This is probably one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. It is a transcription of a diary kept by Jack's great-great-great grandfather during his trek from Cass County in northeast Texas to The Grove in Coryell County. although the diary is short and to the point, it doesn't take much imagination to understand the hardships and pleasures they encountered. The trip was not long, but they had to deal with the weather, mud, sick children, and unpaved roads.
John Wesley is the son of William and Mary Belt Brazzil. It is thought that William was either an Irish immigrant or was born in the Carolinas about 1798. The family made its way to Texas and settled in the area of Marshall in Harrison County where John met and married Emily, daughter of Nicholas and Sarah Gorman Delafield. In 1872, John packed up all but one daughter - Sarah - who had married the W. F. Slayton mentioned in the diary and headed for central Texas. They traveled by wagon pulled by oxen and fed them the corn he so carefully noted. The diary mentions Emily, John's wife; Nick, the oldest son (22); Dr, the youngest child (Doc is 1 month old at the outset); Dee is 4.
The diary was found in a trunk in the attic of one of John's descendants. He carefully transcribed the diary and took steps to preserve it. Thanks to Randy for allowing me to post the diary here and thanks to Homan and Flo for sharing it with me. It is transcribed here as it appears with a little punctuation to help make sense.
Rock Springs Dec 2 - 8 miles & campt
3 - Drove 10 miles campt at W F Slayton's. Paid 1.25 for corn.
4 - Drove 2 miles above pitsburg & paid 1.00 for corn
5 - Drove within six miles of Winsburow. paid 1.00 for corn
6 - Drove within 6 miles past of Quitman and paid 1.50 cts for corn
7 - Drove one mile past Emery in Rains county. Paid 1.00 for corn
8 - Praria. Drove 18 miles. campt on a ravene in on a flat place. Commenced sleating & snowing. Next morning we war over flowed. We moved three hundred yards & campt a gane. Snow 3 in deep. Wagons & tents froze. Paid 1.00 for corn. This is a good country land are good. tha say tha make from 1000 to 12 pounds of cotton Per acr. & from 20 to 40 bus of corn. The boys has bin a hunting to day & has kild sum chickins & a mule. We hav et it for super. it is the first mule i ever et. I believe tha call it a rabet & the bigist & fatest hogs I ever saw.
9 - Still at camp
10 day Still at camp elea. Everything froze. a big fire cumfortable Earterd. I had fur got to tell you that Emely, Dr & Dee is in a house with good peple but Dear ______ of the mettle. Thare name is Howel. Mr. Howel & the boyes is out on a big hunt today. Evening, killd nothing but a mule rabet & a few chickins thersday.
11th Fair & cold. We bid a Due to camp elea. Pass threw ceder grove in Caufman County. It a very sory litle vilage. We pass threw sum very pore land, vary sandy & _________ but seems to be very hy & level. Pitch our tents at Praria Laun.
12 - Beutiful morning. I well left us 13 miles threw the town of Cafman, the county site of Cafman county. It is a beutiful town surrounded by very fine lands. Traveled 13 miles pitch our tents at freeze out. Paid 1.00 for corn.
13 - left frees out. Travel threw a beutiful country. I think Caufman is the best town I ever saw east of the trinity River. The land is not very sandy but rich. Late in the evening we stick by Post Oak land & pitch our tents at camp. Are ole one mile from trinity River. Paid 1.00 for corn.
14 - Crost trinity threw the worst mud I think that I ever saw & it raneing all day & the worst rains I ever saw & freezing & sleteing. I wish I had ink a nuff to discribe it. About 3 o'clock in the evening we got sum cabins to go in to and don well for the night. A clene old man devied wood with us. Paid 75 cts for corn.
15 - Monday evry thing froze. Moved 5 miles. Drove down our peg at mount oleve, ten miles east of Cosacaner. Disagreable wether. Paid 1.00 for corn.
16 - Raining & sleting, went threw the beautiful city Cosacaner. It is a fast plase. It looks to be larger than Jefferson. the houses is generly wood & is not as close together as I effe saw. the cars is going or coming every hour. It is raining all the time we are here. Is surrounded with the riches land I think I ever saw. we pass threw & then black mud from 6 to 12 inches Deep. Drove 2 mils & drove down our peg at the Big Oak Stump. Still raining. I fergot to tell you that dry goods & groceries is very resable in Coscaner. Paid 60 cts for corn.
17 - Drove 13 miles threw sum very rich land & pitch our tent at post oak level. Raind tremendersly. Paid 75 for corn. We past threw today the beautiful little town of Dresdon.
Thrs the 18 today Nick lef us to go on to secure houses for us. We ar in seventy fiv mils of our place of Destandy. Sum of the children are sick. The rodes are shur being bad. Drove 5 miles & got permission from a Good old Brother Baptist Deacon to go in a Baptist church with our sick children & to dry our Beding. 3 o clock in the evening the sun shine out. I think it is the first time I have seen it in a week. We get corn at 40 cts. Boad a Blew norther a bout sundown.
19 We bid a due to our good old Baptist Deacon. I hope he will be re warded for his kines. A beautiful day. we pass threw spring hill & threw the pertiest country I ever saw & pitch our tents at Praria lee pas the night pily.
20 - Sunrise the worst night then I ever saw. We went out of Navarows and in hill, threw a wildernes & the norther continues to blow. We are nerly all froze. Twelve oclock we stopt at an unknown frend house. Had sent his famely off to fix his chimney & had jus finest it & made a fire. He gave us permission & went after his famely. We stade a hour or two & warmed & bid far well to our un nown frend house & went out in the cold a gane Travel five miles & campt near Soddom by the Devels pincushion. Good fire & the wind lay. We fare fine.
21 - Traveld threw hill county today, sum very pritty land. All praria til we got in twelve miles of Waco & struck timber which lasted to waco. We crost Big & Little Tawaukany. The valleys of those strems is the richest land I think I ever saw. We go into McClelan County & pay 75 for corn & campt in 3 miles of waco at post oak level.
22 - Went into waco, a beutiful city, fine houses. everything denots welth and one of the finest bridges I ever saw. The town is on both sides of the river. The town was formly on the west side of the river but the rail road is on the east side and sinc it got threw tha have bilt up a pritty considerable town on the east side. Things is not as cheap in waco as in Cosacana owin to the tap that runes to waco they inform me is narrow gage & the main trunk being wide gage. tha have to resh if we lev waco & per sew our jorney. We travel over sum very fine land & big farms. Timber very scars-sum liv Oak & corn 30 cents & more ove it than I ever saw any whar. We traveld 10 miles & meets Mr. Odom at the Bosque. He had herd of us & come to meet us about 22 miles from his house. We drove 2 miles & stretch our tents at camp pecan on Lettle Bosque. Paid 50 for corn.
23 - Very cold lay over til evening & moved up to sheap creek 7 miles. Paid 50 for corn. Very cold. Good fiers. don well.
24 - Christmas day crost the Leon river. Past over in to the Promice land. Rounded up & blowed of steam in the evening & lowered our Mast safely at home and all well.