Letter of Oliver Allen, 1815
Now in the possession of his Grandson, William E. Allen who became a resident of Vineland in 1862
Marietta, Ohio, November 27, 1815 Dear Olivia:
I with pleasure embrace this first opportunity to rite you since I rote you from Erie I have for the greatest part of the time been in good health but have I think had a greater share of delays on my journey than people in general that travels on this river I have been twelve days from Pittsburgh to this place which is often accomplished in three days I was told when was at Pittsburgh that I should be in Cincinatti in eight or ten days and now they tell me it will be twelve or fourteen days before we can get through to Cincinatti owing as the boatman say to the river being so low.
I have found in this country a good many places which the people say is a good place for a man to get rich, but to do it he must have a great deal of money have a wicked heart and be a great scoundrel which the first you are very well ashured I have not got and the other two I do not want Pittsburgh is a place of great mercantile and mecanical business but one half of the houses are made of logs with clay stuck in the cracks there are some verry good brick houses but they burn so much sea or stone cole which is found here in abundance it is bought for six cents per Bushell, that the houses are all verry smokey on the outside and look like some old place.
From Errie to Pittsburgh it is, so far as I could see the land, from the river poor the inhabitants appear poor they do not have anny good houses nor barns you would not see a chaise nor a carriage except a wagon for two or three hundred miles the men all look poor and dirty and the women look a great deal worse so bad that I think that I shall never be willing to see my wife one of them from Pittsburgh down two hundred miles the country looks very poor as respects building not a good house the hole length of way except some little villiage but they appear to live better when among them than you would think to just look at them in one of these houses where you would not see a paine of glass in the house where there would not be any door but boards, no seller to the house the chimney built of little sticks puttied together with little course clay or dirt and cleare out of the house and the oven twenty yards from the house you will get verry good fried beef or pork, for they do not now how to broil, I will warrant that there is not a grid iron for two hundred miles, sometimes a piece of venison or wild turkey a verry good cup of green tea or coffee with a most excellent pound cake and buiscuit as white as you could wish the people appear to feel very happy, some of them are from the new England States as we are called, say that they would not go back for nothing in the world but some of them look as if they told a great lye.
I have really had a verry scurvey time of it ever since that I left Errie which is now more than fifteen days I have been most of the time on board of a boat where I could sometimes get one meal of victuals on shore per day and the rest either cook myself or eat with the boats crew which was not very pleasant for the boatman in this country are not the best behaved people in this world and for the most part of the time to sleep on board of the boat for some times we would go ashore perhaps three or four miles from anny house of course no bed but straw no close but a blanket and my great coat and always sleep with my cloathes on you will verry quick guess that my clothes are verry dirty and beginning to wear out my bad setting pantaloons will soon be worn out and my stocking verry much out of repair of course you must make me a pair by the time that I get home which time is something uncertain but when I get to Cincinatti I shall rite you when I shall probably be at home, you see that I riting you a nother verry long letter you will not say that I do not rite often or long enough you will but have to call upon George for everything you want I have some bad forebodings that everything is not as rite as I could wish from the Genl. however I hope for the best. I have a thousand things to write you but have not room. I have tried to purchase a bible in this country but could not
my respects to all inquiring friend, my best love and respects to your self and childred
May God bless you Yours
Oliver Allen Mrs. O. Allen
Addressed on outside to Mrs. Oliva Allen, Walpole, N. H.