The Journal of Charles Rawn
October 1, 1851 to October 22, 1851 (Book 22)

Edited by Tom Sheeler

Charles Rawn was a man of routine. His daily comings and goings did not necessarily run like clock work, but he did repeat activities. Aside from doing business and legal work, Rawn took notice of the weather. A weather report heads each entry in his journal. Aside from the weather, Rawn recorded information regarding the nearly daily walks that he took. He liked to walk several miles at a time, sometimes en route to a business or appointment. Rawn generally ended a day by retiring at 9 p.m., although infrequently he would stay up later.

Rawn appears to have had an ample leisure time, judging from the journal sample in question. In addition to taking walks, he enjoyed carriage rides with his family. These rides lasted about two to five miles and sometimes had specific destinations. Another of Rawn’s favorite pastimes was hunting game with his sons. He was meticulous about recording the number of animals shot. On six occasions in this month, he shot twenty-four or twenty-five partridges, one rabbit, three squirrels, and one killdeer. A particularly intriguing incident occurred on October 2, when Rawn apparently shot four times at the squirrel, leaving it "dead in a nest." Perhaps Rawn’s goal was not dinner or trophies.1

Another aspect of Rawn’s routine, and that of his family, was church on Sunday. Rawn belonged to the Presbyterian Church, based upon an entry dated October 21, in which he paid his pew rental.2 Nevertheless, he and his family did not always attend their own church. On the night of October 12, his wife attended the German Reformed Church, and on October 12, Rawn reports, "No church at ours – I was at Lutheran Ch. in evening [.] Rev. [?] Porter preached."

The bulk of information that comes from Charles Rawn’s journal is a record of daily business. Rawn meticulously recorded expenses and income on a daily basis. He logged his personal accounts almost daily. He noted money paid out for service; he regularly paid Betsey Jackson for washing. Mostly these paid out transactions consisted of daily use items, such as foodstuffs and home commodities like lamp oil. He noted payment from a black man, Edmund Thompson, for services rendered. Unfortunately, Rawn did not note what services he offered Thompson, but Rawn was a known defender of African Americans. Other entries note payment by renters of property owned by Rawn.3 He also noted transactions that occurred under his legal authority. For example, on October 1, a Mr. Kneply and Thomas Trimble signed papers regarding a real estate venture.

Rawn recorded his legal business, but with varying amounts of detail. As stated, he oversaw the Kneply/Trimble transaction and mentioned rendering service to Edmund Thompson. On October 7, Rawn noted that he was in trial, Samuel Muller v. Geoffrey Urban and Jacob Riley, but states little else. Also, he writes that he received money from the prothonotary concerning an appeal.4 Some passing references to a Judge McKinney as well as Rawn writing out paperwork after a home sale also exist in the sample month.5

The most complete account of legal business appears in a three-day series of entries. Rawn collected money for W.G. Nilliston and Company, Philadelphia. On October 20, Rawn collected a sum of $322.12 from a Mr. Croft for the company, and then Rawn deposited the sum in the Dauphin Deposit Bank. Two days later, Rawn sent the sum, minus a $19.07 holding fee, to W.G. Nilliston and Company. Interestingly, he reportedly answered a letter from the Philadelphia company asking Rawn for an "explanation." Rawn did not specify what the company wanted him to explain.6

A final intriguing aspect of Rawn’s journal for the sample month is the man’s writing style. His pattern of writing is erratic at best. A salient mark of the journal is Rawn’s method of underlining important information. Generally, header dates and monetary values receive double underlines while numbers and people receive single underlines. But no rules bind Rawn in his use of language. His grammar is quite faulty, and he writes mostly using abbreviations. Rarely is a person noted by both first and last names, and in some cases it is difficult to distinguish whether Rawn is discussing a deposition book or the Dauphin Deposit Bank.7 Aside from the frequent and confounding use of abbreviations, each of Rawn’s entries is littered with random capitalization and almost non-existent use of punctuation. Although these realities would normally create enough problems for readers, Rawn also tends to write in run-on sentences. In the October 11 entry, Rawn writes, "I at the same time paid him $3.00 on account of $.600 agreed to be given him for any interest he may have on the fare of the [?] in the assignment on the Mill’s property to us as for fees." Despite its difficulties, however, Rawn’s journal is a telling specimen of 19th century life.


1 - Although Rawn does not specifically name the locations, his hunting sites tend to correspond with hotels, so a census or directory would probably yield the actual locations. Charles C. Rawn, Journal entries for 1, 2, 4, 16, 17 Oct., 1851, Rawn Journal, Charles Rawn Collection box 1, Dauphin County Historical Society, Harrisburg, PA.

2 - "Pd. A. Burnett [?] My Pew Rent for 6 mos. to pd. inst. For 2/3 of a Pew in the Presbyterian Church of this place, $6.67," Rawn, Oct. 21.

3 - For Thompson transaction, see Rawn, Oct. 3; for renters, see Rawn, Oct. 4, 17.

4 - The names Bulsbaugh, Mohler, and Frazer are listed as parties to the lawsuit, but it is unclear who was defendant and plaintiff. Rawn, Oct. 11.

5 - See Rawn, Oct. 16: "attended Millers Sale at Lander’s Hotel after 7 to 8 ½ P.M. and wrote [?] on agreement of Purchase for Geo. Boyer and C.O. Zimmerman to [?] – He sold to them & farmhouse to ~"

6 - Rawn, Oct. 20-Oct.22

7 - Rawn, Oct. 2, 21; Note that in the former entry, very little detail was provided for what Rawn meant. It was not until reading the latter entry that the abbreviations had clear meaning.

The Journal

Transcriptions for this section of the journal begin October 1, 1851 and end October 22, 1851. Click on a date to begin reading.

List of Names Mentioned

  • Beatty, Mrs. George, and child
  • Beatty, Mrs. William P.
  • Boyer, George
  • Bredin, James, Esq. - Butler, PA
  • Brenner, Peter
  • Burnett, A.
  • Butler, Mr.
  • Croft, Mr.
  • Emerson, Geo. L., Esq.
  • Fannny - Wife; attended German Reformed church
  • Gilbert, Mrs. - Rawn’s wife visits
  • Graff, Paul
  • Hopkins, Barry - Rec’d rent
  • Jackson, Betsey - Did washing and ironing
  • Jones, Wm.
  • Knepley, Mr.
  • McCormick
  • McKinney, Chambers - Brother of Mordecai McKinney
  • McKinney, Mordecai Judge - Rawn visits his often several times
  • Miller, G. A.
  • Miller, G. W.
  • Millhouse, Amos
  • Muller, Samuel v. Geof Urban and Jacob Riley - Case
  • Neidig’s
  • Neidig, Mrs. Elizth.
  • Nilliston, W. G. & Co. - Client
  • Oflerbys, Jonah
  • Parke, B.
  • Partridge, Capt.
  • Pollack, Will
  • Pollocks & Wyeths - Book store
  • Porter, Rev. - Preached at Lutheran church
  • Rawn, J. Calvin - Son
  • Rawn, Chas. - Son
  • Rawn, Mary - Daughter
  • Shell, C. M.
  • Sheesley, Mr.
  • Sights, Henry
  • Thompson, Edmd.
  • Trimble, James R.
  • Trimble, Thomas R.
  • Weaver, Mr.
  • Wyeth, Mrs. Jno.
  • Zimmerman, C. O.

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PDF Icon Book 22: 1851-10-01 to 1851-10-22