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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Journey From New Jersey To Lebanon In 1807

Dallas Bogan on 14 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

"Lebanon!! Yes, my friends, I am at Lebanon." These were the words of Elizabeth Van Horne in 1807, 188 years ago, describing her emotions after a journey with her family from New Jersey.
The Reverend William Van Horne, with his wife, son, six unmarried daughters, and two servants began the long journey from Scotch Plains, N.J., to settle on new land east of Lebanon. George Washington had granted him the land for his services as Chaplain in the Revolutionary War.
Elizabeth promised her friends she would keep a daily record of the happenings along the way.
She was but 31 years of age when the excursion was undertaken. She said: "I already think it a great undertaking to remove a family from Jersey State to the State of Ohio - Strength, fortitude, and resolution, and a good share of Patience is absolutely necessary."
The trip, as described, was taken over the seemingly endless Alleghenies. Onward they pushed through the great State of Pennsylvania. The labor of the crossing at the Susquehanna River, the upsetting of the carriage on a steep hill, the smoke-filled atmosphere of camping at night, all contributed to the drudgery of the trip.
Amidst all this, Elizabeth wrote, "there is no place in this world I wish to go but Lebanon. I have not the most distant wish to be settled in any other state but Ohio."
The grand Van Horne procession was viewed upon with much interest along the route, possibly because of the uncommon number of young women. "We were gazed at from morning to night - indeed it is much the case every day. I believe we are a wonder to the country through which we pass...they want to know who we are, where from, and where we are bound," she wrote.
Walking the 12 or 15 miles in an average day not only saved the horses, but the girls seemed to enjoy it. Elizabeth wrote: "On horseback is the pleasantest and safest mode to perform this journey. Was I a gentleman, I would not omit it for a trifle - for they see the world in American Miniature really a little of everything."
Another entry in her journal told of the journey and its effects on her father. "My father is very much fatigued...he grows weaker and complains mournfully of the dismal, dismal mountains...we found it necessary to ensue any degree of comfort at night that Ann and myself went on before, engaged a room, went to sweeping and cleaning ready to bring in a bed and have it made by the time my father arrived. It is my friends, a tedious journey indeed for a family. But was I at Plains now, except for my father's illness, I would start again."
Reverend Van Horne died in Pittsburgh and was buried in the churchyard of the Presbyterian Church.
The family proceeded on. A trip of four weeks was spent on the Ohio River to Cincinnati. They learned afterwards that the trip could be lessened to four days at high water.
Arriving at Lebanon was a delightful occasion. The town at that time exhibited a great number of "well-educated, genteel, agreeable, young men." Two of Elizabeth's sisters married brothers of Sarah Ross, wife of Thomas Corwin. Elizabeth married Joshua Collett, for fifteen years Judge of the Ohio Supreme Court.
She stuck to the mission of her writings, even though these writings occurred after the family had retired for the night.
She writes, "and now, my friends, we are all here...None of the family are dissatisfied with the country but the reverse - I am agreeably disappointed for my part in many respects in Cincinnati and the Town of Lebanon - more particularly this place, the buildings, the inhabitants, and the industry of the mechanics of this is surprising."
The end of her journey had been reached and total fulfillment had been completed in Lebanon.

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This page created 14 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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