Diary of Maria Toncray Watkins

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		Excerpts from the diary of Mrs. Maria Toncray (Toncre) Watkins, age 22 at the 
		time of the first entry

		Editor's Note:  the following is part of a diary kept by Maria Watkins during 
		the early 1820's.  It gives a look at a young girl's sorrowful life.  It was 
		a hard time, indeed.
		[Note by submitter, Meredith Gibson, Maria was 27 yrs old, not exactly a 
		young girl, but used to easier life than she would encounter in next few 
      		Left Shelbyville, Kentucky, on Sunday 31st December 1820, arrived at 
		Louisville, Monday 1st January 1821, and remained there until the 30th, 
		January in consquence of the ice.  Left on Thursday, 30th, on board steamboat 
		"Frankfort, O"   The sorrow of heart I felt at parting with my sister's 
		children who are dear to me as my own--farewell, dear ones.   My Lord, I 
		hope, will be your guide and Jesus your friend.  Arrived at the mouth of 
		White River on Wednesday, Feburary 7th.  We stayed at Squire Patty's who was 
		so hospitable, showed us all the kindness possible.
     		     I met with a widow woman.  She appeared to sympathize with me in leaving 
		dear ones behind and coming to this wilderness of sorrow.  We set out from 
		Mr. Patty's, mouth of the White River, on Tuesday evening, 13th of February, 
		arrived at the Post of Arkansas on Sunday evening, stayed at Judge 
		Hambleton's until Monday evening and had our boat repaired.  They were very 
		kind to us, but I discovered great discord or uneasiness in the mind of Mrs. 
		Hambleton.  I endeavored to converse with her on the subject of religion but 
		found she was a stranger to the happy influence, and I thought if she knew 
		Jesus, He could heal all her diseases.  I pitied her and recommended my 
		Divine Master, and we left her, proceeded on our way to the Rock, very slowly 
		and many times my heart is put to task, but I endeavored to trust in the arm 
		of the Lord, who is my only refuge.  I found sticking up in the keel of the 
		boat in which we ascended the river, the best tract I ever saw, "The Shepard 
		of Salsberry Plain."  It was blessed to my comfort and benediction.
     		     On our way my son George Claiburn fell overboard and remained quite sick 
		and very pale during the day.  I again was constrained to acknowledge a kind 
		of protecting hand in preserving the life of my only son, one that has been 
		the child of many prayers.
    		     At last we have arrived at Little Rock. Sunday evening, 11th day of 
		March, 1821.  Oh, the disappointment to me, only one house and few cabins, 
		but two decent families.  From the leaving of the boat I was sick several 
		days.  I hope I will be as much resigned to death when it comes as I am now, 
		but the Lord's ways are not our ways.  I endure many privations in this 
		place, the sound of the Gospel of Jesus is not heard in this village.
     		     Oh! How I long for that command to be fulfilled, "Go ye out into all of 
		the world and preach my Gospel to every Creature."
     		     The first year we endured much sickness in the family.  On the 20th of 
		October, 1822, the Lord was pleased to take my little son, Henry Conway to 
		himself.  Oh, what a trying year to me.  It was blessed for the good of my 
		son, I trust, I was again enabled to renew my covenant with the Lord that 
		would put all my trust in Him.  Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him -- 
		but I see the wisedom and goodness of my Heavenly Father in preparing me by 
		these small trials to heights of greater magnitude.  Oh, my dear little 
		Catherine, my afflicted infant, when she was born, bid fair for health and 
		vigor, but to my grief, she never grew any nor appeared to have one day's 
		health, and in the midst of this great affliction, there was a greater one at 
     		     My husband was assassinated on 13th , December, 1827.  He left home 
		after dinner as pleasant as ever I saw him in my life.  At dinner he seemed 
		to gaze over me if could not put his eyes definitely on me.  He walked uptown 
		as was common after dinner and was sitting in a store way, unconsious of 
		anything except of a newspaper which he was reading, when -- awful to tell -- 
		a villian took deliberate aim and pierced a rifle ball into his right breast, 
		which deprived him of mortal life.  He was not able to speak, but was heard 
		to pray in a lisping voice.  Oh, if ever I was in need of grace to support 
		me it is at this time.  When I saw him pale and lifeless, the bleeding wound 
		exposed, my reason and all was gone, and for a moment I knew nothing, but 
		that God who near my soul has always stood restored me and supported me.  My 
		poor little afficted Catherine now seems to be a comfort to me, but a short 
		time after her father died, it pleased the Lord to remove her to some happier 
     		September 21st, 1928.  Now I have but two surviving children, my dear 
		George and Mary Eliza.  My blessed Lord and Master keep me from clinging too 
		much to earthly comforts.   Oh, be thou my all in all, I pray.  I fear I look 
		forward too much to my promising son who is now under the care of his 
		affectionate uncle Dr. A. Watkins.  A kind providence seems to provide for 
		him, and Oh, will he not take care of His own?  My mind was but just 
		reconciled to my Father's will when my heart was again called upon to endure 
		another severe shock.  I saw in the Lexington Reporter the death of my 
		brother-in-law, Dr. Anderson Watkins.  He died in Scott county, Kentucky at 
		the home of his sister, Mrs. Polly Nuckolls, on the tenth day of September, 
     		     Oh, my heart was again overwhelmed, the loss George has sustained cannot 
		ever be replaced in this world.  I extol his qualifications as a man of 
		learning and a Christian to each as rendered him worthy of the charge 
		committed to his superintendence, but he is gone.
     		     Oh, Lord, righteous and great are thy ways, Oh, God -- I now give up my 
		fatherless children to God -- and write a hasty letter to Dr. Coffin, 
		President of Knoxville College where my son is now.  I made ample provision 
		for his support and for him to receive a liberal education.    Lonely do my 
		hours pass away with only one poor little chick and myself at home.  I cannot 
		rest, I am resolved to go to visit my son, if the Lord will be pleased to 
		favor my design.  After consulting with my friends, I have written to him on 
		the subject and made arrangements for him to meet us in Kentucky (Shelby 
		County) early in April, where he will have an opportunity of seeing his 
		father's relatives and spend a few weeks with me during the vacation at 
		college, after which he is to return to Knoxville and myself and daughter 
		contemplate spending the summer there, then return to our lonesome home.
     		     March 1829 -- The time is arrived for me to set out on my long 
		anticipated journey to Kentucky.
     		     Left Little Rock, March 28th, morning at nine o'clock, in company with 
		Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Washburn in skiff, arrived safely at White River on 
		Saturday 4th, April.  Embarked on board steambost "Huntress" at daylight 
		next morning.  We have had safe passage which is great cause of gratitude to 
		my Heavenly Father who governs all things by His hand.  Mary Eliza had some 
		little indisposition since we came on the steambost, but not severe, 
		recovered, arrived at Louisville early on Sunday, April 12th, after a 
		passage of eight days from mouth of White river.
		The above info came from the Kentucky Explorer of Nov 1992 - p 73 and is 
		quoted as written.
		Note by submitter:  Maria was to meet and marry Rev. W.W. Stevenson on 29 Mar 
		1831 and they were parents of Robert Watkins Stevenson b- 25 Dec 1831 and 
		Maria Jane who died as infant , date nk
		Maria married Major Isaac Watkins in 1815 in Kentucky.   Ca 1820 he had 
		co-signed a note for a friend.  The friend could not pay it and he felt 
		honor-bound to pay same and it left him in severe straits.  Thus going to 
		Arkansas Territory to take up land and get new start.  In the short time he 
		had he did well.  Maria, in period of 16 year had six children, lost three of 
		them.  Two husbands, one killed and the other went to California in 1849 and 
		never returned.  Why? He died there in 1894.
     		     She did indeed endure some hard times.  She died 21 March 1874 well 
		loved by family and many friends.  
		There is no other record of her keeping a diary other than this short period 
		of time.  The original is is keeping of The History Commision in Little Rock, 

		Submitted by Meredith Gibson in May of 2001, a 2nd ggdaugter of Marias 
		brother, Rev. Silas Tracy Toncray.

Submitted by Meredith Gibson (1924-2002)
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Pulaski County AR GenWeb Coordinator

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