After agreeing to donate a prized diary written during the infancy of the nation, Cory Luxmoore took a taxi to his hotel, walked in the door and realized he had left his ancestor's 190-year-old journal on the back seat of the cab.
"I've felt sick" since then, said Luxmoore, who has been trying desperately to find the diary that contains notes on meeting George Washington and many other figures in Philadelphia's history."I've rung up all the taxi companies and haven't gotten anything," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The diary, lost Sept. 4, was one of several kept by Deborah Norris Logan - known as "Saucy Debby" to many Philadelphians in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Library Company, the intended beneficiary of the gift, is offering a $1,000 reward for the book's safe return. If sold through a dealer, the diary might fetch $10,000 to $15,000, but on the street "it is not worth a huge amount," said James N. Greene of the Library Company.
Luxmoore, a resident of Dorset, England, visited the United States a few years ago and met Greene. He and his wife decided then to donate the diary.
"The diary is an important piece of history that has survived in the family for 200 years," said Greene. "To have it slip away when it was so close to being preserved is really tragic."
Logan met some of the great men of her day, but was not always impressed. She wrote that George Washington mistook her for "the wife of a Frenchman" and praised her excellent command of the English language.
She also wrote about British troops burning Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812, and President James Madison on horseback "perfectly shaking with fear."
Most of the 120-page diary was written in 1808, with snippets jotted down in later years in a clear, squarish script.
Logan's husband, George, was the grandson of James Logan, who served as a secretary to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.