Item #6746 [Diary of a Pennsylvania man who visits Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana in the 1840s.]. Elias Morse Pierce.
[Diary of a Pennsylvania man who visits Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana in the 1840s.]
[Diary of a Pennsylvania man who visits Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana in the 1840s.]
[Diary of a Pennsylvania man who visits Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana in the 1840s.]

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[Diary of a Pennsylvania man who visits Maine, Massachusetts, and Indiana in the 1840s.]

Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, Indiana, 24 Aug. 1848–July 1849. 16mo (6” x 4”), full calf. 28 pp. of manuscript, 2 pp. of accounts in manuscript. CONDITION: Wear and partial separations to spine; contents good, no losses to the text.

A lively travel diary kept over a span of thirteen months, documenting a Pennsylvania man’s trips to Massachusetts, Maine, and Indiana.

Born in Norridgewock, Maine, Dr. Elias Morse Pierce (1824–1911) practiced dentistry in Pennsylvania throughout much of his life. At the time of this journal he was living in Erie, although apparently not yet settled into his profession. Pierce’s travels commence when he leaves on the steamer Niagara en route to Buffalo, NY on 24 Aug. 1848: “The company on board was mostly Southern Gents. and Ladys and had music and dancing—also a speech on the justice of slavery.” Pierce proceeds to Rochester and Auburn; he visits Genesee Falls, tours a cotton factory, and pays 25 cts. to see the prisoners at Auburn Prison. Reaching Albany, he then travels to Worcester, Mass., then on to Lowell, to see his sister, Betsy Peirce (1798–1883) who worked at a factory—and is evidently one of the “Lowell Girls” he mentions. With several of Betsy’s friends, they have a daguerreotype taken. Walking around Lowell, Pierce sees “two fire Cos. that looked splendid, their engine was ornamented with flowers.” There is a torchlight procession in Lowell for presidential candidate Zachary Taylor (who in Nov. 1848 would win the U.S. presidential election): “Fireworks and thousands of lights…and a large pole made like a ‘T’ in honor of Taylor.”

Pierce makes his way to Maine to visit his parents and to socialize. Upon arriving, he is “introduced to the Misses Mary, Clarissa, and Jane Standish. They entertained me with a few tunes from the accordion, accompanied by their excellent voices, then had a play.” The diarist is impressed with the village of Solon, Maine: “It gains very fast,” he writes. “On the whole it is a fine town. Two public houses, one the Carytunk House kept by Savage, the other by Curtis. Four stores.” His total expenses recorded for his trip to Maine total $69.99.

On 4 Oct. 1848 he gets married. “In the course of the evening I was married to Miss Harriet Willson by Jonah McIntire, Esq. The party broke up at 12 o’clock, so I in course went home with my wife, but did not stop with her the first night.” Apparently, this did not affect Pierce’s interest in other women. Two weeks later he teaches two women “how to kiss Yankee fashion.”. Following an outing, he arrives home after midnight and his “father made a mistake and took us for French [Canadians?] robbing the orchard and set the dog onto us.” Pierce looks for work at eight shops in Lowell and five in Lawrence. No luck in either place—nor in Groton, Worcester, or Boston. “Where to look, I do not know. No chance for me.” The diarist travels to the west. He is much-impressed with the prairie country near the Maumee River in Ohio. “I could see some 15 miles without bush or anything but grass. A plow will run the whole without turning.” From Defiance, he travels to Fort Wayne, visiting the old battlefield. There is a theater in the town “which kept me awake some time for they were very noisy to my great annoyance.” The diary ends in Fort Wayne in late July 1848.

In 1861—at the start of the Civil War and a little over a decade after he completed this journal—Pierce raised a body of 500 men from the counties of Erie, Warren, and Crawford, PA, with George Ashworth Cobham (1825–1864), W. J. Alexander, and others. These 500 men, together with a similar force from Erie County, PA, constituted the 111th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers—its organization completed at Erie in Jan. 1862. Pierce was appointed Captain of Company D; Cobham as Lieut.-Col.; and Alexander as 1st Lieutenant. While Pierce resigned in Apr. 1862, the 111th went on to serve at Harper’s Ferry, and distinguished themselves at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and other battles. Following the Civil War, Pierce relocated to Warren, PA.

REFERENCES: Schenck, J. S., W. S. Rann. History of Warren County (Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887), pp. 550–559.

Item #6746

Price: $650.00

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