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Lewis R. Overton- from 1820-1827



Lewis Roe Overton diary
1820-1827


Lewis Roe Overton was born December 10, 1800 to Elisha and Ruth (Roe) Overton. He was raised at the original family homestead on what is know known as David Overton Road in Coram. This diary is from his earlier days as an itinerant teacher in the vicinity of Carteret County in North Carolina. He later taught in upper New York State and through the Mohawk Valley. He returned to Long Island in 1830 and began teaching in Bellport, New York. He then purchased a home on Mill Road in Coram.

He was postmaster of Coram for several years. Brookhaven Town offices of Superintendent of Schools 1849 to 1856, Town Clerk 1856 to 1860. Lewis Overton died on January 4, 1872.

This diary was edited by Longwood Middle School students Kristin Difrancia and Christina White. The unedited version can be found at the Longwood Public Library.

December 1820

Monday, 26.
Much excitement has lately been caused from a vague report that the slaves of this vicinity have plotted a conspiracy against the whites and that last evening (Christmas) was to have been its consumation. Many have in consequence indulged the most fearful apprehension for their safety and the strict watch of the patrol and City guard was kept during the whole of last night. No symptoms of insurrection or disturbance occurred. However, it is probable the suspicions were groundless and the report false.

Monday, 2 January, 1821
This day opened a day and evening school in Middle-Street. Afternoon attended the annual slave market held at the courthouse. The scene is revolting to every better feeling of humanity and patriotic freedom. The unfortunate beings are conducted like herds of cattle to a fare and the mingled passicns of hope and fear are depicted on each countenance. Some hoping in a near-compassionate and human master to find a deliverance from unfeeling tyranny and others dreading the chance of falling intothe hands of rigid severity. "Oh, Liberty how is thy alter profanited by those who call themselves thy sons?"…Latin quote. A day, an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage- how pitiable must be the condition of those unhappy slaves who can never hope to enjoy one of natures noblest gifts. The week between Christmas and the New Year is here generally allotted them as a relief from their toll. Some are even denied this short holiday.

February 15,
Have just returned from an excursion thru Hyde and Beaufort County. Find the soil of the latter very fertile and productive forests. The unpleasant state of the roads which are very little improved and at this season of the year literally inundated with water.

February18,
Arrived yesterday at I Borden's seat on this river, where I have engaged to open a family school

June 10,
Very sultry in a ramble through the woods have found the tick very troublesome. Saw the "Seed tick" which is indeed so numerous in the woods that hundreds may often be counted on a single twig or blade of grass.

July 1,
I have found considerable acquaintance with the country people of this vicinity whom I found to differ in society and manners very considerably from the town. The latter are tolerably educated and in many instances refined while the former with a few exceptions are illiterate, uninformed, and from their habits of intercourse with the Negroes, barbarously corrupt in their language and pronunciation. As a general character it may however, be relent in their habits, possess a vigor of mindfind no way inferior to those of the Northern States, with a warmth of temper and among the fair sex a softness on manners exceeding them.

Beaufort, September 20, 1821
Came last week into the village where I have engaged to open a school and have taken lodgings at Mr. S. B. Boolty.

December 10.
`This day completed my twenty first year. May the being who governs the universe of men and who conducted me safely this period of life direct my steps toward the paths of usefulness and virtue.

Smiths Creek Mine. January 5 1822
Have opened schooling the neighborhood and taken lodgings at H.Carraway"s.

Portsmouth, Aril, 8 1822
Closed my school last week at Smith's Creek, when we made fair excursion to this island which is situated on the seaboard and so low that is often inundated with the sea at high tides, covered chiefly with Myrtle, Yanpon and other evergreens.

July 30,1822
Past week attended a Methodist camp meeting at Shepherds Point situated at the Junction of Newport River and Bogue Sound. The auditors were estimated to amount to something less than one thousand (including blacks (Negroes) that held their meetings contiguous to the whites.)

August 1822
This day came on board the Schr Carpenters Son Capt. Williams for New York. This afternoon weighed and ran our anchor have discharged the pilot and are proceeding to sea with a gentle breeze.

Staten Island, August 1822
Have just anchored in Quarantine gound where, having a sick man aboard, we are assured by the health officer that we must remain some days. There are at present about 40 sail of vessels under quarantine of all classes among which I notice one American and one English. Man of War the Brig. Enterprise has also lately anchored from a cruise in the West India Seas. The yellow fever is committing great ravages among the crew and many of them have fallen sacrifices to its virulence.

Sept. 1822
I am assured that the most memorable storm of the 3rd of September last, occasioned almost incalculable damages in this vicinity and that out of nearly sixty sails which were lying at anchor in this bay but two were able to weather it. It is a remarkable fact that these gales or tornadoes commence about the Gulf of Florida and pass with great velocity along the coast of the United States in narrow veins. Dr. Franklin (Benjamin) first made this observation and ascertained that in one instance that it was about twenty four hours in passing from Florida to Maine

August 20, 1822
Have just been with the health officer who has given me permission to leave quarrantine provided I do not pass through New York. Have accordingly taken passage on board a Schr of L.I. Bay... Last evening arrived at Islip and this afternoon greeted home after an absence of about 21 months.

April 4, 1823
Last Sunday and Monday a snow fell here to the depth of two feet... Last Tuesday attended our annual town meeting at Coram. Rode out in a sleigh which was nearly the only vehicle for traveling used on that day.

June 1823
Last week opened a school in the village of Babylon.

New York, November 1823
Last week left Long Island in company with L. H. for this city whence we propose proceeding to the Erie Canal. This river is confined by high and precipitate banks, which in some places bend directly over the passengers head as he passes along the canal, at a height of several hundred feet above him, causing him involuntarily to shudder at the apparent danger of his situation.

Little Falls Saturday 1823
Last evening arrived in this borough where we had the mortification to find our novel and pleasing mode of traveling at an end. The ice in the canal having become so strong as to prevent the boats from proceeding.

December 1823
Engaged in a school in a district a mile west of Little Falls. Among the Dutch whose manners and habits are in some instances familiar from boarding in a number of families. I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with them. Found them greatly deficient in a point of cleanliness and mostly destitute of taste.

March 1824
Closed my school in Dutch town and took carriage for Wolcott... Notes of our coachmans' bugle which floated on the ear and announced the arrival of the Stage Coach. Buffalo is pleasantly situated on the mouth of Lake Erie though at the distance of near half a mile from it's margin. It is built chiefly on one street about a mile long. The south end of which stretches to Buffalo Creek which furnishes a very commodious harbor, for it's shipping. The Erie Canal will terminate here and receive a principal feeder from the mouth of this creek.

Nagara Falls, April 10,1824
This morning took stage to Niagara Falls, a distance of about 22 miles. A turnpike is contemplated here which is highly necessary as the road is too rough.

Oak Orchard, County, April 21, 1824
After satisfying my curiosity at the falls, I took stage for Lewiston whence I proceeded to this place, Some distance below the falls we passed a small basin on the American side. Which has been demonstrated the "Devil Hole" derives its celebrity and perhaps its name from the circumstance of a battle fought in its vicinity during the French War, between the French and Indians and the English colonists in which five hundred of the latter were forced over the precipice and precipitated about two hundred feet down the perpendicular bank where they were dashed in pieces!!

April 24, 1824
Last Monday opened a school in village in which I contemplate spending the summer. Oak Orchard is a small village on the ridge road, 38 miles east of Lewiston and 40 miles west of Rochester. It derives its name from a creek so called which runs through it. An aqueduct of exquisite masonry supported by an arch of 60 feet span, conducts the Erie Canal across the creek. The basins and villages along the canal are very numerous and in a few years hence it will probably be lined with flourishing trading villages. The Erie Canal when completed will exceed three hundred and sixty miles in extent and its' completion is contemplated by the close of 1825.

July 5, 1824
Having been attacked with the augue and fever, I shall make arrangements for returning to the Island as soon as possible.

August 5, 1824 Albany, New York
This morning arrived in the City after a pleasant passage per Canal packet and Stage. I spent but one day in Rochester which I found to be a large manufacturing and mercantile town. The Erie Canal crosses the Geneessee at this place through a stone aqueduct of good masonry and resting on ten arches of about 50 feet of span at Montezuma. The canal passes directly through it and appears to have caused much labor. The excavation was performed by means of a scoop net, and the mud excavated applied to the construction of banks which, have become solid and furnish permanent towing paths.

August 15, 1824
Arrived home last week after an absence of about eight months. General La Fayette arrived in New York per packet Cadmus. This illustrious Nobleman, dear to the heart of every patriotic American, was received at our Metropolis with acclamation of joy and gratitude and distinguished honours will await him on his tour through the states and growing Union.

October 1, 1824
The weather during the pass months have been warm and pleasant and farmers have a fine season for seeding. My father is just recovering from a course of Typhus Fever which it has pleased providence to spare him. I have engaged and opened a school in Islip which I contemplate spending the winter.

Tuesday 25. (January 1825)
The weather continues remarkably open and mild. Vessels are continually running in L. Island bay and has been nearly the whole winter.

Wednesday 25.
Spent yesterday in strolling over the Philadelphia city and viewing the Schuykill and the Fairmount water works on that river. This morning crossed over to Hamilton and walked out several miles on the Lancaster road. This celebrated turnpike is a very handsome road and is bordered with neat and highly cultivated farms.

Tuesday 30.
The thorn hedges through the lower part of Pa. and particularly in this state are extremely beautiful and an advanced State in the agricultural improvements. This morning crossed over to Wilmington which, is situated directly opposite Brandywine with which it communicates by Brandywine bridge. It is a pleasant village and the largest town in the state of Delaware.

Wednesday, 8th June
Counties in this state are subdivided into hundreds corresponding with the townships in the northern states. The building here as well as in the eastern part of Pa. are almost exclusively built of stone. A great portion of the original settelers of this vicinity were Swedes, whose descendants composed a large portion of the present population. The Quaker habits prevail here to a great degree, tho a majority who that character have only adopted the peculiar errors and foibles of that society while the more commendable features of their doctrine constitute no part of their practice.

July 5
The anniversary of Independence is not celebrated here and yesterday passed off almost without being remembered as the anniversary of our liberties birth.

November 10 (1825)
On the fourth instant celebration completion of the Erie Canal was celebrated in New York and it is said it was in a grand and imposing manner. For celebration boats entered the canal at Buffalo on the 26 and arrived in New York on the morning of the 4 inst. Having been accompanied from Albany by a number of steamboats.

Tuesday 28
This morning set sail on board the packet Sarah Ann for Philada. After passing the draw bridge at the foot of Market Street, We sailed down the Christina Creek which after receiving the far famed Brandywine, discharged itself into the Deleware River Three miles below Willmington.

Thursday 30.
This morning got on the Steamboat Thistle for N. York where we arrived at 10 or 11 A.M. This city with its 162,000 inhabitants and 100 churches is in a rapid state of improvement which each year obviously exhibits.

Saturday 1, April
Very pleasant. This morning ste sail for Brookhaven where after a very pleasant sail 8 or 9 hours we arrived. We saw between Sandy Hook and Fire Island Inlet 5 whales which were the first I ever saw. Rode to Patchogue whence I proceeded home on foot where I arived at 8 P.M after an absence of more than 10 months.

Saturday July 1
Independence a cemi centenial anaversiary has arrived and great preparations have in many places been made for its celebration-during the lapse of half of a century. Almost all of the veterans of '76 have sunk to the tombs mor lived to witness the liberty and growing prosperity which their sons enjoy. May the all wise director incline us to be grateful for his blessings and whilst we are rising in prosperity and knowledge and refinement may we retain the purity and patriotism of our ancestor and duly appreciate the liberty they purchased.

Saturday 8,
The venerable expresidents, Adams and Jefferson died on the 4th inst the circumstances of their death occurring on the National Jubilee and within about four hours of each other exhibits an unusual and unprecedented coincidense events their ages were respectively 92 and 83 they have left but few of their contemporaries who with themselves gain the liberty we enjoy. Peace to the names of the patriot and the Sage-Chas Carroll is the survivor of the illustrious Senate who signed the Declaration of Independence he yet lingers on the borders of time and is the last visible luminary in that consterlation whose radiant beams once enlightened our political sky.

Monday 9th October
Last Saturday attended a review of Col. Woodhull's regiment mustered at Coram after having satisfied myself with half an hours examination of the motlely assemblage which thronged the premises of "Mine host I was prevailed on to take a stand in the bar".

Monday 6th
Yesterday walked in company with missrs Mulford and Heavens to Poosspaddacka Small Indian Hamlet near Mastic tho once a considerable Indian Village it has depreciated to half a dozen families some of whom are Negroes and Shades. One wigwam only remains. The other tenements being framed These inmates are rapidly diminishing and a few years will perhaps render extinct the last relic of a probably once powerful tribe. Their appearance is that of extreme proverty tho the natural advantages and percular privliges which their locality ejoys would seemed to want the idea that they cannot want the means of substance.

Wednesday 8th
This evening our state election for Governor, lieutnant governor and members of the assembly ect. closed- the polls were opened at Moriches this morning. The electors it is said are pretty nearly divide in their votes for the candidates for governor notwithstanding the fair claims to which the sources of the present encumbant of that office have entitled him.

Monday 20th Saturday
Having a holiday I rode on an unbroken colt "Wild as the winds of the north" after several spills of jumping , plumging, rearing and other maneuvers equally ungallant an impolite, his restless spirit yielded to the switch and he caried me safe home although several bruises on my fingers bare testimony to the violence they had suffered!!

Friday 24th
Last evening the fist session of a debating society recently organized and danominated the debating club of Moriches was held at E. Raynor's. Mr.Clinton is elected governor of New York by a majority.

Thursday 7th
This day has been set apart by our governor as the day of Thanksgiving. It is however little observed in this past evening called in at E. Raynor's where a set had collected for dancing.

Tuesday 10th
This is my birthday and complete my 26th year.

Sunday 15th (1827)
Last evening rode to Capt. J. Smith's where I spent the night very agreeably. Returned this morning to Capt. Haven's where I had spent the day in reading, etc. Evening called on Oakley's in attendance upon some young ladies.

Wednesday 17th
This morning opened the second school house in Moriches the public journals announced that a war has broken out between Spain and Portugal and that England, agreeable to treaty of alliance, is preparing to defend the latter.

Friday 9th Feby
Last evening sat up with the corpse of Mrs. Biggs in company with several young persons, the deceased was the wife of Isaac Biggs of this place is said to have exchanged apparent satisfaction spending the ? long night in the presence of the remains of a fellow creature having just made the transation, is well calculated to impress the minds with lessons of mortality and to show the fragile and perishable nature of the tenement on which we make such momentous calculations and which serves only as an envelope to include the soul.

Monday 12th
Rode to the fireplace in company with Messers Worth Havens and Post heard the Rev. E.King lecture in Fireplace meeting house.

Wednesday 4th
Yesterday attended our annual town meeting at Coram the day was unusually fine.

Friday 27th
Yesterday rode to Drownmeadow the afternoon and evening very agreeable with Mr. Z. Hawkins and family rode to Setauket and returned home via the pond and Westfields.

Monday 30th
This morning resumed by school in Moriches.

Sunday 3rd
Have just returned from the annual meeting of the blacks at Poosapaddack, at which the Rev. Hawkins officiated a very considerable concourse of whites and blacks attended the latter probably prompted to attend from motive of curiosity several tawny natives raised their voices in the corus of praise to the God of the white man and the indian the scene was highly interesting, and imagination reverted back to the period when nights of the bow and arrow of whom these are the lineal descendants pursued, the wild game over the forest of their then undisputable dominions or with the elastic and hideous yells danced their war dances and chanted the Song of Victory and triumph over a vanquished fox.

Monday 2nd July
Last Friday afternoon set sail for Babylon. Strolled over the village till noon when we sailed for Fire Island light house. Whilst at the lighthouse ascended the tower several times and witnessed the operation of igniting- the tower is constructed of Stone and rises on a base of 35 feet diameter to the height of 75 feet to the dome when it has a diameter of 14 feet the form is octagonal it is a revolving light to distinguish it from those of Sandy Hook and Montauk. The lamps appear to be of the best construction and emit a very strong light the wick is drawn over a cylinder of an inch diameter and elevated or depressed by a cylinder.

Thursday 5th
Yesterday the anniversary of Independence was attempted to be celebrated in Moriches tho the want of means ect rendered it less interesting than it might have more than one hundred guns hoever were fired and an ovation delivered by Mr. M Fanning.

Monday 16th
The weather is fine for hay making and harvesting and our farmers are prostrating the well grown grass and spreading the " harvest to the sun."

Wednesday 1st August
This day closed my school in Moriches, L. called this afternoon for the purpose of taking me home.

Saturday 11th
This morning attended the launching of the sloop Missouri and had the pleasure of standing on the deck when she descended into the water a concourse of Several hundred assembled.

Sunday
This morning rode horsed to Fireplace having spent the night there in consequence of a heavy rain. This morning after attendedmeeting at Coram and called on A. M. Overton at Westfield.

Friday 24th
Yesterday and this afternoon attended a review of the officers attached the 32nd regiment. The weather is fine and very favorable to the occasion.

Monday 3rd
Today attended a review of Captain Rayoner's.

Tuesday 4th
Today resumed my school in Moriches after a months vacation.

Saturday
Attended a regiment review at Coram Saw J. Brown and sisters from the west with whom I spent the evening. Last evening returned to Moriches after attending services at Westfeild.

Sunday 2nd
Today heard lecture from the Rev. Mr.Langhton at Coram.

Tuesday 4th
Yesterday called up Westfield. Spent the night at Uncle J.B. Roe's at confirmation of the report of the loss of the Sloop Levity has just reached here the sloop capsized in attempting to cross the Fire Island Bar last Saturday morning. The crew consited Capt. Rode and his son at Mr. Risley and a lad by the name of Ruland. Some of the crew was, seen of the wreck most of the day but no assistance could be given, the crew belonged at Patchogue.


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