​16 March through 31 March 1793

Saturday [16 March] spent at lodgings a number of Ladys calld, Mrs Mumford & Sister [1] drank Tea. –

March 17th Sunday an Agreeable Day was much entertained with seeing the Negroes go to their place of Worship they all assemble by themselves have a Negro to Preach to them, and really their was more appearance of ^devotion^ in them than in the Whites, heard no Bell for Meeting and no person went from my lodgings, Gentlemen going out a Guning [2] some riding others Walking, with Ladys. –

Monday [18 March] good Weather spent the [day] at home Mr Smith returnd from a party that went upon [the] Iland for game.

Tuesday [19 March] good PM rode out on Thunder-bolt road [3] a Romantic ride returnd & found Mrs Ingersoll & Mrs Vanderlocht at my lodgings.

Wednesday [20 March] very warm PM took a walk upon the bank of the River an agreeable prospect, of an opposit Plantation the Rice ground entirely level with Canals cut through it, but their was soon a reverse of feelings upon viewing the Wharfes where the Sons of Slavery half naked were rolling up Hogshead of Rum upon the Bluff which is so steep and Sandy as to be dificult to assend others carrying stone ballast out of Ships, my feelings have been much wounded at hearing of the treatment to these unfortunate Blacks. – [4]

Thursday [21 March], an agreeable Day took a ride in the morning raised a little blood. – their is a greate sameness in the rides round Savannah you may go Six or seven miles through the Woods without seeing a Plantation or scarce meeting a Person but the trees are Grand and a balsamic fragrance from the Woods joined to melody of the Birds makes the ride very agreeable, and you have the Si^n^gular convenience of bating your Horse from the Trees, the Moss which gives a Venerable appearance to the trees is a good Nourishment for Cattle, altho nature is so bountiful of her gifts their appears to be a native inattention to the improvement of them, their is an awkward & shabby look in almost every thing you see Houses, Carts, Horses look not able to beare a burthen and by the number of dead Carcasses laying upon the Common back of the Town I may justly suppose they dont long bear their own weight Oxen and Cows the poorest I ever saw. –

Friday [22 March] at home a Miss Hill from Boston [5] past the Day here PM a Mrs Seargent took Tea here Sister to Miss Hill but settled in Savannah.

Saturday [23 March] took a ride on Ogechee road [6] which is free from Sand compared with the roads in general quite Straight with Woods on each Side. PM spent at work.

March 24th Sunday disagreeable weather prevented my attending the Negro Meeting but was much pleased with seeing their movements after Morning service they went to the River to dip several; numbers of white people had assembled to see them, after that Ceremony was performed they returnd in Procession to their ^place^ of Worship Singing Psalms their Deacon reading every line, all the men with their Hats in hand, then the Sacrement was administered; they appeared with greate decency. –

Monday [25 March] Showery spent the Day at home Mrs Vanderlocht Miss Brown & Mr Belcher [7] calld to see me. –

Tuesday [26 March] an agreeable Day PM took a walk calld upon some Ladys Drank at home – Tea. –​

Wednesday [27 March] pleasant took an agreeable ride upon Ogechee road Drank Tea with Mrs Vanderlocht.

Thursday [28 March] a fine Day rather cool dined at Mr Vanderlochts a number of Gentlemen. –

Friday [29 March] a good Day went to the Jewish Synagogue a Singular mode of Worship went to Mr Sheftalls eat some Passover Cake Gallanted by Doctor Sheftall. – [8]

Saturday [30 March] an agreeable ^day^ Mrs V sent for me their to see Mr Greens funeral (a Son of the Late General Green) to whom I had been introduced on my arrival he was unfortunately drownd. two [9] of the Clergy walkd before with white Sarsnet [10] Weeds in their Hats hanging half a yard down their Backs 3 yards of the same for a Sash put over their Shoulder then the Corps was supported by Six Negroes, covered with a White Pall which was held by Six Females dresst in white with white Sarsnet veils on their Heads, then followed some intimate friends in full mourning (near relations do not attend) all have long black Weeds, on each side House servants in Mourning, then all the Negroes from the Plantation. [11] – no person attends a funeral without invitation when they all assembled their is a Glass of wine handd then Coffee Tea Cake Bread & Cheese after that Spiced Wine, then there is a Cake handed to each Person wraped in Paper and Sealed with Black, as they go out a Servant stands at the door with a Basket full of Sprigs of Rosemary with cut paper wound round them & gives each person one, which they throw into the Grave then all disperce their is no order in return.

Sunday March 31st a fine warm Day Mrs Ingersoll came for me in her Chair to attend ^Church^ I went with pecular pleasure as I had’t been in a place of public Worship for more than twelve months a Shabby Church but a good preacher walkd home very much fatigued could not attend in the Afternoon to hear a funeral Sermon upon the death of Mr Green. – [12]


[1] Elizabeth Montford was the wife of Capt. Robert Montford, a merchant and leader at that time in the East Company of the Savannah Volunteers. He died in late 1794, and the next year Elizabeth Montford married the Rev. Thomas Harris McCall, minister of the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah., who died in 1796. See Georgia Gazette, February 16, 1792; January 8, 1795; also Lowry Axley, Holding Aloft the Torch: A History of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia (Savannah, 1958), 20.

[2] Most likely this should be “Gunning,” for the next day Josiah Smith went hunting.

[3] Thunderbolt, located about five miles southeast of Savannah on a high bluff overlooking the Wilmington River, was originally a Native American settlement converted by Oglethorpe into a defensive outpost and settlement in 1733.

[4] The steepness of the bluff is still evident from River Street to the higher elevation of Bay Street, with Factor’s Walk now situated in between, where in the following decades the bales of cotton were carried or rolled up the bluff in view of the buyers (factors).

[5] Listed among the shipping news in the Georgia Gazette on March 21, 1793 was a notice that a person by the name of Hill had arrived from Charleston on board the schooner Hope. Another notice, appearing in the Gazette on April 18, 1793, informed the public that a “Miss Hope Hill” had departed on a schooner for Charleston earlier that week.

[6] The Ogeechee River is situated about fifteen miles from downtown Savannah and forms the western boundary of Chatham county. From the ferry, the Ogeechee Road ran north to Louisville in Jefferson County and south to Osabaw Island and the Atlantic Ocean.

[7] William Belcher, Esq., an Savannah merchant, married Eleanor Brown in late May 1793. The Belchers left Savannah sometime in the first decade of the eighteenth century. They buried two infant sons in the Colonial Cemetery in Savannah (1794 and 1803). Belcher died at the home of Major Clement Powers in Effingham County, Georgia, on April 23, 1837. See Georgia Gazette, May 30, 1793; Savannah Georgian, March 2, 1827; also Elizabeth Carpenter Piechocinski, The Old Burying Ground: Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia 1750-1853 (Savannah, 1999), 91.

[8] The Sheftalls were the leading Jewish family in Savannah at this time. Dorothy Smith is most likely visiting the home of Levi Sheftall (1739–1809), who, along with his brother Mordecai Sheftall (1735–1797), and Mordecai’s son, Sheftall Sheftall (1762–1849), were trustees of the Mickva Israel congregation when it was officially incorporated in 1790. Levi and Mordecai were sons of Benjamin Sheftall (1692-1765), who arrived in Savannah from London on July 11, 1733, along with 41 other Jews. The London proprietors requested that the Jews be removed from the colony, but Olgethorpe gave them land grants nevertheless. Levi Sheftall is best known for his letter to President Washington of June 14, 1790, on behalf of the Mickva Israel congregation, congratulating the President on his electoral victory, the first official declaration of fealty by a congregation of American Jews to an American President. Mordecai Sheftall was a successful Savannah merchant and farmer, owning over a thousand acres by the age of 27. A radical Whig and revolutionary war hero, he was financially ruined by the time the war had ended. In the remaining years of his life, however, he recouped his fortune and his land. He was the primary leader of the Jewish congregation at the time of Mrs. Smith’s visit, serving as the congregation’s parnas (president) from 1791 to 1796. He was also a civic leader, serving at times as a magistrate and member of the Union Society. His other son, Moses (1769–1835) (referred to above in the diary), would become one of Savannah’s leading doctors, having studied from 1790 to 1793 in Philadelphia under the famed American doctor, Benjamin Rush. Moses Sheftall had returned to Savannah just prior to Dorothy Smith’s visit, having married Elkali Bush of Philadelphia the previous year. Like his father, he too was a leader in the Jewish congregation of Savannah; he also served as an alderman of Savannah for six terms. The Jews in Savannah possessed neither a synagogue nor a resident rabbi at the time of Smith’s visit. The congregation met instead in a rented house on Broughton Street Lane in a room apparently large enough to hold twenty-nine benches, of which Mordecai Sheftall occupied the first pew. See Rabbi Saul Jacob Rubin, Third to None: The Saga of Savannah Jewry 1733–1983 (Savannah, 1983), 40; B. H. Levy, Savannah’s Old Jewish Community Cemeteries (Macon, 1983), 53–60; Esther Raines Mallard, “The Jews of Savannah 1733–1860,” M.A. thesis, Georgia Southern University, 1972, 49; Malcolm H. Stern, “The Sheftall Diaries: Vital Records of Savannah Jewry, 1733–1808,” American Jewish Historical Journal 54 (1964): 243–77; and Malcolm H. Stern, “New Light on the Jewish Settlement of Savannah,” The Jewish Experience in America, 5 vols. (Waltham, MA, 1969), 1.66–92.

[9] too] MS

[10] A soft, fine silk material, either plain or twilled, in various colors, which was frequently used at this time for dress linings, veils, and even for entire dresses.

[11] The following notice of Greene’s drowning appeared in the Georgia Gazette on April 4, 1793: “On Thursday morning last [March 28] Mr. George Washington Greene, son of the late Gen. [Nathanael] Greene, was unfortunately drowned in this river near Mulberry Grove [the Greene family plantation on the Savannah River] by the oversetting of a canoe. Mr. Stits, a young gentleman who was with him, with much difficulty got to the shore. Mr. Greene’s corpse was found next day, and on Saturday was interred here. The Cincinnati Society, of which he was a Member, and a number of respectable citizens, attended the funeral.”

[12] Most likely Dorothy Smith attended services at Christ Church, the first Episcopal congregation established in Savannah. Some illustrious religious figures of the eighteenth century preached in this church in its early years, including John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and George Whitefield, one of the outstanding Calvinist evangelical leaders of the Great Awakening.