VOLUME I (1833-1837)
VOLUME II (1838-1865)

The Jonson Diaries: VOLUME I (1833-1837):

Excerpt of the Week (01.20.03)

April 1863 -Review ...Got my photo taken .. . . Lost all my babin bees in Royalton.. .Kept National Fast the 30th .... on the whole not so bad a monthày 1 . Whisky... before bed. Plays chess

May 3, 1863 Reflecitons on my dperession: amuse myself by mingling with Republicans

May 7, 1863 -From P.O. to Hawks's : in front a crowd of Copperheads gloating over news. H.K. Rice there who would not admit we were ever repulsed. I owned up and inwardly cursed God and came off home at 3 pm ...dreadful army news. Defeat comes of the army being demoralized by McClelands defeats and delays--enoucraged the enemy immeasurably ...more>>

See Volume II for more


(04.29.02) January 17, 1836. No Meeting at Unitarian chapel. Poor devil of a preacher Patterson away getting married. This is the 3rd Sunday he has been absent for that purpose. A parson indulge the fleshly appetite! Fie! Fie! Diffucult to keep fire in stove over night. Office tender fails me. My pew was fitted up last week and in better style than any other in the chapel.

(04.22.02) January 16, 1836. My mouth is cankered (Ulcerated) I am scarcely able to eat...Am reviewing law studies, and reading "The Decline and Fall..." ..Thank God for Gibbon....

(04.16.02) January 15, 1836. In Buffalo, David E. Evans..from Batavia.. I am becoming restless...I am disappointed in by bedroom. The air from the narrow court is confined and will be bad in summer. It is affected by emanations from the hotel kitchen. And then it is easily scalable from the roof below.

(04.01.02) January 13, 1836 My pew upholstered. Marriage-I am afraid to marry. Being deemed well-off, mothers and their daughters even condescend to throw themselves before me. I am persecuted. Shall I wear a martyr's crown? No, no, good ladies, I am not for the yoke. I can not even love; for about 15 years ago I had a touch of the passion and they say it is a disease that can be had but once......Alas, there can be no mere friendship between a young unmarried man and a young unmarried woman.


(08.20.01)October 21, 1835: "Boston mob -made up of in good part of merchants and other loi-disant respectable people attacked a meeting of the Female Anti-Slavery Society, and dragged its president, Mr. Garrison, through the streets with a rope round his body, threatening him with tar and feathers, to the mayor, who to protect him, sent him to jail till the next day. Mr. Garrison has been induced temporarily absent himself from Boston this baseness to pacify slaveholders.
Utica mob. A meeting at Utica, N.Y. to form a State Anti-Slavery Society broken up. Dem. press thrown down. Mtg. adjourn to Peterboro, Madison Co., at invitation of Gerrit Smith, who becomes an Abolitionist, having theretofore been a zealous Colonisationist.


(03.26.02) October 18, 1834. LLO. Katie buried at 10 a.m. At her funeral. Wrote a short notice of katie's death for Bufflao Patriot. Katie was about 5 or 6 yrs. Old, perhaps not so old. Not so pretty as active and precocious "Smart"...... the result of the unrestrained undulgence of a rich father..?January 11, 1836. .."Wrote to wm. T. Merrditt, N.Y., saying Burrell had made new offer of $375 a lot for 5 lots, to build...

(02.18.02) Oct 17, 1834. LLO. I closed yesterday with "hurrah for to-morrow!" It should have been "Alas for to-morrow." How little do we foreknow what a day, a night may bring forth. LITTLE KATIE IS DEAD! She died last night. As I went into breakfast this morning, I asked Mrs. Brace, "How is Katies this morningm," "Katie, she replied, is dead and laid out." Poor Katie, how shocked I am! That I should not have known till last evening that thou wertt ill! That I should not have seen thee during thy illness! That for the last few weeks I should have noticed thee so seldon! ...Thy little lips are cold, Katie. They will never call or kiss me more! Thou has no sincerer mourner than I am, Katie..... (and about 8 more sentances are in the same vein)... "thy poor father thy only nurse! He and thy little brother only with thee. How deeply do I pity them all. Thy father loved thee as his youngest and pte. Poor Sally Ann, now travelling in the Provinces, what a blow to her .....thy sisters who love thee see, should be all away....

(02.10.02) Oct 16, 1834. LLO. Study. In reading rooms and read up newspapers and conversed there with "filthy" mechanics about Erie Co. nominations. The National republicans hatte their allies the Anti-Masons, worse if possible than the Tories (Democrats). It is a heartless faction methings. Katie Thompson ill. Hurrah for tomorrow.

(01.27.02) Oct 15, 1834. LLO. Studied Co. Convention, Sat. Wm. A. Mosely nominated for Senator. His Buffalo soubriquet is "Dandy Moseley." He is a lawyer of fair talent and fine person. I do not think Mr. M. trusted me well in requiring me to undergo before him as one of the Com. to examine me for admission to the County Court, an examination in form and at his office, after Mr. Geo. P. Barker had examined me and he and Mr. Millard Fillmore, The two other gentlemen of the committee, had reported in favor of my admission, and so informed Mr. Moseley. It was not necessary that he should sign the report unless he chose to do so. I should have been admitted without. I may do Mr. M wrong, but I have thought that he was actuated by one of two motives, both unjustified: either by a desire to harass me; or a desire to show off to his own learning at my expense. His compliment in saying to Mr. Fillmore, by way of an apology, that after having had to examine Homer J. Redfield, of Eden, he wanted to compensate for himself by examining a gentleman who was qualified for admission, hardly made up for an hour of suffering, in nervously blundering and listening to his dissertations. Mr. M. will make a fair senator.

(01.20.02) Wed. Sept. 17, 1834 ..LLO...Took wine..General muster of Militia in Buffalo... My set of boarders at Brace's possess little refinement and know not how to converse nor even how to chat. Their attempts at wit and humor are practical jokes and horseplay, interspersed with city scandal and course railling of one another. Capt. Thompson is their bad example. He is rich and all defer to him, and the more that he is in his own house....I am made nervous and very uncomfortable at time...The poor Capt. is not a bad meaning man but with our wit, he is ever attempting wit and personal wit, the worst kind.. at that. In a work, he is a bore. His poor children whom he loves suffer first and worst...This is Wednesday and on Wed. we have Sunday's N.Y. mail - of course no newspapers ..none published on Sunday. Hence Wed. are to me almost as a great a bore as poor capt. Thompson..... To a civil question, Mr. Peter B. Porter, Jr. gave me an uncivil reply. Little Peet has a limp in his feet and a limp quite as great in his face...

(01.13.02) Sept. 16, 1834. LLO Much business.... The future for me! Hope is alive again!... Study. Oratory, German, French.... Read to Miss Sophia Whitney...She is poor but respectable is perhaps 19 or 20, is petite but pretty and vivacious. We played cards and chatted... I am not at ease in the presence of 2 females or more whom I like and who like me...I know few Buffalo fashionable young ladies and the understandings of those few I have not the highest respect for.. I think I could manage them one at a time But I do not go into general society...Miss Whitney who is scholarly, and I have agreed to meet..weekly for mutual improvement. Everything tending to courtship or lovemaking to be excluded.

(01.06.02) Sept 15th, 1834. LLO. ...At 7 this morning was buried young Joseph Wilcox, whom I had some acquaintance with and who is said to have been a talented promising young man. Less than a week ago he pleasantly and respectfully asked the loan of a newspaper from our office and I entrusted him with the office key to procure it.. He died of cholera...was a student in Geo. P. Barker's office.. Died in Clarence whither he went to nurse a sick friend, I am told. ... Young Wilcox was the maternal son of an officer in the British Army of that name in Buffalo in the War of 1812 of a widow Moyer, an American woman, who survived her son and lived on Pearl St. It was said that the sudden death of his father prevented a marriage between his father & mother before his birth. ...

(12.30.01) Sept 14 1834. Sunday. "Up betimes & usual careful toilet. Studies.
Forenoon...about 10 1/2.. went to Catholic (St. Louis) Church on Main St. Was seated before and within 6 ft. of the Altar by the clerk. A Frenchman who accompanied me in was seated by my side. As our position incommoded the passersby, I left the place and by another sexton or clerk, was shown into a cushioned slip on one side of the pulpit. An immense crowd. A jam. House small. As usual, exercises in Latin, German, French and English. Priest an old grey headed venerable looking man. Most of his discourse in English, in compliment to me my vanity said, since few others in the audience understood English, and he seemed to direct his discourse to me. Broken English but easily understood. He exhorted his people to the practice of Temperance,
Cleanliness and Alms-giving. Bid them contribute to the fund for the finishing of the church. "There is," said he "poison within and all around you. The very air you breath is poison. Cholera still lingers in the midst of you. Will you persist to drink poison to loss of body and soul? Eschew whiskey. Give to the church and to one another. Lime your houses and yards and cellars. And purify you diseased souls too by love." Manner declamatory and animated and gestulatory. Attention riveted. His native tongue, German;but he speaks French too, brokenly. After we left the church my French companion said laughing, "You be better Cattoleek as me, Mr. Jonson."
"Why so?" "De rest give one cent, you twenty-five, I none." "But ah, monsieur, I am no Catholic for all that." The worship is imposing. The minds of votaries for 1800 years and more have been chained by it, as the gally-slave is chained. Protestantism is only a less evil. I wish Catholicism in this country to hold its own among the Protestant sects. We must favor a theological balance of power, or we liberals are lost. We shall be crushed between the upper and nether millstone of intolerance. Gall and wormwook to Calvinists especially is the spread of Catholicism in the U.S. But I am not sorry. Intolerant they both are, nay bloodthirsty as of old.
But Liberalism and Law restrain them. When will the world be rid of them.
Not as is my custom from politeness, whatever the faith or church. In the afternoon from 3 1/2 to 5 at Unit Chapel where as usual a babyish, swishy-swoosh discourse. Called on Miss Sophia Whitney. Studies...Latin, French, German....

(12.23.01) September 12, 1834 ..." LLo. Hair cut 13....business in office, much... Evening, 3 games of cards at boarding house.... My dandiprat friend True P. Tucker at tea.. crestfallen from imprudent airs of last winter... Poor Tucker is rather to be pitied.

(12.23.01) September 11, 1834 ..." LLo... work on Latin...Cholera subsided to a single case a day... Fr..German...Letter from W. Steill Brown from Shelbyville (original).

(12.16.01) September 10, 1834 ..."But ah, this Buffalo... that I could leave it forever. This spot stinks, so streets and people! .... am nervous again... Among dead of cholera this season are major A. Andrus, att'y and late mayor, wife and child, at his house on Hickory Street., north of Batavia. E.J. Roberts, editor, told me that on visiting the house while the family were ill, he found the cellar half full of stagnant water, there being no sewers yet in that part of the city. A. Built on the eastern extremity of his many acres of land, in order to make it more salable, and lost his life thereby. A handsome wood house. .... [This excerpt also shows a Letter to W. Steill Brown, Shelbyville, Tenn. Sept 10, 1834 in archives at Dartmouth, this has not been transcribed].

(12.10.01) September 9, 1834 ..."LLo Cholera 9 deaths from noon to noon. No new cases.Out of temper with with printer's devil Bradford A. Manchester and with Capt. Thompson who, though he is sometimes amusing and is not bad natured, is ignorant of time and place, and at times annoying to children and friends, never strangers. He "picks on" everybody he fears not, and makes himself disagreeable. He is not without a certain faculty for fun, but the poor man being uneducated and unlettered, has no other resource but business and jokes, to talk about and amuse with. Had to scold maid also for short duty. Studies...

(12.01.01) September 8, 1834 ..."LLo. Cold. Rainy..study law, and German. Cholera 8 deaths from noon to noon... It is said not over half the deaths have been reported.
A long business conversation at office with Col. Currier, Holland... Evening, for exercise walk room, and at Boarding-house hop a chair with Capt. Thompson. Read portions of German New Testament and Fr. N. Testament.


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A Scan of the actual pages of Jonsons diary the passages were transcribed from. (Collection of E.H. Powell). The actual volumes are held at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

(11.26.01) September 7, 1834 ..."Have drunk 2 wines. I slept last night in Brace's boardinghouse and was stunk into figets by an old bedded bed bug odor in the bedroom, which had not been aired probably for a month. Rose at midnight, under the impression I was in a cholera hospital. Aired room and fell to Spanish which studied violently an hour and a half, and then fell asleep, and forgot the great scourge. I will live or die, sleep in my own room and bed tonight... Finished reading marked passages in Brown ...letter Rev. W.S. Brown.. to be copied... At Unit Ch..... afternoon...at 4 Rev. Reese buried. Funeral numerously attended by citizens and clergy without distinction of sex or sect... Mr. Reese a true fellow laborer in the cholera field and all seem to homage his worth. He devoted himself to the sick and dying... whole number of deaths reported 151.

Read at boarding hospital several chapters in French testament and a portion of them by Capt. Sheldon Thompson who says that when a boy he picked up some spoken French which he has not forgotten.

(11.18.01) Mon. Aug.18 1834......... Since June 1st have read last vol. of Story's comm. on the Constitution, and about half the 2nd vol. of Blackstone's Com.

(11.12.01) Sunday. Aug.17. 1834 "Mrs. Brace, my landlady, and her dau. Laura, treat me with less respect than formerly. partly, I suppose because they have now borders of higher position, and partly because I pay less attention to Laura than to her little friend Miss Sophis Whitney and my sometime fellow boarders are at Brasco's. I have romped with them before and after meals as with younger sisters and have shown them little brotherly attentions, nothing more. But latterly, as Miss ". is poor and an orphan I have though attentions due her rather than Laura who needs more then not..

(11.12.01) Sat. Aug.16. 1834 LLO.. G rman Gram.42, paid for rewashing linen 25...Salts and Jamaica spirits to guard against cholera 31.. Took bath 25.

(11.05.01) Friday, Aug.15. 1834 LLO. "Poor Clapp! Deprived of the melanmcholy satisfaction of seeing and sympathising with you in your illness and of attending your remains to the final resting-place, I have proposed to write to Mr. Harding and other young men who knew and esteemed you in placing a monument over your grave, which I shall not leave unvisited....

(10.28.01) Thurs. Aug. 14. 1834 LLO. Rec'd for drawing deeds & mortgages $16. from Ambrose & others. Mr. Clapp returned to Buffalo some months ago from the East. he called at my boarding-house, Brace's, twice, when I was not there and left his card. Soon after meeting him on the street I invited him to my office and to take a seat with me at church. Sun. Aug. 20th, he accompanied me to the unit. Ch. and sat with me. It was the Sunday before his death that I saw and spoke with poor Clapp for the last time. Mr. Harding, the portrait painter was his fellow boarder, and was I believe, attentuive to him.

It seems he had been ill of diarrhoea for some days previous to the fatal attack. Friday morning, vomiting and spasm's set in, and at 6 o'clock Sat. morning he was a corpse. He was of course, buried the same day. Till the spasms came on, lulled into security by authorities and doctors, he laughed at the danger and even at the idea that there was cholera in the city; but from the torment of the attack, he was hopeless of recovery, and perfectly retained his senses to the last.

(10.22.01) Aug. 13. 1834 LLO. Pd. 3 shavings 19. Honing razors 25.....
Artemus Clapp was clerk in Mr. Crane's store in Buffalo and was formerly clerk in Thomas' store in Canton, Mass. August a year ago, he dined with me, travelling with a companion West and bringing me a slip from Thomas with my name and number on it. On his return he called on me 2 or 3 times, before going East.

(10.14.01) August 12, 1834:
Tues...LLO. Buffalo is but a large gossiping village. In it, I have no kindred ties whatever... God knows my isolated position is wretched enough at times. Refinement is not tolerated, but is a thing to laughed at. Then there are super added, reflection, remorse. Just now Cholera is a guest and death is darkening the reeking streets People are dying all around me. I may not have long to stay in the place. Death or my better destiny may remove me.
In view of poor young Clapp's death, what shall I say of the physicians and Board of Health? Why that the Cholera had been in the city nearly 3 wks. before they let the dreadful fact be known. Nay, during all that time, they strenuously denied it was here. By neglecting to cleanse the city and exciting a rash of confidence, they are guilty, damn them, of the death not only of this excellent young man but of many others.

(10.07.01) August 11, 1834:
LLO... Rev. Wm. Steill Brown writes me from Shelbyville, Tenn... 14 ds [doctors] on way.
Oh the melancholy days! Oh Buffalo, Buffalo, thou little Babylon of helots and harlots and infinite stinks! Homeless, kinless, friendless, wealthless, healthless, hopeless... I will NOT sink. I will press on, on.... keep very busy at this and that.... I am wretched... [editors note: Jonson is referring to the cholera epidemic that hit the city]

(10.07.01) August 10, 1834:
"Appear to be what I am not, for a time. They will know me better in the hearafter. But I must form a place of study for the week. Good night & dreamless sleep.
Mr. Parding, the painter has just informed me that poor Artemus Clapp was dead and buried! I had not even heard of his illness. I was greatly shocked -how greatly! He died at 6 o'clock yesterday of cholera.

(09.30.01) July 4-5, 1834:

(09.30.01) July 3, 1834:
..LLO..."Got on a/c of A.M. Wilgus, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy -2 vol $4.50... Evening. It has rained all day and it is still raining. All outdoors wears a sleepy look... There is to be a social religious meeting at Mrs. Blossoms. I think I will go to it. I may feel better. This is my writing day; but I cannot compose, owing to irrepressable langour... This morning I rose early and walked 3mi before breakfast.

(09.23.01) July 1, 1834:
...LLO .... It is now some months since I have written anything to speak of. Excuse lack of leisure. Now I have leisure, but not disposition.

July 2, 1834: LLO... For a week I have eaten sparingly, had regular sleep and taken excesses in the open air.... wrote a brief review of the last months. For the last 9 mos. of since the 1st of last Oct -return from Dutchess Co. -I have not been out of Buffalo Except to Batavia and once to the South towns on business... I was without system till last month.


(09.16.01) September 26, 1833:
"Left Albany, say, at 6 this morning, in Telegraph line of Stage coaches, traveling all day towards Buffalo. All day annoyed by over-loaded stages, unnecessary delays, and uncivil drivers.
(09.16.01) September 27, 1833:
"Traveling all day and all last night between Albany and Buffalo. All the way, with the rest of the passengers, very wroth [sic] at the dammed stage proprietors and their incompetent and insolent drivers, whom we a thousand times heartily wished at the devil. Was there ever such another set of impudent, lying, disobliging plundering scoundrels!
As there is no competition, we have no remedy, and they laugh in our teeth. I threatened to show up their conduct in the Buffalo newspapers under my name, which produced some little effort and amusement, along with the threat of encouraging a rival line.
To be sure, being anxious to reach home, I was myself in no very good humor.

(09.08.01)September 25, 1833: "Rose early. Breakfasted. Walked about the stirring little village.
At about 11, called again at Mr. N.F. Tallmadge's on Harriet and Mary. Saw Harriet in parlor, who told me Mary was engaged in writings in the next room, into which I boldly intruded -ladies like boldness- and kneeling, again presented her with the rejected ring. She refused. I persisted. She expostulated. A quarrel.
Harriet intervened. Kindly blamed me. I entreated a thousand pardons. I had now no time to loose. I kissed Harriet;s hand and hurried to Hotel and Boat, just in time to save the latter. Hurrah! The bubble yet floats.

(08.26.01)September 24, 1833: "Left Hartsville this morning for Po'Keepsie and Home. Reached Po'Keepsie about noon. Put up at Hatch's Hotel. Horse races in the village. Never saw a horse race. Have contempt for horse-racing. But being an institution of my Dulcinea's county of Dutchess, determined to see the races to compliment her.
Went to the race-course. A crowd of humans and horses. But no racing. A failure. Then returned and walked over Po'Keepsie village. More busy and thrifty than I had supposed.
Evening. Called at Mr. N.F. Tallmade's on Harriet and Mary. They mischievously pressed a couple of young men who called, to pass the evening. But I overstaid them, and had another interview with sweet Mary and put the diamond ring on her finger, which she removed and placed on the table, on refusing to take it back.
Returned to hotel at 10. I had been in my rooms but a few minutes, when a hotel servant brought me a letter superscribed in a female hand, which, on opening, I found to contain -- a ring!
Flirtation yet safe. Hurrah!

VOLUME I (1833-1837)
VOLUME II (1838-1865)






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This text is Copyright 2001 all rights reserved by Stephen Powell and buffalonian.com. This electronic text may not be duplicated or used in any manner without written consent of Stephen R. Powell or buffalonian.com