); shoeing horses; fixing fences and buildings; boiling sap; sawing, chopping, and transporting lumber; raising houses and barns; attending to household chores; and other work. Williams regularly attended church services and often recorded the names of preachers. He also visited general elections, town meetings, and meetings of the school board.

John Williams recorded news about his family and others in Chester, Massachusetts, and also documented events such as births, marriages, sicknesses, deaths, and the movements of family members and neighbors. Other local news included floods, droughts, an execution (November 9, 1815), the burial of an African American woman of questionable repute (February 13, 1827), and the mustering of soldiers during the War of 1812 (September 12, 1814). Williams also periodically attended musters (see October 8, 1821 for an example).

Many entries are annotated by F. W. Moore, a grandson of John Williams, who later owned the volume.

The following documents related to the Moore and Keith families were donated to the Clements Library with the John Williams journal:

  • Eleazar Porter partially printed DS to Anna Williams; Hampshire County, Massachusetts. January 1, 1782, 1p. Granting Anna Williams guardianship of minors Larkin and Louisa Williams.
  • Zephaniah Keith and Salmon Keith DS to Oliver Keith; Bridgewater, Massachusetts. January 8, 1821, 3pp. Sale of land in Bridgewater.
  • Zephaniah Keith and Salmon Keith DS to Oliver Keith; Bridgewater, Massachusetts. January 23, 1821, 1p. Sale of land in Bridgewater.
  • Nathan Mitchell DS to Oliver Keith; Bridgewater, Massachusetts. November 17, 1821, 1p. Administrator of the estate of Cary Mitchell completes the sale of land in Bridgewater.
  • David H. Daniels partially printed DS to Oliver Keith; Hampshire County, Massachusetts. February 7, 1832, 2pp. Sale of a farm in Prescott.
  • David Colton partially printed DS to Oliver Keith; Hampshire County, Massachusetts. May 13, 1845, 1p. Sale of a pew and interest in the Congregational meeting house in Prescott.
  • Oliver Keith partially printed DS to Oliver Keith, Jr.; Prescott, Massachusetts. May 8, 1849, 1p. Sale of land in Prescott.
Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Agricultural laborers--Massachusetts--Chester.
    • Chester (Mass.)--Religious life and customs.
    • Chester (Mass.)--Social life and customs.
    • Farmers--Massachusetts.
    • Massachusetts--Description and travel.
    Contributors:
    • Moore, F. W.
    Genre Terms:
    • Accounts.
    • Diaries.
    • Journals (accounts)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    John Williams journal,  1814-1836 [series]