Surviving the Journey

John Montgomery Roberts traveled from New York to Illinois and St. Louis in 1830. The inside cover and other pages of his diaries from the trip demonstrate the potentially dangerous conditions Americans encountered when they decided to migrate westward. Roberts had copied into his diary tips for dealing with illnesses and accidents, recipes for foods and for household items that would not be available at his destination, and other bits of knowledge that he thought might make the difference between success and failure in this strange land.

On his way through Louisville, Kentucky, Roberts noted that, “One of the steam boats for Orleans has over a dozen negroes chained together for market.” He wrote, “Of all the moving I ever saw this beats all.”