This is a typed copy of the diary of George and Anna Bryant Stermer (my ggg grandparents) owned by my great-grandmother, Clara Stermer Hamilton, and passed down to her daughter, Virginia Hamilton Griffith. She also contributed it to the FCHS. Clara's niece, Shirley Stermer Benson, also contributed a copy to the Jefferson County Historical Society. Shirley states in her narrative that racial prejudice was the reason the Stermers moved from IN to AR. George was of German descent and supposedly, Annie was of Cherokee descent. The German community in IN did not approve of their marriage.

Rebecca Griffith Millet


Busmon Station - March 11, 1870 - We left at 7 o,clock a.m., got to Hazelton, Indiana, 6 o'clock p.m. Took train at 8:30 p.m. for Evansville. Went about 12 miles, train stuck on the Miller Hill, came a severe snow storm. Had to back down to foot of the Hill and get lanterns and men and shovel snow from the track - got started at 2 o'clock a.m. the 12th of March. Arrived at Evansville 5 a.m., stayed all day.

March 13th - at hotel - left our belongings in E and C car No. 134 all night. We stayed at E. Smith boarding house.

March 14th - Unloaded goods from car and repacked trunks.

March 15th - Snow storm - had to wait for boat which is delayed on Ohio River.

March 16th - Wrote to William, my brother. Expenses to this time - $33.40.

March 17th - Load horse, wagon and cargo on boat. Went to hotel American, stayed all night, had oysters for supper and got myself a pair of shoes and pants for the sum of $5.50.

March 18th - Left Evansville on steam boat Hellos. The fare to Memphis, $5.04 a piece.

March 19th - Got to Cairo, Illinois, 2:30.

March 20th - Sunday - got to Memphis at 2 o'clock. The trip from Cairo, Illinois to Memphis was on the Sam J. Hale.

March 21st - Left Memphis at 1 o'clock p.m. on the steam boat Guidon.

March 22nd - Left the Mississippi River 2 o'clock p.m. This is Tuesday.

March 23rd - Wednesday morning at 8:30, the Guidon struck a snag and sank in 5 minutes. The water was up to the cabin and knee deep. We lost our belongings but one horse and wagon was drowned and several mules belonging to others, not ours, was drowned. The boat sank 10 miles down the river from Reveses Landing and only 2 miles from the Landing by land. The people nearly all went South side of the River except myself and Anna and a small boy which I do not know his name. The boy swam out while we went on a life saver to Reveses Landing. here we stop at a plantation know as the Frasers farm. We went back in the evening to the boat to see if we could get any of our belongings.**

March 24th - Went back to the boat after breakfast and got my fiddle - got back at noon and had some music that night. Several men came from the boat to Fraser's house to enjoy the music and spend the night.

March 25th - The F.H. Allen boat came up the River about 4 o'clock p.m. to rescue our plunder. They scampered up and got my trunk off the sunk boat. After breakfast, I went with Fraser dwon to the sunk boat and the crew was getting all the freight off and out of the water and on the other boat. They got two of my bundles and a chest and we went back to Fraser's and spent the night. It rained all night and added to our gloom and sorrow.

March 26th - I went with Fraser and we took a Negro man, got the wagon and horse, the chest and our bundles and took them to Fraser's place for safekeeping.

March 27th - Sunday - Wrote two letters, one to my brother, William, and one to H. H. Shepard. Anna wrote one to her mother, telling of our misfortunes - here Anna wanted to turn back to civilization and I wanted to see the end of our destination - and won out.

March 28th - I went out with a man and split rails for Fraser. Left the man and went up the River a mile or more to get some venison as we are out of meat. I found an old deserted house that we later moved in for a while so as to wash out our garments and dry them and until such a time as I could arrange to continue our trip.

March 29th - Moved to the old cabin on the lake - here game was plentiful and we are not afraid we will starve. I have two pounds of lead, a pound of powder and a box of caps for my rifle.

March 30 - Finished cleaning the house or cabin.

March 31st - Went to the creek and brought in some venison.

April 1st - From this date on I will not mention each day's happening as I have arranged to work a month for Fraser for $2.00 per day.

April 29th - I swapped my horse for a yoke of oxen, one coal black named Nick and the other a spotted named Dorb.

April 30th - With Nick and Dorb yoked to the wagon, my plunder loaded and Anna on top, we start again on our journey bright and early with glad hearts and a bright future. Got to the Bayou Meto Creek had to build a raft to get the wagon across. Took Anna over first so she could stop the oxen when I swam them over. Then I came back and put the oxen in the creek and they land safely over. The I put the wagon on the raft and poled it over and landed safe. Put the oxen to the curl of the tongue and they backed the wagon off the raft into the creek and turned the wagon over and spilled our earthly possessions into Bayou Meto. Anna gave up and began to cry while I worked away to get the wagon out. She saw the funny side and began to laugh which made me take on new courage. Finally we got the wagon safely out on dry land. There we began to fish out our plunder and succeeded in getting it out. We dried out the wet things and camped that night on the bank of Bayou Meto. Th! e mosquitoes were something fierce and the howl of the wolves kept us awake most of the night. At last day began to dawn bright and clear and with a good breakfast of hoecake, black coffee and venison, we put the oxen to the wagon and resumed our journey. This is May the first, 1870 - 7 a.m.

Sunday - Traveled all day and at the close of the day camped on Grand Prairie near a nice little creek.

May 2nd, Monday - 1870 - Had a fine sleep - a good breakfast and started early - traveled all day and camped on Grand Prairie in a nice little grove. About 8:30 p.m., we were attacked by a drove of wild horses. I put them to flight by running toward them with a fire brand. Some time during the night was awakened by the howl of wolves, got up, tied the oxen near the wagon, got my rifle and sat guard balance the night.

Tuesday, the 3rd day of May, 1870 - Crossed Greens Bridge at noon. Camped on Grand Prairie for the last time, had no wood to cook, so we cut up our old walnut chest and burned it for fuel.

Wednesday, May the 4th, 1870 - Broke camp early and continued our journey. Got James Station on the Memphis and Little Rock R.R. Camped that night on Little Bayou Meto.

Thursday, May 5th, 1870 - Got to Hunstville at noon, crossed over the river afternoon went outside of the town for the night.

Friday, 6th day May, 1870 - Got to Little Rock, went to the U.S. Land Office, crossed the river and went up the old wire road leading toward Fort Smith.

Saturday, 7th day of May, 1870 - Looked over a track of land for us a home along the survey of the L.R. and F.S.R.R.

Sunday, 8th day of May, 1870 - This day was spent in rest and worship.

Monday, 9th day of May, 1870 - Went to Little Rock to homestead some land on the survey of the L.R. & F.S.R.R., found this land was held for the Fort Smith Land Grant. Got back at noon and find we are out of meat so go to get some venison.

Tuesday, 10th day of May, 1870 - Started on our journey again along the Ft. Smith Road. Rained all afternoon. Camped on a big Pine hill near Palarm Creek and not far from the Chism farm and at the end of the R.R. survey.

Wednesday, 11th day of May, 1870 - Landed on a prairie about 35 miles from Little Rock and about 5 miles East of the old wire or Military Road. We camped for the night.

13th - I find a settler a mile west of where we camp, name Ed Hogan. One mile north, I find Gene Hogan.

14th - Look around some more and ind near the Cadron Ridge on the old Wire Road, Hank Gay, 5 miles n.w.

15th - About 6 miles s.w. on the old Wire Road, I find a settler, name is Augustus Hartje. These settlers gave me some valuable information about the country.

Monday, 16th day of May, 1870 - I establish a permanent camp on the prairie.

Tuesday, 17th - Cleared and fenced one acre of land for a garden and truck (patch).

17th - I continued to work and manage things about the camp, plenty of game everywhere. As we are settled will not give each day separate.

27th day of May - I went to Little Rock on old Nick, got the mail and half bushel Irish potatoes. Returned on the 30th day and planted the potatoes the last day of may, 1870.

June 12th - Planted a piece of corn.

June 22nd - I went to L.R. with the wagon and oxen to get some camping supplies. I got $150 of such things as we needed.

23rd - Crossed the Arkansas River on a ferry to get the wagon and oxen to L.R. I went to the Land Office and Homesteaded the S1/2-NE-Sec. 11-5-14, 80 acres.

24th of June, 1870 - We got home at 9 p.m. with our household goods and I killed a nice venison just at dark.

15th day of November - We saw the first ice in Arkansas, and on the 11th day of November the first snow storm.

25th day of December, 1870 - Our first Christmas in Arkansas. Had venison and wild turkey for dinner.

New Year's Day - The same - This winds up the year 1870 and we are starting out on a New Year, 1871.

George and Anna Stermer

Cadron, Arkansas

Note: George Stermer was the grandfather of Herman Stermer, of Conway. Portions of the diary were written in German and translated for the editor by Mr. Sam Clark. The reference to the homestead of 80 acres S1/2 NE Sec. 11 twp 5N R14 W by George Stermer is the first recorded real estate transaction involving the land where Conway is now located)

**Added notes from Jefferson County Historical Society: Reeves Landing was near Hannaberry Lake in what is now Jefferson County. At the time the Guidon sank this area was in Arkansas County. The 1867 Arkansas County assessment records show that Farewick Frazier owned 2200 acres in this general vicinity.

Copyright 2008 by Becky Millet

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