My sources:

The main one is A Year in the Great Republic volume 1 of 2.  Emily Katherine (sic) Bates.  London: Ward and Downey 1887.  I refer to this in the text as GR1.

Twenty years after the trip, Kat published a kind of spiritualist memoir, Seen and Unseen.  Emily Katherine (sic) Bates.  London: Greening and Co.  1907.  In it she added more information on the seances she had been to during the Year, and the spiritualists she had met.  I refer to this in the text as S/U.


Kat’s own sources:

Appleton’s Guide.  On GR2 p1 she warns travellers not to put too much faith in statements made in it!  Kat’s most likely to have been using Appleton’s General Guide to the US and Canada, issued every year from 1879 to 1901; and its specialist guide to the North East of the USA, issued yearly from 1853.  However she might also have been able to pick up a copy of the 1876 guide to the American cities and the 1877 guide to winter resorts; and there was a specialist guide to the US south and south-west, published 1882.

Not exactly a source, but before she left for North America Kat had read a travel book which she called Flying Leaves from East to West.  Its author was another British woman traveller, the poet and women’s rights activist Emily Jane Pfeiffer (1827-90).  Kat had “some slight but valued personal acquaintance” with Mrs Pfeiffer and spoke of her book as “very interesting and clever”.  Though Kat thought that Mrs Pfeiffer had had it easier than she had – when there were no porters at the railroad station (which was most of the time), she had a husband to struggle with the heavy luggage. 

Sources for Kat’s sources:

For Kat’s acquaintance with Mrs Pfeiffer, GR2 p285.

See wikipedia for Appleton’s Guides, which were published from as early as the 1840s by the firm D Appleton and Co of New York.  The firm began by issuing railway guides but in 1848 it issued its first tourist handbook.  The 1848 handbook only covered the USA but Appleton and Co later published guides to Canada, Europe and Latin America. 

See wikipedia again, and ODNB for Emily Jane Pfeiffer nèe Davis, who considered herself to be Welsh.  In 1850 she married Edward Pfeiffer, who owned a tea business.  Perhaps Kat had read Mrs Pfeiffer’s book of poems, Gerard’s Monument, published in 1878.

Kat got the title of Mrs Pfeiffer’s book slightly wrong (she isn’t good on details like this).  You can read Flying Leaves from East and West at  It’s not all about America.  Published 1885 in London by Field and Tuer and in New York by Scribner and Welford.




Kat Bates was born in 1846, the youngest child of a Church of England cleric.  Both her parents had died by the time she was 10.  When she was 25 she inherited enough of an income to make her financially independent.  She was already widely travelled by 1885 but had never ventured quite so far, or been away for so long, before.  She was ready to rough it if necessary, and for a particular end in view, but she wasn’t really a pioneer.  She usually stayed in hotels; with friends or relations; or with people she had a letter of introduction to.  She isn’t good on dates!


For more on Kat’s life see my life-by-dates files. 



It seems astonishing to me but Kat had met the woman she calls Miss Greenlow only a short time before the two of them set out for the United States and Canada.  The trip was of the kind that can put a strain on any friendship: they were intending to be away for twelve months, and to travel in the relatively remote parts of the western states, as well as the sophisticated north east.  At least when they set out, Miss Greenlow knew very little about Kat’s past and was not acquainted with most of her friends.  However, they seem to have survived the experience with their friendship intact, due in large part, I think, to Miss Greenlow’s “very self-contained and unemotional”, phlegmatic character.  Miss Greenlow was, like Kat, a woman of independent means; I think those means were rather larger than Kat’s, although their difference in income doesn’t seem to have caused problems between them.

Source: GR1 p199, p205; S/U p22, p26, p228.

Comment on Miss Greenlow’s identity from Sally Davis: I think ‘greenlow’ is one of Kat’s pseudonyms – she uses them a lot in her books.  I certainly haven’t been able to find much evidence of a likely ‘miss greenlow’ in the usual family history sources.



Kat, Miss Greenlow and Miss Greenlow’s maid left Liverpool for Quebec on the Allan Line’s SS Sardinian.  Miss Greenlow’s maid began to be seasick while the ship was still in the Mersey!  Kat and Miss Greenlow soon followed her example and were ill for most of the voyage.  Kat did manage to go up on deck once, in a fur cloak over a quilt, and bare feet, to peer at “four huge icebergs” through some binoculars.

Sources: GR1 p2, pp4-5.



Kat and Miss Greenlow were met off the boat by one of Kat’s many Church of England contacts, the rector of Quebec.  They didn’t stay with him and his family though, they went to a boarding house.  Kat was impressed with the view from Dufferin Terrace – she compared it to Istanbul’s Golden Horn and (from later in the trip) San Francisco’s view from the Presidio.  In general, though, she did not like the town, describing it as “a buried city with the mourners still lingering round the grave”.  Kat and Miss Greenlow made trips out of town to an Huron Indian village (“a decided swindle”) and to the Lorette and Montmorency Falls.  And Kat surveyed some recent immigrants to Canada for their views on their experiences so far., and collected up-to-date statistics on the subject.

Source: GR1 pp7-10, pp10-16.

Comments by Sally Davis: Kat would have made a good investigative journalist.  She was perfectly happy to cross-examine strangers encountered in the street on their finances and how they like the climate.

On the rector of Quebec: Crockford’s 1885 didn’t list such a post so I’m assuming Kat meant the rector of Christ Church cathedral Montreal, the Rev John George Norton (1840-1924).  Rev Norton had been born in county Cavan.  Kat was probably acquainted with his family through her mother’s family, the Carletons of county Dublin, and may even have been related to them.  Rev Norton had taken up his appointment in Montreal in 1884; he was still in post at his death. 

Sources for Norton, hoping he is the right man:

Crockford’s Clerical Directory 1885 plxii and p882.  Who Was Who volume 2 1916-28 p784



Ottawa fared no better at Kat’s hands: it was an “ugly provincial rectangular town” whose streets were “reckoned by miles”.  However, she was very impressed by her first glimpses of Fall.

Source: GR1 p18.



The journey to Toronto was Kat’s first experience of the famous north American Pullman cars.  She concluded they were not designed for Victorian female fashions in dress and hairstyle.  Kat felt the town of Toronto looked “dusty and unfinished” but overall, she when she was shown around it by some friends including the Principal of its university, she was impressed by the buildings - and by the cemeteries.  She took a tour round the Toronto Lunatic Asylum.


A visit to Montreal had to be put off because of a smallpox outbreak.


GR1 pp19-23, pp24-25.

And for the smallpox outbreak: in its From the Archives section confirmed the smallpox outbreak of 1885 which kept Kat and Miss Greenlow from visiting the city; 3200 people died. 

Comment by Sally Davis: the university of Toronto is a collegiate institution but only University College existed when Kat first visited Canada; so its principal was de facto head of the university.  The man who showed Kat round the college site was its second principal, Daniel Wilson (1816-92) a Scottish-born antiquarian who did a great deal of ethnological work in Canada, having arrived in 1853 to be Professor of History and English Literature.  See and his wikipedia page. 



Niagara “the sublime, the stupendous, the unutterably hackneyed subject of every foreigner’s pen”.  As well as the usual sites, Kat also braved the trip to the Cave of the Winds; Miss Greenlow having refused to undertake an expedition involving a set of 146 slippery wooden steps down; and a scramble back up a “large rock, almost perpendicular, covered with green slime”, which gave Kat “a nasty five minutes”.   While Kat and Miss Greenlow were at the Falls, three young men were drowned when they lost control of their boat at the Horse Shoe waterfall.

Source: GR1 pp27-34, p36.



The journey from Niagara to Boston Mass gave Kat and Miss Greenlow their first experience of a scenario they became all-too-familiar with over the next nine months: the “extreme uncertainty and unpunctuality of American trains”, their lateness measured in “days not hours”, with accompanying breakdowns in supplies of food and beds for the night.  When the train eventually turned up, it gave Kat a trip whose jolting and shaking she remembered “fresh and green” even in comparison to some of the horrors of trains the wild West.

Sources: GR1 p39, p41.



Kat loved Boston: the welcome of the people, the “mental elbow room”; the way her name appeared in the local papers several times; and the enthusiasm of its residents for all things English won her over completely.  What she appreciated most of all, though, was its “blessed boon of female freedom”.  Women could speak their minds without endangering their marriage prospects; and be unmarried if they chose, without incurring pity.  Relations between the sexes were more positive and more natural in the United States, Kat felt, because there was a preponderance of men in the US, the reverse of the situation in the UK.  Kat wasn’t so keen on American children though: she thought they had too much freedom and were too precocious, in a country which didn’t keep its youth confined (as she had been) to the nursery and boarding school.


Boston’s social season began in November, tailing off in April or May.  Kat and Miss Greenlow had originally intended to stay for two weeks, but they enjoyed themselves to much that in the end they remained for about three months, despite having a lot of trouble finding a hotel or boarding house which they both liked and could afford.  Kat at least had acquaintances in Boston before they arrived.  Two of the most helpful of these in Boston were Edna Hall, a friend of Kat’s friend Phebe Lankester; and Mrs Hall’s friend Maria Porter.  As a result, a number of receptions were given to launch Kat and Miss Greenlow into Boston high society.  At the first of them, they dropped a social brick by dressing for the afternoon rather than the evening, but they survived that clanger and Kat seems to have been introduced to most of the people she had wanted to meet.  The people Kat mentions in her book are presumably the ones whose acquaintance she had most looked forward to.  Amongst those were: Oliver Wendell Holmes; Frances Hodgson Burnett; Julia Ward Howe’s daughter Mrs Anagnos, president of Boston’s Metaphysical Club;and Professor William James of Harvard University, brother of novelist Henry and founder of American psychological studies.


One of the first social occasions Kat and Miss Greenlow attended was a performance at the Melonion Hall by the mesmerist Professor Carpenter.  It’s indicative of Kat’s wariness of all things psychic, at this stage, that she suspected Carpenter of keeping a group of actors paid up to volunteer as subjects. 


Kat and Miss Greenlow went most Saturday evenings to the concerts at the Boston Music Hall and also to concerts held in private houses.  They also went to meetings: at the Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union and at the exclusive Round Table Club.  They made several expeditions out of town – to Cambridge to look around Harvard University; to see Longfellow’s house; and to Concord to see the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Alcotts.


Kat was a regular church goer, of course, and she noted that while Boston was really a Unitarian town, there was a great variety of Christian groups to choose from for your Sunday morning.  When she wrote up her account of Boston she devoted a whole chapter to its theology, giving detailed accounts of three sermons – one by Mr Savage at a Unitarian chapel; and two by Dr Phillips Brooks at Trinity episcopalian Church, on the importance of individual responsibility, and on Christ as perfected Humanity.


Mrs Hall and Mrs Porter took Kat and Miss Greenlow to a séance with the Berry sisters,

Mrs Hall was a non-believer but she sat quiet.  Mrs Porter thought the séance was a “gross imposture”.  She disrupted it by trying to investigate the figures that were supposed to have materialised, and she had an argument with her host when the medium said that one spirit was asking to speak to her particularly.  


Sources: GR1 p45, p109; pp49-50, p52, p54, pp59-62, pp109-110, p115, pp153-156.   S/U pp18-19.  For Edwin Ray Lankester: GR1 p188.

Acquaintances: GR1 p65, p77; p74; p81; p115, p140.  S/U pp19-20.

Comments by Sally Davis: see my life-by-dates for Kat’s time living in the Lankester household, for which I haven’t been able to get a good date, but which was probably around 1880.  The Lankesters had many contacts amongst advanced scientific and social thinkers.  Kat was consequently well acquainted with Professor Edwin Ray Lankester, an implacable opponent of psychism, spiritualism and things that went bump in the night.


Phebe Lankester’s friend Mrs Hall was Edna Hall, née Brown (1839-96) a professional singer and wife of David Culver Hall, leader of the Boston Brass Band.  Mrs Hall had spent the early 1870s in Europe, including two years in England, during which she had built a modest reputation as a contralto soloist.  For more on her career see Victorian Vocalists by Kurt Ganzi, published 2017 and available via google. 


Mrs Hall’s friend Maria Porter was more difficult to identify.  A good candidate is Maria S Porter, wife of Charles Porter of Lynn Massachusetts; abolitionist and feminist and friend of Louisa May Alcott.  Though Kat never mentions the Alcott connection. 


Recollections of Louisa May Allcott… by Maria S Porter.  Serialised in the New England Magazine 1892 and then published as a book, 1893.  The Selected Letters of Louisa May Alcott editors Joel Myerson and Daniel Shealy 1995 pp189-190 includes one to Maria Porter, dated 1874, about Porter’s involvement in local girls’ schools.


Kat’s Mr Savage was Minot Judson Savage (1841-1918).  Originally a Congregationalist minister, he had become a Unitarian in 1873.  Savage believed in Darwinian evolution, and was a psychical researcher, believing in life after death; though Kat doesn’t mention either of those things in her account of his sermon.  He was a member of the American Society for Psychical Research.


Minot Judson Savage: GR1 pp131-138, p247; and his wikipedia page.  He was minister of the Church of the Unity in Boston from 1874 to 1896. 

William James: Psychical Research and the Challenge of Modernity by Krister Dylan Knapp 2017 pp160-161: in 1886 Savage and James investigated the Berry sisters for fraud.  For more on the Berry sisters see below.


There’s a wikipedia page on Dr Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) who wrote the lyrics to O Little Town of Bethlehem.  After graduating from Harvard he attended the Virginia Theological Seminary.  A native of Boston, he became rector of the city’s Trinity Church in 1869.  His sermons were widely known outside the United States and he was an expert on religious traditions.  In 1885 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity by Oxford University.  Kat was actually present at the Oxford University ceremony, although she didn’t meet Dr Brooks on that occasion.  Dr Brooks was elected the bishop of Massachusetts in 1891 and was still in post when he died. 


Dr Phillips Brooks was the Boston celebrity who made the greatest impact on Kat.  She admired the insight of his sermons, their powerful language and honesty.  She incorporated Dr Brooks’ idea of Christ as perfected Humanity in her own, very individual, brand of Christianity.  Later, it was an important feature in her spiritualist theology whereby – with the help of higher entities who communicated through seances – people would be able to reach a state of perfected humanity themselves.

Comments by Sally Davis:

On Kat as a travel writer: Kat must have always intended to publish a travel book on her time in the USA – perhaps to help pay for it!  In her introduction she argues that yes of course the market can cope with yet another book on a British person’s experience of the USA, each traveller’s experiences being slightly different.  And throughout the book she gives information that she hopes will help future travellers.  Her discussion of the three sermons is so detailed I think she must have been taking notes – she mentions the notebook she had with her - though Mr Savage’s sermons were published so she may just have bought a pamphlet. 


On Kat’s spiritualist experiences in Boston, which were to change her life:

In S/U p18 Kat says that Mrs Hall only took her and Miss Greenlow to a séance as “a feature of American life which we ought not to miss, and which would probably amuse us”.  


The Berry sisters – Helen and Gertrude – were based in the wealthy district of South End in Boston.  Their career seems to have been facilitated by George T Albro, who owned patents for medicines and other inventions; and after 1884 by Gertrude’s husband, E T Thompson.  They both had similar guides – men who had died young – and specialised in materialisation and automatic writing.  They were investigated by Professor William James and Minot Judson Savage on behalf of the American Society for Psychical Research a few months after Kat and Miss Greenlow’s séance with them.  Professor James ended up quite sure it was all a fraud; but he couldn’t prove it.


Little did Mrs Hall and Mrs Porter know the effect their efforts to show Kat and Miss Greenlow Boston life in all its aspects would have on Kat.  There’s more about Kat’s conversion from sceptic to believer in spiritualism in my life-by-dates files.  Much more.


Sources for the Berry sisters:

Boston in the Golden Age of Spiritualism by Dee Morris 2014.  Seen on google, no page numbers, but it was in the chapter Two Mediums and One Entrepreneur.

William James: Psychical Research and the Challenge of Modernity by Krister Dylan Knapp 2017.  Also seen on google pp160-162.  Professor James went to 12 seances with one or other of the Berry sisters during 1886, as part of the ASPR’s attempts to compile a black-list of fraudulent mediums.  He and Minot Judson Savage even spent one séance behind Gertrude’s materialisation cabinet without observing anything sufficient to prove fraud. 



Kat and Miss Greenlow finally tore themselves away from Boston.  They went to New York and stayed for three to four weeks.  Kat summed up New York City thus:“I never knew any city where you could spend more and get less for it”.  She did concede, though, that its food and theatres were good; and that if you dug hard enough to come across it, it did have an intellectual life.  And it had its share of spiritualist mediums: Kat and Miss Greenlow went to two seances with a Mrs Cadwell, one of whose spirit manifestations purported to be a friend of Kat who had died suddenly while still quite young; one with a Mrs Gray – Kat had obtained a letter of introduction to her; and one with a Mrs Parks who normally lived in Philadelphia.  It was Mrs Parks who first suggested to Kat that she had enough “mediumistic power” to be her own medium.

Source: GR1 p249, S/U on Mrs Cadwell – pp20-28; on Mrs Gray – pp25-28; on Mrs Parks – pp29-30.

Comment by Sally Davis: Boston was Kat’s kind of town – intellectual, artistic and creative and full of the aristocracy of America.  New York was not – brash, business and trade orientated and full of new money, some of it on a truly staggering scale.  Whereas Boston gets four chapters in GR1, New York gets seven pages.   Kat notes how expensive were New York’s social customs – for example, the one which caused women to wear fresh flowers with every dress – and I think she decided that to make her way to the centre of New York society as she had been able to do in Boston, she would have needed more money than she could contemplate.  She confined herself to goggling at the display of wealth – the many houses built by the Vanderbilt family, Delmonico’s restaurant, the 12 and 13-storey public buildings – and despising all New Yorkers for their ostentation.  There’s nothing in GR1 about spiritualism in New York, but Kat did write about it, at length, in S/U (published 1907).   At one of the seances with Mrs Cadwell, Kat met Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Mrs Cadwell operated from her home at 244 Lexington Avenue Brooklyn.  She was exposed as a fraud in 1890, carried on regardless, and was exposed again in 1909.  I couldn’t find quite so many references to Mrs Gray; presumably she wasn’t caught or perhaps even investigated.  I did find two references from the 1930s to an Amy Stoddart Gray who was a medium specialising in materialisation 30 years or so before the references were published.


For Kat in New York: GR1 pp247-253; S/U pp20-30.

For Mrs Cadwell:

via to The World from New York issue of Mon 2 June 1890 p2: a long article explaining how reporters from The World worked out how Mrs Cadwell’s frauds were done.  Former clients were now demanding their money back.  Mrs Cadwell had a special room set up for seances, with the ceiling painted to look like the sky.

Western Electrician volume 6 1890 p330 had picked up on the report in The World.  The Western Electrician’s coverage focused on Mrs Cadwell’s use of electricity to help her fakes – The World’s reporters had brought away from her house two pocket-sized batteries. 

The London-based magazine Light: A Journal of Psychical Occult and Mystical Research published by the Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 2 Duke St Adelphi was more likely to believe Mrs Cadwell was genuine.  However, in its volume 15 1895 p587 it reported that it had sent someone to Mrs Cadwell to ask for an interview, but he or she had been given a very hostile reception. 

New York Times Sun 21 November 1909 p41; the second exposure of Mrs Cadwell as a fraud, giving her address.

For Mrs Gray: nothing from Kat’s time or – apparently – Mrs Gray’s lifetime.  The name of Amy Stoddart Gray came up years later in Psychic Research, the magazine of the American Society for Psychical Research.  In volume 24 1930 p153 there was an account of a recent séance at which Mrs Gray came through, confessing to having faked things when “phenomena would not come”.  The account of the séance said that she had been a materialisation medium 34 years ago.  In volume 25 1931 p249 there was another reference to her from someone who remembered sittings with her.

For Mrs Parks of Philadelphia.  I only found one reference using google: via to the Reading Times, published in Reading Pennsylvania.  The issue of Fri 11 March 1881 p1 referred to Mrs Parks as a “well known in mediumistic circles” and as advertising in the local newspapers as a “spiritual medium and magnetic healer”.



Kat and Miss Greenlow left New York without regret, taking the Desbrosses Ferry to Jersey City to go by train to Washington.

Comment by Sally Davis: looking back at Manhattan from the Jersey City ferry was how Kat liked New York best!

Source: GR1 p254. 



Kat and Miss Greenlow’s arrival in Washington had been carefully timed to coincide with the governmental and political social events that were scheduled before Lent began.  They stayed at Willard’s Hotel, whose food, Kat thought, did not live up to its reputation.  Their introduction to Washington political society came at the hands of a scientist who worked at the Department of Agriculture.  Going from one ‘at home’ to another, all on the same afternoon, Kat was impressed by the style of the dresses she saw, particularly a “gorgeous gown of heliotrope silk covered over with white jet”, a bodice of maroon velvet and gold with a Venetian collar and a “Paris dress of apple-green silk, dotted all over with tiny rosebuds”.  She was glad, though, that she was just a passing visitor.  She thought the women whose at homes she went to truly earned their hire, attending so many social functions in such a short time, and always having to say the right thing.  The socialising reached its peak with two receptions at the White House.  At the first, Kat shook hands with President Cleveland and thought the house was not big enough for its function.  The second was hosted by Miss Cleveland; Kat was annoyed to find herself queuing for 30 minutes in a corridor, waiting to be let in 20 at a time to shake the hand of the first lady briefly before being moved on; but thought the conservatories were well worth a visit.


Kat and Miss Greenlow did the usual tour of the city’s public buildings – the Capitol, the government offices, the Smithsonian Museum and botanical gardens.  These were all very well, and the city very beautiful, but Kat enjoyed herself more at the Treasury, looking at its store of forged bank notes and being shown around the vault, with its 20 million dollars-worth of gold bullion.  They made several drives out of town, including one to Montrose Heights and Oak Hill cemetery where Kat sought out the grave of John Howard Payne, whose poem Brutus she remembered from her childhood.; and one to Arlington cemetery.  Though Kat had to go on her own (with some friends) to Mount Vernon to see the Washington house, because both Miss Greenlow and her maid had gone down with flu.  


They went to the opera house, not to hear an opera but to see Modjeska in Schiller’s Mary Stuart.


Source: GR1 pp256, pp260-278. 


Comments on the Washington DC social round by Sally Davis: Kat doesn’t name the man who introduced her and Miss Greenlow to Washington, but - given his job - perhaps he was a contact of Edwin Ray Lankester.  Kat assumed her readers would know that she had arrived in Washington DC in time for the first great bout of socialising in a new presidency – Democrat Stephen Grover Cleveland, ex governor of New York, had been elected the previous November.  Amongst the hostesses Kat and Miss Greenlow called on, Kat only thought it worth mentioning three by name.  They were Flora Whitney, wife of Secretary to the Navy William C Whitney; Mary Endicott, daughter of William Endicott, the Secretary of War, standing in for her mother Ellen, who was ill; and Mrs James Browne Potter, whom I haven’t been able to identify, though Kat does mention that she went on to social success in London.  Kat describes the First Lady she met so briefly as the president’s daughter, but she got that wrong: Rose Cleveland was the president’s sister.  Miss Cleveland continued as first  lady until June 1886, when President Cleveland became the only serving president to get married in the White House.  His bride, Frances Folsom, then became the youngest first lady so far, at the age of 23.

On Brutus:

John Howard Payne (1791-1852) was an actor and playwright; and writer of Home Sweet Home (1822) though he earned very little money from it.  From 1813 to 1832 he worked writing and adapting plays for Charles Kemble, manager of the Covent Garden Theatre in London.  Back in the US he was one of the first people to take an interest in the lives of the native American Indians; he also travelled with John James Audobon.  Kat had read Payne’s play Brutus when she was a child.

The Tragedy of Brutus, or The Fall of Tarquin by John Howard Payne.  Published London: J Cumberland 1818.

Sources: wikipedia pages for John Howard Payne; Stephen Grover Cleveland; William Collins Whitney; and William Crowninshield Endicott, whose daughter Mary married Joseph Chamberlain in 1888.  On Mrs Potter in London: GR1 p261.  The Daily Alta California volume 41 number 13626 issue of 20 December 1886 reported on how much of a hit Mrs Potter had made with the Prince of Wales.


On Modjeska: GR1 pp264-265.  Kat was able to compare this performance and production with one she had seen in London in 1880.  She thought Modjeska’s English had improved.  See the life-by-dates for 1880 for some coverage in the Times of the performances Kat must have seen; and wikipedia for the career of Helena Modjeska (Modrzewska) 1840-1909, which began in Poland and ended in the US.




Kat, Miss Greenlow and Miss Greenlow’s maid went on to Baltimore, which Kat thought was “quite provincial, but very pretty”.  They stayed at the Mount Vernon hotel in the town’s square, where the food was better than at their hotel in Washington DC; and Kat was told that the diamonds she saw so many women dripping with were real, not good fakes as she had thought.  Kat tried to get to see a collection of curios in a private house on Mount Vernon Square, but its owner, a Mr Walters, refused to let her in as it wasn’t a day on which the collection was open to the public.

Source: GR1 pp278-80.

Comment by Sally Davis: the disobliging Mr Walters must have been William Thompson Walters (1819-94).  The collection he and his son Henry built up was bequeathed to the city of Baltimore in 1931 and is now housed in the Walters Art Museum.  Items in it include objects from pre-dynastic and Greco-Roman Egypt , medieval ivories, and Old Master paintings.  Originally it was all housed in the family home in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore.

Source for the Walters’ art collection: wikipedia; and the Walters Art Museum’s web pages at



Kat and Miss Greenlow moved on to Philadelphia, a “black dirty city”.  They spent a fortnight there.  Kat was disappointed with Philadelphia’s social life.  Most of their time was spent preparing for the trip West; leaving behind most of their luggage as an unnecessary and expensive luxury; and sending Miss Greenlow’s maid go on a long visit to her brother in Canada while they were away.   They bought railway tickets at $125 each, Philadelphia to San Francisco, get on and get off where you like. 


Comments by Sally Davis: Kat and Miss Greenlow already had an itinerary for the trip West in their minds when they reached Philadelphia, but they hadn’t brought with them from home all that they thought they would need.  Consequently during that fortnight, they “haunted” Philadelphia’s Wannamaker’s department store buying mosquito repellent, quinine, sal volatile and other essentials against the calamities of travel in the western states. 


Kat remembered Philadelphia as a damp and muggy place which made little impression on her.  Dr Hedge of Cambridge Massachusetts had given Kat an introduction to Mrs Wistar, a “literary star” of Philadelphia, but not much in the way of socialising resulted from it.  Philadelphia had a very lively spiritualist scene when Kat was there, but Kat doesn’t mention becoming a part of it.


Sources: GR1 p 221; pp281-285; pp234-237.

Comments by Sally Davis: Dr Hedge of Cambridge Mass is Frederic Henry Hedge (1805-90) who by the time Kat met him had retired from his last academic post, as professor of German Literature at Harvard University.  As well as being one of America’s foremost German scholars, he was also known as one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s close friends, and as a founder – with Emerson, George Putnam and George Ripley - of the Transcendental Club (1836).  I haven’t been able to identify the Mrs Wistar Dr Hedge gave Kat the introduction to, but the Wistars of Philadelphia had been at the centre of the city’s intellectual life since the times of Caspar Wistar (1761-1818), the doctor and anatomist.  They were Quakers, of German descent.  Kat thought of herself as “a German scholar” and it was a disappointment to find so little resulting from the meeting with Mrs Wistar.

Spiritualist life in Philadelphia got a brief mention in Light; Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 6 1886 p219 in the issue of Sat 8 May 1886, a few weeks after Kat and Miss Greenlow had been there.  Quoting an item in the New York World it said that spiritualism was a “startlingly important feature of public and private life” in the city; though it didn’t mention any names. 



Kat and Miss Greenlow left Philadelphia by train for Cincinatti.

Source: GR2 p1, p7.  They reached Cincinatti on 3 April 1886 after a trip of 50 hours that gave them an indication of what they were in for, over the next few months of travel.  See my next ‘Kat Bates’ travels’ file for that and the subsequent journeys.




16 April 2018




Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: