ANN HEAD WARDER accompanied her husband John to the United States in 1786 and spent much of her time visiting relatives in and around Philadelphia. She described some of them to her sister Elizabeth in England. Cousin Sukey she reported “is married to a butcher, (a profession Friends follow here), who is remarkably short, fat and a good tempered man and everything about the house so plainly indicated a happy connection that I felt truly comforted.”
Of her sister-in-law Emlen “whose husband has been away several weeks,” she suggested that “it might be happy if he would never come home again, though perhaps she don’t think so.”
On a visit to John Clifford and his wife who were “esteemed by some the superior Male and Female for understanding in the city,” she said of John:
[he] is a stout, good tempered looking man; his wife a little woman but a great talker, has much affectation in her manner which is disagreeable at first acquaintance and she has the reputation for wearing the breeches, but whether deserved I cannot tell. But one thing I observed, it was necessary that somebody should take the petticoat.”
Ann sampled watermelon that she had for the first time “about which the natives of this country talk much . . . which in hot weather tastes like sweetened snow.”
She attended one funeral and observed another, that of a black man.
7th mo.22d.—The intelligence of the death of Robert Valentine at first was rather a shock to me, and I felt a particular inclination to attend his funeral. . . . [A foursome set out, stayed at an inn on the way.]
7 mo. 23d.—At four o’clock we were aroused and got up just as day was breaking. We had twelve miles to go which we accomplished before seven. . . . [Sammy and I] sat in the room with the corpse, whose features looked just as when alive—he was laid in one of his own shirts with a sheet first put into the coffin, which looked much more natural and comfortable than our woolen except his having no cap on, that I never remember seeing before. . . . [They departed for the meeting leaving] the multitude, not less . . . than five hundred mostly on horseback. . . . I never saw the like, full half appeared to be women who are here very shiftable [able to get around easily] if they have a good creature,—which is what all in this part of the country call horses,—they ride by themselves with a safeguard which when done with is tied to the saddle and the horse hooked to a rail, standing all meeting time almost as still as their riders sit. The carrying of the corpse I did not like, as it was only corded on to a thing like the bottom part of a single horse chaise, which is the general mode here when the distance is too far for shoulder [carriers] except that a box in the shape of a coffin is fixed and the corpse slipped in. The burying ground adjoined the meeting house and dear Robert with solemnity was interred, and after standing a few minutes at the grave we all went in. . . . We had a very long but comfortable meeting, and several Friends spoke. . . .
8th mo. 8th.—After meeting went to Aunt Emlen’s to drink tea and while there was called to see a black’s burial, who is reputed to have conducted himself with great reputation and was a man of some consequence. Six men walked first, then the corpse was carried by four of the most agreeable looking negroes I ever saw, being well dressed and appeared to be like men of property. Next followed fifty women, in couples, then one hundred and sixty men, then ninety-six more women, and about forty of our Friends brought up the rear, which would look very singular with us, but is common here for them to attend all church buryings.