August 6, 1849
I am ten years old today, and I am going to begin 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 faraway time.
The first thing I remember is going with my sister in a sloop to visit my aunts 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 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 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 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. But I am afraid 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 etceteras, but my mother and my nurse do not feel that way at all.
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 scarletina. 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.
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.
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 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 Annie Maria and Eliza Jane and Sarah Ann.
I took Annie 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.
Annie 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. Saturdays I go up to Annie’s, and on Irving Place, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets, there is a rope walk, and we like to watch the men walk back and forth making the rope. It is very interesting.
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. Annie’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.
My grandmother’s mother lived in Fletcher Street, and she had a sister 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’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 meant 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, London, 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 shalt 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.”
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 country seat way up Fifth Avenue and it was so muddy I spoiled my new light cloth gaiter boots. I have a beautiful green and black changeable silk visite, 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.
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 thumbnails 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 sisters go to Cantrell on the Bowery, near Bleecker Street. 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 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.
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 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, 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. Some-times 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.
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. Some-times 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.
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.
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 Years 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 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 be-fore 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. Some-times 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 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.
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 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 of every August. She calls it her peach cold, and says it comes from the fuzz on the peaches she preserves and pickles. 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 steamboatsometimes it is the Cricket, and sometimes the Catalineand 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 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.”
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.
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 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 shoos 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 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 the Governor. But my father is her grandfather too, and he is much finer looking than the Governor ; and my mother says she is very proud of my father for he stands very high in the communitywhatever that means. One time I was very angry with my father. It was about the Ravels.
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 Broad-way 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 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 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.” He 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.
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 :
“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!”
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 eyessome of themand 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.
My diary has stopped on account 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 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 there 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 heat it in their ovens and carry it to school in their muffs to keep their hands warm.. She loves to tell about her school days, and I love to hear her.
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-dollar bill papa left me this morning,” and the clerk laughed. I guess he knew Ellen was making it up !
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 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. Some-times we go down to Wild’s, that is way down near Spring Street, to get his iceland moss drops, good for colds.
My mother says Stuart’s candy store down on Greenwich and Chambers Street 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.
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 shilling to go and get some ice cream. We can get a half plate for six-pence, 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 each side, and straw on the floor to keep our feet warm, and the sleigh bells 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 fountain 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.
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. 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 dropping 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.
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 coming to an end then, and perhaps sooner.
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 Broad-way, 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 some-times.
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 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 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 one of the hymns about sleeping in church. It is called “The sin and punishment of children who sleep in the House of God.” The vengeance of eternal death.
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 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.
This is my mother’s birthday and my grandmother came to dinner. She 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 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 pearlash 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 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 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.”
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 paper 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 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 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.
I have a schoolmate 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 to-day 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 to-day, and I am glad his aunt Sarah made him behave himself.
Minnie B. and Lottie G., who lives on the corner of University 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 railroads. 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 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 the Tombs is now, and my mother says that the poor people used to get a rib of beef and polish it and drive 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 grand-father 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 school-mate, Fanny. The lot was 28 feet wide, but the house was only 25 feet 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.
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 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, 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 aways 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.
This is my birthday again, and I am now eleven years old. School will begin again in September and 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, east of Broadway. It was kept by a Mrs. Merrill, an old lady who took a few little children, and 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 who 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 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 at the sides. Some of them were, Attention to study, Beauty soon decays, Command your-self, Death is inevitable, Emulation is noble, Favor is deceitful, Good humor pleases, etcetera. 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 their 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 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 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.
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.