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Journal of Francis Asbury

From Francis Asbury’s Journal, Year 1792
May 20


Rode twenty miles. My weary body feels the want of rest; but my heart rejoiced to meet with the brethren who were waiting for me. I am more than ever convinced of the need and propriety of annual conferences, and of greater changes among the preachers. I am sensible the western parts have suffered by my absence; I lament this, and deplore my loss of strict communion with God, occasioned by the necessity I am under of constant riding; change of place; company, and sometimes disagreeable company; loss of sleep, and the difficulties of clambering over rocks and mountains and journeying at the rate of seven or eight hundred miles per month, and sometimes forty or fifty miles a day - these have been a part of my labours, and make no small share of my hinderances.


I crossed the Kanhaway at Paris's ferry.  [Kanhaway would have been what we now call the New River, at Pearisburg, where George Pearis operated the ferry].  

Here I conversed with a man who informed me a brother preacher had called there, and, as he said, was peevish: the dear man was just at death's door, and though his exercises and bodily infirmities may have pressed him sore, and excited expressions of discontent, he was, nevertheless, a meek and holy servant of God. My informant also mentioned another, who had been a member, and who would swear horribly and drink to excess: it is proper I notice, that I did not receive these accounts from a professor of religion. I though within myself - See how we are watched: ah! we little think oftentimes how narrowly our conduct, our tempers, are observed by the world; and poor sinners still less imagine how strictly we watch them, and how well this habit of observation, and the intimate knowledge we gain of our own hearts, makes us competent judges of their cases, and enables us so justly and so powerfully to condemn their wickedness.


Year 1796

May 20
We rode forty miles to Indian-Creek, about fifteen miles above the mouth. We had no place to dine until we arrived at father C___'s, about six o'clock. If I could have regular food and sleep, I could stand the fatigue I have to go through much better; but this is impossible under some circumstances. To sleep four hours, and ride forty miles without food or fire is hard: but we had water enough in the rivers and creeks. I shall had rode nearly one thousand miles on the western waters before I leave them; I have been on the waters of Nolachucky, to the mouth of Clinch; on the north, middle, and south branches of Holstein; on New-River, Green Briar, and by the head springs of Monongahela.

If I were able I should go from Charleston (S. C.) a direct course, five hundred miles, to Nolachucky; thence two hundred and fifty miles to Cumberland; thence one hundred to Kentucky; thence one hundred miles through that state, and two hundred to Saltsburg; thence two hundred to Green Briar; thence two hundred to Red-Stone, and three hundred to Baltimore. Ah! if I were young again! I was happy to have a comfortable night's sleep, after a hard day's ride, and but little rest the night before. I have now a little time to refit, recollect, and write. Here forts and savages once had a being, but now peace and improvement.

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