Voyage to California (23) – 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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

The steamer left Acapulco shortly after 12 o’clock last night, and this morning we were again upon the ocean. The noise of weighing anchors and stowing away the chain cable in the immediate vicinity of my eirth awakened me occasionally but did not seriously impede my slumbers. I am becoming accustomed to sleep amid noises. This morning I heard, with surprise, that there was a death in the steerage last night about 10 or 11 o’clock. The man was a foreigner, unknown to nearly everyone on board. At 8 o’clock the preparations for a funeral were completed, the boat was stopped, the funeral service read by the captain, and the body, sewed up in canvas, slid into the deep. Though this is the Sabbath the butchering and other occupations proceed as usual. Distance 95 miles.

Journal

Left Acapulco between 12 and 1 o’clock last night, and between the discharges of cannon, (one an hour before starting to notify passengers on shore, another at the time of starting), the letting down of the chain-cable into the hold, close past my berth, and other disturbances, we passed a tolerably noisy night. I learned this morning that one of the steerage passengers died during the night. It appears that he had been unwell for some days, and had been taking considerable quantities of camphor. The day before yesterday he took two pills of blue mass, yesterday some vegetable pills. On the night he was taken with fainting fits, the doctor was called, and gave him a pill of some kind, shortly after which he was seized with convulsions, and died in a few minutes. He was a German, with no relatives on board, and no particular friends or acquaintances that I know of. By the time I got on deck, he was sewed up in canvas and laid out on the upper deck, ready for burial, with the Union Jack spread over him. At 8 o’clock all hands were summoned aft to bury the dead. The corpse was placed on a board, on the guard or structure that encloses the wheel, in a position convenient for sliding into the ocean, and the engine was stopped. Quite a lengthy funeral service was read by the captain, and at the point where the passage, “we commit the body to deep” occurs, the end of the board was raised and the body slid into. The waves closed over him, the reading was soon finished, and in a few minutes we were moving on again. The unfortunate individual was an elderly man, of a very quiet turn, holding very little communication with anyone, and his death appeared to cast no deeper gloom upon our little community here than a similar event on shore would have done. In consequence of taking coal on board yesterday, dirt is unusually abundant, and with this inconvenience, and the washing of decks continued through a considerable portion of the day, things generally were rather an uncomfortable aspect. Butchering continues as usual this evening, and the Sabbath, as heretofore, almost entirely unnoticed. Distance from Acapulco at noon, 95 miles.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue the story of the Rev. Elijah Guion and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion.

Next week, I’ll continue with unique Christmas Cards designed by Grandpa over the years.

Judy Guion

 

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Voyage to California (22) – 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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Washington’s birthday. Two guns were fired at sunrise. At 8 o’clock the vessel was decorated with flags. The U. S. Union Jack was hoisted at the bow, the U.S. Mail, English Union Jack, French Tri-color, and Chilean at the foremast; the Mexican and New Grenadian at the missen mast; and the stars and stripes at the stern. A single pennon was exhibited on the mainmast for an hour or two; then the Union Jack and a flag bearing the name of the vessel were hoisted. We arrived at Acapulco about 11 o’clock. A number of boats came alongside, and in company with three acquaintances, I landed, walked up the hill toward the castle and sat on a log in the shade until near the middle of the afternoon. We then took a stroll around and through the town, visited the fort and the salt works, stopped in an eating house and obtained a very good dinner of eggs, bread and chocolate, then went through the market and bought some provisions to ameliorate our steerage fare. We returned on board a little before sunset, found noise, confusion, and dirt to be the prevailing climate there in consequence of the operation of coaling, and getting water and livestock on board. The Bay of Acapulco is a handsome, landlocked, and secure harbor, and at this time has a calm and tranquil appearance very expressive of repose. The town bears the marks of age, and in its general features is much like Panama. The country around is quite mountainous.

Journal

At peep of sun this morning, the two cannon thundered forth their welcome in honor of the day. At 8 o’clock several flags were hoisted in the following order: the U.S. Union Jack was hoisted on a flagstaff at the bow of the boat. At the head of the foremast was a plain flag bearing the inscription “U.S. Mail”, below it waved the English Union Jack, and under this again were placed the French and Chilean National flags. On the mainmast, a single pennon or streamer fluttered in the breeze. On the mizzen mast, the national flags of Mexico and New Grenada were exhibited, and on the stern of the vessel waved our own stars and stripes. In about an hour, a flag bearing the name of the vessel, the U.S. Union Jack, and a number of private signals, ensigns etc. were added to those on the foremast, and a number of signals to those on the mizzen, and in this manner they remained throughout the day. This was all that I saw of celebration of the day.

Fish of various kinds are very numerous this morning, several shoals being frequently in view at once. Among others, several whales made their appearance. They were of the small species called humpbacked. Here, as in many other things, I was doomed to disappointment. Instead of a considerable portion of the animal being exposed to view at once, as I had been led to believe would be the case from pictures I have frequently seen, it was only occasionally that any, and then but a small portion, could be seen at all. The fin on the back and a small part of the back itself, were the parts generally exposed; once I saw the tail of one raised above the surface; and there “blow” is about similar to a puff of steam from a steam engine.

For fear of running past the bay in the night, our officers had the boat so slowly that it was 11 o’clock before we arrived at Acapulco. H. Gushee, R. Holbrook and I went ashore very soon after our arrival, in one of the boats that came off from the shore, and at a cost of 25 cts. each. We walked up the hill nearly to the fort, and lying down under the shade of a tree, stayed there till near 3 o’clock. We had been there but a short time before a little girl (one of a number following the same occupation), came to us with the jar of water upon her head, and a plate of limes and the glass tumbler in her hand, and seating herself, inquired in broken English whether we wanted lemonade at a dime a glass. The glass, by the way, was fully twice as large as our common glass tumblers. Her manner of manufacture was this: filling the glass nearly full of water, and taking the limes in her fingers, pulled them in two and squeezed the juice into the water, and this was the lemonade. A little boy soon followed with a bowl of oranges. I purchased three oranges for five cents, my companions purchased a glass of lemonade, and with these we regaled ourselves. Tho’ the day was quite warm, there was a fine breeze blowing, and with the cool breeze, the bay spread out before us, and the still, solid earth to rest upon, we contented ourselves very well until the declining sun made walking rather more agreeable, when we arose to take a stroll through the town and its environs. Before returning to town, however, we took a view of the fort. This is situated so as completely to command the approach to the town from the ocean, is supplied with heavy cannon, and manned with soldiers. It has had the appearance of considerable strength once in its day, but it is now going to ruin, and the fractures in its walls reveal the fact that they have not been so strong as their outside appearance would warrant one in supposing. I suppose, however, it was as strong as the times in which it was built required, and if manned by Yankee soldiers with Yankee guns, would still be difficult to take.

The town presents a motley assemblage of adobe, frame, bamboo and brush houses, covered with tiles, thatched with palm leaves, or even covered with brush, barely sufficient to keep off the sunshine. There are some houses of quite respectable dimensions, but the place has never equaled Panama in grandeur. The population I suppose to be almost exclusively native, that is, such as constitutes the native of the present day. I saw none of the kind of Spanish that are tolerably numerous at Panama. The market is pretty well supplied with bananas, pineapples, cocoa-nuts, oranges, limes, onions, bread, cheese, nichas, that is, eggs, a few tomatoes and some other articles. Liquors of course are abundant. Hotels and restaurants are by no means scarce. We went into one of the latter, kept by natives, and ordered two eggs, bread and a cup of chocolate for each of us. The bread and eggs proved excellent, the chocolate none of us succeeded in drinking, tho’ my companions said it was a good article. I don’t profess to be a judge of it. They charged us 50 cts. each. After finishing our meal we started out to procure provisions to take on board, to help out our steerage fare, of which, more anon, – bought 50 cts. worth of bread each, one dollar’s worth of oranges between, and one of my companions bought a few eggs and tomatoes. I did not invest in anything except oranges and bread, and the kind of basket or satchel to carry the man, the price of which was 25 cts. We went on board again about sunset, and found them very busy taking coal, livestock, water and vegetables, – noise, confusion and dirt being conspicuous features of the scene. Turned in early, and did what sleeping the noises permitted.

Tomorrow, more of the life of the Rev. Elijah Guion and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion.

Next week I’ll be posting more of Grandpa’s unique and creative Christmas Cards.

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (19) and (20) – 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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

The sea smooth to day and the weather very pleasant. The only curiosity to day, worthy of notice, was the fin of a shark, projecting above the water. A more extended view, his honor would not vouchsafe us. At the noon observation we were said to be very nearly in the latitude of old Guatemala. Distance 239 miles.

The weather pleasant, and sea smooth to day. Some high peaks visible among the mountains on the coast this morning. Distance 202 miles.

 

Journal

During these two days the weather has been very pleasant and the ocean smooth. We have generally been in the sight of the high peaks on the coast, but at such a distance that to an inexperienced eye they look more like clouds then land. On one of these days I suppose I saw the fin of a shark above the water – like some of the other sites, however, which one sees in traveling, there was very little sight about it. Something very like a flat stick, sticking out of the water for a brief space of time, was about the amount of it. The distance accomplished on these two days respectively was 239 and 202 miles.

Tomorrow, I’ll be continuing the story of the Rev. Elijah Guion and his wife Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1944. Lad and Marian have been married for about six months and have just spent some time in Trumbull and Orinda, California, vising families during their furlough. Dan is in London but will be going to Normandy very soon. Ced remains in Alaska, Dick is not quite sure where he will be going next but expects to be traveling soon. Dave was able to come home for a visit which coincided with his High School Class Graduation and received a Diploma, making Grandpa very happy.

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (18) – 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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Wind pretty high, the sea rough, and I see-sick and lying in bed most of the day. At one time, while leaning over the guards, I saw a number of very pretty little rainbows in the spray thrown up in front of the wheel. Distance 234 miles.

Journal

This morning, the wind was blowing quite a gale, and the sea pretty rough: – as a consequence, I have suffered pretty severely from sea-sickness nearly all day, and remained in bed a good deal of the time. While on deck this morning, I witnessed a phenomenon that I do not remember to have seen described by any traveler, tho’ it is not new to sailors. As a wave dashed under the wheelhouse, it would frequently be driven back with such violence as to dissolve the spray into mist, and the relative positions of myself, the sun, and the mist, were favorable to the production of a succession of rainbows upon the waves, varying in brilliance according to the quantity of mist ejected. Some of them were quite fine, and as I lay there feeling sick and forlorn enough, the thought that the rainbow was the sign of promise to sinful man, sent a feeling of hope through me that was quite cheering. The wind abated during the day, and by evening all was smooth again.

Distance to day 234 miles.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting  the story of Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion, compiled by her granddaughter, Florence Gay Osborn in 1925, with the help of Clara herself.

On Monday, I’ll be posting letters written in 1943. Lad and Marian are getting to know each other better, Dan is in London, probably preparing maps for the -Day Invasion, Ced is in Alaska, Dick is going to Brazil, and Dave is still in school, staying in the Trumbull House with Grandpa.

Judy Guion 

Life in Alaska – Don Stanley Writes to Ced – November 7, 1946

Back in September, Don Stanley wrote to his cousin, Ced, asking about Alaska. He and a friend, Norbert Sickle, are seriously thinking about traveling to Alaska in the spring of 1947 and are wondering what opportunities there might be for two young men to earn a living. From this letter, it is obvious that Ced replied to Don and this is Don’s response to Ced.

First Edition: Oct. 28, 1946

Second Edition: Nov. 7, 1946

Dear Ced-

Your most impressive and descriptive epistle was received and the contents duly noted by myself and ptnr. N. Sickle. We have deliberated and thought on this migration matter to quite some extent, as you so advised. But let me tell you a sad story, or at least a part of one. To be more explicit, a circumstance. The Great Migration was, or happily may still is, -not to take place until the spring of ‘47 in any event, and between now and that time many a long and heavy month must pass. I feel that Norb and myself are coming down with that horrible commuter’s disease of the suburbs called “rutitis”. You know what that means: a young man is told that he has a great opportunity, and in consequence he spends the rest of his life riding the eight-five commuters special and the 7th Ave downtown to Chambers Street. I believe that Norb is in a little worse way than I am for he is working in a place with “opportunity”, whereas I absolutely refuse to work anywhere, opportunity or not, unless driven to same. Forcible driven, that is. I believe that I have said enough to let you see what horrible thing is happening. But, still and all, there is a long time between now and the spring, and during this time anything is likely to happen.

We certainly appreciate your letter ever so much, and in direct answer to it we would like to say that we are mostly interested in the out-of-doors activities and means of livelihood: mainly hunting, fishing, golding, etc. etc. etc. (when ah say huntin, ah means fuhs, suh. Fuhs, thet is.) Naturally we realize that we know nothing of any of these business, and are what are called tenderfeets; but we are interested in knowing if there is any feasible chance for success in any one of these ventures for a couple of young green-horns who have a reasonable amount of gray-matter and common sense. In other words, what is the chance of a reasonable return on the original investment (profit is not the great aim, but breaking even at least is a necessity.) So that is that.

Mom (Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley) has received a copy of “Freedom and Union”, with which same publication she seems to be vastly enjoying herself and then some. The dinner table has turned lately into nothing more than a battle ground where witticisms, insults, and political opinions are exchanged and forced on one.

Generally speaking, everything is coming along here the same as usual, with all enjoying good health, and all sending on to you the fondest of regards and best wishes of good health and also the hope that you will be around this neighborhood come Christmas time.

Thanks again for your letter, and hope to one day soon see you again – either here or there.

Don

Tomorrow, another letter from Ced to his father and on Friday, the final letter. It is from a childhood friend, Red Sirene, to Ced.

Judy Guion

 

Voyage to California (17) – 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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

In sight of the coast all day. I was quite interested in watching the operation of butchering on board, and at the sang froid with which many parts, usually saved at home, were heaved into the ocean. A cow that was considered unfit to eat was knocked in the head and thrown overboard. The phosphorescent light, and also the radical light, were quite bright this evening. Distance sailed in the last 24 hours, ending at noon, 216 miles.

Journal

Weather pleasant and see tolerably smooth. One of the beef cattle was to day judged unfit for use, even here, so she was knocked on the head and thrown overboard. A chicken was also thrown over without ceremony. I sat on one of the deck houses for some time in the evening, and watched the butchering of a beef, pig and sheep. This was performed in a very a summary manner. The head and feet of the beef were cut off without skinning, and immediately thrown overboard. The animal was then skinned, and the hide shared the same fate. The sheep and pig were both skinned and their hides followed suit. Head and feet of piggy, however, were deemed worthy of use, and were retained accordingly. As there was no fat on the entrails to clean off, they were sent over at once.

The phosphoric light on the waves is at least quite as bright this evening as I have seen it. The foam made by the vessel as she pitches forward is quite luminous, and as it subsides, which it does very quickly, a shower of sparks takes its place on the surface of the water. It is quite pretty, but not nearly so brilliant as I anticipated from the representations of others. In fact, I have been much disappointed in the brilliancy of the tropics. I cannot see that the moon and stars shine anymore brilliantly then is there wont to do at home on a clear cold night, nor is the zodiacal light, as I have seen it, any brighter than I have frequently witnessed it at home. So far as this part of the world is concerned, it seems to me, the imagination of travelers have done much towards investing it with either beauty or magnificence, and I have pretty nearly arrived at the conclusion that it may be more enjoyed by reading about it than by coming to see it.

Distance last 24 hours, 216 miles.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the story of Josephine de Beck, mother of Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beco Guion.

On Monday I’ll post the last letters from 1946.

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (16) – 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 travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Diary

Sailing in sight of the coast all day; it presents quite a rugged and mountainous appearance. Saw a school of porpoises to-day, also some black fish. A bird, somewhat allied to the wild duck, alighted on the bowsprit and remained there for some time. By evening the ship was heading n. west, the wind had freshened, and the sea was rough enough to make me somewhat seasick.

Journal

Weather pleasant and sea tolerably smooth. One of the beef cattle was to day judged unfit for use, even here, so she was knocked on the head and thrown overboard. A chicken was also thrown over without ceremony. I sat on one of the deck houses for some time in the evening, and watched the butchering of a beef, pig and sheep. This was performed in a very summary manner. The head and feet of the beef were cut off without skinning, and immediately thrown overboard. The animal was then skinned, and the hide shared the same fate. The sheep and pig were both skinned and their hides followed suit. The head and feet of piggy, however, were deemed worthy of use, and were retained accordingly. As there was no fat on the entrails to clean off, they were sent over at once.

The phosphoric light on the waves is at least quite as bright this evening as I have seen it. The foam made by the vessel as she pitches forward is quite luminous, and as it subsides, which it does very quickly, a shower of sparks takes its place on the surface of the water. It is quite pretty, but not nearly so brilliant as I anticipated from the representations of others. In fact, I have been much disappointed in the brilliancy of the tropics. I cannot see that the moon and stars shine anymore brilliantly then is there wont to do at home on a clear cold night, nor is the zodiacal light, as I have seen it, any brighter that I have frequently witnessed it at home. So far as this part of the world is concerned, it seems to me, the imagination of travelers has done much towards investing it with either beauty or magnificence, and I have pretty nearly arrived at the conclusion that it may be more enjoyed by reading about it than by coming to see it. Distance last 24 hours, 216 miles.

Tomorrow, more about My Guion Ancestors.

On Monday, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1944. Lad is still in the United States, Dan is in London and France, Ced is in Alaska, Dick is in Brazil, and Dave is now in the Army.

Judy Guion