Christopher Columbus Baldwin, Diary Entrees About Leisure

Journal Entry

Background Notes

In 1830, Christopher Columbus Baldwin was 30 years old, unmarried, and seeking to establish himself as a lawyer in central Massachusetts. These entries from his daily journal do not describe his work or religious life but what he did for amusement and satisfaction with his friends and family. Baldwin’s diary notes him living in four towns during that year–at his parents’ home in Templeton, and successively in Worcester, Barre and Sutton where he lived briefly and struggled to build a law practice.

Transcription of Primary Source

Excerpts from the diary of Christopher Columbus Baldwin

January, 1830.

1. A very beautiful day. I am at Templeton, and spend the whole day in hunting. In the evening, the neighbors call at my father’s and the time is spent in talking about former days and those who are now dead. Play whist.

2. Pleasant as before and warm. I read Gill Blas in the morning, and then take gun and dog, in company with brother Jonathan, and we go a hunting. Just at sunset we find a red squirrel upon the top of a very high dead pine and we fire at him seven times before we bring him down; adjudge to be twelve rods high and nothing in sight but his tail and ears! Neighbors come in at evening and we spent the time in pleasant conversation, Wm. Brown & Henry Newton.

4. Rise early, the day being pleasant & go a hunting all day. Have Asa Hosmer with me, who is a hunter by profession having done nothing else for several years. He informs me that during the last fall he caught eight hundred and thirty dozens of pigeons, and the story is confirmed by his father. We hunt foxes all day and have no luck. Some of the neighbors come in at night & we talk about old times, and how Templeton looked formerly.

5. Very pleasant, tho’ it rained during Sunday night, which rendered the travelling very bad. At eleven, take the stage and return to Worcester. Have Isaac Bassett for a companion. There was a small boy in the stage whom we leave at Holden, believing him to be runaway; his name was Skiff, ten years old. Reach Worcester at sunset.

12. Very cold. We have venison today for dinner and have six gentlemen to dine with me. Dr. Butler & T[hornton] A. Merrick invite other gentlemen and we have a very pleasant time of it indeed. We drank temperately, yet did not go away dry, nor suffer our friends to, either. In the evening attend a party at Geo. T. Rice’s.

February, 1830.

4. Warmer and looks like a storm. The sleighing is perfect. Many parties of pleasure are formed to enjoy it.

5. Very pleasant, and very cold. A sleigh ride is got up to go to Westboro. Mr. Newcomb induces me to attend. Ride with him and Mary and Catherine Robinson in a 4−horse sleigh. Leave Worcester at 3 and return at 10. Between 20 & 30 in the party. Most all married people. Mulled wine was prepared for the ladies and flip* for the gentlemen, but by mistake the flip is carried to the ladies and they do not find their error until our flip is mostly gone, when they pronounce it very unpleasant stuff !! I find that I have been very dissipated this week; and form a resolution to be more sober.

6. Thermometer this morning at 8 o’clock stands 10° below zero. It is very cold all day, and is said to be as cold as it was last Saturday. The Debating Club, composed of law students generally, hold a public debate…

9. Warmer and pleasant. In evening attend a geographical lecture from Mr. Evans.

12. Very cold. Study law all day, and in the evening attend Mr. Evans’ lecture on geography. Go with Miss Elizabeth Green.

22. Washington’s birthday. Ball in evening. I do not attend. It has been the invariable practice in this town for many years on the 22nd of February, the birthday of Washington, to have a public ball. I have been here seven years and a like observance of the day has not been omitted. During my residence here, I have, until now, at every ball with the exception of three, taken part as one of the managers. This year I did not attend. I am told by those who did that the occasion was very pleasant tho’ the number was small, being only about twenty couples. The expense to each has always been three dollars. The music generally consists of two fiddles, a clarionet or bugle and base viol. The entertainer furnishes this under direction of the managers, and also carriages to collect & distribute the ladies. Two coaches are employed with a manager in each, who commence soon after sunset to carry the ladies to the hall, and it is a part of their duties to wait upon them home in the same way. The party retired about one o’clock, sometimes earlier and sometimes later.

25. Warm again. Study law. Attended Evans’ lecture with the ladies.

26. Warm; springlike: Attend lecture in evening with Miss E. Green & R. Curtis.

28. Attend meeting*. Sup at Maj. Davis’ and at ten return with Lincoln and Washburn and have a second supper. Receive Col. John W. Lincoln’s present of a wife, which is Dutch oyster woman—a toy. A very odd looking creature.

March, 1830.

25. Attend a party at Mr. Charles Allen’s in the evening.

26. The snow falls to the depth of one foot in the night and day, and blows a tempest. At night attend the last lecture of Mr. Evans, and attend a party at Abijah Bigelow’s.

April, 1830.

6. The going has become perfect and the birds sing merrily. Visit the Athenaeum and Antiquarian Hall with Miss James of Barre.

22. Attend court. Very warm. In the evening attend a meeting of the debating club holden at Banister’s tavern, where an appropriate and well−written address was delivered by R. Kinnicutt, Esq.; and, after supper, a poem, prepared for the occasion by Wm. Lincoln, Esq. The Gov., the Chief Justice and members of the bar, with the Rev. Dr. Bancroft and Rev. Mr. Hill, attend and take supper. The meeting is pleasant, and none indulge to excess.

28. Pleasant. Go to Templeton with horse and chaise…Spent evening with my father; neighbors call in.

29. Hunt in forenoon. Afternoon carry father to Winchendon Springs; return, & in evening visit J. Davis & play whist.

30. Return to Worcester. Very fine day. Go by way of Barre; call on Miss James and carry her to Dana. Take tea at her father’s & have a charming time of it…..and reach Worcester at 10 in evening. Make up my mind to remove to Barre.

May, 1830.

1. Saturday. Pleasant. Resolve to leave Worcester and establish myself in business in Barre. There are too many lawyers here either to be profitable or reputable—there are above twenty. My earnings here are worth five hundred a year, and it costs that sum to live, and the business of the profession is daily growing less. Many go out a maying, and more to see the girls.

4. May training, and rains all day; and soldiers appear bad enough.

5. Wednesday. Go to Barre to make arrangements for my intended remove thither. Reach there at 10 A. M. Received politely; take tea with the family of E. James. Can find no place for an office.

12. Wednesday: Take stage for Barre. Have lived in Worcester seven years on the 19th of June next coming, and they have all been years of great happiness. Reach Barre at 5 o’clock, and commence boarding* with Archibald Black, Esq., at nine shillings per week. Take tea at E. James. Esq. This is the day of my removal from Worcester to Barre. There are now three lawyers in the place—Eleazer James, Esq., Hon. Nathaniel Houghton and Seth Lee, Esq.

16. Pleasant. Attend meeting all day & stare at the people and they at me. Take tea at Mr. James’ and pass the evening there.

21. Pleasant. Ride on horseback with Miss James, & go a hunting with Mr. Ezra Jones.

26. Wednesday. Election day*. Eat cake. See the people play ball and attend a horse race. Walk in evening to Deacon Holden’s with Miss James and Miss Thompson.

29. Rains all day. Read Jefferson’s works.

31. Cold and very pleasant. Attend the raising of Ezekiel Williams’ barn, being the largest in town.

June, 1830.

2. Pleasant. Go to Westminster for Abel Rice on professional business. Get back at 8 and go in & see a dancing party at the public house. In the morning get my things into my new office and—

3. Thursday—put them up and study law, and read the story of “Paul and Virginia.”

4. Pleasant and cold. Receive a great quantity of cake from Wm Pratt, Esq., of Shrewsbury, who was married to Miss Elizabeth Sikes on 25th May. Take tea at Mr. Ezra Jones’ and ride on horseback with Miss James to Petersham. In the evening serenade a Mr. Rice, who was married yesterday. This is customary here to pay a salute to those embark[in]g in matrimony. He gets up and entertains the company.

9. Cool and pleasant. Alexander Hamilton calls on me. Spend the afternoon at Mr. James’ and hear Mary’s musick. Miss Ellen Bigelow of Petersham and Miss Martha Wilson are there. Take tea there.

14. Pleasant. Study law. Ride on horseback with Miss J. Take tea at Mr. Thompson’s.

19. Rainy. Study law. Am invited to deliver an oration on July 3rd in this town. Consent. Last night I went to serenade Mr. Harwood, who has been recently married. Have a pleasant time.

21. Rains all day. Go to Worcester in stage. Reach there at ten o’clock. Dine with Hon. Judge Paine. Am invited to spend the week at Hon. John Davis’.

22. Pleasant. Attend court. Visit the people & find old friends. Have a pleasant time. Take tea with Charles Allen, Esq.

24. Pleasant. Go to Barre. Take tea at Mr. James’.

26. Engage in writing an oration for the coming anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

28. Writing an oration, and a dull time I have of it, having been directed by the Committee of Arrangements not to mention Jackson or anti−Jacksonism, Adams, Clay, or Calhoun, masonry or anti−masonry, orthodoxy or heresy, nor anything touching politics, religion or domestic life.

29. Finish my oration which is fifty minutes long.

July, 1830.

1. Pleasant. Study law, and employ myself in committing my speech to memory.

3. Cloudy and intensely warm. Rains a little in the morning and about 4 o’clock rains again. Deliver my speech, it being Saturday. The meeting−house is crowded, and about 200 sit down at the table, which is spread under a bower. Everything goes off well & happily. Nothing transpires to mar the festivities of the day. In the evening take tea at Mr. Thompson’s.

4. Very pleasant. Attend meeting in forenoon. Mr. Thompson preached. Mr. Wheeler returns to Worcester.

5. In the afternoon the ladies give a public tea party in the same bower which was used on Saturday. One hundred and thirty partake and about the same number of gentlemen. Many excellent toasts were given. Musick follows each toast and the whole goes off very pleasantly. I have never seen so many pretty faces together before. The ladies contributed as each one felt disposed. Some brought cake, some pies, some cherries, others furniture for the table, and all, good feelings and cheerful faces and merry hearts. Seth Lee, Esq., delivers a speech in the evening on temperance in the brick meeting−house and has fifteen hearers.

6. It is very pleasant. In the eve walk up to Mr. Jenkins’s with Miss James, and Malissa Walker of Templeton and Miss Thompson.

7. Miss James leaves town for the Springs and Miss Louisa Thompson for New York city.

8. Rains all day. Furnish an account of the celebration of the 3d & 5th for the Worcester papers, and read the “Letters of Lord Littleton.”

9. Very warm and pleasant. Procure Mr. Jones’ horse and ride to Templeton on horseback. Reach there at 4 o’clock. Find family all well.

10. Go fishing with father and Mr. E. Bruce. Go in a boat and return at noon, having caught about an hundred, being perch, pickerel, and bream. In the afternoon go a hunting, but do not have much success.

11. Pleasant. Take a long walk with Jonathan and examine places of resort in our youth and call up many reminiscences.

12. Cloudy all day. Hunt for pigeons. The woods are thick with them, but they are in the tops of pines and so beyond the reach of shot. Take tea with Capt. Joseph. Davis.

13. Leave for Barre. Rains all day. Dine with Col. Artemas Lee in his new house with his new wife. Everything snug and favorable. Reach Barre at 4 o’clock, very well wet.

20. Intolerably warm. Read the first vol. of “Tom. Jones” and am exceedingly entertained. Invited to tea at Mr. Thompson’s.

21. Very warm. Read second vol. of “Tom. Jones.” Col. Crane of the army visits town. His wife was of this town, Miss Charlotte Ranger.

27. Rainy. I go hunting with Ezra Jones & kill nothing worth bringing home. I subscribe for the Jurisprudent and send the price ($3.) to Boston, by Mr. Charles Lee.

August, 1830.

2. Very pleasant. I work for Rev. Mr. Thompson in getting in his hay. Kill a skunk and get perfumed.

3. Pleasant. Study law. Read the history of Saco and Biddeford [Maine] by Geo. Folsom, Esq., and am well entertained with it.

8. Have a court before Lyman Sibley, Esq. Read law and Jefferson’s works, and in the afternoon take tea at Seth Holden’s with the parson’s family. My friend William Lincoln, Esq., of Worcester calls on me in the evening. Talk with him till one o’clock.

9. Cool. Study law. Afternoon ride to Hardwick with Ezra Jones and roll ninepins* with Col. Billings, who informs me he catches from forty to fifty foxes each winter, and that he had one hound with which he had taken above four hundred.

15. Study law and read Jefferson’s works. Walk with Rev. Mr. Young.

September, 1830.

1. I attend court. Attend a party in the evening.

2. Attend court. Visit friends.

3. Attend court. Take tea at C. Allen’s, Esq.

4. Return to Barre. The week has been most pleasantly passed…

5. Attend meeting and dine with the family of Eleazer James, Esq. Learn that Charles Wadsworth has determined to establish himself as a lawyer in Barre. He went first to Natick and then to Lowell, and has now come to this town, his native place.

7. Wadsworth calls on me, and states his determination to remain in town. I offer to sell to him and we quickly come to an agreement…

9. Settle up my business and spend the day in hunting with Mr. Black.

10. Go to Worcester, and in the afternoon to Sutton to see Jonas L. Sibley, who proposed to me to become his partner. We settle the terms…

21. Regimental muster at Templeton. I attend. Dine at Col. Lee’s. See many foolish things to laugh at, and nothing more laughable than the dress parade and flummery* of the officers and soldiers. Return home in the afternoon satisfied.

22. Spent the day in Hunting and fishing & have tolerable luck. I spend the remainder of the month with my father in riding about and in hunting, fishing and visiting.

October, 1830.

4. Spend the day in visiting friends.

12. Attend the funeral of Uncle Cooper Sawyer and prepare to go a journey.

12. Cloudy, and at night rains. I set off in company with my father. We pass thro’ Winchendon, Royalston, Fitzwilliam, Troy, Swansey, Keene, and in Surrey stay all night. [They travel through New Hampshire and Vermont to Albany, New York.]

19. We take the steamboat “Albany,” at 6 in the morning, reach the City of New York a little before 7 in the evening. We have a pleasant ride. We attend the Park Theatre in the evening.

20. We spend the day in visiting places of interest and curiosity in the city, & in the evening go to the theatre.

21. We leave New York at 6 A. M. in the steamboat “Thistle,” for Philadelphia, Land at New Brunswick and take stage to Trenton, by Princeton. Reach Philadelphia at 6 in the evening, & attend Chestnut Street Theatre.

22. Pleasant. Spend the day in visiting different parts of the city, and in the evening attend the Arch Street Theatre.

23. At 7 A. M. we leave for New York, and take the steamboat “Philadelphia” and land at

Bordentown, and pass by stage thence to Washington, and thence by steamboat to New York, and in the evening attend the theatre.

24. Leave New York at 8 A. M. in the steamboat “Albany,” and reach Albany at 9 in the evening.

26. Leave Albany and pass through Greenbush, Schodac, Nassau, New Lebanon Springs into Hancock, where we remain during the night. [They travel from New York state through western Massachusetts.]

27. We pass through Shelburne, Greenfield, Montague, Erving, Grant, Orange, Athol, Royalston to Templeton. Our expenses have been about forty dollars for each.

November, 1830.

2. Take the stage for Worcester. Miss Elizabeth Walker goes with me. Have a pleasant ride. She is going to make a visit to Mr. [Alfred Dwight] Foster’s in Worcester. I take tea there with her. I take dinner and tea with my friend Wm Lincoln, at Maj. Davis’, and spend the day in visiting my friends.

5. Col. Sam. Ward carries me to Sutton, where I am to remain. I dine with Mr. Sibley and remain there over night.

12. Rains all day. Commence reading life of Lord Byron by Thom. Moore.

23. Rains all day. I finish reading first volume of Moore’s life of Byron and have had great pleasure in reading it. It is full of lively and pleasing anecdotes of the distinguished men of the times in which he lived. Among the poets are Wordsworth, Campbell, Scott, Hogg, Southey, Shelly, Leigh Hunt, besides a whole troop of statesmen, divines and prose writers.

December, 1830.

2. Thanksgiving Day. Very pleasant. I ride to Worcester & have Mr. Sibley’s horse and sulkey; attending at Dr. Bancroft’s church. Dine with George T. Rice and for first time see his boy, which he calls after himself. Take tea with Hon. Judge Paine and in the evening call on Mr. Washburn and his new wife, who are boarding with A. D. Foster, Esq., and go with Miss E. Walker of Templeton to hear Mr. Foster deliver a lecture on the proper method to read history, before the Worcester Lyceum; & W. Lincoln reads an interesting memoir of the life of old Genl. Gookin of Indian memory, it being a part of his intended history of Worcester. Attend a party at Gov. Lincoln’s and have, according to long usage, a supper.

9. Attend court all day; and in the evening play at chess with Mrs. Doctor [John] Green, and beat her and the Doctor, her husband.

10. Attend court; and in the evening go to a party at Isaac Davis’, Esq., to see his wife’s sister, Miss Estabrook of Royalston. Dance after the piano.

12. Do not attend meeting. Read Rev. Dr. Harris’ history of Dorchester.

13. Attend court. Spend the evening at Sam. Jennison’s in playing whist and backgammon. Dine at Judge Paine’s.

16. Cold. I return to Sutton…

17. Coldest day thus far. Thermometer at 9 A. M. stands 23°. I spend the forenoon in reading Boswell’s life of Johnson, and in the afternoon I walk to a place called Purgatory, which is in the south part of Sutton and remarkable for caverns in a great ledge of rocks. In eve play whist at Mr. P.’s.

19. Cloudy, and in afternoon & night snows. Read Boswell in forenoon, and afternoon attend meeting and hear Rev. Mr. Malthy. In the evening walk up to the Street to hear Rev. Lyman Maynard of Oxford preach. He is the son of Harvey Maynard of Templeton, and is about my age. We used to go to school together, and he was our standard fiddler at all the junkets. He is now very much respected as a preacher of the doctrine of Universal Salvation. We do not hear him. We spend the evening in the tavern and drink, smoke, eat a supper of poached eggs and coffee, and hire a four−horse stage to bring us home. This was a bad way to spend Sunday night and I am satisfied it was a great error in me to do so. L. B. Putnam, E. Putnam, E. Clark, Esq., & Mr. Sumner Cole were with me, or rather I was with them. We get back at 11 o’clock.

21. I read Boswell all day, & spend the evening in learning Mr. Sibley’s girl [wife] to play backgammon.

22. Coldest day thus far. Ther. 10° above zero at nine A. M. & same at 9 P. M. This is the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. I drink a glass of wine to their glorious memory, and this is all the notice I take of the day. A poem, an oration, supper and trimmings are had at Worcester and I am invited but cannot attend.

23. Ther. as yesterday. I read the American Quarterly Review…

24. Warmer. Finish American Quarterly Review and read Boswell’s Johnson.

25. Christmas. The wind blows furiously from the south and rains hard. Snow all goes off. Read Boswell.

30. Cloudy and warm. In evening go with Edward Putnam to Wilkinsonville where we play whist at Maj. Harback’s and have a grand supper. The evening is passed very pleasantly; about twenty gentlemen were present.

31. Warm and foggy. Mr. Sibley goes to Vermont. I go to Worcester to see about docket and to Millbury to see about trustee case. The traveling is very bad. Rev. Alonzo Hill was married to Miss Clark of Princeton on 29th. The wind blows most violently all the afternoon and evening with great quantity of rain, and in the night there is very heavy thunder and much sharp lightning and thus departs in a rage the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty.


  • boarding − meals and a place to sleep
  • Election day − a celebration of the annual installation of the governor and some other elected officials that occurred near the end of the month of May. Many people observed the day as a holiday. Election Day is a misnomer; the actual voting was conducted during town meetings in November. In Massachusetts, the governor served a one−year term.
  • flip − a hot drink made with ale, rum, sugar and eggs. Flips were warmed up by plunging a loggerhead (an iron tool with a long handle that was heated in a fire) into the drink.
  • flummery − a ridiculous performance
  • meeting − church service
  • ninepins − a bowling game

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
Diary of Christopher Columbus Baldwin, 1829−1835
Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society
46−48, 52−55, 58−59, 61−72, 47−80, 82−86
American Antiquarian Society
Place of Publication: 
Worcester, MA
Old Sturbridge Village