My Ancestors (16 and 17)- Shubael Folger and Jerusha Clark – 1700 – 1778

(1) Shubael Folger; (2) Phoebe (Floger) Marshall; (3) Major Elihu Marshall, (4) Elizabeth (Marshall) Guion, (5) Elijah Guion, (6) Elijah Guion II, (7) Alfred Beck Guion, (8) Alfred Duryee Guion, (9) Alfred Peabody Guion, (10) Judith Anne Guion

Shubael Folger, born in 1700, married Jerusha Clark on December 10, 1721. Jerusha was born in Nantucket on May 2, 1702, hence she was 19 at the time. I know that they put in a cool 55 years of wedded life together — longer than any other of our long-live ancestors—for Shubael died on Nantucket August 22, 1776, and Jerusha not until August 20, 1778. And I know that Jerusha must have been a rather precocious girl, for she had a first husband, Jonathan Ramsdell, who died, and she married Shubael, her second husband, when she was only 19.

I know that Jerusha’s parents were Nantucket people, probably of the later crop who came to the island fairly young; they were married on Nantucket on December 13, 1700, and Jerusha was born 17 months later. But I can’t find out who Jerusha’s parents’ parents were or when they came across to America.

Jerusha’s father was Thomas Clark. He might have come to Nantucket any time before 1700, when he was married there. The legend is that his father was a John Clark “of Plymouth”. I ransacked the Plymouth records and found four Thomas Clark’s born there in the latter 1600s, but none of them had a father named John. So that line of inquiry was a dead-end. There is no particularly early-arrived Clark recorded in the Plymouth records, so it makes little difference.

Jerusha’s mother was Mary Church, and the only date I have for her is that of her marriage to Thomas Clark in 1700. Tradition says that Mary’s father was a John Church, otherwise completely unidentified, and that her mother was called “Abigail of Cocheco”. Now, if you can find a John church and identify him from all the John churches in the many Massachusetts towns, and if you can discover who on earth “Abigail of Cocheco” was and when she came over, you will have solved this mystery; but I surrender. Thomas Clark and Mary Church first emerge to view on Nantucket in 1700 as far as I am concerned; they married then, and Jerusha Clark was their daughter. And Shubael Folger married Jerusha Clark in 1721.

Shubael and Jerusha became the parents of Phoebe Folger, Major Marshal’s mother. Phoebe, as previously stated, was born on Nantucket November 2, 1724; Phoebe married the second Joseph Marshall in 1740 and bore Elihu Marshall in 1750.

And Elihu Marshall fought seven years in the Revolution, married Susanna Brown of New York, and (I assume) gave his daughter Elizabeth away when she became the bride of Elijah Guion at her New Rochelle wedding on May 10, 1798. So far, we have traced Elizabeth Marshall’s ancestors, the Hussy-Bachiler-Bunker-Marshall (paternal) ancestors and that of Elizabeth’s Folger-Barnard-Clark-Church (maternal) ancestors.

Source: COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Next Sunday, we shall begin to trace Elijah Guion’s Guion ancestors beginning with Louis Guion, born in a La Rochelle, France in 1654.

This coming week I’ll be posting letters written in 1943. Lad and Marian (my parents) have met and seem to be getting along quite well. Dan is in England, Ced is in Alaska, Dick is in Brazil Dave is still in high school in Trumbull.

Judy Guion

 

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My Ancestors (14 and 15)- Robert and Thomas Barnard

 (1) Robert and Thomas Barnard; (2) Nathaniel Barnard and Mary Barnard; (3) Shubael Folger; (4) Phoebe (Floger) Marshall; (5) Major Elihu Marshall, (6) Elizabeth (Marshall) Guion, (7) Elijah Guion, (8) Elijah Guion II, (9) Alfred Beck Guion, (10) Alfred Duryee Guion, (11) Alfred Peabody Guion, (12) Judith Anne Guion

Robert and Thomas Barnard were brothers; I don’t know which was the older, but I think it was Robert; Thomas, we know, was born in 1612. As usual they were Dissenters.

Robert crossed the Atlantic first, in 1642; he hadn’t married at that time. He settled at Salisbury, where, you may remember, Thomas Macy and Robert Pike, Christopher Hussey’s friends who had Puritan trouble, lived. Robert stayed at Salisbury only two years, then in 1644 moved to Andover. The records call him simply a “husbandman”, meaning that he had a farm.

At Andover, Robert married Joanna Harvey. She was a widow with two children, and one account says she came from Plymouth, where her parents lived.

Robert and Joanna Barnard had a daughter, Mary. born at Andover on April 8, 1648. Mary was two, when, in 1650, Robert’s brother Thomas arrived from England; Thomas is described as a “husbandman” and a “trader”. Thomas’s wife seems to have died in England, for he was accompanied only by his seven-year-old son, Nathaniel. Thomas settled at Salisbury, where he soon became a close friend and business associate of Thomas Macy.

There is no record of any trouble had by either Barnard brother with the Puritan tyranny. But when Macy, Peasley and Pike had their last difficulty, and the group at Salisbury got the idea of buying Nantucket and moving there, both Barnards took a financial share in the venture. Thomas never did live on Nantucket, remaining at Salisbury, where he handled the Macy interests for many years. Robert waited until the new settlement was established, then in 1663 moved to Nantucket, accompanied by his wife and their five-year-old daughter. Mary Barnard grew up on Nantucket, but it appears she never forgot her cousin Nathaniel, for, in 1666, when she was 18 and Nathaniel 24, these first cousins married. Nathaniel, who previously had lived at Salisbury with his father Thomas, now became a Nantucketer under patronage of  his uncle and father-in-law, Robert Barnard.

The records of Robert Barnard’s life on Nantucket are routine in type: he held office, the proprietors met at his house, etc. He was, however, one of the more well-to-do settlers. Thomas Barnard, at Salisbury, died first; one record says he was killed by the Indians in 1677. Robert died on Nantucket in 1683; his wife Joanna outlived him, dying in 1705.

As to the married cousins, Nathaniel and Mary, they put in almost 50 years of wedded life during Nantucket’s first half-century; they had 8 children, Barnards on both sides who married into the Macy, Coffin, Floger, Chase and other Nantucket families. They were considerably younger than Peter Folger, and younger than Stephen Hussey though about the same age and Stephen’s wife Martha Bunker, and they both died in the same year as the aged Stephen. That year was 1718; Mary Barnard died on January 17, Stephen Hussey on February 2 and Nathaniel Barnard on April 3. Perhaps there was a bad winter or an epidemic; still, these people were sufficiently old, 70, 88 and 76 respectfully.

How do the Barnard’s tie in with our story? Well, the first child of Nathaniel and Mary Barnard was a girl, named after her mother, Mary; born on Nantucket the year after her parent’s marriage, on February 23, 1667.

Peter Folger’s son, John, born on the Vineyard in 1659, grew up on Nantucket and, from the island girls, selected this younger Mary Barnard as his wife. They were married about the time of Peter’s death in 1690, but I haven’t the precise date.

The records show that this pair had good, long lives, John Folger living until August 23, 1732, and Mary until August of 1737. Their children, as usual, married into other island families.

One of those children (actually their 5th son) was Shubael (or Shubach) Folger, born August 25, 1700.  His death occurred on August 22, 1776. He was still living when his grandson, Elihu Marshall, left home and went off to war.

But I’m getting ahead of myself and that is a story for another day. Next Sunday, more about Shubael Folger and his wife, Jerusha Clark.

Source: COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in the summer of 1946. Lad and Marian have just added twins to the family. Dan, Paulette and baby Arla are still in France, waiting for the time when they will be able to travel to Trumbull. Ced is still in Alaska, Dick and Jean are living in the Trumbull house and Dave is finally home from Manila and making plans for the future.

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (9) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlop (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was going from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Started at daylight, and stopped to breakfast at an old scow, that had been fastened, high and dry on the bank, and converted into an eating house. In the course of the morning, several of us took a walk of several miles on shore. In the course of the walk, saw an alligator, also several well-beaten paths made by ants. (?) Lizards from 6 in. to 1 foot in length were numerous. During the day we saw a few monkeys, some iguanas (?), and numerous parrots and paraquets. Before reaching Gorgona passed a ________ banana plantation, ¼ of a mile in length, reaching Gorgona at 3 o’clock. At G is a fine circular beach, covered with gravel. G is situated on a hill, and commands a fine view of the hills and valleys around. Hotels and eating houses, of course, are sufficiently abundant. I contracted to have my baggage conveyed to Panama for 8$ per hundred, took a bath in the Chagres River, and took lodgings at an American hotel.

Journal

Traveling on this river in the cool of the morning is decidedly pleasant. The delightful temperature of the air, the river banks covered with the vegetation of the tropics, as a general thing down to the river’s edge, the songs of small birds, and the screams of the numerous parrots and parroquets flying above us, the perfume of various flowers, and the novelty of the whole scene, after seeing little except water for nearly 1 ½ weeks, these taken all together make the time to be remembered with pleasure. We stopped at 8 o’clock at a hotel for breakfast, and after a short delay, started again. Our men now laid by their oars, and propelled the boat by means of poles. We travel rather faster this way, but it is more laborious for the men, indeed at times, while passing over places where the stream is quite rapid, the labors of the boatmen are quite severe. Our Captain and one of his men are Dutch creoles from the island of Curacoa, – at least so they say, and can converse in English quite tolerably – the other is a black where from I cannot tell, but they are all pretty stout fellows. We stopped at 12 ½ o’clock to dine, and then travelled on till night, when we stopped at another of the hotels on the river’s bank. These hotels are generally built after the native style, and they furnish bread, ham, tea and coffee, at the rate of 75 cts, a meal, or one dime for a cup of coffee or tea. I have not patronized them any as yet, having eaten my own provisions and drank the water of the river, and I have got along very well as yet. We saw 2 birds to day, supposed to be the wild turkey of this region, several pistol shots were fired at them, but without either hurting them or frightening them so as to make them fly away. We also saw stalks of sugar cane at the stopping places. The people here strip off the outside, and chew the balance for the sake of the juice. It is very sweet, and I should suppose quite nutritious. Slept in the boat again, after a fashion.

Tomorrow two of My Ancestors, brothers Robert and Thomas Barnard. On Monday I’ll start posting letters written in 1946. Lad and Marian have just added twins to the family. Dan, Paulette and baby Arla are still in France, waiting for the time when they will be able to travel to Trumbull. Ced is still in Alaska, Dick and Jean are living in the Trumbull house and Dave is finally home from Manila and making plans for the future.

Judy Guion

My Ancestors (13) – Peter Folger – 1617 – 1690

(1) Peter Folger, (2) Phoebe (Floger) Marshall (3) Major Elihu Marshall, (4) Elizabeth (Marshall) Guion, (5) Elijah Guion, (6) Elijah Guion II, (7) Alfred Beck Guion, (8) Alfred Duryee Guion, (9) Alfred Peabody Guion, (10) Judith Anne Guion

Peter Folger had a useful, versatile, practical cast of mind, combined with staunch idealism, that reminds one of his grandson, Benjamin Franklin, later on, and may in fact have been Franklin’s model. Franklin, you’ll remember, never could see anything that needed doing, from inventing a new stove or streetlamp to launching newspapers and founding libraries and philosophical societies, without getting in and doing it. Peter Folger, who knew surveying, first laid out Edgartown and its surrounding farms, then became the town’s first school-master, town clerk and record-keeper, and finally it’s only magistrate. He learned the Indian tongue, served as the settlers’ translator and diplomat in their dealings with the tribe, and the school that he taught had Indian children in it as well as white. In addition, he served as the Rev. Mayhew’s assistant preacher; he wasn’t ordained, but that made no difference; he preached sermons and conducted services, and Peter Folger’s christenings and marriages were as good as anyone’s in the settler’s opinion.

A prime challenge to Peter Folger’s scholarship lay just ahead. In the work of Christianizing the Indians, the Rev. Mayhew decided to translate the Bible into the Narragansett language. He is mentioned in our schoolbooks as the first man to put the Bible into an Indian tongue; what isn’t mentioned, though it is embedded in Nantucket tradition and is obviously true, is that Peter Folger helped him do it. It certainly was never a one-man work, and there isn’t the slightest reason to doubt the tradition. Here was one of the outstanding intellectual feats in the annals of the colonies, and it was a religious labor-of-love as well. The translation was made, and used to good purpose, while on the mainland the best minds were locked in bitter doctrinal disputes.

Such was Peter Folger’s life from 1642 until after 1660. There was one important interlude, however, in 1644. Peter, at that time, went by boat around the tip of Cape Cod and up to Salem, to get Mary Morrell for his wife. Her indenture wasn’t fully worked out, and he paid the Rev. Hugh Peter 20 pounds of English money for her — he said ever afterward that it was the “best bargain he ever made in his life”. It was at this time that Rev. Hugh Peter was returning to England, probably explaining why he was willing to make the sale.

Our ancestor, Mary Morrell, had an interesting “owner” during her nine years of servitude. And she had an interesting husband after her freedom was bought.

Peter Folger and Mary Morrell had a dozen children, all but one of them born on Martha’s Vineyard. (That last one was Abiah, who married Josiah Franklin of Boston as Josiah’s second wife and became the mother of Benjamin Franklin. Abiah was born on Nantucket after Peter and his family moved there.) There are still plenty of Folgers on Nantucket and elsewhere, and all are Peter Folger’s descendants.

When the Macy-Coffin-Pike-Hussey group from Salisbury and Hampton visited Martha’s Vineyard in 1659, to discuss the purchase of Nantucket with Mayhew, they naturally contacted Peter, Mayhew’s chief assistant. It was Peter Folger who sailed over to Nantucket with their party to guide them around and serve as their translator to the Nantucket Indians. Peter had been there before — some work had been done towards Christianizing those Indians too — but the smaller island hadn’t been settled by whites. The purchase was accomplished; and the next year, 1660, when the first settlers including Stephen Hussey arrived, they hired Peter as surveyor to lay out the new town – called Sherburne; it is Nantucket today — and to establish the lines of the various farms.

They liked him and he liked them. Overtures for him to come over and manage the new colony were made during the next couple of years, but Peter didn’t accept until his mother, and also the Rev. Mayhew, died. Then in 1663 he took the offer and became a Nantucketer for the remaining 27 years of his life, always being referred to in the old records as Nantucket’s “most useful man.”

He was at this time about 46. As before, he became Nantucket’s town clerk, keeper of records, schoolmaster, chief magistrate and Sessler of disputes. In 1666 a gristmill was needed to grind the grain; Peter designed and built it and became the Miller. The settlers needed cloth; Peter built the town a little, learned weaving himself, then taught two women to Wii. He served as Nantucket’s blacksmith and worked iron for the early ships. He continued to preach, and I find no record of any other preacher on Nantucket. He had a literary streak, and produced occasional poems. He practiced immersion, and is on record as having it baptized one Nantucket girl in a pond. He was named on several special committees, the phrase “Peter Folger consenting” being used to indicate that no action could be taken unless he agreed.

But Peter had a very independent streak, which emerged as he grew older. To begin with, while the rest of the island was turning toward Quakerism, Peter became an Anabaptist — this being the other persecuted religious sect, and a completely anarchistic one as far as authority was concerned, each member communing directly with his God. (Peter’s descendants, however, became Quakers like the rest.”

And up flair of rebellion against the full-share owners, in which Peter adopted cause of the “little man” and led the fray, occurred in 1673. The control of Nantucket’s public affairs rested with the share-owners, as in a corporation; Tristam Kaufman, a full share owner, was the island’s chief boss, with Thomas Macy and Robert Bernard seconding him. Other shares had been subdivided, so that there were half-share and quarter-share man, who had correspondingly smaller votes. The full-share owners appear to have shoved the “little man” around, and in 1673 they especially offended Peter Folger by electing Peter Coffin as assistant magistrate.

This set off the only real dispute that ever occurred on the island. Peter was record-keeper of the island’s court, and he refused to surrender the “court booke” to Peter Coffin. Result: a session of the General Court was held, older was summoned before it, and, still refusing to turn over the “booke”, was thrown into jail for contempt of court. The jail, as he later described it in a letter written in 1677, was a place “where the Neighbors Hogges had layed but the Night before, and in a bitter cold Frost and deep Snow. They had only thrown out most of the Durt, Hogges Dung and Snow; the rest the Constable told me I might Ly upon if I would.” Folger was released after a day or so, and he never did surrender that “court booke” which continues missing from Nantucket’s records to this day.

Peter Folger died on Nantucket in 1690. He was, in his way and earlier Franklin, and this is recognized by modern encyclopedias of American biography, which quite commonly include brief write-ups of Peter Folger, as well as of the Rev. Stephen Bachiler and, in some cases, of Christopher Hussey. Major Elihu Marshall was Peter’s direct descendant through Phoebe Folger, his mother; and since Major Marshall was our ancestor, Peter Folger was too. We are descended from Peter and Mary Morrell through their son John, born on Martha’s Vineyard in 1659. John was some eight years older than his younger sister, Abiah, the mother of Benjamin Franklin.

I will go into more depth about our relationship to Benjamin Franklin in a future post.

Source: COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

For more information, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Folger_(Nantucket_settler)

Next Sunday we will meet the Barnards, ancestors of Mary Barnard, who married John Folger.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1944. By this time, all five of Grandpa’s sons are serving Uncle Sam in a variety of circumstances. Only Grandpa hold’s down the fort with Dick’s wife, Jean (Mortensen) Guion.

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (8) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlop (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was going from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary:

(Feb.)  8th.  Started before daylight this morning. Stopped at 8 o’clock to breakfast. On starting again, in consequence of increasing swiftness of the current, the oars were laid aside, and long poles substituted. The labors of the boatmen at times during the day were quite severe. At 12:30, stopped to eat dinner, and then traveled on till night. Stopped for the night at the village, the name of which I did not know. We passed a number of villages today and saw a good deal of handsome scenery. We also saw a pair of a species of wild turkey. Slept on the boat again.

Journal:

8th. Traveling on this river during the cool of the morning is decidedly pleasant. The delightful temperature of the air, the riverbanks covered with the vegetation of the tropics, as a general thing down to the river’s edge, the songs of small birds, and the screams of the numerous parrots and parroquets flying above us, the perfume of the various flowers, and the novelty of the whole scene, after seeing little except water for nearly 1 ½ weeks, these taken all together make the time one to be remembered with pleasure. We stopped at 8 o’clock at a hotel for breakfast, and after a short delay started again. Our men now laid by their oars, and propelled the boat by means of poles. We travel rather faster this way, but it is more laborious for the men, indeed at times, while passing over places where the stream is quite rapid, the labors of the boatmen are very severe. Our captain and one of his men are Dutch creoles from the island of Curaçao – at least so they say, and can converse in English quite tolerably – the other is a black where from I cannot tell, but they are all pretty stout fellows. We stopped at 12:30 o’clock to dine, and then traveled on till night, when we stopped at another of the hotels on the river’s bank. These hotels are generally built after the native style, and they furnished bread, ham, tea and coffee, at the rates of $.75 a meal, or one dime for a cup of tea or coffee. I have not patronized any of them as yet, having eaten my own provisions and drank the water of the river, and I have got along very well as yet. We saw two birds today, supposed to be the wild turkey of this region, several pistol shots were fired at them, but without either hurting them or frightening them so as to make them fly away. We also saw stalks of sugar cane at the stopping places. The people here strip off the outside, and chew the balance for the sake of the juice. It is very sweet, and I should suppose quite nutritious. Slept in the boat again, after a fashion.

Tomorrow another of My Ancestors. On Monday I’ll start posting letters written in 1944 when all five sons are helping Uncle Sam win the War.

Judy Guion

My Ancestors (12) – John Folger – 1617 – 1669

 (1) John Folger (2) Peter Folger, (3) Phoebe (Floger) Marshall (4) Major Elihu Marshall, (5) Elizabeth (Marshall) Guion, (6) Elijah Guion, (7) Elijah Guion II, (8) Alfred Beck Guion, (9) Alfred Duryee Guion, (10) Alfred Peabody Guion, (11) Judith Anne Guion

Benjamin Franklin in the famous “Autobiography”, first chapter, says that the Folger family was originally Flemish and came to England in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The Folgers settled in Norwich, England, where John Folger was born about 1590.

John Folger married an English girl, Meribah or Merrible Gibbs. The date of that marriage isn’t known, but was probably 1616, for in 1617, still at Norwich, their only son, Peter Folger, was born.

The Folgers were Dissenters. It was in 1635 that they joined the “westward movement” and sailed to America, aboard the good ship “Abigaile”. That was five years after Christopher Hussey and Theodate Bachiler had crossed, three years after Stephen Bachiler had joined them, and a year after George Bunker had arrived. Peter, the son, was 17 or 18 at the time.

The Folgers were “freemen” and paid their passages. But aboard the “Abigaile” was a girl named Mary Morrell, from I don’t know where, but evidently traveling alone; Mary came under indenture, meaning that she would have to work out her passage-money by several years of servitude after reaching New England. And aboard the same ship was a fiery and a brilliant young Puritan preacher, Rev. Hugh Peter, the same who was considered for a time as successor to old Stephen Bachiler at Lynn, but who went to Salem instead. Hugh Peter and John Folger became close friends aboard the ship and remained so.

The main incident of the trip was that young Peter Folger, during the eight-weeks passage, fell dead in love with Mary Morrell. But he was too young to marry and she had her indenture to work out, so nothing came of it at the time. The Rev. Hugh Peter liked the girl and, upon arriving in Boston, bought her indenture. She was a friendly “slave” in Hugh Peter’s clerical household for the next nine years.

The Folgers stayed three years in Boston, then, when a group was formed in 1638 to settle Dedham, inland from Boston at the head of the Suffolk marshes, they joined it; John Folger was among Dedham’s original proprietors. They lived six years at Dedham, then moved to Watertown, where they owned 6 acres. They had just come to Watertown, in 1642, when their whole life changed.

They became associated with a very remarkable man, the Rev. Thomas Mayhew, who can only be described as a primitive Christian. Neither Folger nor Mayhew had had any overt trouble with the Puritans — unlike Bachiler, they were non-resistants — but they disliked the banishment of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, and in 1642, Mayhew decided quietly to banish himself. On his mind was the thought that the Indians, instead of being slaughtered, should be converted and educated in the Christian faith. Out of this thought came the purchase of the two islands, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which were thickly settled by the Gayhead branch of Narragansetts at the time, and, being under New York jurisdiction, were out of Puritan reach.

Mayhew bought both islands. He and a small body of followers, including the three Folgers, sailed out to Martha’s Vineyard, the larger island, and founded Edgartown in 1642. It was a dangerous venture — the Pequot War was at its height, Puritan trainbands (including that led by Christopher Hussey) were killing all the Indians they could find at the time, and this Mayhew party went un-armed. They built a rude village of stones, mud and brush, made friends with the islands sachems, and proceeded to make Martha’s Vineyard an island of peace in the midst of the Indian war.

John Folger, the father, cleared land and farmed it, doubtless with Indian aid. Young Peter, now in his mid-20s, and unusually well-educated for that time, soon became the Rev. Mayhew’s right-hand man and chief assistant.

Source: COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Next Sunday we will follow the life of Peter Folger.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1943. Lad is in California, Dan is in  Pennsylvania getting further training for overseas, Ced is in Alaska working at an airfield as a mechanic, Dick is in Florida and Dave is still home with Grandpa.

Judy Hardy

Voyage to California (7) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlop (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was going from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary:

(Feb.)  7th.  Arrived at Chagres at 1:30 P.M., and were quickly surrounded by small boats from the shore. Engaged a passage in one for $1 and set out. The old Fort, the tropical vegetation, the little fleet of boats and canoes of many different sizes, shapes and structure, the different kinds of people who propel them, the curious little town and the crowds who thronged the shore, all conspired to make the scene at landing novel, picturesque, and beautiful. Procured a passage to Gorgona, and after considerable delay, got started up the river. Night was closing in when we set off, so that but little could be seen, but the stillness of the night, the noises of various insects, and the very motion of the boat, so different from the rolling of the steamer, made the traveling quite pleasant. We arrived at Gatun about 8 miles from Chagres, and stopped for the night. Gatun is a village composed of a few straggling huts built after the fashion of the country, that is, cane, thatched with palm leaves. We passengers, 9 in number, and the captain of the boat, all slept on board, storing ourselves away among the baggage as best we could. On first landing from the steamer today and attempting to walk on shore, I felt as if the ground was in motion under me, and it was not without some difficulty that I could walk steadily.

Journal:

7th.The coast was visible on our left from an early hour this morning; before noon it was visible directly ahead, & at half past one, the rattling of the chain cable and the report of the ship’s cannon, announced that our journeying in the Cherokee * , for this time at least, was ended. The view from the deck of the Cherokee was quite a pleasant one. To our left, at a distance of 8 miles, the buildings of the Panama Railroad Company were plainly visible. In front was a rocky, precipitous coast, crowned by the old deserted castle. A little to the right of the castle, the new town of Chagres, with the shipping in front of it, was discernible. Still farther to the right, the coast stretched away in a line of hills covered with vegetation. The anchor had hardly been cast before boats were seen coming off from shore, and in a short time we had several along side. The first boat that reached us was from one of the steamers, of which there were four lying at anchor at no great distance. It contained some of the officers of the boat, who came over, I suppose, to exchange salutations with the officers of the Cherokee. Our business was with those who came from shore, and a driving of bargains quickly commenced with them. I don’t know that anything was gained, however, by bargaining, for the only prices I heard asked were those which were finally paid. (The Ships Company paid one dollar towards putting us ashore, and it cost us one dollar more each, making a charge of two dollars per man for being rowed about 1 mile.) Six of us had joined together for the passage of the Isthmus, and after considerable delay, we, with a number of others and our baggage, were at length placed in one of the boats. Getting into the boats from the vessel was rather a delicate operation. The ship was anchored about a mile from the shore, where the waves were high enough to keep it constantly in motion, and of course knocked a small boat about a good deal worse, so that in spite of the men in it holding onto a rope letdown for the purpose, one minute it would be up almost against the ship’s side, and the rebound of the wave would send it 6 or 8 feet from it. A little care was therefore necessary to see that the boat was under us and not somewhere else when we stepped off the ladder. We at length left the ship’s side, however, with nothing worse than an occasional shower of spray from the waves that struck the vessel, and once away from it, the trouble with the waves was over: the boat rode them finally, and the light, easy motion, after the heavy role of the ship, was quite exhilarating. In a short time we entered the Chagres River, passed the old castle, situated on its right bank, and came in full view of both the old and new Chagres, one to the right, the other on the left bank of the river. There was a number of small vessels, which I suppose had entered the river at high tide, lying moored at the shore, and a large number of whale boats, common boats, flat-bottomed boats, canoes, hollow logs and all sorts of nondescript water vehicles, tied fast or moving about in various directions. Some were manned by men who probably once passed for white; others by men of various shades, from the indisputably black to the Creole; and a few little canoes were floating about, navigated entirely by native señoritas. The new town of Chagres contains a number of frame sheds, termed hotels, eating houses etc., For the floors of which the proprietors have nobody to think but Mother Earth, and a considerable number of dwellings built after the fashion of the natives, i.e. cane, roofed with palm leaves. After considerable time spent in bargaining, and taking three more into our original company of six, we finally made an arrangement with a boat man to land us and our baggage ([at Gorgona]. After making our bargain, getting our baggage on board, our company, together, ready to start, and paying half the fare, our captain vamoosed, under the plea of getting provisions for the voyage, and remained absent for what seemed to us a long time. At length, however, he came, and we pushed off, but now came a new trial of our patience. The captain said we had to go over to the old town of Chagres for his crew, (consisting of two men) to get their provisions, so there we went, and spent near another hour waiting for them; and it was after sundown when we finally started up the river. I must however, do the captain the justice to say that he has since been faithful to his promises, and prompt in starting after our stoppages, and his men have worked hard and consistently. Our men rowed us this evening a distance of 8 miles to Gatun, a little town of cane houses, here we stopped for the night. The lateness of the hour precluded the idea of taking a view of the town, so we soon set about making arrangements for sleeping in the boat. This was no very easy matter, there being nine of us and the captain, and our boat nearly half full of luggage. The difficulty of the undertaking was also increased by the arrivals of other boats until a late hour, and the exclamations of those in uneasy situations, both in our own boat and those alongside. There was a little dozing, but not much sleeping, done during the night, and the next morning, we were off again before daylight.

* – CHEROKEE
1245 tons, length 210.7 ft x beam 35.3 ft, wooden hull, side paddle wheels, three masts. Launched 12th Jun.1848 by William H.Webb, New York for the New York & Savannah SN Co. and sailed for Savannah on 3rd Oct.1848. Purchased by Howard & Aspinwall, she was used on their New York – Chagres Line from 13th Dec.1849. She burned at her dock at the foot of Warren Street, New York on 27th Aug.1853, scuttled and later re-floated, she did not re-enter the Chagres service and was owned by the United States Mail SS Co. in 1855.

This information was recorded in a comment from an earlier post about John Jackson Lewis’s Voyage to California, from a fellow Blogger, Mrs. P, (https://mpozzanghera.wordpress.com/), who has a remarkable knack for finding things on the internet. I could never match her expertise.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting a week of letters written in 1943. Life is getting interesting for Lad in California.

Judy Guion