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
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
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
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.
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.
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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