“my Spirits forsook me”

Elizabeth Trist and her traveling companions pushed on, contending with continued cold weather. Trist noted in her diary: “Snow up to the Horses bellies.” She complained of dirty lodgings—“I kept my cloaths on, to keep my self from the dirt off the bed cloaths.” She sorely felt the lack of privacy and was much gratified by efforts to provide it.

[On the 3rd of January, 1784] Stop’d at a little Hut Kept by one Ryan. The neatness of the place and the attention of the man made us as happy as if we had been in a palace. . . . We had a little particion run along the side of our bed, and we hung our great coats up at the foot, which made our birth very private. Mr. Fowler and Mr. Hamilton retired to the Kitchen for us to go to bed; and I made it a rule to get up before day light that I might not see anybody nor they [see] me dress. It is so customary for the Men and Women to sleep in the same room that some of the Women look upon a Woman as affected that makes any objection to it. One told me that I talk’d to upon the subject that she thought a Woman must be very incecure in her self that was afraid to sleep in the room with a strange man. For her part, she saw nothing indelicate in the matter, and no man wou’d take a liberty with a woman unless he saw a disposition in her to encourage him.

4th After Breakfast, we set out on our journey. . . .

Trist and her party made their way across the Allegheny Mountains. When “a great fall of rain” melted the snow, they were obliged to proceed on foot through mud “without sinking higher than our knees.” When it turned cold, “the whole earth appeared like Glass.”

In the Morng of the 8th. . . . Our Horses scarse able to keep their feet. . . . for the first time since I left home, my Spirits forsook me. I began to prepare my self for the other world, for I expected every moment when my neck wou’d be broke. I cou’d not help crying. Mr. Fowler kept before me and, it being dark, I did not expose my weakness. Some times I wish’d he wou’d ride on and leave me [so] that I might get down and die.

Reaching Pittsburgh on January 9th, Trist stayed with the Fowlers until May.

The diary entries can be found on pages 278-79 of In the Words of Women.

posted December 26th, 2013 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Travel, Weather


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