18 Jan 2015
John Osborne, born ca. 1773, was the son of William Osborne, then of Mecklenburg County, now part of Union County. In January 1802, Osborne traveled with an uncle on “A Voige to Cabaras & Roan Countys” to purchase a wagon. They had heard that most of the inhabitants of those counties were Dutch and possessed the best wagons. Luckily for researchers, Osborne included the trip in his diary. The sixth volume of John Osborne’s diary, which covers January 1800 to September 1802, is one of two that have been found. The diary contains a daily record of the activities of John and also a note at the beginning each day about the weather. It gives great insight into the daily lives and interaction of John and the people in the community.
Osborne set out on Wednesday, January 13, and arrived back home on Sunday, January 17; the two men covered about 100 miles round trip. Along the way, they stopped at the homes of Cabarrus men John Hagler, Archibald McCurdy and Martin Phifer. They traveled through a “Little Town called Concord where they hold Cabaras Courts.” In Rowan, they received the promise of a wagon available in February, from John Fink and his wagon-maker brother-in-law John Setzer.
Considered a learned man in 1802 (John Osborne once was called to the home of a sick neighbor to read the instructions on a bottle of medicine left by the doctor). Osborne wrote very differently from modern standards. Diary entries show very little punctuation and liberal spelling, as this excerpt from his time travelling in Cabarrus County illustrates:
thir 14 frosty
“very Early I Left brothers & went over to my fathers & from there my uncle & I Sot off on our journy calld at old MR CHARLS POLKS & he Drawd out a Bottle of Whisky- we Drank some with him & Rode on to DAVID POWELS there we calld in & had 1/2 pint off Whisky for 12-1/2 Cents from there we went on & crost Rocky River to one JNO HAGLERS a Dutchman [German] there we staid all Night when supper was set we had for to look how the would begin for to use it was som thing in a Tin Bason but Ill Sware I can’t tell what part that was in it was Pumkin but what Else I know not- however the Broke there Bread in small peases & Dipt it into the Bason & we don so too and it was not so bad we had milk after it- (this day I suppose we made about 29 miles)”
fri 15 moderat
“when we call our Reckoning we had foder for our horses our suppers & a Quart of Whisky & we had but 56-1/2 Cents for to pay- we ware informd that one MR ARCHABALD McCURDY Living 4 miles up the River had a Waggon for sale so we Left MR HAGLERS & crost the River back at the same place where we crost Last even and went to MR McCURDY but he had no waggon for sale- But he fed our horses & had a very good Brackfast prepard for us- from there we went on Crost the River again a Little above there- we are now in Cabaras County) & went on to a Little Town calld Concord where they hold Cabaras Courts we staid in Town a while had 1/2 pint of Brandy for 18-3/4 Cents than we Left that & went to CORNEL MARTIN FIFFERS there we staid all night & was very friendly Entertained our horse well fed & good Diet for ourselves & as much Whisky as we choose for to Drink & nothing for to pay”
sat 16 moderate
“Early we Left MR FIFFERS & went a small Distance to one MR BARBARIES made a Little tary than went to one JNO FINKS (this is in Roan County) a Black Smith but MR FINK was from home about 3 miles at one MR SAVAGES so we went there for to see him he was a man that some times as we ware informd got Waggons made & shed them for sale & we thought that perhaps we could get one engaged with him for to be Ready against a certain time but he could not ingage us one but he told us that a brother in law of his who made Waggons had one now at the Smiths for to be shad for sale & if we would be back about the middle of Next Month we would get here the waggon makers name was JNO SETSAR)- We are now some odds of 50 miles from home so we sot off for home calld in at JAS NICKSONS had 1/2 pint of Whisky for 12-1/2 Cents from there we went on to PAUL FIFFERS & tarryed all night”
sun 17 cool
“when we calld our Reckoning this morning there was 7 shillings for to pay- very
Early we Left MR FIFFERS & went to SAMUEL SMITHS (20 miles) there we got our horses fed and our Brackfast BenevoLently Than made for home and a Little after Dark we got home”
A copy of John Osborne’s diary, January 1800 – September 1802, is available at the Concord Library, Lore History Room.
Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room