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Henry Rogers was a miller who lived and worked in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, during most of the 19th Century. In the late summer and fall of 1838, while still a young man, Henry, his wife, and her parents traveled from their home in southwestern Ohio to New York City via horse-drawn wagon. Henry -- a literate businessman with diverse interests living in a time and place that was undergoing substantial social, political, and economic change -- kept a daily journal of at least the east-bound portion of this trip. His intent in maintaining this journal, he stated, was to mention all interesting subjects and things that come under my observation.
True to his word, Henry recorded observations of and thoughts about the landforms and waters he crossed, soils and their agricultural potential, crops, buildings and other architectural features, mills and other forms of industry, places and institutions with tourist appeal, and emerging transportation facilities. The social and political environment of the times, as well as the health and comfort of his party both humans and horses as they traveled eastward, were also commented upon in the Journal.
Some 150 years after Henry s trip, his great-great-great-granddaughter, Tracy Lawson, received a typewritten copy of his journal as a gift and almost immediately found herself falling into what became an extensive, diverse exploration of the content and context of the document. Over the years, she delved into archival materials, public documents, genealogical records, family lore, and the social, political, and economic history of Henry s world. Then, 13 years into her research, she along with her young daughter Keri benchmarked the exploration of Henry s journal by retracing his route from southwestern Ohio to northern New Jersey. Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More is a milestone in Tracy s passionate and still unfolding exploration of the life and times of one of her ancestors a person Tracy identifies as one of America s Real People.
It is amazing how much I learned as I researched Henry s journal and wrote this book, Tracy says, and this project has given me a new appreciation for the individuals from Henry s time who used their skills and ingenuity to build America into a great nation. I would encourage anyone with access to family letters or journals to embark on their own journey into the past and see what they can discover about their family history.