Ohio History Journal

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Edited by WILLIAM D. HOYT, JR.

Maryland Historical Society


The people living along the Ohio River "are miserably defi-

cient in morals principles and manners, and much addicted to

drinking profanity and idleness." Thus wrote Joseph Proud to

Nathaniel G. Maxwell from Shawnee Town, Illinois, December

22, 1819. The letter containing these sentiments provides an in-

teresting picture of travel down the Ohio at the close of the second

decade of the nineteenth century. The country was not yet thickly

settled, and Proud's comment on the "wretched log cabins" of

the inhabitants indicates something of the pioneer conditions still

prevailing. Cincinnati, on the other hand, was "a noble looking

town" with a population of ten thousand people, two thousand

homes, and seven churches or meeting houses. Shawnee Town

itself was not so wonderful, although it was the scene of consid-

erable activity connected with emigrants bound to the Missouri

and other westward points. Between descriptions of the sights

along the river, the people living on the banks, and the several

settlements, Proud inserted remarks on the state of business, par-

ticularly the comparative costs of real estate in the different


Joseph Proud (d. 1822) was the youngest son of John and

Lurana Proud, of New Bedford, Massachusetts. One of his

brothers, John Greene Proud, moved to Baltimore, Maryland, to

engage in trade, and his eldest sister, Ann, was the wife of

Nathaniel G. Maxwell (1775-1827), a Baltimore bookseller and

stationer, who was the recipient of this letter. Joseph Proud

continued his voyage down the Mississippi and died at sea while

homeward bound from New Orleans less than three years after

his stop at Shawnee Town.