The following are a selection of excerpts from the Diary of William Calhoun dated 1771.
William was the younger brother of Thomas Calhoun who had immigrated to Albert County in 1765 to take a job managing a settlement along the Shepody River. William's journal begins with him leaving Baltimore Maryland in June of 1771. The diary recounts the hardships faced by the settlers who arrived in the area in 1765, later accounts tell of William and Thomas's business shipping grindstones from Grindstone Island. The excerpts below give a fascinating account of what life was like for the early settlers in Albert County. The diary excerpts begin with William's arrival in Albert County. Note the excerpts have been transcribed from original documents with original spellings and grammar.
About 9 o'clock in the morning we arrived at Shepody River, distance I suppose some 8 or 9 leagues. As it was flood tide and a strong current we soon got down to my brother's, about two leagues from the mouth of the river. To my great satisfaction I found him and his family well, for which together with my safe arrival, God be praised. Shepody contains a vast tract of fine marsh, clear and level, about 7 or 8 miles in length and 2 to 4 miles wide, through which the River Shepody runs in a serpentine form. This River is from 50 to 150 yards broad; the banks are steep and generally muddy, its general course is from West to East; several creeks and (guts?) Fall into it from the marsh; most of these are on the North side. Near the mouth of this River the tide generally rises to the height of 85 ft., so that twice in twenty four hours it overflows its bank and as often discovers its small but rapid channels. On each side of this marsh are seen beautiful rising grounds, mostly clear where the French homes formerly stood. A great part of the marsh had been dyked and drained. Upon the North side and two or three miles from the marsh there runs a chain of high mountains near parallel with the marsh, which appears to be a screen from the cold winds, and makes the situation warm and pleasant. The navigation will scarcely answer for large ships, but may do for sloops and schooners, &c.,–flat-built to lie on the ground at low water. Upon this River is Hopewell Township, owned by Adam Hoops, claimed at the first settling of it. They laid out Germantown upon a rising land, about two leagues up the River, and left the management of the Settlement to my brother, which did not succeed according to their wishes, occasioned by their sending a number of worthless settlers, some of whom had been brought up in the army, others had lived in Philadelphia, and had never been used to farming, but thought they were coming to get land, which produce ever necessary spontaneously, without cultivation. But being landed here late in the fall, and their allowance of provisions which Mr. Hoop ordered them being given to them, they lived so extravagantly that by the 28th of December several of them ran out of provisions, and though my brother gave them all he possibly could spare, (it being a time when he couldn't go to any place in order to get a supply) yet it wouldn't satisfy them, but they gathered in a company and demanded more, saying...
Wednesday, 14th August
Cloudy and rainy, with wind at N.E. and S.W. We saw Indian camps on the other side of the river a little distance above us and sent our Frenchman over to speak to them, and he told them what we came there for, at which they grumbled very much, saying the land belonged to them and we had no right there. They desired us to speak with them, whereupon my brother and myself went over with the Frenchman, and was conducted into one of their houses where they were all assembled. They told us they understood that we came there to fish and said that the salmon up there all keep in one place, and if we were to go up there with our nets we would catch them all, and they would starve. And, they continued, this land is ours and we will not let you fish here. My brother then told them that there was more places than one for the fish to stay in and that there was enough for them and us both, and that he only came to fish his own land, for he had a grant from the Governor and Council for a tract of land at this place, which he had now come to see, and catch fish upon it, and he would not be hindered, and told them if they hindered us from fishing he would complain to the Governor. At this they told him they were willing that he should complain, and one of them was willing to go with him to the Governor, and see whose land it was, for he said their King Agamo had a grant in writing from the Governor for the land, and he further said if we were to fish we would kill their fish; for we might as well do it as take their fish from them: they were poor and had nothing else to live on; but if we would buy their fish from them, they would bring us that night all they could catch. But we told them we had brought no gold with us to trade for fish, and that we intended to catch what we wanted. When they found we were resolved to catch some, they told us it was a great way up to where the fish were, that it was a bad year for them, and that they had visited then friends from the St....
Wednesday, September 5th
My brother and I with one of the hands went to Grindstone Island. This island lies at the mouth of Shepody River, and contains about 50 or 60 acres of land; there is good anchor ground all around it, and at the N. E. end there is a cove which forms an excellent harbor against all winds; upon the Island are many excellent grindstone quarries.
We had intended in the evening to fall down with the last of the ebb, and come home that night, but before we got to the lower end of the Island, the flood tide met us, and after rowing nearly an hour without gaining any headway, we threw out an anchor, which beyond our expectations held us until the force of the tide was somewhat abated, and then we again tried and gained the mouth of the river, getting home late at night
Having [?] a load of stone into our canoe during flood tide, we were left but two hours of flood, during which we attempted to get home; but the wind falling we got but a short distance into the mouth of the river before the tide turned and we were obliged to cast anchor on the flats, and take to our batteau, but the current was so strong that it was near low water when we got home; on the 15th we went down with the fresh water and brought up our canoe with the flood tide, and at high tide had a violent storm with rain, wind S.W. which sunk our canoe.