Penn Abrams Diary 1849-1851
descendant Chet Ogan has extensively annotated the diary. Click
William Penn Abrams, 1866
Sat. night Feby. 24th. Another week has passed away and rather unprofitably with me. I think when I get to earning money once more with steady employment I shall try and be satisfied and let the "well enough alone." Have been repairing [a] pocket knife today and have also undertaken a job for Allen in company with Joe D. and think I shall make a tolerable good lawyer if nothing "turns up."
Have understood that the many about town are reporting that I have given up going to California but time will show.
Sunday 25th. Attended church this day and heard a good sermon by our good pastor R., though I could not divert myself wholly from worldly thought and consequently lost much. I must try and bring my mind under better discipline. This we heard from Eutaw and we are to start for California one week from tomorrow. It's rather a big undertaking but think it is my duty under present circumstances.
Hill, New Hampshire. The Phelps house is on the right.
Frid. Mar. 2nd. Last eve recd. 2 letters, one from Bro. Carroll [Charles Carroll Phelps] and the other from Mr. [Damien L.] Angier of Eutaw. I think I should start for California next Monday. Have spent this day in doing but little. Have earned 6/- fixing safe for Mr. Lewis [owner of the sawmill in Gainesville]. This eve have written a letter to Bro. C. and wife has been making me a money belt to go to Cal. with. Wish 'twas as easy to get money as a belt.
Monday March 5 1849.
Have performed a painful duty this eve. Am almost sorry that I first thought of going to California. Bidding my good wife farewell came very hard and well nigh "unmanned me." I go aboard of the Hewitt about 10 o'clock this night after bidding many warm friends farewell and may now consider myself on my way to California, where I hope to be by the middle of April next and where I hope to make enough so as to return in less than twelve mon[ths] and be satisfied.
Steamer Hewitt--March 6, 1849. Turned out at seven o'clock after a restless night and feel rather unrefreshed. Have made a very good progress this day; 6 o'clock finds us at Moscow with pretty much all the load we shall get this trip.
Nothing taken place worthy of note on board. Like to have got vexed at a fellow passenger today; in conversing with him I could not make him notice anything I would say. At first thought him selfish, but soon found him deaf "as an adder" and all was explained.
Wednesday March 7th. Have made very good progress this day; find that we shall get into Mobile in time for the N.O. boat tomorrow if nothing happens. Have met a man today that has been to California and got much information about the place. Think I shall find an opportunity to go into a mill as soon as I get there. Have been rather lonesome all day today.
Thursday morn March 8th. Arrived here last night sometime in the night and find my Eutaw crowd behind me; am really sorry they are not here so that we may go on to [New] Orleans today.
Company came down today at 3 o'clock; found them first-rate fellows and disposed to be friendly--have run about all day trying to get money, cheques and other matters fixed. Think I am tired enough to sleep well tonight (only if I had my Vine [Lavina] by my side).
The Abrams House, Sanbornton, New Hampshire
Friday March 9, 1849. Finished letter to my good Vine & put [on] board steamer Geo. Taylor. Ran about city with my friends until 10 o'clock, go on board steamer Oregon for N.O. Have had a pleasant passage so far, am pleased to find Rev. Mr. Hamilton as fellow passenger, find him to be a jolly fellow. Turn in just after 9 and think of my wife.
New Orleans, 1851
New Orleans, Louisiana
New OrleansSat. 10th. Find myself in N.O. this morn and have spent the day in walking about the city and examining vessels for Chagres. Think we shall decide to go in the [blank] on Thursday next. Have made no purchases today. Sat. night has come again, a time when I must think of home. Many nights have I got to see before I meet my family again.
N.O. Sunday March 11, 1849. Was disturbed last night by one of our number who got very much frightened in his dreams & jumped on to my bed and mashed one of his toes. Says he thought someone was after him to stab him, which vision was probably brought on by seeing some of our company showing their Bowie knives yesterday. Have attended church today and heard Dr. Hamilton preach an able discourse at Dr. Scott's church. Have not enjoyed myself very well today. Have missed my usual retirement, which I always so much desire & need.
N.O. Sunday eve. March 11, 1849. Great excitement in the city this evening from a double cause. First, just the cry of fire with its accompaniment of bells ringing and engines rattling. All changed the unusual quietness of the city very suddenly. Before the fire was stilled, I heard the cry of Balloon! Balloon! Looked out of my window and saw directly over the city the balloon advertised to go up this afternoon, and thus affording another instance of breaking the laws of God, which daring God in His majesty saw fit, it would seem, to punish by agencies created by His own hand.
I[t] was a thrilling sight to see a human being suspended in the heavens by a thread of "twine," but how agonizing to see that thread snapped asunder, and see man in the image of his Maker whom he has thus abused come down, down whirling through the air and lost to the view of the breathless beholders among the suburbs of the city, where he is soon found, crushed to a shapeless mass. How few will recognize the hand of an offended God in this event. How few will take warning from this dispensation of Divine Providence is what must have been his emotions during his ascent to certain destruction, for surely he had time to think of many of his misdeeds for the space between his starting, and the earth was many, many feet [below]. Was it possible to him to sue for pardon or forgiveness during that fearful passage, and can we expect that God would hear the cry and forgive under such circumstances? These reflections are painful. I pray God this event may be a warning to the Sabbath breakers.
Have attended church this eve and heard Mr. Hamilton lecture on gambling. Think he talked very plain and fearless. Am almost discouraged about going to California from accounts read today from others who have gone.
I almost dread the decisions we may come to tomorrow.
EXTRAORDINARY BALLOON EXCURSION.--Yesterday afternoon a great crowd of people assembled near the corner of Poydras and St. Charles streets to witness the feats of M. Victor Verdalle, who had announced that he would ascend with his balloon at 4 o'clock not, as is customary, in a car, but attached to the balloon by a rope, his "feet to heaven, head to earth," and, so ascending, would perform some most wonderful aerial feats. Faith, and he did. We did not see his exhibition previous to and immediately after starting, but we saw him when at his greatest height, and witnessed his extraordinary declension. The afternoon was exceedingly favorable for the daring aeronaut, but an accident occurred as he started which placed him in great danger, as the event showed. It seems that when all was ready for the ascent and the word was given to let go, a rent of some four feet was made in the balloon by getting foul of a post. The gas, of course, commenced escaping, the balloon at the same time rising majestically, and Verdalle going through his novel performances, to the great delight of the assembled multitude. The balloon did not rise to a very great height, but went off steadily in a northern direction, the gas all the time making its escape. As it passed over Canal Street, we had a fine view, and continued watching the progress of the aerial voyager until the grand catastrophe occurred.1849-3-12
N.O. Monday March 12 1849. Have organized our company today and have I think nearly decided upon the route to take. Have not seen anything today worthy of notice. Was impressed to learn that the man that ascended in the balloon yesterday is alive and unhurt. Cannot account for it. Seems almost a miracle.
N.O. Tuesday 13th. Have paid my passage to Chagres this day and made most of my purchased fare. Have been busy all day. Have spent the eve in writing to my dear Vine. It seems hard I declare to go off and leave so good a woman but fates will have it so.
N.O. Wed. 14th. Have finished my purchases today and am now ready to leave. The cholera reports are frightful. I am rather unlucky in being in N.O. during cholera but fortunate in keeping clear of it so far.
Two of my fellows have got sick of the place and left for home this morn. I shall feel bad to go back with no excuse more than they had. Have been up to the St. Charles rotunda and took a view of the city; was surprised to see how large the city was. Have closed 4 letters tonight, one to wife, one to D. S. Corliss, one to editor of Scientific American, one to Bro. D.K.A. [Daniel Kendrick Abrams] and one to cousin Cyrus [Colby].
Brig Pedraza New Orleans to Chagres
On board Brig Pedraza lying at levee N.O. March 15, 1849. Have finished our arrangements and came on board at noon. I am almost discouraged at the reports from Chagres. Should not be displeased if we were to come back after going to Chagres and take another route. Have thought some of my home today and shall probably think more before I return.
Was much disappointed in not getting a letter from Cousin Cyrus today. Have been interested by one of my company telling about his adventures since supper.
Brig Pedraza March 15 1849. Have laid at levee all day without going [on] shore. Have spent the day very unpleasantly, we being all of us ready for a start and consequently we are all uneasy. Had quite an incident to occur aboard. We were ordered to leave our wharf by the harbor master who directed us to go to a certain wharf. When we got there were not allowed to make fast and came very near having some shooting. Have had a jolly time this eve singing and telling stories. Left the wharf at 8 o'clock and at ten came to anchor in the stream. Too much fog to run.
Friday March 16. Our slow boat got up steam at daylight and we put off down the river at a slow speed. Have spent a portion of the day at mast head looking at the plantations on either side of the river. Arrived at the mouth just in time to get out this night and anchor for want of wind.
Brig Pedraza Sat. 17. All sick this day and consequently we present a sorry sight. One of our Ala. boys says if he ever gets to Chagres he will go home through the woods. About half of the company wish themselves at home and I am not right certain but I am one of the number. Been a good deal sick; one of our party have every symptom of the cholera and I am somewhat alarmed at his case.
Brig Pedraza Sunday 18. Am sick as death, can't write much, all sick more or less. Light winds, make little headway. Not seemed much like Sunday.
Mon. 19. This morn find myself much better. Have relished my supper very much and think I will get along now. Have had headwinds all day; made but little progress. Have been thinking about home good deal this day. Must continue to get my family along with me soon after I get there. Have taken a few games at draughts [checkers] and have not been worsted yet.
Our sick man much better; am encouraged about him. Our Capt. seems to try to please us all and no doubt will do well in this trade.
Tuesday 20. A heavy sea this morn and I am sadly out of sorts. I am reminded forcibly of the time I had my family with me in a storm off Cape Hatteras in 1847. Have suffered all day, and I am not alone for nearly all are in the same fix and some are worse. Misery loves company.
Wednesday 21. Sick as death all day. Sun crosses the line today [the spring equinox]; we are having the effects of the storms. Poor Ducette (one of our Eutaw com.) is in a bad fix. I have been up with him until 10 o'clock. Have bathed him in ice water and it did me good to see how grateful he is for my kindness. Have eaten nothing this day. Have vomited something like the essence of quinine. I should guess by the taste am in hopes to be better now. We are all a sorry-looking lot--and many are sorry in reality that they have left home. I am afraid poor Jo will not live to see Chagres but hope & pray otherwise.
Thursday 22. Have had a pleasant day. All can do their duties today at table. Jo a little better but bad off. I fear for the result. Making slow headway, no wind at all tonight. Have had some games at draughts and beaten the bully 4 out of 5 games. Have enjoyed myself this eve in a "tete a tete" with my friend Carpenter and feel thankful that I had courage enough to approach the subject of his soul's salvation. We shall both long remember the subject of our conversation. Have been somewhat astonished at some principles advocated this evening by some of our married men passengers. If my wife could have heard these she would have been shocked.
Brig Pedraza March 23rd. Have all done our duty at the table today. Calm all day. Spent my time in reading and meditating and I hope profitably. Have thought of home very much this eve. Should be much better satisfied if I could only hear from home occasionally. Have taken a delightful bath [swim] this eve in company with the rest of the passengers.
Brig Pedraza Sat. Mar. 24th 1849. Have been very well all day and enjoyed myself well. Have been some pained at the conduct of our Capt. I think he is unfit to command any vessel so long as he retains his present habits. I rejoice that I have not got my wife and children on this craft. Mr. [D. L.] Angier has had a severe time and Mrs. A. [Selina Angier] has shed tears at the brutal conduct of the Capt.
Brig P. Sun 25th. Have spent another Sabbath away from my loved ones and from all religious privileges. Have not enjoyed myself at all. Have promised some pleasure when I get ashore for then I can seek and find retirement for private devotion and may it profit my soul.
Has been good deal excitement on board today. A water spout was seen very near our vessel which caused some alarm and much interest and since then a school of blackfish [whales] have made their appearance--another cause for excitement.
Am not quite well tonight; think I shall take some medicine. Am rejoiced that our sick friend has got well and hope and pray that we may all be blessed with health through the remainder of our journey.
Have not been able to enjoy my Bible today from the excitement about me. May God forgive me for my weakness.
Mon. 26 1849. Fair wind this morn. About 9 o'clock overtaken with a white squall which caused us to take down top gall. sails quickly. Our squall cleared off with a norther which has been doing a fine business for us. Made good headway and made some of us sick again and look sorry. Fortunately I am able to eat my allowance. Am much better today.
Tues. 27. Fair wind the last 24 hours. Have made fine progress. Have seen several vessels today. About 3 o'clock saw a steamer coming directly to us. I seated myself and wrote a letter to my wife but could not send it as she did not come near enough to speak her. Have enjoyed my meals very much today. Very little excitement on board. Our Capt. sober today and everything seems right.
Wed. 28th. Had a good night's rest--find we have a having a hungry set on board this morn with one or two exceptions. I don't think the Capt. makes anything by our having been sick. After breakfast took Dr. Watson's lectures and went up on the cabin deck and in fixing a lolling place I made a misstep and rolled off onto the awning. Gathered myself up and found I was very much frightened and nothing more. Have spent the day in reading and playing draughts. Have beaten the bully player again. Nothing occurred for excitement today. I have cut up some rustics in climbing ropes which if wife had seen would have secured for me a lecture. Find I have gained the confidence of all my messmates and not a day passed but some questions are referred to me for decision and I find too that I am less annoyed with others fooling with me than anyone else in the mess. Find upon calculating that today at 12 o'clock we were 579 miles from Chagres with a prospect of getting there on Sunday next.
Thursday 29. Have had headache all day, caused no doubt by the heat of the sun and eating too much with too little exercise. Have been talking with the president of the Cincinnati company and have been invited to join them and I do not know but I may yet. I was led to reflect upon home and its comforts by seeing Mr. Angier sitting by the side of his wife with her to work upon his hair, so comfortable and happy. Light winds all day. Nothing taken place worthy of note on board this day, dull times.
Fri. 30th. Another day has passed off without anything occurring on board for excitement. Have been studying Dr. Watson's lectures and human nature as it is exhibited by our passengers and have come to the conclusion that selfishness is the most prominent trait manifested. Have spent the evening singing with friends Reamer & Cogswell [Caldwell] and listening to the adventures of Mr. Craven while a soldier in the Mexican War. I dreamed of being with my good Vine last night, but was not happy because I was preparing to leave her ('twas a dream).
March 31st. Sat. night has come again and again my thoughts stray away to my home and loved ones. Again I am lonely; my brow is shaded. And who that has a heart formed to love and a fond heart to love would not be sad when fate has torn those hearts asunder. That countenance I have to gaze upon and I have this day drunk deep of the pleasure, but, oh the heart is not here and pleasure is turned into pain again. Again dreamed of home last night but even my dreams are made sad as they always end in a repetition of that parting scene. I pray God may grant us to meet [once] more on Earth and nothing short of death shall part us while I have my liberty.
We are this day at 12 within 360 miles of our port with a prospect of getting there on Tuesday if fortune favors us. Nothing occurred on board worthy of notice except another exhibition of the Capt.'s weakness in cursing the wind with some horrid oaths as I am told. I am thankful that I did not hear him.
Brig Pedraza at sea in Lat. 12°40" Lon. 80°3".
Sunday Apr. 1st 1849. Have spent another Sabbath day at sea and rather unprofitably too. Have not been able to enjoy my Bible at all. Though our company seem to recollect the day and all more or less read their Bible, but we were not in a condition to enjoy ourselves as we ought. We are now making rapid progress on our journey and shall in all probability see land by the time before the sun sets again. Have had a sing from our good old "Boston Academy" and it is reviving to our drooping spirits. I really hope I may enjoy myself better when I get to my journey's end, but shall not expect much real enjoyment again until I can call my family around my family altar once more. I pray God may speed that blessed hour to return.
Mon. 2nd. Tonight find we are disappointed in not seeing land but we have a fine prospect of getting there tomorrow. Yes, we have the assurance that our eyes will be greeted with sight of land as soon as daylight appears in the morning. Have had a meeting today to choose a committee of ten to make arrangements for the whole company to cross the Isthmus and again I [am] selected to act in company with Angiers. Am in concert with the committee appointed by the Cincinnati company. My health is very good and I think I am improving in general health. I know this news will make my Vine rejoice.
Tuesday morn after 3:00. Was awakened this morn just after midnight with the cry of Land ho! I make a rush for the deck and my vision is greeted with a view of the lofty Andes [sic]. I soon returned to my berth with visions in my head strange and unnatural. This morn at daylight we have a fine view of those mountains. Upon taking an observation find we are too far to the east. We were from 8 o'clock until 2 with a fine breeze making our port. We now see the pilot boat come out of the harbor. And at ½ past 4 we haul up alongside of the steamer Marie Rust in the harbor of Chagres. Took a walk on shore with our com. Saw many things interesting, and everything is new. Tents of emigrants in all directions waiting passage up the river. Our case is hard just now. 3500 people waiting for a steamer and no vessel at Panama at all.
Chagres, Panama, South America
Wednesday Apr. 4. Took a walk before breakfast & on the [way] back saw some 6 or 8 wrecks and called on a Mr. Garrison from St. Louis who is just from Panama and his reports on that we shall, in all probability, have to wait from two to three months for a passage to California, and then pay more for a passage than many of us have got. The prospects are exceedingly discouraging. Have spent this day in running about the place. Have seen many curiosities. And among the greatest have seen the old Spanish fort which is truly a wonderful piece of work but all in ruins. Noticed that the guns were cast in Seville, Spain in the year 1743. Should like to make myself acquainted with the history of these fortifications. Have seen a fight near our craft between two natives. Have seen many women washing in a creek nearly in the model artist attire. Have seen many curious specimens of the industry of the native women, some spinning by hand, some to work on muslin, others cooking. The men seem indolent and inactive; all are black or nearly so. Have been amused at Mrs. Angier trying to talk with the native women. She could only say "How do," and though they seemed to enjoy their visit I think Mrs. A. would have been better pleased to have them stay away.
Thursday April 5th. Have concluded to not go to Panama as we have seen a man just from there and have learned from him all that is necessary for us to know. And I am really glad to have it so.
Our prospects still look dark and I see no chance for success this way. Have scarcely left the vessel this day. Our Capt. has made himself ridiculous again today in getting drunk and had almost a fight. Have finished and closed a letter to my wife this day but do not know when she will get it. No chance at present to send from this place. Have spent this eve in singing in com. with friends Reamer and Cogswell [Caldwell].
Friday April 6th. Find there is getting to be a division in our company and that I am counted in both parties. Have been in a brown study all day and cannot decide what is best to do.
Shall decide tomorrow. Have seen no curiosities this day except in human nature. Have spent this eve on shore with the balance of the crowd and saw many things new to me. Saw the performances of the Roman Catholics.
FIRST ATTEMPT TO NAVIGATE ACROSS THE ISTHMUS.--Capt. L. B. Terry, of the brig Pedraza, has furnished us the journal of his trip from Chagres to Panama and back. We give it in part, to show how the difficulties of the trip have been exaggerated, but principally because it records the first practical attempt to take a boat across the Isthmus--this dreadful Isthmus--at the horrors of which the people shuddered a few weeks ago.1849-4-7
Apr. 7th. Our time up today as free boarders on this craft. Have made arrangements to remain here so long as we remain in the harbor. Have dissolved our comp. today and I have decided to go to Corpus [Christi] and take the land route for California soon as I can get a chance to leave this sweet place.
A man died last night just by our vessel and was buried this day. I am too sleepy to write any more.
Sunday Apr. 8th. Not much like Sunday today. I have heard more shooting this afternoon than before for months. All are fixing their arms to be ready to meet the natives who have manifested a disposition to fight us. Many of our company intend to go on shore but I persuaded them to remain quiet until it was necessary for us to go. It was brought about by drunkenness, and I am not willing to take up such quarrels unless I am compelled to for self-defense.
Monday 9th. Arose this morn and went up on the beach and had a delightful bath. Have spent the day on board and have been busy in cleaning up my pistol & gun. Have engaged my passage to Corpus Christi on the schooner Splendid for $30. Have been morose and more disgusted with one of our number and one in whom I had put the most confidence but have been deceived once. Natives have been quiet all day. I think that it will end here. I hope so until I can get away.
Brig Pedraza Chagres April 10th. Took a bath this morn on the beach. After breakfast went up into the fort again; got a piece of very curious wood. Hired one of the soldiers to throw it down the fort from the heights and it landed in the water far below. Went to the spring; saw some women nearly naked, washing. Returned and went on board the steamer Orus and rode out to sea on the steamer as she towed a schooner out. Had quite a pleasant time. This eve hear by a boat just from Panama that the chances are more encouraging than we have heard from before. Sent some letters off home on the Maj. Eastland this noon and now wish I had them back as there is a prospect of my going on now. Shall decide tomorrow. I despise this changing of my mind so often, but circumstances alter cases, and I have both to act from now.
April 11th. Saw the first hand-to-hand fight I ever saw this morn on the bark Santee from N.Y. Saw the blows fly. This sight made me feel exceedingly unpleasant. Thinking that perhaps it may not be the last I may see on this trip. Have decided to go on to Panama. Have written to my wife again today and sent it by the schooner Splendid. Have had some pleasant conversation this night with friend Reamer.
Leave Colon/Aspinwall for Gorgona Inland by Dugout
12th. This morn started for Gorgona with balance of company in two dugout boats. Have had an excellent time, pleasant day and jolly companions. Found the river a beautiful stream and many curiosities to see.
13th. Had a bad time this night. In keeping watch were disturbed by some Spaniards who we thought were going to trouble us. I was on watch and concluded to call all hands, loaded our arms and prepared for action but saw nothing no more of them. During third watch the men were frightened by the panthers, or what we called panthers. 'Twas really dreadful to listen to. Not any of us slept more than an hour or so during the night. 'Twas my first night in camp and I should wish it to be the last. Have had a pleasant time today on the route; find the river much more pleasant than reported to be. Have seen many ranchers and many of them comfortably situated. At noon we stop at the camp of the New York Surveying Company. They are very sanguinary of the success of their project. Saw a group of wild monkeys this day on the bank of the river and found that the hideous noises heard last night were from monkeys. Have seen many wild parrots and lizards more than three feet long; shot one at least 2½ feet while passing it. Stop this night on the bank and camp under our blankets. Tried to catch a fish tonight but did not succeed.
Gorgona Island, Colombia
Sat. Gorgona, South America, Apr. 14th, 1849. Arrived here this noon just [be]fore dinner. Left our camp at three o'clock this morn. Weather cool so that my old blue jacket was comfortable. Saw some splendid scenery on the river this morn. The river quite clear, was reminded of my old native stream the Merrimack. Have seen all along in my way to this place coconut trees, bananas, oranges, limes, pineapples and other strange trees in abundance. Find this place quite pleasantly situated and should judge it to be healthy. Find nearly all have struck their tents and moved to Panama. The news from this place were more and more favorable. Am quite unwell this afternoon with headache. Find part of our passengers still here, but they are to move tomorrow. I shall oppose moving before Monday. Want to try to enjoy myself a little tomorrow with my friend Reamer.
Sunday Apr. 15th. Was excused from camp duty last night on account of sickness. Do not feel much better today; am very low spirited. In fact I have been afflicted more with the blues for the past 10 days than in 12 months previously.
Have kept myself quiet this day. Have enjoyed my Bible a little. Have thought much of home and my family. Find Gorgona quite a pleasant place and quite healthy though there was a death here yesterday among the natives and have heard the wailings of the bereaved one, a widow who seems to be in deep distress. Can hear her cry for nearly ½ mile. Took a short walk out on the Panama road this eve. Find it rather rough but romantic in the extreme. Met a traveler from P. and learn by him that there is no prospect of leaving that place for than a month and that a sailing vessel will be from two to three months on her way and consequently it will be more than 3 months before I shall get to my journey's end. I learn too living is tolerable cheap in P. Shall try and get over as soon as possible. I have wished myself at home 40 times at least this day. I cannot bear the thought of not being able to hear from my dear wife again for 4 months. [Abrams penciled in the margin: "'Twas just 4 months to a day before hearing from home."]
Monday 16th. Find myself quite unwell and unable to do camp duty, but assisted in getting breakfast for the first time. Find my companions very kind and willing to [do] anything for my comfort. Have had severe headache nearly all day. Oh how I have wish[ed] I could have my Vine to nurse me today and fix me a nice dish to eat. Had a dream last night which if I should notice as some do would cause me to turn to my home again, but as I do not believe in them I don't mind it. Heard this morn that some friends of our party were drowned yesterday in the river below, but towards noon we were pleased to see them arrive safe and sound and tonight pitch their tents alongside.
Tuesday 17. Again excused from camp duty last night. This morn find my appetite good. I go to a ranch in town and [buy] a piece of beef and 3 eggs and pay 2 dimes and return and cook a good breakfast. Companions gone hunting this morn; am unable to go with them. Preparing to leave for Panama tomorrow and then finally I may still find my prospects so bad as to induce me to return to the States. I am satisfied it will not take much to make me retrace my steps.
Hunters return with little success, report that they saw a cougar but did not get a shot at him. Took a walk for exercise out on the Panama road in company with friend Carpenter, return and go in washing with the company. All wash unceremoniously among the washer women, who do not seem to mind it. And who would wonder for they are almost naked themselves and they do not mind bathing before the white men and natives.
Wed. 18th. Undertook to sleep alongside of one of the hunters and found myself in a bad fix covered with ticks and bugs. I lay until midnight and then get up and strip myself and oil with sweet oil. Stand by the watch fires two hours and then try again with better success. Find my health still improving--had a siege at sewing rips &c. This made me think of home and wife. During my wakeful hours last night I almost come to the determination to return to some place and get business until fall and then take my family along with me. I am still undecided but shall decide after being in Panama 24 hours.
Leave for Panama tomorrow morning and I am rejoiced that we have made arrangements to leave, for if I am to return I am anxious to be on my way. Have had some sport in showing my wife to some native women and was some flattered to hear their praises of her beauty &c. Weather quite comfortable.
By Foot from Gorgona to Panama
Thursday eve April 19. Left Gorgona at 2 o'clock. All in good spirits. Our baggage on the backs of 8 mules and two cargadores and after a pleasant walk over a much better road than we expected to find. Tonight we find ourselves 6 miles on our way when we stop, pitch our tents & cook supper. Have passed many dead horses in the road and saw much beautiful scenery. Fell in company with some N.H. men and we stop together tonight. We had some controversy with the agent of Letsch & Co. this morn about the transportation of our baggage. Had our cause tonight before the alcalde, who decides in our favor. This detained us some hours at G. Find myself much better tonight after my walk than before I started. Think I shall stand the walk better than I expected.
Apr. 20. Struck our tent this morn early and myself in company with Carpenter went ahead to make arrangements for stopping. Soon came in sight of a flock [of] pheasants. Shot one and took it along for breakfast. Met a son of Senator Dixon [Daniel S. Dickinson] of N.Y. on a litter carried by two natives. Poor fellow he looks bad, had been bleeding at the lungs and was on his way home. Saw much pleasant scenery this day. Arrived at the halfway house at 10 o'clock, cooked our bird, got some coffee, which [was] made delicious by an egg found in the pheasant. Met a N.H. man who kept the house and was glad to find him accommodating. Mr. Angier overtook us and kept on through with us. We arrived in this place at 3 p.m. having walked the distance of 18 miles in 5½ hours. Feet and legs some sore but am well otherwise. Find the city much larger than I expected but pretty much in ruins. Have kept in my room this eve. Find Mrs. Angier much improved in health although she had a severe time in crossing the Isthmus. Took supper with her and seems more like home than anything I have seen since I left the States.
Panama April 21st 1849. Had a fine night's rest last night; am quite refreshed this morn. Have secured my passage to San Francisco in the brig Copiapo for $250 and find that all our passengers are going together again. Was surprised to meet Mr. Benedict from Gainesville this morn in the office of the agents. Find he is short of funds, and I am sorry that I am unable to assist him. Went after a bucket of water this eve and in returning meet a funeral procession. On inquiry find it was for the death of an American from N.Y. Am anxious to leave this place.
Met Mrs. Fremont in the streets this eve and find there are many American ladies in the place.
Sunday April 22. Sabbath morn has come again and oh if I could only be with my family this morn I should be perfectly happy but I must see many Sundays before I can see them if I am permitted to live. Attended a lecture at the American Hotel this morn and could not help shedding tears when the minister in his prayers referred to those we have left behind. He himself was much affected even to weakness. Went into the Catholic church this morn and looked at them a few minutes; was disgusted at the ceremonies and left. Met Mr. Benedict again this morn and took a walk down on the battery. Saw two vessels coming in and looked about the fort a little; find it quite a pleasant view from this place. Took a walk with friend Reamer and had a long conversation with him. Have enjoyed ourselves in singing this eve some good old tunes.
Monday April 23. Hear that some Americans have stabbed some natives last night at a fandango. And find there is [a] good deal of excitement about it this morn. Took a walk this morn to the agent's office, secured tickets for two men of our company and learn that there are two more vessels arrived this morn for passengers and there is a report that passage is down to $100. And this would be our luck of it should prove true. In counting my money find I have $110 on hand and have my passage paid to San Francisco. Took a walk after supper this eve and find there is still great excitement in town and the natives have called in some men to assist in keeping quietness in [omission].
Tuesday 24th. Fell to my lot to go to market this morn and a singular market it is too. Women do all the selling--have their provisions in a tray on the ground and they seat themselves flat down and wait on their customers pleasantly. Purchased onions for breakfast. British steamer arrived last night with one month later news from California. Former news of the quantity of gold confirmed and I rejoice that it is so fair. Have written a letter to T.W.S. this day. Paid B. $10. Have heard of an attempted robbery and murder in town today. Things are getting to be quite desperate with many here. Shall rejoice when I get away.
Wednesday 25th. I find myself well and hearty. Weather fine and companions agreeable. Am in tolerable good spirits. Took a look at my dear wife this morn.
Undertook to go on board of our brig this morn but could not find a chance to go on board.
Have sent my letters to wife this day and one to sister Rose and T.W.S. Have felt quite earnest to get to California today and but little disposition to turn back.
Thursday 26. Have waited on Dr. Bracket's pills this morn and hope I shall get repaid for my trouble. Took something [that] disagreed [with] me yesterday and was quite unwell last night but feel much better this morn.
Friday 27. One of our company quite sick today, have paid good attention to him, learn that my conjecture while in Chagres in relation to sickness here is correct, for every day tells one or more deaths among our American friends. Have heard of the death of a N.H. man today, a Mr. [Theophilus] Clough of Enfield. Am sorry I did not attend the funeral.
Sat. 28. Dr. Bowen no better this morn. I am somewhat alarmed about him. Have kept to my room pretty much all day. Today is the day we were to sail but now it is next and next and it will probably be week after. Tonight friend Reamer and myself held silent communion with our God. We strode out amidst the ruins of Old Panama and on our knees we sent up our petitions in sweet concert. The novelty of our position--the scenes through which we have been called to pass for the last few weeks and the coldness we have manifested hitherto all seem to call forth feeling, deep heartfelt feeling, and we return to our rooms in a happy mood.
Sunday Apr. 29. Attended preaching at the American Hotel again today and was again disappointed in our sermon for my mind was seemingly prepared to receive the riches of the Gospel. Dr. B. still quite unwell. Have not enjoyed myself very well today but this night have again been out among the ruins to send up our petitions to the throne of grace in unison. And I hope to enjoy this blessed privilege many times before we are again separated.
Monday April 30th. Another month closes this night forever. I am not much nearer my destined port than when the month commenced but am most certainly a month nearer the close of my earthly pilgrimage and I fear none the better prepared for the change which awaits me. Am quite unwell tonight; feel more like being back than I have before since I have been here.
Thursday May 3rd. The first 3 days in this month find me sick enough. Came very near of having a "spell" of sickness, but by active treatment & the blessings of God I hope I may now escape. Our party some alarmed about me and have shown the utmost kindness indeed during the past three days. They even seem to try to see which should show me the most attention--the cause of which is that I have spared no pains in waiting on others who have been sick before me. Oh, how many hours have I spent during the last three days thinking of the sweets of home, contrasting the warmhearted attention of my wight companions with the affectionate solicitude of a tender and beloved wife--the unsavory dishes fixed up for my dainty stomach with the nice sweet little bowls of soup and plates of toast that the ingenuity of a loving wife can nurse one up with.
Walked out this eve and take supper at restaurants. Met Dr. Gale from Demopolis who tells me he has had the cholera and that the cholera is actively in our midst. Two have died this day with[in] almost a stone's throw of here. Tonight my good friend Mr. Reamer is quite sick and I am to take care of him. Have had a Montgomery physician to him twice. I treated him until the medicines given did not do what I intended they should and then called for help "as usual."
Friday May 4th. Have had a hard time with my patient the past night, but he has had a harder time, poor fellow, nearly burnt up with the fever. Up with him nearly all night. During my wakeful hours my ears were greeted with the dying groans of a native in a room directly under us. Having the curiosity to see this native arising such a scream and the floor of our room being open in many places, I satisfy my curiosity--notice in the first place 4 lighted candles around him (as he lay on the ground floor) as is the custom of the Catholic. Saw many in the room but all were far from exhibiting any signs of sorrow or regret. Will note down some other incidents of this night's watch. After having seen the dead native being lighted through purgatory, I had occasion to [go] below and found a young Floridian drunk lying across the Gold Gate sill perfectly insensible. Pulled his whiskers a while and tried many other ways to arouse him but failed and left him alone in his glory. After returning to my room and trying to sleep was aroused by the means of a fandango nearby. Am nearly sick again today, but have just heard some news from San Francisco that cheers me up greatly. There is an arrival in town 33 days from San Francisco with good news! Great good news!! Friend Reamer some better this eve. Am in hopes to get him up tomorrow.
Richardson sick today. Dance, another of our party, complaining. In fact we have not hardly well ones enough to take care of the sick. I feel the effects of last night's watching very much.
Sat. morn May 5th. Find all our sick this morn are much better. Changed my sleeping quarters last night. Have rented rooms in a large house inside the walls of the city owned by a wealthy Spanish family, at least I judge so from the fact that they furnish with silverware, even the wash dish is silver and worth probably from 20 to 30 dollars. Took a fine saltwater bath this morn in front of the old fort.
Sunday May 6th. Great excitement last night! Was aroused forth [by] firing of guns and soon after heard the shout "Steamer in sight." Stepped into my pants and went out on the battery and learn that the Oregon has indeed returned from San Francisco which recovers the drooping spirits of hundreds that hold her tickets in this place. Not able to learn until today of her news. Am rejoiced to hear that all reports hitherto are confirmed. She brings about one million dollars. We are again surprised to see another steamer come into port and learn that the Panama is here also and the city is perfectly enraptured at the prospect of a speedy departure to the golden regions. Have attended preaching again today at the American Hotel, was sorry to see but a thin attendance owing probably to the excitement in town. Have had the pleasure of looking at my dear wife's portrait this day. Have graced the walls of our room with it to the gratification of my company. I look upon it with much different feelings than when it hung alongside of my own at home. It affords me unspeakable pleasure.
May 7 1849. Arise this morn and went in battery in front of fort. After taking my beefsteak and coffee I go in search of the engineer of the Oregon with a view of getting a berth up to San Francisco but failed to find him. Have spent most of my time in reading and writing to V.
Brig Copiapo May 11th. This is the first day in which I have found leisure since I wrote last. The passengers have through a committee made quite an alteration in the calculations of the proprietors of the brig in the way of ridding ourselves of a portion of the passengers. Came on board Wednesday eve with the baggage but found the vessel so much crowded I determined at once for our com. to not go so we spent two days in effecting our project and came on board last night nearly tired out. Think the committee has done themselves some credit in taking so bold a stand and effecting their object. 25 persons left us last night; among the number are our Cincinnati friends. Today find ourselves detained by the carrying out [of] our object among the owners but we have been very comfortable. Yesterday was sadly disappointed in not [having] received a letter from home as I was told that the California mail was to be opened in turn. Found on inquiry that the N.O. bags were not opened, which accounts for not received a [letter] from home. Recd. one from Bro. Kendrick in which I find but little news and not any consolation. Do not hoist sail until tomorrow morn at which time we shall commence our journey onward again.
Have had a fine sing tonight; found an additional number for to assist us. Think we will have some pleasant sings before we separate again.
Was weighed yesterday; found I am light, only 118½ lbs.
Crew of Brig Copiapo Bound to San Francisco
List of Different Trades and Occupation of Passengers
Number of Passengers on Board Brig Copiapo
Bound to San Francisco, Cal.
Sat 12th. Weighed anchor last night about 11 o'clock and commence our voyage on the Pacific with a prospect of being tossed about from forty to sixty days. Weather calm this day; very few sick on board from motion of vessel. Have spent the day in reading. Commenced d'Aubigné's History of the Reformation at mast head. Decks very much crowded. I fear the consequences in this low latitude.
Sunday 13th. This day seems more like Sunday than any Sabbath I ever spent at sea. One reason is because a larger portion of our passengers are from the "land of steady habits" and are most of them reading their Bibles. Another reason is because we have had a sermon on board with a prayer and singing. Can now look forward to each coming Sabbath with pleasure. Sickness increases on board. Calm, pleasant weather.
Monday 14th. Find wind and tides in our favor. Am in hopes we may be prospered on our journey with favorable winds. Health good--am able to eat my allowance, for which I rejoice. Find my attention too much taken up with talk to enjoy my reading. Have another sing tonight in the cabin. All fond of music.
Tuesday 15th. Delightful weather. All seem to be cheerful on board. Very little sea sickness--but good deal of other sickness. Am rejoiced that I am free from the responsibility of any cases. In our company all well and consequently I am not engaged as nurse. Finished the first vol. of d'Aubigné this morn. Nothing taken place worthy of note on board. Am much pleased with our fare in the cabin; find our deck passengers much displeased with their fare and with some reason perhaps.
Wed. 16th. Have been within sight of land all day; in fact have scarcely been out of sight of land since we started. Find we are making fine headway, much better than anyone had a right to expect. Have spent this day in reading--weather still very pleasant. Passengers all in good spirits except the sick. One Dr. Smith of Portsmouth, N.H. fainted and fell down the cabin steps this afternoon--but is out again in a few minutes not badly hurt. Took a fine shower bath early this morn in the stern boat and satisfied that it is essential to good health. Have a good long talk with my friend Reamer again tonight.
Thursday 17th. Oh what delightful dreams I had the past night. Saw my good Vine. Was overjoyed to see her cheerful. Asked her some questions which she answered in the negative and it gave me joy. If I can hear the same answers in reality I will have joy in reality. Have spent the morning in thinking over my dreams. Am consequently in a happy mood although I am not disposed to talk with anyone. I find I am fond of thinking much more than conversing.
Went up into the round top soon after breakfast and remained until afternoon. Spent the time in reading d'Aubigné. Have felt rather gloomy this eve--thinking about home. Was told today that I had become very popular among our company and passengers on account of the course I took in relation to the ridding [of] the vessel of some of the passengers--was considerably flattered.
Friday 18th. Turned out this morn at 5 o'clock. Raining and bad weather. Poor fellows on deck have a hard time indeed.
Find we have great variety of dispositions on board from the high-minded honorable Yankee to the wooden nutmeg sort & from the noble chivalrous Southern to the low, groveling kind and in addition to these we have the different grades of Dutchmen, Frenchmen & Irish. Almost every nation and state is represented. I think I am less favorably impressed with the representatives of my native state than any others on board. I see nothing questionable about their characters, but they are unpardonably green. Have got acquainted with some Virginians who I think will be of much advantage to us at the mines as they have relatives already there to whom we can apply for advice. They seem much pleased with our acquaintance.
Sat. 19. Nothing occurred on board this day worth of note. Our sick are all getting better, but some of our passengers are getting impatient on account of adverse winds. Have been reading d'A. and regret very much that I cannot enjoy my reading more than I do in my present situation. Spent this eve very pleasantly in singing in the cabin. Cannot keep my thoughts from home tonight and the privileges of the social prayer meeting.
Brig Copiapo Lat. 7°59", Long. 84. Sunday May 20th. Two years ago this day I with my dear wife were admitted into the church visible and enjoyed for the first time communion with professed Christians. And well do I remember my feelings of unworthiness. I have longed to be at home this day to enjoy the same blessed privileges. We have again had services on board this day. All seemed gratified at this course and I hope it may be the means of doing much good. Friend Reamer leads in prayer and singing.
Monday May 21st. A pleasant calm day. We are making very slow progress on our journey, only 65 miles the last 24 hours ending at noon this day. A little difficulty occurred on board this day between the first mate and one of the stewards, some harsh language indeed which sounded strange to Southern ears. One of our party true to Southern chivalry advised a settlement by challenge after arriving on shore, which proposal I think did not raise him in the estimation of our Northern men or others of a true patriotic Christian spirit. I long to have the time come when such principles are discarded.
Had an argument this afternoon in relation to the reading of works of Eugène Sue & Paul de Kock by the ginny. I approved it in every sense and was grieved to find the majority (in number) against me. However my conscience tells me I am right, whether I convince others or not.
Tuesday May 22nd. Awake this morn and find a good breeze wafting us along on our way. All are joyous. Had a little conversation with Dea. H. [Haines], who I think to be a Christian; am convinced that a godly conversation is profitable to the soul. After breakfast in clearing out my berth found my old hat in such a fix that I conclude to throw it overboard after having the trouble of carrying it more than 2000 miles. It was decidedly a shocking bad hat. About 3 o'clock we have a squall with a breeze that sends us onward finely. Spent a few moments this eve in playing dominoes with Mrs. A. [Alexander]. Think she is rather fond of pleasure for a woman of her years. Was asked the question "What do you suppose your wife would say if she saw you now" playing at dominoes with a woman.
Found some men on board who are acquainted with my friends in Manchester.
Wed. 23rd. Arose this morn and had the infinite pleasure of sewing on a button for myself and one for friend Reamer. Find my needles badly rusted. After breakfast commenced on a job for Capt. Knowles making a parallel rule. Have labored under some disadvantages for want of tools, but my success has already flattered me. New moon tonight--saw it over right shoulder--indication of good luck--perhaps.
A beautiful sunset night. The attention of nearly everyone on board is drawn to it.
Thursday 24th. A beautiful morn. Have had a fine breeze all day. Finished my job today which caused some very flattering remarks. Have felt rather unwell this eve occasioned by working a little too hard yesterday I think. Health of the ship continues good and I begin to hope we may get to our journey's end without any serious sickness.
Find our Capt. to be one of the best men I ever sailed with both as a gentleman and a sailor. He always answers questions cheerfully and spares no pains to make his passengers comfortable, is a tall thin spare man not much unlike Capt. Badger of ship Hebrew except in using no profane language.
Brig Copiapo Lat. 9° Long 86°
Friday 25th. Health better this morn. Took a soda powder instead of coffee. Cannot think that it is healthy to take coffee twice in the morning but all our cabin take it with much relish. This morn commenced with light winds from a southerly direction but ends in calms. Spent the forenoon in reading d'A. This afternoon have read Shakespeare and played a few games at draughts and found my match this time.
Sat. May 26. A large meteor was seen last night after I turned in by some on deck; 'twas said to be a splendid sight. Mrs. Alexander requested me to give my wife a description of my sleeping place. She says tell Mrs. A. that if she wants to know our exact position just go to the cupboard and with the lower extremities inside and head out resting on a trunk and she has a perfect picture of our position. We have a specimen in Mrs. A. of the advantages of not being too modest. She suffers no inconvenience in going to bed or rising & lying an hour at a time exposed to view of all that pass, a fortunate disposition for one in her circumstances. Do not think my wife would enjoy similar privileges with much relish. I have reason every day to rejoice that I did not bring her.
Sat. eve. Have enjoyed good health this day; spent the time very pleasantly in reading and playing draughts. Held a conversation with Mr. Cheney (one of the owners of the vessel) about various things and at last turned the conversation upon religious subjects. I think him a man of good principles but did not ascertain whether he was a professer. Saw a steamer pass today which we supposed to be the Panama and I felt rather curious to have my letters which I know to be on board of her pass me and I not help myself (Lat. 10°10" Lon. 87.57 this day at 12).
Sun. May 27. A delightful morn and of course I think of home. Have had an attack of bowel complaint and feel quite unwell this morn. Have again had service on board but was not able to go on deck to enjoy it. This day very well observed by our passengers; many are reading their Bibles. Some are reading other religious books. I think I can see a great difference between a crowd made up of mostly Northern men and one of Southern men. I am satisfied that as a general thing they are more moral, more inclined to observe the Sabbath, less disposed to profanity but not so generous and open-hearted.
Brig Copiapo, Monday 28 Lat. 10°4", Lon. 89°42" at 12 o'clock. Have made a fine run the 24 hours ending at 12 in comparison with what we have done before. All seem cheerful at our prospects. Nothing occurred on board this day worthy of note if I except a little rough and tumble fight between two boys this eve and this was not exciting enough to draw my attention from my game at draughts in the cabin. Spent the forepart of the day in reading d'A.
Tuesday 29. Turn out this morn and go through my saltwater washing, which I find refreshing. Took Seidletz powder. Take coffee at ½ past 6. Breakfast at 8. This morn there is a gazette [a handwritten newspaper] issued announcing the facts of the combat last night. 'Twas something new if it was not interesting.
Wednesday 30th. Made a very good run yesterday; all have been cheerful this day with the prospect of getting to Cal. within the time set--40 days--though my time is never right, I think, viz. 60. A heavy thunder shower drove us all into the cabin this eve and a little difficulty occurs between Mrs. Alexander and Dr. B., but not of a serious nature. Protested against card playing in the cabin after 9 o'clock.
Thursday 31st May. The last day of the month and I have been nearly 3 months from my home and loved ones and not in the promised land yet. I can say I have met with disappointments due the traveler with propriety, for I expected when I left home that I would be in Cal. by the middle of Apr. [illegible] Calm weather again today. Had quite a wrangle on board between my friend Carpenter and a Northern man on the subject of slavery as usual. Finished the life of Monroe Edwards this morn.
June 1st 1849 on board brig Copiapo in Lat. 11° Long. 92°10". Have had a squally night. Some of our party undertook to sleep on deck last night but before morn they had to pick up their bed and walk, and with pretty tall strides too. Bro. Kendrick 20 years old today. It seems almost impossible that such length of time has elapsed since the bright summer morn he was ushered into the world.
Spent the day in reading principally, though did take a few games of gammon.
Sat. 2 of June. Had glorious dreams of home and my loved ones last night. The thought of being so far from them when I first awoke made me quite unhappy. Had quite a good run last night. 11 o'clock last night made 3 weeks since we weighed anchor and we are almost one fourth the distance. Not able to take an observation of the sun this day.
Sun. 3. Took a look at my Vine this morn. Capt. Knowles saw me and wanted to know how Mrs. A. was this morn. Had our services this day and all seemed to enjoy themselves very much. A pleasant day. Have finished the third vol. of d'A. this day. Have thought much of home today and conversed with several on the same subject. Find I am getting some credit as a physician; have been told that I am believed to be the best physician on board, and there are not a few of them [six physicians, according to the passenger list]. A stranger came to me today and says he wants to go home with me when I go. Find ourselves in Lat. 11°49" Lon. 95.37. 1100 miles from Panama, 800 from Mazatlan, 2300 from San Francisco.
Brig Copiapo Lat. at noon 12.08. Lon. 96.15.
Monday June 4th 1849. Regret to find I have a cold this morn, the first since I left home. I think however that nothing serious will come from it. Have spent the day very comfortably. Nothing occurred on board worthy of note. Steerage passengers make quite a fuss about their living today, but cannot blame us for having better fare than they, for we had not the privilege of choosing our berths in the cabin, for all the tickets were taken when we purchased.
Tuesday June 5th. Raining this morn. Caught over 150 gal. water on board. Have had quite an excitement on board in lottery tickets and raffling. One man, a friend of mine, won both prizes. Have spent a short time at draughts and found I can now beat the man I found too hard for me a few days since. Find my cold some better. Today have taken good care of it. Made some remarks on Dr. Smith's (a church member) throwing dice for the raffle today which he overheard and caused him to make an apology to me through my friend Carpenter.
At 12 Lat. 13°08" Long. 96°35"
Wed. Jun 6th. Election day in N.H. Have spent the day in reading d'Aubigné & Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, a book very interesting to me as the contents relate to the coast up which we are now sailing. Another raffle today on board and the successful competitor was another Virginian of the same party as the winner yesterday. Caused good excitement. All are more than ever discouraged at our prospects at getting ahead, having made only 60 miles the last 48 hours. I am really afraid the anemometer must be incorrect or something else worse.
Thurs. June 7 Lat. 13°42", Lon. 97°48". We have been abundantly blessed with breezes today. A wind commenced blowing from the N.E. in the morning which we termed the trades which we have been expecting to meet for several days past. A breeze of a different kind sprang up about noon occasioned by a knife being claimed by two persons. The result was they came together and 'twas then you could hear "the din of war" and clashing of tongues. One of the parties was the first mate, who the Capt. called aft and sent below with a sharp reprimand--for the conduct. All is settled quietly now.
Friday June 8th Long. 99°18" Lat. 13°48". This day com[menced] with a light squall and showers since which we have been becalmed--consequently all downhearted again, but after singing "Away with Melancholy" we felt much better. Have read none at all this day and must say that I have spent the day rather unprofitably, but as I have such company in the same business I comfort myself. Commenced this morn copying my journal to send to wife when we put in for water, which we expect to do in a few days if we do not strike the trade winds. Spent an hour very pleasantly in conversing with Dr. Fletcher from Va., a talented and highly educated gentleman and one who has a fund of knowledge obtained by traveling both in the U.S. and Europe.
Sat. 9th. Made only 36 miles the last 24 hours ending at noon. Calm nearly all the time. Have spent the day as usual doing nothing--go from the cabin on deck, lay on the rail awhile first one side then another, then go into the cabin again, then on deck again and so on.
Nothing occurred on board. Times dull and all hands impatient for winds. Find we are 175 miles from Acapulco directly south and about 1800 miles from our destined port. 'Tis sweet Sat. night again.
Sun. June 10 (Lat. 14°25" Lon. 100°15" at 12 o'clock). A beautiful Sabbath morn. Would like very much to be at home for a few hours. Again had services on board. This day Friend Reamer & Dr. Eastman lead in prayer. Esqr. C. [Clark] read a sermon written by Rev. Mr. Brownlee. At 1 o'clock the Capt. and owners held consultation and came to the conclusion that we had better make for a harbor and get water and so now we head north by W. with expectation of seeing land again soon as we find by our reckoning that we are only 150 miles from land. Calm and smooth sea this eve. While we were all lolling about deck the cry came "man overboard" and then a rush for the side to see who was victim and we see Jo D., one of [our] party, swimming about at his leisure perfectly in his element, but in a few moments the cry of shark was raised and then Jo concluded he was not in his proper element, without an argument.
June 11 1849. Had a flurry or squall in the cabin last night after all had retired Mr. Alexander imagined himself & wife insulted by Mr. C. and cursed & swore, threatened to shoot and burned in a perfect frenzy but after being delivered [an apology] called guiltily to bed again. After this a squall came off on deck between Mr. Cheney & Mr. Reamer, which might be termed a farce. Reamer woke him out of his sleeping place by acting the dog in voice and I thought it a dog sure enough.
June 11th [sic]. Did not sleep much from the excitement produced by the insult of Mr. C. and the growling of Reamer on deck. Have felt very well and am I think fleshing up evidently. Have made very slow progress this day for want of wind. Find at 12 o'clock that we are in Lat. 14°56" Long. 100°05"--and 113 miles distant from Acapulco, where I hope we may make land in the course of the day tomorrow. Lowered away the boat this afternoon to catch a turtle we passed but did not succeed. Caught two fish today, the first that has been caught this trip. Took a fine bath over the bows this night. Have just been disturbed in my writing by one of our cabin passengers making a most horrible noise--found him in an epileptic fit. I really thought him to be dying. Soon came out of it and is sleeping now.
June 12 [sic]. Had a miserable night's rest. Mr. Alexander had another fit in the night. We also had a heavy thunder storm accompanied by winds. Have a headwind this morn. Mrs. A. finished the ship flag this day, and there are arrangements being made to have it presented to the Capt. through Dr. Smith accompanied by a speech suited to the occasion--great times.
June 13th [sic]. A day of adventures. Commenced by a thunder storm in the morn after which we were cheered by the sight of land and then the sound of Sail ho! cheers us again. After dinner we back main topsail and wait to speak her. About 3 o'clock she passes and we hail her first. She is just from Acapulco and reports that we are only a few hours' sail off and that a pilot boat is waiting for us outside. We head for the harbor and make towards the land at the rate of 4 knots. Am in hopes to get inside before morning. Have taken a game at gammon with Mrs. A. June 14. Night has come again and we are still at sea. Have not been able to make the harbor. Had quite an excitement this morn on board in consequence of a theft among the passengers. All have been searched and nothing found. Felt rather queer to be compelled to show my pockets but should probably have felt worse if I had been the guilty party. Have had a pleasant sail down the coast all day, have seen some very fine mountain scenery among which we have seen some high mountains.
Friday 15. Arose this morn and find ourselves farther from shore than last evening. Head in again for land and sail up the coast until 2 o'clock and then make out a vessel coming out from shore and in about an hour see a pilot coming to us. This eve we find ourselves in Acapulco safe and sound, find the place a very cleanly and pleasant [one], the inhabitants very kind indeed. Find about 50 Americans here waiting for a chance to get up the coast. Came across from Vera Cruz. We learn that many vessels have been in this place and none of them made the trip in the time we have.
Sat. 16. Have spent this day in running about the city. Have seen nothing very strange, yet have been interested all the time in the scenery. Took a fine bath on the beach this eve. Mrs. Alexander went there today. In walking the streets took her husband's arm and caused much curiosity among the natives as that is a custom never before seen observed in this place. Find the firing last night occasioned by the arrival of one of the Mexican generals from the City of Mexico. Not ascertained his name yet.
Sunday 17. Five of us went ashore this morn and found a retired place and hold communion with our God. Have enjoyed ourselves very much. This afternoon Reamer and myself spend on the walls of a fortification in a shade reading our Bibles and speculating upon the future. Tonight one of the hands fell overboard from the vessel--cause drunkenness.
Monday 18th. Heard this morn that the mail closed today at 12 and I spent my time in writing to my dear wife. Was rather too much hurried to write to suit me. Spent the afternoon on shore. Paid only 4/- postage to Vera Cruz on three sheets while others of our company paid the same for only one sheet. Took chocolate on shore this eve with friend Reamer and enjoyed it very much.
Tuesday 19th. Took lodgings in the custom house last night in co. with several others, found it cool and pleasant. Had a fine hammock to sleep in. This morn one of my company in putting on his boots found a land crab and his foot came out in double quick time and the crab followed without ceremony--and now a shout from the crowd.
Took a few of my clothes and went in there to wash but found some Mexican women who proposed to do it so cheap I paid for having it done. Have returned to my meals on board today. Have found [illegible] hearty on beef eggs fish &c.
Acapulco, Mexico June 20, 1849. Again slept in the large open custom house last night with my friends and others. Was made sensible last night that I had influence over strangers which I had no right to expect in stopping their noise after sleeping hours. Took a fine bath this morn on the beach in front of the town. Spent the forenoon on board. After dinner went ashore with the ship's boat after wood and worked hard, got some wet--saw some fine shells, from which I selected a few for my little Sarah. Think if I were going the other way I would take a quantity. Had very good success in getting wood, got two boatloads for which we pay $10.50. The same could have been purchased at home for at least $2. Am certain if wife could have seen me come on board wet and sweating I should have got a sort of a lecture such as I have been accustomed to get for a few months past from similar causes.
Brig Copiapo June 21st. Am on the broad Pacific again. Weighed anchor and took pilot at 4 o'clock this eve and after giving three hearty cheers we put out to sea again in co. with the schooner San Juan. Pilot left us at ½ past 5 and we give him three more hearty cheers and we again feel that we are cut loose from land. Have taken 4 more passengers from this place, two of which have no money or friends in port. We now expect to be buffeted about with winds 40 more days before we arrive at the "land of promise."
June 22nd. Have experienced the hardest blow I have seen for years. Some of our passengers are somewhat frightened and more seasick. Were put under close reefed topsails for a few hours. Thought some of home and my loved ones. Had a very unpleasant dream of home last night. It has been on my mind all day and I will just mention it. I was at home once more and met my good wife, but how changed. I looked on her as the wife of another, and I have not the power or inclination to describe my feelings. I wept and felt that my happiness in this world was forever destroyed and when I learned from her own lips that her affections were changed towards me, I became desperate and in the act of hurling the destroyer of my happiness to destruction I awoke and even then I felt unhappy--though found it a dream. God grant I may never experience such feelings in reality or even in my dreams again.
Brig Copiapo June 23rd. Saturday night has come again and oh if I could be in circumstances similar to what I have enjoyed. When I have repeated this sentence in days that are past I would rejoice with what pleasure. Have I when writing under similar circumstances turned my eyes upon loved ones; then was I happy? But how little did I know what comforts I was enjoying & now I am alone (in one sense) on the broad Pacific. But my thoughts are far away and full well do I know that my best friend on earth, my own Vine, is thinking of me and wondering how I am enjoying myself? Would that she could know that I am so well and in circumstances of so much comfort. Nothing has occurred on board today worth recording. Have made very slow headway but have been free from squalls indoors & out.
My friend Carpenter commences a journal at Acapulco and I now have company at the table in writing. Have a patient to prescribe for this eve in the cabin. Am really thought to be a doctor against my wishes most emphatically.
Brig Copiapo Sunday June 24, 1849. Welcome delightful full moon, thou day of sacred rest. My favorite hymn when at home, for there how true it was. Would that I could say the same of myself here. Have spent the morn in with my thoughts at home imagining the different movements in my own room such as learning my little Sarah or rather hearing the repetition of her Sabbath school lesson--reading the Puritan or perchance looking [at] the last letter & journal extracts of a loved absent husband and lastly but not least reading the Bible. All of these I imagine may have been witnessed in my own little room at Mother A['s] house this morn before church. Have been requested to take part in the exercises on board this day; declined for certain reasons. Deacon H. [Haines] & Dr. E. [Eastman] led in prayer and Mr. C. [Cheney] read a very good sermon, an address to young men written by the request of the wife of Harlan Page--author unknown--a good thing. Have been acting as nurse to Mr. Cheney, who is very sick. He seems very grateful for my attention. Tonight have a patient, one of our co. Have been reading the life of J. B. Taylor, a book which I took much pleasure in reading two years ago about this very time while on the old ship Hebrew. Heat very oppressive on board today--very little wind--all very quiet during the day. This eve one of our co., Caldwell, has had a few hard words with other passengers but nothing serious occurred.
Brig Copiapo June 25, 1849. Find ourselves this day at noon in Lon. 103°01" & Lat. 17°24" Have made 80 miles the last 24 hours and this eve have a prospect of making equally as much the next 24 hours. All have been quiet on board and nothing occurred to note down of, I except the killing of one of our beef taken on board at Acapulco. And tomorrow we may expect roast beef without the two dollars per day. Have spent this eve in listening to the Suttons playing on their violins & to my friends Carpenter & Reamer talking over Greene County pleasures. Have promised that if I can return to go over and pay them a visit with my family and if our lives are spared I will fulfill it.
June 26. Have not taken observation [of the sun] today. Made a poor run last eve but this day have had a spanking breeze but rather ahead. Shall make a good day's work. Have had a good job done for me this day by way of mending pants by Mrs. A. She is very kind, still should much rather have had my wife. When done I would have sit by her side and enjoyed myself. Had a long conversation with Capt. K. He seemed very sociable with me and I think his partiality is noticed with a jealous eye by the passengers. Very rough tonight.
Copiapo 27 1849. Have labored against a headwind all this day with very little effect; find ourselves within a few miles of the place we were yesterday at noon. Passengers quiet today, no excitement except by way of losing hats overboard. 9 hats have been lost within the last 24 hours. Friend Carpenter made a proposition for me to go back with him in the winter and return again in the spring which I think I shall accept. The more I think of home the more I am determined to return. Though this time spent in getting there will interfere very much with my calculations and may possibly prevent me altogether.
Thursday 28th. This day at noon find ourselves in Lat. 17°38" Long. 103°59". Just 45 miles from the coast. This morn took my pencil and sketched the coast about 25 miles distant. Have spent this day in reading Jack Hinton (Our Mess), rather uncomfortable reading some would say. Tonight our passengers are having a great spree on deck dancing to the Suttons' fiddles. 'Tis "Hurrah No. 3"!!! Which signifies that that mess has outdone the others. I am not disposed to enjoy that music or even to witness the dancing. Two or three of us have the cabin to ourselves where I spend in writing this and in thinking of home. Have had another talk of home today and am almost determined to go home anyhow.
Friday 29. Must say that things looked dubious last night for a few moments. Had a glorious squall; most of our passengers were frightened. Some came out and wanted the masts cut away, others were hauling out their life preservers. And the Capt.'s orders came thick and fast. But all came out right at last. I did not leave my berth. Have had a glorious run this day; find we are 125 miles from Cape Corrientes and 405 from Cape St. Lucas [Cabo San Lucas] and 300 from our last starting place.
Sat. 30th. The last day of the week and the last day of the month and nearly 4 mo. has passed since I left my home and loved ones, and I hope before another month passes I hope to know [more] of my future prospects than I now do. Have made the best run the last 24 hours than since we left home--passed Cape Corrientes about 4 o'clock and shaped our course for Cape St. Lucas 280 miles distance. All are cheerful with our prospects and some are sanguine enough to expect to arrive at our place of destination in 10 days, but I am willing to call it 20 days now. Have had the honor of this [day] being chosen one of a com. of 5 to make arrangements for celebrating the coming 4th July. Have enjoyed a hearty laugh this afternoon at a mock trial before the jury for petty larceny, i.e., the stealing [of] a cake from the galley. Two of our com. on jury and one on the bench as judge, and if laughing will fatten I think all will thicken on the ribs this day. Tonight we are opposite the place where my friend Dr. B. wished me to go in search of the gold dust spoken of in our public journals [i.e., newspapers] last winter, but if my will was ever so good I, of course, could not stop. Have had a very pleasant time this day along the coast. Have had a fine view of the coast from morn till night and it has been truly varied scenery and intensely interesting. Have made arrangements today by request to have our services tomorrow changed or rather the conductor of the exercises displaced and I hope a more worthy one chosen in his place.
Sun. July 1st 1849. Was aroused this morn with the news that a steamer was passing our bow; turned out and go on deck with speed and find our brig making for her in order to speak her, but she very haughtily kept her course and did not notice us, which caused a general growl among our passengers. Imagine her to be the Panama on her return trip from San Francisco, the same steamer that passed us on the 26 of May on her upward trip. About 10 o'clock we were all shocked with a cry that a man is overboard, rushed on deck and saw our first mate holding to a rope alongside and soon to our great relief we see him come on deck. The few seconds we were in this suspense proved to us the perfect excitability of a crowd of passengers at sea. It was with great difficulty our Capt. could make his orders heard at all. Services on board today. All seemed very attentive. Dea. H. [Haines] officiated.
Brig Copiapo July 2nd 1849. Our observations at noon makes our position in Lon. 109°29" Lat. 21°21" About 85 miles to the southward of Cape St. Lucas. Have made a still better day's run up to this day at 12 than we have yet since we have left Panama and the effect upon our passengers is very visible. Committee of arrangements made our selection for the orator of the day for the coming 4th. Have selected the same Dr. Mayo G. Smith, who seems very much flattered at the honor, conferred Mr. [Thomas] Tennant reader of Declaration. Have done 3 jobs today, which certainly is worthy of recording, viz. greased my boots, fixed and cleaned my berth (vs. cupboard) and sunned my blankets. And here I think I intimate for the first time that I am furnishing my own bedding and have cabin fever--a "singular idea." Last night my friend Mr. Hubbard was taken with bleeding at the stomach, was up with him a portion of the night. Have finished Jack Hinton the Guardsman today--find it very interesting. Have spent this evening's twilight in laying on the starboard rail thinking of home and my loved ones--was entirely undisturbed, the balance of the passengers are taken up with music of the Suttons.
Tuesday 3rd. Our observations this day finds us in Lat. 22°01" Lon. 110°25" and within 57 miles of being directly under the sun. Yes, between this and tomorrow or about tomorrow noon we all shall be without a shadow and pass under the sun and what is of still greater note we shall probably see the promised land, being only 43 miles to the southern of Cape St. Lucas. Have had a pleasant day, rather too much so for our speed. Had a watch crystal put in my watch today by a watch repairer on board [Mr. Tennant]. I forgot to mention the occasion of its being broken. Friend R. accidentally put his trunk on it and he came to me with the news that it was mashed to pieces and ruined and manifested as much sorrow as if it has been my greatest keepsake in the world. And when I told him whose it was and other circumstances attending he seemed almost disconsolate. I did not examine it for several days, but when I did I found it uninjured aside from the crystal, and the news gave him great pleasure. Spent an hour or two tonight with my friend Carpenter exchanging adventures with each other that have not been spoken of before. During our conversation spoke [of] my arrival at my old home on my last visit, and who will say it was not a strange coincidence to find that it happened just two years ago to the very hour in which I was then talking. Little did I think that I should be here in two years from that time.
Have been reading some of Charles Lamb's writings today, and have played some games at gammon with friend Cheney, one of the owners of the brig. A little difficulty occurred between two members of our co. this eve but hope it is settled now as we have the name of being the most gentlemanly company on board. I hope nothing may occur to change the opinion thus formed.
Brig Copiapo July 4th 1849 Long. 118°10 Lat. 23°33. The second 4th of July I have spent on the ocean. Must say I hope it may be the last time not but what I think the day has been celebrated here in as suitable [a] manner as possible. Had our colors run up to the trysail in the morning accompanied by three cheers from the passengers. At 11 o'clock reading of the Declaration, after which came the oration by the Dr. and to the surprise of all it proved to be quite a rich thing. Have had a good dinner all round today and passengers seem well satisfied. This eve there has been [a] great time dancing on board.
Quite cool tonight; find my old blue jacket very comfortable. Almost forgot to mention that we had the pleasure of seeing old California this morn. Made a pencil sketch of the mountains as they appeared at the distance of sixty miles. Have written three toasts for the 4th but as a little disturbance occurred about the time and the consequence was the reading of the toast were deferred. Have thought a good [deal] of the nature of the news I may receive from home on my arrival at San Francisco. I have my fears that they may be of an unpleasant character--but I will not let my anticipation spoil my happiness or rather peace of mind. Do not feel in very good spirits tonight, not from want of health, however.
Thursday July 5. Just 4 months ago this very night my feelings were worked up to a painful pitch and I hope in mercy I may never experience the same feeling again from the same cause. How many more months must elapse before I can meet my loved ones--God only knows. Made very slow headway today. Did not get the lat. today; clouds over the sun. Made a sketch of three very high mountains at the distance of 40 miles or upwards--spent a portion of this afternoon reading the Book of Job in the stern boat by myself. I find although I am sadly disappointed in getting to California in the time set I can but be cheerful from the fact that I can see so plain that I am gaining flesh and full well do I know that this news will gladden the heart of my good Vine.
Friday July 6. All are "down at the mouth" today on account of calm weather. Have made but little headway for two days. Am entirely out of sorts but can't be help[ed]. Have spent my time between reading and playing gammon this day. Have finished the Book of Job this eve in the stern boat. I think I am nearer out of material for writing tonight than at any time since I have started. Really think my wife will excuse me if I skip this for her copy. Find we are just 1030 miles from our destined port this day.
Sat. night July 7th. Find ourselves in Lat. 23.41 Long. 112.07 this day. Have spent the day in reading Lieut. Revere['s] description of Cal.--and in copying my journal for my wife's benefit.
Made poor headway this 24 hours, and some are despairing of ever getting to California at this speed. Last night was aroused with a bustle on deck. Capt. Knowles was called out of the cabin in haste and all sail ordered down in double quick time, but after a little time found that it all was brought about by a school of porpoises coming from N.W.; they made the water foam. All sail put on again and Capt. K. crawled back, rather down, into his berth.
Sun July 8th. Have passed this day off between sleeping, reading and singing &c. Services very interesting. Dea. H. spoke a few moments very feelingly, many shed tears, and all listened with deep attention. Everything is quiet on board; not an incident occurred if I except the lowering of the boat to get a book dropped overboard by Dr. Smith. Today at noon find ourselves in Lat. 23.44 L. 112.20. San Francisco bearing W.N.W. distance 980 miles.
Have been reading besides the Bible the Life of Henry Martyn. Would that I could enjoy religion and be as devoted and useful as he was, judging from his writings. Made only about 18 miles the last 24 hours ending at noon.
Monday July 9, 1849. Really do not know what to write this night. Have spent my time as usual in reading and singing. Have spent time with Dr. Watson's practice &c. Our speed about the same as usual. Took a sketch of Cape Lazaro [Cabo San Lázaro]. At about 25 miles distance bearing W.N.W. Friend Reamer has mended my blue jacket up nicely today and I have promised to return the kindness when I get settled down in Cal. and have him for a boarder that my good wife will keep his buttons sewed on and shirts repaired, which case may be brought about yet. "Quien sabe."
Tuesday July 10th 1849. Find ourselves in Lat. 23.54 Long. 113.33. Small run since yesterday. Have done nothing today, not even to read, and shall have this day to think of as a day spent at nothing. Tonight wind freshens and the prospect is that we may have a rough night. A very cold day; all have their big coats on and are willing to crawl into their bunks.
Wednesday July 11. Find ourselves this day at noon in Lat. 23.53. Long. 135.57. Have outdone our best day's sail by about 5 miles the [last] 24 hours as regards distance. Quite rough today but none are sick except Reamer--he is always sick as soon as we get a little extra motion. Find it getting quite fashionable to keep journals; the 3rd one in my co. is at it now.
Thursday July 12th 1849. This day at 12 we find ourselves in Lat. 24.44 Long. 118°40, and also find that we have made a better day's run than we have before since we have been on our route, 160 miles. This cheers us all. Cool again today; friend R is on deck with his cloak round him and others are draped in the same manner which is really strange in this lat. and season. Have forgotten to mention that more than two thirds of our passengers are married men and I am consequently in better spirits than I should otherwise be. Have taken some games at draughts with the Capt. today and as usual beat him badly. Have called on a sick man in the steerage this eve and am really sorry today that I fear he is not long for this world.
July 13th Lat. 25.33 Long. 119°14". Have had light winds this 24 hours, consequently a poor day's work. Find that as the distance to run lessens my anxiety increases in relation to what our chances may be there. Have been reading Shakespeare's Richard Third this day. This eve greatly amused at friend Reamer's smoking cigar by way of joke. It was (like the fable of the frog) death to him and sport to us. Had some great discussions on deck this day.
Sat. July 14th. Cold morning, arose at 6, went on deck & bathed my chest, down in the cabin and wiped [i.e., dried off] before Mrs. A "turned out." Finished Rich. 3rd. Just before breakfast had quite a row about the galley. One man swore he could whip any man on board, and when our messmate Jo heard it, off came his coat and informed the gent he was ready to try him and backed him amidst the cheers of the crowd. Am really afraid that we shall have serious times before we get to port. I find that a riot is talked of openly by some portion of the passengers, and if such a thing does occur I fear there will be some things besides fists used. Lat. this day 25.24 Long. 121.21. Headwinds the past 3 days. Would like to get a pass to go [to] wife's house tonight and back early Monday morn.
Sunday 15th. Have had the blues today badly, occasioned partly by unpleasant dreams which I had last night and more by my having discovered that singing produces inflammation of the tonsils and I cannot bear the thought that I am to be deprived of that pleasure. Have had a very feeling meeting this day conducted by our good Deacon. Was again invited to take part and again refused. Friend R. thought I might consider myself qualified inasmuch as I was an old married man and a father too. A new idea indeed. Find ourselves this day at noon in Lat. 25°40 Long. 123°37" and still headwinds.
Monday July 16th. I remarked last night in Mrs. Alexander's presence that I would be pleased to hear Capt. order the yards to be squared about midnight, then having a fair wind, I should have such a sweet sleep. Mrs. A. proposed if she heard him she would knock on my berth to let me know it and then added "I might square my yards," which took me all aback and some others in the cabin to lay low. Weather and winds the same as three days previous; all are anxiously looking for a change. Have spent the day in doing nothing or next to nothing; read a little in this, little in that and my mind half the time far away from anything on this craft. Find ourselves in Lat. 25.51 Long. 125.44" course W.N.W.
Tuesday 17th 1849. "There is no place like home." The Suttons' fiddles have just talked this too plain, cause me to repent both from my inmost soul and [to] fear. Nothing occurred this day except headwinds and the consequent discontent following. Weather moderated little, and signs of a storm. Have been reading Shakespeare today until I have got the headache. Am told 40 times a day that I am getting fat. And I think so too. Lat. 26.40" Long. 127.05 this day at 12 o'clock. Just 700 miles from destined port.
Wednesday July 18. Our sick man a little better today. I think we are highly favored in point of health; he is only man on board sick at present. Have nothing to note down tonight except an excitement produced on board by the cry of a dead body in sight. Some declared they could see his eyes, others his hair &c. Our Capt. to convince them of their error he sent out the boat and had it brought alongside which proved to be a kind of seaweed of a large growth. Calm and headwinds again today here on all but 14 miles Lat. today and 13 longitude.
Thurs. 19th. A dull day in every sense of the word. Headwinds. This has become almost a stereotyped phrase with me. Have spent the days in reading mostly in Headley's Washington & His Marshal. Had pleasant dreams of home last night. Am in hope to hear from them shortly. Not in the imaginary way of the one recd. this morn on board which purported to have been written on the 5th inst. mailed in San Francisco with all sorts of news, among which was a notice of a man that went into the diggings one month previously poor and was then worth $30000 and had gone to trading &c., all of which serves for a token to help pass[age] of time. I would rejoice to know that that would be my lot. Lat. this day at noon 27.19 Long. 126.38. Have been running on westward tack.
Friday July 20. This day ends the time I set for our trip from Panama to San Francisco. I thought really that 70 days would be sufficient for the trip and am now satisfied with sailing vessels on this ocean & think will not try it again. Have made no headway these 24 hours, and some are getting uneasy about provisions & water. Spent my time in reading J. S. H. Marshall and in speculating on the future. Passengers have quite a time telling dreams and some are really more amusing than profiting.
Sat. July 21st. Sat. has come again and I am still on the broad Pacific. Was really in hopes on the last Sat. night that I would be in our destined port by this time but alas our hopes are in vain. Now I really hope we may be in port by the next Sat. night. Wind little more favorable this eve and hope it may continue. Again I wish for a pass to my wife's house tonight. 'Tis now 8 o'clock; had just been thinking what my wife may be doing and have just thought that she may probably be enjoying balmy sleep as it must be past 10 o'clock with her, being nearly 40 degrees to the eastward of us. Have had got no observation for altitudes today and consequently have no longitudes. Lat. 27°43". So ends this day, as the mate says.
Brig Copiapo Sunday July 22nd 1849.
Have spent a portion of this day in reading Hannah More's Practical Piety, a portion in attending services conducted by our good Deacon. Winds dead ahead and blowing quite fresh. A bird discovered flying round our vessel with some message tied around his neck which we imagine to be tidings from some vessel in distress--we were not able to get hold of it. I learn by our Capt. that this bird (the "booby") is frequently made use of in carrying tidings from one vessel to another, and I guess them to [be] fit for nothing else, for the name describes the character of the bird most emphatically, for when they do happen to get foothold on the vessel they will suffer themselves to be caught before they will fly. Have seen a dozen caught since leaving port. Lat. 28°231" Long. 127.45.
Mon. 23. Wind quite fresh and heading us out into the broad Pacific. Com. allowancing water to passengers, getting to expect tight times, but so long as we get 2 qts. to the man I shall not suffer for water. Provisions also getting scarce. Lat. 29.45 Long. 128°28". San Francisco bearing N.N.E. dis. 580 miles today at noon.
Tues. 24. Winds increased to nearly a gale this morn and still dead ahead. Tacked ship at 3 o'clock P.M. took in topgallant sails and head E.N.E. by the wind. Some few passengers crying "New York" [i.e., vomiting] over the rail this morn and poor Reamer is one of the number and says he will stay in California 10 years before he will return by sea.
Wed. 25. Dog days begin today, but none would guess so by the weather. Am uncomfortable on deck with my heavy "old blue" on. Ther. stands at 60. Wind still blowing dead ahead. Had a rough time last night, had hard work to sleep. Friend Ca. [Carpenter] exhibits his character in rather an unfavorable light this morn. I would not have his disposition for all Cal. I am treated by him with respect and hope to be so long as I am connected with him. This afternoon winds increase so much Capt. orders reefs in topsails--and have a prospect of bad night's run.
Thurs. July 26. Was disappointed in our anticipations last night. Weather moderated, swells subsided so much that had reefs shook out and topgallant sails set during night and this morn wind hauls round to the eastern and we tack ship and stand to the northern & westward with light winds.
Friday July 27. Have got a small prospect of a good wind but has not quite reached us yet. Have not been able to see the sun today to get lat. Commenced allowancing out provisions for all on board today. Steerage passengers adopted some measures which did not suit us and we have let them know it to their discomfiture.
Sat. 26th [sic]. Many of the steerage passengers have come forward and apologized for having been instrumental in adopting measures contrary to our wishes and expressed a desire [to] undo all they have done. We washed our hands of all the whole matter and told them to go ahead. Had a severe headache last eve, occasioned no doubt by being excited yesterday. Wind allows us to steer N.E. by north this morn and the sun shines pleasantly. Find ourselves in Lat. 31°10" Long. 123°13" 400 miles from San Francisco. I spent my time this forenoon making belaying pins and gain some praise as a good whittler. Breeze still fresh tonight and more favorable. Had another unpleasant dream about my Vine last night and have felt unpleasant all day, for I saw her acting as wife to another and myself not recognized. I again awoke myself in the struggle with the man for my rights. I shall not stay away from home long if I am to be haunted this way. Sat. night has come again and find on reference that I made a mess as to my whereabouts this night and here I am still in the broad Pacific--but about 100 miles nearer my port of destination than a week ago--poor encouragements. Have finished copying my journal for wife this day up to the present time.
Brig Copiapo Pacific Ocean Lat. 33.37 Monday July 30th. Had a "glorious shake" last night, the first one for a long time. Had a hard night. Oh how I thought of home--and my good wife. I was nursed well, everyone in the cabin seemed to vie with each other to see which could do the most for me. 'Tis really gratifying to my feelings. Think now if quin[ine] will stop chills I shall not have another at present. Was not able to attend services on deck yesterday. Came in sight of Santa Rosa Island [more likely Santa Catalina Island] this morn, tacked ship at 3 o'clock P.M. and stand more to the westward.
Tuesday 31st. Tacked ship again this morn at 3 o'clock and stand north. Make the island San Miguel about 10. Find we have made very little headway, been trying to make western all day. If we were about one hundred miles to the westward we could run in in 36 hours. But as it is I have no idea to get there this week though we are only 260 miles distant today at noon. Dreamed of being in San Francisco last night and find 6 letters all from my good Vine.
Slept with my wife's portrait in my berth last night; showed it to Dr. Eastman. Have the first charge on my mind this eve. 'Tis to call the Capt. at ¼ before 4 o'clock, he having gone to sleep.
Lat. 33.45 Point Conception bearing about north Wednesday 1st Aug. 1849. Another month has sped away and we are still on the broad Pacific with very little prospect of getting off soon. Have not enjoyed myself very well today. My health rather out of tune. My cold has affected my head and my nose and lips are covered with cold or fever blisters and feel very unpleasant indeed. Friend Reamer rather hurt my feelings by seeming to doubt a statement I made in presence of others. Was made satisfactory by his apology. Find many passengers besides our cabin sympathize with me in my distress--from cold. About 11 o'clock this day heard the cry of Sail ho! when in a few moments [it] proved to be a large high white rock directly ahead. On referring to chart we find it not noticed by anyone; we call it the Knowles Rock. It may probably have arisen from volcanic agency.
Thurs. Aug. 2nd 1849. This morn passengers make a move to get more bread than their allowance calls for and Capt. K. tells them if they had it they have got to get it over his body--and all better part of us sustain him. Cold getting better fast. Have made rather a poor run today. Saw one of stewards mesmerized partially this afternoon and am satisfied there is something very curious about the science.
Felt very cold damp weather this eve. Point Conception beams directly east of us this eve about 30 miles distant. Lat. at noon 34°3" Long. 128°55"
Friday Aug. 3rd 1849. Have been submitting myself to Dr. S. Fletcher's will but after a fair trial he gives it up in despair. Would like very much to be put into mesmeric sleep--and think I will try it again. Have had a very pleasant day's sail along the coast. Saw wild cattle at the base of the range of mountains bordering on the coast which might with propriety be called rugged mt. Have seen immense flocks of ducks all around us during the day. Find we have made 61 m.--a good day's run against a headwind. Sometimes we had a view of more than 60 miles of the coast which embraced Pt. Conception, Pt. Arguello, Pt. Sal and Mt. del Muchero [?]. Lat. this day at noon 35°04". Pt. Sal bearing S.S.E.
Sat. Aug. 4th. Mercury ranges down to 55° and I get out my hunter's coat and overcoat and am nothing too warm. Have made a poor night's run. Passed the coast today where Fremont party killed 12 grizzly bears in one thicket. Have enjoyed the rich scenes on the coast this day. Passed a vessel this afternoon standing S.S.E. Having a fair wind. Seeing her run off before the wind made us to envy her her good luck. Lat. this day 35°21". Sat. night has come again and still we are on the ocean. Again I think of home and loved ones; cannot realize that they are having warm weather when it is so cold. Mrs. Alex. has just remarked that Mr. A.'s throat is well enough to have a sing tonight.
Sun. Aug. 5th. Just 5 months ago this night left home and all my comforts with the expectation of my being nearly ready to start back home again by this time. How frail are anticipations of man and how happy is that man that can feel resigned [to] the will of God under all circumstances. Has seemed very little like the Sabbath with me. All are anxious to get in and as our distance decreases our anxieties increase. This week is bound to tell the story for we shall be compelled to put in somewhere for pro. [provisions] & water. And consequently [this week] is big with events of great moment to us; we shall certainly know something of what may be our prospect for the future before another Sabbath shall roll around. Our good Deacon held services on deck this day for the last time as we all anticipate and gave us some good advice. Have had a view of the coast all day nearly--at one time saw the heights of Pt. Pinos near Monterey. Have made 29 miles lat. this 24 hours Lat. 35.50 about 5 miles from shore.
Monday Aug. 6th. Another committee appointed to wait on the Captain with a request to be taken into Monterey, stating for a reason that the majority are in a state of starvation and must have more provisions. Capt. does not seem disposed to comply with their request. Find we have but little more than one hundred miles to make and I am for going through. Have proposed to let some one of those so hungry take my seat at the table in the cabin this day. Evening our company conclude to go into Monterey; consequently shall see what news are in store for us tomorrow. Had more fine mountain scenery this eve just before sunset. Dr. F., who has rambled among the Alps of Switz., says that the view seen this eve far exceeds anything he has ever witnessed in Europe. The circumstances under which we saw it added to its beauty. We were standing in from sea with a dark cloud of mist or fog overshadowing us, making the daylight almost dark as night. Having been deprived of the bright life-giving rays of the sun for days, we suddenly broke from under the dark veil in sight of mountains judged by some to be 6000 feet high, the sides of which seemed to be of solid gold shaded with grayish tint beautifully dotted with green-foliaged pine from the base to the very summit. I could scarcely express my feelings, never having witnessed anything begging to compare with it. No artist could possibly do justice to the scene, for were he to sketch it faithfully, it would look unnatural to all except those who were eyewitness of the original.
Tuesday Aug. 7. Make the land this morn and judged by the landmarks that we are some 15 or 20 miles to the southward of Monterey & headwind still--not much prospect of getting into port today. All passengers have lived on the provisions of some provident passengers. Lat. at noon 36°16"--with a good offing--which will enable us to reduce our lat. considerably. Have had no views of land this day. Weather cold, foggy & uncomfortable. All are on tiptoe tonight anticipating the privilege of putting feet on terra firma tomorrow in Monterey.
Monterey, Cal. Aug. 8th 1849. Came to anchor in this place about one o'clock this day after waiting an hour or so for an officer. We are visited and learn the news--do not however place full reliance upon what I hear. Am forced to believe that there is gold here in abundance--and have faith to believe that I am destined to have a part of it. And that on the whole our prospects are more flattering than I expected to find. Have had a tramp on shore in co. with friend Carpenter to learn full particulars. Was weighed today and find myself heavier than ever before in my life, 138 lbs., having gained 20 lbs. since leaving Panama--88 days. The city of Monterey is pleasantly situated on the bay of the same name and is at present nearly deserted by the male portion of the inhabitants. Do not judge that there is more than 200 persons aside from our passengers in the whole place. Saw Mr. T. O. Larkin this eve with a fine Yankee carriage
Thursday Aug. 9th 1849. Have taken a fine hunt today out beyond the environs of Monterey, company consisting of 5 good friends. Shot 4 hares, ½ doz. squirrels and 1 quail. Had a fine barbecue for dinner and finally got very tired and returned at 5 o'clock. The additional news learned today have given me the greatest encouragement. I am decided that I have made a good move in coming here and now I regret that I have not my family with me, and I have come to the conclusion that if I find the prospect as good at San Francisco as I have any reason to expect I shall certainly have my family here with me before 12 months have passed away. Have seen the lasso thrown this [day] and seen the dexterity with which the Mexicans manage the horse made fast to the wild cow.
Friday 10th. Had another fine hunt today and barbecue for dinner. Came in the least tired of the crowd. Visited the fort this eve and learned from some men there more news in relation to the mines. I now think I will not write the full state of facts home for fear of hazarding my reputation. I am perfectly astonished at the facts learned today in relation to prices offered for laborers at this place and San Francisco. $450 an offer for 20 days work on shore in this place. One of our company made $10 for yesterday's work, another today made $2 for about 25 minutes work moving baggage. I have been told I can get $50 per day attending to my trade running [a] mill--which I very much doubt as yet. Have been more vexed today than before for a long time. Our good Capt. has been beaten on shore by one of our steerage passengers, an infamous scoundrel, and I have also seen him abused by his second mate, for which offense had the Mr. taken off his name and a new mate appointed in his place and he goes into the forecastle the remainder of the voyage. Cabin passengers all in favor of Capt.'s cause and with one voice say he is a gentleman.
Aug. 11th. Sat. night has come again and I am again at sea. Left Monterey this morn at 11 o'clock and had a few miles' run with a fair wind. But after making about 20 miles the wind died away again and we were now doing nothing again. We fondly hoped at one time to have been in San Francisco by morning, but [it] is uncertain when we may get there now but I am resigned to my fate whatever it may be. Have had a sing tonight in the cabin; think of home tonight. The prayer meeting and the Christian friends who meet there I hope I, with other Christian brethren who may be absent from home, may be remembered in their prayers this night
Brig Copiapo Aug. 13th [sic] 1849. A bright beautiful Sabbath morning. Would that I could enjoy the privileges of our good church at home. I hope next Sabbath will find me in port enjoying the privilege of hearing sermon preached. Have spent the day very unprofitably, too much talk of digging gold to enjoy my Bible. Have read some in Pilgrim's Progress, some in Doddridge's Rise & Progress. My good Deacon addressed us for the last time on deck this day. Today at 12 find we have made one third of the distance from M to San. Am in hopes to be in by Tuesday next.
Monday Aug. 13th. Cold and foggy this morn. Some of passengers are expecting to get in sight of San F. this day but I am not so sanguine. My anxieties are great to see my letters. Tonight our prospect is very unfavorable for getting into port. Weather so foggy can scarcely see twice the length of the vessel. Lat. this day at noon 37°11"--34 miles to the southward of our port. Two days more sail at least with present winds. Eutaw boys have great argument tonight in the cabin relative to the merits & demerits of two berths they left behind them. Told them I thought they were making themselves ridiculous--to say nothing about the unprofitableness of arguing such a question. Think I convinced one of the combatants of the fact.
San Francisco, California
Aug. 14th. My birthday--and an eventful day with me. Arrived in my long-looked-for port, dropped anchor just ½ past 3 o'clock this afternoon. Had a fine run in. Had the pleasure of going on shore this eve. Am perfectly astonished at the amount of business going on in town. Every house, room and tent is full of goods and even the streets are blockaded with them. One room rents as high as $300 per month and $250 for room to erect a tent for [a] month. Had the pleasure of rec'ing 2 letters from my good Vine but was somewhat disappointed in not getting later dates. They bore dates of last of March and April. Was [a] little hurt at some portion of the news and think I will have redress someday.
Aug. 15th. Have been ashore with my letters and called on [illegible] Simmons, find him a gentleman and ready to render me assistance. Have been offered $11 per day for 12 months to take charge of a steam mill and all my company with me. Have not decided to accept yet, shall decide day after tomorrow. Am anxious to have my co. accept, for in case we do I shall send for my wife immediately, and some others. Have seen some men digging gold in the strs. of the city today. One man gets at the rate of 1 ounce per day. Reports from the mines are almost incredible. Am in hopes I shall keep my senses.
San Francisco, Cal. Aug. 16. Have made arrangements to visit the mill spoken of tomorrow in order to decide whether we will have anything to do with it or not. Two of our co. have engaged at the carpenter trade in town this day at $12 for 10 hours. Two others have been washing dirt taken from one of the streets in the city to get gold. Got a fine specimen, which they intend to send home in a letter. Had a glorious dream of home last night. Saw my good Vine and was happy. Have heard many more gold stories today but shall repeat only what I see myself. Transactions of these 4 days in small pocket journal & [illegible].
Aug. 21st. Have been looking for Lieut. [James] McCormick all day in order to make some arrangements about running his mill at Sausalito but have failed to see him. Have the promise of Mr. [Charles T.] Botts to have the arrangement made in the morning. Part of the co. concluded to go into the mines in the morning and leave me and friend Reamer to get business either here or at Sausalito. Companions seemed to sympathize with me last night while I was suffering with the blues. Ad. says he is sorry Mr. A. [Abrams] has got such news from home. Have heard the company express themselves in flattering terms towards me today. John says the comp. are proud of such a man. I find I have more influence than any other one in the company. I have more responsibility than I wish for.
Aug. 22. Have done lots of business this day. Have been with Mr. Botts [and] Capt. McCormick and have received their propositions relative to their mill and shall decide whether we accept of it or not tomorrow or next day. Have met Maj. Garnett, the bearer of dispatches from Washington, and had some conversation with him. Find he recollects Bro. Geo. [Phelps] and spoke very highly of his standing at West Point. Have been compelled to take all the responsibility in making contract this day. Tomorrow I shall finish it off on some of the balance less [omission].
23. Mr. Botts meets me this morn and informs me that it will be impossible to make any contract until Mr. McC. returns, and I have got tired waiting and consequently shall go to the mines and do the best we can. Have more encouraging accounts today from them.
24th. This morn am purchasing articles for our expedition. Pay $4 for pans which could be purchased for 50 cts. in the States and other things accordingly. Provisions are reasonable. Saw coffee sold for 4⅛ cts. today, loaf sugar 18 cts. and brown do. ["ditto"] is offered for 8 cts. Have written home to my good wife today and could not help to shed tears when writing.
En Route to the Mines
Sat. Aug. 25th. Store our trunks this morn at Burgoyne & Cos. and pack our valises and C-bags [carpet bags], put pro. [provisions] on board the Mary and at 10 o'clock up anchor and away for the mines, and [I] must say I have never started on an expedition with such little hopes of success as I do the present one. Have a pleasant day's sail across the bay. Tonight is Sat. night again and my thoughts would no doubt be with my home if they were not otherwise engaged, for I have been studying what I am to do with myself this night. Think my chances for a sleep are dubious. No berths on board and scarcely any place for a blanket.
Sun. morn 26. Find I can adapt myself to most any circumstances. Had a tolerable night's rest "coiled up" in the vessel's hold. Have met 2 steamboats, the first one ever started here, and one of them on the first trip to San Francisco. Got out of water today and had to hail a boat in passing for a drink while we lay aground.
Passed Benicia about noon. Saw 38 houses and should think a pleasant [place] for a residence. Passed N.Y. before sunset and enter the San Joaquin River and came in a flock of mosquitoes that surpassed anything ever seen in Ala. Our chances this night are intolerably bad. In addition to no accommodations we have pleasing prospects of being chawed by mosquitoes all night. My turn to get supper tonight. Got along very well, had our bacon and bread all told, got into fresh water in time for supper. Some of the boys are quite "blue" tonight.
Schooner Mary Capt. Freeman, Monday morn Aug. 27th 1849. My anticipation in relation to sleep was fully realized last night. Poor Reamer can scarcely see out of his eyes from mosquitoes' bites. It was decidedly the worst night's rest I have ever experienced while in good health. The fact is we are just now beginning to see the elephant, having only had sight of his tail before. The run through this day has very much the appearance of the run above Mobile. Could almost wish to exchange places today for that river. Out of bread this morn and have got to try our hand at making bread from flour, the first time since we have been on the route. This eve when within 10 miles of Stockton wind fails us and some ½ dozen of us take a tow line on shore and tow along for half hour or so and have a jolly time, singing cheerily as we go.
Stockton in 1849.
Stockton, Tuesday morn Aug. 28. Turned in below on the baggage and tried to sleep but "oh, the mosquitoes." Tried until 10 o'clock and gave it up. About this time our craft hauled alongside of the bank at this place and we took our blankets and went out and found a pile of planks and there roosted for the bal. of the night. This morn took an early walk about town and first thing we knew we run across the Cincinnati co. tent. Saw Mrs. Angier and family and was pleased to see her looking so well. Have spent the day in making arrangements to get to the mines. Shall start in the morn with our baggage amounting to 1000 pounds for which we shall have to pay $150 to get it about 75 miles, a pretty tall sum. Took a walk this eve out in the outskirts of the city and run across the gallows. Saw the grave of two poor fellows who were hung but a few days since for stealing up in the diggings. Find an Alexandria, N.H. man today by the name of Simonds, a hard case I should think. Did not choose to make his acquaintance. This night have the pleasure of sleeping under the roof of a friendly merchant, upon the floor of the store room with no doors or window shutters in the house. Sent a letter to San F. for Mr. Corliss when he arrives; also have written one and dropped one in the office for Capt. Loring (a companion across the Isthmus).
This afternoon a man was hung in Stockton. His name was Mickey, alias Bill Lyon, and he belonged to the fraternity of "Hounds" who have so long prowled about and disturbed the peace. His offence was burglary and theft, and his trial was by jury, his sentence death by hanging. He was executed with the unanimous approval of the people of Stockton.1849-8-29
Aug. 29. Turned out this morn at daylight and had breakfast cooked and then waited until ½ past 10 before our men came for baggage. While waiting saw some three or four Spaniards on horses catching wild bullocks on opposite side of the slough. 'Twas amusing to see with what accuracy they would throw and catch by the head and then throw them. Left Stockton at ½ past 10 with a train of some 10 baggage mules carrying upwards of 3000 lbs., ⅓ of which is ours. At night find ourselves 21 miles and some of the boys nearly broken down. Find I have stood this day's trip better than any other one in the crowd. When within 4 miles myself and friend Ad. push forward to prepare supper. While building fire there came an Irishman along and wanted to tell me his miseries but as he was deuced I refused to listen to him and he was very much hurt, but I could not help him, was too tired and hungry. After supper washed my feet and enjoyed a short season at prayer to my heavenly Father under the branches of a widespread oak [a] short distance from campfires. Tonight company sleep on the ground under a tree with our blankets for a cover.
On the Road to the Gold Fields
Aug. 30th. Have made 16 miles this day and made our feet sore enough; all are willing to stop at that. Weather hot and dusty. Came about 12 miles and no water, only what we carry. Tent at which we stop we find a man sick nigh unto death. Dr. B. tried to make him a little more comfortable but have no hope of curing him. We learn he is a Frenchman and that his com. have left him to his fate. One of our com. too sick to walk any longer. Must hire a horse for him tomorrow. We meet some Alabamians this eve who have been at the mines and give us very little encouragement, but we are bound to go and see for ourselves--though I have no doubt that we shall wish ourselves back again before we get back. Saw some grizzly bear tracks this morn in the road soon after leaving our camp. Judge him to have been large by his track.
Friday 31st. Have made 24 miles this day and that is not all for we have made our feet so sore that to see the boys move reminds me forcibly of old Shaker Ladd of my native town and I positively think that if my own wife was to meet me in the streets crippled and dirty as I am she would not recognize [me]. One of our company J.J.D. [J. J. Ducette] too sick to keep up and takes a mule for this day. Tonight is quite unwell and I fear he will not be able to walk tomorrow.
Tonight Bro. Reamer and myself cook supper and after supper walk a little distance of camp and return thanks to our Maker and while on my knees I was disturbed by two of our co. disputing at the campfire. Return and find nothing serious between them though am sorry to see these disputings. Tonight we spread our blankets under another oak with the full moon's rays full upon us.
Sat. Sept.1st. Tonight is Sat. night again and finds us at our journey's end, our company's tent on the Stanislaus River about 250 miles from San Francisco. This is my favorite term for finishing a journey, and if ever I was glad to finish a journey, 'tis now, for we have been six months within 5 days on our journey and we are as near out of money as we can well be--and our feet oh dear I cannot describe them. J.J.D. no better and I have been fretting about him all day. I fear for him. I find Dr. B. places too much reliance upon my judgment in prescribing. Think of home tonight and had a sweet dream of my good Vine last night.
The vicinity of Eutaw Camp in 1853. Note Angier's Store and Alabama Gulch, center.Stanislaus Diggins
From Between the Rivers by O. Henry Mace.
Sunday Sept. 2nd. A beautiful morning and I must say that our situation is one of peculiar beauty. On the banks of the above-named river with mountains on either side which shuts the sun from our view except in midday. The stream is clear as crystal and I am told abounds with salmon--about the size of Smith River which separates our native town from Bristol and reminds me much of that stream. Have spent the day as follows: early in the morn (and during the night) waited upon the sick, after which go down into the stream and wash off some of the dirt. Change clothes and then retire and find considerable pleasure in reading some tracts which I begged in San F. and brought along with me--and in thinking of home. A while before dinner a proposition was made before the co. to hear reading of the Bible and prayer every Sabbath. Was rejoiced to hear the proposition. We spend an hour very pleasurably in these exercises.
Am excused from cooking duties this day. Have ample time to compare my present condition to what it was one year ago. Will only say that in point of health I am much better off--but my purse, oh dear. Am six thousand miles from home--cannot tell what another month may bring forth. Read over wife's letters and take a touch of the blues and wish myself at home and in easy circumstances. Oh, how fervently I pray that all the members of my beloved family may be spared to meet me again on the shore of time.
Sept. 3rd 1849. Our sick very little better this morn. Got ready for digging about 10 o'clock. Made pick handles &c. Seven of us got $17.50 worth of gold by dinner with pans for washing. Secretary and treas. chosen this morn. Have the honor of being chosen for the former--J.D.C. for the latter. Have been the most fortunate of the lot thus far in finding the gold and the diggings. Had a refreshing time at our private devotions. J.C.C. joined us and was pleased to hear him calling upon his Maker for protection and success. This afternoon have increased our pile to about $25 and think we have done well considering all things. 6 of our men only work. Am very tired and hungry when I come into camp.
The two Jos quite sick tonight. Am really afraid that J.J.D. will not recover.
Tuesday Sept. 4th. Spend the forenoon in "prospecting" as they term it. Did not find any place that we prefer to the hole I first tried.
Have made less than we did yesterday. Have not worked so much. Our sick little better this morn but not out of danger yet. Was too tired to pay them any attention last night and find myself in the same fix--my health good and I positively think there never was a healthier place than this. Can see no cause for sickness at all.
Wed. 5th. Turned out this morn and find myself stiff enough. Our sick about the same. Am really afraid that J.J.D. will not get well. Reamer finished a gold washer this day and we find we can do good business with [it]. Have washed some, about an ounce, on this day. Rather small business and I think I shall stay here only a few days longer unless we succeed better than this. Have had the blues for two days very bad.
Eutaw Camp Stanislaus Thursday Sept. 6th 1849. Have had another hard day's work and with little pay. Have got about 2 oz. this day. Our sick men are little better today. Am in hopes they will get about soon. Have thought much of home today and really think if I had money enough I should start for home by the next steamer.
Friday 7. Worked two hours this forenoon and consequently have got sick. Not able to visit the venerable old oak for secret devotion with my friends R. & C.
Sat. Sept. 8th. Have not been able to do any duty today and have had ample time to think of home and if ever there was a homesick child it is me. And I am not the only one in the company that is in the same fix. 5 out of co. not able to do duty today from sickness.
Sunday 9. Have had services in our camp today and rejoiced to find so many of our company disposed to observe the Sabbath. My health much better today.
Monday 10th. Have not worked much today, boys still trying to find a good hole and I fear the chances are poor. Am really afraid we are going to make a total failure at the mines. Wish myself anywhere but here. Wish I had stuck to my first resolution to hold myself free from all company concerns on my arrival in San Francisco.
Tuesday 11th. Cooked breakfast for the co. this morn and wished I could have a little of my wife's experience in making batter cakes. Our diet is confined to batter cakes and fat pork. Have nothing else and can get nothing in the diggings without paying more than we are able to pay. Flour and bread 4/- per pound.
Wed. 12th. Have had a little success in getting some few particles of gold but have not seen them. Averaged over expenses so far. Our sick men improving and am rejoiced at it, was really afraid that both of our Jos would die.
Thursday 13th. Started this morn in co. with Dr. B. prospecting up the Indian Gulch. Had a long tramp and did not find a particle. Last eve had a visit from one of the Suttons (Copiapo passengers) and on the return to Eutaw Diggings and return with him to see a man [Daniel Murphy] who wishes to have some mills built. Had a fine tramp and saw some fine mountain scenery and some hard hills to climb. Met Dr. Fletcher and Billy S. and stay in camp with them this night. Find the Dr. perfectly disgusted with the mines and thinks of returning soon to his old Va. home.
Frid. 14th. Failed to find the man I went to see. Took breakfast with my friends. Took a view of the diggings, and at 8 started for home or rather my camp alone without arms of any kind. Met Indians and Mexicans and was not molested. Got back at 10 and find I can walk without much fatigue. Have spent this afternoon in digging a hole to find gold and have not succeeded. Am quite tired out. All have met with but little success today.
Sat. 15th. Commenced in my hole again this morn with Charles and worked hard till noon and water and big rocks have foiled me in my attempts. This afternoon have been washing my clothes and must say that I felt awkward and don't know but my wife would have laughed at me if she had seen me if her sympathy had not been wrought upon by my forlorn appearance. Washed two shirts, 2 pr. drawers, 1 pr. socks, 2 hdks. [handkerchiefs] and must say that I did not do myself much credit as a washer. Tonight one of our co. comes in with a beef's liver and we anticipate a fine breakfast in the morning.
Sunday 16th. Welcome delightful morn thou day of sacred rest! Spend the morn in reading and communing with my Maker. At 10 the hour for our services to commence. This is my day for conducting the exercises. All are very attentive and seem to enjoy them. All are talking of home today and I am thinking most of us wish ourselves at home. Our prospect is truly dark and I now think that I shall be on my way to Stockton before another Sabbath comes round. Walked down the river a short distance to see a sick man this forenoon in co. with Dr. B. and friend Reamer. Am astonished at the ease with which I can look upon a man near his end. The poor man's end is evidently not far off and I hope he may be prepared for the change which awaits him.
Monday morn 17th. This morn started with Charles for our hole on the bar [and] found about 30 barrels of water in it and after working hard all day find we have got only two dollars for our labor, and this determines my gold digging for this season. Think wife would scold me if she was to see me tonight for I am mud from head to foot and this shows I have worked some. Our sick are better and will I think soon be out again.
Tuesday 18. Com. [Commence] again this morn for one half day more digging but have not been in the water. Have got $12 among 4 of us, and this afternoon we have dissolved our co. and I and friend R. shall start for Stockton tomorrow morn. Find on making our division that I have only $23 for my share and I am satisfied to give up my interest in the mine for the present. This eve our co. are all writing to home c/o San Francisco by us. Co. are sorry to have us leave them but are willing for us to do so.
Have had a prayer meeting 4 of us under our big oak and all were much affected.
Abrams and Reamer Leave for Stockton
Camp 23 miles from Stockton--under an oak.
Wed. morn 19. Last night Dr. B. was taken with some palpitation of the heart. Was up with him nearly all night and bled him this morn and relieved him very much; was sorry to leave him so unwell. Left the camp at 7 o'clock and some of the boys shed tears when they bid us farewell. All were more or less affected. Have broke down R. this day and am almost tired out myself. Tonight finds us under an oak tree 25 miles from our starting place. Have sold my gun today for 2 oz. of gold dust. Tonight as usual we retire and return our thanks for God's protecting care over us before going to sleep.
Thurs. 20th. This morn we hire a mule each of us to ride the balance of the way. Have met with some old Missourians to trail with who seem to be much pleased with our company. Have had good deal of sport with our mules today. Have enjoyed myself very much. Tonight finds us within 20 miles of Stockton and in good health and spirits, and another oak tree for a shelter. Have met many on their way to the diggings this day. Poor souls, they have yet the elephant to see, I think.
Friday 21. Am in Stockton just at sunset and have the pleasure of taking supper with Mrs. Angier. Was astonished to find her and her children enjoying such good health; really wish my own Vine was here if she could only enjoy such health. Have had more sport today with our mules. R. has had another mule called "the Col." for his riding animal and his legs nearly touched the ground and we have made some comical efforts at racing to the great amusement of our Missouri friends. Mrs. A. laughs at us heartily and says she thinks my own wife would not know me, I am so dirty. Take a wash in the San Joaquin River before supper and have got off the thickest of the dirt. Isbell Ranch 9 miles from Stockton.
Sat 22nd. Have had a very busy day. Learned this morn that the Mr. [Daniel] Murphy that wanted to have a mill built was at this place and after dinner started out with friend R. to find him--got misdirected and went 4 miles out of our way and at one time had a fine prospect of laying out [i.e., sleeping outside] at one time but after traveling about 15 miles to get 9 [miles] we find our stopping place but no Mr. Murphy--go without supper tonight. Friend Reamer nearly broke down--find Dr. Isbell a gentleman.
Sunday 23rd. We have spent this [day] at the ranch; have had fine fare such as corn bread, the first I have seen since I left the States, milk & butter--a great rarity. Have enjoyed ourselves today by ourselves. In the branches of a stately oak at 10 we commenced our regular Sabbath services. Bro. R. much affected and seemed to enjoy this meeting. Have been told that Mr. Murphy will be here this day and so we concluded to stop another night. Was awakened this morn by the chickens crowing, which brought fond recollections to mind.
Monday Sept. 24. This night finds me in Stockton. Mr. M. returned after we had retired last night, and this morn upon conversing with him find he gives me some encouragement in the way of business. Agreed to meet me in Stockton after noon with his brother and decide but have been disappointed, but as they are in town I think I may see them tomorrow and I hope and pray I may effect my object with him. Recd. a letter from the boys sent by Mr. M., who was at the camp the day after I left.
Stockton Tuesday 25 Sept. 1849. Have spent the forenoon of this day in making arrangements with the Murphys. Have encouragement sufficient to warrant me in going down to Pueblo to see the location. Have partially made them promise to put up a steam mill and so I go home for machinery in the Oct. steamer, a thing most devoutly to be wished. Have spent the afternoon in writing to my good Vine. Did not finish until bedtime.
Wednesday 26. Commenced work for Mr. Weber as carpenter. Have $8 per day and board--rather low wages for this place but if I could get that in the States I should be satisfied. Tonight Reamer goes with Mrs. Angier to a sing nearby while I stoke up a fire, heat water and do my week's washing. I have lately come to the conclusion that all women ought not to be blamed for "scolding on washing day" and that there ought to be a provision made to this effect: that all women shall have clear right bestowed in them to scold or thrash their better halfs during each and every washing day &c.
Charles Weber built this house on the Stockton waterfront.
It is the oldest surviving house in San Joaquin County.
Thursday 27th. Nothing transpired this day worthy of note. Have [been] busy all day ceiling up rooms and begin to think I am [a] pretty good workman. Felt rather bad this day to find I had neglected to send the boys letters by the mail--was so busy about my work forgot it. Fortunately got them on board a vessel bound down this evening.
Friday 28. Busy again at my new occupation. Do not find anything to write about. Tonight 5 full coastal passenger vessels came in from San F., passengers all bound for the mines. All have got the "elephant" to see yet. Have heard from part of [the] company this day; report says they are making from one and a half to two ounces per day.
Saturday 29th. Was fortunate enough to get some hay to lay between us and the floor last night and had a fair night's rest in the rooms where we are at work. Our sleeping and eating is all done on the ground. Our cook's table just outside of the house under a tree with a dutch boy for a cook. Enjoy my meals very much, though the fare is nothing but beef & bread and coffee. Have rather a rough set to board with but do not have much to say to them. This morn another large bark came up with passengers. It looks odd to see large vessels come sailing along, can see the sails a long distance off and look like they were coming over land. The river is narrow and vessels of this largest class can make fast alongside of the bank. There are at the present time some 30 or 40 vessels lying up here, part of which are secured and storing baggage with a house on deck filled with goods and groceries to trade with the miners. Tonight is Sat. night again and I spend [it] at Mrs. Angier's tent. Have seen and conversed with Capt. Tobin, the famous correspondent of the N.O. Delta, who has just returned from the mines sick, who is now about making out a budget of letters for the same old Delta.
Sunday Sept. 30. Another month has passed away and I am still enjoying the blessing of good health. Have roved about a good part of the time prospecting and in coming from the vessel and have still earned $55 cash--better than I could have done at home but not a fourth of what I can do here if I work. Am more thankful for my good health than the money earned, have gained about two pounds this week and worked hard. Had the privilege of attending preaching this afternoon & heard a good sermon by Mr. Sprague from N.Y. Preached from this text "We love him because he first loved us." His sermon was extempore and interspersed with many good illustrations. Was not in a very good fix to go to church. Had on an old pair of slippers full of holes, worn ever since I left Panama, and my old Panama hat brought from home with the rim nearly torn off and my old coarse engine room shirt washed in the dark and not ironed at that, my overcoat and hot enough to melt Negroes and old blue pants with two holes in them and one button torn off in front and my face with nearly two months' growth with "hair" but I had the consolation then of being better dressed than many others present. Have spent this eve at a prayer meeting held in a tent said to be the first prayer meeting held in the city.
Monday Oct. 1st 1849. Spent the forenoon talking with Capt. Weber and D. L. Angier. Am rejoiced to hear that their co. is going to dissolve and he will be at leisure to do as he pleases, and thus my prospect for returning increases. This afternoon have been to work again at my new trade and must say I like it well. This eve after work friend R. and myself took our clothes and went to Mrs. A.'s camp and washed full 2 hours. Boiled my shirt the first time doing my washing. On our return I pick up from among the rubbish an old Panama hat and think of washing it sometime and see if it is not better than my old one.
Tuesday 2. Turned out before my boss and went and washed my hat and find I have found quite a prize after seeing how much better it looked than my old one. I give my old one a kick and put on the prize. Have spent this day at carpentering; have made $8 clear of all expenses--and worked hard and feel hearty. I now consider myself a whole man & able to do a man's work. Tonight have taken a walk over to Angier's tent and find he thinks he will be ready to go to see the prospect for a mill at Pueblo by day after tomorrow. I hope and pray we may succeed in finding a good location and also succeed in persuading Murphy to build a steam mill instead of a water mill in which [case] I would be on my way to my loved ones by the next steamer.
Stockton Wed. 3rd Oct. 1849. Finish ceiling house this morn before breakfast after which commence putting in pump and calculate I will make a good job. Election of Alcalde in town today and tonight citizens have bonfires and speeches and champagne flows like water. Mr. Douglas, the candidate elected, is carried about on men's shoulders. I am disgusted with the proceedings and am no nearer than our room across the river but am able to see and hear all. Tonight Mr. A. tells me he cannot go with me tomorrow which I regret to hear.
Thursday 4th. Concluded to work today and start for Murphy's Ranch tonight by way of San. J. D.L. engages my passage and fixes up my provision bag and tonight I settle with Weber get my $60 for 7½ days' work and go on board the launch Lalla Rook at ½ past 7 o'clock with my blankets and provisions. Find her decks crowded with passengers and scarcely room for me to stand. After blundering round a few minutes I find a place about 2 by 3 ft. with a privilege of running my legs over the starboard rail and concluded to lodge here.
Frid. Oct. 5. Spent about half the past night in spleen and the other half in laughing at my misery and of those around me. Finally concluded it is best to be a philosopher and so make the best of it but really spent the night miserably with all the philosophy I could muster.
This morn was wondering who I could find of the 34 passengers on board that I had ever seen or heard of before and in an hour or so found to my great joy a fellow from my native town in N.H., a son of good old Dr. Carr of Sanbornton [illegible]. Have spent the day very agreeably in talking of those we knew in times past. This afternoon we took yawl and went on an exploring expedition as the launch was lying up for ebb tide. We first struck a trail which resembled a grizzly's track which we, to show our bravery, followed up with a revolver in hand until we concluded that discretion is the better part of valor and so call a halt. I however concluded to reconnoiter and after whooping and whistling to arouse [his] bearship at a distance I finally came suddenly upon the campfires of some traveler who had recently spent a night here in preference to the crowded decks of a launch as we suppose. Here we sit and laugh at our fears and speculate upon the prospect of California at large until a family of mosquitoes commence making our acquaintance and we signify that we decline an introduction by a hasty retreat, but we scarce get on board before the whole clan arrives, whether from the wellness with which we bested them or some other cause, attack us and not only surrounded but pitched into us head foremost and now my pen fails to do justice to the scene on board. A party on board from In[diana] try swearing for a defense and if I ever heard swearing by rules it is done by them tonight. After a few hours' hard fighting every man surrenders and is leveled with the decks and naught breaks the stillness of the [illegible] scene but the sighs of the wounded and the songs of the bloodthirsty creatures.
I am doubly wounded. My enemies actual mosquitoes and enemies to other [illegible], and who would not surrender under such circumstances.
Sat. Oct 6. On board launch Lalla Rook in the River San Joaquin [illegible]. Have made but little progress this day for want of winds and consequently have the unpleasant prospect of being on board of a vessel another Sabbath day. Find my new friend Carr the only man on board that I can associate with and enjoy myself. Three [There are?] other intelligent fellows on board but they are too profane for me. Sat. night comes again and what a contrast in my prospect for rest and enjoyment to one year ago this night. Then I was with my Vine and had friend Cyrus [Colby] with me at my old home. Now I am floating on the tide waters of California and have no prospect for rest or enjoyment.
Sunday Oct.7th. I have committed a sin this morn which I am ashamed to note down, one that I little expected to be guilty of committing in this or any other land. Turned out and went on shore with a man to shoot an elk without reflecting that it was the holy Sabbath day. I have felt conscience-stricken all this blessed day and pray that God may forgive me. Have spent this day in no enjoyment of any kind--in fact have never since my professing religion spent the day
Yosemite Valley. Photo by Chet Ogan
Oct. 18th. Returned to S.F. after visit to [James D.] Savage property on Merced River. Prospects none too good for a mill. Savage is a blasphemous fellow who has five squaws for wives, for which he takes his authority from the Scriptures. While at Savage's Reamer and I saw grizzly bear tracks and went out to hunt him down, getting lost in the mountains and not returning until the following evening. Found our way to camp over an Indian trail that led past a valley enclosed by stupendous cliffs rising perhaps 3000 feet from their base and which gave us cause for wonder. Not far off a waterfall dropped from a cliff below three jagged peaks into the valley while farther beyond a rounded mountain stood, the valley side of which looked as though it had been sliced with a knife as one would slice a loaf of bread and which Reamer and I called the Rock of Ages.
James D. Savage. E. Clampus Vitus Monument, Murphy, California
San Francisco Oct. 19. Have been obliged to keep in my room pretty much all this day on account of sore feet from my walk from Pueblo. Have spent the day in writing to my wife and to Mr. Strobridge. Tomorrow shall make some efforts for business.
Sat. Oct. 20th. Have been flaying about this day looking for a situation. Have met several and have some propositions to make and receive on Monday next. One man wants me to go to Oregon and put up an engine. Another to go below Pueblo and do the same. Another wants me to take an interest in the mill at Murphy's Ranch, but that I cannot do for want of funds. Another wants me to go over to the north side of the bay and put in machinery for a mill, and I have got to make a proposition on Monday. But I have not much desire for success with any of them for that will certain[ly] delay my return home. Have made a proposition to Dr. Eastman to return to the States in Dec. next and got friends to assist us in getting a vessel to come out with lumber and other things. He is in favor of it most decidedly and we may make it work.
San Francisco, Oct. 21st. A beautiful Sabbath morn. Have had the privilege of hearing two good sermons at the Presbyterian church and enjoyed myself very well. Have had the blues badly this evening; have thought much of home and my loved ones.
Monday, Oct. 22. Have been running about the city all day and have effected nothing. Have conversed with as many as four different men who wish to build steam mills and all seem to want my services but none of them will make proposals. I have made application to the Postmaster for the post office at Pueblo but know he has not the disposal of the office. Have made but one man an offer--that is to go to Oregon to build a mill and run it for $300 per month. Have heard that Lieut. McCormick has been trying to find me in town today but have not been able to meet him.
Tuesday 23. Have seen two men hauled up to the yard arm of a man of war vessel and then hung by the neck till they were dead. The first sight I ever witnessed of the kind. 3 men were sentenced to be hung but were whipped instead and are to be sent home in irons. All of this for having attempted to throw a midshipman overboard and then deserting. On Friday, another man is to be hung in town for having committed willful murder. Am glad to see the law enforced rigidly; 'tis only way for safety. Have not been able to effect any bargain today with any of my men and do not care to. I [would] much rather get wages for a month or two until I can get ready to return for my family. Have been writing to Sister Rose & Sarah and Bro. Bela this afternoon. The more I think of him the more anxious I seem to get. I am satisfied that I shall not be easy or contented until I get back or get them here.
The naval general court martial convened on board the U.S. sloop of war Warren at anchor in this harbor on the 8th inst. for the trial of a boat's crew, consisting of five seamen belonging to the U.S. surveying schr. Ewing, after a patient and thorough examination of the charges have found the accused, John Black, Jonathan Biddy, William Hale, Peter Black and Henry Commerford, guilty of mutiny, and deserting with a boat belonging to the United States, from which they had previously thrown overboard Passed Midshipman William Gibson. The court have adjudged the five persons above named to suffer death--and we learn that the sentences will be carried into execution between the hours of ten and two o'clock on Monday the 22nd inst. by hanging at the yardarms of the several ships of the Pacific Squadron now in port.--Pacific News, 20th.1849-10-24
Wednesday 24th. Commenced work at house carpentering in this place this day at noon. Shall work until mail comes in I think. Wrote a letter to Reamer this day and sent to Stockton. Have spent this eve in making an estimate of the cost of putting up saw mill in Oregon for Mr. Coffin.
Thursday 25. Have been passing myself off for a carpenter again today and have succeeded very well I believe. Am getting very anxious about my letters. Really hope the steamers will come in this night and there are thousands [of] hearts in this place that would respond to that wish. Dreamed of seeing my Vine last night and saw her in perfect picture of health. Would that I could be assured that is in reality the case.
Friday 26th. Tonight change my boarding place and take my trunk from the store room of Burgoyne & Co. and find it comfortable to have the privilege of a trunk to go to after having been deprived of that privilege for two months. Took a good look of my Vine (on canvas) this night. No steamer yet. Have been at work again today and find I enjoy myself much better at work than when idle.
Sat. 27th. Was made glad again today with the sight of a steamer coming into the harbor and was again made sad with the report of no mail but [it] brings word that the mail will be here in a few days. Got my pay for 3½ days work, $42. Twelve dollars per day, tolerable good pay. Think if I could get that at home I would not be long going there.
Portland is situated on the Willamette, in Washington County, about twelve miles below the Falls. It is a place of general and active trade. Vessels usually discharge their cargoes at this point.1850-2-9
Portland Oregon Territory Feby. 9th 1850. Since writing last in this diary I have changed my location & my business. My prospects are also changed both regards health and prosperity. I am now where I have a cheering prospect of soon having funds to remit to my family and also to commence some sort of business on my own "hook." I also have a still more cheering prospect of being entirely free of all symptoms of the lung disease--am all the time gaining flesh though I am not sparing in bodily exercise. Have seen in numberless ways the protecting care of the Heavenly Father manifested toward me--at one time saved from being engulfed by the angry billows of the Pacific when nothing short of the Almighty Arm could save seemingly--at another from being swamped by the rapid tides off Chinook Pt. while stirring the angry waves in the frail canoe of the savage--again by the preservation of my health while exposed to cold storms in navigating up the Columbia River and in countless dangers since seen and endured.
Am now situated where I can see plainly that an influence can be exerted by me--either for the better or worse--and may God help me to use all the means in my possession for the exertion of that influence in favor of virtue, morality & religion. 'Tis my desire to be useful to my fellow beings in every feasible way that I can & I hope this dream may not prompt me to overstep the boundary of duty or the capability of the mind.
Have spent my time for the last two months in hard manual labor and have enjoyed the best of health but have a gnawing anxiety on my mind which has oft given me the blues and destroyed the happiness of many an hour which would otherwise been of peace. The changes which six long months may make in my little broken circle at home causes me much anxiety--and want of the knowledge of such events is heart-sickening. More than seven months has rolled now by since I have heard tidings of my loved ones in my native land. Could I have known that I should have been deprived of this knowledge before I left them, I should never have left them. I am already done relying upon the mails for advice [i.e., news]. I have been to the offices in San F. and here together eight times fully expecting to get letters and have as many times been deceived. Have now placed my dependence upon Mr. Lownsdale, who will I hope bring me a package from San F. in a few more days which will either relieve me or substantiate my fears. Tonight is Sat. night and I am for the first time in eleven months sitting by what I may call my own table in my own house--and could say that I am happy most emphatically if my Vine and little ones were by my side. I now propose to continue my journal of the events of each day--my passing thoughts and impression of matters and things and then copy for my good Vine's benefit.
Have spent this day in various duties--first attempted to work on the mill frame, but the rain prevented. Next went to work in our little cabin making a table for our (Mr. Reed's & myself) particular benefit. Finished in time for dinner. Next called on Mrs. Lyman to get instructions relative to the size of a cupboard I had long ago promised to make for her, since which time I had been busily engaged on said cupboard. Tonight I have not the privilege to meet in the social prayer meeting that I had in days gone by, but hope ere long this meeting may be instituted here and that much good may grow out of it. Tonight is Mr. Reed's night for prayer at our own friendly altar--executed since the first night we occupied the house.
Sunday Feby. 10th. Welcome delightful morn! The first pleasant day for a long time. Have attended church both fore and afternoon. Mr. Lyman preached this afternoon and gave us a good sermon. Was called upon by the Methodist minister this forenoon to raise tune. Got along very well. I expect after this to be called upon regularly. Have spent this eve at Mr. Coffin's by invitation. Met several of my scholars and had a good sing. Have thought much of home and loved ones this day.
Monday, Feby. 11th. A pleasant day for business. Have got along well, worked hard and been able to do so. This eve have been looking over the lesson for tomorrow night in singing. Another vessel arrived this eve making some 10 or twelve since I have been here. Am in hopes that in the course of this week I may receive some letters from my good Vine.
Tuesday 12th. Have succeeded very well on the frame this day. Am putting up the second story--nothing new taken place. Have spent this eve in the singing school and have had a hard lesson and made but little progress in beating time. More than usual in, some as spectators--contrary to rules. Think there was forty to fifty in all. Find myself tired enough tonight.
Wednesday 13th. Another prosperous day's work. Hope to have the frame together by tomorrow night and all pieced together handsomely. Thought tonight how comfortable it would be to go in from work, find my supper all prepared with my good wife to preside at the table instead of having all to do myself after so hard a day's work. 'Tis almost too much to anticipate. It seems I should be too happy.
Sunday, 17th. Have spent this day at church and at Bible class. Find that on reference to my journalizing that one year ago this day was the last time I enjoyed the privilege of communion in church at Gainesville. Little did I then think that I would spend a whole year without enjoying the blessed privilege. I am sadly down at heart this evening. I cannot feel easy about my good Vine. I fear that she is suffering for the necessaries of life and I am seemingly unmindful of it, not being able to hear from her by any means. I hope and pray that before another week should pass away that I may be made happy by receiving intelligence that all are well and happy, which would be more than I could say of myself as regards the latter. Have taken a walk on the public square this eve and was deeply impressed with a view of Mt. Hood. Its summit of eternal snows showed in awful grandeur. Have just found that it can be seen from the window of my cottage. Have spent this evening at Mr. Coffin's by invitation; met several of my scholars there and sang away an hour or more.
Monday 18th. Rainy, disagreeable forenoon; this afternoon has been better. Have done a good job on the mill putting down sleepers & joists. Have had several hands to attend to. Among the number was a free negro half drunk who made too much gab for me. And I told him to make tracks in quick time. No sooner said than done.
Sat. night 23rd Feby. Have spent this week at my work busy as usual and this day have put in the cylinder, then frost set in [in] this territory. I begin to see my way through and think of starting just 4 weeks from this day--if nothing turns up--and all works according to my present anticipations. Have spent this eve singing in our cabin with a friend. I am at the close of another week and no letters yet. How many more weeks must I spend here and be in darkness relative to my family? 'Tis too bad but I am so fixed in my business that it is utterly impossible to do otherwise. Were it not so I would be on my way home before the sun should set again. If I only had money at my command I would be away as on the wings of the wind. Hope I may never be placed in such circumstances again as long as life lasts. Dreamed of my loved ones several nights the past week and were it not for the absorbing business I now have on mind I should be of all men most blue. Was called upon this day by Mr. Lyman our minister to assist in selecting a location for his family residence.
Sunday 24th. Spent the day as usual day in reading until 10 o'clock then dress for church at which place spend 2½ hours at preaching and at Bible class. Had an invitation to dine at Mr. Coffin's; accept and return to meeting at 3 o'clock. Spend an hour and half then return to Mr. C.'s and spend the remainder of the day at [omission] and part of the evening in singing and conversing. Return to our cottage at 8 o'clock and Mr. Reed reads Cowper awhile, then kneeling at our altar we pray for mercy & pardon for our friends, wives & children, parents, brothers & sisters.
Thursday Feby. 28th. The last day of the month, and winter also closes. This eve we were made glad in our loneliness by the presence of woman's smiles. While we were singing in the corner who should knock at the door but Mrs. C. & Miss Chapman. Have spent the eve very pleasantly in singing in the old Boston Academy that I brought from home, the only one in town of the kind. Mrs. Comfort's first inquiry was for Mrs. A.'s portrait, and many and loud were the praises and wishes that the original was here and remarked upon that--that if she was here guess she'd ask us to lay off our bonnet. I of course apologized and acted in empathy of the matron.
Sat. March 2nd. Find on referring back to my journal that one year ago this night I was with my good Vine. Wrote a letter to Bro. Carroll while she made me a money belt to come to Cal. with. I can well imagine how my good Vine's heart was ready to burst with grief at the thoughts of the approaching farewell scene anticipating the many long days & months that must pass away before we could enjoy each other's society again. When I think that more than 8 months have passed away since I have heard a word from my loved ones it makes me feel heartsick and almost a dread to open my letters when I do get them. Have spent this day at my old habit, hard work--find I can now do more work in a day without feeling fatigued than I ever could before in my life. My work the past week has been very hard and wearing; still I feel no ill effects from it. Saw Mrs. Lyman the other day; said she "wished my wife was here to keep me from working so hard." I told her I should get a few lectures certain. But I feel so well and am all the time gaining flesh notwithstanding my hard labor that I feel perfectly at ease as to bad effects. Have got flywheel hung and main shaft in place today. Next Sat. night I hope to be able to make a little steam. Feel fine now. Dreamed of my good wife last night and have thought of her by day. Oh, when will I be again made happy with her presence.
Monday the 4th. Have concluded to try boarding out again tomorrow. Am getting along well with the mill; am in hopes to run week after next. Dreamed of seeing my Vine again last night. Thought she asked for money. Poor woman, no doubt she needs it badly.
March Wed. 6th 1850. Spent this day to work at the forge in the blacksmith shop; have wished 40 times that Colby was with me to help me. As it is am obliged to do all my work myself and find it rather difficult to do some of my jobs to suit me. Since writing last we have quit keeping bachelor's hall or rather quit cooking for ourselves. Commenced boarding at Mr. Hastings' hotel last Tuesday morn at $10 per week.
Fri. 8th. At work again at the forge. Bad weather; but few hands at work today for reason of snow and rain. This night [I] have spent miserably at singing school. Made some blunders that nearly killed me, though Mr. L. & R. say they noticed them not. I imagined that all notice them and so I was unfitted for anything like discharging my duty in school.
Sat. night 9th. Made but little progress this day. Weather very bad. Had an invitation to take tea with Mr. Lyman and lady. Spent the evening there and before leaving was invited to take part in family worship. Mr. Lyman prayed fervently in behalf of my good wife and Mrs. L. expressed a fervent wish that she was here.
Thursday 14th. Rainy day and consequently have done but little about the mill. Have had my hopes fired up again today by a report that there is two sails in the river. One left San F. as late as the 28th ult. Before tomorrow night I hope to be made glad with one doz. letters. Could not be satisfied with less. Though one could and may open to me such news as will blast my hopes in the future.
Thursday the 21st. Received a letter from Bro. Reamer last night. Was very glad to hear from him and the rest of the Greene County boys. Have spent the day working like a dog and have effected but little. It has been one of my unfortunate days, that is, everything has gone wrong. For instance, the bricklayers have done me an awkward job; one of the boilers proves to be a little out of place; my hot water pipe has troubled me; have been making a sleeve joint and the solder ran through and I had to melt it out again, in doing which I wasted too much solder, and last I kicked the ladle over and spilled the balance. Since writing have hired a blacksmith, and I am relieved from the forge. Have a good prospect for getting some letters in the course of this week, as there are 11 bags of letters & papers on the bark Toulon.
Friday March 22nd. A rainy drizzly day, and tonight is so bad no sing[ing] again for the fifth or sixth night. Have done some good jobs today making joints about boilers. Have had introduction to Capt. Whitcomb, the founder of Milwaukie, who pronounces my work then to be first rate, contrary to my expectations, as he is deadly opposed to everything in [and] about Portland. Yesterday I heard Col. King promised the mill to be the best piece of work of the kind done in Oregon. Tonight finds me tired and ready to stay at home. While writing Mr. R. sits sketching my profile in paper and makes some very flattering remarks about a head belonging to me. Have been copying journal.
Sat. night March 23. Another rainy day and [it] is the 19th day of either rain or snow in succession. Am quite tired of it. Have finished making joints today about the boilers and have had very good success so far. Commenced digging a well for supplying water to the boilers this day; think by the time it is finished I shall be ready to start all things. Am again obliged to say that I am still in the dark as to news from home. Wonder what next Sat. night will bring round with it. Find in referring back to my journal that just 4 weeks ago I promised myself to have my machinery running this eve, but 19 days of stormy weather in succession was not then anticipated.
Sunday 24th. Rainy all day. Have attended church to the fore- and afternoon; also attended Bible class at noon. While at dinner this day Mrs. H. made many inquiries of my wife & children, and I find I am getting many sympathizers in my loneliness.
This eve was sent for to meet some of my scholars at Mr. Apperson's but having a severe headache I declined going. Have almost come to the conclusion to start for my family unless I hear that they are leaving shortly without me.
Mon. 25. Mrs. Lyman sent word today to have me send for my wife to have her come here the quickest way possible. I laughed heartily after thinking of the fix she is in (i.e. "4 or 5 months along" in the world) and could easily divine one reason of her anxiety. Have not prospered well today, not having done a single good job today.
Tuesday March 26th 1850. Have worked hard and accomplished but little except to make myself tired. Concluded to quit having singing schools as the evenings are getting short and I feel myself tired enough to stay at home nights after working hard all day. Received a message from Mrs. Lyman with request to call and see her a few minutes and consequently have spent the evening there. Mrs. L. wanted to plan some way to send for my family without going home for the reason that I might want to stay after I got home and not return.
Wed. 27th. Have had a fine day for business and have got along tolerable well. Am in hopes to be able to fill the boilers tomorrow.
Thursday the 28th. April [sic]. Filled boilers today and this eve start engine for the first time. Find everything works well except the eccentric, and thus tonight reminded me how it took its name.
Friday the 29th. Have prospered very well today and this night have had the proud satisfaction of seeing my works move in a perfect motion.
Several down to see her move, and I think am satisfied that all is right.
Saturday, March 30th. A fine day, weather good. Has been a proud day with me. Have had fine success with my engine & saw. Started the saw this eve and have several spectators to see the operation. Everything works entirely to my satisfaction.
Sunday March 31st. The last day of the month and I am still without any word from home. I am almost decided to go home in the Congress [in] a few weeks unless I have a letter in the next mail. Have attended church twice today and this eve have spent at Mrs. Apperson's by invitation. Had a good sing.
Monday Apr. 1st 1850. Have spent this day as usual about the mill preparing for steady running. Had a sort of a hint from Mr. Coffin that he would be in favor of my going home this summer and I hope in mercy he may conclude to let me.
Tuesday Apr. 2nd 1850. Nothing unusual taken place today. Have been busy planning my work while others have been executing it. Yesterday was weighed again and find I weigh 146½ and heavier than I ever expected to be when I left home.
Apr. 3rd 1850. Have run the engine again this day and finished the first log. Called on Mr. Lyman this eve and spent a part [of] this eve.
Sunday Apr. 7th 1850. A beautiful day. Have attended church all day. After church have walked out into the forest of firs just back [of] town and had a sing in co. with R. & S. This eve I have spent in singing at Mr. Coffin's and have enjoyed myself very much.
Tuesday 9th. Been running the mill nearly all day--alone--tired in consequence. Have had several visitors; among the number were several ladies. It seems to be quite a curiosity to the Oregonians to see a steam engine & fixin's.
Oregonian, June 21, 1947, page 9
Wed. 10 Apr. My long looked-for letters have at last arrived, viz., 3 from my good Vine, Aug., Sept. & Oct. & Nov. to Dec. the 18th; one from Mr. McR.; one from F.N.S.; 2 from H.H.R. & one from Corliss dated Pueblo Los Angeles. Have been both pained & pleased at the contents; on the whole have reason to be truly thankful at the good news. Oh, how I wish I could clasp my good Vine to my arms this night.
Wed. 11 Apr. Have called on Mr. Lyman this eve and they both seem rejoyed to hear that I have received letters from home. Mrs. L. is very anxious to have my Vine come here. Have read over my letters again today and am truly thankful that my wife is in such comfortable quarters. Have been engineer & fireman & miller & sawyer today--for the last day.
Fri. 12th Apr. Have delivered the first lumber this day and took the money for it. It seems like old times again. Today I hired a sawyer and am somewhat relieved in my burdens. I hear there is another mail close by, and I am in hopes to get more letters by it and hope I may learn that my good Vine is on her way here with Mr. Strobridge or some other good man. If I find that she is not coming I shall be on my way back before another 3 months rolls by certain as I breathe.
Sat. 13th. Recd. 3 letters again today, one from D.M.R. one from T.W.J. and the other from U.H.R. Am sadly close to the blues tonight from some cause--and really think I must go home before another month passes by. Mr. Lyman tried hard to cheer me up this eve.
Monday 15. Yesterday did not find time to write. Spent the eve my usual time for visiting at Mrs. Apperson's singing and was at cheer through the day. This evening Mr. Apperson discovered that I was blue and took occasion to cheer me up by telling me that there should be a way fixed to get my family here this summer. Hope it may prove so.
Tuesday 16th. Have spent this day tending engine and firing for myself. Tonight have written a letter to Bro. C.C.P. Have thought much of home and my loved ones this day. Hope I may have them both here before 6 months shall pass away.
Thursday 18th. Have been [on] my usual rounds this day. Have dd. ["delivered"] several loads lumber. Called on Mr. & Mrs. L. tonight. She says I must be sure and have my wife bring all little necessaries, laces, edgings &c. &c.
Friday 19th. Sent my letters to the office this day and hope they will get to San F. in season for the next steamer but hope I may be able to get home before my letters do.
Wed. 24th. Have been thinking much of home today. Had a very pleasant dream last night; was with my good Vine and I seemed the happiest man alive. Oh, how I wish I could drop in and see her this eve. Have just remarked to Mr. Kendall how pleasant it would be to go in from work and have our wives and little ones come around us to welcome us home.
Friday 26th. Have worked in mill, in shop, in the lumber yard & in log gin and have made myself very tired. A shocking accident this morn, a child of Mr. Hasty was burned severely by its clothes taking fire. I hardly think it can live; one of its ears is burned off and it's a sad spectacle [to] look upon.
Sat. night May 4th. Oh, for a pass to wife's house tonight and I would start with more pleasure than can be told or written. Am glad to have Sat. night come again. Am rather low spirited, though not so bad off as I have been sometimes before. I am in hopes to be able to start for home in the term of this month, but time alone will determine.
Monday 13th. Started mill this morn as usual, worked until 11 o'clock and cleaned up for a trip to Oregon City in company with Mr. Coffin [and] Capt. Tomson with a crew of Indians. Had a pleasant ride to the rapids then took it on foot a short distance and in the city just before sunset. Had a fine view of the falls and visited the mills after supper. Conclude that my workmanship at Portland will do me credit when compared with the mills here--in every respect. Have met several that recognize me and I begin to conclude that I have some friends in Oregon. Was introduced to Gov. Lane , the first man, on landing and cordially invited to call at his residence.
Oregon City, Oregon
Oregon City May 14th. Arose this morn and took another tramp over town and conclude this to be quite a pleasant place but still prefer the prospects of P. to this place. Visited the court now in session to try the Indians who murdered the good Dr. Whitman and lady some time ago. Saw them and must say they had more of the demon in their countenances than I ever saw in human countenances before.
Tuesday eve. Returned this day at noon and found my business rather dragging. Am sorry to see my presence so necessary to have business go on as it ought.
Thursday 16th. This eve have learned that the steamer is to be here in a few days and I have told Mr. Coffin that I have a strong desire to return home in her and he has promised to do all in his power to help me off.
Friday 17. This morn a friend called and remarked that he saw me advertised in the paper to return to the States by the 15 of June. And learn sure enough that Mr. Coffin has had the notice put in the Oregon City paper to that effect. So I begin to think I shall start soon enough. Could my Vine only see this notice she would almost "jump out of her skin," but if I go the first she will know it will be to see me face to face. The thought of this meeting makes me have many sleepless hours even now and [there] will [be] more before I realize it in truth.
Sunday May 19th. Have attended church today as usual and this afternoon I am alone and 'tis thus I enjoy myself best while away from my dear loved ones. Solitude is sweet to the lonely spirit pining for the society of those he loves. How sensibly I am able to feel the pleasure and happiness I experienced in the bosom of my family on afternoons like this in former days. God grant that I may realize more of that happiness yet in this world. Now my thoughts rove back to my home. I think I see my good Vine with my little cherub boy and talkative Sarah by her side with her countenance pensively sad perhaps gazing with a tearful eye upon the portrait of her absent husband or perchance poring over the long, well-worn epistles, a journal of his hands, oft sighing "Oh, I wish I were with him." Her features expressing a knowing anxiety showing too plainly that such a life will ere long drive from the ruddy cheek that freshness and loveliness so indicative of health and happiness.
Last night, Mr. Abrams, from Portland, who came down on the Carolina, called to see me, and informed me that the steamer that left San Francisco on the 1st of July for Panama did not stop to take the Oregon mail, but left it, finding its devious way through the San Francisco post office, from whence, judging by the past, it may be months before it emerges.Abrams and Family en Route to Oregon
Bark Francis & Louisa Nov. 17th 1850.
A beautiful Sabbath day. Have spent this day in reading my Bible principally. This is the 10th day out and about the first time I have seen all at the table doing duty. Have had a very rough time and all have felt the effects of it severely, myself not excepted. Our barometer now says fair weather and now we may begin to expect a little more comfort.
Have had some compunctions of conscience lately for not having holden our usual family evening worship. I yielded at first to seasickness and since recovering I have formed excuses to put it off until now. I am resolved to commence again this evening, and hope the blessing of God will rest upon my efforts.
I find it much easier to contemplate usefulness in the cause of religion than to act. I have intended to have made an effort to have some sort of religious services on board on the Sabbath and to have conversed with the sailors, distributed tracts &c., promising myself to do all I could while making this voyage, but find to my deep shame and regret that I lack moral courage to make the effort. The first Sabbath I had for an excuse seasickness and today comes my shame, for I have no excuse at all. The Capt. I think would gladly comply with such a proposition though not a professer himself. I judge so from seeing him distributing tracts among his men and his strict regard to quietness on board during the day.
God grant that I may have grace from on high to enable me to carry out my intentions during the remaining part of this voyage.
We have made very fine headway up to the present time and in one week more we may hope to have made as much eastern as we wish and then we shall have nothing to do but make southern to the Cape.
Sarah quite unwell with her bowels; am fearful that we shall have trouble with her before we get through the [illegible].
Monday 18th. One year ago this day I landed in the mouth of the Columbia River and was rejoiced that I had escaped shipwreck. Winds fair and prosperity attends us. Appetites all good. Make over 160 miles this day.
Tuesday 19th. Commenced with my tools a little this day. Hatches opened and things taken out for airing. Find our things somewhat injured. Sarah better & better today. Not a sail in sight today; all is ocean below & sky above. A child would think, could it have the powers of thinking and observing thrust upon him at once, that the world was made for naught else but to float our little bark on its bosom.
Wednesday 20th. Have made out quite a day's work today. Been preparing for work--and found there was work in that even. Made work bench, saw horses &c. All are cheerful; tonight we had the flying visit of three dolphins, but their stay was brief too much for our comfort--but not for theirs.
We find ourself in a glorious calm which the mate's shrill whistle will not break. A calm at sea may in one sense be compared to the feelings of a man who is thrown at once from business into idleness. He's happy in having no cares on his mind but uneasy as he don't know what to do with himself. So at sea he is pleased at having the waves at rest; still he wants to be going ahead.
Bark Francis & Louisa Thursday Nov. 21st 1850.
Nearly a calm all this day which has enabled me to go on with my work comfortably. Commenced on my tool chest on which I intend to put one week's work before it is finished. Spent my time this eve in studying Menifie on drafting, find it interesting very. Sarah much better today, am in great hopes she will soon be about well. Not a thing occurred this day on board worthy of note. The pigs have given about the usual number of grunts. The cat too has taken her rounds, looking wistfully at the cook, putting in voice for her share of provisions. All is monotonous. I suppose that is what other journalizers would say under the same circumstances.
Friday Nov. 22nd. This day has passed off rapidly as I have been busily engaged with my tools. Have commenced my job in earnest. Light headwinds this day--make so little progress that I do not take any note of the observations made by the Capt. & mate.
Sat. Nov. 23rd. Have been a little under the weather this day. Took medicine last night and have felt the effects of it all day. The day has hung heavily on my hands. Have done nothing with my tools. Drawing, reading & sleeping has occupied my attention this day. Read Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet--True Love Personified Redicatorily in my opinion. This eve have been interested in one of Bennett's old Heralds, should like one of late date very much.
Sun Nov. 24th. Another quiet Sabbath. Have spent the day in reading & sleeping. This eve have been interested in dog stories by the Capt. Am really astonished at the Capt.'s stock of anecdotes and have been wondering what he will find to talk about tomorrow night. Little sea on tonight and not easy to write. Have got 7 degrees more to make to the eastward before we make southern. Last Sabbath I thought we might be as far east as we wished to be before this time and should but for calms.
Bark Francis & Louisa Lat. 34°07" N, Lon. 36°40" Nov. 25th [SW of Azores]
Headwind for this twenty-four hours consequently we are but little nearer our place of destination than we were yesterday. This is rather discouraging as we are so far from our port. Have been so busy today that I have scarce thought of the wind or anything else. Willy sick today. Commenced a course of medicine which I hope will relieve him by tomorrow. Gave emetic of ipecac followed by foot bath. After an interval of one hour gave cal. & jalap 12 grains. This to be followed by a dose of oil in the morning. Effect of this treatment is favorable so far, producing sleep & gentle perspiration. What a foolish habit is swearing. This reflection is brought about by hearing the second mate curse because the staysail sheet knocked his cap overboard. Tonight our Capt. has been entertaining us with a description of a Mr. Frothingham, once the 1st officer under him. In listening to him I have discovered a trait in his character not very amiable to say the least and at the same time learned the history of another far from being amiable.
At sea Nov. 26. Willie much better today, is clear of fever, and I have stopped giving medicine. His treatment today has been quinine.
Have another case today rather unexpectedly. Wife complained of headache at first followed by an attack of vomiting with chilly sensations. Commenced treatment by giving com. dills but the stomach would not retain them. I then commenced with ipecac emetic which brought on perspiration and stopped chills. After which cover the chest with mustard plaster which does not check vomiting. Give 15 drops lau. which soon begin to affect her nervous system as usual--without stopping sickness. I then give peppermint & water which has the desired effect. At 9 o'clock sickness abated and she is sleeping. Tonight Capt. has made quite a yarn for us in the history of the war in Sicily & Naples last year. He was an eyewitness and hence the more interesting. Wind dead ahead again today. A bark passed close under our stern tonight.
Wednesday 27th. Fine weather. Only taint a headwind is all our trouble now and that is enough such as it is.
This morn find my patients very feeble but better evidently. Fever came on to Willy again this afternoon; gave him oil and since its operation have given Dover's powders to produce sleep and perspiration. Gave wife a good dose of cal. and jalap last night which has operated finely. Sarah still improving, am in hopes to have them all improving soon. Have been busy on my tool chest this day, am in hopes to finish this week. That last sentence is very important indeed; a journal of such passages will do to keep for future generations to read. This evening I have been puzzling over the [blank]. Find it too intricate for my dull brain so have given it up for tonight. Capt. M. is not disposed to talk much tonight & fretting about the winds. But what's the use of sighing / When time is on the wing / We are bound for the Willamette! Shakespeare.
There I have tried very hard to make a little poetry on my own hook but find it worst than the puzzle and give it up too. I could write poetry very well indeed if it wasn't for two things. One is I can't find the right words to express my sentiments and the other is I can't make nothing rhyme when I do get off a line except now and then. Then I put up my pen--for I see it's going on its own hook and the first I know it will spoil my book. There I have it again. Whew.
Bark F&L. Thursday Nov. 28th, 1850. Had an anxious night with Willy. His fever ran very high, gave cal., ipecac, spirits nitre during the night and followed with oil & then quinine today and tonight finds him very much better. Have spent this day in my berth except when waiting upon Willy. Have read a very interesting work by a Mr. Roe. I think I have disposition somewhat similar to the hero of the tale--and I wish I might be as successful in my plans. Tonight have been a little mortified to find that some of my friends on board would be glad to desert me and return to port again notwithstanding promises made to the contrary. Nothing but the want of funds would prevent me from giving them a chance should an opportunity offer.
Friday 29th. Fresh winds but dead ahead this day. Have been engaged on my chest. Willy some better today. Nothing occurred worthy of note. Except I might be allowed the mention that several ducks have been caught today.
Sat. 30th. Just one year ago this day I arrived in Portland, Oregon almost penniless and a stranger among strangers. But was kindly received and a kind providence prospered me. I think [if] I was to step on shore there this day I should have the pleasure of meeting a warmer reception although my stay was but a little more than six months. Today winds fair and fresh and a heavy sea on, have kept my room pretty close. Tonight is stormy and hideous.
Truly the sailor's life is a hard one. The passenger is bad enough off but the sailor is worse. Have made up our longitude and are making a due south course.
Sunday Decr. 1st 1850. A beautiful day--wind fair and nearly all well again. Have had quite a [medical] practice since starting; am not very fond of it. There is most too much responsibility for one that is not prepared by study. Have spent the day very pleasantly in reading, singing & playing on my melodeon.
A melodeon that belonged to William Penn Abrams, preserved by his descendants.
Made by Mason & Hamlin in Boston.
Monday Dec. 2nd 1850. Calm nearly all day and are on status quo. Have worked at the bench and have made good headway. Could not finish my writing last night on account of Capt.'s yarns--but with my pen in my hand 1½ hour waiting for him to get through and finally had to quit without finishing. And it is about the same tonight though I do not listen. I have never met a man so full of yarns in my life. I think I shall enter some of them in my journal. A beautiful evening; took a walk out to the flying jib boom after supper. Have found out some good things in Menifie; drawing this eve.
Thursday Dec. 12th 1850. In bark Francis & Louisa Lat. 14°11" Lo. 27 [southeast of Cape Verde Islands]. Capt. Mayo's birthday, to celebrate which he brought forward his wines which he brought from the Mediterranean himself. We all drank to his health, and it being the best of wine, to our own, little Willy excepted.
Have had the benefit of the trade winds for the last three days and have made fine headway and had fine jolly cheer. Nothing like a fine wind to make jolly faces on board a vessel at sea.
Spoke a brig yesterday bound to Monrovia, the coast of Africa. Have seen three vessels today but at a distance. Have got my chest done and have spent my time in reading chiefly for the last few days. Family all well and gaining flesh rapidly. This is encouraging to me. Find it somewhat difficult to write every day and hardly think I shall make out much [of] this voyage that will be interesting. Times when I feel like writing I cannot get a chance and when I do get one I can think of nothing worth writing, as my book shows conclusively. Really wish I could know how Portland and its people are prospering about this time. It will be an anxious hour for me when I arrive around the bend and come in full view of the town. I can see in my imagination see the place with its hundred frames in process of erection, the banks full of boxes of merchandise and business of all kinds in full tide of prosperity. God grant it may be so when I do get there.
Bark Francis & Louisa Lat. 19°35" Long. 36°0" Dec. 30th, 1850 [off Brazil].
Find I have a disrelish for journalizing from some cause or other. We have now been fifty days at sea and everything around us has assumed a sort of homely appearance. Old ocean, the old bark, all seems as though we have been in each other's way for years; even the faces of the sailors seem like old acquaintances though I have spoken to only two of them since I have been on board. The pigs on the forward deck seems to be the only phiz on board to remind us that we have in other days had them for company on terra firma and they carry us back to "Old Virginia" &--and I feel a sort of brotherly love for the dear grunters and would enjoy scratching their back with a cob out of pure friendship. I manage to spend my time busily if not pleasantly thanks to my tools and the Portland Library. Have done two good jobs of work the two last working days which not only gives pleasure but good relish for my food, a double object gained to myself, and a single one to the recipients of the articles made.
If all could enjoy good health I should enjoy myself much better but to have the care of the sick in prescribing medicine, knowing so little of medicine that it worries me not a little. Bro. K. is in a bad condition and I hardly know what to do for him. I have neither the medicines or directions for administering such as he most needs. Wife is in bad state also and I am as much at a loss to know what to do for her as for him. I conclude that a physician's life is one of cares and anxieties and that they are none too well paid for their quinine.
Bark F. & Louisa--Dec. 31st 1850. Lat. 21.35 South.
This is the last time I will have occasion to make these figures [i.e., "1850"] for a date of time passing and can well recollect the first time I used the same--and can feel the vast difference between my present situation and what it was at that time.
Winds fair all these 24 hours and we have made it tell for our journey.
Got a severe cut on my finger this morning which has rather interfered with my operations with my tools though I have made some good jobs.
My wife still better today. Have felt rather unwell myself but nothing serious I hope. Tonight is the last of this year and tomorrow commences another year, of which I will write more hereafter.
At sea 12 m. ["meridian"--noon] in Lat. 23.02.14 Lon. 39.02.15" Jany. 1st 1850 [sic]
The first day of a new year and we have the singular occurrence of finding ourselves at 12 o'clock directly under the sun so that at 12 with the quadrant we could see the sun all around the horizon, a circumstance which probably happens twice in a seafaring man's lifetime. Noticed the thermometer at 7 o'clock this morn and at noon and 4 o'clock ranged from 78°30" to 79°30" which is nothing near so hot as I expected to find here in this portion. In trying the water I find it only one degree cooler than the atmosphere.
K. is still quite indisposed; have wracked my brain to think of something to do for him. Have at last got his bowels to acting and am in hopes he may be managed easier now. I now propose to give him cal. in gr. dose until I get the liver to action then I shall give tonics of bark & rhubarb. His bowels open with oil in the meantime. The only difficulty I fear is that his bowels will get locked again and so get him salivated with calomel. So it is 1851. How natural for me to ask what is this year to bring about in my own affairs. What will be my prospect in one year from this night. Who can tell the change of a single year in the affairs of a man of business and of family. Whether our lives may be spared; whether our situation in the world of troubles may or may not be improved. All those inquiries can only be answered by the wheel of time. God grant us a happy and prosperous year.
At sea Jany. 2nd 1851. In lat. 24°57" Lon. [blank] [off Rio de Janeiro]. Fine breezes all this 24 hours and have counted off 167 miles on our journey. Weather comfortable. Thermometer ranges from 78 to 80. Bar. fallen 2/10 since morning. Have made two parallel rules today and made very good jobs (only I did not).
K. is somewhat better, that is, his symptoms more favorable and medicine has more effect upon him than heretofore. Have com. [commenced] with tonics [of] bark and rhubarb in solution. Have cal. in gr. doses. Since last night has taken 6 gr. in all and also 6 gr. quinine. He has had two discharges today, from the cal., I judge [by] their character. Am in hopes now to soon have him about. Wife is fleshing up remarkably--as is Sarah. I begin to breathe easy again and hope to get rid of all practice of medicine hereafter. Have seen three sail today hauling to the eastward--from the harbor of Rio probably.
At sea Jany. 3rd 1851 In Lat. 27°19" Lon. 43°20". Have made the best day's sail this 24 hours that we have made since we left N.Y. having run 201 miles and at this rate we will soon make Cape Horn and I hope on course for Oregon. Nothing new occurred this day. The decks have been too wet to do any business--so I have spent the day in reading
My patient still improving I think a little; have given him nothing but his tonic medicine today. Tomorrow commence again with cal.
Jany. 8th 1851. Lat. 34°51" Long. 49°50". Ther. stands at 70° in shade, water and air the same tem. Barometer 29.90 [off Buenos Aires].
The weather has been too rough for me to make my usual journalizings for the last 3 days. On the night of the 5 we saw distinctly two balls of fire at the main & mizzen truck. The night was a tempestuous one accompanied with thunder & lightning. We were reduced in sail from stud[ding] sail fore & aft to double reefer topsails in a few moments. Spent my time very busily engaged in trying to hold myself in my berth through the night. This morning spoke the brig Noxy 108 days outbound to Cal. She reports that she has had bad weather off the Cape and is returning for supplies. Saw a large ship to windward. Set our colors but she either did not see them or too much like a sark to notice and answer them, which made our mate swear like a pirate.
Thursday Jan. 9th 1851. Find ourselves today at noon in Lat. 36°45" with a headwind. Air very humid which I find effects my health very sensibly. I begin to fear that I have not bettered myself coming this route instead of going direct and spending the winter in Oregon. Today Capt. M got very much incensed at the 1st mate. Sail ho! cries Mr. P. The old Capt. blundered out on deck and called out, Where away!
Ans.--On the main yard--? Then came a volley from the Capt. that almost made things look blue. The mate shoved off chuckling to himself as usual. At dinner table the mate thought to make amends by being prompt in passing dishes to the Capt. and carelessly dropped one and thus brought another round so hot that the mate had "to brace up and haul off," so lost his duff. 'Tis amusing to hear the disputes and wrangles and in a few minutes all is honey again. Tonight our Capt. has got a short--or rather no-tailed--coat on, white (or rather what were once) pants. Boots minus the legs without socks with ample space between them and the nether extremity of his pant for free circulation of air, his old glaze cap, and is on the whole a good scene for a painter
Have done nothing this day but read and draft from the 1st 3 vol. of Wilkes Ex. Ex. Wife low spirited and myself do ["ditto"].
At sea Jany. 10th 1851.
Weather quite cool today, noticed the mercury down to 60". Sent down our royal & skysail yards today and making ready for the heavy weather off Cape Horn. Wind still dead ahead, only made 34 miles latitude this 24 hours. Have made a drawing board and a shelf for same today. I think I shall be able to do some tall drafting now. Do not much like my prospects for health; have had some old symptoms about today that I had fancied were entirely rid of some time ago.
Sat. Jany. 11th 1851
Have made only 50 miles southern this 24 hours. Weather moderate, quantities of birds flying about the vessel this day. Several of them came in for a share of the mate's ammunition. Have not been able to work at the bench this day in account of ill health. Have used my new drafting board.
Sunday Jany. 12th 1851 Lat. 39°58" Long. 55°13. Have made 10 degrees & 7 miles lat. since last Sabbath. Before two more Sundays shall pass I think we shall be round the Horn. Has not seemed much like Sunday for the reason that the mate has been shooting nearly all day. Weather pleasant but hazy. Thermometer stands at 62 to 64 in the cabin. Bar. 29.80.
Wife's birthday. One year ago we were far from each other and lonely enough as my diary will show.
At sea Jany. 14th. Lat. 42°00" S. Warm, pleasant & calm all this day. Have seen many albatross about today. There has been quite an effort made to get one by gun & hook--but have failed as yet. Have made a good job for the ship today by request. Commenced draft of the mill this eve and have studied out what I think are improvements on my former plan
All very well except myself and I am some better today. Fine morn. Have hardly lost sight of the sun at 8 o'clock tonight. Notice our shadow stands well to the southern at 12 o'clock. Yesterday our cabin boy came out with his head shaved, he says to keep the Capt. from pulling his hair, but he is no better off for now the ears take it. That reminds me that I had a pickled pig's ear for breakfast, fresh and good.
Thursday Jan. 16th 1851 Lat. 45°34" Lon. 58°. A lovely day. Have had the pleasure of seeing a whale "cut out" alongside of ship as we passed. Spoke the ship Gov. Thorp New Bedford 5 months out with 350 bbls. oil. Asked us to report him, I suppose so his folks may hear of him. I think they will have to wait some time [for] the report from us. Have seen some 5 large whale ships today and several whale--albatross &c. Have been to work at the bench today and drafting mill frame. Health improving. Had an invitation to bleed the 2nd mate today but declined the honor. Beautiful sunset tonight. All hands on deck to witness the glorious scene.
Monday Jany. 20th 1851. Took a look into navigation this morn and at noon worked up the lat. from the Capt.'s observation, find we are in Lat. 49.58 S. Lon. 63°59" W. Spoke whale ship yesterday from N.B. and bound to the Pacific. This afternoon we have seen another ship. Sounded today and found 70 fathoms with fine red & white sand. Thermometer stands today at 57. Barometer 29.65. Weather quite pleasant. Barometer deceived us today for the first time which caused the Capt. & 1 mate to lose a bet.
Jany. 22nd 1851 Lat. 53.13 Long. 64.07.
Pleasant weather and smooth sea although we are very near the region of heavy swells and rough weather. Have succeeded very well in studying navigation; worked out the long. by double altitudes twice this day and worked up the lat. at noon. Have seen numerous whales of the finback species which are considered beneath the notice of the sperm whale man. I saw two with[in] a few yards of the vessel, the consequences was all hands went in a rush forward to see the huge monsters. Could not but think of the [illegible] steamers when I hear their blowings as they rise to take breath--find we are 80 miles from Staten Land this eve.
Jany. 23--1851. Lat. 54 05 Long. 64.00 [SW of Falkland Islands].
This morning had the satisfaction of seeing land from my berth and about the first one to recognize it. Having been out sight of land for 76 days, a longer time than most of us have been before without seeing terra firma. Find also that we have 6 vessels in sight--two of which we have been in sight of for a day or two past. The Pluvium of Westport sent her boat to us for pluvium [water] which we did not have; gave them some of the papers given me before leaving N.Y. The Sinners Friend!
This night our studding sails are all out and a fair prospect of passing Staten Land before morning. Two hundred miles more will carry us to Cape Horn and then the glorious Pacific will open to our view.
Cape Horn January 23, 2010. Photo by Chet Ogan
Off Cape Horn Jany. 24th 1851.
Have had a fine day, fair wind and smooth sea, so much unlike Cape Horn weather that I can hardly believe myself off the Cape. This is the dreaded place of the route, from which point some turn back despairing of getting round, while we are sailing with studding sails set, under the southeast side of Staten Land, free from swells, enjoying the fine view of the mountain scenery and watching the flares of winds as it takes first one vessel and then the other of the 8 sail in sight. It has been a draw game all day. This eve we were boarded by the mate of the Levi Starbuck for [news]papers. Had another chance to put up some of the Sinners Friends for them to peruse. Find it rather pleasant to have so much company in this much-dreaded place. I think most of the vessels are whalers--from appearances. Took a sketch of Staten Island today while passing. Weather cool & bracing. Worked up the long. again today and find an error in the Capt.'s reckoning.
Off Cape Horn Jany. 25th 1851. Another calm day in this region of storms. Old Ocean has seemed [more] like a summer lake than anything else. Lowered the quarter boat this afternoon and had a pull after porpoises & a duck. Were unsuccessful. Have been in sight of Staten Island & Tierra del Fuego all day. Nothing unusual occurred on board. I have succeed[ed] in mending the cook's teapot with the fire poker for a solder iron and the scrapings of a [lead] larder box for solder and made a tolerable good job. Have attended to drafting as usual.
Around Cape Horn
Sunday Jany. 26 1851. Lat. 55 Lon. 66.
A fine day for all kinds of business except sailing; too calm for this. Came in sight of Cape Horn this afternoon for the first time. At great distance bearing west by south from ship.
Mate shot an albatross this evening and lowered the boat and took it on board. Find him a noble fellow measuring 10 ft from tip to tip
Heavy swell from the south to west this afternoon 20 minutes past 9 o'clock and one can see to read by daylight on deck.
Off Cape Horn Lat. 55.27 Lon. 66.46 Jany. 27 1851.
Another pleasant day--have had a light breeze which has fanned us along and brought us abreast of the celebrated Cape. Tonight wind howls and heads us off our course which aggravates the mate again, as usual brings out a few oaths while the Capt. fills his pipe and says we must take it as it comes. Have had 8 sail in sight all day, all bound round "the Cape." The swell from S.E. still continues heavy--and think we may expect soon a specimen of Cape Horn weather. Have been very busy with my drafting today and with Wilkes Expedition alternately. Have worked up the longitude twice today; the last time agreed with the Capt. exactly. Remember well when I have considered this a task for a skillful calculator but look upon it now with a different light. Find that all that is necessary to accomplish an object is to apply the mind with a little judgment, and practice will do the balance.
Jany. 27th 1851 Lat. 57.16 Long. 68.10.
We have caught it at last in the shape of a severe gale from the S.W. The Francis & Louisa has acted more like a mad bull than a creation of less temerity, plunging and groaning furiously at the heavy seas as they meet her in combat. Have kept my berth nearly all day, more however to keep myself warm than disinclined to exercise. Capt. M. was a little too fast yesterday when he spoke of getting round Cape Horn without reefing.
Jan. 28. Lat. 58.26 Lon. 68.47.
This morn we tack ship and now it seems more like going to Oregon. If the wind cants no further to the westward we shall go clear of the dreaded Cape and all the contingent land. Wind not quite as heavy as yesterday but leaves a rough sea. Cold weather & mercury ranging 8 degrees lower than we have had it before, 44° & the water the same. Bar. 29.77. Have kept my berth again today all the way. I can keep comfortable. Worked up longitude twice today.
Jany. 29. Bar. still going down and the gale increases and is very severe indeed. Have been compelled to [illegible] today--Lat. [blank] Lon. [blank]
Jany. 30th. Our gale still continues. Although it is fair for us, yet [it] blows so heavy that we cannot turn our head from the wind but she stands at bay like a wild bull cornered--heaving and setting, groaning and bellowing--Lat. [blank] Lon. [blank]
Febry. 1st 1851. Have had a chance this afternoon to stick her head a little to the windward and although we have a tremendous sea yet we make a little headway. I still keep my berth; too much tumbling to do anything either with drafting or carpenter's tools. Lat. 58.17 Lon. 69.48.
Sunday Feby. 2nd 1851. Have spent this day in my berth pretty much. Weather a little more comfortable but rather cold. Make a little progress today on our course. Lat. 57.19 Lon. 72.20.
Have made 244 miles this week in all. Ther. 41.
Mon. Feby. 3. Lat. 56.21. Long. 74.48. Thick weather and unable to get an observation. Wind heads us off our course again this afternoon.
Heading S.S.W. Sea subsided very much today. Weather disagreeable. Ther. 46.
Tuesday Feby. 4th. We are again free from storm and heavy seas but have still a headwind. Have spent this day with my pencil and sqr. Weather cool and cloudy. Unable to get the sun at noon. Lat. 56. Long. 75.24.
Wednesday Feby. 5th 1851. We are blessed this day with a fine wind and clear sky and now consider ourselves fairly round Cape Horn without losing a rag or suffering in any shape. Lat. 57.01 Long. 77.00. Barometer 29.65.
Ther. in air 45°, in water 45°. Write this with an albatross quill.
On the Pacific Ocean
Monday Feby. 24th 1851. Find upon the whole that is anything but pleasant this "going round Cape Horn." Have made a long voyage and mostly a dreary one so far. Shall probably use up six months of my life in making this trip and almost a one year including my homeward voyage. A good deal of time besides no small amount of money to spend principally for one's family. I have been wishing for some one of our many storms to come up astern and we have got it at last. Were compelled to reef last night although the wind was as fair as we could wish. We have now hied the wind fair for 48 hours and blowing as strong as we have any wish for. Weather cloudy and rainy. Capt. found the 2nd mate asleep on his morning watch on deck and saluted him with a glass of cold water in the countenance to his great astonishment. Spent my time in reading Irving's Astoria today. Have laid abed nearly all day--and tonight finds me with a headache, low-spirited, misanthropic in the extreme. I hardly think I treat the old Capt. civilly for I do not notice his remarks no more than if he spoke not. Tonight I have a patient (Willy) who is troubled with bowel complaint. Prescribe cal. & opium in small doses. We have been quite fortunate for some time in not having sickness and am in hopes to get rid of this soon. Lat. above 33.22 today I guess.
Lat. 30.32 South Long. 98. Tuesday Feby. 25 1851. Warm and comfortable weather. Wind fair and we are making good use of it at the rate of 2½ degrees per day. Took a wash down on deck this morn and have derived some benefit from it. Have been reading Leigh Hunt's work entitled Men Women & Books; think it a no-account affair, at least my taste pronounces it so. Feel very uneasy about Bro. K.'s health; really wish he was at home again. Have prescribed for him repeatedly and all to no purpose. Am really discouraged about him but have been wracking my brains again today and give him another kind of prescription today. First. saltwater bath in the morning. 2. To keep out of his berth through the day and take moderate exercise. 3. Tonic of bark and elixir vitriol. 4. Balsam of copaiba for [illegible] and relaxed state of the fauces and back of the throat--and hope this may do him some good. Therm. stands at 72--Bar. at 30.10.
Wednesday 26th 1851. Another day of fair winds and good sailing though rainy & squally forepart of the day. Have done nothing today worth mentioning. Nothing occurred on board today, not so much as tacked ship for excitement. Made a draft board [i.e., checkerboard] today and have been trying to draw Bro. K's mind from his gloomy condition by this change. Think he is a little interested in the game. Find we have made 2 degrees 24 miles this 24 hours--pretty fair running.
Thursday Feb. 27, 1851. Have had a fine day, seems like the Pacific for the first time. Have commenced my job today.
Tonight my good Vine is sick and I am again in trouble; it does hurt me worse to have her sick than all the rest, because I know that she will not give up until she is compelled to. Dose her with mustard applications, boneset tea, blue mass & cathartic pills.
Bro. K. is some better under my last treatment.
March 1st 1851. A bright beautiful day, rather too warm for comfort. Today finds us in Lat. 22.43 Log. 105--4290 miles from Cape Dis[appointment] & 4176 from Sandwich Islands. Think it is doubtful about the Capt. going to the islands. Shall have made a pretty good run this week.
Have made pretty good headway on my job today. Wife much better, also Bro. K. Think some little encouragement will bring him out safe. Capt. sociable tonight the first time for nearly two weeks.
March 4th. Fine weather and fair wind, two very agreeable commodities in voyage at sea. Now if for a third item we could all have good health I should feel happy in this situation. Wife ailing a little tonight, have given her mustard application and cathartic. Willy comfortable, also Bro. K.
Have been quite busy today with my tools. Have the new (old) awning spread for the first time. Finished reading Lady Willoughby's Diary tonight. This makes one to have a desire to read the history of England. Latt. 16°48 today, 2 degrees & 17 miles, good.
Wed. March 5, 1851.
Two years ago this night I left home and all my loved ones with a sad heart, the remembrance of which even now makes me shudder. I bid adieu to all that made life sweet to venture into the wilds of the gold regions. Since that time I have experienced many vicissitudes, in all of which I recognize the protective hand of Divine Providence manifested towards me in a special manner, inasmuch as my family are preserved through many trying scenes of sickness and myself preserved from temptations, shipwrecks and diseases and we have been spared to meet again [only] to bid a long adieu to our relatives & friends, launched forth upon the stormy deep and thus far have been preserved on our voyage. Truly can we say the Lord is good and greatly to be praised, and his mercy endureth forever.
Today find we have made good progress on our way. We are 2 degrees & 21 miles nearer than we were 24 hours ago. Lat. 14 19 South Lon. 111. Busy with my tools today.
Sick improving, rather too warm for great improvement in strength. I think though not so warm as might be expected being only 8 degrees to the southward of the [Columbia] river.
March 10th. At sea in Latt. 2°42' South Long. 118 W.
Passed under the sun again today, which makes the sixth time I have passed under it in two years past. Thermometer stands at 80 all day. Bar. above 29.90. Have had squally weather all this day and yesterday. Strange that we should always find this wrath on us near the Equator.
Have been unwell for two or three days; have to prescribe for myself as I have had to do for the last 2 years of my life, but am getting more and more negligent in my own case. Do not like to take medicine myself.
Willie lost his hat overboard today and seems very much bereaved at the accident, as did his mother. Have spent my time principally turned in this day. Reading Alison's History of Europe and meditating. Came near having trouble with the boy Charly yesterday morn, shall soon feel anxious to get out of this craft.
School of skipjack around the vessel today, the first I have seen in a long time. Fish have been scarce during this voyage.
March 11th. In Latt. 00.54 South. Did not get quite as near the Equator as I expected. Shall pass it though before the sun rises again if we are fortunate enough to not get becalmed. Weather quite pleasant today. Have spent some time at the bench but have done but little. Vine half sick today. Willy quite unwell and I expect Ken will be sick again soon, as I think he tries to imagine himself so now. Am getting quite uneasy to get off this vessel, do not like our situation at all
Monday 24th. Latt. 20.31 N. Long. 129 W.
Have made good run for the last two days (3 deg. 44 miles). We are now only about 1600 miles from the mouth of the [Columbia] river and wife says we shall get there two weeks from yesterday. I hope we may but doubt it.
Have put my bureau together today and find I am to have a good job. Weather rather more pleasant today. I find my time passes rather more pleasantly when I am employed than when I am lounging about.
Nothing occurred on board today worthy of note. I will note however that we had the great satisfaction of having a clean tablecloth to eat off from. I think it was the third one we had in nearly 5 months out upon such extravagance--
Tuesday 25. Latt. 22.28. Lon. 130. Ther. 68.00 [west of Baja Mexico].
Squally, unpleasant weather. Commenced on my job but had to quit it--too rough to stand at the bench. This afternoon been quite unwell and tonight my head beats like a trip hammer occasioned by reading too steadily this afternoon. Have made a good run this 24 hours.
Wednesday 26. Latt. 24.21. Lon. 131.
Weather cool and unpleasant. It does not seem much like the "Pacific" Ocean as I have seen it before this. This morn finds me free from headache and busy with my job. Have made good headway again this day and thus far bids fair to come up to wife's prognostication.
Capt. has shown signs of animosity towards me the past few days but today he came round right side up, though it may be because he wanted my advice a little in a case he has on hand. I gave freely and treated him as I ever have done respectfully.
Pass within 40 miles of Cooper’s Island this night and shall not see it. Passed within 40 of one yesterday also.
Thursday 27th March Lat. 25.50 Lon. 131.20.
This morn shortened sail with the expectation of seeing land but did not see it. This eve we are 840 miles from San Francisco and about 1200 miles from our port of destination. Have got my desk into my room tonight and am writing my journal [on it] for the first time. Should be glad if I could escape the Capt. by this means but fail for he is at this moment talking to me but I heed him not. Have got so hardened to his chatter I mind him about as much as I should an old windmill. Of the two I should prefer the latter for company.
Fri. 28. Lat. 26.15 Lon. 131.55. This morning we had quite an excitement produced on board by the cry of "Sail ho!" standing for us, it being the first vessel we have seen since we left Staten Land. It proved on speaking her to be the bark Lyon of Bath bound to San F. 176 days out, while we have been only 142 days. We have a specimen of the Pacific today in calm & light winds. Seems hard to be headed off W. by S. now when our course is so very different.
Sat. March 29th. Lat. 26.30. A pleasant and calm day. Have spent my time at the bench and in reading. All hands able to do justice at table, which is generally a sign of health. Nothing occurred on board this day. We are getting a little anxious about getting in now as we begin to approach near our place of destination. We have tacked ship several times today but all of no avail. We couldn't go ahead nohow for the best of reasons--want of winds. This eve have been talking of Portland. Wife imagines it on the wrong side of the river. Have tried to give her an idea how it looks but think I fail to convey it to her mind's eye.
Sun Mar. 30th. At sea in Lat. 26.57 N. Longitude 133 W. Another Sabbath have we passed on the ocean blue in idleness. Three Sundays ago we hoped this would be the last Sabbath we should have to spend on board this craft but our hopes have failed us. We shall now expect to be released in two Sundays more--kind Providence prospering us. Have spent the day in reading The Lives of Eminent Shoemakers in which I find accounts of some worthy characters and others of most despicable kind. Wind anything but fair this day though some better than yesterday. Have indulged the Capt. a little today in listening to his "oft repeated tales" for which he is so justly celebrated--I mean in telling his tales over so many times--and not in the character of the yarns. Have seen nothing today except a whale which came alongside, stuck up first his nose and then his tail and then went out of sight forever "head first."
Monday March 31st. At sea in Lat. 27.40. Longitude 133.30.
Found the F. & L. heading the right way this morn and have continued so all this day and I think our prospect very good now for a speedy termination of our voyage. Tonight moved in my bureau and call it finished. Am well satisfied with my job. Have got a little more to do on the writing desk. This eve our studding sails all out and we are cutting the water beautifully. Tomorrow shall find ourselves to the northward of 30. I think nothing occurred on board today out of the usual routine of business if I except the excitement of setting studding sails and breaking a pipe or two. Wife suffering with the toothache all day and divers other pains occasioned probably by a cold taken recently in the head. Capt. unusually good-natured today. Have humored him a little tonight in listening to his long yarns, i.e. an outline of [the] manner in which the poor sailor is treated in port by the shipping master and his landlord. Surely there is more cause for sympathy in their case than in the slave of the South and about as much liberty.
Tuesday 1st Apr. 1851. At sea in Lat. 29.55 N. Longitude 134. Fair wind all this day and probably shall make Cape Disappointment in the course of ten days more. Have been busy today making hinges and repairing clocks for ship's use. Have read some in Addison's History of Europe. Heavy sea on tonight and barometer down to the point which usually precedes a gale. Hope we may escape any more heavy weather this trip. Tonight find we are 1085 miles from port, less than 7 days' run at the rate we have been going today. Was in Portland last night in my dreams, asked many questions, was told the mill had done a good business since my absence. Also saw [illegible] and A. B. Awl and many others that were talking of going out a few days more. I can either realize these dreams or experience a disappointment in my future prospects.
Wed. 2 Apr. Lat. 32.48 Lon. 133.50. Have made a good run this 24 hours and have a fair prospect of a speedy termination of our voyage. Weather been very squally all day. Turned out of my berth in a hurry, this to assist on deck. Blew so hard [it] took the main topsail clean from the jackstays from one end of the yard to the other. Split the main topgallant sail and made all creak again. Have been compelled to take in lightsails in consequence of the squall and had made less than we should had done if we had clear weather. 917 miles to the Columbia River.
Thurs. 3rd Apr. Lat. 35.22 Long. 132. Another good day's work having made 152 miles norther in the 24 hours. Tomorrow if we have good luck shall pass the lat. of San F. Weather disagreeably cold, squally and uncomfortable. Have spent the day in my berth and lounging about to pass the time of [day].
765 miles distant from the Cape today. The distance is wearing off rapidly and we shall soon have a feast in the sight of land. Wife received a lock of hair (alias wool) today from a friend and seems very much affected at the disinterested friendship of the donor.
Fri. 4th Apr. Lat. 37.32 Long. 132. Ther. 58. Weather cool but more pleasant than usual. Have worked at the bench all day and have done some good jobs. Have a "tearing bee" this eve after supper. Tore up part of the old spanker to stuff some cushions for the women. Passed the lat. of San F. this afternoon and tomorrow we will pass the lat. of N. York. Think we have fair prospect of seeing the Cape early next week. All well and hearty on board.
Saturday 5th Lat. 39.35 Long. [blank].
Have spent this day tinkering with my tools; done some extra jobs on my desk. Tonight write with some convenience. Am really proud of it. Have made very good progress this 24 hours. Tonight find us about 500 miles from the mouth. Weather cool and rather unpleasant. Have come to the conclusion that a portion of the cargo must be in a very damaged state from the bread ruined, also rice & cheese. Don't think the Capt. will make much by shorting us in some of the stores.
Sunday April 6th Lat. 40.33 Lon. 130.40 Dist. 452 miles.
Another holy Sabbath has been spent in idleness and without enjoying those privileges which I so much prize. 'Tis true we have the Bible to read but after having been in the constant habit of attending divine worship in the house of God even with this we find there is something lacking.
We cannot quite expect to spend our next Sabbath in Portland but [if] we are not there in two weeks from this date I shall be awfully disappointed. Weather calm all this day; have been eagerly watching for the wind to waft us onward and think we shall have it before morning.
So the coming week is to end my days of idleness for the present. I almost feel like shrinking from my coming task of anxieties and responsibility but my firm reliance is with my God. 'Tis within His power to grant me success or withhold it and He knows best what are my deserts. I am to use my powers as He has seen fit to bestow them and be satisfied with the result.
Monday Apr. 7th Lat. 41.27 Lon. 130. Dist. from C. 423 miles.
Have had a fine fresh breeze today and run along in a smooth sea. Prospect very good for making the Cape by the 10th. Have spent this day very busily engaged at my bench with my tools. Have made a drawer and a knife box and done pretty good jobs. Weather very cool today; have been uncomfortably cold though hard at work all day. Nothing occurred on board this day worthy of note. Cheerfulness seems to prevail among all hands and if we are fortunate enough to get in this week there will be some happy souls on board. 'Tis a long time to be on board one craft. Have been on board just 150 days today.
Tuesday 8th Lat. 43.17 Long. [blank] 280 miles dist. Headwind this afternoon and tonight we are in a calm. I should have the blues intolerably if it were not for my tools. Commenced another job today, presents for some friend in Portland. Have prospect of getting in Thursday if the wind favors us.
Lat. 44.18 Long. 128.33 233 miles off.
Fair wind today though moderate. We have no prospect of getting in tomorrow and but little of getting in the next day though we may possibly do so. Have been busy as usual at my bench and have done a good day's work. Have spent the evening writing at my new desk find it very convenient in two ways--one its shape and another its being in my room where the Capt. cannot annoy me while I am writing with his long yarns.
Nothing more to say now.
Thursday 10th April off Columbia River 45 miles distant.
Have made an excellent run the last 24 hours. Made the land about 4 o'clock this afternoon about 40 miles to the southward of the Cape. Have had Oregon weather all day, that is wind and rain from the south, which gives us a fair wind to beat off the coast tonight and drift to the northward. Am in hopes to get inside of the mouth of the river tomorrow. Have seen kelp in abundance this day also sea gulls & ducks. Sounded in 40 fathoms water just before we made land. This eve we see something which some made out to be a sail on our lee beam but cannot make her out to a certainty.
Saw breakers distinctly and was strongly reminded of the anxious night I spent in the Sea Queen [probably the Sequin] on this coast a little to the northward on a lee shore about a year and a half ago. I hope in mercy that we shall not get into such a fix this time.
Friday 11th April off mouth Columbia River.
Stood in to the land again this morn and saw the same rock and other landmarks that we saw last eve. Then stretched along up the coast. Soon made what I called at first Cape Disappointment but soon found my error and Capt. hauled off shore more and stood to the northward. In less than half hour saw the Cape distinctly and found ourselves near the south breakers with wind crowding us a little too close but we weathered it and stood on to the Cape. But we soon had another difficulty in the way the wind died away and the first we knew we were drifting onto the breakers. Got anchors ready to let go but the ebb tide "came in" and help[ed] us out of our predicament. We have made out Chinook Point and tomorrow God prospering us we shall go in. I think am in hopes to have the pleasure of writing my day's journey off Astoria all safe and sound.
Sat. 12th Apr. 1851 off the bar of Columbia River.
Have the luck of laying outside another night. Did really hope that we might be fortunate enough to get in today but have failed, though not without making an effort, and should have gone in or onto the bar if the wind had been strong enough to have stemmed the tide. Bust our blunderbuss all into flinders the forenoon trying to raise a pilot. Find the Capt. put entirely too much reliance on my knowledge and judgment for my comfort. I do not relish responsibility of this sort. We have been so near the breakers that we have made out the ranges and seen the opening in the bar so that we shall not hesitate a moment whenever the wind favors us again. Shall expect to be able to state that we are off Astoria tomorrow night in my next entry of day's work
Sunday April 13 off Columbia River.
Again I sit to journalize while rolling on the broad Pacific. The Capt. got so badly scared last night by the vessel's drifting into shoal water that the first wind that sprang up he put out swearing he would stay off a week before he would try it again without a fair wind and clear weather, but he has bitterly repented this afternoon as we have clear weather and a fair wind to go in with but we are here and have got to stay here for another night at least
Got very little sleep last night as the Capt. was in trouble and he is bound to keep me awake when this is the case. I regret very much that I have so much influence with him as I dared not to assume any responsibility by giving advice when I am so little qualified to give it. Have enjoyed this day but very little, feel stupid and have so much anxiety as to the result of our entering the river without a pilot. Hope next Sabbath will find me differently situated and at home in Portland enjoying the privileges of the sanctuary.
On the Columbia River, Oregon
Monday Apr. 14th. Thank God we are in at last. Saw a pilot boat just in time to save us from going ashore. 15 minutes more and the old bark would have been thumping on the beach as we were heading right onto the old channel, which is now filled up with sand. Cannot express my feelings tonight I am so much relieved from fear & anxiety.
Have been ashore and learn very unfavorable account of the country. All are crying one thing, that of the scarcity of money. And also of the condition of my partner alone. Am almost discouraged for the future.
Tonight think I may sleep a little, as I have not slept any of any consequence for two nights on account of anxiety on the bar.
Tuesday 15. In Astoria. My feeling would not permit me to sleep much last night either.
Have spent this day on shore. Have seen some old acquaintances on shore and heard some more favorable accounts from Portland, but am still down at the mouth
Have seen a steam mill in operation today that worked remarkably well. Tonight our pilot is on board and tomorrow we shall start for Portland.
On the Columbia River
Off Astoria April 16. Winds unfavorable today and we are detained in consequence much against my feelings. Have been ashore today and had a long talk with Gen. Adair in relation to the country. Told him what were my views of the condition and the cause and remedy which seem to coincide with his. Tonight have had a long talk with Capt. Scarborough, who has been in this country 21 years and is well versed with the history and events of the country. Read extracts from Wilkes' Works, which mention him. Learned a good many things which I never could have learned in any other way. Went to the graveyard today and saw the grave of D. McTavish, one of J. J. Astor's partners who was drowned in crossing the river opposite soon after the establishment of the port. On my way over the old fort ground I picked up a York shilling--which I propose to make my fortune from, provided my business has failed to do anything for me in Portland. Wife has been trying to console me all day while I have been giving way to gloomy forebodings.
Thursday 17th April. Tonight we find ourselves about 15 miles above Astoria at anchor waiting for change of tide and more breeze. Am getting over my anxieties to get to Portland from the fact that I have learned such unfavorable news that I dread to hear it confirmed. My condition is not an enviable one, though I hope to have it ameliorated before many months shall pass away if I don't ruin my health in the effort. Had "a wild goose" chase today after ducks and got some. Went ashore today before we left Astoria and saw the big tree back of the fort. Left the initials of our name on its coarse bark. Saw Gen. Adair and got a cordial invitation to take my folks ashore to his house but the wet weather prevents. Find it very pleasant sailing up the river to what it was out on the ocean, Pacific though it be called.
Tonight I have been thinking that I have made a jackass of myself in the course I have taken relative to Oregon. I regret now that I ever mentioned the place at all during my stay in the States for fear I may be the means of getting some out that will be dissatisfied.
Friday Apr. 18th 1851. Have spent this day watching the scenery on the river and meditating upon the prospects ahead. Met the steamer Lot Whitcomb coming down this evening with no passengers that I saw. Tonight finds me down with the blues hard and fast. Cannot shake it off. I am anticipating everything unfavorable to my prospect on my arrival in Portland. Must meet it manfully and overcome all that is surmountable and the balance I must dig through in some way. Took a tramp after ducks this morning and as usual failed to get any. Soon after our return an Indian came alongside with ten geese & ten ducks, which the Capt. purchased.
Get sight of Mt. Hood in all its splendor tonight for the first time since my return. Tonight I am thinking how much I would like to get into business with some men of high standing and of wealth where I could be properly appreciated and where I could be secure in making a fortune. I am now inclined to think that I would prefer to be alone in some picayune business than to be with those whose reputation for wealth is so doubtful.
Sat. 19th. Near mouth Cowlitz [River].
This Sat. night finds us if not in Portland, pretty near to it, and I cannot begin to realize the pleasing emotions that I had anticipated though I suppose the news from there had had something to do with my [un]pleasant feelings. Another week will pass away and I shall know more of my future prospects than I now do and shall either be bluer or free from them entirely. Have had [a] fine view along the river today. Have seen many new cabins along the shore where claims are being set up for future operating. Have worked a little today with my tools.
Sunday 20th April 1851.
Have been detained all this day with a headwind. The steamer Lot Whitcomb passed this morning on up trip. She rang her bell, expecting no doubt to get passengers, but she was too early in the day for our use. Saw an old acquaintance today on the bark Success, as she passed us on her down trip. Have been very quiet all day and seem to get quiet more and more as I get nearer to my home. Have slept some, read some and walked, sick the balance of the time. Find ourselves nearly opposite my camping place on my way up the river when I came here first. Could I then had my family with me I should now have been worth some property I think, for I have spent quite a little fortune since that time in returning and getting back to this place. But all will be right in the end I have no doubt.
Monday Apr. 21. Columbia River.
Have made little progress today and tonight we "bring up" 10 miles below the mouth of the Willamette although we are so near our stopping place I frequently hear complaints through the day "that we have so far to go yet" and I think the mind is just as far from being at ease as when we had 4000 miles as it is now that we have only 25. Was amused and shocked both at some remarks I heard pass between the Capt., pilot & mate today. The pilot was whistling for a breeze. The Capt. came along and asked if he (the P.) thought that would bring a wind. The P. answered "It was an old habit of his." "What? Whistle to God Almighty for a breeze just as you would for a dog?" Says the Capt. "'Tis no uncommon thing to hear men speak of a dog with more respect than of God," says the mate, "and I am sorry to say that I may class myself among its number." I felt that it was all too true from what I have seen since I have been on board this craft. Somehow tonight finds me in better spirits than usual; hope I may continue so. Have done some little puttering jobs today with my tools and about the last I shall do while I am on board this craft I think. All well.
Tuesday 22. Arrived in Portland this day and find many friends to welcome me and a good house for my family. Am a little blue at my prospects and think that I would have done more than has been done for my interest to say the least.
Wed. 23rd. Have spent this day looking about town; find that I am lost among the improvements that have been going on since my leaving. Have met many old friends and been warmly welcomed
Thurs. 24. Have spent this day in trying to decide what I will take hold of. Am much wanted in the new mill. Shall decide in the course of this next week what I shall do.
Fri. 25. Met Mr. Ferguson today, seemed glad to meet me and expressed himself desirous that I should take hold of the upper mill and make it do something. Have received some letters from the Hon. Mr. Sheraton. Time was when I would have been proud to have recd. a letter from him, but now I consider my standing quite as good if not better than his, in this town especially.
Sat. 26. I came very near my end this day in having a tree fall nearly onto my head. Just escaped and that was all. Tonight have agreed upon a contract with Mr. Coffin to take a charge of both mills. Think my prospects are very good on the frontier.
Sunday Apr. 27. Have attended church today for the first time since November last. Enjoyed it some but had a difficult task to keep my mind from ranging upon my business. This eve had a social prayer meeting at Mr. Lyman's this eve and enjoyed ourselves very much. Mrs. Comfort called upon us today; was glad to see her
Had my feeling very much worked up today by R. Hope I shall not have occasion to feel so again for the present.
Monday 28th. Commenced this day in earnest at the upper mill. Have concluded to tear down a while and put up again in a different shape. Today the lower mill has charged nearly $200 in lumber today which is doing pretty well considering.
Monday 28th. Word has come to town today that Mr. Thurston is dead. I regret to hear it. Have spent this day at the upper mill very busily engaged repairing and refitting. Have had a bill come in today for 100000 ft. lumber [for the Great Plank Road] but we cannot furnish it at present.
LUMBER.--The subscriber is now prepared to furnish bills of lumber of all kinds for building purposes, at a short notice, and hopes soon, by the erection of an additional mill, to prevent the necessity of builders going at a distance for their materials.1851-5-4
Sunday May 4th 1851. Have spent the past week about the upper mill. Have been so busy that I have thought of nothing but my business. And have found myself too tired to write nights. Nothing occurred since I wrote last worthy of note. Have come very near my end twice since by accident, but through the mercy of God have been spared. Have never in my life felt so much like acknowledging God in all my ways as recently. Have met with so many near escapes & through the interposition of His providing have been preserved through them all. Have attended church today at the Methodist church and heard an excellent discourse by Mr. Wilbur. Shall expect to get into our church in a few weeks where we can worship our Maker and enjoy other privileges of which we have so long [been] deprived. Wife has been very sick since my last writing. I was very much alarmed and sent for a physician in the night. Was able to get her relieved before he arrived. Raining all this day. Met Mr. Cox at church today.
Monday 5th. Have been bothered today to keep my men to work for want of material. Am fretting very much about the mills lying idle but cannot help it now. Am in hopes to get the engine moving this week and perhaps one saw. News from the mines are very good and seem to be causing great excitement in town. Fear I may lose the hands from the mill but hope not.
Tuesday 6th. Have spent this day at the mill as busy as usual. Have got the line of shafts in and the pump and heater with pipes trimmed to fit; begin to see my way through. News still more astonishing from the mines today. Have got very tired tonight running from one mill to another giving directions, have had to think, very busy.
Wednesday 7 May. Have learned this day that Howland & Aspinwall design settling here and are now certain this is to be the city of Oregon in time. Have spent this day about the mill as usual. Have done business but accomplished but little.
Friday May 9th 1851. Have made very slow progress at the mill today and am getting quite nervous, but it doesn't help it. Mr. F. Comfort called this eve with some friends--and were much pleased to hear him sing so well.
Father came over today at the mill. [Abrams' millwright father, John Abrams, came to Oregon in 1850-51.] Have had to oversee him after his having done the same thing over me in former days.
Sat. May 10th 1851. Have worked very hard this week and accomplished but little. Tomorrow is a day of rest and will be acceptable. Have a notion that I will have things running by next Saturday night. Old mill doing a good business.
Monday 12th May. Have commenced bolting down preparatory to starting. Think I will have things to stand this time most certain.
Sent my letters yesterday to California to Reamer, Hibben, [to the] States to Chapman.
Thursday 15th. Have started the engine today and one part of the line of shafts. Think I have made some improvements in the other place. Meet more and more of my old acquaintances, all of whom seem glad to welcome me back. Tonight finds me pretty well used up with hard labor. A few days more and I hope to get a little release. Have spent this week trying to plan some way to board my [illegible].
Bancroft Library MSS C-F 65
William P. Abrams Headstone, Multnomah Park Cemetery, Portland
Last revised December 8, 2019