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Benjamin Hayes Smith diary


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Benjamin Hayes Smith was born May 7, 1841, to George and Mary (Lewis) Smith. They lived in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. At the age of 15, Smith entered Haverford College and received his bachelor's in 1859. While at Haverford, Smith was the secretary for the Henry Society, the editor of the Collegian, and a member of the Haverford Loganian Society, the Haverford Euethean Association, and the Haverford Athenaeum. After his time at Haverford, Smith returned home and searched for work surveying for railroads in the Midwest. In October, 1861, near the start of the Civil War, Smith enlisted in the cavalry and remained in service through April, 1863. Smith was a member of the Anderson Troop of the Pennsylvania Volunteers (15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry), serving under General Buell during his campaign in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and serving under General Rosecrans's Stones River campaign. As a result of his enlistment, he may have been disowned from his meeting. After leaving the army, Smith worked as a topographical engineer and surveyor. He married Adelaide L. Brooke in 1866. In 1880, he wrote and published Atlas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, which contained early grants and patents with a history of land titles in the county. Smith was a member of several societies, including the Delaware County Institute of Science, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the American Entomological Society. He also worked with Dr. Charles Sprague Sargent at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, on a study of wild thorns (Crataegus), of which one was named after him (C. smithii). Smith died in 1918.

The diary covers Benjamin Hayes Smith's time at Haverford, beginning January 1, 1856, through 1863. From 1856 through the end of 1859, Smith wrote everyday, usually to describe the weather and his school work. He frequently recorded his readings for class, which included classics such as the Aeneid by Virgil, Antigone, and works by Xenophon. He also described his work for classes including Greek, Latin, Geology, Geometry, etc. Smith also detailed his experience in his public and private examinations. He regularly attended meetings of the Haverford Loganian Society (1856-1859), Haverford Euethean Association (1856-1859), and Haverford Athenaeum (1856-1859). After 1860, the entries become more sporadic, however they include more detail about Smith's activities. In October of 1861, Smith enlisted in the army, and his entries through April, 1863 provide details about life in the cavalry, including a detailed entry of his experience in the Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862), in Tennessee. After leaving the army in April, 1863, Smith continued to record entries through December 31, 1863, after which the diary is blank. The diary is handwritten in cursive, however there are examples of shorthand throughout his entries.

One volume, original order maintained.

Acquisition unknown.

Processed by Kavita Shroff; completed May, 2016.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kavita Shroff
Finding Aid Date
May, 2016
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

Benjamin Hayes Smith diary, 1859-1863.
Volume 1
Scope and Contents Note

Lecture by Dr. J. J. Hayes about arctic expedition (January 19, 1856) Using observatory– "Our class was going down to the observatory to see the sun, but we were disappointed, there being clouds over it" (March 4, 1857) Commenced second term as sophomore (May 29, 1857) Description of Private Examinations preparation and administration of exams (July 10-24, 1857) Brief mention of Public Examinations (July 27-28, 1857) Went to hear David Wilmot (the first Republican candidate for governor) speak (October 10, 1857) Joseph Harlan died, "Jos. G. Harlan died this morning at 5 min of 11" (November 12, 1857) "Went down to see Jos. after school and he looks as he used to in the class. He was loved and is lamented by all. He was a splendid mathematician and I don't believe his place will ever be filled by an equal" (November 13, 1857) "Almost the whole school went down to see Jos. His last words were 'All is peace'" (November 14, 1857) Description of Joseph Harlan's funeral, "Prof. Jos. G. Harlan's funeral to day. He was brought from his house up here and then carried on a bier to the graveyard by the Seniors and students who had been longest at the college. Father and Maggie were up. We all formed a long procession and walked out. He was buried and we then went into the meeting house, where Thom [?] Evans delivered a good sermon on the words, 'It is appointed unto all men once to die and after that the Judgement.' He also spoke in Collection P.M. And extremely large funeral. All the shutters in the school room close" (November 15, 1857) Elected secretary of Henry Society (February 13, 1859) Debate in Loganian Society (Which had the most reason to complain, the Indian or African?), decided on the Indian) (April 12, 1858) Elected editor of the Collegian (July 5, 1858) "News of peace in China by the Atlantic Cable" (August 27, 1858) "Great celebration in the city today on account of the success of the Atlantic Telegraph...Did not go in as father seems to think it all nonsense" (September 1, 1858) Mentions seeing the comet Donati (end of September 1858 and beginning of October 1858) Graduated from Haverford (July 13, 1859) "Thanksgiving in 25 of the States- Virginia not one of them" (November 24, 1859) Heard of Washington Irving's death (November 30, 1859) "Still at work surveying in Middletown but am impatient to get out to the far west...Much fuss being made over the Japanese embassy, the first to this country. They are now being received at Washington" (May 18, 1860) "To the city and saw the Japanese embassy as they left the continental hotel to go to New York. They were elderly men dressed in their native costumes and with box-like arrangements for hats. The crowd was immense" (June 16, 1860) Begins to talk about Civil War preparation (January 1861) "Fire opened on Fort Sumter... It was thought all winter that some sort of a compromise could be made with the seceding states and actual war was not thought of except by the fire-eaters in the south" (April 13, 1861) "The fleet would not, or could not assist, so the Major had to surrender to a superior force on Saturday PM. No one hurt! Lincoln has called out 75,000 militia to take down that Confederate flag and repossess the property from...So the "war" will soon be over" (April 15, 1861) "There is a camp at Suffolk Park occupied by the troops on their way south or north. Father has been sending loads of straw and I went down one day with the train and recieved thanks of the officer in command and the men. A dress parade from Ohio regiment…" (August 1861) October, thinking about joining the cavalry, consulted father "said that if I went, it would not be with his consent he advised me to think it over seriously and said that he would not interfere with my decision" (October 1861) Accepted as member of the Anderson. Body Guard (October 10, 1861) Went to Carlisle for drill (October 16, 1861) Drawing of Carlisle Barracks (p 181) Speech by General Robert Anderson (November 30, 1861) Company traveled by steamer to Louisville (December 3, 1861) Mentions Mason and Slidell (Trent Affair) (January 1, 1862) Business card for Planters Hotel, with note Camp of Anderson Troop (February and March 1862) (p. 198) Required to take quinine pill, weak with dysentery and live on arrowroot, Father writes on the effect of the call and draft of 300,000 men (August 17, 1862) "News that Lee has invaded Maryland and McClellan is moving to head him off" (September 7, 1862) Lead the "Army of the Ohio" for Cumberland River crossing (September 11, 1862) Present for the death of General William "Bull" Nelson (shot by General Jefferson C Davis) (September 29, 1862) Entry complaining about his pretentious commander (General Rosecrans) (December 1, 1862) Took part in the Battle of Stones River, very detailed entry (December 31, 1862) Return of Captain William Jackson Palmer (February 22, 1863) Returned home (April 2, 1863) Went to Boston/Cambridge (June 1863) Advance of Rebel army in Pennsylvania (June and July 1863) News of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 4, 1863) Riot in New York over the draft (July 14, 1863) Drafted, but exempt because of previous service (July 28, 1863) Offered a job in the Chief Engineer's office of the Northern Central…"it came too late as I have concluded to comply with father's suggestion to take the farm Dunn's occupy now and take up surveying etc as a side issue" (December 31, 1863)

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