Voice of the People:  Daily Life in the Antebellum Rural Delaware County New York Area


 Family and Daily LifeEducation Health/Sickness/MortalityBusiness/Labor  | Reform/Conflict | Religion | Transportation/Travel  | The Outside World | Maps | Exterior links | Acknowledgements

Anti-Rent newspaper image1833 map of central New York1852 horse on tread


Voice of the People illuminates the daily lives of representative men, women, and children of  rural central New York in the years prior to the Civil War through letters, diaries, and other previously unpublished or generally unavailable material.

Eight chapters comprise the site:  Family and Daily Life, Education, Health/Sickness/Mortality,  Reform/Conflict, Transportation/Travel, Business/Labor, Religion, and The Outside World. The main characters and authors of this web site mostly missed inclusion in the history books; nonetheless, many of their stories are quite remarkable and include:

The 1855 story of Lucy Ann Lobdell, a cross-dressing female huntress (the first woman labelled a "lesbian" by the medical profession)--see Family and Daily Life;

First impressions of Delaware Literary Institute in Franklin, NY in 1856--see Education;

The most extraordinary medicine in the world (in 1849): Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla -- see Health/Sickness/Mortality; 

An 1823 account of a trip from Delhi, NY to Canada--see Transportation/Travel;

The Calico Indians/Anti-Renters: Farmers in revolt against the gentry--see  Reform/Conflict;

Excepts from an anonymous 1841 journal of religious experience--see Religion;

Excerpts from the 1852 diary of farmer Nathanial Arbuckle: see Business/Labor;

Eastern Milk Producers Scrapbook, 1955 - 1978: see Business/Labor;

168 days sailing from New York to California via Cape Horn in 1851--see The Outside World 


The timeline below illustrates the chronology of national, state, regional, and local history



1809 - 1817: President James Madison 1810: William Cooper publishes A guide in the wilderness
Early nineteenth century: Second Great Awakening (religious revival) 1810 - 1850: Pioneer farmers in large numbers settle the area
1810: Mowing machine invented 1812: Joseph Bicknell rides a raft made of logs down the Delaware River
1812 - 1815: War with British over naval harassment 1814: Samuel Sherwood, a widower, writes a romantic letter to his fiancÚ Laura Bostwick
1816: Model prison introduced in Auburn, NY 1818: Sermon by Ebenezer Maxwell of the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Delhi, NY
1816: Erie Canal between New York and the Great Lakes begun 1820: The United States Primer published by H. and E. Phinney, Cooperstown
1817 - 1825: President James Monroe 1820: Advertisement in the Delaware Gazette: Reward for runaway apprentice Ransom Slocum
1819: Panic of 1819 (financial) 1821: Newly founded Delaware Academy in Delhi, NY advertises for scholars
1820's - 1830's: Charles Grandison Finney conducts religious revivals in Western New York 1821: Breach of promise of marriage suit brought to Delaware County Court by Jerusha Foote.
1820: Missouri Compromise: Slavery banned above 36 degrees 30 minutes  
1820 - 1860: 5 million immigrants arrive in the United States 1823: Laura Sherwood, husband Samuel, and two of their children travel from Delhi to Canada, visiting the prison at Auburn as well as the Erie Canal
1825: Erie Canal completed 1823: James Walton letter to Ebenezer Foote detailing gifts he would send after visiting Foote in Delhi, NY
1825 - 1829: President John Quincy Adams 1826: James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Last of the Mohicans
1826: American Temperance Society organized 1826: Samuel Sherwood, writing from "cutthroat" New York City, declares he misses his wife Laura; mentions the death of Adams and Jefferson on July 4
1829 - 1837: President Andrew Jackson 1828: Inventory from the sale of the property of Charles Foote
1834: Cyrus McCormack patents a grain reaper 1835: Bad weather in Walton, NY means financial problems for farmer Walter Jayne
1836: Congress decides slavery is a matter for individual states 1836: Samuel Sherwood writes his wife Laura a letter explaining travel arrangements by stage coach
1837: Panic of 1837 (financial) 1837: The Delaware County Poor House sends 6 year old Alvina Colony to work as an indentured servant to age 18
1837 - 1841: President Martin Van Buren 1838: Members of the Silliman family travel from New York to Michigan
1840: Postage stamps introduced 1840: Samuel Law of Meredith, NY accounts the sickness and death of his wife Sally in his diary
1841: President William H. Harrison 1842: Samuel Sherwood writes his son William Sherwood in Delhi, NY asking him what he plans to do with his life
1841 - 1845: President John Tyler 1845: Undersheriff Osman Steele murdered during the Anti-rent conflict
1845 - 1849: President James K. Polk 1845: Matthew Griffin of Middletown, NY describes events as they unfolded during the Anti-rent conflict in his diary
1845: Beginning of large scale immigration of Irish to the US following the potato famine 1846: The Farmer's Store advertises a new stock of goods in the Delaware Gazette
1846-1848: Mexican War 1847: Matthew Griffin of Middletown, NY states his view on the US war with Mexico
1848: Illinois-Michigan Canal opens 1846 - 1847: Anti-rent newspaper Voice of the People published in Delhi, NY
1848: First women's rights convention  
1849 - 1850: President Zachary Taylor 1849: Robert Sherwood describes Paris, France to his sister Mary back home
1849: California Gold Rush begins 1851: Harvey Seaman sails to California via Cape Horn
1850: Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act 1850: Susan Fenimore Cooper publishes Rural Hours
1850-1853: President Millard Fillmore 1852: Delhi farmer Nathanial Arbuckle records daily events in his diary
  1853: George Edgerton escapes Delhi lawmen by traveling to St. Paul, Minnesota Territory
1851: Susan B. Anthony campaigns for the rights of women 1853: Eliza Mead of Walton, NY describes her daily routine in her diary
1852: Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin 1854: Edward Frisbee describes life at the Delaware Literary Institute in Franklin, NY in a letter to his cousin
1853: Gadsden Purchase: US buys land south of New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico 1855: John Shanley mortgages cows and sheep to Guerdon Edgerton of Delhi, NY
1853 - 1857: President Franklin Pierce 1855: Lucy Ann Lobdell publishes The Narrative of Lucy Ann Lobdell, the Female Hunter of Delaware and Sullivan Counties, N. Y
1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act: allows the two new territories to decide whether they will be slave-holding or free 1856: Edward Frisbee writes that Franklin, NY residents burn Senator Douglas, author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, in effigy
1857: Panic of 1857 (financial) 1857: Miriah Corbin asks Guerdon Edgerton for leniency in collecting the money he owes
1857 - 1861: President James Buchanan 1857: Ebenezer Lindsey of Downsville, NY details the death of his wife Mary from small pox
1858: Kerosene oil discovered in Pennsylvania Kerosene oil lamps began to replace home made candles as a source of light
1859: John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry 1859: Maurice Farrington accepts a position as a teacher at a Common School in Bloomville, NY
1860: Election of Abraham Lincoln as US President 1860: Nathanial Arbuckle of Delhi mentions the troubles in the Southern States in his diary.
1861: Firing on Fort Sumter: beginning of the Civil War 1861: Laura Sherwood, now living in New York City, mentions making caps for the Seventh Regiment soldiers to protect them from the southern sun


All materials on this website are for non-profit educational use.

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