GOLDEN DAWN: EMILY KATHARINE BATES
KAT BATES’ TRAVELS (1) UNITED STATES. GOING BACK EAST AND HOME August-September 1886.
The main one is A Year in the Great Republic volume 2 of 2. Emily Katherine (sic) Bates. London: Ward and Downey 1887. I refer to this in the text as GR2.
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 source: on GR2 p1 she warns travellers not to put too much faith in statements made in Appleton’s Guide. I think she put too much faith in her own copy! - at least to start with, but by the time she was heading for Yellowstone National Park she was very annoyed with the lack of practical information 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.
Source: wikipedia on 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.
QUICK INTRODUCTION TO EMILY KATHARINE BATES
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 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.
Probably AUGUST but possibly SEPTEMBER 1886 - DENVER TO CHICAGO
Kat chose to take the “Burlington short route” from Denver to Chicago across Nebraska and Iowa; as it was shorter than the alternatives. It was the worst rail journey of all her American travels. Reaching Chicago at the end of two days’ travel, she stayed in the Palmer House hotel.
Source for Kat’s route to and arrival in Chicago: GR2 pp263-69.
Comments by Sally Davis: without Miss Greenlow, her companion of the last 10 months, it’s likely that Kat would have found any train journey a bore; but this one was particularly bad. The train was packed. There weren’t enough ladies’ washing facilities for the number of women and children who needed to use them. The day-time temperatures were in the 90s farenheit; but whenever they opened the windows everyone was smothered by a “fine black dust” - soil lifting off the Nebraska plains. The alcohol on board was kept locked up all the way across Nebraska as it was a ‘dry’ state; by Iowa there was hardly any drink left on board at all, alcoholic or not, as people quenched their thirst in the heat. Kat didn’t remember much about the route, except that the scenery in the Platte River valley was flat and dull; and that they had dinner at Lincoln Nebraska. She did find one woman amongst her travelling companions she could chat with about “books and oratorios”. Although the woman seemed happy, Kat thought, bringing up her four children, Kat shuddered for her, living in “some little western town in Illinois state” with a husband who ran a business making “mechanical tools”.
Arrived in Chicago after a journey like that, Kat was not in the mood to appreciate the Palmer House hotel. Its rooms might be “magnificent” but she thought it was poorly run and too bustling to be comfortable; and the bedrooms were a long hike from the public rooms. She was intimidated by the “hundreds of men” who hung around the hotel’s offices, “shuffling, smoking and talking”; and rather than take on the office staff over one particular complaint, she went back to her room and tried – unsuccessfully – to give a message about it to an “unintelligent black waiter”. The waiter who wouldn’t or couldn’t take her message was one of the few black people Kat mentions in GR; they come off slightly better at her hands than the Indians, in the books, but not much.
Kat’s “Burlington short route”:
The earliest mention of it that I could find was via www.newspapers.com, in the Kearney Daily Hub of Tuesday 23 October 1894; p1 mentioned that the route went from Billings Montana to Omaha Nebraska; but the report gave me the impression that it had only just opened.
A reference to it from much later – Interstate Commerce Communication Reports 1951 – calls it the Missouri-Pacific Burlington short route.
The locked-up alcohol in Nebraska:
I couldn’t find any web page that said that Nebraska was a ‘dry’ state in the 1880s, though website www.ohama.com and several others said that it was the first state to go ‘dry’ in the prohibition era: 1917, a year before the rest of the US. Until 1917, Omaha was a brewery town.
I could see several web pages charting the history of temperance campaigning in the Nebraska from the mid-19th century.
The Palmer House Hotel, which still exists, see www.palmerhousehiltonhotel.com though the photographs at that website are not of the building Kat stayed in. The hotel’s wiki says that it was the first hotel in Chicago to have elevators, and the first to have electric light and telephones in the guest rooms. The seven-storey, iron and brick-built hotel Kat stayed in was built in 1875; it was demolished in 1923 and a new Palmer House hotel erected on the site.
Chicago’s Grand Hotels by Robert V Allegrini; p8 - it was built by Potter Palmer, the founder of the Marshall Fields dry goods company.
AUGUST or possibly just into SEPTEMBER 1886 - CHICAGO
Kat didn’t spend long in Chicago but she did manage some sight-seeing. She went to Lincoln Park and on the way back was driven past the grand houses of Dearborn Avenue and through the tunnel under the Chicago River. She visited the Union Stockyards and wished she hadn’t.
Source for Kat’s itinerary: GR2 267-74 with the longest section on the Stockyards. GR2 pp274-283 on tipping and the lack of porters on the railroads.
Comments by Sally Davis: Kat described Chicago as a city of parks but Lincoln Park, along the shore of Lake Michigan, was the only one she mentioned and perhaps the only one she stopped at during her short time in the city. She particularly liked Lincoln Park’s trees and flower beds but found the Lake “too big to be beautiful”. The only house in Dearborn Avenue that Kat mentioned was the only wooden one, the mayor’s house, which had escaped the big fire due to having vacant lots on either side. Kat’s driver was proud to tell her that the stone buildings erected since the fire could compete with any in New York or the City of the London; and Kat did agree that the post office, court and government buildings were “all magnificent” and that several of the churches were “handsome”. I don’t know whether she saw this going on but Kat mentioned the Chicago habit of people sitting out on their front steps on hot afternoons, on chairs and cushions, with carpets to keep the cold of the stone off their feet.
The tunnel Kat’s driver took her through must have been the LaSalle Street tunnel; it seems to have been the only one in use in 1886.
Kat had been told by many people that she must go and see the Union Stockyards to see a pig go in one end and sausages come out the other. Though they were quite a tourist attraction – Rudyard Kipling and Sarah Bernhardt visited them – visiting them doesn’t seem to have been well organised. It took an hour and two trolley buses for Kat to get there “through mile after mile of wretched, squalid-looking suburbs” and to get around inside the yards, you had to walk. Kat was traumatised by the sheer numbers of animals and the scale of the killing. She could see, too, that the killing was being done “hastily and inefficiently” so that the pigs were being thrown into boiling water, not yet dead. “To make the satire complete” she said, a society which campaigned against animal cruelty had an office outside the Yards for the reporting of incidents of cruelty. Writing up the visit for GR2 a few months later she admitted that the preparation of lobsters, veal and foie gras were cruel too. She also admitted she had not been well prepared for what she saw at the Yards – before her visit, she had never seen a pig being killed at all. Still, she felt she was right to be “sickened and disgusted” by it all, and to argue about it later with friends in England. She devoted several pages in GR2 to denouncing it and I think that the horror of it coloured her view of Chicago as a whole. She doesn’t mention becoming a vegetarian as a result, though.
Kat finished her remarks on Chicago with a long section on the minefield that was tipping in American restaurants and hotels. She warned her readers that in the US, the bill for your stay in a hotel never included any charge for service; and that every member of staff that did anything for you expected a tip in cash, so that the cost of the tips could amount to considerably more than the bill issued by the management. As she travelled about Kat was told “over and over again” by Americans that there was no need to tip anyone. Her own experiences told her the opposite. She and Miss Greenlow tried an experiment of not paying out tips, at one particular large hotel (which she didn’t name!). They got “black looks” and “interminable delays”, their breakfast arrived cold, plates went “uncomfortably near our heads” on their way to the table, and their beds weren’t made. When they then demanded napkins at dinner, Kat discovered that a dinner napkin could be “a soft missile” when hurled into your lap. From what Kat writes, I think the experiment may have been intended to last a week; but they gave it up after 48 hours.
One last warning Kat felt she should give her readers was about the lack of porters on the American railroads, which had created particular problems for Kat and Miss Greenlow, two women travelling long distances with heavy luggage. Kat wanted to praise the kindness of her fellow passengers, who so often struggled with their luggage for them. One in particular had come to their aid at New York central station late at night, tackling “half-a-dozen shouting, bellowing Irish-American drivers”, each of whom had grabbed one suitcase or bag and was making off with it in a different direction. Kat felt a bit remorseful at having previously avoided this particular rescuer during their train journey, because he was so obviously drunk!
Sources for Chicago:
I couldn’t find specific websites for Lincoln Park. Nor for Dearborne Avenue though usheritage.com had entries for particular houses which have been renovated recently.
The wikipedia pages for the Wash Street and LaSalle Street tunnels and Chicago’s later cable car tunnels show that Wash Street was shut between 1884 and 1888; and the first cable service only began in 1888.
Wikipedia for the Union Stockyards, made possible of course by the westward expansion of the railways, without which Kat and Miss Greenlow’s itinerary during 1886 would have been impossible. They opened in 1865 and were finally closed in 1971. As early as 1870 the Yards were handling 2 million animals a year; it was 9 million by 1890. The Yards covered 375 acres and until 1900 the waste from them was just sent into Lake Michigan to contaminate the drinking water.
At www.npr.org, the website of National Public Radio, I found an article posted by Anne Bramley in December 2015: Food for Thought: How Chicago’s Slaughterhouse Spectacles Paved the Way for Big Meat. Bramley argues that the opening of the Chicago stockyards was the first step in the industrialisation of food production.
AUGUST and INTO SEPTEMBER 1886 – CHICAGO, NIAGARA, TORONTO, MONTREAL
From Chicago, Kat took the Michigan Central Railway to Niagara for one last look at the Falls. This time she stayed on the Canadian side of the border, at the Clifton House Hotel. The day she was there, though, the weather was bad – rainy and cold – and she was glad to leave and travel on to stay with friends in Toronto for a week. At the end of that week, she went along Lake Ontario to Kingston on the Grand Trunk Line, and then by steamer into the St Lawrence seaway and through the Thousand Islands to La Chine. Then it was a 20-minute journey by train to Montreal. Kat stayed in the Windsor Hotel, where by chance she met some acquaintances from her stay in Boston. She had time for a couple of trips by carriage around Montreal and some friends took her to a summit from which a fine view of the city could be seen; Kat particularly mentioned the Victoria Tubular Bridge. She visited the newly-finished St Peter’s cathedral and took the lift inside the parish church of Notre Dame to see the biggest bell in the world. She went to Bon Secours market, but didn’t stop to shop; and then up the hill to the Bon Secours church. Coming across a friend in town, she went with her to see the Villa Maria convent school. And she was “beguiled” into going to the Protestant cathedral to hear a preacher considered to be one of the most powerful speakers in the modern church; but she wasn’t at all impressed by his sermon that day.
Source for Kat’s itinerary and visits while in Montreal: GR2 pp285-299.
Comments by Sally Davis: Kat doesn’t give details of the route her train took from Chicago to Niagara, but it would all have been on the Michigan Central Railway, which owned the Canada Southern Railroad; and she won’t have needed to go on a ferry anywhere. She could have travelled the whole way from Toronto to La Chine by steamer but the weather forecast made her decided against it. Though the train journey along the coast of Lake Ontario was “rough and wretched”, Kat felt she’d made the right decision when she met up with the passengers who had gone on the steamer: they had had an even worse journey, with some of them telling Kat that crossing the Atlantic had not been so bad. The steamer then “tossed and creaked and swayed” its way through the Long Sault Rapids on the St Lawrence, but Kat felt that was not as alarming as her trip through the Nile cataracts on a sailing boat.
Montreal was Kat’s favourite Canadian town and she’d planned her itinerary to allow time for a few days there. It was an unexpected bonus to meet up with a group of acquaintances made in the US in 1885; they were in Montreal for an Episcopalian Church synod and were all staying at the Windsor Hotel. The person Kat came across by chance was a woman she had struck up an acquaintance with on the train trip from Niagara to Toronto. Kat devoted several pages of GR2 to this woman, a widow, whose only child had recently been killed in a climbing accident in Colorado. Kat admired the optimism and enthusiasm with which she could still think of the future despite apparently having so little to live for.
The Michigan Central Railway.
See its wikipedia page and also a useful history-by-dates at www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/Michigan_Railroad_History_506899_7/pdf. These web pages make it clear that from the very start – as early as 1836 – the railroad was a web of lines connecting major towns in Michigan, Indiana and Ontario; so I still couldn’t work out the route Kat’s train took. Maybe a reader could enlighten me.
The Clifton House hotel. At www.niagarafallstourism.com is the history of a later building. The wikipedia page on Clifton House says that the first hotel built on the site was from 1833. It was bought in 1866 by John T Bush, of Buffalo New York State; and burned down in 1898.
At www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=DC-PICTURES-R-593 is a Bill issued by the Clifton Hotel in 1853. At the top of the bill is a drawing of the hotel by National Orr. This might show the hotel exterior as it was when Kat stayed there. However, at www.nytimes.com I found an item from 15 June 1865 announcing the hotel’s reopening after an “extensive” refit. It wasn’t clear from the snippet I could read, whether the renovations were inside, outside, or both.
Grand Trunk Railway: see its wikipedia page. It was incorporated in 1852 to connect Montreal and Toronto but by the time Kat was using it, its lines extended all over the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, into Michigan and over most of New England. As part of that expansion, the Victoria Bridge in Montreal – which Kat looked down on from the hill above the city - became the first bridge to be built across the St Lawrence. The company’s headquarters were in London; with administrative offices in Montreal. For a detailed history, see www.railwaywondersoftheworld.com/grand-trunk-railway.html which has a photograph of the Victoria Tubular Bridge; I think it’s the one that Kat saw in 1886, the modern one was built in 1898.
The ship Kat joined at Kingston was owned by the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company, formed in 1875 when the ailing Richelieu company was taken over by the St Lawrence River Steam Navigation Company. Kat didn’t think much of the Company’s services to its passengers: mealtimes aboard were “wild beast feeding scrambles”. See
Steamboats on the Lakes by Maurice D Smith 2005 p52.
Canada’s Entrepreneurs: From the Fur Trade to the 1929 Stock Market Crash by Réal Bélanger, John English and Andrew Smith 2011 p312.
The Windsor Hotel still exists. Its wiki has a photograph of the outside from around 1890; and the rotunda-style lobby from 1878, the year the hotel opened. It was built by a group of Montreal-based businessmen and was the first ‘grand hotel’ in Canada. A gala held shortly after it opened was the most glittering social occasion in the city’s history so far, with Princess Louise and Lady Dufferin (wife of the governor-general) among the guests. After rather a shaky start financially the hotel soon became the centre of Montreal’s business and social life.
Kat’s St Peter’s Montreal:
See www.ncregister.com, the web pages of the National Catholic Register for an article by Joseph Pronechen, posted October 1997: A Bit of Rome in Montreal. And www.pc.qc.ca, the web pages of Parks Canada; the building is in its Directory of Federal Heritage.
The cathedral Kat called St Peter’s never was named after St Peter; but it was conceived as a copy of St Peter’s in Rome, down to having a reproduction of Bernini’s baldacchino in it, and the name has stuck. The inspiration for it and the planning of it came from Ignace Bourget, from 1840-76 the second bishop of the Roman Catholic arch-diocese of Montreal. The outside was built between 1870 and 1878; work on the interior was going on while Kat was in Montreal and was finished in 1894. In Kat’s day it was dedicated to St James the Greater; now it is the Cathédrale Marie Reine du Monde.
Notre Dame Montreal:
There’s a wiki on this church, designed in the Gothic Revival style by the Anglican, New York based James O’Donnell. It was built on the site of a smaller church, as the largest church in North America; the outside was constructed between 1824 and 1829 but the lavish interior, with many wood carvings, took far longer.
Notre Dame de Bon Secours has a wikipedia page with a good set of pictures. I hope Kat appreciated that the idea to build a church on that site came from a woman, Marguérite Bourgeoys, who has since been canonised. The church Kat visited was built in 1771 over the ruins of the original one that Bourgeoys would have known. It’s a pity Kat didn’t have time to stop at the Bon Secours market as that too is a fine building: see www.marchebonsecours.qc.ca for a short history and modern photographs. It was inaugurated in 1847.
The Villa Maria convent still exists, see www.villamaria.qc.ca. There’s an article on it, with descriptions of school life in the mid-20th century, in montrealgazette.com: Montreal’s Villa Maria School in the 19th Century; by Helen Wolkowicz, posted February 2015.
The school is housed in a Palladian style mansion built in 1804 for James Monk. It was the offical residence of the governor-general of Canada in the 1840s before being bought by the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre Dame and opened as a school – with teaching in both French and English – in 1854.
Because she was going to say she didn’t think he was worth his reputation as a preacher, Kat was careful not to identify the clergyman-orator she was persuaded to hear at the English cathedral in Montreal. She didn’t name him; and although she said the speaker was a “Canadian bishop” he was not necessarily the bishop of Montreal, particularly with a synod going on in town. Just in case Kat did mean the bishop of Montreal, there’s a wiki which lists all of them. It indicates that the incumbent in 1886 was William Bennett Bond, who later became the Primate of All Canada. There was no reference in the wiki to him as an orator. He is remembered for his work with young people; and for bringing order to the chaotic financial affairs of his diocese.
SEPTEMBER 1886 – TO NEW YORK AND THE VOYAGE HOME
Kat left Montreal by train after the most thorough baggage check she had experienced in North America. Her route to New York took her past Lake Champlain and Lake George. She spent a night in Albany and an hour in Saratoga; and then went by boat down the Hudson River. She had allowed herself one day in New York, and spent it fulfilling a promise to go to Coney Island with a man she had met during her stay in the city earlier in the year. Her friend took her to Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach. They went to stare at the famous Elephant but didn’t climb up inside it; and the ‘Burning of Moscow’ firework display had been cancelled due to bad weather. But they had an “excellent” farewell dinner at the Manhattan Beach Hotel. Then her friend went with her to see her onto the White Star Line’s SS Celtic, where she met up with the lady’s maid of her travelling companion Miss Greenlow, who would be sailing back to England with her (her employer was on her way to Australia).
SS Celtic left New York early the following morning. Kat had expected to be seasick all the way across the Atlantic but to her surprise, she wasn’t; so she was able to make friends with two of her fellow passengers. The ship reached Liverpool late in the evening, and Kat’s year in the Great Republic was over.
Source: GR2 pp299-311.
Comments by Sally Davis: Kat was furious about the customs search she and her fellow travellers endured at Montreal Station. Each passenger was asked to open “every trunk, bag and bundle”. As usual there were no porters to be found ,so they had to drag their pieces luggage down from the pile of it themselves and kneel on a stone floor to get them open.
As a result of the rude start to her journey, Kat was not in the best frame of mind for enjoying the rest of the day’s travel. She admitted Lake Champlain and Lake George were “very beautiful” but there’s a touch of burn-out, I think, about her preferring Lake George largely because it was small, a “decided contrast to the general run of huge American lakes, which are virtually small seas”. She might have approached the journey with more enthusiasm if it had been happening a couple of months earlier: she would have liked to give her readers first-hand information about the summer social season in New England. By September, though, it was almost over. She had also been told that to make any real splash in it, a woman had to have three sets of white dresses ready to wear each day; and her mind boggled at the money and the laundry that would be necessary to achieve that. So she didn’t bother much with Saratoga, one of the summer season’s centres (especially for the racing set). And I think she didn’t visit Newport Rhode Island at all, though she did give her readers some information on it, as currently the most fashionable of the various New England summer resorts; and also the most expensive, with “cottages” (Kat’s quotation marks) charging anything from $500 to $5000 for the few summer weeks’ hire.
Kat’s night at supposedly the most famous hotel in Albany did not improve her mood, it was “both noisy and dirty” and she was very glad to leave it early the following morning to get the boat down the Hudson. The riverboat, however, was definitely a cut above the best that the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company had provided a few days before. And from West Point (though not before it) the river valley was “very fine” - though not to be compared with the Columbia River valley Kat and Miss Greenlow had travelled along several months before. The scenery made Kat sorry that she had had to turn down invitations by two sets of friends, to stay at Nyack, and at Yonkers; but she now had no time left.
One last evening in the incongruous surroundings of Coney Island’s fun-fairs and then Kat was off to take possession of her cabin on the SS Celtic. She found that a number of cockroaches had settled in before her, but they all disappeared when the ship left port. Most of her fellow passengers Kat dismissed as “chiefly men, and of a strongly Conservative turn of mind”. She preferred to spend her time with Mrs Parnell, mother of Charles Stuart Parnell, “a real type of gentlewoman of the old school”; and a young Englishman, “nephew of a well-known historian”, who was returning to live in England after failing to settle in California. Though she liked Mrs Parnell very much, Kat wasn’t quite at ease with someone so closely related to “an Irish agitator”. She worried particularly about using as a chair a heavy wooden box in Mrs Parnell’s cabin, which – Mrs P told her - had lost its key. Kat thought it very suspicious and wondered about dynamite. When they reached Liverpool, the customs officials also found it suspicious and Kat wondered about dodgy documents – but she doesn’t say whether anyone managed to get it open!
Lake Champlain and Lake George, which both have a wiki.
They are both at the northern end of the Great Appalachian Valley and have always been a border – originally between the Abenake and Mowhawk Indian tribes; lately between the US and Canada and between New York State and Vermont. Both were important strategically during the American War of Independence and in 1812. The Champlain Canal, which opened in 1823, linked New York with Montreal by water. Lake George became popular as a summer getaway for the wealthy of New York and was lined with their country estates. It was a popular subject for artists – see the wiki, www.lakegeorge.com, www.visitlakegeorge.com though none of them show any of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings of it.
See its wiki for Saratoga and Saratoga Springs, but there’s still a Saratoga summer season, so there are lots of websites focusing on it. Two battles were fought at Saratoga during the American War of Independence and after the second, British General John Burgoyne surrendered his troops to American General Horatio Gates. At www.edwardianpromenade.com there’s an article by Evangeline Holland, posted April 2009, which details Saratoga’s social calendar in the 1870s and 1880s.
Kat was careful not to name the hotel she stayed in in Albany but I think it must have been the Kenmore Hotel, on the corner of North Pearl Street and Columbia Street. It was built in 1878 for Adam Blake, a black entrepreneur whose father had been a slave. He died in 1881 but his wife Catherine continued to run the hotel until 1887.
See the hotel’s wikipedia page and a wiki on Downtown_Albany_Historic_District, where it’s the only hotel mentioned in the section on the 19th century. It was designed by local architect Edward Ogden in a style described as “Richardsonian Romanesque”; he also designed a Queen Anne style extension built in 1891.
Kat’s visit to Coney Island:
There’s plenty of coverage of Coney Island on the web as it’s still such an important day-out for New Yorkers. Its wikipedia page says it was the site of the original Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam, and that its development as a series of beach resorts had begun as early as 1829. The elephant had not been on the seafront long when Kat decided against going inside it: it stood there from 1885 to 1896. Apparently there was a brothel inside it.
Coney Island: 150 Years of Rides, Fires, Floods… by William J Phalen 2016 and Coney Island: The People’s Playground by Michael Immerso 2002 both detail the development of the Manhattan Beach Resort by Austin Corbin in the 1870s after he had bought what eventually was 500 acres of Coney Island and a series of railroads to bring people from Manhattan and Brooklyn to the resort he was developing there. The Manhattan Beach Hotel, designed by J Pickering Putnam, was the centre of the development, built on a huge scale 150 yards from the sea, with a frontage of 669 feet. On the seaward side there were lawns and flower beds with free brass band concerts. Kat’s last dinner in the US won’t have been a quiet affair: the various dining rooms at the Hotel could seat up to 4000 people at one time. There’s a small photograph of the Hotel at www.coneyislandhistory.org and a postcard of it at www.mfa.org.
Website www.coneyislandhistory.org says that Corbin’s intention had been to usurp Saratoga and Newport Rhode Island as the place the rich and famous went for the summer. However, it was never a real rival to them.
White Star Line’s SS Celtic:
The White Star Line owned two ships called SS Celtic at different times, both of which have a wikipedia page. The ship Kat travelled on was built for the Line in 1872 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. A report in the New York Times of 23 May 1887 covered a collision, 350 miles off New Jersey, between SS Celtic and the White Star Line’s SS Britannic; at the time of the crash, SS Celtic had 870 passengers on board, in cabins and steerage. This original SS Celtic was sold to the Thingvalla Line, in 1893 and its name was changed, to Amerika.
Kat’s Mrs Parnell - Delia Tudor Stewart Parnell (1816-98):
See the wikipedia page of Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-91) whose political career was ended when he was cited as co-respondent in the divorce of Katharine Wood O’Shea and her husband. See also www.wikitree.com and www.thepeerage.com for family history details. And Judy Leslie’s article on Delia Parnell at www.for-the-love-of-Ireland, which has a reproduction of an early portrait of Delia.
I don’t know how much Kat actually knew about Mrs Parnell, but as she had relations in Ireland who probably knew Delia, perhaps she knew more than she put down in her book. Delia Tudor Stewart was the third child of Admiral Charles Stewart and his wife Delia née Tudor. She was born in Boston but grew up on the family estate at Bordentown New Jersey. She was considered a beauty, and was better educated than most girls of her time. In 1835 she married the Anglo-Irish landowner John Henry Parnell (died 1859) of Avondale county Wicklow. They had 11 children but separated in 1852. Delia Parnell’s views on Irish independence had not gone down well with her husband’s neighbours in Wicklow. After her husband’s death, she and her daughters Fanny and Anna were active in the pro-independence Ladies’ Land League and she also gave shelter to nationalists evading the police. So Kat was right to be unnerved by the box that had lost its key!
Delia Parnell’s death was tragic: while she was visiting Avondale, her dress caught fire and she died of her injuries a day later. The only descendant of Delia Parnell that I could find at www.thepeerage.com was Clare O’Shea, daughter of Charles Stewart Parnell and Katharine O’Shea while Kitty was still married to her first husband.
AUTUMN 1886 – BACK IN ENGLAND
Describing herself as a “female Columbus”, Kat ended her book by telling her readers that her year in North America had left with her “the mark of some wider growth in experience and tolerance”. In a call that is very apposite to these Brexit-dogged times, she urged her readers – singling out the English in particular – to set aside their “insular prejudice, ignorant obstinacy of opinion and...dogmatic conventionality” and go beyond their usual destinations of Europe and the Colonies to travel in America. She herself had “never spent a happier nor more profitable year” than the one she had just spent, meeting the Americans (some of them, at any rate) at home.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
20 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: