"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.  

Sept 21st

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.

25th Sept.

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 miles.

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 years old.

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 miles.

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.

28 Sept.

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.

29th September

 Very 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.

30th Sept.

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 past ten.

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 of us.

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 officer.

4th Oct.

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.  

5th Oct.

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.

6th Oct.

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.

7th Oct.

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 Congress’

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 ‘Scandinavian’.  

October 8th to October 16th



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