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Catalog Number 2016.02.0020
Object Name Letter
Date 1836
Title 1836 May 20 Margaretta Mason Brown to Mary Watts Brown
Scope & Content Letter from Margaretta Mason Brown (Columbia, PA) to Mary Watts Brown (Frankfort, KY). Margaretta discusses travel by steamboat and canal boat to visit relatives in the east. She discusses a ride on a gravitational cable railway while descending a mountain in PA, male and female fashions and a gift pocket made by Mary. She discusses future travel plans to New York and Baltimore after leaving Philadelphia. She discusses the acquaintances that she has visited while on her trip, Judith Ingersoll's childbirth and servants. Margaretta describes the church service, and distractions from city noises.


Columbia, P. 20th May 1836

My dear Mary,

I commence my letter in this place, not with any intention of mailing it here, but that I may only have a PS to add, when we arrive at either of the Cities, as I may not then have an opportunity of immediately writing to you, as particularly as I could wish. By the good providence of God, we are arrived thus far on our journey in good health, & without having met with the smallest accident, or even delay. We arrived at Pittsburgh at 8 Oclock on Monday morning, and left there at nine the same evening In the Canal boat my situation was very different, from what I described it to Orlando to have been on board the Steamboat. Instead of having full possession of the Cabin, I could scarcely find room for the sole of my foot. The Cabin, which was very small, was occupied by eight Ladies, two maids, and ten Children. When on board the Steamboat I slept in all my clothes (except my travelling dress) to be ready in case of accident; comforting myself under this unpleasant circumstance, with the expectation that when on board the Canal B. I could indulge in the luxury of complete undress; but what was my mortification to find, that the Cabin was too small to allow any space for my wardrobe, and so my clothes had to remain on my back, or be trampled under foot. Since I left Lexington I have not slept two hours on any one night; fears, hard matresses, and now narrow limits, keeping me constantly awake; yet I am very well, have a good appetite, and excellent food to satisfy it. I dislike Canal Boats very much-the whole company constantly crowding together are objects of continual scrutiny to each other. There is not a moment for retirement, nor reflection, but every faculty lost in that of observation. Our journey over the Mountain was fearfully interesting; by the variety and apparent danger of the conveyances; but of one mode I wish you to inform Mrs Love, as it seems invented solely for her benefit. We travelled the last four miles in descending the Alleghany, in a Car, neither propelled by steam, nor drawn by horses, without any kind of machinery whatever, and governed only by the principle of gravitation. We thus, without any visible agent, accomplished four miles in eleven minutes. Had we appeared thus progressing a century ago, we should all have been hung for witchcraft. In crossing the Allegheny we ascended five inclined planes, and descended nine, passing through one of the ridges by a tunnel. Mary is all astonishment, & finds there are "many things" between Frankfort & Phila which "were never dreamed of in her philosophy." We shall remain here, until tomorrow, and then depart either for Baltimore or Phila -your Uncle has not as yet determined which. We met five days ago, with an acquaintance of ours (Mr Seth Hunt) whom we have not seen for 21 years; in this interval he has been three times to Europe, and, abounded in interesting anecdotes. He is very intelligent, and travelled with us until this Morning. Indeed we have met with very agreeable and genteel company during all our journey. And now, to give you and Mary Y. some encouragement for the care you bestowed in my equipment, I am in duty bound to inform you, that my pockets have been most serviceable, though at first I was alarmed every now, and then by thinking that I had lost my reticule. The material too of which my dress is made, accords with that of every genteel female Traveller whom I have seen. The weather has been most delightful-no rain, but once at night; but it threatens us at present-

And now, my dear Mary let me ask, how you all are, and hope speedy answer to the inquiry. My heart swells with emotion when I think of home, and how very far I am from almost all whom I love. Adieu for the present-

Philadelphia (Monday 23rd) We left Columbia, at ½ past 7 on Saturday Morning, & arrived here at ½ past two ( [torn paper] 2 miles) We are located at the Marshall house, a splendid new establishment, filled with genteel strangers. I have not yet seen Susan Ingersoll, and it is doubtful whether I will. She gave birth to a daughter the day before we arrived, and is very feverish, and so excessively nervous, that they are afraid to let her see any one, at whose presence she might experience the least agitation Mr I. was twice here yesterday. I like him extremely. I have had no opportunity of much observation respecting the fashions as yet; [paper torn] the sleeves of gentle and simple, as large as ever, and the [paper torn] as various in size and shapes as the capacities, and whims of the wearer. Yesterday on coming out of Church, we were accosted by a stranger, who introduced himself, as the brother of Dr Edgar. He is much improved in manner since I saw him in Frankfort. Tell Dr Baker, that if he had witnessed the this congregation, and heard the continual interruption from coaches, omnibuses &c by which a great part of the sermon was lost, he would not say that the Sabbath, was more desecrated [paper torn] than any part of the world. True we are sadly to blame on that score but I think we are less guilty than many other places.

My next letter will be to Mary Y. and then, having gone the rounds of the family, I shall wait in dignified silence till I hear from some of you. Your Uncle has not yet determined whether we will go to Baltimore or New York first. If we go to N.Y. first, I am persuaded we will not see Baltimore at all; for our return route is uncertain.

I shall begin to look about my commissions as soon as I can procure the assistance of some connoisseurs in the various articles. Tell Gratz, the boys here dress exactly as they do in Frankfort. I hope your Mama & Henrietta have arrived in
safety, give my love to them. Mrs Love - Epes &C I cannot enumerate my friends, they must here after take it for granted that I remember them affectionately, with out being particularly named. I send a kiss to Euphemia, & wish to know whether Gratz acknowledges his Mother yet. Farewell dear Mary- acquaint me with the state of your health, and believe me your affectionate Aunt-

M. Brown

Mary sends her love to her Mother & says she is much pleased-she has been fortunate in finding colored servants wherever we have been, and dined out yesterday by special invitation. I wish to know whether Rose & Joe performed their promise of remaining with Mary until she procured her Servants & arranged her house-

[Address Block]
Mrs. Orlando Brown
Frankfort, KY

May 23
People Margaretta Mason Brown
Mary Watts Brown
Mary Stepney
Susan Brown Ingersoll
Benjamin Gratz Brown
Henrietta Brown Reese
Orlando Brown
Search Terms Pittsburgh, PA
Allegheny Mountains
Baltimore, MD
Frankfort, KY
Columbia, PA
Canal Boats
Incline Cable Railway
Church Services
Philadelphia, PA