Twenty-first posting: Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York (1849-1850)

Her name was Catherine Elizabeth Havens and she was born in 1839 into a relatively prominent family that had lived in New York for generations. Her father was a ship-owner and founder of a company that rented storing space to John Jacob Astor for his fur trading business (to cure the skins).

A couple of small fragments:

I think consciences are very troublesome, for if they tell you you are good you feel proud, and if they tell you you are doing wrong you are unhappy.’

‘I just love it at Old Church. We play outdoors all day; sometimes in the barn and the hayloft, and sometimes by a brook across the road behind a house where three ladies live who have never married, although they have a vine called Matrimony on their porch, and they are very good to us children and let us run through their house and yard. On Sundays it is so quiet we can hear everything they say, and one morning we heard Miss E. say, “Ann, do you think it is going to rain? If I thought it was going to rain I would take my parasol, but if I thought it was going to shine I would take my parasolette.

Catherine’s diary and its descriptions of everyday life in Old New York come to us thanks to


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