Voices of the Journey

Voices of the Journey

Status: In Progress

Genre: Historical Fiction



Status: In Progress

Genre: Historical Fiction




After a husband and father leaves for a new land in the West, his wife and children have lost faith in him. When tragedy strikes, do they forgive him?
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After a husband and father leaves for a new land in the West, his wife and children have lost faith in him. When tragedy strikes, do they forgive him?

Chapter1 (v.1) - Generation 1- Relations of Adventure

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 14, 2017

Reads: 67

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 14, 2017



September 21, 1787-

Dear Elizabeth,

It pains me to write this letter. Joshua just told me that we will be leaving Danvers, probably forever, on December 3 of this year Seventeen Hundred and Eighty-Seven to go to the new North-West Territory. Joshua thinks this will save us, but in my mind, there is nothing but trees out there and we will all be driven mad. Rufus Putnam, who was a general in the war, will be leading us, across mountains and trees to nothingness. Our children will be staying with Joshua’s parents, Joseph and Ruth Nye, here in Danvers, since small ones slow down a journey like one of these.

Best regards,

Mary Nye


Mary Nye, wife of Joshua Nye and parents of Eliza (age 13), Cassie (age 10) and Joshua Jr. (age 6) wrote to her cousin Elizabeth Pierce in Boston, Massachusetts, about a full day’s travel from the Nye’s farm near Danvers, Massachusetts. Mary Nye was saddened at the thought of leaving her children in Danvers, but at least they were in safe hands with Joseph and Ruth Nye (her in-laws). Elizabeth Pierce had borne nine children, with eight surviving infancy and six living in the fall of 1787. She and her husband, William Pierce, had her hands full, so Mary and Joshua’s brood could not stay with Elizabeth and William Pierce. Mary’s father had been Samuel Pierce, the son of a Puritan minister, who in 1753 had wed Mary’s mother, Aurelia Pierce. Mary had been born in 1755, and Aurelia had borne nine children in fifteen years, with only five surviving infancy and four surviving past the age of five. Aurelia died in childbirth in 1770 with baby Abigail, who had only lived a few months before passing on. Samuel Pierce’s brother was Henry Pierce, whose son was William Pierce. He had wed Elizabeth in 1772, and in 1773 they had moved from Danvers to Boston. Just like the Pierce’s and Nye’s ancestors (the English Puritans of the 1630s), Joshua and Mary were making a long journey to nearly uncharted territory with nothing but savages and the unknown.

The Nye farm was small but sure- they had some vegetables, a horse, a field of corn, some chickens, a pig and a milk cow. Mary Nye pestered Joshua to bring the small ones along, but he was firm about it- they would stay behind in Danvers. As the leaves on the trees turned red, yellow and orange and the squashes and pumpkins they grew were harvested, Mary thought about leaving with the children and walking to Boston herself the day before they were due to leave Danvers for the west.

From selling eggs to other wives, Mary had a few shillings, which she dutifully saved as fall became a bitterly cold Massachusetts winter. Mary and the children whined about the cold, and Joshua said they wouldn’t be cold once they started traveling west with Rufus Putnam.

The snows began to fall, and Joshua grew gayer as December 3 approached. On December 2 at dinner, Joshua Nye had “Ohio fever”, bragging about how Rufus Putnam picked him to go west to the Ohio Country and no one else. Earlier that day, Joshua and Mary had hitched the horse to the wagon to take the children over to their grandparents’ farm, about a mile away. The farm had been sold, and the long journey in the bitter winter weather would be beginning the next day at the town parsonage.

Finally, Mary Nye decided to stand up for herself and put a stop to her husband’s “Ohio fever”.

She stood up from her chair and said, “I have decided to not accompany you to the Ohio Country. There is nothing but trees out there. What is out there?”

Joshua Nye roared, “I TOLD YOU THAT RUFUS PUTNAM PICKED ME! WE FOUGHT TOGETHER IN THE WAR, AND I WOULD HAVE GIVEN MY LIFE FOR HIM, SAME AS HE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR ME! Gen. Putnam is not the type of man you can say no to, neither is General Washington!”
”We’ll never see the children again, since we’ll be going to the Ohio Country. I said you are still going to the Ohio Country; it’s just that I am not going.”

Joshua retorted, “There is nothing here in Danvers anymore, and it’s our first step to a truly God-given life- going out west to Ohio the way God, and I, intend. NEVER SPEAK ILL OF RUFUS PUTNAM TO ME!”
Mary Nye shot back, “I didn’t speak ill of Rufus Putnam. I respect the General as much as you do. I’ll just remain here in Danvers, and maybe find my way to Boston.”
Mary decided not to tell her angry husband about the egg money, and simply said she would find a way.

Joshua hollered, “Fine. That settles it. When you are alone in the middle of a freezing winter here in Danvers, DON’T COME CRYING TO THE GOVERNOR, RUFUS PUTNAM, OR WORSE TO GENERAL WASHINGTON, WHEN YOU ARE WITHOUT HOUSE. You would have slowed the journey to the Ohio Country down anyway.”

If Mary went with Joshua to the Ohio Country, there were several dangers- Indians, wild animals, and the cold temperatures, and having to follow every order of Gen. Rufus Putnam and her husband, but if she stayed in Danvers she would be homeless, with only six shillings to her name.

Then, a thought came to her. She could temporarily stay with a childless couple- Jonathan and Sarah Whipple, who lived nearby. Jonathan Whipple had also fought in the war, but Joshua did not like him, saying he was too “stuck up.”

After dinner was over, she fooled Joshua into believing she would walk all the way to Boston in the freezing cold. He was cleaning his rifle barrel and barely saw her leave the cabin for the Whipple’s.

Jonathan Whipple answered when Mary knocked on the door.

In an archaic-sounding accent, he asked, “What brings ye here on this cold night?”

She answered, “My husband is going to the Ohio Country with General Putnam tomorrow, and I told him I wouldn’t go, but he could traipse all the way to the other side of the world if he wanted to.”
”Ye can stay here if ye want.”

“Yes, I will. Take three shillings for room and board.”
”Nay, keep your money. I can tell ye need it more than I do.”

December 3, 1787-

Dear Elizabeth,

My dear Joshua left today from the town parsonage for the Ohio Country. I fancied walking to Boston, but decided to stay with brethren Jonathan and Sarah Whipple until I can get to Boston. The Whipple’s say I can stay there as long as needed, but I plan to leave for Boston as soon as possible. I expect not to bring the brood with me to Boston, they think I am on my way to the Ohio Country now and so do Joshua’s parents. I slept well here at the Whipple’s and am helping them keep their farm until I leave for Boston.

Best regards,

Mary Nye

She took the letter to the town mercantile, bought a postage stamp, and brought it to the town post office. The letter would be taken down the Old Ipswich Road to get to Boston, which would be a six- to eight- hour walk if Mary did end up walking to her cousin Elizabeth’s. She would endure the bitterly cold weather regardless. After returning to the Whipple home, she informed Sarah Whipple of her decision to walk all the way to Boston.

Sarah said in an archaic accent like her husband’s, “An’ ye do not have to walk all the way to Boston. Aye, you can take Mr. King’s carriage. It leaves tomorrow at dawn?”
Jonathan replied, “Aye, it leaves at first light and goes through the whole city of Boston, down to the Harbor.”

Mary did not have much money, and she knew the carriage was expensive, especially going all the way to Boston, so she decided to leave the next morning at first light, walking to Boston.

That night, Mary could not sleep, tossing and turning and dreaming of her new life in Boston, if she could make it there in the extreme cold and snow. When she woke at first light, it was blinding snow outside, and she decided it would be wise to stay in Danvers until spring, if she was able.

Over breakfast on December 4, 1787, she asked Jonathan and Sarah Whipple if she could stay with them until spring, and they said she could. The Whipple’s celebrated Christmas joyfully but simply, celebrating with prayer and a festive meal of a goose Jonathan had shot.

The long Massachusetts winter went by slowly, especially after Christmas was over and it was 1788. Meanwhile, Joshua Nye and the rest of the pioneers traveled through snow in wagons, and when they reached the mountains, they were sinking in snow and decided they had to hurriedly construct sledges. These sledges (sleds) carried the baggage over the high Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania to a river then spelled Yohiogany (an Indian name) west of the Alleghenies. In the middle of February 1788, General Putnam and the party from Danvers (as well as the Ipswich party) reached Sumrill’s Ferry. In the bitter cold, the men built two flatboats at Sumrill’s Ferry on the mostly frozen Yohiogany River (now spelled Youghiogheny). These were the Adventure Galley (which weighed forty-five tons) and the three-ton Adelphia. They also built three log canoes, and when the boatbuilding was done, Joshua Nye and all the others left on the boats, going north on the Youghiogheny River. They called the Adventure Galley the Mayflower as well, in honor of their English Pilgrim ancestors who had come in 1620 on the Mayflower. They took the Youghiogheny to its northern end in what is now McKeesport, Pennsylvania, continuing on the Monongahela River to the Ohio River to the small town of Pittsburgh (then spelled Pittsburg) where Fort Pitt was, at the source of the Ohio River (the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers). While Mary worked hard for the Whipple’s, constantly thanking them for letting her stay, the pioneers were traveling west, and on April 7, 1788, they arrived at the mouth of the Muskingum River in what is now Marietta, Ohio.

Winter turned into spring, and the bitter cold turned into rain. Mary was pained by the thought of her children being a mere mile away, but her children thought Mary was hundreds of miles away, in the Ohio Country. Joshua thought about his wife and children as the pioneers worked hard to form Marietta, Ohio. Should Mary get the children or send someone for them?

On Saturday, April 12, 1788, Mary left the Whipple farm, and borrowed Jonathan’s gun. She boldly knocked on the door of Joshua and Ruth’s farm and demanded her children back.

Joseph Nye said in a surprised, alarmed tone, “Mary, did your husband act like a fool and give up on the Ohio Country?”

Mary boldly stated, “I didn’t go with Joshua. I’ve been in Boston the entire winter with my cousins there.”

Ruth Nye was cooking something in the kitchen, and when she heard Joseph holler, she was as surprised and confused as her husband was to see Mary Nye at the door. Joseph’s controlling, fierce temper was passed down to Joshua, but Ruth was more gentle and compassionate.

Joseph refused to give Mary her children back, saying she was a “liar”, a “disgrace” and an “unfaithful wife” for not accompanying her husband to the Ohio Country. However, Ruth whispered to Eliza (who had turned fourteen on March 3, 1788) to walk with the children to school like always come Monday, and after school walk to the Whipple house.

It was soon settled. Ruth returned to her kitchen and Mary went back to the Whipple’s, thankful for her mother-in-law, who she thought of before a nag and a busybody, defying her husband and figuring out how Mary could get her children back so they could travel to Boston. At the market, Mary occasionally sold eggs and bits of handiwork and saved the coins she earned for the journey to Boston, even if it was on foot.

Rufus Putnam, Joshua Nye and 46 others started building a settlement at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, right across from Fort Harmar, a pentagonal U.S. military fort built in 1785, under the orders of Colonel Josiah Harmar- a Philadelphian who fought in the Continental Army and then the U.S. Army, resigning on January 1, 1792 and returning to Pennsylvania, serving as the state’s adjutant general from 1793-99. While Mary Nye was dithering on what to do, Sarah and Jonathan Whipple said they could take in Mary’s children. They always wanted to have children, but were not able to. The weather had warmed up, and the Boston area was experiencing a spell of sunny spring weather- as Sarah Whipple put it, “perfect traveling weather.” Mary thought about going to “toughen up” and travel across the Alleghenies to the Ohio Country to join her husband, where there was at least a fort, but she couldn’t walk all the way to the Ohio Country, and she did not have the money to hire a wagon all the way west- could Mary and the children really travel all the way to the Ohio Country to join Joshua?

Today, it is a journey of about eleven hours by car from Danvers, Massachusetts, to Marietta, Ohio, through Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio, but the journey west was far different in the year 1788.

Monday, April 14, 1788 was another sunny spring day, and after the town school let out for the day, Mary, accompanied by Jonathan Whipple, went to Joseph and Ruth’s farm to pick up their children, who like one may expect, were beyond delighted to see their Mama again!

Wise beyond her years, Eliza Nye said, “Mama, I thought we would never see you and Papa again! I knew you were always thinking of me and the others, close in mind, but didn’t know you were close at hand!”

The Whipple’s loved children, and said they could stay for as long as needed, but Mary hated to rely on others. At least she made money by selling eggs, she thought.

Spring turned into summer, and almost every day in May dawned jubilant and gay, as work to found the new settlement in the Ohio Country continued. As Joshua Nye worked, he thought about his wife and children back in Danvers, and kept replaying the argument on the previous December 2 in his mind, wishing he would have been kinder to his wife. Could Joshua Nye leave the settlement and go back to Massachusetts by walking all the way back east? But there were wild animals, Indians and other dangers, and it would be like deserting Rufus Putnam, who he respected greatly.

They started the construction of Campus Martius, a fortress that protected the settlers, including Gen. Putnam, from Indians. Unlike some of the other settlers, Joshua Nye did not believe the only good Indian was a dead Indian. The children were very respectful toward Jonathan and Sarah Whipple, while still resenting their Papa. Would they ever see him again?

Eliza tried to calm the fears of Cassie and Joshua, Jr., but was fearful herself. Life in Danvers continued as May became June.

Jonathan Whipple tried to be a father to the children, but it wasn’t like they didn’t have a father. Eliza was more independent and shy, but the other two children took to Jonathan Whipple, but viewed him as more of a “friendly uncle” than a father.

Arthur St. Clair, born in 1737 in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, arrived in the new settlement on July 9, 1788. The new settlement, originally named Adelphia (meaning “brotherhood”) was renamed by the Ohio Company of Associates’ investors. Gen. Putnam was part of the Ohio Company, which purchased the land for the new town. St. Clair had served in the British Army during the Seven Years’ War, served as the Continental Congress’ 15th President and then became the first Governor of the Northwest Territory.

In honor of Queen Marie Antoinette of France, the name for the new settlement was Marietta, because France had helped the United States defeat the British in the war. The Northwest Territory was officially established in a formal ceremony on July 9, 1788, and the county of Washington was formed, county seat Marietta. Washington County was named after Gen. Washington, who Joshua Nye respected even more than Gen. Putnam, but respected the one and only God the most.

Six days later, Joshua Nye, with his rifle, a sack of food and bullets, knife, axe, and a few other supplies, walked away from the settlement and into the dense forestlands just north of the river Ohio. He knew if he got across the river Ohio and walked to the south and east, he would eventually reach Virginia, but Virginia was hundreds of miles from Massachusetts. In a dream the previous night, he had heard God’s voice from across the Ohio, telling him to return to Danvers, even if it was just for a visit.

He reached a dense thicket of trees about twenty minutes away from the Marietta settlement- keeping his rifle out, he chopped down a few trees. With his knife, he stripped the bark off one of the large logs after the tree fell and began using his knife to hollow out the inside of the log, and when he was done he started carving two paddles out of the wood from another tree. He had left Marietta at first light, and it was noontime by the time he was done making the crude dugout canoe and the paddles. He put the canoe in the water and started down the river, and by then it had started to rain.

He had warm clothes, but was worried he could not get out of the rain. He was determined to return to Danvers, and did not want to be labeled a “deserter” by Gen. Putnam and everyone else back in Marietta. The rain continued, pouring down in buckets. The river grew high and about three hours after he started canoeing (nine miles up the river), Joshua attempted to get out of the water by paddling to shore. He started to panic as he tried to grasp a wet tree root to lift himself out, but he slipped on a rock as he stepped out of the canoe. By then, the water was reaching the nearby forestlands and he had to get out, probably return to Marietta.

What a way to die, he thought to himself. Going back east to see Mary and the kids.

Suddenly, the water came rushing by the rock he was slipping on and he tried to grasp the canoe, which was floating down the river, but it was too wet and muddy. He slipped again into the water and soon was stuck underwater, resurfacing a few times and yelling “Help! Help!” but it was of no use. He was a good swimmer, but the water was just too deep and he drowned. Right before he died, he replayed the fight he had had with Mary the day before he had left for the Ohio Country, wishing he had not gone at all.

Soon, Joshua Nye was reported as missing, and the next day (July 16, 1788) they found him dead, floating down the Ohio River. Gen. Rufus Putnam sent one of his men, Oliver Dodge, on a canoe up to Pittsburgh to mail Mary Nye a heart-wrenching letter, informing her that her husband had died.

It was a hundred and seventy-two miles up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, which was “the gateway to the west” in the year 1788. By 1790, Pittsburgh had about four hundred houses, mostly made of brick, and was a center of industry- with lumber sawmills and a small ironworks. Everything a family from the East migrating west to the Ohio Country would need could be bought in Pittsburgh, where flatboats could be bought or built. Oliver Dodge wrote a letter soon after his arrival in Pittsburgh on July 23, which read-

“Dear Mary Nye,

I regret to inform you, on the 16th day of July in this year Seventeen Hundred and Eighty-Eight, your husband, Joshua S. Nye, died drowning during a great flood on the Ohio River near Marietta, in the county of Washington, and the Ohio Country. We apologize sincerely for your loss, and promise it was out of my, or anyone else’s, control. Money cannot bring your husband back from the dead, but please accept this five shillings. Your husband was an important part of establishing Marietta in the Ohio Country, and he certainly did not die in vain.


Oliver Dodge.”
While walking through the streets of Pittsburgh, Oliver Dodge saw a horse-drawn wagon with PHILADELPHIA painted on the side.

He flagged down the wagon driver with his hand, and the driver, a tall, thin, bearded man with a three-cornered hat, asked what he wanted or needed.

“Sir, if you’re going to Philadelphia, take this to a post office there, so this can be taken up the King’s Highway to Danvers, Massachusetts.”
“I will, sir. I should reach Philadelphia in ten days, sir.”
“Thank you, sir.”

Meanwhile, Mary and the children remained in relative comfort and joy with Sarah and Jonathan Whipple through the hot days of July, not knowing that Joshua Nye had drowned trying to see his family. They planned to stay in Danvers until they could get to Boston, or to the Ohio Country. Mary had heard from her cousin Elizabeth, saying she knew of a fellow named Lyman Mary could stay with, but Mary no longer trusted men after her own husband had bragged about Gen. Putnam, abandoned his family, and went all the way to the Ohio Country- she still loved him, and she knew God loved him, her and everyone else.

On August 2, 1788, two brown horses plodded slowly through the streets of Philadelphia. The driver was William Potter of Philadelphia, who was sending for his family to move away from Philadelphia, over the mountains and to Pittsburgh. William Potter found the post office and bought the stamp.

In those days, the 316-mile journey to Boston took two to three weeks, with the letter traveling from town to town in various wagons. It was about a day’s journey from Boston to Danvers.

Every day was the same for Mary, the children and the Whipple’s. While the sad letter was being carried through New Jersey and up toward New York City, Jonathan Whipple left at first light on August 7, 1788, to go to Boston for fishing and to visit some friends and family there.

The longer the letter took, the longer Mary’s beloved Joshua Nye and the children’s beloved Papa was alive to them- but the inevitable happened. On August 20, 1788 (a hot, rainy day in Massachusetts but sunny in the West) the letter reached Boston, and the next morning a rider carried the letter from Boston to Danvers.

At about noon on August 21, 1788, Sarah Whipple, Mary Nye and Eliza Nye were cooking the noon meal in the Whipple’s kitchen, while the other two children chased each other in the Whipple’s barnyard. The clip-clopping of a horse’s footsteps grew louder until the rider, with a grave face, rapped on the door of the Whipple house.

“I have a letter from Marietta, Northwest Territory, for Ms. Mary Nye.”

Mary Nye opened the letter and tears flowed down her cheeks as she read about her husband’s drowning. In a choked-up voice, she called her children over and told them their beloved Papa was dead.

She was angry, yelling and pleading at God to “make it not so.” If she would have gone west to the Ohio Country, would he had survived? The five shillings enclosed would help, but no amount of money would get Joshua back.

The children’s faces were soon tear-stained when they learned of the death of their beloved Papa. If only they knew he was on their way to Danvers to see them. Mary was deeply saddened, angry at God and bewildered at God for letting it happen- God made the world, but he couldn’t control the weather.

Her mind was full of “if only” thoughts- if only she would have not been angry at him, if only she would have gone west with him to the Ohio Country, if only, if only, if only. It was a sunny summer day, but in the minds of Mary Nye and the children, it was a day of tempestuous, torrential rain, storms of anger, fear and uncertainty, and of nothing but if only thoughts.

Mary Nye’s mind was “all over the place.” She was husbandless, Joseph and Ruth Nye were sonless and her children were fatherless- it was one thing for them when their Papa left for the Ohio Country and another thing when their Papa died.

The next morning (August 22, 1788), Mary Nye woke up sobbing when she remembered her husband was dead. Mary and the very sad-faced children “went through the motions” of their morning routine, but their minds and hearts were not in it at all. The children just shook their heads and sobbed, and Mary did the same. She and Joshua had wed in 1773 and when the war started and Joshua went off to fight, she thought that he would die, but he made it home safe and sound from the war, dying in peacetime.  Jonathan Whipple said he could hire a wagon to take them to Boston. He had returned from Boston four days prior, and made a good amount of money off fish there.

Through thick cascades of tears Mary said, “Yes. We wish to leave Danvers- we need to get out of here, even if it is just to Boston.”

The wagon driver had lost his wife a year prior when she was giving birth to their last daughter, who also died in the birth. He saw their tear-streaked faces, but did not say anything.

For most of the day, they rode in the wagon to Boston, and found a tavern near Elizabeth’s house- King’s Tavern, with a picture of King George on it. It was obvious the owner was a Loyalist, while the Nye family was a family of Yankee Patriots, who supported patriotism, Gen. Washington, and going west- Joshua Nye did anyway before his drowning. Mary and the children thought about Joshua all through the day with a broken heart, wishing they could convince him to stay in Danvers. He loved his family, and had no intention to abandon them- in fact; he would probably not have drowned in the Ohio River if he didn’t want to see his family again.

The Whipple’s were not rich, but they were not poor either. They carefully saved their coins up for people who needed the money more- in Mary Nye’s case, a grieving, husbandless widow and her three children, who lost their beloved Papa. Before they had left, Sarah Whipple pressed a money pouch with jingling, jangling coins into Mary’s hand. Money couldn’t bring Joshua back or end Mary and the children’s deep, intense heartache and grief, but it would help them get to a new life.

They remained for three days in King’s Tavern in a sort of limbo, grieving for the loss of Joshua Nye but trying to get out of Danvers and start a new life beyond Boston- could they go to New York City, Philadelphia or even further south? They stayed in their room at the tavern until August 25, 1788, when Mary had enough composure to wipe the tears from her face long enough to find a wagon to get them toward Philadelphia. The children wondered where they were going, but it didn’t matter to them or to Mary- they would never get Joshua back.

On August 25 after breakfast, they found a stagecoach stop opposite the tavern. The stage driver told her the price for the week-long journey from Boston to New York City. Mary reckoned that if they took the journey to New York City, they would barely have any money left.

Mary said to the driver, “Sir, we are on our way to Pittsburgh. We won’t have enough to get us to New York, let alone Pittsburgh. Please, take this price.”
The driver replied, “Madam, I must make a living and your price is not enough.”
”Sir, my husband just gone to his maker in the west and we need to get to Pittsburgh.”
This did not persuade the stagecoach driver to change the price, and he started to taunt Mary.

“Madam, why are you going west when your husband died there?”

Mary lied, “We have family already there that will help us. How much is it to Springfield?”

The price was fair, but Mary led the children away from the stagecoach and back to King’s Tavern. Room and board was reasonable at King’s, but they couldn’t stay there forever and after Joshua left her and later died, Mary did not trust any men, not even the Lyman Elizabeth knew.

Still in tears, Mary asked the innkeeper, Mr. Lloyds, if he knew of an Elizabeth Pierce living nearby. She expected him to say that the Pierce’s had died, or moved west, or were on the opposite side of town, but he said that the Pierce’s lived nearby.

Mr. Lloyds replied confidently and cordially, “Madam, take a left here and when you reach the third street, Gloucester Street, turn right. Go to the end of Gloucester Street and turn right at Somerset Street. Turn left on Wharf Road, and the Pierce’s should be right there.”
“Thank you.”
“Madam” Mr. Lloyds whispered in Mary’s ear. “Don’t tell William Pierce about me. Elizabeth and I have been seeing each other, and William wouldn’t approve.”
“I will not. Thank you.”

Mary and the children walked out of the tavern, turned left, and turned right at Gloucester Street, a narrow cobbled road with houses close together, mongers calling their wares, and various horse-drawn wagons and carts. When they reached Somerset Street they could see the distant ocean and containers being loaded on and off ships at the harbor.

For the first time since Joshua had left for the Ohio Country the previous December, Mary felt hopeful. She did not want to take advantage of Elizabeth and William Pierce, so she decided to stop there just to ask about Lyman and where he lived.

A loud, earsplitting BANG was heard in the distance as Eliza kept her eyes on the street, looking for Wharf Road.

Joshua Jr. kept asking, “Mama, what was that?” and Mary did not know what had happened. As they drew closer, they saw a broken glass window of a storefront- the noise was a gunshot!
They found Wharf Road, and nervously looked for the Pierce residence but were not able to find it.

Finally, Mary asked a passerby where the Pierce family lived. The man she asked was an elderly man who looked like he had some Indian in him.

He responded, “Nay, the Pierce’s left last week. Said they are going to Pittsburgh.”

Mary felt like the world was crashing down upon her and the children. Even cousins Elizabeth and William were going west, but she wouldn’t be next- or would she? From a combination of stress and sadness, the children, even Eliza, started to sob after hearing that the Pierce’s were on their way west.

Mary was discouraged, but asked, “Do you know of a Lyman living near here?”
“Aye, a Lyman Bradford lives on Somerset Street. Go that way and turn left on Somerset Street. It should be the fifth house after turning on Somerset, madam.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The sad, scared children and Mary silently walked back to Somerset Street, and knocked on the door of the fifth house.

A short man wearing a tall hat timidly stepped out and asked Mary in a jocular tone if she was going west with him.

“No, my cousin Elizabeth Pierce says you take lodgers. Is this Lyman Bradford?”

The somewhat peculiar man chuckled, saying, “Lodgers? I did but I’m on my way west. My woman died two years ago, and I haven’t much. Are you going west, too?”
Mary decided to tell Lyman Bradford a bit of a lie after he asked about Mary and the children’s whereabouts.

“My husband left me, and we haven’t much money, so we want to start over in a new place. Massachusetts holds nothing but heartache….”
Lyman chuckled, responding, “If you all go west with me, there will be everything but heartache.”

“But, we are strangers and haven’t much money….”
“No buts, madam. We’ll be husband and wife before you know it.”

Mary and the children gasped- had Lyman Bradford had the nerve to say what they heard him say?

Cassie Nye, who had become silent and withdrawn around the time Joshua had left for the Ohio Country, piped up, “What did you say to Mama?”

Lyman adjusted his hat and then replied, “I said that your mama and I will be husband and wife once we get across to Pittsburgh.”


“Yes, I am going to Pittsburgh. Madam, we leave in the morning on a stagecoach for Philadelphia, buy a Conestoga and take it across to Pittsburgh.”

Mary was scared of going west, but she decided to find a friend in Lyman, but certainly not as a husband! It would be a journey of about two and a half to three weeks to Philadelphia, but six weeks across the Alleghenies to Pittsburgh. She decided to be strong and brave for her sake, the children’s sakes, and for the sake of Lyman, so she simply nodded her head.

Lyman was jubilant about the journey west- he adored the children and Mary, but Mary wasn’t sure if she would ever marry again, much less Lyman.

They made arrangements to leave the next morning at seven A.M. and travel about twelve hours each day on the stagecoach to New York City, and then from New York City to Philadelphia.

With short stops at “stages” to change horses, they would expect to travel about twenty to twenty-five miles per day for the

Mary and the children were truly hopeful and happy, but were still hesitant about going to Pittsburgh. They returned to King’s Tavern and retired to bed early that night, for they had to rise early the next morning.

On August 26, 1788, the sun was just alight when Mary and the children rose and with bleary eyes and a hopeful heart, quickly dressed and went out to the stagecoach stop to meet Lyman, who had walked over from his house and was waiting for the stagecoach.

They were finally off, and Mary had a wide range of emotions as the tavern grew smaller and smaller as they pulled away- ranging from fear and uncertainty to happiness, hope, security, and a twinge of love for Lyman.

Joshua Jr., was chattering away as the adventure began, but Cassie, Eliza and Mary were more reserved. They were all excited about the journey south and west to a new life. Horses were changed about every two hours as they plodded along the old Roebuck Road (part of the King’s Highway), out of Boston town and into more rural areas, going toward the state of Rhode Island, and then Connecticut. After Connecticut was New York, New Jersey and then Pennsylvania. The highway was muddy and rutted in some places, but was the main thoroughfare from Boston to Philadelphia- it was either traveling by stagecoach or by taking a ship south from Boston to the Delaware Bay, and then up the bay to the Delaware River at Philadelphia. They encountered the occasional town of farms similar to the Nye’s old farm back in Danvers. The farm had been sold before Joshua left for the Ohio Country. The weather was sunny and warm, perfect for traveling. Lyman jubilantly announced they were making good time, and indeed they were, for the roads were muddy and hard to navigate.

The sun gradually grew low in the sky, and the stagecoach pulled to a halt around dusk at Cobb’s Tavern in the town of Sharon, Massachusetts, about a day’s travel from another city

Cobb’s was about another day’s travel from Providence. It was a roomy, wood-frame building built in the year 1740, with brick-end walls, a chimney in the middle, and near the left wall there were two other solid brick chimneys. Across the rightmost five bay windows of the tavern was a small porch.

The stagecoach came to a halt, and the passengers (including Mary, Lyman and the children) stepped off, ready for dinner and a good night’s sleep before continuing on the next day to Providence, Rhode Island.

On August 27, 1788, the stagecoach left the tavern at dawn. The children, even Eliza, were eager to see what adventure that day’s traveling held in store for them. Mary still was grieving Joshua, but was a bit more relaxed in Lyman’s presence. It was a humid, rainy day, which slowed the stagecoach and the tired horses down even more- but the stagecoach driver was determined to get the passengers to Providence that day. Cobb’s Tavern was situated in the town of Sharon, Massachusetts, first settled in the year 1637, but was named Stoughton or Stoughtonham until the year 1783, when the war was over, the British were defeated and the United States was a newborn country.

They slowly rode along through Sharon, with Mary and Lyman talking. Lyman could tell Mary was still grieving the loss of her Joshua, which she was, but Mary was more relaxed around Lyman and the children.

In those days, Massachusetts was still mostly rural with towns dotting the landscape. The sky appeared to be sobbing as heavy drops of warm rain covered the muddy road- but the horses plodded on, and by noontime the rain had stopped. Travel was at a bit faster pace, and the driver, Mr. Parris, was in high spirits as the stagecoach continued down the road. Gradually, the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, and in the distance a city could be seen- with bustling shops, horse-drawn wagons and carts, cobbled streets, and a harbor with ships. This was Providence, Rhode Island. Providence was not as large as Boston, but it was still an exciting city. They found an inn to stay at for the night, known as the Black Lion with a picture of a menacing-looking black lion painted on the signpost.

The Black Lion was nothing like Cobb’s. It was grubby and had a smell to it- a mixture of dirt, grime, whiskey and rotten food. Flies circled around, and the room was cramped, but they made do.

Lyman made sure to pull back the bedcovers to look for bedbugs. They only had one bed, so the children slept on the floor that night at the Black Lion. The innkeeper, Rufus Tucker, had a crossed eye and wore a monocle, speaking in a low, growly voice marred by years of tobacco. When Mary heard the name “Rufus” she thought of the seducer, Rufus Putnam, who convinced Joshua to leave his family behind in Danvers and journey west to his eventual grave.

As rain drummed the tavern windows, Mary fell fast asleep, but Lyman was still awake. Sleep overtook him, and the next morning they rose when the rest of the tavern did- with the noises of buzzing flies, whiskey bottles cracking, clanging dishes and the smells of food frying.

As Mary and Lyman were getting the children ready, Lyman reached over to where Mary was helping Joshua Jr. and softly kissed her on the lips.

Mary yelped, “LYMAN, HOW COULD YOU? We just met two days ago. I knew we were friends, but….”

Lyman calmly stated, “Yes, but….”
“No buts, Lyman. Why did you kiss me like that?”
“Because I love you.”

Joshua was loving to both Mary and the children, but his love was different than Lyman’s- should Mary back out or continue all the way to Pittsburgh with Lyman? It was not like Lyman and Mary knew each other for years. After breakfast, Lyman, Mary and the children found the stagecoach, which would take them into Connecticut that day (August 28, 1788). They were all happy to be out of the Black Lion and traveling again, toward Philadelphia.

The fun of traveling soon wore off, as the hot days of late summer 1788 blended into one another- they traveled all day on the stagecoach and stayed at an inn or tavern along the way, going about twenty to forty miles each day, depending on weather and the condition of the road.

Finally, on September 12, 1788, they could see another large, bustling city in the distance with storefronts, cobbled streets and horse-drawn wagons and carts, city folk milling around, rows of houses, and the Delaware River. The sun was going down by the time they reached Philadelphia, after a long day of travel from New Jersey (it took three days to get from New York to Philadelphia).

The stagecoach stopped in front of a small building, where a dumpy older woman was sweeping the steps with a broom almost as tall as she was. A creaking wooden signboard read “PENN’S TAVERN, 1776.” The money-pouch was running low, but Lyman reckoned they had enough to get them a place in Philadelphia, because they would be staying there until spring came- it was too late in the year to travel across the Alleghenies in a Conestoga to Pittsburgh.

Penn’s Tavern catered to travelers- the price for room and board was reasonable, but it was dingy and a smell of cigar and pipe smoke hung over the dining room. The innkeeper, Lydia Dow, and her husband (Absalom Dow) groused about how busy the tavern was.

Mary Nye asked Lydia if she needed any kitchen maids for the tavern. Besides the Dows, Mary saw only one other employee of the tavern- a sullen-faced kitchen maid a few years older than Eliza.

Lydia said she needed a kitchen maid, and wondered if “your older girl” (referring to Eliza) could also be a kitchen maid- washing dishes and serving food. Travelers frequently came and went at Penn’s Tavern.

The lives of Eliza, Cassie and Joshua Jr. changed drastically since the death of their beloved Papa. They shied away from Lyman and Lyman understood, realizing that the children had lost their Papa. Eliza wanted nothing to do with kitchen-work, but she understood her family needed the money, even if she didn’t earn much, so she said “yes.”

After breakfast on September 13, 1788, Eliza picked up the grubby dishes tavern guests slammed on the long, narrow bar while Mary washed them. Lyman had gone out, looking for work and the younger two children were in the room.

A stagecoach rolled by, and several tavern guests went outside to meet the stagecoach. As they washed and dried the dishes, the tavern door opened, and a couple speaking a strange language walked in. Lydia looked up from her ledger to briefly greet the couple, and then continued ciphering figures. Soon, Mary and Eliza had washed and dried the dishes, and then it was nearly time for lunch- more washing and drying of dishes. They appreciated the work because it brought pay and helped them keep their mind off everything, but they still grieved intensely every day for Joshua, spending their days in a fog ever since the rider rode to the Whipple’s door that day in Danvers.

Lyman came back at about two P.M. that day as Mary and Eliza finished the last of the dishes. He had not found work, but was convinced the family would fare better in Lancaster, about three to four days’ travel from Philadelphia down the old Philadelphia Wagon Road, which was used by the emigrants from Ulster in Ireland who had come some years prior.

Mary Nye said, “Lyman, why not stay in Philadelphia until spring comes again? We all want to go west, but it should be to Pittsburgh all at once.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Lyman said, “I cannot wait for spring to see what is to the west. We should go to Lancaster and head west in the spring because by the time we would get the Conestoga and the team and all our supplies, snow would be falling in the Alleghenies and we would not have enough money anyway yet.”

“Yes, Lyman, but it would be better for the children to stay in one place, here in Philadelphia, until spring comes. You can go west, but we will be staying in Philadelphia until spring.”

“They say the west, over the mountains, is a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Mary Nye knew Lyman, like Joshua, had “west fever” and tried to convince others to be the same way, but the west had killed her Joshua. She was willing to give up her fears of the west by going to Pittsburgh with Lyman- but at least Pittsburgh was not a fledgling of a settlement like Marietta in the Ohio Country was. The children had taken the death of their beloved Papa hard, and were immensely sad, scared and bewildered after their Mama met Lyman and they started their journey to Philadelphia. For the children’s sakes, Mary wanted to remain in Philadelphia until spring came.

Then, a new thought came to Mary’s head- from the money Mary and Eliza were making as kitchen maids, could Mary and the children leave Philadelphia on their own for Pittsburgh and meet Lyman there? 

© Copyright 2017 amish4922. All rights reserved.


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