Jemima Condict

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Inside cover page of Frederic and Bertha Goudy's 1930 version of Jemima Condict's diary.

Jemima Condict was born in a rural setting in the mountains of northwestern New Jersey on 24 August 1754. She spent her entire short life in the vicinity of Pleasantdale (now in West Orange), New Jersey, dying on 14 November 1779 at the age of twenty-five. Nonetheless, she managed to obtain sufficient education to be able to write with some facility, and obviously felt driven to do so. At the age of seventeen, in the spring of 1772, she began a diary, and made sporadic entries into it for the rest of her life.

Condict titled her diary "J2M3M1 C59D3CT H2R B44K 19D P29," using a code that also appeared in a number of the diary's lines of verse. She used the numbers 1-9 to replace the letters a, e, i, o, u, y, t, s, and n, in that order. Thus, the title reads: "JEMIMA CUNDICT HER BOOK AND PEN".[1] Jemima Condict variously spelled the family's name in her writings as "Cundict", "Condict", and "Condit".[2]

The only published full text of the diary is titled "Her Book, Being a transcript of the diary of an Essex County maid during the Revolutionary War".[3] It was published in a collectors' edition of only 200 copies by the typographer Frederic Goudy and his wife Bertha Goudy. Two other books, one by Elizabeth Evans[4] and the other by June Sprigg,[5] contain many of Jemima Condict's entries.

Jemima Condict was religiously devoted, and the majority of her diary consists of listings of religious teachings that she heard, with occasional commentary. Her writing provides a clear window into the intimate doings of her family and of her small community, as well as events of the Revolutionary War.

News of the Boston Tea Party had clearly reached rural New Jersey, as Jemima Condict writes some ten months after that event.

"Saturday October first 1774. It seams we
have troublesome times a Coming for there
is great Disturbance a Broad in the earth &
they say it is tea that caused it. So then if they
will Quarel about such a trifling thing as that
What must we expect But war & I think or
at least fear it will be so."[6]

Condict's brief mention of the inoculation of her cousins, presumably against smallpox using a weak strain of the disease, long before Edward Jenner developed cowpox-based vaccination, is of some scientific interest.

"Monday February 5, 1775, Was my Cou-
sins Knockulated I am apt to think they will
repent there Undertaking before they Done
with it for I am Shure tis a great venter. But
Sence they are gone I wish them Sucses And
I think they have Had good luck So far for
they have all Got home Alive But I fear Cou-
sin N Dod Wont get over it well."[7]

An entry from March, 1775, describes a local party for some newly-weds. She makes reference to "horse neck kites," natives of Horseneck, NJ.

"Tuesday went up to my Sister ogdens and
there was a house full of people & we had a
great Sing indeed for the horse neck kites &
the newarkites were Both assembled Togeth-
er & there was the new maried Couple L W.
Juner & you may be Shure they cut a fine
figer for She is a Bounser Joan And he a little
Cross Snipper Snapper snipe. they tell me he
Cryd When he was maried at which I Dont
a bit Wonder for I think twas anuf to make
the poor fellow bellow if he had his wits
about him, for I am shure She Can Beat him..."[8]

In her entry for April 23, 1775, she relates events that transpired in the aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The "Regulors" or "regulers" are “regular” British soldiers.

“April 23. 1775. as every Day Brings New
Troubels So this Day Brings News that yes-
terday very early in the morning They Began
to fight at Boston, the regulers. We hear
Shot first there; they killd 30 of our men A
hundred & 50 of the Regulors.”[9]

A local violent death catches her attention in 1775.

"September the 28 1775. Was thomas
Crane very Sudenly & in An aufull manner
taken out of time into enternity; He was Plow-
ing in the field his father Was cutting of a
tree that was turned up by the roots & that
instand he had Cut it off, his Son Past By &
the root flew Back & Took him under Which
killd him immediately..."[10]

Jemima Condit's attention was momentarily directed at local Revolutionary War fighting during the "Battle of Elizabethtown," in what is now Elizabeth, New Jersey.

"September ye 12 1777 On friday there
was an Alarm our Milita was Calld; The Reg-
elars come over into elesebeth town Where
they had a Brush With a Small Party of our
People; then marched Quietly up to Newark;
& took all the Cattle they Could, there was
five of the Milita at Newark. they killd Sam-
uel Crane & took Zadock; and Allen heady;
& Samuel freman Prisoners. one out of five
run & escapt..."[11]

Any notice of July 4, 1776, is notably absent.

The manuscript diary, itself, is in the collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, "Manuscript Group 123".[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Condit, Norman I. (1980), The Condits and Their Cousins in America, vol. 6, Blooming Grove NY: The Condit Family Association, pp. 403
  2. ^ Condit, Norman I. (1980)
  3. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), Her Book, Being a transcript of the diary of an Essex County maid during the Revolutionary War, Newark NJ: The Carteret Book Club, pp. 74
  4. ^ Evans, Elizabeth (1975), Weathering the Storm; Women of the American Revolution, New York NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 372
  5. ^ Sprigg, June (1984), Domestick Beings, New York NY: Alfred A. Knopf, pp. 143
  6. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), p. 36-37
  7. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), p. 43
  8. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), p. 46-47
  9. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), p. 51-52
  10. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), p. 55-56
  11. ^ Condict, Jemima (1930), p. 66-67
  12. ^ New Jersey Historical Society, Manuscript Group 123

Further reading[edit]