Voyage to California (27) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Day clear and pleasant.  In sight of the coast part of the day.  A gambler on board opened a monte bank in the steerage cabin last evening and was reported to have made $75 by his operation.  Distance 205 miles.

Journal

Nothing remarkable to note of this days occurrences, in sight of the coast part of the day, pleasant weather, and 205 miles accomplished, being the chief events.  The monte banker plied his trade again in the evening, and, as one who played with him and lost by him informed me, made about $100.  A number of the passengers are quite dissatisfied at such proceedings being permitted on board.

I will continue this story next Saturday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more information about the Rev. Elijah and Clara Guion and their daughter’s marriages. 

Next week, I will continue this story at the very beginning with Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion, my Grandfather’s memories of growing up in Mount Vernon, New York in the 1880’s and 1890’s. 

Judy Guion

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Voyage to California (26) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Cape St. Lucas in sight this morning, weather clear and cool so that a cloth coat could be borne very comfortably all day.  Nearest land at noon, Cape St. Lucas, distant 28 miles.  Distance sales 218 miles.

Journal

Weather clear again this morning, but cool enough to make a coat quite comfortable all day.  The wind is fresh, bracing and invigorating, and makes me feel more like myself again.  Cape St. Lucas has been in sight most of the day, distance at noon 28 miles.  Distance accomplished 218 miles.  Something new introduced into the steerage this evening: this was nothing less than a monte bank.  Some of the passengers and crew bet small sums, but, as is usual I suppose in such cases, the banker was the chief gainer, his process I suppose amounting to some $20 or $30 for the evening’s work.

I will continue this story next Saturday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more information about the Rev. Elijah and Clara Guion and their daughter’s marriages. 

Next week, I will continue this story at the very beginning with Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion, my Grandfather’s memories of growing up in Mount Vernon, New York in the 1880’s and 1890’s. 

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (25) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

The apprehensions entertained of stormy weather have not been realized.  The day has been cloudy, but the sea is not rougher than usual.  At noon observation we were Lat.  20° 40’ n.  Lon.  107° 11’ w.  —- miles distant from Cape Corientes, which is the nearest land. Dis. 133 ½ miles.

Journal

The apprehensions of rough weather felt last evening have not been verified.  The day has been cloudy with a slight sprinkle of rain occasionally, (the first of the kind for a considerable time), but the wind has not been high, and the water is comparatively smooth.  The observation at noon informed us that we were in latitude 20° 40’ N. longitude, 107° 11’ W.,  Nearest land Cape Corientes, distant 90 miles; distance accomplished since yesterday’s observation 118 ½ miles.

I will continue this story next Saturday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more information about the Rev. Elijah and Clara Guion and their family in New Orleans.

Next week, I will begin this story at the very beginning with Reminiscences of Alfred D. Guion, my Grandfather’s memories of growing up in Mount Vernon, New York in the 1880’s and 1890’s. 

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (24) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

To- day there was such a general washing and cleaning up that I lay in my berth most of the day to be out of the way.  A portion of the crew were busy lowering yards and making other preparations for crossing the mouth of the Gulf of California, where rough water is occasionally experienced.  The wind blows quite fresh this evening.  Some kinds of provisions are becoming scarce on board and we have less variety on the steerage table than formerly.  There is consequently some complaint among the passengers.  Distance 205 miles.

Journal

Our crew to day appear to be inspired anew with a spirit of cleaning.  Washing paints, scouring deck, and cleaning generally on the upper deck has occupied almost the entire day, and in consequence, I have passed no inconsiderable portion of it in the very interesting occupation of lying in my birth.  As I can now read a portion of each day, this is more tolerable than formerly.  The wind blows quite fresh this morning, and as we shall be crossing the Gulf of California on the morrow, a still harder blow is anticipated.  The vessel was prepared to- day to meet it, by the lowering of yard-arms, and the tightening of the various parts liable to injury from heavy winds.  Distance to-day 205 miles.

I will continue this story next Saturday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting more information about the Rev. Elijah and Clara Guion and their family in New Orleans.

On Monday and Tuesday, the last two Christmas Cards from Grandpa to his friends and family. I’ll post Special Pictures the rest of the week.

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

The Beginning – Early Memories of Trumbull (7) – More Stories About The Helen

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

CED – Very soon after we got this boat, Dad decided it needed to be dressed up a bit. He got some lumber and he got someone else to do it, and they made a canvas top. It came from the two ends and fastened in the middle somehow, you could walk around in it. At the same time, he put in a Ford Marine conversion engine which was a lot heavier than the original one. It made the boat lower in the back. He also decked over the whole back, with cabinets for storage. It was pretty high sided and very seaworthy.
Dad, Lad, Dan and I decided we would take a trip out the Housatonic and up the coast to Milford. We are going to go to Hartford and it would take a couple of days. We started out – we had found out that we had a problem and we had done some caulking on it. It wasn’t quite watertight. There was a little storm over Long Island Sound and just about the time we got to the Connecticut River, a real storm came up with high waves. We had a rough time of it, we really bounced around quite a bit and we were low on gas. It had gotten fairly calm, I guess the storm was over. We pulled over to get some gas and decided we’d stay overnight. We had had kind of a rough trip. We pulled across the River to the other side where there was a beach and some houses. We anchored out, put the canvas over us, made up the beds and went to sleep. I was the first one awake the next morning. The sun was out and it was quite nice. There was a small space between the canvas and the gunwale, and I was lying there with my head at gunwale height, looking outside. All of a sudden I realized there was water just a few inches below the gunwale. I yelled for everyone to get up. “Hey, guys, were thinking.” Dad had the seats made up as beds so we lifted one and the water was right up there. Anyway, we bailed and bailed real fast and we finally got the thing so that we had plenty of free board, but my mother had baked us a beautiful cake. It was sitting in salt water. It didn’t float well and it didn’t taste good after being in salt water.
We had some friends named Burnham who had lived sort of caddy corner to us on Larchmont Drive. They had a cottage on Fishers Island. We started out to go to see the Burnham’s. It took about an hour or so to get there. When we got there, Dad talked to Rufus Burnham. Dad was very interested in sailboats and asked Rufus if there was anyone on the island who could help us with this a boat. Rufus said, “Yeah, he lives just around the corner.” We got him to come over and look at the boat. It was light enough so that we could pull it up and turn it over. He stood there, puffing on his pipe and looking at the hull of the boat – finally he said, “?You came from the Connecticut shore in this?”

Richard Peabody Guion (Dick)

Richard Peabody Guion (Dick)

DICK – We spent a couple of summers on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound with the Burnham’s.

David Peabody Guion (Dave)

David Peabody Guion (Dave)

DAVE – I have a log book someplace that I should give to you, Judy. It’s the trip, a couple of trips maybe, with the boat that Dad named The Helen. Now, most boats seemed to enjoy themselves lying on top of the water. Helen seemed to enjoy it most when she was on the bottom, on solid land, even though she was covered by water. My father would get more phone calls, “Come down and bail out your boat.” Or “Come down and somehow raise it up.” It was forever sinking. It was probably something like the infamous African Queen, probably not nearly as big but to me it was big. It was kind of rounded like a tug boat. It had an engine but it was not a steam engine like the African Queen but had some kind of engine in the back. It was kind of fun for the older boys. I don’t know what happened to the Helen but my guess is that if you drained the Housatonic River, you would probably find it.

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric Duryee Guion

CED – We kept the boat tied at a place on the Housatonic River and one day the owner called and said, “This is Mr. French. Your boat sunk.” It must’ve happened about six times. We would go over there, drag it up on shore and dump it out. Dad got tired of this after a while.
Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man. I guess he been in the Navy. He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said, “?you know this boat is getting beyond us. Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.” He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.

Tomorrow, more stories of the early memories of Trumbull from the Guion children.

On Monday, we’ll begin a series of letters written in 1945. The entire family is anxiously awaiting news of the marriage plans unfolding in France.

Judy Guion

 

The Beginning – Early Memories of Trumbull (6) – Introduction to The Helen

I was fortunate enough to record the early childhood memories of five of Grandpa’s six children before it was too late. My uncle Dan passed away and that was the catalyst to get me started on these recordings.

Elizabeth - (Biss)

Elizabeth – (Biss)

BISS – A train went through town. There were freight trains that would stop the deliver stuff to Kurtz’s store. Then there was the Toonerville Trolley, which was a passenger train that went once in the morning to Bridgeport (Connecticut) and came back once the evening. Dad used to take that train to work and then come back on it.

When we’d play we’d have water fights. We would also climb up on the roof and then we’d jump off the edge to get down, which I did. I’d go to bed and then I’d climb out the window and jumped down.

One day, Lad had a pump and he put it over a soda bottle, to pump air into the soda bottle to see what would happen. Naturally, the thing exploded and it cut his artery. Of course Biss had been playing Doctor or nurse or something and had taken all the gauze and stuff so there was nothing around for the emergency, so I was in trouble again. I can remember the blood spurting out, you know through the thing and they wanted to bandage to keep the blood in a little bit, but there wasn’t any left.

LAD – We didn’t have much in the way of toys, as I recall. Earlier, when we had the animals, we had to go scare the chickens off their nests and get the eggs. Bill Parks got the milk for us, although I did try milking once, to see what it was like. He also slaughtered the pigs. I don’t remember what we did with them – we probably had some of the meat. Whether Dad sold it or gave it away or whatever happened, I don’t remember. We didn’t have the animals for long. Dad and Mom were not farmers; they were both city people, although we did have a garden in Larchmont and in Trumbull. Dad took care of it and then the kids did it, but that didn’t last very long, I guess.

Cedric Duryee Guion

Cedric

CED – As you go across the bridge from Stratford to Milford on the Post Road, on the left are some buildings at the end of the bridge. There is a dock down below on the Housatonic River. Just below the bridge on the Stratford side there were some fishermen’s homes. One of the fishermen had a boat for sale. Dad never liked to buy new stuff. He bought this boat. It was about 21 feet long with a round cowling. It had an old motor, a one lunger that went putt, putt, putt. It was in nice shape, nice looking, a nice bow, but it was pretty old. That’s why they sold it, but Dad knew that. We named it the Helen.

LAD – I think I was about nine when we got the Helen. We got her in the mid-20s. The thing I remember most about the Helen was having to caulk it, every seam. It was a wood boat and a lot of caulking had come out. It had been up on land for quite a while. So, we had to caulk it and then seal it with something, I don’t remember now. We kept her on the Housatonic River at a place called French’s Marine or something like that. It was right near the Boston Post Road bridge. We kept her there all the time we had her. Every year we haul her out after the thaw each spring, and I’d caulk the thing from underneath. I got pretty good at it. If you put too much in, it would push the boards apart but it had to be enough to keep the boat from sinking. I don’t remember how many years, but I think we had her for about five or six years.

Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

Alfred  (Lad)

A year or two after we got the Helen, Dad had the engine taken out of it and he put in a Ford engine model TN. That was a lot heavier than the one cylinder that we had in the boat, it rode down closer to the water at the stern of the boat. It is still referred to as a fan tail. So the back sloped up and the faster we went the lower in the water it got. With that Ford engine, we could run the boat fast enough so that the stern would be below water. You had to be careful not to open the throttle too much. The back of the boat was decked over, the front was decked over with just an open cockpit in the middle. But it was big enough so we could sleep four in there.

The first major trip Dad wanted to take in the Helen was up the Connecticut River. We started out someplace off of New Haven and one of the ropes fell off the bow and wound around the propeller. We were not feeling too well anyway, it was rough weather. We found out afterwards that there had been warnings and we weren’t even supposed to be out there. I think Dan and I were feeling pretty seasick, but we had to do something. We couldn’t do anything with a rope wrapped around the propeller, it wouldn’t go. So I dove down in the water and my seasickness disappeared almost immediately. So that’s what happened anytime I got sick after that, I’d always dive into the water and get rid of it. It worked, it worked for me anyway. We finally got up to Essex, up to the River, and it was getting late, so we pulled into a bay, had supper and we went to bed. I don’t remember who it was, maybe me or Dan or someone got out of the bunk and stepped into water. So we started investigating and there was a lot of water in the boat and the boat was way down in the water. So we bailed them pumped and got the water out. We found out the leak was in the packing gland on the propeller shaft. I don’t know if we could do anything about it at the time or not, but I do know Dad had to go to work. He left us and he was going to get some part of the boat, I don’t remember what part it was, but it took a week to get the part before we solved the problem. I don’t think we went any further up the river, we just came home again.

It’s fascinating how children can remember the same incident in different ways. Why not share a childhood memory with a family member or with a child or grandchild?

Tomorrow we begin a series of letters written in 1942. Both Lad and Dan are serving the the Army of Uncle Sam, being trained in the fields that interest them, Lad, as a mechanic and Dan as a surveyor.

Judy Guion