Memorandums of a Tour


made by


Josiah Espy


in the


States of Ohio and Kentucky




Indiana Territory







Robert Clarke & Co.






JOSIAH ESPY was born in what is now the county of Cumberland, Pennsylvania, in the year 1771, and died in the city of Columbus. Ohio, in the year 1847.

His father emigrated to Kentucky in the year 1787. Having a large family of children, Mr. Espy, at the urgent request of his brother, Colonel David Espy, at that time prothonotary at Bedford, Pennsylvania. left Josiah with him, and he was received and treated by him as one of his own family. This gave him some social and educational advantages, which he would not otherwise have had. He entered his uncle's office as clerk, and served him faithful1y until the year 1791, when he received an appointment as clerk in the War Department of the Government, at the then capital, Philadelphia, under Edmund Randolph, Secretary of War.

Returning to Bedford, after a few years, he became somewhat prominent as a politician, attached to the Federal party; was elected to the Legislature, and was a member during the violent party strife, which ultimated in an effort on the part of the Federalists to impeach the newly-elected Republican governor, McKean [1] . Mr. Espy, though opposed to the governor politically, did not agree with his party on the question of impeachment, and ever afterward kept aloof from partisan politics, though he remained a decided Federalist, and later in life acted with the Whig party.

In 1805, allured by the enthusiastic accounts he had heard of the beauty and richness of the Ohio valley, and urged by the desire to visit, after so long a separation, his mother and his brothers and sisters, he made the trip, the journal of which is here printed, with the intention of seeking a place to settle. Owing, however, as he naively acknowledges, to the "secret influence of  fixed and tender attachment," he returned to Pennsylvania.

He was married in the year 1812, to Maria Murdoch, daughter of Judge Murdoch, of Cumberland, Maryland. At the date of his marriage he adopted the family name of his wife, and ever after signed his name Josiah M. Espy.

At this period of his life he was engaged in mercantile pursuits, but did not give to the business that attention which insures success. He was too fond of books, and gave too much time to writing contributions to the local newspaper and the periodicals of the day. In the autumn of 1826 he was elected cashier of the Franklin Bank of Columbus, Ohio, and in the following spring removed his large family to that place. He continued to hold this office until the final winding up of the bank, after the expiration of the charter in 1843.

Early in life, "after a long and sober investigation," he became a convert to the doctrines of the New Jerusalem Church, as promulgated by Emanuel Swedenborg. He remained a zealous member of that church through life, and was an earnest and active advocate of the peculiar religious views of that body. These were quite novel to his new associates and friends in Columbus, and oftentimes were made the subject of jest by persons toward whom he felt esteem. For the purpose of placing his religious convictions frankly before the community, he wrote and published a work called "The Contrast," in which the tenets of the old and new churches were contrasted. This work he distributed over the counter of the bank, and it, together with the example of his pure and practical religious life, disarmed all prejudice against the new doctrines. He was a true gentleman.

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[1] Thomas McKean (1734-1817), Governor of Pennsylvania 1799-1812. He was the a representative from Delaware at the Continental Congress. For more information see