The Journal of David Springsteed
by Rev. Drs. Joseph A. Loux, Jr.
David, his wife and children said farewell to their family, friends and fellow villagers in Coeymans on May 27, 1800; their destination was the western part of New York where they would homestead and have room to grow in family and fortune. Later in the same year, Peter and Febi Bronk of Coxsackie, New York received word of the Springsteed’s journey in a remarkable letter written by David as he and his family traveled west to Saltflat (an area southeast of Buffalo). The journey which was over three weeks in duration was anything but easy and sometimes perilous. Their experience was typical of that of every western settler using the Mohawk corridor during the first decade of the nineteenth century.
They left Coeymans with a small horse cart accompanied by a few cows and sheep; they traveled the Post Road north to Albany, then northwest through the Pine Bush to the widow Truax’s Tavern. At the tavern they lodged for the night; food, tolls and lodging for the day cost 15 shillings. At Schenectady, David purchased passage for his wife and children on a packet boat heading up the Mohawk. He drove the livestock west on the trail that parallels the river. He soon made the acquaintance of two families going west and accompanied them on the trail. When the boat pulled in and moored at a riverside inn for the evening, David was there to meet his family with the livestock.
At Fort Schuyler they left the river and headed overland noting sights and names still familiar to all who have ever studied a New York road map; Wamps, Cayuga Lake, the Seneca River, Osoton, etc.
On June 9th David gave custody of the journal to his wife who continued with the daily entries. The journal abruptly ends on the evening of June 13th. It is apparent that the last eight entries were written on a single quarto size sheet. This sheet sometime over the last 180 years was lost. What follows is an exact transcription of the original; spelling and grammar remain unaltered.
The journal is one of a number of unpublished documents in the family papers of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bronk of West Coxsackie, New York.
Saltflat, June 22th 1800
Verey kind and respected Brothers and Sisters with plesher I imbrase this oppertunity of informing you that we are all well at present for which we have reason to be truly thankfull to the giver of every good and perfect gift for his mercies and lovingkindness to us hoping these lines may find you all in the same I right in hast
May the 27 we set out from Coeymans and we got to Truaxes 25 miles and our expece was 0-15-0.
The 28th we came to Schenectady where I found my wife and children and we broke our fast togather. This night we lost two cattel and went back and got them agne and there my deare wife and children set out by water and I by land about 12 oclock and we got to Wamples and our expence was 1-2-5. and all night I met my wife and children agne and we stayed together and parted. We got that day 19 miles.
The 29[th] agne, and about 8 oclock I saw them [in the boat] in the river and made a halt and ran to the river and stoped them and gave them some milk and then I set out agne and fell in with two families that was agoying to the same place and we drove together till we came to Cuga [Cayuga] Lake and there was a man fell in with them att Albany and he wanted them to carrey his pack for him and to bear his expences promising them that he would reward them for their kindness to him this man was very unsevel and these pepal being Dutchman and not much aqanted with travling [k/n/o/w] nott what to do with him who spoke to me to befrend them as I now had become one in company I spoke verey planley to him and sed that if he did not behave him self as a man ought to do he must leav us ameadettly and then he became more sevil and this day I exchanged away a cow left the two sheep that Arnold Holifeld give us and we got 22 miles and stade at Landsons and this man began to play the fiddel and I telde him that I would not have it a playing there and he put it away and used us verey sevel and our expence was 0-9-11.
30th It begone to rane and we went 9 miles and stayed att Earl and our expences was 0-9-6.
31 We went on agane and got to ——-ts and one man used us verey unsevel by the way because I would not stay with him and we got 26 miles and our expence was 0-6-6.
June the 1[st] we got to Fort Siler [Schuyler] and here I got in company agane with my deare wife and children and we stayed together att Flesches we went about 11 miles and our expence was 0-7-9.
2[d] We parted agane with my dear wife and children and I went 8 miles through the rane and got to Cooks and our expence was 0-7-6.
3[d] We got to Wamps – 18 miles through the mud to the hourses belleyes and our expence was 0-10-1.
Th4th went 18 miles through the mud and came to Colvers and sold one sheep and our expence was 0-8-9.
The 5[th] We went 16 miles through the mud to Lavans and sold a sheep that tired and our expence was 0-9-6.
The 7[th] we went 12 miles and crossed Cuga [Cayuga] Lake and Senecha River and our expence was 0-15-0.
The 8[th] we went to Osotons 25 miles through the mud and crossed the Flent Crick and our expence was 0-6-6.
[David’s Springsteed’s wife continues the journal.]
The 9[th] we got to Fars and crossed Canandigua and mud and humoroy Creeks and passed through Bloomfield 20 miles and our expence 8/6.
The 10[th] we went 18 miles and crossed the Genisee River 7 miles from which is a very remarkable spring which is said to issue water enough at all seasons to turn two mills and came to Chamberlins and our expence was 9/9.
The 11[th] we crossed Allens Creek and breckfasted at Wallers and his wife is a very unkind woman to travlers that carry their own provisions with them. And we came to Davises 18 miles and a cow tired and we lost 2 horses and our expence 1/9.
The 12[th] I went five miles back and found the horses again and we went two miles to an opening and David and I staid there that knight. This day our money being exausted I thought best to be left alone with my little boy and son Simon Springsteed to the head of the lake for some more money who by disobeying my advise and giving heed to another Man and going off-ov his way got lost 4 days in the woods without any thing to eat and no other relief only the musquitoes to pray upon him which infest that part of the woods his mare he let go and has not got her as yet wile we was here there came two men that lodged with us in our new and unexpected lodging one of whom sent his horse back by me which was lame and give me 14 S. in money which [I] added to my little stock which inabled me to go forward this knight. The heavens gathered blackness we expected a very wet lodging and we had nothing but the clouds for our shelter. But the winds blew the clouds a way. No expence to that.