"American Tour 1871"
Sept 20th to Oct 7th
20th September 1871
Set sail at 2pm from Liverpool
Screw Steamer ‘Minnesota’ (Capt T F Freeman) for New York with 22
cabin passengers and 300 emigrants.
At 12 noon we arrived in Queenstown Harbour. Steamed
around the harbour embarking passengers all the while – took on board 500 more
emigrants. Amongst the cabin passengers embarked here, is a young widow lady (
Irish) with her son and daughter aged respectively 6 and 3 years. She had
accompanied her husband from America (where he had been wounded during the war)
on a visit to their native land once again before he died and she had left his
remains buried near Killarney. We skirted closely the S E Coast of Ireland
casting a lingering look as night closed in on the gradually receding lights on
shore, thinking of our dear ones at home and praying that all may be well with
them when we see those lights again.
The ship now settles into the long gushing hole of the
Atlantic billows and I observe the smartness of discipline on the part of
officers, stewards and crew.
A poor apple woman, who accompanied by other apple and
lace handkerchief vendors to the ship had been left on board by her companions
after they had taken to the boats – caused us much amusement in spite of our
pity for her distress – she blamed ‘Jack’ for her misfortune and first
pummelled one and then pulled the hair of another, ‘til at last the captain
after enjoying the fun as much as any of us, signalled a boat alongside and the
poor old lady with loud maledictions was taken hold of by her clothes and
dropped into the boat below, like a bundle of rags, and her basket of apples
sent after her.
Saturday 23 Sept.
A beautiful morning – a fine rolling sea. Our breakfast table was surrounded by my companions on the voyage – Chas Lees, John Whitworth, I Holden, S Johnson, I Bullock, Tom Walker Capt and Mrs Harley, two young Yankees and Capt Freeman. At the other table were an American lady Mrs Grey and her son, Mrs Downey and her children ( before mentioned) Miss Philips, Sisters Mildred, Dorothea and Hilda – the three latter, belonging to a charitable society, are on their way to commence operations in New York – these sisters are in the garb of nuns and belong to a high Protestant Church. Sister Mildred is peculiar for great stoutness and should make a remarkably good companion for ‘Friar Tuck’. Sister Hilda is a great contrast to her sister being tall and very elegant. Sister H seems destined to become a rival in dimensions to Sister M – but otherwise does not excite particular comment. Breakfast is served at 9.00, lunch at 1.00 dinner at 4.30 and tea at 9 and we have reason to feel well satisfied with all the arrangements on board – I did so much dislike the idea of travelling by any but the Cunard boats.
C L and I share a stateroom he occupying the bottom
berth. We passed a whale and shoal of porpoises and sailed thro thousands of
jellyfish – the screw mercilessly killing them in great numbers. Our evenings
are spent at whist, music and reading out of the ship’s splendid library.
Distance done today 274.
Sunday 24th Sept
Wind E and heavy sea ‘Minnesota comforting herself in
anything but the decorous manner she ought to do considering the day.
At 10.15 am the small bell of the ship was slowly
tolled, by one of the quartermasters the sound of which, might have reminded one
of some rural church, but for the absence of green fields. At 10.30 we all the
assembled and as many of the officers and crew as could be spared, Captain F in
full uniform read the service in a very superior manner – The Purser acting as
clerk – he and the chief engineer lead the singing very effectively and the
service was gone thro very beautifully – except that my English heart shrunk
to hear our beloved Queen’s name coupled with the President of the United
States and the service lost a deal of it’s preciousness by the captain, who is a native American afterwards joking
about one of the prayers for the ‘Queen’s Majesty’ that she may be
overcome, the name of the President being coupled with hers in this prayer the
captain wondered ‘which would be strengthened or vanquished most’!
The ship became so unsteady that it was impossible to
walk about in comfort so the captain had a large square sail slung from the
wheelhouse and the davits like a hammock – we all got in and enjoyed the warm
sunshine. John W being the last to get out we gave him a good tossing which
increased the feeling of seasickness with which he had been troubled all along.
Passed a schooner making very bad weather of it not a rag set on her, heavy rain
at night – distance 280 miles.
Very wet morning, fellow passengers amusing themselves
with belique, chess etc. It pleases me to hear the prattle of two little
children – tho the little girl gets into tantrums now and again like another
little girl I know ! Ship is very lively Sisters Hilda and Dorothea still
suffering very severely. Engines stopped for 7 minutes to tighten up. Some poor
land birds following the ship – the officer on watch told me they had been
blown off the land and they would be starved and blown into the sea before
morning one or two alighted on the ship now and then, they seem very wet and
tired. The captain joined me when I was promenading the deck after dinner, the
more I see of him the better I like him and his reserve is wearing off. He
remarked that he was getting tired of the ‘Ferry Boats’ as he had one of the
most amiable wives in the world. He gave me his history and invited me into his
cabin there I found the ‘Sultan’ (Johnson who wears a fez) and the Doctor an
exceedingly nice young American named Webb who is a pupil in a Swiss school of
music. As he wears a uniform cap Sister Mildred came to him mistaking him for
the doctor and told him he had better go and see Sisters H and O who were very
ill, the poor lad hushed up and explained that he was not the ship’s doctor so
we have called him Dr ever since. The ship’s doctor proper is a conceited
young Irish swell who rarely speaks to any one and spends his time reading
novels and smoking. Wet and cloudy no observation os sun, dead reckoning 258
Midday Sept 26th.
A heavy sea running and still a head wind. Sisters H and
O suffering dreadfully. It is still wet and cold. Mr Jones chief officer is a
thoroughly good natured fellow he informs me each day the latitude and
longitude, he told me that last voyage but one, he heard by telegram at
Queenstown (Outward bound) of the sudden death of his wife, he has a child 4
Captain Freeman is only 35 has a son 8 years old and a
baby 8 weeks. I should like him better were he not always proclaiming his Yankee
nationality and glorying in it, to the disparagment of my own country he is
desirous of seeing England under a republican form of government – God forbid
that any such misfortune should fall to old England’s lot!
Captain and Mrs Harley are as nice a people as one could
wish to travel with, the captain is late of the line of Australian Clipper and
last commanded the ‘Red Socket’ he is now trading in the Savannah as a
cotton merchant and promises to give me a hearty welcome out there. Distance 234
Monday Sept 27th.
The violent gambols of the ‘Minnesota’ awoke me
early. It is now a week since I parted with my loved ones. Saw a large steamer
the ‘Hausa’ and exchanged signals. Distance 224 miles.
On the marks of Newfoundland. A heavy fog – the
ship’s steam whistle kept blowing it sounds very distant – towards 4pm the
fog cleared away and we had a warm pleasant evening. At 8.30 we are assembled in
the saloon and had some music Holden, Miss Philips and the Purser gave us some
duets glee’s etc. Holden is a capital singer, especially of comic songs. We
finished with ‘God save the Queen’ when the Irish and Yankee portion of the
company either remained seated or left the room. Distance 280 miles.
beautiful morning fine clear sky but a head wind. Overtook Cunard steamer
‘Tripoli’ who left L’pool the day before us, in the afternoon North German
ship ‘Marco Polo’ passed close across our bows to speak to us she is bound
for New York from Bremen and desired us to report her at Lloyd’s. It was a
very pretty sight and we exchanged cheers. I am very anxious to reach New York
as I am hungering for letters.
Mr Gibson (chief engineer 0 took me down to the engine
room – was much pleased with the engine but pitied the poor firemen it is such
dreadful hot work for them. Distance 238 miles.
A perfectly smooth sea, with a cold N wind. The
gentlemen got up walking and gymnastic exercises. John W and Webb had a match
the former winning. Some poor little American birds driven off the land rested
their tired wings alighting on the ship seeking a momentary rest – one or two
were caught but will I fear soon die. Got permission to accompany the captain,
doctor and purser on their round of inspection of the emigrants quarters and
found them cleaner and more comfortable than I expected. Distance 248 miles. I
have kept my watch English time so that I can picture you at home and imagine
what you are doing – it is now 2.20 am Sunday at home, ships time 5 minutes
Sunday Oct 1st
A most beautiful morning wind fresh from the north and
very bracing had usual Sunday service and the muster toll was called. The
Sisters are about again, Hilda is a lovely sad looking woman, one of our party
seems very much smitten, indeed they seem to like one another’s company very
much and I am sure will be sorry when the voyage is ended – indeed so we all
shall more or less for there are many nice people on board whom I for one am
sorry to think I may never meet again. Two large hawks have been hovering about
the ship after the poor small birds. At 3.30 pm the Pilot boat was sighted and
in due time the pilot came alongside, I find much to admire in the lines of this
perfect craft. The pilot is a queer looking fish with Flemian blood in his veins
or I am much mistaken. Distance 282 miles.
Monday Oct 2nd
Made the land at 4.40am. Passed Dandy Hook at 8.30.
Whilst at breakfast had a good view of Long Island and was surprised at the
number of church spires – the bay of New York is magnificent – the little
island of Statten is very pretty everything looked beautiful in the glorious
cloudless sky and beaming sun. On this island are many of the country dwellings
of the N Y merchants. The appearance of the river steamers is very peculiar –
they have tier upon tier staterooms and look like travelling hotels.
We reached the ‘quarantine pounds’ at 9.30 Yankee
time and after the governmental Doctor had given us all a good stare, we steamed
up towards the dock in New York city. Passed the ‘City of Paris’ lying at
anchor, she left L’pool the day after and arrived the day before us. A small
Yankee type of steamer came alongside and landed us at Pier 46 N River –
‘The Wyoming’ lay in dock. As we left the ‘Minnesota’ many feelings of
regret were experienced as we cast farewell looks at the old ship in which we
had spent so many pleasant hours! Captain Freeman says we have had an
exceptionally fine passage.
It has been a blazing hot day – if this is a New York
Autumn – preserve us from a New York summer.
We soon had an idea of what the Yankees are, like and
certainly our first impressions are not favourable. Had also an early experience
of Yankee insolence at the landing wharf where under a shed we had our baggage
to open for examination, by the Custom house Officers – they were a bad lot
– tried hard to get a piece of gold out of us – as this would have bribed
them into a loose exam – but when they found this was not forthcoming, they
mauled the effects of both male and female passengers in a most merciless and
disgraceful manner – casting varieties of garments in hopeless confusion, on
the dirty floor, rendering the re-packing a thing to be remembered. Our next
experience was the New York hack man – of whose greed we had been warned Alas
that it profited us to do little, for we fell like hapless minorets into his
selfish clutches! We engaged two, one for baggage and the other for ourselves as
they professed to belong to the Fifth Avenue Hotel where we were bound, this
however proved afterwards to be a lie and they extorted nearly five pounds out
The city of New York has a very pretty appearance the
streets being lined with avenues of trees, which are of great size and beauty.
This hotel is stupendous built of white marble common in this country the rooms
are large and superbly furnished a white marble hall where a crowd of people are
congregated too freely for an Englishman’s taste – the reading room,
lavatories, drinking bar are on this floor. A marble staircase ascends to the
apartments an extensive elevator for luggage.
On the first floor is a most elegantly furnished
elevator for the visitors the corridors are magnificent this house is largely
patronised by the New Yorkers who make their homes here – house rents in N Y
being so very high- the gentlemen have rather a French like appearance but the
politeness of the Frenchman is conspicuous by it’s absence.
I am much pleased with the general aspect of the city
and find special attraction in the loftiness of the houses and other buildings,
as well as the unique style of architecture – the famous ‘Broadway however
disappointed us all ‘Narroway’ would be a better name for it I suppose the
length makes up for the breadth ( it being 8 miles long.) We visited several
offices, amongst others Mr Baldwin’s Duneau and Sherman I and I Stewart (our
correspondents in the city) on whom
are drawn our letters of credit. The offices here are admirably fitted up with
telegraphic appliances – these little machines recording silently the doings
in the old and new worlds and the fluctuating price of gold in Wall st. We
ascended the spire of Trinity Church Broadway and admired the magnificent
panorama spread before us in the clear bright atmosphere before us – the city
with it’s lofty white buildings, and around the river with it’s forest of
masts. At their wharves lay the European Mail Steamers and we beheld the
‘Wyoming’ steal down the river towards Sandy Hook, quickly followed by the
‘Russia’ which gained rapidly on her less powerfully engined rival. Thoughts
of home and the dear ones there flew with feelings akin to envy on the outbound steamers.
On descending I made my way to Pier 46 N Wall and found
myself on board the ‘Minnesota and had a hearty welcome from Mr Jones chief
Visited the Central Park the New Yorkers had been
blowing about it – I expected to see something to rival our own Parks but I
have full reason not to feel any jealousy. The Central Park is certainly of
vaster extent – but being devoid of trees looks a wilderness of a place this
resemblance is all the more complete by the baldness of places where the grass
was supposed to grow and luxuriate – the frequent notices posted up to warn
the promenaders ‘ To Keep Off The Grass’ made one reflect on the
imperfection of one’s vision – as no where could a blade of grass be seen!
Some of the buggy turn outs were good and the style of
the going of some of the fast trotting horses worth seeing – the New York
ladies seem to trust themselves in these skeleton conveyances with a display of
courage one might not see in the old country. The Sisters called to see The
Harleys, who are staying here – they are staying at Astor House- B and I
accompanied them to their hotel in the evening. It seems there is a
misunderstanding between them and the church to which they are attached.
Left New York Fifth Avenue Hotel coach in time to catch
the Hudson River steamer that was to leave her wharf at 8.45 am. We had little
assistance given us with our baggage that was shot down from the roof of our
coach and we were left to get it on board as best we could. I had heard these
‘floating palaces’ of steamers before spoken of but was yet adequately
surprised on seeing this fastest of fast steamers ‘Mary Powell’ draw up to
embark her passengers. This steamer has a wide celebrity on account of her speed
that we both experienced as she shot on her course at a full 20 miles an hour.
The numberless wharves and warehouses were soon left behind, we came up to the
Palisades Precipices rising to the height of 500ft, the rock is trap columnan in
formation after the fashion of Giant’s Causeway and Fingal’s Cave, we passed
Loch Lee ( 10 miles from the city) and Fort Washington, the former crosses the
loftiest peaks of the Palisades- Fort Washington is opposite. Both are
interesting memories of the wars of the rebels with the mother country. By and
by after gazing on the lovely scenery through which we passed we came to the
‘Highlands’ through which the river makes it’s way – the landscape which
these noble heights, with their picturesque and changeful form presents – is
of great beauty. Afterwards we came up to West Point- the military academy of
the U S army. Roughkeepsie is 75 miles from the city, this place was founded by
the Dutch – 150 years ago. At last our river voyage of 145 miles is completed
and we land at Albany, capital of the Empire State – this city was founded by
the Dutch also in 1614.
In due time we put down at our hotel – The Delaoou
House – ready to do justice to the ample dinner before us.
Was much amused by the grotesque figure of the Negro
waiters their pompous manner is
quite ludicrous – they are withal burley and morose and slow, and not to be
greatly preferred to the impudent rascals of the New York Irish waiters. About
midnight we saw I W off to Chicago.
Left Albany at 7 am for rail via Glen Falls thence by
coach to Caldwell much to admire in the drive – travelled in the railway with
an old man who was mourning the loss of wife and children, he wants to sell his
farm and return to the old country. It was getting dark when we were put down at
the small Lake Hotel, in the funny little village of Caldwell – were glad to
get to bed, as the house was so cold and cheerless – the better hotels being
closed for the season.
Left per steamer ‘Gauouskie’ and steamed up the
magnificent Lake George entirely surrounded by woods and lilies that looked
golden in their autumnal tints, this is a favourite summer resort of the
Americans. As we steamed to the different landing stages new beauties opened out
– splendid mansions nearly hidden in the golden foliage, we found it bitterly
cold. Reached Ti landing about noon Ticoumerego on the heights of which we
surveyed the beautiful scenery, once the scene of fierce contention between our
forces and the rebels. The ruins of the fort erected by the French in 1756 are
surrounded on 3 sides by the water on the 4th by a swamp. It was
taken from the English by General Burgoyne, who placed his artillery on an
opposite ….. ? Mount Defiance 750 ft above the lake in the year 1775 at the
commencement of the Revolutionary war. The English commander being surprised in
bed by a rebel officer, who on being asked in whose name , he called the fort to
surrender, replied ‘In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental
Our rambles about these scenes were really enjoyed.
After lunch we embarked on the steamboat ‘United States’ to sail up Lake
Champlain the scenery was very pretty is much tamer character than Lake George,
this lake, on account of it’s narrowness has a visible aspect. Passed many old
battle scenes Plattisburg a thriving town near here was the scene of the Battle
of Lake Champlain here the rebel American commander awaited the approach of the
English fleet under Downie and Pasbost which passed Cumberland head, about 8 in
the morning of the 11th Sept 1814. After a bloody conflict of two
hours the English fleet was captured with the loss of 2500 men.
At last at our destination Rouse’s Point on the west
side of the lake, the last landing place before we enter Canada at 10pm.
After a slight search by customs officials we entered
the cars and early Monday morning we reached Montreal having crossed the St
Lawrence Tubular Bridge, nearly 2 miles in length. This bridge rests on 24 piers
and 2 abutments of solid masonry – the central span being 330 ft.
Montreal is situated at the foot of Mount Royal from
which it takes it’s name and is the most populous city in British North
America, is on a large island at the confluence of the St Lawrence and Ottawa
rivers, the main branch of the former river is the highway of the great timber
traffic to Quebec.
We found the hotel accommodation very good and felt much
satisfaction in being once more on British soil and under the old flag which
waves on the public buildings, these are built on a very magnificent scale as
also are the shops, which give a very imposing appearance to the city. The shops
are well stocked and purchases may be made here on a more reasonable scale than
in the cities of the US.
Went to Wesleyan Chapel and heard a very good preacher
who made the best prayer I think I ever heard for the Queen and Royal Family.
In the afternoon we walked up the Mountain Royal I was struck with the
perfect resemblance to our quiet English Sabbaths. Very much admired the
comfortable well to do appearance of the houses in the streets of the suburbs
lined with beautiful trees. As we ascended the mount a magnificent view of
Montreal, presented itself, the spires and domes of the many places of worship
are covered with tin which in the sunlight has the appearance of mother of pearl
and the long broad river of the St Lawrence it’s wide spanning bridge lay
before us. After a ramble along the quays we were glad of a test of our sealskin
muff and feather boas were bought in Montreal and shipped to L’pool in the
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