[To “Nineteenth-Century American American Children & What They Read”]

Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York, by Catherine Elizabeth Havens; 2nd edition (1920)

Catherine Havens (b. 6 August 1839) was born into a fairly prominent family which had lived in New York City for several generations. Her father, Rensselaer Havens (b. 13 March 1772), was a prominent merchant: a ship-owner and founder of an insurance company who rented warehouse space to John Jacob Astor.

Catherine’s diary for 1849 through 1851 is less interesting for whom her family knew, than for the details of daily life that she recorded. Diary of a Little Girl tells us about schools and social life and children’s play in mid-century New York. Catherine heard Jenny Lind and held a fair to raise money for victims of the Irish famine; she watched the rope makers pace along the rope walk at Irving Place and had her photograph taken by Matthew Brady. The diary, however, isn’t just a lively picture of New York in 1849, 1850, and 1851. It’s also a portrait of New York in the 1810s, as Catherine includes the memories of her mother, born in 1801, when most Manhattanites got their water from the pump on the street (the water tasted brackish) and there were only four policemen in New York City (each carried a white baton with a blue ribbon at the top).

But most of all it’s the story of a lively girl who occasionally sneaked an extra dessert and was overly fond of pretty clothes. Despite the fact that Catherine’s mother corrected her spelling, one of the delights of the diary is Catherine’s writing style: headlong sentences that gallop from one subject to the next. And there’s her candor: she doesn’t like to have the woman who sews carpets “use our forks and drink out of our cups,” so she and her niece “try to pick out a nicked cup for her to use so that we can recognize it and avoid it.” (Catherine visits her niece in the summer, “and she comes here in the winter, and we have things together, like whooping cough and scarlatina.”)

The text here is from the second edition, published in 1920 (the original edition was in 1919); the diary also appeared in Valentine’s Manual of Old New York #4 and #5, in 1920 and 1921). As a result, it points up the early-20th-century interest in early American social life. Illustrations range from a Brady daguerreotype of Catherine and her father to copies of early illustrations and line drawings emphasizing the “quaintness” of 19th-century clothing and mores. Though the text says that Catherine’s diary covers only 1849 through 1850, the diary actually includes 1851.

Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York, by Catherine Elizabeth Havens; 2nd edition (NY: Henry Collins Brown, 1920)


Catherine as a child
The author and her father. From an old daguerreotype taken at Brady’s Daguerrean Gallery, 10th St. and Broadway, in 1847.

[title page]

title page, text below



Published By
15 East 40th Street
New York

[copyright page]


Press of
The Chauncey Holt Company
New York City



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[p. vii]


I think there are many New Yorkers who, like myself, have spent most of a long life in this delightful old town, that love to go back in memory to the quaint little city of their childhood which has so completely disappeared in the great metropolitan community of today.

Perhaps this little book which is a faithful record of events as seen by childhood eyes and recorded in childhood fashion may give an hour or two of pleasure to old friends of the city far and near, and although they may not any more see the tree embowered streets of long ago and the little two-story brick houses with their dormer windows and slanting roofs that used to line both sides of the street, the author hopes that these pages may bring back some of the scenes they were familiar with and help to renew, in spirit at least, some of the old friendships and affections they enjoyed when the heart was young.

[p. viii blank]

p. 9

drawing of 19th-century New Yorkers


August 6, 1849.

I am ten years old today, and I am going to begin to keep a diary. My sister says it is a good plan and when I am old, and in a remembering mood, I can take out my diary and read about what I did when I was a little girl.

I can remember as far back as when I was only four years old, but I was too young then to keep a diary, but I will begin mine by telling what I can recall of that far-away time.

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The first thing I remember is going with my sister in a sloop to visit my aunts, Mrs. Dering and Mrs. L’Hommedieu, on Shelter Island. We had to sleep two nights on the sloop, and had to wash in a tin basin, and the water felt gritty.

These aunts live in a very old house. It was built in 1733 and is called the Manor House, and some of the floors and doors in it were in a house built in 1635 of wood brought from England.*

The next thing I remember is going with my nurse to the Vauxhall Gardens, and riding in a merry-go-round. These Gardens were in Lafayette Place, near our house, and there was a gate on the Lafayette

* Note—This house is now in possession of Miss Cornelia Horsford, of Cambridge, Mass., and was the subject of an article by the late Mrs. Martha J. Lamb, in the November number of the Magazine of American History for 1887.—Editor.


photo of the Manor House
The Sylvester Manor House, Shelter Island. Where my aunts lived—built 1733.
Now in the possession of Miss Cornelia Horsford, Cambridge, Mass.

p. 11

Place side, and another on the Bowery side.

Back of our house was an alley that ran through to the Bowery, and there was a livery stable on the Bowery, and one time my brother, who was full of fun and mischief, got a pony from the stable and rode it right down into our kitchen and galloped it around the table and frightened our cook almost to death.

Another time he jumped onto a new barrel of flour and went right in, boots and all. He was so mischievous that our nurse kept a suit of his old clothes done up in a bundle, and threatened to put them on him and give him to the old-clothes man when he came along.

The beggar girls bother us dreadfully. They always have the same story to tell, that “my father is dead

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and my mother is sick, and there’s five small children of us, and nary a hapo.” The hapo means money.

They come down the steps to the kitchen door and ring the bell and ask for cold victuals; and sometimes they peek through the window into the basement, which is my nursery. And one day my brother said to one of them, “My dear, I am very sorry, but our victuals are all hot now, but if you will call in about an hour they will be cold.” And she went away awfully angry.

We moved from Lafayette Place to Brooklyn when I was four years old, but only lived there one year. My brother liked Brooklyn because he could go crabbing on the river, but I was afraid of the goats, which chased one of my friends one day. So we came back to New York, and

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my father bought a house in Ninth Street. He bought it of a gentleman who lived next door to us, and who had but one lung, and he lived on raw turnips and sugar. Perhaps that is why he had only one lung. I don’t know.

I am still living in our Ninth Street house. It is a beautiful house and has glass sliding doors with birds of Paradise sitting on palm trees painted on them. And back of our dining room is a piazza, and a grape vine, and we have lots of Isabella grapes every fall. It has a parlor in front and the library in the middle and the dining room at the back. On the mantel piece in the library is a very old clock that my father brought from France in one of his ships. It has a gilt head of Virgil on the top, and it is all gilt,

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and stands under a big glass case and sometimes I watch my father when he takes off the case to wind the clock, and he has to lift it up so high and his hands tremble so, I am afraid he will break it.

Sometimes I think we shall never move again. I think it is delightful to move. I think it is so nice to shut my eyes at night and not to know where anything will be in the morning, and to have to hunt for my brush and comb and my books and my et ceteras, but my mother and my nurse do not feel that way at all.

We know a lot of our neighbors who live on Ninth Street Down near Broadway lives Dr. DeWitt. He is a clergyman, and he and Dr. Knox and Dr. Vermilyea and Dr. Chambers take turns in preaching in the four Dutch churches. On the

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corner of University Place lives Mr. James Brown, and above our church on the corner of Tenth Street is Mr. William H. Aspinwall’s house, and back of it he has a big picture gallery. On our block on Ninth Street, beginning at University Place on the upper side, is Mr. Jasper Grosvenor, and Mr. Aquila Stout, and Mr. Cyrus Curtis, and Mr. Henry G. Thompson, and Mr. Gumming, and Mr. Calvin W. How, and Dr. Borrowe. On our side of Ninth Street is Mr. Coddington and the Buckners, and on the corner across Fifth Avenue is a big open lot with a high board fence, and next beyond that lives Mr. Quincy, and then Mr. George D. Phelps. Ever so many of the children of these neighbors come to our school. There

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is another school for girls on our street, kept by Miss Sedgwick.

Mr. Guy Richards and his brother Mr. Nathaniel Richards live next door to each other in very handsome big brick houses in Bleecker Street. They have white marble steps. They both go to the Brick Church.

I forgot to say I have a little niece, nearly as old as I am, and she lives in the country. Her mother is my sister, and her father is a clergyman, and I go there in the summer, and she comes here in the winter, and we have things together, like whooping cough and scarlatina. Her name is Ellen and she is very bright. She writes elegant compositions, but I beat her in arithmetic. I hate compositions unless they are on subjects I can look up in books.

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Beside my little niece, I have a dear cousin near my age. Her father died in New Orleans, and her mother then came to New York to live. She brought all her six children with her, and also the bones of seven other little children of hers, who had died in their infancy. She brought them in a basket to put in the family vault on Long Island.

I think spelling is very funny, I spelt infancy infantsy, and they said it was wrong, but I don’t see why, because if my seven little cousins died when they were infants, they must have died in their infantsy; but infancy makes it seem as if they hadn’t really died, but we just made believe. I have three little sisters who died before I was born and they are buried in the Marble Cemetery, and one day Maggy took me to see

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their grave, and the cemetery has a high iron railing around it and we had to open a gate and walk through the long grass. The oldest child was named Anna, and she was seven years old, and she went with my oldest sister to Miss McClenahan’s school, and she was taken sick in school and my sister brought her home, and she died in forty-eight hours of scarlet fever.

My aunt and my cousins came to New York three years ago. I was in my trundle-bed one night and woke up and saw my mother putting on her hat and shawl, and I began to cry, but she told me to be a good girl and go to sleep, and next day she would take me to see some little cousins. So the next day she took me, but first we went to Mrs. May’s toy store, just below Prince Street

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on Broadway, to buy some presents for me to give to my three little girl cousins. They were living in a nice house in Bleecker Street, near McDougal Street, and are named Anna Maria and Eliza Jane and Sarah Ann.

I took Anna a basket made by some of the people at the Blind Asylum. It was made of cloves strung on wire in diamond shapes, and where the wires crossed there was a glass bead. She keeps her big copper pennies in it.

Anna is my dearest friend. She and I are together in school, but now they have moved way up to Fifteenth Street; but I walk up every morning to meet her and we walk down to school together.

Sometimes we get some of the big girls’ books, and carry them in our

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arms, with the titles on the outside so the people we pass will see them. I like to take Miss D’s geometry. There is a Miss Lydia G. who goes to our school, and she is very sweet and beautiful, and one day our minister’s son was walking to school with her and carrying her books, and I was just behind them and I saw him give her a beautiful red rose, and I guess he was making love to her and perhaps asking her to marry him, for she blushed when she said good-by. He is going to be a clergyman like his father. I hope they will be happy.

Saturdays I go up to Anna’s, and on Irving Place, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets, there is a rope walk, and we like to watch the men

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walk back and forth making the rope. It is very interesting.1

Some Saturdays we go to see our grandmother, who lives with our aunt on Abingdon Square, and she sends Bella, her maid, out to buy some candy for us, and she tells us about what she did when she lived way down town in Maiden Lane. She is our mother’s mother. Anna’s parents and my parents were married in the Maiden Lane house, and my father took my mother to his house at 100 Chambers Street to live with him. It was a handsome house and before they were married, my father took out the wooden mantel pieces, and put in white marble ones to please my mother.

My grandmother’s mother lived in Fletcher Street, and she had a sis-

1 The Academy of Music now stands where the rope walk was.

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ter who lived on Wall Street opposite the old Tontine Coffee-House. They loved each other very much, and were both very sick and expected to die; but my great-grandmother got up off her sick bed and went down to see her sister, and she died there an hour before her sister died and they were buried together in their brother Augustus Van Horn’s vault in Trinity Church Yard. I love to hear my grandmother tell about these old times. She says Mr. R., who married her aunt, was a Tory; which means he was for the English in the Revolutionary War. He was a printer and came from England, and Rivington Street was named for him.

My father’s father lived on Shelter Island, and had twenty slaves, and their names were: Africa, Pomp,

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Titus, Tony, Lum, Cesar, Cuff, Odet, Dido, Ziller, Hagar, Judith, and Comas, but my grandfather thought it was wicked to keep slaves, so he told them they could be free, but Tony and Comas stayed on with him. After he died Tony and Comas had a fight and Comas cut Tony, and my grandmother told Tony he must forgive Comas, for the Bible said “by so doing thou shall heap coals of fire on his head,” and Tony said, “Yes, Missy, de nex’ time Comas hit me, I’ll heap de coals ob fire on his head and burn him to a cinder.”

Tony and Comas used to make brooms out of the broom corn, and pound corn into samp, and send them to my father in New York by Capt. Mumford’s sloop.

My sister says there was a man on Shelter Island and his name was Sine

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Conkling, and one time at a church meeting the people said they would adjourn sine die (she says that means to some other day), but he thought they meant till Sine died, and he was so angry he left the church.

New York is getting very big and building up. I walk some mornings with my nurse before breakfast from our house in Ninth Street up Fifth Avenue to Twenty-third Street, and down Broadway home. An officer stands in front of the House of Refuge on Madison Square, ready to arrest bad people, and he looks as if he would like to find some.

Fifth Avenue is very muddy above Eighteenth Street, and there are no blocks of houses as there are downtown, but only two or three on a block. Last Saturday we had a picnic on the grounds of Mr. Waddell’s

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country seat way up Fifth Avenue,2 and it was so muddy I spoiled my new light cloth gaiter boots. I have a beautiful green and black changeable silk visite,3 but my mother said it looked like rain and I could not wear it, and it never rained a drop after all. It has a pinked ruffle all around it and a sash behind.

Miss Carew makes my things. She is an old maid, and very fussy, and Ellen and I don’t like her. She wears little bunches of curls behind her ears, and when she is cutting out she screws up her mouth, and we try not to laugh, and my mother says Miss Carew is well born and much thought of and only works for the best families.

2 Corner of Thirty-seventh Street and Fifth Avenue, where the Brick Church now stands.—Editor.

3 A visite was a loose fitting, unlined coat.—Editor.

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There is another person called Miss Platt who comes to sew carpets, and although we don’t despise her, which would be very wicked, for my mother says she comes of an excellent old Long Island family, yet Ellen and I don’t like to have her use our forks and drink out of our cups. She is very tall and thin and has a long neck that reminds Ellen and me of a turkey gobbler, and her thumb-nails are all flattened from hammering down carpets, and she puts up her front hair in little rings and sticks big pins through them. Ellen and I try to pick out a nicked cup for her to use so that we can recognize it and avoid it.

Mr. Brower makes my shoes and brings them home on Saturday night and stays and tries them on. My sis-

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ters go to Cantrell on the Bowery, near Bleecker Street.

One time Ellen came down to visit me, and we were both invited to a party at my sister’s friend, Mrs. Downer’s on 19th Street, and Ellen had not brought her slippers, and so my mother said I must wear my boots, so Ellen would not feel uncomfortable. I did not want to, and asked my sister to persuade her to let me wear my slippers, but she only said my mother was perfectly right, so I had to wear my boots.

The wife of one of my brothers thinks I am too fond of pretty clothes, and she sent me a Valentine about a kitten wanting to have pretty stripes like the tiger, and how the tiger told the kitten that she had a great deal nicer life than he did, out in the cold, and that she ought to be

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contented. I will copy it just as she wrote it. I don’t know whether she made it all up, but she made up the verse about me. This is it:

A kitten one day,

In a weak little voice

To a tiger did say:

“How much I rejoice

“That I am permitted

In you to behold

One of my own family,

So great and so bold!

“I’d walk fifty miles, sir,

On purpose to see

A sight so refreshing

And pleasant to me!

“With your gay, striped dress,

You must make a great show,

And be very much courted

Wherever you go!

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“Every beast, great and small,

In the forest must say,

‘I wish I were a tiger,

So showy and gay!’ ”

The tiger, half dozing,

Then opened his eye,

And thus to the kitten

He deigned a reply:

“You envious, foolish

And weak little thing,

Know that your size, like mine,

Doth advantages bring.

“Though you have not strength,

Nor a gay, striped dress,

You have comforts around

I should love to possess.

“Though I’m powerful and bold,

I’m the terror of all!

Alas! every one hates me

And flees at my call.

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“You may be very useful

By catching the mice;

Thus make the folks love you

And give you a slice

“Of the meat, and a place

Nice and warm where to sleep,

While, friendless and cold,

I my wanderings keep!

“Now; envy no more

Fine looks and gay dress,

But strive to be useful,

Make happy and bless

“The friends who ’re around you

By kindness and care,

And you’ll find in return

Love and happiness there.”

* * * * *

Methinks you, my dear Kitty,

My tale can explain;

If not, I’ll unfold it

When I see you again.

p. 31

August 15.

I got so tired doing so much thinking and writing in my diary that I waited to think up some more to say.

My father is a very old gentleman. He was born before the Revolutionary War. I have three sisters who are nearly as old as my mother. We have the same father, but different mothers, so they are not quite my own sisters; but they say they love me just the same as if we were own. Two of them got married and went away to live with their husbands, but one whose name begins with C is not married. I will call her Sister C in my diary. She has a school. She is educating me.

I love my music lessons. I began them when I was seven years old. Our piano is in the middle room between the parlor and dining-room,

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and my teacher shuts the sliding doors, and Ellen peeked through the crack to see what I was doing, but she was only six years old.

My teacher is very fond of me. Last year my sister let me play at a big musical party she had, and I played a tune from “La Fille du Regiment,” with variations. It took me a good while to learn it, and the people all liked it and said it must be very hard. My mother has had all my pieces bound in a book and my name put on the cover.

I love my music first, and then my arithmetic. Sometimes our class has to stand up and do sums in our heads. Our teacher rattles off like this, as fast as ever she can, “Twice six, less one, multiply by two, add eight, divide by three. How much?” I love to do that.

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I have a friend who comes to school with me, named Mary L. She lives on Ninth Street, between Broadway and the Bowery. She and I began our lessons together and sat on a bench that had a little cupboard underneath for our books. She has a nurse named Sarah. Sometimes Ellen and I go there and have tea in her nursery. She has a lot of brothers and they tease us. One time we went, and my mother told us to be polite and not to take preserves and cake but once. But we did, for we had raspberry jam, and we took it six times, but the plates were dolls’ plates, and of course my mother meant tea plates. My brother laughed and said we were tempted beyond what we were able to bear, whatever that means. He says it is in the Bible.

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I hate my history lessons. Ellen likes history because she knows it all and does not have to study her lesson, but one day our teacher asked her to recite the beginning of the chapter, and she had only time to see there was a big A at the heading, and she thought it was about Columbus discovering America and began to recite at a great rate, but the teacher said, “wrong,” and it was about Andrew Marvell. Once a girl in our class asked our teacher if what we learned in history was true, or only just made up. I suppose she thought it was good for the mind, like learning poetry,

We don’t study spelling any more out of a spelling book. We use the “Scholar’s Companion.” It has a Latin word at the top and then the English words that come from it,

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like “Scribere” to write, and below it the noun “Scribe” and the verb to “Scribble.” We study Brown’s Grammar and it has more than 28 rules and I know them all now. And we have finished “Common things" which tells us about Science—why the steam comes out of the kettle, and what makes the clouds, and the rainbow, etc., and now we are going into a harder book called “Familiar Science.”

I know a little girl who has a stepmother, and she has one own child, and this step-child, and she dresses her own child very prettily but she makes the step-child wear nankeen pantalettes, and when she plays in the Parade Ground, the boys tease her and call her ginger legs, and she is very unhappy. It is a very sad case.

p. 36

I meant to write about the time three years ago, when I went with my father to Brady’s Daguerrean Gallery, corner of Tenth Street and Broadway, to have our picture taken.

My father was seventy-four, and I was seven. It is a very pretty picture, but people won’t believe he isn’t my grandfather. He is sitting down and I am standing beside him, and his arm is around me, and my hand hangs down and shows the gold ring on my fore-finger. He gave it to me at New Year’s to remember him by. I wore it to church and took off my glove so that Jane S., who sits in the pew next to me, would see it, but she never looked at it. We introduced ourselves to each other by holding up our hymn books with our names on the cover, so now we speak. Ellen and I are afraid of the sexton in our

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church. He looks so fierce and red.

Once in a while my sister takes me down to the Brick Church on Beekman Street, where our family went before I was born. We generally go on Thanksgiving Day. Dr. Spring is the minister. He married my parents and baptized all their children. Mr. Hull is the Sexton, and he puts the coals in the foot-stoves in the pews. Sometimes the heat gives out and the lady gets up in her pew and waves her handkerchief and Mr. Hull comes and gets her stove and fills it again. When church begins he fastens a chain across the street to keep carriages away.

A man used to stand in front of the pulpit and read two lines of the hymn and start the tune and all the people would sing with him. He had a tuning-fork, and used to snap it and

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it gave him the key to start the tune on, but that was before I was born. Afterwards they had a choir, and my mother and one of my sisters sang in it one time.

We are a musical family, all except my father; but he went with my sister to hear Jenny Lind in Castle Garden, and when she sang, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth,” the tears ran down his face. My sister took me too, and I heard her sing, “Coming Thro’ the Rye” and “John Anderson, My Joe,” and a bird song, and she is called the Swedish Nightingale, because she can sing just like one.

September 21.

My parents went up to Saratoga in August for two weeks, to drink the water. They always stay at the Grand Union Hotel. Some time

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they will take me. It takes my mother a long time to pack, particularly her caps. She has a cold that comes on the nineteenth day every August. She calls it her peach cold, and says it comes from the fuzz on the peaches she preserves and pickles.4 It lasts six weeks and is very hard to bear. It makes her sneeze and her eyes run, and it is too bad, for she has sweet brown eyes and is very beautiful, and when she was a girl she was called “the pink of Maiden Lane,” where she lived.

This summer I went up to my sister’s, my own sister, at Old Church. Maggy, my nurse, took me in a carriage from Hathorn’s Livery Stable on University Place, to Catherine Slip on the East River, where we get into a steamboat — sometimes it is the

4 Now known as Hay Fever.—Editor.

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Cricket, and sometimes the Cataline and we sail up the sound to the landing where we get off to go to Old Church, and then we get into the stage-coach to ride to my sister’s parsonage. I was so wild to get there and to see Ellen and the rest of them that I could hardly wait to have the driver let down the steps for me to get in, and put them up again.

I just love it at Old Church. We play outdoors all day; sometimes in the barn and the hayloft, and sometimes by a brook across the road behind a house where three ladies live who have never married, although they have a vine called Matrimony on their porch, and they are very good to us children and let us run through their house and yard. On Sundays it is so quiet we can hear everything they say, and

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one morning we heard Miss E. say, “Ann, do you think it is going to rain? If I thought it was going to rain I would take my parasol, but if I thought it was going to shine I would take my parasolette.”

They have a brother Augustus and his wife Laura who visit them sometimes. They live in New York, and the sisters make a great time over their visit. Then they open their best parlor. It has a thin, big figured carpet on the floor, and straw put under it, to make it soft, I guess. One day a stranger came along and asked the way to Old Church, and Mr. Augustus said, “you are right in the heart of the city.” And there are only a few houses. There is an old Capt. Reid who has a little house nearby, and he has a music box, and once in a great while we go there

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to hear it. The three sisters of Mr. Augustus are Charlotte and Angeline and Eliza. Miss Charlotte is going to be married. Miss Angeline has lost some of her teeth, and she keeps little pieces of wax on the mantel piece, and sticks them in when company comes. There are two big square stools covered with black hair cloth in their parlor, and ever so many funny old daguerreotypes standing open on the mantel piece.

Every year there is a fair at the Landing, and of course the minister has to go, and so my sister goes too and takes us. There is an old wagon in the barn beside the carriage, and sometimes we all pile in with my nurse and my sister, and go down to bathe in the salt water. I wish we lived nearer to it and could go in every day.


portrait of two children
Portrit of little Miss Plympton and her brother, showing the quaint style of children’s attire in the days of our grandmothers.—Editor.

p. 43

It is lovely on Sunday at Old Church. My brother-in-law is in the pulpit, and his pew is in the corner of the church, and there are two pews in front of us. On pleasant days when the window is open behind us, we can hear the bees buzzing and smell the lilac bush; and out on the salt meadows in front of the church, we sometimes, alas! hear old Dan F. swearing awfully at his oxen as he is cutting his salt grass, which it is very wicked of him to cut on the Sabbath. He has only one eye and wears a black patch over the other one, and Ellen and I are afraid of him and run fast when we pass his house. A nice gentleman sits in front of us in church and brings little sugar plums and puts them on the seat beside him for Katy (Ellen’s sister) to pick up, as she is very little

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and it keeps her quiet. One time this gentleman went to sleep in church, and his mouth was open and Katy had a rose in her little hand and she dropped it into his mouth, but he did not mind, because she was so cunning.

In the front pew of the three a family of two parents and three sons and a daughter sit. They are farmers, and they stomp up the aisle in their big hob-nailed boots, and the father stands at the door of the pew and shoves them all in ahead of him just as he shooes in his hens, and then he plumps himself down and the pew creaks and they make an awful noise.

The people in Old Church are very different from our church people in New York, but my sister says they are very kind and we must

p. 45

not make fun of them. Once a year they give her a donation party, and it is very hard for her for all the furniture has to be moved to make room for the people. They bring presents of hams and chickens and other things.

I could write lots about Old Church and the good times I have there. My sister’s father-in-law is the Governor of the State, and sometimes he and his wife drive over and spend the day with my sister and her husband, who is their son. Once when my sister called us to come and get dressed as they were going to arrive soon, Ellen said to me, “You needn’t hurry; he isn’t your grandfather.” She felt so proud to think he was Governor. But my father is her grandfather too, and he is much finer looking than the Governor; and

p. 46

my mother says she is very proud of my father for he stands very high in the community—whatever that means. One time I was very angry with my father. It was about the Ravels.

p. 47

drawing of carriages

October 1.

I stopped to get rested a fortnight ago and then I forgot about my diary.

I will now tell about the Ravels. They act in a theater, called Niblo’s Theater, and it is corner of Broadway and Prince Street. My biggest own brother goes there with some of his friends to see the plays, and he said he would take me to see the Ravels. But when my father found out about it he would not let me go. He said he did not think it was right for Christians to go to the theater. I went out on our front balcony and

p. 48

walked back and forth and cried so much I hurt my eyes.

Now I must tell about this brother of mine, for he has gone away off to California. He went last February with five other young gentlemen.

When he was twenty-one years’ old he joined a fire company, and it was called “The Silk Stocking Hose Company” because so many young men of our best families were in it. But they didn’t wear their silk stockings when they ran with the engine, for I remember seeing my brother one night when he came home from a fire and he had on a red flannel shirt and a black hat that looked like pictures of helmets the soldiers wear. He took cold and had pain in his leg, and Dr. Washington came and he asked my mother for a paper of pins and he tore off a row and

p. 49

scratched my brother’s leg with the pins and then painted it with some dark stuff to make it smart, and it cured him. Last year my brother had the scarlet fever. His room was on the top floor of our house, and when dear old Dr. Johnston came to see him my mother felt sorry to take him up so many stairs, but he said, “Oh, doctors and hod-carriers can go anywhere.” e lives on Fourteenth Street and his daughter comes to school with me.

Last week my sister took me to see Helen R. who is very sick with scarlet fever. They thought she would die, and she was prayed for in school, and now she is getting well. We went up in her room and she looked so funny in bed with all her hair cut off. She lives in Tenth Street.

p. 50

When my brother was a baby, before I was born, a cousin of my sister came from Buffalo to visit them in our house in Lafayette Place. She came by the Erie Canal, and after she arrived she was taken sick and the doctor said she had the small pox, and she got well. It was very hot weather too. And nobody caught it from her. My sister says when we have a duty to do we will be carried through it, and must not be afraid. All the servants left, and an old colored woman came to help who had had the disease. If you are vain enough to keep your hands from scratching your face, you won’t be marked by it. I am sure I should be, for I wouldn’t want to have my face all scarred up as long as I lived.

Before my brother went to Cali-

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fornia, he wrote in my album, and this is what he wrote:

“My sister, thou hast just begun

To glide the stream of Time,

And as it wafts thee onward

Towards thy glorious prime,

“Oh, may the fleeting moments

Which compose thy early years

Be so improved that future days

Will not look back in tears!”

My album is a beautiful book, bound in pink kid. I begged one of my brothers (not own) for one, and he gave it to me and wrote lovely poetry on the first page. I don’t understand it all, but it sounds like music. I will copy it here in my diary:


illus of city street
Niblo’s Garden, Broadway, Corner Prince Street.

p. 52

“Spotless is the page and bright,

By heedless fingers yet untarnished;

Ne’er the track of fancy’s flight

Has the virgin leaflet garnished!

“Sweet the impress of the heart

Stamp’d in words of true affection!

This be every writer’s part!

Love give every pen direction!”

October 15.

My eyes are so bad that I could not write in my diary, and Maggy takes me to Dr. Samuel Elliott’s, corner of Amity Street and Broadway, and he puts something in that smarts awfully. He has two rooms, and all the people sit in the front room, waiting, and his office is in the back room; and they have black patches over their eyes—some of them—and

p. 53

sit very quiet and solemn. On each side of the folding doors are glass cases filled with stuffed birds and I know them all by heart now and wish he would get some new ones.

When I was four years old I had my tonsils cut out by Dr. Horace Green, who lives on Clinton Place. My nurse asked him to give them to her, so he put them in a little bottle of alcohol and sealed it up, and she keeps it in the nursery closet, and sometimes she shows it to me to amuse me, but it doesn’t, only I don’t like to hurt her feelings. My grandmother gave me a five-dollar gold piece for sitting so still when they were cut out.

November 8.

My diary has stopped on account

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of my eyes, and I have not studied much.

Ellen is here, and we have had fun. We have been down to Staten Island to one of my sisters. She has ice cream on Thursdays, so we try to go then. One day I ate it so fast it gave me a pain in my forehead, and my brother-in-law said I must warm it over the register, and I did, and it all melted, and then they all laughed and said he was joking, but they gave me some more.

My brother-in-law is a dear old gentleman, but he is very deaf. He has a lovely place and every kind of fruit on it, and there is a fountain in front with pretty fish in it. The farmer’s name is Andrew, and when he goes to market, Ellen and I go with him in the buggy; and we always ask him to take us past Polly

p. 55

Bodine’s house. She set fire to a house and burned up ever so many people, and I guess she was hung for it, because there is a wax figure of her in Barnum’s Museum.

Maggy takes us there sometimes, and it is very instructive, for there are big glasses to look through, and you can see London and Paris and all over Europe, only the people look like giants, and the horses as big as elephants. Once we stayed to see the play. Maggy says whenever the statue on St. Paul’s Church hears the City Hall clock strike twelve, it comes down. I am crazy to see it come down, but we never get then at the right time.

My mother remembers when the City Hall was being built; and she and Fanny S. used to get pieces of the marble and heated them in their

p. 56

ovens and carried them to school in their muffs to keep their hands warm. She loves to tell about her school days, and I love to hear her.

December 10.

My eyes are better and I will write a little while I can.

Ellen and I went out shopping alone. We went to Bond’s dry-goods store on Sixth Avenue, just below Ninth Street, to buy a yard of calico to make an apron for Maggy’s birthday. We hope she will like it. It is a good quality, for we pulled the corner and twitched it as we had seen our mothers do, and it did not tear. Ellen and I call each other Sister Cynthia and Sister Juliana and when we bought the calico, Ellen said, “Sister Cynthia, have you any change? I have only a fifty-

p. 57

dollar bill papa left me this morning,” and the clerk laughed. I guess he knew Ellen was making it up!

Sometimes we play I am blind and Ellen leads me along on the street and once a lady went by and said to her little girl, “See that poor child, she is blind,” and perhaps when I get old I may be really blind as a punishment for pretending. But once Maggy was walking behind us, and she called out, “Hurry, children, don’t walk so slow,” only she always called us by our names out loud, Katy and Ellen. I don’t think grown-up people understand what children like—we love to dress up in long frocks, and I guess all little girls like to, for my mother did. When she was about twelve years old she put on her mother’s black lace shawl and walked out on Broadway in it, and

p. 58

her cousin, Katy Lawrence, met her in front of St. Paul’s Church and saw the shawl dragging on the sidewalk and my mother looking behind to see if it dragged, and she told my grandmother about it, and my mother was punished. I know it was wrong, but it must have been lovely to think that it really dragged and that people were looking at it. I am afraid I should have forgotten it was wrong, but I don’t know, for we all have an inward monitor, my sister says.

There is a bakery kept by a Mr. Walduck on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street, and they make delicious cream puffs, and when I have three cents to spare, I run down there right after breakfast, before school begins, and buy one and eat it there. On the corner of


illus of city street
Mother remembers when the City Hall was being built; and she and Fanny Sharp used to get pieces of marble and heated them in their ovens and carried them to school in their muffs to keep their hands warm.

p. 59

Broadway and Ninth Street is a chocolate store kept by Felix Effray, and I love to stand at the window and watch the wheel go round. It has three white stone rollers and they grind the chocolate into paste all day long. Down Broadway, below Eighth Street is Dean’s candy store, and they make molasses candy that is the best in the city. Sometimes we go down to Wild’s, that is way down near Spring Street, to get his ice-land moss drops, good for colds.

My mother says Stuart’s candy store down on Greenwich and Chambers Streets used to be the store in her day. When she was a little girl in 1810, old Kinloch Stuart and his wife Agnes made the candy in a little bit of a back room and sold it in the front room, and sometimes they used to let my mother go in and stir it.

p. 60

After they died their sons, R. and L. Stuart, kept up the candy store in the same place, and it is there still.

When my mother lived at 19 Maiden Lane, Miss Rebecca Bininger and her brother lived across the way from her, and they had a store in the front of their home and sold fine groceries, and their sitting room was behind the store. They were Moravians and they used to ask my mother sometimes to come over and sing hymns to them, and my mother says they were so clean and neat that even their pot-hooks and trammels shone like silver, and by and by Miss Rebecca would go into the store and my mother would hear paper rustling, and Miss Rebecca would come back and bring her a paper filled with nuts and raisins for a present.

Sometimes my mother gives us a

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shilling to go and get some ice cream. We can get a half plate for sixpence, and once Ellen dared to ask for a half plate with two spoons, and they gave it to us, but they laughed at us, and then we each had three cents left. That was at Wagner’s, on the other side of Broadway, just above Eighth Street. There is another ice cream saloon on the corner of Broadway and Waverly Place, called Thompson’s.

I hope Ellen will stay all winter. She is full of pranks, and smarter than I am if she is younger, and I hope we will have lots of snow. When there is real good sleighing, my sister hires a stage sleigh and takes me and a lot of my schoolmates a sleigh ride down Broadway to the Battery and back. The sleigh is open and very long; and has long seats on

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each side, and straw on the door to keep our feet warm, and the sleigh hells sound so cheerful. We see some of our friends taking their afternoon walk on the sidewalk, and I guess they wish they were in our sleigh!

Stages run through Bleecker Street and Eighth Street and Ninth Street right past our house, and it puts me right to sleep when I come home from the country to hear them rumble along over the cobble-stones again. There is a line on Fourteenth Street too, and that is the highest uptown.

I roll my hoop and jump the rope in the afternoon, sometimes in the Parade Ground on Washington Square, and sometimes in Union Square. Union Square has a high iron railing around it, and a foun-

p. 63

tain in the middle. My brother says he remembers when it was a pond and the farmers used to water their horses in it. Our Ninth Street stages run down Broadway to the Battery, and when I go down to the ferry to go to Staten Island they go through Whitehall Street, and just opposite the Bowling Green on Whitehall Street, there is a sign over a store, “Lay and Hatch,” but they don’t sell eggs.

p. 64

drawing of two ladies greeting a couple

January 2, 1850.

Yesterday was New Year’s Day, and I had lovely presents. We had 139 callers, and I have an ivory tablet and I write all their names down in it. We have to be dressed and ready by ten o’clock to receive. Some of the gentlemen come together and don’t stay more than a minute; but some go into the back room and take some oysters and coffee and cake, and stay and talk. My cousin is always the first to come, and sometimes he comes before we are ready, and we find him sitting behind the door, on the end of the sofa, because he is bashful. The gentlemen keep drop-

p. 65

ping in all day and until long after I have gone to bed; and the horses look tired, and the livery men make a lot of money.

Mr. Woolsey Porter and his brother, Mr. Dwight Porter always come in the evening and sit and talk a long time. They are very fond of one of my sisters. They keep a school for boys in 13th Street, and it is called Washington Institute, and one of my brothers goes to it. Mr. William Curtis Noyes is another gentleman who always calls us “cousin,” but we are not real cousins.

Next January we shall be half through the nineteenth century. I hope I shall live to see the next century, but I don’t want to be alive when the year 2000 comes, for my Bible teacher says the world is com-

p. 66

ing to an end then, and perhaps sooner.

January 14.

My mother said she could not afford to get me another pair of kid gloves now, but my sister took me down to Seaman and Muir’s, next door to the hospital on Broadway, and bought me a pair. I like salmon color, but she said they would not be useful. Strang and Adriance is next door to Seaman and Muir’s and we go there sometimes.

We get our stockings and flannels at S. and L. Holmes’ store, near Bleecker Street. They are two brothers and they keep German cologne. Rice and Smith have an elegant store on the corner of Waverly Place, and they keep German cologne too. We go sometimes to Stewart’s


photograph of people in front of a house
The Governor’s House at Norwalk. Sometimes he would drive over to Old Church to visit my sister and see his grandchildren.

p. 67

store, way down on the corner of Chambers Street, but I like best to go to Arnold and Constable’s on Canal Street, they keep elegant silks and satins and velvets, and my mother always goes there to get her best things. She says they wear well and can be made over for me or for Ellen sometimes.

My Staten Island sister gave me a nice silk dress, only it is a soft kind that does not rustle. I have a green silk that I hate, and the other day I walked too near the edge of the sidewalk, and one of the stages splashed mud on it, and I am so glad, for it can’t be cleaned.

On Canal Street, near West Broadway, is a box store, where my mother goes for boxes. They have all kinds, from beautiful big band boxes for hats and long ones for

p. 68

shawls, down to little bits of ones for children, and all covered with such pretty paper.

Maggy, my nurse, is a very good woman, and reads ever so many chapters in her Bible every Sunday, and she said one day, “Well, Moses had his own troubles with these Children of Israel.” I suppose she was thinking about the troubles she has with us children. I have a little bit of a hymn book that was given to one of my sisters (not own) “by her affectionate mother.” It was printed in 1811 and is called “The Children’s Hymn Book,” and some of the hymns are about children sleeping in church, and they are very severe, and I don’t have to learn them, but Maggy teaches me some pretty verses sometimes to sing. I will copy down

p. 69

one of the hymns about sleeping in church. It is called “The sin and punishment of children who sleep in the House of God.” This is the hymn:

Sleeper awake for God is here,

Attend His word, His anger fear;

For while you sleep His eyes can see,

His arm of power can punish thee.

This day is God’s, the days He blest,

His temple this, His holy rest;

And can you here recline your head,

And make the pew or seat your bed?

Jehovah speaks, then why should you

Shut up your eyes and hearing too?

In anger He might stop your breath,

And make you sleep the sleep of death!

p. 70

Dear children then of sleep beware!

To hear the sermon be your care;

For if you all God’s message mind,

For sleep no season will you find.

Remember Eutychus of old,

He slept while Paul of Jesus told;

In sleep he fell, in Acts ’tis said,

That he was taken up for dead.

Hear this ye sleepers and be wise,

And shut no more your slumbering eyes,

For ’tis an awful truth to tell

That you can never sleep in Hell!

There is another hymn called Hell, but my mother does not like me to learn it. She thinks it is too severe. We use the book “Watt’s & Select” in our church, and I know lots of them. It is the University

p. 71

Place Church. There is one hymn I have learnt, and in it, it says:

Like young Abijah may I see

That good things may be found in me.

and my sister says when she was a little girl and learned it, she always thought that when Abijah died, they cut him open and found sugar plums in him.

Sometimes when the sermon is very long, Ellen and I count the bonnets, to keep ourselves awake. She chooses the pink ones and I take the blue, and she generally gets the most, but some ladies wear lovely white ones of uncut velvet. Last winter I had a gray beaver, faced with cherry colored satin, and it had a row of narrow cherry colored satin ribbon

p. 72

rosettes like a wreath around it, and cherry colored satin strings to tie it under my chin, and I had a plaid woolen coat, and gray and white furs, and I left the muff in Randolph’s book store, and when I went back for it, some one had taken it and I never got it again.

January 20.

Last Sunday my mother let me go with Maggy to her church. It is called the Scotch Seceders’ Church. Mr. Harper is the minister. The church is in Houston Street. In the pew were her father and mother. They live in Greenwich village, and once she took me there, and her mother gave me elegant bread and butter with brown sugar thick on it.

Maggy has a sister married to a weaver, and his name is George Ross, and he is growing rich by buying

p. 73

land and selling it, and soon he is to be an alderman. Her other sister is Matilda, and she is my sister’s maid. Our other servants are colored people. The man waiter is colored, and we hear him asking our cook on Sunday if she is going to Zion or to Bethel to church, and her name is Harriet White, but she is very black.

We have a Dutch oven in our kitchen beside the range, and in the winter my mother has mince pies made, and several baked at once, and they are put away and heated up when we want one. My mother makes elegant cake, and when she makes rich plum cake, like wedding cake, she sends it down to Shaddle’s on Bleecker Street to be baked.

January 25.

This is my mother’s birthday and my grandmother came to dinner.


illus of city street
Broadway, South from the Park, showing American Museum, 1849.

p. 74

My mother is forty-nine to-day, and I hope she will live to be a hundred. She has a lovely voice and sings old songs, and plays them herself.

She went to a big school in Litchfield kept by a Miss Pierce, but was only there three months. Her father thought it was too cold for her to stay there. While she was there she boarded at Dr. Lyman Beecher’s and his wife died and her coffin stood below the pulpit, and he preached her funeral sermon, and my mother heard him. She says a Mr. Nettleton came there to preach once, and at breakfast he and Dr. Beecher had mugs of cider with pearl-ash in it, and they heated a poker and put it in the cider to make it fizz. It must have been horrid.

My oldest aunt went to Miss Pierce’s school, and got acquainted

p. 75

with a young gentleman who was at Judge Gould’s Law School in Litchfield, and she married him in 1811, and he became a clergyman, and Queen Victoria ordered him to come to Edinburgh to try to get an estate. That was in 1837. He took my aunt and their children and went away in a ship, and it took them ninety days to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and when they get the estate they will live in the castle, and my mother and I will go and visit them. My aunt was sixteen and my uncle was nineteen when they were married, and he was born in Beaufort in South Carolina, and had a good deal of money. I do hope they will live in the castle! This is called a law suit they are having to get the estate.

This aunt took dancing lessons when she was a girl of Mr. Julius

p. 76

Metz, and she danced the shawl dance and was very graceful, and she and my mother took music lessons on the piano, of Mr. Adam Geib, and he played the organ in Trinity Church, and he and his brother, George Geib, sold pianos. A young lady in Edinburgh told one of my Scotch cousins that she supposed all the Americans were copper colored, and he said, “Well, you know my father is a Scotchman, so that is why I am white.”

February 14.

I have had a lot of Valentines today.

Once when I was six years old I teased one of my brothers (not own) for a valentine, and he sent me one written on a sheet of lovely note pa-

p. 77

per with a rose bud in the corner. It is pretty long to copy, and I don’t know all it means, but it sounds tinkly, like music. This is it:

Little Kitty one day,

In her wheedling way,

With her kisses and smiles

And twenty such wiles,

Did a valentine request;

That somehow or other

My brain I should bother

And verses indite

In stupidity’s spite,

To comply with her simple behest.

Now, though it may seem

But a trifling affair

To fill up a ream

Of paper so fair

With words that will jingle in rhyme,

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Yet to put them together

In proper connection

And give them a meaning

And useful direction

Wit is quite as essential as time.

And, here, little Kitty,

Will please to observe

That speech, to be witty,

Must ever deserve

The aids of reflection and sense;

And careless, gay prattle

And voluble talk,

Though making much rattle

Will scarcely be thought

Very witty or worthy defense!

But as verse that is fired

With passion and truth,

From a fancy inspired

By beauty and worth,

Hath a charm that no heart can resist,

p. 79

So the thoughts of a mind

That’s calm, clear and pure,

When they utterance find,

In words plain and sure,

Are generally reckoned the best!

This brother is a lawyer, and now he has gone to California too, to a place called Eureka. He has a lovely voice, and so has my own brother too, who went to California last year, and they used to sing rounds with my sister.

When my mother sings one of her songs, she has to cross her left hand over her right on the piano to play some high notes, and make what my teacher says is “a turn,” and it is beautiful. This song is called “The Wood Robin,” and another one begins, “Come, rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer.” My mother knows

p. 80

ever so many songs, and some of them were sung before she was born. One of them is called “The Maid of Lodi,” and another is “The Old Welsh Harper,” and another “A Social Dish of Tea,” and a lot of others. The words to “The Maid of Lodi” are awfully funny. I will write them down:

I sing the Maid of Lodi

Who sweetly sang to me,

Her brow was never cloudy,

Nor e’er distent with glee.

She envies not the wealthy,

Unless they’re great and good,

For she is strong and healthy,

And by labor earns her food.

Between the Po and Parma

Some villains seized my coach,

And led me to a cavern

Most dreadful to approach.

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At which the Maid of Lodi

Came trotting from the Fair;

She paused to hear my wailing

And see me tear my hair.

Then to her market basket

She tied her pony’s rein;

I thus by female courage,

Was dragged to life again.

She led me to her cabin.

She cheered my heart with wine,

And then she decked a table

At which the gods might dine.

Among the mild Madonnas

Her likeness you might trace,

But not the famed Corregio

Could ever paint her face!

Then sing the Maid of Lodi

Who sweetly sang to me,

And when that Maid is married

Far happier may she be.

p. 82

And these are the words of “A Social Dish of Tea”:

Drowsy mortals, time destroying,

Watch in smoke the minutes flee,

Sweeter t’were the time employing

In a social dish of tea.

Rude and strong the foaming liquor

Smokers drink with noisy glee;

But good humor passes quicker

In a social dish of tea!

Cease, oh cease, each face distorting,

Swelling cheek and pouting lip.

Come where pleasure, calmly sportings [sic]

Blends with mirth the frequent sip!

And if smoke alone is charming,

With the ladies let it be,

Lovely vapor, care disarming,

Rising from a dish of tea!


illus of a bridge with buildings
The stone bridge at Broadway and Canal St. My grandfather used to say to his children that whoever was up early enough in the morning could ride with him in his gig as far as the stone bridge.

p. 83

My mother says this is more of a gentleman’s song.

April 12.

I have a school mate who lives across the street, and her name is Minnie B. Her father is a doctor, and she has a brother, Sam, and he is fifteen years old and big, and today I ran over to see her, and Sam opened the front door, and when he saw me, he picked me up in his arms to tease me, but he didn’t see his aunt Sarah who was coming downstairs, and when she saw him she was very severe, and said, “Samuel, put that child down right away, and come and eat your lunch.” I don’t dislike Sam, but I think he was very rude today, and I am glad his aunt Sarah made him behave himself.

Minnie B.; and Lottie G. who lives on the corner of University

p. 84

Place and Ninth Street, and Mary P., who lives on Ninth Street across Fifth Avenue, and I have a sewing society, and we sew for a fair, but we don’t make much money.

But four years ago there was a dreadful famine in Ireland, and we gave up our parlor and library and dining room for two evenings for a fair for them, and all my schoolmates and our friends made things, and we sent the poor Irish people over three hundred dollars. My brothers made pictures in pen and ink, and called them charades, and they sold for fifty cents apiece; like this: a pen, and a man, and a ship, and called it, “a desirable art” Penmanship. The brother who used to be so mischievous, is studying hard now to be an engineer and build rail-

p. 85

roads. He draws beautiful bridges and aqueducts.

One Fourth of July, my father got a carriage from Hathorn’s stable and took my mother and my sister and my brother and me out to see the High Bridge. It is built with beautiful arches, and brings the Croton water to New York. My brother says he remembers riding to the place where the Croton aqueduct crossed Harlem River by a syphon before the Bridge was built, and the man who took charge of it opened a jet at the lowest point, and sent a two-inch stream up a hundred feet.

My mother says when she was young everybody drank the Manhattan water. Everybody had a cistern for rain water for washing, in the back-yards. And when she lived in Maiden Lane, the servants had to

p. 86

go up to the corner of Broadway and get the drinking water from the pump there. It was a great bother, and so when my grandfather built his new house at 19 Maiden Lane, he asked the aldermen if he might run a pipe to the kitchen of his house from the pump at the corner of Broadway, and they said he could, and he had a faucet in the kitchen, and it was the first house in the city to have drinking water in it, and after that several gentlemen called on my grandfather and asked to see his invention. My mother says the Manhattan water was brackish and not very pleasant to drink.

My grandfather had ships that went to Holland and he brought skates home to his children, and they used to skate on the Canal that is now Canal Street and on the pond where

p. 87

the Tombs is now, and my mother says that the poor people used to get a rib of beef and polish it and drill holes in it and fasten it on their shoes to skate on. The Canal ran from Broadway to the North River, and had a picket fence on both sides of it, and there were only three houses on its side, and they were little white wooden houses with green blinds. My grandfather used to tell his children that whichever one would be up early enough in the morning could ride with him before breakfast in his gig as far as the stone bridge, and that was the bridge at Canal Street and Broadway.

My grandfather bought the lot for his new house from Mr. Peter Sharp, the father of my mother’s schoolmate, Fanny. The lot was 28 feet wide, but the house was only 25 feet

p. 88

wide, and there was an alley 3 feet wide that was used by the shop people to get to the kitchen at the back of the house.

This Mr. Sharp was an alderman and he was a Democrat, and my grandfather was a Federalist, and they used to exchange their newspapers so as to read both kinds, and sometimes when my mother was waiting for Fanny to go to school, at her house, Mr. Sharp would throw down the paper and say a very wicked word about the Federalists. Another alderman is Mr. John Yates Cebra, a cousin of my mother’s. He lives on Cebra Avenue on Staten Island, and once I went there with my sister in her barouche and the grays. The grays are beautiful horses.

p. 89

May 15.

I meant to tell in my diary that my sister taught me to sew when I was five years old, and to darn little holes in a stocking, and she thought I was funny to want to do the biggest hole first, but I did, so as to get done with it. She gives me the skeins of sewing silk to wind, and I love to get the knots out of them.

When my mother was a little girl she used to go from her house at 84 Beekman Street to Fletcher Street every Saturday, to stay over Sunday at her Grandfather Cebra’s, but before she went she had to do some hemming in the morning and do it neat and nice, or her mother would rip it out and make her do it over again. Her Aunt Peggy lived with her grandfather, and when she took my mother out to walk, there were

p. 90

only four policemen in New York then, and they were called Constables. They carried a stick like a broomstick, painted white and going up to a gilt point with a blue ribbon at the top, and they knew who everybody was and used to say, “Good evening, Miss Peggy, and how is your father tonight?” My mother’s grandfather was an Episcopalian, and had a pew in Trinity Church, and it was so cold that her Aunt Peggy carried a big martin muff and put my mother’s little feet in it to keep them warm. And she remembers old Bishop Hobart, and says he wore his hair in a queue, and spectacles with big brown wooden rims. But my mother’s father was a Presbyterian and went to the Brick Church, and he joined it when he saw some poor black men go up to the com-


illus of a long bridge
High Bridge.

p. 91

munion table while he sat still in his pew, and he felt he was very wicked. He died in 1817, and a Mr. Jarvis came and took a plaster cast of his face and then painted a portrait from it, and my Aunt took it with her when she went to live in Edinburgh in Scotland. Mr. Jarvis painted portraits of my cousin Annie’s father and mother too in New Orleans.

My grandfather had a ship called the Snow, and he used to tell people he had seen Snow in June more than three feet deep, and they thought he meant a snow storm, and they wouldn’t believe him, but he only meant his ship. He was full of fun. My own father had ships, too, as well as my mother’s father. And he gave some of his ships to our Government for them to use in the War of 1812. And one of them was called the

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General Armstrong, and the Captain was Samuel Chester Reid. And he was a very brave man, and he took his ship into the harbor of Fayal in the Azores Islands, to get some drinking water, and three British ships saw our ship and they fought us, and when Captain Reid saw he could not beat them because they had so many more men and guns than he had, he sank the General Armstrong, and all this fight kept the British from getting to the Gulf of Mexico in time to help the ships that were waiting for them, and so the fight helped to bring the War of 1812 to an end. This is all told in our American History book. And my father ought to be paid money by our government, and he sent Captain Reid to Washington to try to get it a few years ago, but President Polk would

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not let him have it—but they gave Captain Reid a sword because he was so brave.

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drawing of horsedrawn omnibus

July 15.

I have not written in my diary for ever so long, but now school has just closed for the summer, and I have more time.

We had a new study last winter, something to strengthen our memories. The teacher was a Miss Peabody from Boston, and she has a sister married to a Mr. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who writes beautiful stories. We had charts to paint on, and stayed after school to paint them, and one-half of the page was a country and the other half was for the people who lived in that country, and the

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country was painted one color, and the people another color, and this is the way it will help us to remember; for Mesopotamia was yellow, and Abraham, who lived there, was royal purple, and so I shall never forget that he lived in Mesopotamia, but I may not remember after all which was yellow, the man or the country, but I don’t suppose that is really any matter as long as I don’t forget where he lived. We did not study it long, but it was fun to stay and paint after school.

Professor Hume teaches us natural science, and every Wednesday he lectures to us, and one day he brought the eye of an ox and took it all apart and showed us how it was like our own eyes. And another time he brought an electric battery, and we joined our hands, ever so many of us,

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and the end girl took hold of the handle of the battery, and we all felt the shock, and it tingled and pricked.

Sometimes he talks on chemistry, and brings glass jars and pours different things into them and makes beautiful colors. He told us we could always remember the seven colors of the rainbow by the word, vibgyor.

Professor Edwardes has been teaching us French. He is a little bit of a man, with a big head, and gray hair and a broken nose, and when he recites one of La Fontaine’s Fables, he says, “L’animal vora-a-ace,” and rolls up his eyes until you can only see the whites of them. Mr. Roy comes from the Union Seminary on University Place, to teach us Latin.

Mr. Dolbear used to teach us writing, but now we have Mr. Hoogland.

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He wears blue spectacles and is very kind, and sometimes gives us 4 which is the mark for perfect, when we don’t deserve it. One day he was behind a row of desks next to the wall, and one of the girls pulled the chair out from under him, and down he went between two desks. It was a very cruel thing to do, but perhaps she did not mean to, but I’m afraid she did. 1 won’t tell her name. Both Mr. Dolbear and Mr. Hoogland can take their pen and make a few flourishes, and it will be a beautiful swan or an eagle on the outside of our copy books.

August 6.

This is my birthday again, and I am now eleven years old. School will begin again in September and

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so I will write some more in my diary while I have time.

I think I will tell about the school my mother went to.

The first school she went to was in Fair Street, and that is now Fulton Street, cast of Broadway. It was kept by a Mrs. Merrill, an old lady who took a few little children, each child brought her own little chair.

Then my mother went to Mr. Pickett’s, and she says that was the school of that time. He had two sons taught in the school. I will tell about it just as she has written it down for me.

“The school at first was at 148 Chambers Street, on the south side near Greenwich Street. Mr. Pickett’s residence was in front and the school buildings were in the yard


illus of a busy city street
Park Place, Broadway to Church Street, 1850

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behind, running up three stories, with a private side entrance for the scholars, and a well in the yard. The house was brick, painted yellow, but the school buildings were of wood. The first and second floors were for the boys, and the third for the girls, beautifully fitted up, and hardwood floors. On the wall in the four corners of the girls’ room were oval places painted blue, and on them in gilt letters were inscribed, Attention, Obedience, Industry, Punctuality. Mr. Pickett’s desk was in the center of the room. The desks were painted mahogany color, and put in groups of four, facing each other. Wooden benches without backs were screwed to the floor. On top of the desks were little frames with glass fronts for the copies for writing, and the copies were slid in

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at the sides. Some of them were, Attention to study, Beauty soon decays, Command yourself, Death is inevitable, Emulation is noble, Favor is deceitful, Good Humor pleases, et cetera. Quill pens were used, which Mr. Pickett made himself.”

Some of the girls who went to school with my mother had awfully funny long names. One was Aspasia Seraphina Imogene and her last name was Bogardus. She had ten brothers and sisters, and these were some of their names: Maria Sabina, Wilhelmina Henrietta, Laurentina Adaminta, Washington Augustus, Alonzo Leonidas Agamemnon, Napoleon LePerry Barrister. There were eleven children, and their mother named them after people she had read about in novels. It must have been funny to hear their

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nurse call them all to come to dinner.

My name is Catherine Elizabeth. I don’t like it very much. It makes me think of Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette and all those old queens with long names we study about in history, but my mother calls me Katy, and sometimes Katrintje, which is the Dutch for “little Katy.”

Some other schools in New York now are Mme, Canda’s on Lafayette Place, Mme. Okill’s on Eighth Street, Mme. Chegary’s, the Misses Gibson on the east side of Union Square, Miss Green’s on Fifth Avenue, just above Washington Square, and Spingler Institute on the west side of Union Square, just below Fifteenth Street. On the corner of Fifteenth Street next to Spingler Institute is the Church of the Puritans. Dr. Cheever is the minister, and he

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and the church people are called a long name, which means that they think slavery is wicked, and they help the black slaves that come from the South, to get to Canada where they will be free.

I must now write about our Christmas party. Every year before school closes for the holidays my sister gives me and my schoolmates a party. I wish I had curly hair, but I haven’t; and so the night before the party Maggy puts up my hair in curl papers and keeps them pinned in until the party, and it is horrid to sleep on them for they are so hard and lumpy and hurt my head, and then as soon as we get warm playing our games, the curl all comes out and my hair is as straight and stringy as ever. Ellen has lovely dark, curly hair. By and by, while we are play-

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ing our games the sliding doors into the dining room are shut, and the lights turned up bright there, and then we know the supper is getting ready. The lights shine so pretty through the glass panes, and show the birds of Paradise on the palm trees, and then the girls all gather near the doors so as to get in quick when they are opened. One of the girls has a pocket tied around her waist under her dress, and as soon as she gets her plate with figs and nuts and raisins and mottoes handed to her, when she thinks nobody is looking she turns up her skirt and dumps it all into her pocket, and then looks as if she had not had anything. No boys are invited to the party and only two gentlemen. One is Mr. Hoogland, our writing teacher; he wears blue spectacles, and the other

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is a second cousin of ours who has attacks, my sister says, but he never has had one at the party. I wish he would, as I have never seen anybody have an attack, but of course I don’t want him to suffer. The table looks so pretty at our party. My mother and my sister and Maggy fill the dishes with mottoes and heap them up high, so that there will be plenty for all my schoolmates, and last of all comes the ice cream and cake. Then all the girls say good evening to my sister, and thank her for the party, and go home, and no more lessons till after New Year’s day.

I think consciences are very troublesome, for if they tell you you are good you feel proud, and if they tell you you are doing wrong you are unhappy.

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I did a very wrong thing in school one day, but I didn’t mean to. I laughed out loud in prayer time. This is how it happened. It was raining and my cousin Annie had some money tied in her handkerchief to ride home with, and while my sister was opening school with a prayer, and we all had our heads down on our Bibles, Annie took out her handkerchief and somehow the knot got loose, and out flew the money, and rolled along the desks and all the girls looked up to see what was the matter and some of the Bibles slid onto the floor, and there was an awful noise, and before I knew it I had laughed out loud, and then there was an awful silence, and my sister stopped praying, and you could hear, a pin drop; and before we went to our classes my sister said she was as-

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tonished and grieved at our behavior and asked who had laughed aloud, and I said, “I did, but I didn’t mean to,” and she told me to take my books and leave the room. So I went down to my mother, crying, and she was very busy and asked me what was the matter, but I was crying so hard I could not explain it; so she said she would hear about it by and by, and she gave Maggy fifty cents, and told her to take me down to Barnum’s Museum. But I didn’t enjoy it very much, for I dreaded to meet my schoolmates after I had been punished.

My sister says because I am her little sister I ought to set an example to the school, but it is hard to be always having to be an example. Now I must resolve to try to do everything right in this new year to please her,


illus of a house
Fourteenth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, showing the old Spingler farmhouse just back of the present Spingler building on Union Square.

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for I know she loves me dearly, and often buys me things I want when my mother says she can’t afford it.

January 3, [1851].

School has begun again and Katy Stewart, who is one of my best friends, had such a time today in our reading class. My sister was hearing us and corrected Katy for saying “either” and told her to call it like “eyether,” but she wouldn’t, but kept on calling it “eether;” and finally when my sister asked her why she was so stubborn she began to cry and said, “I can’t say ‘eyether’ and ‘nye-ther,’ for my father said he would punish me if I kept on saying it.” (Katy has an uncle named Etienne, which is the French for Stephen, and she always pronounces it is if it was “Eighty-N,” instead of “Ate-yen”).

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Ellen can recite a lot of Scott’s “Lady of the Lake,” and so can I, and some of “Marmion.” A while ago my brother took some of us to Christy’s Minstrels. They are white men, blacked up to look just like negroes. As the last man went off the stage, he stumbled and fell flat, and then he said, “Sambo, why am I like one of Walter Scott’s pomes? Give it up? Because I’m de lay ob de last minstrel!” And everybody laughed, and one of them said, “Pompy, my wife had an awful cold, and de doctor told her to put a plaster on her chest; but she didn’t have no chest, so she put it on her bandbox and it drew her bonnet all out of shape.” And then we all clapped and laughed. They are awfully funny. They act on Broadway, down near Grand Street. Down in the

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Broadway Tabernacle Prof. Bradbury has all his singing classes meet once a year, and we go sometimes. There are hundreds of little girls. Half wear pink sashes and sit on one side of the stage and the other half wear blue sashes and sit on the other side, but they all wear white frocks. Once a year the people from the Blind Asylum have an anniversary in the Tabernacle. They are very musical and they sing beautifully and it is wonderful to see some of them play the piano. The Bradbury children sing, too; and every May, which is the month for all the anniversaries, the deaf and dumb come from their asylum, too, and they say the Lord’s Prayer with their fingers, and have dialogues together and their teacher tells us what they are saying. I wish Ellen and I knew

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the sign language; it would be handy for us to use in the country when we don’t want Katy to know what we are talking about.

Katy’s mother is my own sister, and she says we must not run away and leave Katy just because she is little, for she has no one else to play with. She is seven years old now and all the Old Church people love her and think she is so smart and cunning. There is one girl in Old Church who is a farmer’s daughter and goes right in among the cows, and one time when Katy was down at our house visiting, my brother joked her about Saramanda, and said, “Well, Katy, how is Saramanda now?” and Katy cried and said, “Sarah is a real nice girl, even she isn’t afraid of a bull.” And everyone at the table laughed.

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My brother-in-law has a horse called “Old Bess,” and Katy gets on her bareback, and only has the bridle, and rides to the landing to get the mail. She isn’t a bit afraid, but the people are afraid for her; and one day a lady said, “It beats all natur’ to see Katy ride that ’ere horse. She’s as cunning as a mink, and she ain’t no bigger than a pot-boggin.” But no one seems to know what a pot-boggin is.

My brother-in-law says he has a “bushel” in his congregation, because he has as many Pecks as make a bushel. I forget how many that is.

There is a lovely shady road at Old Church near the parsonage, and it is called Shady Lane, and we love to walk up there because it is so cool and pretty. Last year some people thought there was copper there and

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they started to work a mine; but there wasn’t any copper there, but a man was killed there by accident and he was a Catholic, and there wasn’t any Catholic priest anywhere near. And so an Irishman came and asked my brother-in-law to come and say a prayer and bury him, and when he asked the Irishman when the man had died, he replied, “Your riverence, he was killed yesterday, but he didn’t die till this morning.”

Whenever there is a funeral in the church, we children like to go to it, because there are so few things in Old Church to go to. Old Squire F. died after I had gone back to New York, but Ellen didn’t enjoy his funeral, because my sister made her wear a pair of bright yellow cotton gloves, that my mother had bought at a bargain. My mother has a

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friend who is Mrs. Bromley, and she lives corner of Irving Place and Eighteenth Street, and whenever they see in the newspapers that there is to be a bargain in some store they go together and get what they want cheap; but sometimes they get things because they are cheap, and then they find they don’t really want them, and then they give them away. So my mother put those ugly yellow gloves in the Christmas box with other things for my sister. I don’t wonder Ellen hated to wear them, but probably the people at the funeral thought they were the fashion. The ladies across the road from the parsonage don’t get their hats until my sister gets hers, and then they copy hers, only they don’t buy such pretty things to make or trim them with.

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Mrs. Bromley’s husband has been a sea captain and he had brought home lovely things from all over the world, all kinds of shells and carved ivory things from China and India, and once in a while they invite us up to spend the evening and show us all their curiosities, and once Mrs. Bromley said to me, “My dear, look with your eyes and not with your fingers.” She doesn’t like to have us finger the things. Once my mother took my little brother Charley there and Mrs. Bromley gave him some almonds to eat, and the next time he went there he seemed to be talking to himself, and she said, “What is the child saying?” and he was saying very softly “Almonds” and then louder and louder, “Almonds, A l m o n d s, ALMONDS!” and she laughed and gave him some more.


portrait of James Rivington
James Rivington, noted citizen of New York, after whom Rivington Street is named.

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When my oldest brother came home from boarding school once, my mother asked him if he was sure he had brought all his things home, and he said he had brought everything except his fine-tooth comb, and there wasn’t room for that, so another boy brought it for him.

March 13.

This is my father’s birthday. He is 78 years old, and we always celebrate it. We have a very old dinner set of India china, blue and white, and there is a big tureen for soft custard, and a dozen little cups with covers like it that stand around it on a tray of the same china, so among other things we had baked custards in these little cups. I love cup custards, and I ate two before dinner for fear there would not be any left for

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me, and then I had to eat another at dessert, for fear my sin would find me out, for they all know how fond I am of them, and it made me so sick I can never look at one again.

Two or three years ago Ellen and I had a fair at the parsonage. We had worked very hard for it, and made bookmarks and little thimble boxes of cardboard and bachelor’s pin cushions and we sold apples and some candy, but we didn’t have ice cream, so we had “Bonny Clabber” in saucers for five cents a saucer, and my brother Henry who went last year to Eureka in California was visiting at the parsonage, and he paid for ever so many saucers and said it was delicious, just as good as ice cream, and we thought he was so kind to eat so much of it, and we never knew until long afterward

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that he couldn’t bear it and didn’t eat a bit of it, but paid for it all for the sake of the fair. But he stood with his back to the window, and he had put a pail on the grass under the window, and when we were not looking at him, he threw out the “Bonny Clabber” into the pail and after the fair was over, it was given to the cow. He was full of fun and wrote me the valentine I asked him to send me.

In 1831 he walked all the way up to the White Mountains from Hartford with several of his friends and a dog named Sholto, and he wrote all about it and called it a “Pedestrian Tour of the White Mountains in 1831.” One of the party was Mr. Ogden Haggerty. When they got to the Crawford House they asked Ethan Allen, the landlord, where they could fish to find salmon trout,

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and he said, “Why, here is a gentleman who knows all about that and can tell you better than I can,” and it was Mr. Daniel Webster.

April 15.

I forgot to tell that I have two more little nephews, who were born three years ago this spring. One is my Staten Island sister’s and the other is my own sister’s; so he is Ellen’s little brother. He is named Rensselaer, for my father, and the other one is named Edward, for his father. Sometimes my sister comes up from Staten Island in her carriage to do her shopping and she leaves Eddie at our house until she gets through. He is a dear little fellow and we have a pretty daguerreotype taken of him and his sister Mary. She is very pretty and is

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grown up now and has beaux, and Eddie is standing by her side in the picture, dressed in a little plaid dress. When I grow up I think I shall have a beau, and his name is Sam B. and he lives across the street, for he sent me a valentine he painted himself, and it is a big red heart with an arrow stuck through it, and one of my school friends says that means he is very fond of me, but I don’t see much sense in the arrow. Last winter a boy named Hobart O. asked me to go to a lecture of the Mercantile Library Association with him, and I said I would be happy to go, but I knew my sister would not let me go in the evening alone with a boy no older than I was; but I wanted to be polite, but I didn’t go. The lecture was in Cooper Union, in Astor Place.

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In Old Church now I have two nieces, Ellen and Katy, and two nephews, Sherwood and Rensselaer. I don’t think my sister will have any more children, because she says the house is too small for the family now. Last summer my parents took me to Saratoga and invited Ellen to go, too. My brother-in- law said he would think about it. So one evening my sister told Ellen and me to go to bed, and after we had gone to bed, we heard her parents talking in the dining-room below. There was a stove in the dining-room, and a drum from it heated the study above it. And Ellen and I were wild to learn what they were saying, for we knew it was about Ellen going to Saratoga with me. So we took turns lying flat down in our nightgowns on the study floor right over the opening by the drum,

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to listen, but we got so sleepy we had to give it up, but they did not let Ellen go—I don’t know why.

We have a little prayer in four verses that we say before we go to bed and we want so to see which will get in first, that sometimes we rattle it off as fast as we can, and say, “Amen, I’m in first,” and Maggy says, “Ellen and Katy, God won’t listen to you if you pray like that.”

April 20.

Once a month in our University Place Church, the afternoon is given up to the catechism, and all the children go and we have to learn three or four of the questions and answers in the shorter catechism, and the answers repeat the questions all over again, and Dr. Potts and two or three of the elders hear us and we

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never know which question will come to us, so we have to know all three or four. I know as far as Question 50 now.

We have moved our pew now over to the south side of the church, and right behind us in the big square pew near the door is Dr. Kearney Rogers’ family, and the little girls are so pretty. They have curls all around their heads, and little rosy faces, and such pretty chinchilla furs. Maggie and Annie Strang come to our church and to our school, too, and so do Mary and Helen Beadleston, and their mother has just died and I went to see them. They live in Perry Street. My sister took me to see some other schoolmates, the Eno girls, Mary and Annie and Nettie. They live in an elegant house, but it is ’way down by the


two rebuses
Be Natural.
Be-Sieve-Ill.—be Civil
Charades made for the fair held in our library for the benefit of the Irish famine sufferers.

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Battery on Greenwich Street. It has a marble hall floor, but Mr. Eno says he will have to move uptown soon, as the sailors’ boarding houses are crowding him out. Libbie B. is another of my schoolmates, and her step-grandmother is Mrs. Sigourney and she writes poetry. Then there is Helen Thompson and she and Constance Minns are great friends and sit together by Julia Bulkley. Julia writes lovely poetry for her compositions and my sister says she has a talent for it. Constance wears a string of coral beads, and says she takes cold if she takes them off. Julia has a brother Lucius, and he comes for her if it rains and brings her overshoes and umbrella. Ellen broke some rule one time and she was punished by being sent into the room with the smallest girls, and had to

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sit by Louisa H., who wasn’t very bright, and she had a spyglass and lent it to Ellen and it comforted her. We had a new English teacher this year, Miss Abbie Goodell. Her father was the first American missionary to Constantinople, and she was born there. She came to America to be educated at Mt. Holyoke, and now she is to be our teacher. She has beautiful teeth and dark eyes and hair and a little bit of a nose, and her nose is always cold, in our winters; so one of the girls knitted a little mitten for it, and she wears it and ties it on around her head.

She came to America in a vessel loaded with figs, and it took her over two months to come, and she was so seasick all the way that she could not leave her bed, and she says the figs had worms in them, and she used to

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lie and watch them making cobwebs in the corner of her room, and the cobwebs kept coming nearer and nearer, and she was too sick to move, and by and by they got to her bed and to her hair, and when she got to New York, she had to have some of her hair cut off.

Her father stayed at our house the night before he sailed to goto Turkey and he had been travelling all over New York State to get money to take Bibles to the heathen in Turkey; but he got very little, and most of it was in big copper pennies. So when my father asked him how much he had got, he said, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil.” All the missionaries have to send their children home to be educated. Dr. Jonas King was our missionary to Greece, and he married a Greek

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lady, and they sent Mary home to be educated, and Mr. And Mrs. William W. Chester who live on the corner of Eighth Street and University Place took her to have her taught, and at one time she came to my sister at Old Church and she taught her how to make cake, and one day she made some and when my sister went to look at it she found Mary had not made any fire in the stove, and one time she made ginger bread and put mustard in it instead of ginger.

When my mother makes quince preserves she keeps out the poorest-looking pieces of quince and puts the peelings with them and boils them down and makes marmalade out of them, and it is so good on my bread and butter, and out of the cores and the seeds she makes bandoline for the hair. She loves to make nice

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things to eat. Sometimes when she makes crullers she sends a big bowl of them round to the Union Seminary in University Place for the students. They thank her very much and say it makes them think of their homes in New England.

May 10.

We have a big family. My sister says a big family creates a diversity of interests. She says that means that no two of us like exactly the same things, and that makes life more interesting. I don’t think she means things to eat. Well, if we do have a big family, there is always someone coming to visit us, and now we have had a cousin who has consumption and she is trying a cure called galvanism. Her doctor makes her wear a pair of soles in her shoes, and one

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is copper and the other is zinc, and it makes some kind of a current that may help her. Ellen and I tried to squeeze them into our shoes and pretend we had consumption and cough, but they were too big.

I like to go across the way sometimes and play with Georgie H. She is older than I am, and the other day when I was there, Maggy came over and said my mother wanted me to come home, and I could go back again. So I ran over and thought something good had happened, but my mother only said, “My dear, you have left your things all lying around. Now put them all where they belong, and you can go back.” Then I forgot again after a while and she did the same thing and she sent for me again. So now I put my things all away before 1 go. She

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says that is the way to make me neat and orderly.

Georgie has a friend who goes to Spingler Institute to school, and she took me up there one day and showed me four big paintings by a Mr. Cole, called “The Voyage of Life.” They are very fine. Sometimes on Saturday afternoons we go down to the American Art Union on Broadway to see the pictures, and now there is a Chinese Museum down on Broadway, and wax figures of Chinese people, and it shows how prisoners are punished. Some have a board around their necks, and others around their feet.

Mary L. has a white porcelain slate. It is the only one in school. We are all crazy to borrow it. Her sums are always right and look so

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neat and nice on the white slate. She wears a beautiful plaid silk apron, and now she has a big gold watch one of her brothers gave her. She has seven brothers and soon she is going ’way out to Cuyahoga Falls in Ohio to visit one who is a minister.

Ellen is all alone in her Latin class, so in her report she is always marked head, and that pleased her father very much until he found out she was the only one in it. Pretty soon we will have our vacation. I am going to visit a cousin in Rome. I have a cousin who is an old gentleman and he has a glass eye, and one day a little girl cousin said to me, “When you go to visit there, cousin N. will ask you if you wouldn’t like to see him take it out and put it in; and you had better not say yes, for I did, and it was dreadful.” So, sure


two rebuses
John Quincy Adams.

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enough, one day I was sitting by him with my sewing and he said, “Kitty, would you like to—” and I was afraid it was about the glass eye, and so I said very quick, “Excuse me a minute, Cousin N.; I must go upstairs and get my bodkin.” And I never came down until I heard him go out.

May 25.

I never told how I happened to be born in Lafayette Place. When Mr. John Jacob Astor came to New York, he hired a loft in my father’s business house in Front Street, to cure his furs, for he was in the Hudson Bay Company’s fur business. So my father got to know him very well, and in 1824 he told him if he would cut a street down through his land from Astor Place to Great Jones

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Street my father and Mr. David Hadden and Mr. DeForest Manice would all build houses there. So he did and he called it Lafayette Place, because General Lafayette was in New York then. Mr. Astor lived in a brick house on Broadway, near Prince Street, and he died there, and when he died Maggy took me to see the house, and it was all draped in black on the outside. We had been living in Bleecker Street, on the upper side. Mr. George Douglas and my father had built houses there together, and when we moved to Lafayette Place my father sold his house for $12,000 and made $3,000 by selling it.

One time my own sister Fanny, and Eleanor Hadden got into a stage to ride home from school, and they both knew they had no money; but

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they did it for fun, to see what would happen. So when they were getting out they pretended to be surprised that neither of them could pay, and an old gentleman asked them their names, and when they told him he said, “Oh, I know your fathers, children; I will pay for you.”

My father went to Albany in 1824 and got permission to start an insurance company, and he called it the Howard Insurance Company, and he has been president of it ever since, and my brother says he carried it safely through the big fire in 1835. In 1833, when my youngest brother was a baby, my mother was up one night with him, and she says there was a wonderful sight of falling stars, and it seemed as if all the heavens were ablaze, but it only lasted a minute. My father was very

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sick that night with cholera and they thought he might die, but my cousin, Dr. Dering, cured him with calomel.

I have been to a new dentist today. I used to go to Dr. Parmly, in Bond Street, and now I go to a Dr. Johnson, in Thirteenth Street. He is a little man, with a little reddish hair, and he never speaks a word except to say very slowly “O-pen your mouth wi-der, child.” There are ever so many dentists on Bond Street now, and Mme. Ferrero, the milliner, is there, too; but they are all on the lower side. She is a very expensive milliner, and some ladies give $20 for a bonnet. Her husband is Mr. Edward Ferrero, and he has a dancing school. Very nice families live on the upper side, and on the corner of Broadway Mr. Joseph Sampson has a big brick house, with a stable

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and grounds around it. On Broadway, facing Astor Place, are two granite houses, where Mr. Spofford and Mr. Tilestone live, and I go there sometimes to play with Pauline Spofford, and her grandfather is Dr. Spring. Dr. Spring has sixteen children. The ministers all wear white linen scarfs to funerals. They are fastened on the right shoulder and go across the chest and back and meet at the left hip and the ends hang down, and Mrs. DeWitt told my mother it made enough linen for all the family to wear. Dr. DeWitt is very absent-minded, and he went through Ninth Street one day with a boot on one foot and a worsted slipper on the other.

June 4.

Our minister lives at 27 Fifth Avenue, and his daughter was mar-

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ried yesterday, and my mother and sister went to the wedding. My mother wore a wine-colored organdie dress, with pink flowers on it, and a pink tulle turban, instead of a cap, and she looked lovely. All the University Church people were there and the bride and her husband are going off to Europe.

My mother heard old Dr. Bethune preach a sermon once about the woman who lost her piece of money and searched until she found it, and he said, “One thing is certain, my friends; she raised a great dust.”

Old Dr. Samuel Hanson Cox was a great friend of my grandfather’s, and when he was married my aunt invited him and his wife to tea; and he was very fond of using long words, and my mother says this is what he wrote to say they could not

p. 137

come “For the duties of housekeeping do prospectively vociferate their claims to tasks unwonted hitherto of earth-born aspect and transitory moment.”

My grandfather had a letter from old Dr. Cox, in 1812, and in it he said “Skinner is turning the world upside down, with his new doctrines,” and my father says that was the beginning of the New School Presbyterian Church. Dr. Skinner preaches in the Mercer Street Church.

Our family are all Old School Presbyterians. My mother’s mother goes to Dr. Philip’s Church, on Fifth Avenue and Twelfth Street; and Dr. Bedell preaches in the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street. We have so many churches

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all around us, we ought to be very good.

My father’s brother Jonathan went to Yale College, and his home was on Shelter Island, and he wrote a letter to his father from New Haven to ask how he would get home, and it was in 1774, and my father said I could copy it in my Diary; so this is a part of it:

New Haven,
March 29th, 1774.

Honored Sir:

I take this opportunity by Mr. Hathoway to write you a few lines. As the spring vacancy draws nigh, I begin to think of coming home, and I believe I shall want to bring home a pretty large bundle, as a good many of my shirts begin to wear out and some of my stock-


two rebuses

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ings. Together with these I designed to have brought home my cloath [sic] for a coat and some of my books, which I make no use of; which I fear I shall not be able to perform, as having nothing but a pillow case which I was put to great difficulty with when I went home last, unless I had a pair of saddle-bags or some other conveniency, or could get a passage directly home in some boat, tho I have not heard from you whether you designed to send a boat on purpose. I should be glad to hear whether it is worth while to bring all the things home which I have mentioned, or in what manner I shall act, and I remain with love to all, your loving and dutiful son,

Jonathan Nicoll Havens.

p. 140

My brothers said they wouldn’t like to have to ride all the way from New Haven to New York and cross to Brooklyn and ride all the length of Long Island on horseback with their clothes in a pillow case, but our uncle got to be a very distinguished man, and was in the House of Representatives in Congress.

June 7.

I had my picture taken yesterday, to send to my brother in California. It is not a daguerreotype this time. It is called an ambrotype. I have on a blue and white foulard dress, and it is made with a basque, and the basque is trimmed with blue satin ribbon about an inch wide, box pleated and quilled, and I have on my black lace mitts, and some Valenciennes lace in my sleeves, and my

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hair is braided and put around my ears. My mother’s wedding lace was Mechlin lace, and there were three yards of it gathered around the neck of her white Canton crepe dress. It was bought at Thomas Morion’s, on William Street, and cost eight dollars a yard. It would seem funny to go down to William Street now to buy lace.

We have a mahogany center table with folding leaves and a big carved ball underneath and claw feet, and it was made in 1825 for my mother by Mr. Henry Spies, who is a cabinetmaker, and one time he was sexton of the Brick Church. It cost thirty dollars. And in my nursery we have a mahogany bookcase that was made for my grandfather’s new house in Maiden Lane in 1811 by Mr. Mandeville in Fulton Street,

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and in the parlor we have a very old pier table of mahogany with a white marble top and a mirror underneath, and it stands between the windows, and above it is a very old mirror in a gilt barrel frame, and my aunt bought them both at Mrs. Lewis St. John’s Auction in Varick Street. My mother says those streets were very genteel streets when she was young and we know some people who live on Varick Street now.

My sister sent me down with Mme. Kohly, our French teacher, today to Mr. Roe Lockwood’s bookstore, to order some books for her. She gets all her school books there and her books for prizes. Everybody goes there to get nice books and you see all your friends looking over the books. It is down below Lispenard Street. I love Mme. Kohly. She

p. 143

has a daughter named Caro. They are Catholics and Caro will not eat any meat in Lent, and her mother says, “Caro, eat your meat. You know Father Reilly said you could eat it, and the doctor says you must;” but Caro won’t eat it, and says she is going to be a nun when she grows up. Mme. Kohly has a brother living in Switzerland and he has just died and left her a great deal of money, and she is going over there to live. She has a sister in New York and they are rich and have three sons, and she says, “Katy, when you grow up you must marry one of my nephews, and he will make a good Catholic of you;” but I am very sure my father would not let me marry a Catholic. I expect I shall marry somebody by the time I am

p. 144

eighteen, for I don’t intend to be an old maid.

When my mother went to Miss Pierce’s school in Litchfield in 1815 there was a Mr. Catlin who kept the hotel, and he had a daughter Flora who was very pretty, and the students in Judge Gould’s Law School used to serenade her, and her father said, “Yes, Flora’s assassinated most every night,” and he means serenaded. And he wore an old-fashioned seal on his watch chain, and he said, “I wear it for the antipathy of the thing,” but he meant antiquity. My mother says when she was in Litchfield she boarded at Dr. Lyman Beecher’s, and they kept Saturday night instead of Sunday night, and when she went to the post-office she had to hurry home before the sun

p. 145

went down, but on Sunday night they could take out their knitting; and all they had to eat on Sunday was a piece of apple pie and a mug of milk. I have a friend and sometimes she spends Sunday at her grandfather’s who is a minister, and once she was in the garden, and when she picked a rose she heard the study window open softly, and her grandfather said, “My child, have you forgotten what day this is?” They keep the Sabbath very strict in Connecticut.

My mother says Mr. Pickett who kept the school in New York I told you about, was very severe, and he used to thunder out “Order is Heaven’s first law, and order I’ll have in my school,” and slam down his ruler on his desk, and the scholars were dreadfully afraid of him.

But he kept a good school, and

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my mother says that is where she got such a good memory. She recited over six hundred lines from “Thompson’s Seasons,” and I have got the book with Mr. Pickett’s mark on it. When she recited it, she said “Dread winter comes, and reigns tremenjous o’er the conquered year,” and Mr. Pickett said, “What! What! Miss Catherine! Tremenjous? There is no such word in the English language!” I guess my mother never forgot to say tremendous after that!

She knows ever so many pieces of poetry and repeats them to us children. One is about a little girl who was cross to her sister and the sister died, and then how sorry she was. We cannot help crying when she tells it to us. I will copy it down. It may help some little sisters not to quarrel. I don’t know who wrote it.

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This is it:


Oh, fie, Amelia, I’m ashamed

To hear you quarrel so;

Leave off those naughty ways, my child,

Go play with Frances, go!”


“I won’t, mama, the little minx,

May play with whom she can;

And, while I live, she shall not have

My waxen doll again!

“With any other little girl

I would be glad to play;

But I don’t love our Frances, ma,

I wish she’d go away!”


“Poor little Betsy Smith, she sits

Day after day alone;

She had a little sister once,

But now she’s dead and gone.

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“Betsy was quite a fretful child,

And when she used to play

With pretty little Emmeline,

They quarreled every day.

“One day her sister said to her,

‘Don’t, Betsy, be so cross;

Indeed I am not well today,

And fear I shall be worse!’

“ ‘Not well? Oh, yes, you’re very sick!

I don’t believe it’s true!

You only want to coax mama

To make nice things for you!’

“But Emmeline grew worse and worse,

Till she could hardly speak,

And when the doctor came he said

She would not live a week!

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“And then it rushed o’er Betsy’s mind,

How wicked she had been;

Her cruel treatment of that child

She never felt till then.

“Over her sister’s bed she hung

With many a bitter sigh,

And threw her arms around her neck,

And begged her not to die!

” ‘Forgive me, Emmeline, or else

I do not wish to live!

Oh, speak, dear sister, speak once more

And say you will forgive!’

“This poor, weak, suffering, dying child,

Just ope’d her languid eye,

And raised her head and feebly said

‘Dear Betsy, do not cry!’

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“And now she goes away upstairs

To sit and weep alone;

She does not want to laugh or play

Since Emmeline is gone!”


“How dull I feel! Come, Frances, dear,

Come, let us go and play!

And you may have my waxen doll,

And keep it every day!”

N. B.—My mother has read my diary and corrected the spelling, and says it is very good for a little girl. She has written down her memories of old New York, for me, and she was born in 1801, and can remember back to 1805, some things.

p. 151


These rules were read aloud to the assembled scholars—from 80 to 90 in number usually—once a year only, at the opening of the school in September.—Editor.

1. Every young lady must be in her seat at 9 o’clock with the Bible in her hand, in readiness for the opening exercises of the school. Each one should bow her head in a reverential manner during prayer.

2. Each scholar is desired to familiarize herself with the course of study, that immediately after the opening of the school, she may commence preparation for her first recitation. All unnecessary questions both to teachers and scholars may thus be avoided.

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3. All talking and laughing, note writing, conversation by signs, eating, and leaving of seats, are entirely forbidden during study and recitation hours.

4. Loud conversation, romping, or rudeness of manner must not in any case be indulged in, during the recess. This rule applies also to entering the house in the morning and leaving it after school.

5. Perfect neatness in person is expected of every young lady. No papers or crumbs must be thrown upon the floor. No pencil or other marks must be made upon any part of the house. Desks must not be cut or injured by marks or otherwise, and they must be arranged in perfect order. Books should be carefully covered and carefully used, and

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not left to lie upon the outside of the desk at any time.

6. In passing to recitations the young lady who sits nearest the door will go first, and in returning the same rule will be observed.

7. No tardiness at school, or failure in lessons, will be excused, or permission given to leave before the close of school, except by a written note from one of the parents of the young lady.

8. For every perfect lesson the scholar will receive four good marks. Two entire failures in answering, or general imperfect answers, will incur a forfeit mark.

9. Good marks will be given for punctuality, neatness, order, and gen-

p. 154

eral excellence, and disgrace marks will be incurred for tardiness, disorder, improper manners, deficiency in studies, and want of amiability.

10. At the end of each month, the marks will be counted so that each one may know her standing in her classes. Reports will then be sent to the parents.

11. School will close at a few minutes before 2 o’clock, and when the bell is rung, the young ladies may arrange their books silently for leaving, and remain at their places until they receive permission to leave, and then the young lady who sits nearest the door in each class may lead the way.

12. Finally, we desire that the rules of politeness and good breed-

p. 155

ing observed in the best regulated society, will uniformly be practiced here. And as the Bible is the great rule of duty, for both teachers and scholars, so it is hoped that that truth and virtue and Christian kindness and courtesy, which it inculcates, will, at all times, be the governing principle of conduct to all the members of this school.

p. 156


A Song of the Eighteenth Century.

Stay, sweet enchanter of the grove,

Leave not so soon thy native tree,

Oh, warble still those notes of love,

While my fond heart responds to thee!

Rest thy soft bosom on the spray,

Till chilly Autumn frowns severe,

Then charm me with thy parting lay,

And I will answer with a tear.

But soon as Spring, enriched with flowers.

Comes dancing o’er the new drest plain,

Return and cheer thy native bowers,

My robin, with thy notes again!

music for The Wood Robin
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