Spring 1997

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The Diary of

The Raymond Sisters

1827 - 1846

Excerpts with introduction and notes by

Elizabeth Raymond


Among the Revolutionary War veterans who came to the hills and valleys around Crooked Lake when the region was opened for settlement were Daniel Raymond from eastern New York and Eli Read from Rhode Island. Daniel Raymond settled in the Wheeler vicinity and Eli Read, in 1793, bought from Williamson a farm in Pleasant Valley. He had brought his family from Northumberland, Pennsylvania, probably over the new Williamson Road.

Two of Daniel Raymond's sons married daughters of Eli Read. In 1802 Hannah Read was married to George Raymond. He was a shoemaker and, according to family tradition, lived high on the east slope of Bully Hill for nearly twenty years, during which time they had nine children. These included six girls, of whom the eldest died very young. Two were Harriet, born in 1808, and Sally, born in 1811.

In 1823 George and Hannah Raymond, together with a group of friends and relatives, packed up their eight children and their belongings and headed for the Ohio frontier.

Many years later one of their granddaughters, quoting her Aunt Lydia, described the move:

"My mother drove a one-horse wagon through from 'York State' starting in the month of November, 1823, with her baby boy Richmond [whose birth had delayed the trip], five weeks old, carrying him on a pillow; and there were eight of us children. Father drove a two-horse wagon loaded with all our effects, important among which were the loom and spinning wheels. Brother William, about fifteen, walked all the way driving the cattle, a distance of four hundred miles, the trip lasting five weeks…

"We came to Norwalk, Huron County, Ohio, and stopped to rest and visit mother's brother, Hanson Read and family, coming on in a few days, locating in the eastern part of Seneca County, but living in some deserted cabins on the Huron and Seneca County lines, until our own log cabin could be built.

"Our house was 18 x 20 feet, had clapboard roof and puncheon floor, no nails or iron was used in the entire building, hinges and door latch were of wood, the chimney was made of stone picked up nearby, and it was built at the end of the house, wide and deep at the bottom, making the fireplace where all the cooking was done when we numbered thirteen in family. The opening for a window contained no glass but sometimes was covered with greased paper to keep out the cold. For a time and until better furniture could be had, our table and bedsteads were made by boring holes in the logs at the sides of the room and inserting hewed sticks across which were placed puncheon boards split out of logs and hewed to a smooth surface…

"Our cabin home was small for so large a family, but Father and Mother made it a hospitable one to every visitor or traveler, especially did they give a generous welcome to the preachers of the Gospel who found us out through the land office and came, following Indian trails, and preached to us Jesus in our log cabins, and our parents were rewarded by seeing every child converted to Christ. There were then only five families in eastern Seneca County, they were those of Seth Read, Elijah Read, Thomas Bennitt, George Raymond and the Cassety family. Our first preacher was a Rev. Clark, and another one who was greatly beloved by us all was Rev. Arza Brown. " [Harriett Raymond Wilkinson later named her eldest child Arza Brown Wilkinson. ]

From History and Sketches of the Raymond Family and Biographies of the Buckeye Triplets, Adelphia Raymond Covert, 1907

In 1826 Hannah Read Raymond had three more children, the Raymond Triplets: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In 1827 Harriet and Sally began to write a diary. The following transcriptions from a copy of the Raymond sisters' diary are not exact reproductions. Some of the original pages are nearly illegible, with faded ink and blurred words. Those I couldn't read are indicated by [?]. In addition, for this article some changes have been made, mostly to break into sentences and clarify words.

Excerpts from the Diary of Harriet and Sally Raymond

(page 1)

In the Year of 1827 The life and tru exercises [?] of the minde of Harriet Raymond of full 18 years not spent in sin and rebellion and in wandering far from God. Oh what my dreadful state by nature but thanks be to God that he has sent a mighty deliverer out of Zion who interposed for me and has saved my soul from sinking into endless woe. In the year of our Lord 1828 on the 17 day of June on Tuesday I with my Father and two eldest sisters received the ordinance of baptism by the hand of A Brown and was received as members of the methodist episcopal Church. I have entered now into the service of my God and striving to put off the old man adam with the deeds of the flesh and walk in newness of life before him by yielding obediance to his commands. All things now pass with unusual swiftness and my soul disdains to seek the transitory pleasures of earth. In the year 1829 I find by close examination the evil propensities of my nature is not brought in full subjection to my Lord's moste pleasing reign but Satan with all his combine forces is now waging war against my soul.

(page 4)

…in 1831 on July 3 I entered the matrimonial bond with John Wilkinson and have now intrusted to my care five little wones whom God in his providence has seen fit to deprive of a kind and affectionate mother. Oh my God give me all the grace, love and wisdom which I knead to fill the seat of the departed.

On the same page, written by Sally Raymond Witter.

Harriet Wilkinson was an affectionate companion a tender mother and an exemplary christian. She took care of her mother less children to the satisfaction of her husband and all around. She was neat and plain in her deportment, cleanly in her housewifery; her mottoe was holiness to the Lord. Only four years and three months and two days had elapsed, while in the bloom of life she was called away being twenty seven years ten months and sixteen days Nov. 4 1835. Oh the [several illegible words] her husband with eight children, three of her own, was left to morn; their loss was her eternal gain.

Sally Witter

The remainder of the diary is that of Sally Raymond.

(page 5)

In the year of our Lord 1827 the life and [?] of Sally Raymond. almost 16 years are spent in sinful pleasures of the world but glory be to Jesus who gave himself to die for sinful man &…interposed in my behalf and saved my soul from sinking to endless wo and now I have become a new creature. In the year of our Lord 1828 the 17 day of June I with my Father and two sisters promise to leave the pomp and fashions [?] of the world and not be [?] by them and joined the Methodist E Church. The Lord is now my protector. I serve him in much weakness. Satan lays many snairs to turn my feet out of the pathway of duty my stronghold is in [illegible— praise?] What comfort I feel in approaching a throne of grace. [?] comes in and hinders my progress in divine life. Oh my Lord give me the victory over this besetting sin.

In 1831 on the seventh of August entered the nuptial bond with Mr. Wm C. Witter and now I have become settled in life…

(page 7)

[We are preparing] to go to the west. September the 29 1838 we bid farewell to our friends around us and take our little family and start for Ioway. We arrive here November 2 the Lord was with us on our journey and we [?] to praise him in this new country and are [?] our march onward. 1840 [?] we are aflicted with fever [?] this summer and fall and our little William R has fell a victim to death through a mistake of [……?] The 19 of Sept 1840 we were blest with a son [dates confusing] Sept 16 and died Oct 31. O for grace in these times of trouble. I now see what I am by nature plainer than ever before. I want a deeper [?] of grace in my soul to prepare me for all the trials of this life that I may say the will of the Lord be done in all things. Feb. 13 1842 My health is again very much debilitated and my spirits depressed. My Saviour help me to be more humble and to be in readiness when my deliver[er] shall come to take me from this world of toil and anxious cares. July 28 1842 we are blest with a daughter the somer passes pleasantly away. We are enabled to keep our eye stedly fixed on the prize. We are now preparing for a journey to Ohio to see our friends. Sept. 15 this morning we start on our journeynothing of note occurs on our way except the Lord is with us in all our way. My soul is joyful in the Lord. I feel to praise him for his goodness to me. We have had a very pleasant visit. We must now leave our friends again and oh the strugle of and to think of parting with an afflicted father until we must be sumond to meet where we will go out no more forever. We find ourselves near the Missippi where we are to cross now comes the trial of our faith and confidence in God while cakes of ice is plowing there way down the river nor cares to stop for mortal man. At length a way is opened and we cross. At length we come in sight of home and now a more severe trial awaits us. It is now cold winter and our substance and labor is almost all destroied through neglect of those whom we thought our friends.

In April, 1846, William Witter died, leaving Sally far from home with small children; her two boys having died, she had two little girls. Her brother Jepperson Raymond came to Iowa from Ohio and helped her return to her family. In 1850, her younger sister Hannah died and Sally eventually married the widower, Solomon Cogswell. She and he had one daughter in addition to the surviving children of his first two wives. One family record says they also adopted one of Harriet's boys.

(page 16—the last of the diary)

Seven years has passed and we find ourselves preparring to leave for another place of residence all for the sake of the children. We want beter society for the young folks. 1860 March we are leaving for Cleveland arriving here finding good society, while here the most of our children will form characters. 1865 August I now am 54 had a birthday present by the oldest and youngest daughters. It is over fifteen years since I came in this family not one death in the family since that time. How merciful our Heavenly Father is we are all alive and all we need to make us comfortable; all through this great event of our nation this terrible War, our sons have been carrying their muskets, have faced the foe in battles where many of our brave boys have fallen and they have been spared. Help us our Heavenly Father that we may be more thankful, more useful, that we may gloryfy thy name and trust thee for time to come.


Sally Raymond Witter Cogswell died in 1874, leaving this diary among her things. Paper must have been scarce and precious in an Ohio cabin in 1827, and the pen may well have been a goose quill. She had kept these sixteen pages for forty-seven years. The pages had no cover and were sewn together with thread when I first saw them. The paper must have been of good quality; the ink had not faded as much as might be expected. They now belong to the family of her great grandson, Raymond Holm of Seneca County, Ohio.

The oldest brother of Harriet and Sally, William Raymond, who walked and drove the cattle from New York to Ohio, was my great grandfather. The brother, Jepperson Raymond, who went to Ioway to get his widowed sister and bring her and her children back home to Ohio was my husband's great grandfather.

© 1997, Elizabeth Raymond
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