Various: 1875. 8” x 5 1/8”. Nine bifolia of ruled paper with 26 handwritten pages (approximately 4000 words in an easily read hand). Very good: old folds, some dust soiling and scattered minor stains and/or foxing.
This a beautifully written journal of a sea voyage from New York City to San Francisco. The writer was probably from Rhode Island as he mentioned “Old Tower Hill at home.” He was traveling with his wife, Clara, and baby and the family was likely of lesser means as the writer stated on the eighth day of the trip, “I must mention here that the Aristocrats loose all their high spread eagle after they have been out a couple of days, and every one is on a level with one another.”
They left New York October 30, 1875, on the steamer New York City and heavy winds caused them to drop anchor. The winds were a huge problem in the early part of the trip and most of the people on the ship (other than our author and his family) got sick : “the sea is very rough, mad about something I suppose. The watter boils up in great waves just like watter in a large kettle.” That same night,“after we had been to bed a heavy sea struck the side of the ship and flooded our state room, so that shoes, stockings, slippers and everything that wsa loose was floating around on a little sea of their own.” It certainly improved by November 4th off the coast of Florida: “the sea has been very smooth for a spell now and shines like a glass bottle. We see lots of flying fish and occasionally a Grampus, a sort of whale blowing away.”
The writer shared great detail of what he saw at sea and in port with an emphasis on flora, fauna, topography and native peoples as they passed the Bahamas, Cuba and El Salvador and stopped in Panama and Mexico. Some highlights:
--November 9th as they approached South America: “the hills are covered with beautiful palm and cocanut trees and running vines that hang in festoons from the trees and covered with flowers and some kind of fruit.”
--At Aspinwall in Panama:
“Aspinwall is a queer place, with a queer people. Some are Mexicans, some Spaniards and Negroes. There is some nice houses there and the yards are full of Palm and Coconut trees and loaded down with fruit. We can buy a bunch of bananas as large as I could lift for 50 cents.”
--At the Isthmus of Panama,
“Crossing the Ishtmus is like going through some Fairy land, it is covered with Cocoanuts and Palm Trees, and vines, and bushes with the most beautiful flowers you ever saw, the woods are alive with beautiful birds which are singing and chattering away all of the time. I saw lots of Parrots and Parqueets in the trees wild, the leaves of the Palms are 20 feet high . . . There are a great many Chinese there, the work loading and unloading Vessels. A pure white man is thought nothing of in Panama or Aspinwall either. There are a great many Spaniards that have stores and some of them are very nice.”
--Mexico on the 15th:
“off the coast of Mexico we pass by some of the largest mountains you ever dreamed of their peaks run up very sharp and to such a height that it makes one dizzy to the look at the tops of them, their peaks seem to reach up into the sky and the little white fleecy clouds that float along are no more than half way up their sides.”
--A stop in Acapulco on the 17th:
“here we stop to take on 300 tons of coal and some cattle, on this ship we take our beef and poultry on alive and butcher it as we want it. They have a very polite way of taking cattle on board ship, put a rope around their necks and haul them up with a windlass that works by steam and then let them down through a hole in the vessel where their stables are. We take on sheep, chickens, fruits, etc. The Natives swarm around our ship like bees around a hive in their little boats and dugout canoes with oranges, bananas, cigars, shells of all kinds and some of the handsomest shell baskets that ever was thought of . . . filled with roses, dalias, tulips and all kinds of flowers”
--On the 26th, near Santa Barbara, “One of these islands is owned by two men and they have 100,000 head of sheep on it . . . we pass through flocks of black ducks where the sea is just covered with them as far as one can see.”
They reached San Francisco on the 27th.
An outstanding immersion into the sights, peoples, plants and animals encountered on a sea voyage from New York to California in the last quarter of the 19th century.
This item is offered by Langdon Manor Books, LLC, antiquarian booksellers. Please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information and/or photos and we will respond promptly. We package our items carefully, ship daily, and have a no hassle returns policy--your satisfaction is guaranteed. We are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the International League of Antiquarian Booksllers (ILAB) and the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) and adhere to their rules of ethics. Item #3650