Raynors HCA 2019-05
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Absentee bidding for this session ends on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT.
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A lengthy Autograph Letter Signed "C. G. S." 4pp., quarto, Pittsburgh, 17 January 1832, with integral address leaf bearing black "PITTSBURGH Pa JAN 19" cancellation. The correspondent relates to his Uncle, Dr. Charles Smith of New Brunswick, New Jersey, a detailed description of his overland journey from Princeton, New Jersey to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, together with his impressions of the town upon his arrival. While recovering from his arduous stage coach trip across the Alleghenies, our correspondent set down to describe it to his uncle: "…My journey was upon the whole as pleasant as such a journey could well be at this season of the year - Few very respectable people are to be found going over the whole road between this and Phila [sic] at this time - & he may think himself fortunate - who, like I - can say he had decent companions. But to begin - I succeeded in getting in the Stage at Princeton on Tuesday a little after 12 - with a number of gentleman and one lady - the gents appeared to be all citizens of Phila. One was called Col. Prevost & had just returned from Europe. Certainly very much of a gentleman - a Mr. Richards - Mr. Biddle & a Mr. Newkirk (I suppose Charles G's partner for he talked of having been at New Orleans & was evidently a merchant) - and two others who were like myself in cog [sic] - We arrived at Phila. about 7 - I took lodgings at Head's Mansion House Hotel & went as soon after as I could find any one to show the way to the Pittsburgh stage office - The 2 o'clock stage was full and I took a seat in the other which start as 1/2 past 6 - We left the city in the Morng [sic] with a state full of passengers & came ten miles to breakfast - During the first days ride we had a very agreeable set until we came near Lancaster about dark, when they began to drop off one by one - First the ladies left us - and we regressed our loss exceedingly - one of the beautiful, good tempered, sensible & well educated girl from Lancaster - a Miss Elizabeth Humes had been the life and should of the whole party & every face looked grave at least if not sad when dropping a most graceful courtesy she gave us her 'Good bye - Gentlemen' & tripped away - I had little opportunity of seeing the city of L - it was dark when we passed through - A part of it is composed of old fashioned frame houses one story & a half high with roofs almost perpendicular but the better part of the town has fine laye [sic] brick buildings & quite a modern appearance - We entered Harrisburgh at one o'clock in the morng & after being detained an hour at the Stage office rode on towards Chambersburgh - From thence we continued our journey after a short delay - with great anxiety to arrive at our sleeping place a most excellent house at the Eastern foot of Sideling hill - In our way we crossed the Tuscarora Mtn. ascending by one Winding road 4 or 5 miles into the very regions of frost, sleet, snow & ice - & descending the same distance on the other side - In descending this Mtn I felt serious apprehension for my neck & limbs - We can down the whole way with the horses on the gallop - the coach now bounding over a cradle - jolt - now staggering within a few feet of a precipice over which we might have fallen hundreds of feet before we could have reach the bottom ground - The reasons they give for this furious driving are - that in going slow with the hills covered as they now are with sheets of ice there is great danger that the weight of the coach should cause it to slide off the road - & that with careful drivers & good horses they find it both easier and safer to run down the mountains - At this pace we came over all of the Coachmen began to use whips to horses more after the fashion of Eastern men - When we had gone over a few of the hills in this mad way - my fears vanished & I felt quite as secure as I could have done in riding over Jersey roads - Generally speaking the coaches are good and strong & comfortable too - the horses sure footed & the drivers careful & obliging - & when a person has all these requisites for traveling over the mountains he is as safe as the foresight & power of man can make him - A tree laden with ice may fall & crush him - a piece of rock might roll into the road & the coach be dashed in pieces against it or thrown over the ledge beneath - but unless some such (hardly probable but) possible occurrence should happen his is safe - But I am out of the road - To return - We reached our halting place before eight with a greater disposition to sleep than sup - though we had eaten nothing since daybreak. The night seems by two minutes long and we were off at four again - In this days ride and the next we crossed Sideling hill and Tusseys Mountain - passed through Bedford near which are the famous Springs surmounted the Allegheny. Laurel Hill & Chestnut Ridge - three famous obstacles, and having left behind us a number of Knolls beside, we reached here as before without javg met with any remarkable adventures or having been exposed to any imminent peril - through we were occasionally in danger." Not only does the traveller describe in great detail his harrowing trip to the west of Pennsylvania, he also gives his impressions of early Pittsburgh: "I was agreeably disappointed in Pittsburgh & its appendages had been making up my mind to find it so vile a place, that upon reaching here I found imagination had overshot the M[ark] & was surprised to find it so tolerable - It is black - it is In rainy weather it is very wet (as I discovered to my infinite satisfaction yesterday) and in damp weather & when there is little wind it is so smoky everywhere that you that you can hardly see your next neighbor [sic] - but it makes up for these disadvantages by the industry honesty and enterprise [sic] of its inhabitants - by the meanings it affords of gathering up this worlds goods - by its situation in the Valley of the Mississippi which all allow is on day to hold the balance of power and wealth in North America - in the inexhaustible stores of bituminous coal which are to be found everywhere about this region - Easily obtained at five cents the bushel or one dollar eighty cents per children [sic] - & serving the poor both for light and fuel - & in many other things I dare say which I know nothing about yet - Allegheny town is very well situated on the West bank of the Allegheny River - is connected with the city by a fine bridge of Eleven hundred feet in length - I do not recollect the number of inhabitants - but it has increased & is increasing rapidly - & from all I can hear or see or judge from, will one day surpass its neighbor in size &c &c…" Light folds, a few marginal tears, else fine condition.
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A Detailed Manuscript Describing A Stage Coach Journey Across NJ-Penn. - 1832

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