Journal

of

THOMAS NYE

written during

A Journey between Montreal & Chicago

in 1837

 

 

 

EDITED BY

HUGH McLELLAN

 

 

 

CHAMPLAIN

Privately Printed at the Moorsfield Press

1932

 

 

 

Foreword

 

THE JOURNEY described in this “diary or journal of dates, expenses & some memorandums & remarks,” as Mr. Nye called it in a letter to his brothers, naturally divides itself into two parts. The first, from Montreal to Chicago, in which Mr. Nye follows the St. Lawrence River, by stage and boat, to Kingston, Ontario, and by steamers through the Great Lakes.  The second part comprises the return to Montreal overland to Detroit, by steamer to Cleveland, and overland the rest of the distance.

 

            It is to be borne in mind that on the return trip Mr. Nye is accompanied by his bride, Corinna, the daughter of his old friend, Ariel Bowman.  The real purpose of this long journey was to solicit her hand, and, although he had known the Bowmans for some years in Montreal, there are traces in the journal of Mr. Nye's uncertainty as to the outcome of the venture.  The marriage, however, was celebrated in Chicago on December 5, 1837.

 

            Thomas Nye was the youngest son of Elias and Elizabeth (Bartlett) Nye.  He was born August 23, 1801, in Carver, Massachusetts, and soon after — in 1805 — his parents, with their six children, moved to Burlington, Vermont.  Thomas graduated from the University of Vermont in 1822; went to Montreal the same year to study law in the office of John Boston, Esq., and was admitted to the Bar of Lower Canada in 1827.  He practised [sic] law in Montreal until his death, which occurred in that city, May 15, 1877.

 

            From this journal, and from his letters, we can picture Thomas Nye as being of an inquisitive and observant nature; without much concern with the vanities of mankind, but alive to natural beauty; methodical, economical, and intensely interested in his profession.

 

            The manuscript of the journal, which bears the endorsement, “Memdms of Journey to Illinois in 1837”, covers fifteen pages, each 5 by 8 inches in size.  It is written, apparently from day to day, in Mr. Nye's small and angular hand, with many interlineations and abbreviations, frequent use of capitals and the ampersand, scanty punctuation, and no paragraph divisions — most of the dates being in the narrow margin.  Changes from the manuscript are thus indicated, but the sequence of words and the spelling of proper names — many of which are phonetic — have been carefully followed.  Had the manuscript been exactly reproduced, according to the more scientific method, the journal would appear [as] one continuous string of words.

 

            Thomas Nye wrote two long letters concerning the journey: the first at Fort Gratiot, and the second after his return to Montreal.  They refer in detail to many observations, especially as to soil and climate, and mention several persons omitted in the Journal.  They have been printed, (Two Letters/of/Thomas Nye/Relating to/A Journey from Montreal to Chicago/in 1837/Champlain, 1931. pp. 15), and form an important complement to this Journal.

 

            The first transcription of the Journal was done in Paris, and two rescripts made in the Provencal town of Tarascon, during the winter of 1929-30, but the work still needed such further revision as has been generously supplied by Miss Eleanor J. Conway of the Chicago Historical Society, and by Mr. Francis J. Audet of the Public Archives of Canada.  Mr. Audet has recently published an article on Thomas Nye in La Revue du Droit of Quebec.

 

                                                                                                HUGH McLELLAN

Champlain, N. Y., July 26, 1932

 

 

 

 

Journal of Thomas Nye

On a Journey between Montreal and Chicago

in 1837

 

Montreal, L.C., Saturday, 28 Oct., 1837, 10 o'clock.

 

    Paid fare 40/— to Prescott, U. C. Embarked in stage with Miss McIntosh, quadroon boy Charley and Doct. J's. Hodges of Antigua, W. I, Mr. Captn Wilkins and Mr. Cline and McPherson.  The morning sun shone, and promised a fine day, but soon changed to raw and windy; the ground being wet and muddy after long rainy weather.  I suffered much, having watched till near 3 o'clock in the morning, and being stupid neglected to button up properly.  The wind strong and cold.  Embarked the Hy Brougham; dined at 2:15 o'clock, paying 2/6.  Made [   ] miles to Cascades; still cold and raw.  Embarked in stage and went over the most dangerous road in its worse state, having left at about 6 o'clock, I passed the Cedars Village, about [   ] miles, and arrived at Coteau du Lac at about 10 o'clock, where I embarked with same company on the Neptune steamer, and took coffee, paying 1/6.  Twelve miles from Cascades I saw near Coteau [       ] Fort.

 

            Sunday, 29 0ctober.  I went to bed but slept none.  Mrs. Wilkins left the stage at Cedars.  J. H. Dorwin accompanied me in the steamer, with four men and teams of four horses, bound for Chicago.  I arrived at Cornwall, U.C, at about 6 o'clock, a.m., and stopped at Charley's Inn and broke fast at near 10 o'clock and dined at 2:15 o'clock and took tea at 6 o'clock and retired at 8 o'clock and slept pretty well, though disturbed by person knocking at my door, No. 7, for Doct (J's Hodges) in No. 8; Miss McIntosh being attacked by cramp.

 

            30 October.  I rose at 5 o'clock and embarked in stage for Long Sault, 12 miles distant, where I arrived at 9:15 and embarked Dolphin for Prescott.  I paid 7/— for three meals and bed at Charley's.  Broke fast at 10 o'clock and dined at 2 o'clock; paying 4/6.  From Cornwall passed Mil Roches and Moulinette in sight of the canal being constructed.  Cornwall is 35 miles from Coteau du Lac.  At Long Sault, Geo. P. Jarvis, District Judge of Eastern District, embarked for Brockville for hearing special matters, a week's trials to be had week ensuing.  Passed Osnabruck, E. and West Williamsburg, Matilda and Edwardsburg.  Saw Stacy's Island, sold to a Scotchman for ₤3,250.  Touched at Church's Landing and McLeod's Landing, passing Louisville and Waddington, N. Y., and touched at Williamsburg, E. and W., and at Munro's Point.  Miss McIntosh is first cousin of Sir Ja's McIntosh, and born in England, educated in Edinburg; is over 50 of age, and travelling with her physician. [   ] miles to Prescott, where embarked St. George and left about 7:30 o'clock for Queenston, [   ] miles.  About 9 o'clock touched at Brockville, the handsomest village in U. C.  Leaving Brockville after 5 miles the vessel was run upon rocks upon the N. Y. side, about 10 o'clock, where it remained opposite Morristown till 9 or 10 p.m., 31 October, when the Brockville came and broke the smaller chain cable and broke away the St. George's soft wood capstan with the longer cable, without success, trying to draw the St. George off; and at 12 o'clock night, embarked the Brockville for Kingston and arrived at 8 a.m. and broke fast on board and paid the fare, 10/—.

 

            1 November.  Embarked Great Britain for Queenston, U.C.  Left at 1 o'clock, p.m., for Oswego, 60 miles up in N. York.  At going out passed the hospital and penitentiary (and Marine Railway) above Kingston, and Grand or Long Island on N. York side.  Going into Kingston passed the military hospital, Cedar Island, Fort Henry, Kingston Bay or harbour leading to mouth of Rideau Canal, and a long draw-bridge across the mouth of the harbour or Bay, leading to mouth of canal to the fortifications.

 

            At 7:15 o'clock, p.m., arrived at Oswego. Remained until 3:30 o'clock, p.m., 2d November.  Left for Cobourg, 100 miles.  Blowing contrary, hard, and Lake very rough.  At 4. o'clock, a.m., arrived at Cobourg, U.C., and at 6 o'clock left for Toronto, and paid fare, 30/—.

 

            Saw at Oswego, in Township of Scriby, remains of French Fort Ontario, intended to be rebuilt; and in West Oswego, at the angle of Oswego River, the site of the old English Fort Oswego, the eminence now leveled and fronting the Harbour, protected by pier or breakwater, and light-house at its extremity, next the entrance.  Saw Lieut. Smead, of U.S. Engineers, and now rebuilding the pier or breakwater with squared stone at national expense.  Oswego is governed by President (Mr. Brewster) and trustees; it contains 5 or 6,000 persons, of whom 12 to 1500 are supposed Irish, having a Roman Catholic Church and preacher, Rogers, (Irish).

 

            Passed Gibralter Point on the right going in to Toronto, having a light-house at its extremity, and arrived at 1:30 o'clock, p.m., having touched at Cobourg in the morning early did not rise to see it.  At Toronto found the St. George got off; hailed therefrom by J. H. Dorwin, but it left immediately for Hamilton.

 

            Went about Toronto somewhat, not liking it much: buildings being nearly all of brick and affecting too much show and peculiarity of taste — city dirty.  Saw Ch. Justice Robinson presiding, and Wood, associate.  R. very fine young looking man.  Case of assault and battery.  The Judge's bench handsome and elegant; court room dirty, inconvenient, cramped, and the Bar looking rather slovenly, wearing gowns but no bands.  Baldwin and Bell counsel conducting case.  Saw Governor's carriage or barouch or half one.  Saw floating baths but not a store at dock.  New Parliament Houses of brick, one story, uniform, appearing well and fronting Lake.

 

            Left Toronto 4:45 o'clock, p.m.  Seventy miles from Cobourg to Toronto, and 36 to Niagarah, 43 to Queenston.  At 8:30 touched at Niagarah Town and Village, and saw Niagarah Light at left entering the River Niagarah.  Left at 9 o'clock, p.m.  Fort Niagarah on the New York side and Fort George, near town or village of Newark, on Canada side.  Arrived at Queenston about 10 o'clock, touched there and crossed the boat to Lewiston, N. Y.  Slept on board and broke fast at Lewiston; paid 2/3.  Entered Rail Road car; paid 2/3.  Met Lockport cars at junction and left for Niagarah Falls.  Saw Brock's Monument on Queenston Height.  Stopped at Tonawanda Creek and Village, passing over Erie Canal.  Left and got view of the Falls little before arriving at 11:10 clock, a.m., 4 November, 1837.

 

            Landed at Eagle Tavern and went direly to Falls, descended stairs and crossed over the Niagarah River with 4 ladies and 3 men and ferryman.  Went up to Table Rock with James Stephens of N. York City; paid 18 cents.  Bought O. H. Steel's Book of the Falls,[1] of woman at the museum; paid 2/6.  Lundys Lane distant a mile or half one.  Remained viewing Falls till 2:30 o'clock, p.m.; cut 3 sticks and broke off some pieces of stone under Table Rock, descending by stairs there.  Did not enregister name at Register Office — book offered gratis — was disgusted at the vulgarity of the sentiments and observations in the different books on the table.  Broke knife in cutting stick and left or lost it there.  Recrossed it, paid 18 cts.  Returned to hotel, got lunch; paid 1/3, and 3/9 for fare to Buffalo, and left by cars and passed by Tonawanda as before stated.  Saw some Tuscarora Indians, well dressed, at Falls.

 

            Arrived at Buffalo at about 6 o'clock and went by coach to American Hotel, kept by J's Hodges.  Retired at about 10:30 o'clock and went about town at evening.  Paid $2 for day's board and went to lodge at Temperance House, kept by Wm. Madison, in company with Doctr Joseph Hull of Dartmouth, Hampshire.  At past 10 o'clock, Sunday, 5 November, went to hear Mr. Hosmer, Unitarian.  Entered name on board Cleveland Steam Boat for Detroit.

 

            Wind bound, 6th and 7th, Monday and Tuesday; wind and boat bound.  Paid 7/6 to inn-keeper and took baggage on board Constellation.  Dined and supped on board.

 

            8 November.  Left in Constellation, Capt. McQueen, at 10 o'clock, a.m.  At 12:30 o'clock passed in sight Silver Creek Village, and at 2 o'clock Dunkirk H. and Light, Van Buren H., Portland H., and Light at 4:30; 8 o'clock passed Erie and Presque Isle Light in Pennsylvania; 9:30 o'clock, p.m., touched and wooded at Coneaught in Ohio, and Light.  [   ] o'clock at Astabula, touched; 7:30 a.m. at Grand River or Fairport; 10 a.m. landed at Cleveland.  Examined the town.  Took in 700 bshs bituminous coal from the Ridge, 60 miles distant, at 14 cts pr. bl.

 

            10 November.  Touched at Huron, Oh., and wooded at 3 or 4 o'clock, a.m., 50 miles from Cleveland.  Left for Detroit, 60 miles thence.  Half past 11 o'clock saw Walden or Amherstburg, U.C., Light-house and 2 windmills at entrance of River Detroit; passed village of Sandwich, U.C., and arrived at Detroit, Michigan, at 2:30 o'clock, p.m.  Paid $8 fare from Buffalo.  Windsor and Sandwich Ferry by steam-boat opposite at termination of road from Hamilton, U.C. [   ] miles from London, U. C., and [   ] from [  ].

 

            Examined the town [Detroit].  Legislature in session in State House; saw Governor Stevens T. Mason.  Rail Road car start on the [         ] Rail Road.  Remained over night.  [In the] forenoon parted with Mr Hazelton and Grissons (German), who took waggon for Ann Arbor.

 

            11 November.  At 1 o'clock, p.m., left in the Constellation Steamer for Chicago, going up Detroit River 8 miles to Lake St. Clair, and passed Grosse Pointe.  In Lake St. Clair passed the brig Julian Palmer of Buffalo at anchor; and at 7 o'clock, p.m., stopped at Pointe Duchêne, or city of Algonac and wooded; went on to the landing and saw road to Mount Clemens; this in River St. Clair.  Met J. Livingston on board; former clerk of H. Gates & Co., now in American Fur Company, stationed with G[abriel] Franchère, at Sault Ste. Marie, at entrance of Lake Superior on River Ste. Marie.[2]

 

            Proceeded, after retiring to bed, to Newport, 8 miles, and remained till 9 a.m., Sunday, 12 November.  Left, and at 10 o'clock saw four Indian wigwams and many Indians, approaching Macomb or Black River and Palmer, (County Town of St. Clair County).  Touched, and landed two ladies at 10 o'clock.

 

            [It] is 75 miles from Detroit to Fort Gratiot, and 250 thence to Mackinac.  Lake St. Clair is 30 miles wide and 30 long and nearly round.

 

            [At] half past 3 o'clock, p.m., entered Lake Huron, passing Fort Gratiot.  Saw a monument in Cholera Military Grave Yard where a man jumped overboard in fright; and Fort Gratiot Light House at the very point.  Pitch of the current very strong on entering L. Huron.  Saw new Milwaukie City, laid out at left on the Lake.  Ran [   ] miles to Saginaw Bay.  Very strong sea and head wind; boat tossed very much all night.  About 9:30 o'clock, p.m., passed the Madison Stm Bt, hailed us, but not being regarded till too late, each passed rapidly — after the M. appearing desirous to round to — on their way.

 

            13 November, 8 o'clock, a.m., discovered the other side of Saginaw Bay; saw Thunder Bay Islands and light house.  At 3 o'clock, p.m., arrived at Presque Isle Bay or Harbor; quite tranquil.  No landing place; wooded by scows — $3 pr cord.  Four residents: cutters and families.  Shore lime rock 12 miles up; no roads open.  Wolf smelled of man sleeping under tree; and Captn Glover shot elk hereabouts.  Shore fine for harbour — water is worked through a passage, cutting off peninsula to wading depth.  Paid $22.00 balance fare to Chicago.  At 10 o'clock, p.m., left and bid good-night to 2 fires on shore of the main land of Presque Isle — the scows having continued to furnish wood all the time.

 

            14 November.  At 7 o'clock, a.m., saw light house on Bois Blanc Island — far at the starboard.  Saw Moose Island and Point Detour or Drummond's Island at entrance of passage to Sault Ste. Marie: Mr. Livingston's route by canoe.  At past 9 o'clock landed at Fort Michillimacinac.  Saw Indians of the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes or bands cooking on the shore.  Water surprisingly clear and transparent.  Boat and passengers bought fine trout of 25 to 30 lbs. for 50 cts., and white fish for $1 per dozen.  Saw Mr. [H. R.] Schoolcraft's house, the Indian Agent; that of Sam'l. Abbott, agent of A. Fur Co., Presbyterian and Catholic churches and 2 Mission Houses; yellowish and of wood.  Weather sunny and fine as could be expected.  Remained an hour.  Went up into the Fort, no men there; 2 brass cannon, 11cwt 3qrs 4lbs and 11, 3, 18, and iron mortar or howitzer.  No wood; left about 9:30 for the Manitou Isles for wood — owners asked $4 for their wood.  Fort neat and handsome; no flag up.  Saw remains of English Fort a quarter of a mile distant and 100 feet at least higher.  Saw fishing vessel coming from Pointe du Chêne and Milicoke Bay and Island St. Helena above Isle of Macinac at starboard going out.  Thirty miles only thro woods to foot of Lake Superior.  Three mails only last winter — go by foot, after getting on main land, over the beach of Saginaw Bay to Saginaw City at mouth of Saginaw River.

 

            Saw [     ] Biddle, cousin of Nic. B., worth $200,000.  With his partner, Drew, got $60,000 old claims from U. S. this year.  Has Pottiwattimie Ind'n wife and 3 fine children — some sons.  Schoolcraft married half-breed also.  Next year to build a Council House for residence of Ind'ns coming to trade, and for treaties and [for] them to deliberate in.  Mission Houses sold out and done.

 

            Ninety miles by water to Sault Ste. Marie.  “Round Island” opposite F't. Mackinaw.  Canoe with sails met and passed us on starboard going down Straits towards Mackinaw. Beautiful passing up M'w Straits, about 22 miles.  Rock sides of island and heights loom up finely in leaving, and ahead beautiful little islands looming up out of the bright water; they seem to be single and clumps or tufts of trees standing in bright water.  Entrance to M. and passage to Straits usually exceeding rough; today very fine and sunny.

 

            Saw at 10:30 in the distance the Light or Böy Ship, appearing a single column, and passed a fine schooner appearing square or scow built, but as high as a sloop: two masts and square fore top-sail, all up, on the starboard, gently bearing down; and at 12 o'clock passed the Light Ship on the left.  Twenty-two miles through Straits to Lake Michigan.  Light-Master's salary $500.[3]

 

            At 8:30 o'clock, p.m., arrived at Manitou Isles to wood; sandy beach appearing wooded with spruce; went on shore.  Saw bottom small stones distinctly at 14 feet depth of water, at 10:30 o'clock and no moon out.  Drank some on shore, and cut canes, and got variety of stones and pebbles, and sacrificed 3-bladed knife to Manitou, throwing it overboard with stones.  About 6,000 acres size.

 

            15 November.  Four o'clock, a.m., left Manitou Island, and at 7 o'clock — sun just appearing — almost directly at starboard, easterly, saw the Sleeping Bear Bank, 707 feet high and 6 miles long.  A beautiful bank, as perfectly regular, like canal bank, slope, or steep inclined plane made by hand of man — of whitish sand, light, and [which] drifting or blowing away, covers trees and kills them, the dead tops just appearing above ground.  And on the centre appears to lie and repose a huge black bear, being a clump of trees of that shape, clearly visible at 50 or 60 miles distant.  St. Josephs is clearly visible from Chicago.

 

            It was beautiful yesterday bearing down into the sun's face or eye; could discern the Bank, seeming a light or light-giving level cloud in the distance, at 7 or half-past, p.m.

 

            Woke at starting, but slept and dreamed heavenly, happily and fortunately, and of one unnamed; for some time woke and slumbered, regretting not having fair sight of Bear Bank, and most agreeably surprised by Mr. Bennett, of [   ], Green Bay, rousing me to sight of Bank.

 

            At 10:15 o'clock, a.m., out of sight of land till about 12 o'clock, when crossed Lake westerly sufficient to discover Wisconsin land, intending to land Mr Bennet and Mr Lewis Rouse[4] and friends at Manitou Wauk on way to Green Bay, Wisconsin.  At 4 o'clock, p.m., off [         ] and Twin River Point, approaching the two rivers intersecting at mouth.  Stm mill building there.  Saw sail boat and 3 men in it.  Cheboiegan P[      ] near [  ?  ].  Shore of Wisconsin sand heaps blown up, and low spruce or cedar, and wet; but called good back.

 

            Americans seemed proud or distant; strange to me, reserve only or modesty.

 

            Manitou in Chep[pewa] / Potta[wattimie] is spirit; chemanitou is evil spirits; necmanitou, good spirits; keses, the sun; manitouwau is river of spirits.

 

            About 5 o'clock — sun setting over Wisconsin; clouds, beneath tinged with crimson, hung most beautifully — landed Mr. Lewis Rouse and friends and Mr. Bennet to go 40 miles to Green Bay, their home.  Saw mill and buildings at mouth of the Manitouwau River.  Splendid moonlight night, and beautiful morning run down in the sun's face, arriving at Chicago at 12:30 p.m.  Fort at left on entering.  Town a city.  Lighthouse near the Fort Dearborn.

 

            16 November, 1837.  Arrived in Chicago from the Constellation, steamer belonging to Holt, Palmer & — Co., of Buffalo, at 12 o'clock, and lodged at Lake House,[5] after delightful passage up Lake Michigan: 22 miles through Straits and [   ] miles from Michillimacinac to Manitou Islands; 90 thence to Manitouwauk and [   ] to Milwaukee, passed in the night, and 90 thence to Chicago.

 

            Dined at 1 with my friend, Jno. Godard, Esq., and left 17th, after dinner.  Paid $2 for day and left (after examining the city unsatisfactorily) at 4 o'clock in Jno. T. Ackerman's waggon for Mr. Ariel Bowman's at Dunklee's Grove,[6] with Mr. Lewis, from Boston, going to Rock River Country.  Paid $1.50 to Gray's Grove,[7] and paid him $1 thence, one ½ mile, to Mr. Bowman's.

 

            Saw coming out Chicago on prairie, stage coach and 6 horses on prairie, and another soon after, and then a handsome private carriage and 4 horses, and many teams 4, 5, 6 yoked ox waggons.

 

            Prairie very wet.  Suddenly became dark, but fires commenced at different points on the prairie at some distance, which alarmed me and fellow traveller a little, but waggoner did not regard them, knowing the roads would stop them.  The effect was extremely picturesque and almost sublime — the fire extending for some miles in width — and an intervening grove causing an appearance quite resembling the burning of a large city or large block of buildings with columns, like what I should suppose the appearance of the Kremlin burning at Moscow. The fires had increased by 7:30 or 8 o'clock to a terrific extent, and rising all around, and at times and places to considerable height, say 20 ft, and appearing to be very near — as is the fad as to all objects and distances on prairie, it being difficult to judge of space, at least till further experience, there being no limits or objects by which the eye can compare.

 

            The fires, rising and swelling as they rise, rolling terrifically, depict above upon the black ground of a dark night the most splendid and delicate tints of vermillion it is possible to imagine; so that altogether the splendors of the scene — perhaps enhanced by the preceding feeling of alarm and agitation approaching to terror — became changed in high relief to a pleasure approaching sublimity, and all idea of discomfort attending such a dark route under expectation of speedy ruin, was entirely removed; all appearing as light and brilliant as if all was lighted expressly for the occasion.

 

            And approaching Kettlestring's[8] (the Yorkshireman) small house, where we were to stop for the night, the grove near and about it was considerably on fire in tops and bottoms of many trees, and running thro the oak underwood, seemed to threaten the houses, and while we whipped thro some places on fire, we found neighbours running and many engaged in endeavouring, with pails and dishes, to extinguish the fire; the wind rising the while, created an excitement most novel, and at the time alarming.

 

            At the house, greatly to my surprise and astonishment and infinite pleasure, on alighting I was taken by the hand by Mr Edwin Hine and 3 or 4 of his companions — who had arrived in another waggon — several of whom had come thro the Lakes with me and whom I supposed left at Chicago; tho, upon recollection, I had seen them start in the afternoon.  The pleasure caused by this unexpected meeting with these ingenuous young men, under the circumstances, bound for Rock River Country, Dickson's Ferry, was one of the most exquisite I ever was sensible of — so like the joys of youth — and was only alloyed by the defective accommodations for the night, and the uncertainties and forebodings of a possibly disastrous voyage and weighing down of spirits ensuing.  Many neighbors filled the room and talked rather late, so that with pantaloons on and fellow passenger and waggoner lying in one bed slept but little, and paying but 12 ½ cts apiece for bed.

 

            18 November.  Started early, and having crossed the River Des Plaines near a steam saw-mill, broke fast at Mr. [     ], paying 18 ¾ cts., and after crossing prairie to sight of Gray at Dutchman's Grove,[9] parted with regret from Mr. Hine and companions, and at Gray's, the German's, took waggon to Mr. Bowman's and arrived at about 10 o'clock, a.m.  Mr. B. absent; met [        ]

 

            19 November, Sunday.  At Mr. B's.

 

            20 November.  Went to Meacham's Grove,[10] 6 miles, to Sheriffs Court; trying claim to cattle and waggons &c. seized.  Mr. B. juror.  Laws and statutes of Illinois complained of as confused and ill digested.  Verdict for claimant.  No charge by Sheriff, but opinions as to law of evidence.  Appealed.  Fees of juror 25cts, summoned by party verbally on morning of same day.

 

            4 December, 1837, 9 o'clock, a.m., having remained at Dunkly Grove, Cook Co., Illinois, since [18]th Novr, left in waggon with Mr. Ariel Bowman[11] of that place, and Corinna, his oldest daughter, for Chicago, where we arrived, after a tedious journey over the prairie, at 7 o'clock, p.m.  Stopped at “American Inn[12] with Mr. B.  House dirty and most inconvenient and food poor.  Kept by Cook.  Corinna lodged at E. Peck's.[13]

 

            5 December.  Slept little or none; rose and suffered all day with violent head ache.  Paid barber 25cts for cutting my hair badly.  Paid $7 for buffalo hide for travel.[14]  Paid $1.25 to G. K. Teulon for marriage license; the fee $1.18.[15]  Paid Hinton, Baptist preacher, $5 for marriage fee of Corinna and self.[16]

 

            6 December.  Paid inn keeper $1.62, his bill, and left in stage mail waggon with Corinna at about 6 o'clock, a.m., for Detroit.  Paid $15 for 2 fares to Niles’ in Michigan, 106 miles.  Weather delightful.  Saw a black wolf just before sunrise, on sand hill between road and lake, just out of Chicago about a mile; looked impudent, and after we passed, within 6 rods, sat upon his haunches facing towards Chicago quite unconcerned, not having budged a step.

 

            A little cold on arriving at Calumet, 12 miles, at inn where got superb breakfast.  Paid 75 cts. and left at about 10 o'clock, crossing Calumet River Bridge there, and soon leaving lake shore alternate road, and having seen wreck of [       ] steam boat sticking in sand near shore.  Sun bright; most delightful ride of 8 miles thro oak timbered and flooded land, to bridge over Calumet, few rods above line of division between Illinois and Indiana.  Entered latter at near 2 o'clock, and obdurate driver would not cross bridge, fearing getting horses’ legs thro causeway.  River much swollen.  Paid 75cts for tea &c. at trapper's but there, called an inn, and waited stage to arrive opposite, till near 5 o'clock.  Crossed it lower and entered waggon, passing most singular appearing country, being a succession of long vistas parallel with river, but quite straight and regular swells of land, showing narrow ranges of trees, about 2 rods wide, and between them scoop — like hollows, with some water, some 10 rods wide, and looking like regular avenues or roads, as if assuredly planted and arranged by art, as far as could be seen; most beautiful appearance, but perhaps too wet now for use, and called unhealthy.  Very pleasant ride thro, and arriving at 9 o'clock nearly at bridge — out of order — and crossed Calumet on rope ferry-boat and stopped at Gibson's Inn, [   ] miles.  At 10 o'clock left in waggon, changed, and arrived at 12 in night, or past, at Liverpool, having passed the 11 or 12 miles thro beautiful oak openings and moonlight, and crossed the Calumet again; changed.

 

            8 December, 8 o'clock, a.m.  Left Michigan City, Berrien Co., for Niles, 44 miles.  Paid $3.50.  Half-past 11 arrived at Laporte, 12 miles, at breakfast and dinner.  Paid $ 1 and at one left for Terre Coupee, 20 miles over rolling prairie.  The richest land held in large trails, well fenced in Virginia,[17] and good houses.  This kind of prairie about 4 miles each extent.  Saw an Indian trail distinctly on the right, and threshing machine working by 7 men — one unbinding, one driving, one feeding, 4 raking off straw — doing 500 bushels per day, oats, doing work[ing] beautifully.  Landed at store and post-office at Byron Village, part[?] in Kankakee Township; came to extended, well-timbered forest.  Watered at Hudson Village, side of fine lake, 2 miles over; pretty yellow sail boat.  After more forest, very fine, passed Terre Coupee Township.  Arrived at Herds[?] at 6:30, supped, paid $1 and left for Niles, 12 or 13 miles, and arrived at 11:30 p.m., situated on St. Joseph River, 25 miles from mouth — small steam boats come up here.  Paid fare, $11.00 to Coldwater, 80 miles.  Crossed Michigan State Line 9 miles before Niles.

 

            9 December, 1 a.m., left for Edwardsburg, 12 miles; arrived at 4:30 o'clock, a.m., situate at Bird's-nest; prairie very fine.  Left about 5 o'clock for Porter in Cass Co., 12 long miles — all of 14; arrived at about 9:30 o'clock, took breakfast, paid 75cts.  Left for White Pigeon, prairie 12 miles; passed Mottville T'ship, and arrived at 2 o'clock, p.m., at Wh. Pigeon Township.  Left for Sherman, 19 miles, and arrived at 6 o'clock, p.m., supped, paid $1.  Left for Bronson T., 8 miles — worst road — and arrived at 9 o'clock, and left for Coldwater Township, 12 miles, and arrived at 1:30 o'clock, having passed Hog Creep and Cold Stream Brook, bearing sawmills, in Branch Co., and same Co. Town.

 

            10 December, Sunday.  Paid $8 fare, self and Corinna, to Tecumseh, 58 miles; and 18 miles to Jones Ville; passed Allen, and arrived at 7:30 o'clock, a.m.  Broke fast and paid $1.  Half-past 8 left, and stopped and exchanged horses at 12:30 p.m., in Hinsdale Co., 14 miles, at Somerset T.; passed Woodstock, passed [        ], and arrived at Cambridge.  To Springville at 4, 14 miles, lunched, 50 pd, and left.  Passed Franklin T., arrived at Tecumseh, 12 miles, at 9, supped, paid 5/— and fare to Detroit — $8, 58 miles — left, arrived at Clinton, 5 miles, at 10:30 p.m.  Passed Saline and Pittsfield Post Office.

 

            11 December.  Arrived at 6:30 o'clock, a.m., at Ypsilanti, 28 miles.  Broke fast, paid $1 and at 9 o'clock left for Detroit, 30 miles — 11 miles to Canton and Nankin and 20 to Dearborn, containing U. S. Arsenal & Establishment, containing [ ? ] acres.  Arrived at 4 o'clock at Arsenal, and Dearborn is mile off.  Captain Webb, formerly commissioned and now U. S. Merchant overseer of Works.  Hollow square containing officers quarters and do for soldiers — 5 laborers[?] here — one story building for guns and carriages, a sutler's shop, work shops, arsenal — 4 stories — containing guns, pistols and swords, in boxes.  Saw piles of balls.  Six pounder is there.  Captain Howard, resigned, has splendid cream color house of brick; before arriving at Arsenal he made fortune by speculation when troops were once stationed there; has a steam saw mill.

 

            Dined and supped at 5 p.m., and left for Detroit, paid 75 cents for both.  Crossed River Rouge before Detroit; arrived at 8 o'clock, p.m., in Detroit and stopped at American Hotel.

 

            12 December.  Broke fast at 10 o'clock and paid $3.00, and embarked, 3 o'clock, p.m., on board Columbus Stm Bt of Huron, Ohio — Capt. Augustus Walker — for Buffalo, weather permitting.  Supped at 6 o'clock.  Landed at Malden; saw fort and steam saw mill, and many Africans — they have a considerable settlement back of the town; and said to be 10,000 at Wilberforce.[18]  Ten o'clock, p.m., saw Huron Light House, and landed at Toledo, [   ] miles up Maumee River in Ohio.  Termination of Rail-Road.

 

            13 December.  Passed Sandusky City, 14 miles back, and Cunningham's Island in morning, and at 9 a.m. were at Huron, mouth of River Huron in Ohio.  Broke fast.  Saw Captain W's new Stm Bt building — to be called “President” or “Talk in the Water” —  800 tons.[19]  Left at 3:30 o'clock, p.m.  Paid $16 fare to Cleveland.  Five o'clock touched at Black River, (Charleston T.), Ohio. Port and light.  From Detroit to Toledo 175 miles, thence to Huron 175 miles, to Black River 20 miles, 30 miles to Cleveland.  Arrived at 9 o'clock, p.m.

 

            14 December.  Visited the town.  Paid fare by stage to Erie, Penn'a., 104 miles, $10, and left in extra at 2 o'clock, p.m., for Buffalo — 9 inside and 1 out.  Watered at Euclid, 7 miles ½ passed Willoughby, and Chagrine River and Creek and mills.  At 11:30 supped at Paynes' ville, 30 miles — bank and mills — paid $1; on the Grand River, 30 miles from Cleveland and 3 miles from lake.

 

            15 December.  Passed Centreville, and watered at Unionville at 4:30 o'clock.  At 7:30 a.m. arrived at Ashtabula and went 14 miles to Coneaut, and broke fast at 11 o'clock, paid 75cts.  Left for Erie, and arrived at 4:30 o'clock; supped and paid $1, passing after Coneaut, 2 miles, the line of Ohio and Pennsylvania at Thayers Inn.  Through Springfield, Girard, Elk Creek, Fairview, Mill Creek and mills, 22 miles to Erie; Wesley Ville, Harbor Creek T. and North East T., then the State line between Pennsylvania and New York at Northville, 19 miles from Erie.  Distance 37 miles thro Pennsylvania.  From Erie is 90 miles to Buffalo, [   ] miles to Fredonia, [   ] to Silver Creek, [   ] Cattaraugus.  By sleigh stage from beyond or near Ashtabula.

 

            16 December.  Broke fast at Silver Creek.  Paid $1.

           

            17 December, Sunday.  Arrived at Buffalo ½ past 5 o'clock, p.m., at Clintonville Inn, P. Law's,[20] and supped.

 

            19 December.  Left Buffalo after breakfast by RailRoad, 22 miles to Niagara Fall, paid $1.50 fare.  Some Volunteers took out 5lbs iron balls and beef and powder from carriage at opposite Navy Island, and near Fort Schlosser.  Arrived at about 11 o'clock, a.m.  Crossed to Canada, paid $0.50.

 

            20 December.  Remd at Cottage, supped and broke fast, paid $3.00.  Recrossed at 12 o'clock, m., paid $½ and dined at Hotel and paid $1.25, &ca incl.  Paid fare $1.50 to Lock-Port, 24 miles, and left at 2 o'clock, p.m., by Iron Road; arrived at 5 o'clock, p.m., and supped and broke fast — 21st — and paid $3.00; and paid fare $6 to Rochester, and left at 9:30 o'clock, a.m., by Ridge Way Road, passing Oak Orchard and Creek, Yates, Gaines, Albion, Clarkson.  At 6 o'clock, p.m., supped at Clarkson and paid 75cts, and passing Brockport, Parma, Grece, arrived at Carthage Village and Rochester ½ past 10 o'clock, p.m., 63 miles from Lockport.  Ridge Way said to be the former shore of Lake Ontario, and affording surprisingly even, hard, natural road.

 

            22 December.  Crossed aquaduct and saw Gennessee Upper Fall, 96 feet and flat banks.  Great water powers.  Very neat jail.  Beautiful mill of Mr. Ely — 9 run of stones; wonderfully compact and neat.  Paid $3 for 2 nights and 1 day.

 

            23 December, 4 o'clock, a.m., left for Oswego, 60 miles.  Paid fare $6, and passed N. Penfield and Williamson.  Broke fast and dined at Great Sodus and paid $1.  Before saw Great Sodus Bay and boys on it — Little Sodus Bay [interlined] — skating.  Changed to sleigh.  Passed Huron and supped at Woolcott and paid 75, Sterling, and arrived at 10:30 o'clock, p.m., at Oswego at Welland House.  Slept.  Visited the town and Fort Oswego — repaired last war; Oswego Canal.

 

            25 December.  Paid $4.50 and fare to Watertown; left at 3:30 o'clock, a.m., in an extra. Passed Scriba, New Haven, Mexico, Union Square, Port Ontario — at mouth of Black River — and arrived at Pulaski Village at 11:30 o'clock, a.m., 24 miles from Oswego, in Richland T'p., Co. Oswego.  Did not overtake the stage, which got no notice to wait; way bill left behind.  Salmon River and mills.  Salmon in the river, but decreasing; worth $18 per bll.  Thousands barrells herrings taken in the Lake — worth $2.50 — and white fish, kind of shad, plenty.  Court to sit tomorrow; Judge Hiram Denio.  Great grazing district and plenty of game and fish.  Masonic Hall become an extended school house, of brick, 2 stories.  Deacon [       ], a farmer, has 68 cows.

 

            26 December.  Embarked in Syracuse Stage when it came up at 11 o'clock, for Watertown.  Mr Lewis, Stage Agent, &c., agreeing to pay tavern bill condition of waiting over and not exalting an extra.  Passing Great Sandy Creek and Township — containing WashingtonvillEllisburg, Mannsville; arrived at Watertown on Black River — fall and mills, &c.  Supped, and slept till one o'clock, a.m.

 

            27 December.  Paid bill, $2.25, and $7 fare to Ogdensburg, and left at about 2 o'clock, a.m., and passed Pamela, LeRay Township and Evan's Mills, Philadelphia, Antwerp — and broke fast and paid 75 — and Rossie, Gouverneur, Richville, DeKalb, Oswegatchie and River — crossed three or four times — Houvel-Ville, and arrived at Ogdensburg at 5 o'clock, p.m.  Paid ferriage, 75cts; &cs., 25cts.  Supped at Prescott; paid 3/6, and paid fare to Montreal, ₤3-10-0, and left at 10 o'clock, p.m.

 

            28 December.  Went 22 miles to Williamsburg, 12 miles to Dickinson's Landing, 16 miles to Cornwall, 16 to Lancaster and 16 to head of Long Sault.  At Wilkins broke fast at 12:30 p.m., paid 4/—, and left at one o'clock, p.m.  Passed Cedars, at Cascades changed, crossed to — and over the ice — Isle Perrot, to St. Anne, to Pointe Claire, Lachine, and arrived at 9 o'clock, p.m., in Montreal.  Ogdensburg and Prescott were formerly Oswegatchie.

 

End of Journal

 

 

[This list of names, apparently of fellow-passengers on his westward trip, was written in pencil by Mr. Nye on a page of the journal.]

 

            Mr W. Hart (called Doctor) of N. York City.

            Edwin Hine of Dixon's Ferry or Dicksonville, Rock River, Illinois.

            Haynes from U. Canada to Rockford, Ill.

            Brooks, Quaker, Wayne Co., N. Y.

            Breese, firm of Taylor & Breese, Chicago.

            Hayss, Chicago, in Ogdens employ.

            Taylor, River Dupage, 6 miles from Naperville, Il.

Woodville, or Wood, from Syracuse, N. Y., to establish N. Paper at Racine, near Milwaukee; Wisconsin; wears spectacles.

 

 

 

 

Sixty-eight copies of this Journal were printed at the Moorsfield Press, Champlain, N. Y., in July, 1932, being the twenty-first production of the Press. Number 41.



[1]  The Book of Niagara Falls.  By Horatio A. Parsons, A. M. Third Edition.  Buffalo: Oliver G. Steele. 1836.  In the copy thus purchased by Mr. Nye he had written “What Nonsense!” and “Bah!” against sentimental and theological passages on pages 33 and 35.

[2]  It was at this point in his journey that Mr. Nye wrote the first of the two letters to his brothers, already published.

[3]   The Biennial Register, Washington, 1838, gives $500 as the compensation of William Keith, the keeper of this floating light.

[4]   Lewis Rouse, son of Jacques Rouse, who settled Rouses Point, N. Y.

[5]   Lake House, built in 1835; located on the corners of Kinzie, Rush and Michigan Streets.

[6]   Duncklee's Grove, on Salt Creek, in the town of Addison.  It was about three miles in length and half a mile in width.

[7]   Gray's Grove, on Salt Creek; contained about 100 acres.

[8]   Now Oak Park.  Settled as early as 1833 by John Kettlestrings.

[9]   Dutchman's Grove, or Point, is now Niles, Illinois.

[10]   Now Bloomingdale.  Settled by Silas, Lyman and Harvey Meacham.

[11]  Ariel Bowman had been a publisher, bookseller and bookbinder in Montreal; in 1832 his place of business was on rue St. ‑Francois‑Xavier.  In 1840 he moved to Chicago from Dunclee's Grove, and was one of the earliest bookbinders in that city.  (See Andreas, Hist. of Chicago.)

[12]   Formerly the Steamboat Hotel, on North Water, near Kinzie Street.

[13]   Probably Ebenezer Peck, an attorney; formerly of Duncklee's Grove.

[14]   The bill for this buffalo hide (robe) has been preserved.  It bears this endorsement: Walker & Co. Receipt of Bill of Buffalo hide of Peter Cohen 5 Dec'r. 1837.

[15]   A pencil copy of this license was made by Mr. Nye, the original having been signed by Geo. Davis.

[16]   The certificate is signed Isaac T. Hinton, Pastor of the Baptist Church, Chicago, and witnessed by Ariel Bowman and George K. Teulon.

[17]   Virginia fence: a zig-zag fence of rails crossing at their ends.

[18]   Malden and Wilherforce were Canadian settlements.

[19]   Holley's Picturesque Tourist, N. Y., 1844., contains an article from the “Buffalo Commercial Advertiser” on Statistics of Steamers of Lake Erie, including a list of steamers built on that lake.  From this list it would appear that the boat mentioned was the Great Western, of 780 tons.

[20]   Prentiss Law. See Two Letters of Thomas Nye, p. 8.



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Elias Nye of Burlington, Vermont

     Elias Nye was born in Plympton, Massachusetts, on April 5, 1752, and was the son of Isaac Nye.  He married Elizabeth Bartlett and is buried with her in the Elmwood Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont.  The following is written in the book Genealogy of the Nye Family:

 

            His name appears in the list of Revolutionary soldiers both as Elias Nie and Elias Nye.  He served as a private in Captain Isaac Gray's company, Jonathan Brewer's regiment; muster roll dated August 1, 1755; enlisted May 1, 1775; service three months eight days; residence Hardwick.  Also, same company and regiment; order for bounty coat or its equivalent in money due for the eight months service in 1775, dated Prospect Hill, November 4, 1775, payable to Lieutenant Thomas Willington; private, Captain Isaac Gray's company, Colonel Jona.  Brewer's (7th) regiment; residence Plympton; company returned, dated Prospect Hill, October 6, 1775.  He married (1st) Ruth Shurtleff.  He married (2nd) in 1786, Elizabeth Bartlett, of Plymouth.  She was born October 21, 1758, and died May 17, 1825.  He resided in Plympton, Carver, Boston, and again in Plympton and later removed to Burlington, Vermont, where he died December 17, 1838.

 

            Elias and Elizabeth's children were:

 

            Ruth Shurtleff Nye (April 5, 1787 - October 15, 1880) - unmarried, lived in Champlain

            Margaret Nye (Dec 1, 1788 - ?) - born in Carver, died young

            Freeman Nye (November 2, 1791 - November 13, 1877) – married, no children, lived in Lacolle, Quebec/Champlain

            Elizabeth (Eliza) Bartlett Nye (Sept 27, 1793 - Sept 24, 1864) – married Hoyle, had children

            Isaac Nye (November 1,1796 - April 27, 1871) - unmarried, lived in Burlington, Vermont

         * Bartlett Nye (Jan 8, 1799 - Dec 1, 1857) – married Matilda and Laura Moore, eight children, lived in Champlain

            Thomas Nye (November 23, 1801 - May 15, 1877) – married Corinna Bowman, no children, lived in Montreal

 

            A letter written on June 21, 189(?) to Charles Freeman Nye shows the inscriptions on the gravestones in Burlington, Vermont.  A Sexton of the Unitarian Church wrote it.  They might be buried in Elmwood Cemetery.


Thomas Nye of Montreal (son)

            Thomas Nye was born in Carver, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, on August 23, 1801, and died on May 15, 1877, at the age of 75.  He married Corinna Bowman but had no children.  He was a lawyer in Montreal.  Elizabeth Matilda Nye later made mention of Thomas when she visited him in Montreal as a teenager. 

 

            Thomas was also active in civic affairs.  A University of Vermont Commencement Announcement dated August 14, 1822, showed that he was the speaker for the English Oration titled “Scenic Representations.”  The commencement announcement had been owned by Ellen Rose Nye in 1918.  Also speaking was Pliny Moore Corbin (1801-1874) who did an English Oration entitled “Intellectual Superiority”.  Pliny was the son of Royal Corbin.  Royal was the brother of Martha (Corbin) Moore who had married Judge Pliny Moore. 


            Thomas Nye kept a journal on his trip from Montreal to Chicago when he went to marry his girlfriend, Corinna Bowman, in 1837.  Thomas had known Corinna and her family when they lived in Montreal.  After the Bowman’s moved to Illinois, Thomas probably corresponded with Corinna and decided to ask for her hand in marriage after traveling to visit her.  Thomas would have been 36 years of age.

 

            Thomas traveled from Montreal to Chicago in a journey that lasted about 18 days over land and water.  The trip was very cold and exhausting, especially since some transportation left at 4:00 a.m.  Thomas recorded each days events and the localities that he passed through.  Thomas married Corinna on December 5 and the two then traveled back to Montreal and arrived there on December 28.



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