A Travel Diary

This little treasure came in a donation box containing many obsolete veterinary medicine texts:


The leather-bound diary measures just 6″ x 3.5″ x 0.75″ and is in pretty decent shape given its age.  Mary C. Andrews wrote mainly in pencil, and though her handwriting is that typical spidery one of the era, it is mostly legible.  I am not sure why she wrote “State Insane Asylum” as the address under her name . . . .  I hope it was a joke of some sort.

historic image buffalo state hospital

The above is a historic photograph of the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane  (courtesy of http://www.Richardson-Olmsted.com).  The hospital is now called the Richardson-Olmsted Complex in honor of the architect Henry Hobson Richardson (of Richardsonian Romanesque fame) and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.  The hospital opened in 1880 as a state-of-the-art inpatient treatment center for psychiatric patients, with the last patients leaving in the mid-1970s.

HABS photograph of H. H. Richardson Complex from 1965, courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, NY,15-BUF,9-1

Miss Mary started her trip in May 1889 with her Mama and Papa, and she wrote about a “little of England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Amsterdam.”  And the adventure begins:

May 25 1889 Saturday

Sailed on the “Etruria” this afternoon.  Had a lovely sail down the bay and “The Farny (?)” (Mr. Fisk’s boat) saluted us.  It is very smooth and pleasant.

RMS Etruria

I wonder if the Mr. Fisk she referred to was James Fisk, the speculator who along with Jay Gould tried to corner the gold market in 1869.  After a decidedly colorful — if short — life, he was murdered by his ex-mistress’ lover in 1872.  He was only 36 years old. James Fisk owned many things, including steamboats, so I suppose some boats of his still were still in commission in 1889.

James Fisk, 1835 – 1872

I have no idea whether Miss Mary travelled first or second class, but I hope she had the trip of her life!

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