Water, Water Everywhere

October 15 history blog post: One of a series of short essays to provide the cultural, political and geographical context for the 1766 travelers.

Travel in the 1700s was challenging at best, but the 1766 party endured many hardships along the way, as Salome Meurer describes in her journal.

There seemed to be an abundance of water — in the form of rain — but on several days they had to travel many miles to find a stream.

The first time Salome mentions rain was on the second day (October 4) when the party arrived in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Since they stayed indoors with the Single Sisters of Lititz, the rain was not much of a hardship. On October 6, Salome notes “it rained so hard we couldn’t leave until midday.” This was the first night they slept outdoors, or “in the bush.” Salome notes that the ground was soaked so they placed leaves on the ground to lie on, since there wasn’t enough room for everyone in the tent.

On October 20 they had rain in the morning then two thunderstorms in the afternoon, and they were all soaking wet. It rained again the next night, and “everything in the wagon was soaked.” And again on October 23, “the rain fell on us like someone was pouring it out of a barrel,” Salome wrote. “The entire trail was covered with water. At one point…(we) found ourselves standing knee-deep in it.” The mud caused the wagon to get stuck repeatedly.

Yet the lack of water for themselves and the horses also created challenges. On October 18, there was no water for 12 miles. On October 19, they went 16 miles before finding water. The nine horses must have really struggled on those two days. In fact, Salome notes that two of the horses were sick and could hardly move on October 21. Out of concern for the horses, the girls frequently walked rather than ride in the wagon.

Virginia S. Hart A’75


Aaron S. Fogleman, “Women on the Trail in Colonial America: A Travel Journal of German Moravians Migrating from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 1766,” Pennsylvania History, Vol. 61, No. 2, April 1994