Journal of Billings Grinnell Almy (1407-1C74)

Billings Grinnell Almy was born 16 February 1874 in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Horace Manchester Almy and Abbie Colburn (Grinnell) Almy. He married in Ashland, Nebraska, 18 April 1901, Ada Marks. In July 1898, at the age of 24, he and his brother John, about 23 years of age, spent two years in Europe studying.

Remember, at that time there were no airplanes or even automobiles, and they traveled by train, boat, bicycle, and on foot. This journal was among Mignon Almy's things (See her obituary in the October 1995 issue of the Almy Family Newsletter.), and was transcribed by Louise Almy (1407-1C74-31W).

The abbreviations used in the journal are: FFA is his brother Frank Fayette Almy; ACA is his mother Abbie Colburn Almy; and JEA is his brother John Edwin Almy. Others mentioned: Ada is his fiancee Ada Marks, and Eva is brother Frank's wife.

The journal will be printed in the Newsletters, in serial form, as space permits. Here is the first installment. Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 1898

"Good-bye." Left home about 10 a.m.. Took dinner at Flora's. Spent afternoon in Ashland. Supper at Mr. Marks. Ada carried me to the train. Left Ashland at 11:04 p.m. Sleepy and tired, but not very lonesome.

Tuesday, July 26, 1898

Passed night well. Awoke at Ottumwa, Iowa with sun rising in the N.E. Hot, windy, very dusty day. Changed from B&M to B&O in Chicago. Fared well, very warm and dusty. Passed through level country most of time. Crops hardly as good as at home. Still feeling well, rested by long sleep.

Wednesday, July 27, 1898

Awoke at Akron, O., about 1 a.m., seemed to be going west. Trains run irregular. Thro' some cities, small towns, etc. Pittsburgh, the Smoky City, most surely! Very beautiful run from P. To Washington. Hilly, wooded, curves, bridges, tunnels, R.R. follows river bed. Felt well, cloudy and cooler. In Washington saw Capitol, but rain kept me at depot most of time till 12 p.m.. Wrote from Washington to ACA, Eva and Ada.

Thursday, July 28, 1898

To NY, very sleepy. Slept sound. NY at 7 a.m.. Went to residence, then office of Henry Wilbur. Received letter from JEA. Covered some of the city in p.m.. Called on Steamer Line Office, bought my bicycle. Left on 6:00 steamer for Fall River and RI. The day I ate two suppers in one night, 25 cents each. Rather lonely, largely due to cloudy and rainy weather.

Friday, July 29, 1898

Little Compton reached at 8 a.m.. Breakfast at Aunt Emmeline's. Visited until 4 p.m.. Stopped at Uncle Thos. for supper. Inspected hogs and garden. On to "The Common" at 8 p.m.. Stayed with Aunt Hannah. Bed early, first time since Sunday(24). Quite lonesome early but less so after I got among relatives. RI sea fog nearly all day.

Saturday, July 30, 1898

After breakfast went to Uncle Dan's. Sat on Sunset Rock and viewed the country. After dinner we drove down to Sakonnet and Warren Points. Clear day. Enjoyed my self first-rate. After supper rode back to The Common. Stayed again at Aunt Hannah's.

Sunday, July 31, 1898

Arose feeling fairly well, but at breakfast time had fever and was quite sick. Lay down until 9:00. Felt much better and started to make my farewell calls. Rode down to Uncle Dan's, then to Uncle Thos. where I took dinner. At 3:00 was at Aunt Emmeline's and at 4:00 with Elmer Wilcox at Four Corners. About 5:00 started for Fall River racing a dark cloud. Rode fast and reached destination just ahead of heavy rain. Bound to New York. Ada.

Monday, August 1, 1898

Saw SS Southwark as I landed at NY. Rode round until stores opened, then left wheel to be crated. Made several purchases and did some sightseeing. Gloomy early in morning, but towards noon brightened up and cheerful.

Tuesday, August 2, 1898

Saw about trunk, On board steamer, made other purchases. Felt well and not lonesome. In evening wrote to FFA, ACA, Ada and Miss Winger.

Wednesday, August 3, 1898

Picked up few odd things. Bid good-bye to last acquaintances and started for boat at 10:00 a.m. OK at 11:00. Felt little gloomy just as boat left pier. Soon as started all disappeared. I had had a week of good-byes-lonesome affairs. Now my two-year's journey had begun, and that was - enjoyable - not gloomy. Felt very well and cheerful. Waited in lower bay for tide. Didn't pass Sandy Hook until 6:00 p.m. while eating supper. Passed N.Y. and Paris in bay. Just back from the war.* Ate heartily two good meals. Letters to ACA, FFA, Ada, from FFA, JEA.

* Transcriber's note: Spanish-American War.

Thursday, August 4, 1898

Made my acquaintances. Easy to pick out companions. Game of Shuffle Board occupied about half of my time. Ate heartily, well. Ships very frequently met. School of porpoises. Sea smooth, calm. Slept well and felt as well as if on land. Noon 235 miles, Lat. 30-40, Long. 68-45*.

* Transcriber's note: Since this citation is made so often, I'm going to just write both numbers, separated by a -, rather than write degrees and minutes each time.

Friday, August 5, 1898

Calm and clear in morning. About 10:00 a.m. ran into dense fog. Whistle blowing once a mionute, very monotonous noise. Cleared up by noon. School of porpoises. Shuffle Board again frequently. Health and spirits good. Meals same. Met a French Line steamer about 4 p.m. and saw manyh sailing vessels. Noon 323 miles (558)* Lat. 41-45, Long. 61-45.

* Note: the numbers in ( ) are the totals.

Saturday, August 6, 1898

Clear in morning, smooth sea. Clouded up and rained about 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Cleared again. Passed a tramp steamer just at noon. Sailing vessels few. Noon 329 miles (887). Lat 43-30, Long. 54-50.

Sunday, August 7, 1898

Fog whistle began to blow at 6:00 a.m. and didn't miss over and (sic) hour during the day. Foggy and rainy all day. Turned cold in afternoon, wore overcoat all day. Services in Saloon 10:00 to 11:00. Sermon by one of the passengers. Couldn't see much further than the length of the boat during the day. Rain in the evening. Fog and rain do for a change, but glad to get sun again. Had made good many friends. Knew about 30 by sight. Noon 330 miles (1217), Lat. 45-45, Long. 47-45.

Monday, August 8, 1898

Fog disappeared. Began to rain, however, about 8 o'clock. Cloudy, clear, rain alternating thro' the day. Rather cool. One sail sighted 4:00 p.m. Noon 330 miles (1550) Lat. 47-40, Long. 40-10. First day to notice much roll. Rock from side to side about a foot and a half most all day. Ate a good big piece of "Fruit Cake".

[to be continued]

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