December 1859

December 1, 1859

The day was rather warm for the first of winter. It rained a little & a good deal last night. Still painting. Peck came over for a little while.

December 2, 1859

Stormy. Peck came over & said the sewing machine had come. Pa let me have $18.00 and we went and took it out. $0.45 Express. Went to Peck’s and put it up & worked it. Had considerable trouble. Came home about 5 o’clock. Went to depot at 7 to see if [cousin] Ed Stratton had come. Was not there.

December 3, 1859

Cold & snowing. [My brother] Steve & I finished painting the back sides of the house. Put & Nick [Courtright] threshing.

December 4, 1859

Sunday. Snowing. Staid home. Read Violet & finished before going to bed.

December 5, 1859

Went to town. Saw [Willoughby] Babcock & [Nathaniel] Davis. Learned something bad about Austin. That he had helped a fellow in Kansas get out of his hands about $2000 dollars. Went to Aunt Lucy [Fiddis’]. Staid there to dinner. Got Hyperion. Went to Pecks. Came home with Merrit & the sewing machine. Staid here all night.

December 6, 1859

Peck is a rattle brained ninny, inconsistent & conceited. Went to Owego, took him over. Afternoon, wrote to Smith, Woodman & Co. for a school. evening, read Hyperion.

December 7, 1859

Killed beef. Nick [Cortright] & Put here. Afternoon, read. evening, read Hyperion. [My brother] Steve commenced to go to school today. Warm in the morning [but] it suddenly changed & snowed before night.

December 8, 1859

Went up to the mill. Very cold. Went to Owego with Pa. Called at [Rev.] Mr. Rankine’s. Told me to write to the Bishops South. Evening, finished Hyperion.

December 9, 1859

Wrote to the Bishops of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, & Mississippi [for a teaching position]. Went to Owego. Went up to J. Dye’s to see if he would get a sewing machine. Would not. Feel sore after my ride. Peck came here while out to the farm & staid till eight o’clock. Reading & writing.

December 10, 1859

Went to Peck’s. Very cold day. Staid there to dinner. Came home about 3 o’clock. [My cousin] Ed Stratton came down [and] staid till after supper when he hitched up the horses on the sleigh & went to Owego & brought back [cousins] Lucy and Anna [Fiddis], Jim & John Goodrich. There were eight in all making quite a crowd. We set on the bottom of the sleigh. [My cousin] George Stratton came over about half past 9. He did not appear to be well pleased with something. The girls teased him considerably. They left about half past 11. Lucy & Anna remained here all night.

December 11, 1859

John Brown

Sunday. Did not get up until eight o’clock. Was at home all the forenoon. Lucy and Anna still here. Lucy wonders a good deal what made George act as he did. Expected George & Ed but they did not come.

In the evening, we all went to meeting. Pa would not let us take both horses, so Sed, Anna & I rode over & Lucy & Mary & Steve walked over… Talked a good deal with [cousin] Lucy [Fiddis]. She knows a good deal and is well informed.

December 12, 1859

Drew wood and went up to see Mr. Taylor. He is much better that he was last summer. He was speaking of John Brown & said it was awful to hang a man for his humanity & insanity.

Peck was here [and] staid all night. [He] brought me a letter from [cousin] Lucy Stratton & one from N.Y. & I wrote to 2 men in N.Y. City for a teacher’s [position]. We played dominos. Peck cheated & I got mad & had a little high time on both sides. We ended by going to bed.

Stephen Douglas (the Little Giant)

December 13, 1859

Went to Owego with Peck & begged his pardon but he didn’t. He did not do the fair thing. Stayed there all day. Went to the lecture of the Little Giant with him. Old Peck thought it was not right. We were going on the tickets that were given to him. Stayed there all night.

December 14, 1859

Came home in the morning & went over to Owego with Pa to get the horses shod. Walked home. Went over after the girls to Aunt Lucy [Fiddis’] with both horses. Took [cousin] Lucy on a ride.

December 15, 1859

Went up to take John Taylor to town. [He] was not well enough. Left Ma at Aner’s. Went over with [sister] Mary. Went to [Rev] Rankine’s with some beef. Went to Aunt Lucy’s and took [cousin] Lucy [Fiddis] on a short ride. Came home with Anna [Fiddis]. Went up after Ma before supper. Steve got me a letter from the American Institute.

Court of Death by Rembrandt Peale (1820)

Peck came over in evening. Went to Owego with him & back again. The picture “Court of Death” by Rembrandt has come. It is very fine.

Wrote to Professor H. T. Wells, Burlington, New Jersey.

December 16, 1859

Went up to the back lot. Gone most all day. Evening, went to Owego for the girls. Got a letter from the Bishop [Thomas Atkinson] of North Carolina. He did not know any place vacant for me to teach.

Bishop Thomas Atkinson (1807-1881)

Lucy & Anna & me [went] to hear the lecture [of Hon. Joshua R.] Giddings [at Ahwaga Hall]. [Editor’s Note: The December 29th issue of the Owego Gazette reported the “Giddings lecture was little less than an abolition harangue, better suited to a mass meeting of Republicans than a promiscious audience assembled in the lecture room.”]

December 17, 1859

Drawing wood. Peck came over just before supper. I intended to go over to Owego after supper & he said he would take me, but it is impossible for him to take a hint without a severe kick. He staid until nearly 12 o’clock & wanted to stay longer & play dominos. I pity the fellow. He is good in some things but take him throughout, he is the most disagreeable I ever met with. He is egotistic.

Joshua R. Giddings

December 18, 1859

Stormy. Walked over to church. A stranger preached. Got a letter from ______ & one from Bishop Johns of Maryland. He wrote that he knew of no place for me to teach. read, wrote, & looked over my college crops.

December 19, 1859

Went to the mill. Went to Owego. Took a short ride with Fan. Heard that Em Browne was dead. She married Chester C. Thorne from Charlotteville Seminary.

December 20, 1859

Snowing. Went to the funeral [of Em Browne Thorne] with the 2 horse sleigh. Got a letter from [my cousin] Ed Stratton. Went up to Aunt Lucy [Fiddis’] a short time.

December 21, 1859

Went over to Owego to take some beef for Put. Went up to take Lucy & Anna over but Lucy had gone with the Freemans. Got home just before noon. Afternoon, worked a little on slippers for Lucy. Evening, John Goodrich came down to take [my sister] Mary up to Sam Griffing’s [in Thorn Hollow]. Mary & Anna went with him, & Sed, Lucy & I went with our horse. Were not at home. We went to the school house where there was a meeting. There they were. We staid a short time & left. Went to Owego & back. Came home half past 10.

December 22, 1859

Drew wood forenoon. Peck here in morning. Afternoon, went with 2 horse sled over with Lucy, Sed & Anna. Gave Lucy [Fiddis] two French books, plays. Lent her “Earth I Man” & “Wilson’s Logic.” Went round the square, thence to town, & up to Aunt Lucy’s. Peck rode home with me. Staid all night.

December 23, 1859

Peck went home early in the morning. Read an essay by a M.A.S. — a lady in Hartford on Homer. Took Mary & Steve over to the Congregationalist’s Exhibition. Then went up to Aunt Lucy [Fiddis’] for Sed & Lucy. It was a miserable concern. Wash Gladden spoke a poem which was nothing fine or elegant. Lucy did not like it very well. Someone took the horse 7 drove it around. Awful cold. Got a letter from Burlington [New Jersey].

December 24, 1859

Peck here in morning. Went to Owego for Mrs. Tennent. Lingered around all day. Evening, went over to church. Rankine was not there. Winthrop read the service. Went up to Aunt Lucy [Fiddis’] and helped [cousin] Lucy put up her book case. Staid all night. Came home about eight.

December 25, 1859

Christmas. As I came downstairs this morning, [cousin] Anna was in the dining room in her night clothes. I saw her flitting out. [Cousin] Lucy was not up but soon did. Jim [Fiddis] came home about 4 in morning. Went to church. George Rice came here & is to stay the week. Evening, went over with the girls & Mrs. Tennent. I went to Aunt Lucy’s. The girls to church. Took [cousin] Lucy’s trunk to the depot. George Stratton up there. We bade Lucy goodbye. She cried a little. She is a good girl & the best cousin I have got. She is quite a good scholar & very critical. What she knows, she knows. Think of going over to see her off.

December 26, 1859

Sat up till the time 3 o’clock and went over [to the Owego depot]. It was nearly time for the train & they were not there. I started to go after them & met them a short was from the depot. George came up with them. Jim [Fiddis] went as far as Hornellsville with them. Bennet was to be her companion as far as Penola. Came home & went to bed. I let her take my Sartor Resartus. When eating breakfast, Peck came over & wanted me to go over with him. We started off for Waverly & Elmira. Came home & went up in back lot for wood & evergreens for the Methodists. Afternoon, took straw to Cannewanna & went to Owego. evening, wrote & went to bed early.

December 27, 1859

Killed hogs. A cold & blustering day. It does not seem that [cousin] Lucy [Fiddis] is going to be gone so long sometimes. Then again, it seems that it will be a long, long time before I see her again. I hope not. I hope she will be successful as no doubt she will. She started off apparently in better spirit than when she went the first time. I believe she left no stronger ties to keep her here or to pain her to leave than strong family affection. A person has got to mind what he is about when with Lucy. She is critical & observing & if he slips in any way, she is sure to observe it & that smile that curls on her lips or the look of the eye is sure to tell the tell-tale thought. I find it an advantage to be with her. She is different than most persons I know & never runs into the sentimental, musical, or bawdy. She will gain friends wherever she is by her information, her modest & lady-like deportment.

Took a letter over in evening to [cousin] Lucy Stratton. Got one from [cousin] Ed [Stratton]. Went to the store to see [cousin] George [Stratton]. He felt bad to have Lucy Fiddis go. George thinks a good deal of her & I am glad of it. Read some in Howill’s Homes of the Poets.

December 28, 1859

Got up this morning & made fires for the first time in a long time. Went to Owego & sold two hogs with Pa. Came to $39.84 at 6 1/2  [dollars] a hundred [pounds]. Saw Peck. After dinner, Peck came over and staid the afternoon. I let him have $6.00 to send for pictures. Went over in evening to the Methodist Exhibition with the 2 horses. It was a kind of baby affair but better than the Congregationalists. The gas light was very dim for some reason.

December 29, 1859

Cut wood. Peck over. Went to Owego with him afternoon. Got the pictures. Paid $3.00 more. Expect George [Stratton] over.

December 30, 1859

Cut wood in the morning. Peck came over about half past nine & I got ready & we started in his cutter for Waverly. He had our 2 cases with the frames & pictures to be sold there.. We stopped at Barton to feed the horse. Did not take dinner. Then went to Waverly & put up the others. Saw Jack Shepperd, son of Preacher Shepperd. We intended to stay all night down there but concluded to drive home about half past 4. We started & got home about half past seven, having ridden 36 miles — a rather cozy sleigh ride. We sang coming home. There was a ball at Smithboro. Sat up rather late. I think well of [cousin] Lucy Fiddis.

December 31, 1859

Peck went home in the morning rather miffed at something. Have been drawing wood. Broke the whipple tres. Went to Owego in evening & took Sed & Mary, Hull, Put & Nick. Saw Aunt Lucy [Fiddis] and [her daughter] Anna down street & took them up home. Got home quite early. Got a keg of oysters.


  • “H. T. Wells established a private institution of learning at Burlington, New Jersey in 1860. Some time after it was moved to Andalusia, Bucks County under the name of Andalusia College. It can hardly be said to have ever exercised the functions of a College, and after a lingering existence as a Boarding School for boys, it died.” Source: A History of Education in Pennsylvania, Private and Public, Elementary and Higher: From the Time…. James Pyle Wickersham.
  • The tip for a teaching position in Burlington, New Jersey was provided by the American School Institute — a 19th century headhunting agency operated by the Smith, Woodman & Company in New York City. In November or December 1859, Goodrich submitted his resume to the firm. In return for an application fee of $1, Goodrich was to be provided with news of any teaching positions they felt he was suited for. In mid-December 1859, the firm notified Goodrich that Professor H.T. Wells of “Burlington College” in New Jersey “wishes a teacher in the preparatory department.” The notice added that the applicant “must be a good disciplinarian & an Episcopalian.” The salary offered for the position was $300 to 400/year plus board. He was encouraged to “write at once.”
  • The Owego newspapers were searched and it is pretty certain that Stephen Douglas did not lecture in that village so it is likely that Goodrich and Peck traveled to some other village like Ithaca or Elmira to hear the Little Giant.

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