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Mrs. Mary Dewees's Journal, 1788-1789

The New Nation, 1783-1815 The New Nation

Mary Coburn Dewees traveled with her family by wagon, boat and foot from Philadelphia to relocate in Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington was newly settled in 1775, so Mary's family would have been among its earliest residents. The trip took almost five months, and her journal describes the rigors of the journey, stopping points along the way, travelers they meet, lodgings and food, the natural surroundings, and social interactions among the family members. This journal offers an honest and descriptive view of the difficulties of 18th century travel.
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(selections from the journal)

September 27th…Left Philada. about 5 OClock in the afternoon and tore our selves from a number of dear friends that assembled to take a last farewell before we set off for Kentucky.

October 9th… we were Obliged to put up at a Cabin at the foot of the hill perhaps a dozen logs upon one another, with a few slabs fer a roof and the earth for a floor. & a wooden Chimney Constituted this extrodnary, ordinary the people very Kind but amazing dirty, there was between twenty & thirty of us, all lay on the floor, Except Mrs. Rees the Children and your Maria, who by our dress or adress or perhaps boath were favoured with a bed and I assure you we that thought ourselves to escape being fleaed alive

Nov 2nd…Went over to the Island to see our new acquaintance and they insisted on our repeating our visits. while we staid a man came in that was wounded by the Indians a few days ago about 20 miles from Pitt - a party of Traders were surprized by them in the night but got off without any but a little Blood by one who had been wounded in the head with a Taumahauke.

January 1st…(in Lexington)...Since I have been here I have been visited by the genteele people in the place and receivd several Invitations both in town & Country, the Society in this place is very agreeable and I flatter my self I shall see many happy days in this Country Lexington is a Clever little Town with a court house and Jail and some pretty good buildings in it...

Read the rest of the journal and view an 1871 map of Lexington.