16 April through 30 April 1793

Tuesday [16 April] a fine Day PM another Balloon was sent of[f] which rose finely I viewed it at my window till it appeard no larger than a Star as the light of the Lamp was all we could see after some time it decended unhurt their was a great concourse of people on the common from whence it rose and a collection made for the Man. –

Wednesday [17 April] very warm spent the day in working & reading. –

Thursday [18 April] agreeable weather spent the day at home not well after the most flattering appearance of returning health had a turn of Spitting Blood have been rather imprudent in walking and exposeing myself too [1] much. –

Friday [19 April] pleasant spent the Day at home; I am told that the Tamarind planted here produces a Locus[t] Tree.

Saturday [20 April] a warm Day dined at Mr Vanderlocht[’s] a Number of Gentlemen spent an agreeable Day.

Sunday April 21st very Warm the Morning at home PM took a ride to white Bluff a fine road and Romantic beyond description as fragrant also.

Monday [22 April] a wet Day spent it at home in writing & working. –

Tuesday [23 April] a cold East Wind the Caroline prevented from going to Sea. –

Wednesday [24 April] the weather not agreable nor my feelings had quite a sick day.

Thursday [25 April] Morning stormy Breakfast in my Chamber so cold as to have a fire PM better dined below each day affords cause of gratitude to that guardian power which disposeth and regulates all the varieties of life.

Friday [26 April] a fine Day PM took a ride on Thunder-bolt road as far as the Cottage charming riding. –

Saturday [27 April] the weather fine spent the Day in working & reading except a short walk on the Bank of the River saw the blosom of the Laurel Tree which was curious and beautiful the Tree is very tall the branches short, leaves rather large and thick and appear to be highly varnished, the blosom is white large leaves that close at the top in the shape of an Egg but much larger, and very fragrant. – [2]

Sunday April 28th a fine Day took a ride to white Bluff or the salts as it is calld in consequence of having a Salt River run by the Bluff saw the Plantation of Sr George Houshton [3], and his Brothers went into their Gardens which exceeded any thing of the kind I have seen here as this is not a place for the display of much taste or Art, amongst the curiosities were the Pomegranate a Tree not very high had a Scarlet blossom which looked very pretty intermixed with the green Leaves, the Bamboo, and the Spanish Bayonet a shrub that they make a hedge of, the leaves in shape resemble the Lilly but exceeding stiff and hard and the end as sharp as a needle and the Cabbage Tree [4] which gives a striking display of divine protection, it bears but one Cabbage if taken of[f] before the Tree is grown it kills it, and to prevent any injury it is provided with a Coat of Moss all round the body covered with net-work of a hard substance with sharpe spears sticking out all round it, till it has grown out of reach then it drops of[f] and leaves the bark quite smooth the Cabbage is very good to eat, to get it the Tree must be cut down and the body of it is esteemed highly for many purposes on our return visited the Orphan House founded by Selina Countess of Huntington the plan executed by the Rev. George Whitfield it is now in ruins, but their remains a very handsome picture of the Countess at full length a Crown under one foot, and one of thorns in her hand, and she has quite the appearance of a Devotee. [5]

Monday [29 April] spent the Day at home.

Tuesday [30 April] not very Pleasant PM took a ride on the Augusta road [6] quite straight through a thick Wood the roads want but very little attention paid to them to make them very fine but a slovenly negligence must be the Characteristic of a Georgian. –


[1] two] MS​

[2] Smith is describing the magnolia tree, native to the region surrounding Savannah.

[3] The Houstoun’s were probably the leading family in Savannah during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The three sons of Sir Patrick Houstoun (d. 1762) – George, John, and William – were dominant figures in the political and legal scene during those years. Sir George (1744–95), the eldest brother, inherited the family’s country seat at White Bluff, about nine miles from the town itself in 1793, and the estate Dorothy Smith visited. Along with his wife, Ann (1749–1821), George Houstoun lived the life of a country squire. In 1791 he became a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Savannah, serving as vice-president and president before his death in 1795. His obituary notes that he was “a gentleman whose virtues, both social and private endeared him in life and whose death is now a subject of sincere regret to his family, friends and acquaintances.” John Houstoun (c. 1747–96) was one of the three men chosen to represent Georgia at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, 1775–76. Because he was called back to Savannah on business in the summer of 1776, his name did not appear among the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was elected governor of Georgia in 1778 and in 1784, selected as Chief Justice for Georgia in 1786, and elected mayor of Savannah in 1790. He married the daughter of the wealthy plantation owner, Jonathan Bryan. William Houstoun (b. 1755) studied law in London and was admitted to the Inner Temple, London, in 1776. He returned to Savannah at the start of the Revolutionary War and was elected twice to the Continental Congress, serving from 1784 to 1787. In 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia but declined to sign the new Constitution. An original trustee of the University of Georgia, William Houstoun became one of Savannah’s most prominent lawyers. See Georgia Gazette, February 21, 1793, and May 16, 1793; History of the St. Andrew’s Society of the City of Savannah (Savannah, 1950), 33-35; Georgia Gazette, June 11, 1795; and William J. Northern, Men of Mark in Georgia, 7 vols. (Atlanta, 1907–12), 1:167–74.

[4] The cabbage, or sabal, palm, is a distinctive feature of the vegetation along the southeastern coast of the United States. It is the official state tree of Florida.

[5] The Bethesda Home, the first orphanage in America, was established by a grant of 500 acres from the Colony of Georgia in 1739. The idea for the home originated with Charles Wesley and Governor Olgethorpe, but it was through the efforts of George Whitefield (1714–70) that the orphanage became a reality in March 1740. Whitefield made repeated visits to Bethesda during his preaching tours of the Colonies and was relentless in his fundraising for the orphanage. Whitefield died in the Smith’s home village of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1770 while on a preaching tour of America. Previously he willed the orphanage to the Countess of Huntington, his wealthy English patron. She spent considerable funds on repairing the buildings in 1773 and briefly opened a Calvinistic Methodist college on the grounds of the orphanage in 1788. After her death in 1791, the property and control of the orphanage was assumed by the state of Georgia, but not without resistance from the Rev. John Johnson, minister of the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, who, as a British citizen, wished to maintain English control of the property. George Houstoun, one of the new trustees of the orphanage, notified Johnson on January 6, 1792, that the state would take possession the following week. A few days later Johnson defiantly wrote to Houstoun, “If you attempt it tomorrow, I wish you to understand, I would much rather open my breast to your fatal steel than act unworthy of my present trust.” Johnson lost his battle with Houstoun and the state of Georgia, but his bitterness was evident when, after the death of Houstoun’s daughter, Johnson informed Houstoun that his loss was a “judgment of God for his conduct” toward Johnson and the orphanage. The orphanage fell into a state of neglect and decay during the next ten years (as indicated by Dorothy Smith’s comment in April 1793 about the buildings being in a state of “ruins”). Eventually the orphanage was taken over by the Union Society of Savannah and continues to this day on its original site. The Countess’s full-length portrait of herself, accurately described in the entry by Smith, was painted by the prominent English painter John Russell (1745–1806) on October 20, 1772, and is still on display at the orphanage. See Lowry Axley, Holding Aloft the Torch: A History of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia (Savannah, 1958), 19-20; Edward J. Cashin, Beloved Bethesda: A History of George Whitefield’s Home for Boys, 1740-2000 (Macon, GA, 2001), 106ff; also Federal Writers Project, Savannah (Savannah, 1937), 172.

[6] Old Augusta Road can be found just to the east of Georgia Highway 21 and northwest of downtown Savannah near Rincon in present day Effingham County.