Trunk Inventories – What was carried for travel

While other inventories have come to mind, I hadn’t previously thought of looking at court records for travel information until I stumbled across a court case regarding lost luggage which included the values for the trunk’s (or 2 trunks’) contents. The trunks, owned by a Mrs. Frances Davis, were lost on a steamship leaving New Orleans for Indianola in August of 1853. It appears one of the trunks were later discovered and returned while the other was not top be found. One of the trunks contained the following:

1 gold locket, $20
1 gold bracelet, $18
1 gold ring, $2
1 gold cuff pin, $2
2 silk dresses, $25
5 muslin dresses, $25
silk velvet cloak, $25
lace mantel, $12
silk sacque, $5
1 dozen handkerchiefs, $12
Laces and ribbons, $15
Underclothing, $15
Fan, $2
Parasol, $3
Corset, $5
Shoes, $4
Music, $7
Books, $5
Sundries, thread, thimbles, etc, $1
Work-box, $3
Trunk, $20
Port-folio, stationary, etc. $5
Total $231


The notes on the case continue discussing another trunk. I am not certain if this is a second trunk or the trunk found:
Note by the clerk, in the transcript, as follows: “No citations to be found among the papers.” March 19th, 1855, amended petition alleging “that the trunk mentioned in the original petition contained a large amount of valuable wearing apparel and divers other articles, a bill of particulars containing a schedule of the same, together with the value thereof, is herewith filed marked Z, which is made of a part of his amendment; and she states that the value of said trunk was $437.75, etc.; damages laid at $800. Schedule Z was as follows:

Forbes, master, and the owners of the steamship Perseverance, To Frances Davis, Dr. [reformatted list for easier reading]

1 fine sheet iron traveling trunk, $40;
1 fine Velvet cloak, $40;
 1 fine silk sacque, $10;
1 fine silk dress, $25;
1 fine tissue dress $18;
1 fine tissue dress $15
3 white Swiss dresses, at $10, $9, $8, $27;
1 organdy dress, $12;
5 lawn dresses at $5, $25;
1 fine pocket-hdkf. $8;
2 fine pocket-hdkf. At $5, $10;
8 plain pocket-hdkf at 50 cts. $4;
18 pieces under-clothing $25;
1 fine parasol $6;
1 fine fan $4;
1 work-box and contents $12;
1 fine lace mantle, $15;
1 fine lace veil, $3;
1 fine lace chemisette $5;
1 fine French chemisette;
3 common chemissets at $1.25, $3.75;
3 pieces India ribbon $5;
2 fine French collars at $3, $6;
1 fine lace collar at $5;
5 yds. Velencia lace $5;
5 French work-bands at $1 each, $5;
1 fine gold locket $200; [this does say $200 in the text. I don’t know if this is correct since above the locket is $20.]
1 fine gold bracelet $18;
1 fine gold ring $2;
1 pair cuff pins $2;
2 fine long net gloves at $1.50.
Published in: on February 23, 2013 at 9:37 am  Comments (2)  

Travel Advice Exerpts

Today’s exerpt is “Travelling” from Frost’s Laws and by-Laws of American Society.( By S.A. Frost. 1869. )


THERE are many little points of etiquette and  courteous observances which, if attended to, serve very materially to lighten the tedium and fatigue of travel, the non-observance of them being at tended with proportionally disagreeable effects. No situation can be named where the difference between the well-bred and ill-bred of either sex is more marked than when they are upon a journey; and in this country, where all classes are thrown into contact in the various public conveyances, the annoyance of rude company can scarcely be exaggerated.

The duties of an escort to a lady are manifold and various, and the true lady will make them as light as possible, striving, by her own deportment and agreeable conversation, to compensate her gentleman  friend for the trouble she may occasion him. To weary him constantly by complaints of the heat, dust, or flies; to worry for half an hour over some unavoidable mishap or annoyance; to lose or miss some part of her hand-baggage every five minutes; forcing him to rise and search for what she eventually finds in her own pocket; to inquire every few moments, “Where are we now? what time is it? are we nearly at our journey’s end?” to delay him, when the train or boat does stop, for arrangements that should have been made ten minutes before; to fidget about her baggage; or to find constant fault with what he cannot control, are all faults in which lady travellers are prone to indulge, but which all mark low breeding, founded upon intense selfishness.

Good-nature, perfect courtesy, patience, punctuality, and an easy adaptation to perhaps untoward circumstances mark the perfect lady
in travelling. When you see a lady, detained perhaps for hours by a snow-storm, pleasantly trying to beguile the time by conversation, relieving tired mothers, perhaps, of the care of fretful children, jesting pleasantly upon the unpleasant delay, and uttering no complaint or impatient word, even if half frozen or in utter discomfort, you may be certain you see a perfectly well-bred lady in every sense of the words.

No lady should ever allow her escort to enter with her any saloon devoted exclusively to the use of ladies. Because he may be her own
 husband, son, father, or brother does not excuse her, as he cannot stand in such relation to others present.

If a lady in a car or stage finds the exertion of talking tiresome or painful, she may say so frankly, and no gentleman must take offence. Weak lungs may be really injured by the effort made to be heard above the noise of a locomotive or wheels.

In travelling alone, a lady should speak to the conductor on a train, or, in a long steamer passage, introduce herself to the captain, explaining her unprotected situation, and they are bound to extend every courtesy in their power. It is better for a lady so travelling to wait until the rush of passengers is over before quitting a train or  boat, and then, if not waiting to meet any one, leave the station.

A lady travelling alone may, with perfect propriety, accept courtesy from strange gentlemen, such as raising or lowering a window, the offer of a hand across a slippery plank, or any such attention, being careful always to thank him politely for the same, and in a tone that will not encourage conversation or further advances.

Any apology made during a journey for accidental crushing, crowding, reaching over the seat, or the like, must be accepted, a silent but courteous bow being the best acknowledgment of the politeness dictating such apology.

A gentleman, on entering a public  carriage or omnibus, must never step before a lady, but stand aside until she enters, raising the hat slightly if she acknowledges his courtesy, as a true lady will, by a bow. He may offer to assist her if she appears to need it, even if she is a perfect stranger to him.

If a gentleman consents to act as escort to a lady, he must carefully fulfill all the requirements of that rather arduous position. If she meets him at a wharf or depot, he must be a little before the hour for starting, to procure her ticket, check her baggage, and secure for her a pleasant seat. He must never leave her to stand in an office or upon a wharf whilst he attends to her tickets and baggage; but, having seen her comfortably seated in a ladies’ room or cabin, return for those duties. In arriving at a station, he must see her seated in a hack before he attends to the trunks.

In a hotel, the gentleman must escort the lady to the parlor before securing her room, but not detain her afterwards. However agreeable she may be, he may be certain she is longing to rest after her journey, and remove the travel stains from her face and dress. He must at once escort her to her room, ascertain what hour it will be agreeable for her take the next meal, and meet her again in the parlor at that hour. He must not leave her upon arriving at the journey’s end until he has escorted her to the house, and if he remains in the  city, he must call the next day to inquire after her health. After that, the lady may continue the acquaintance or not, as she pleases; but if she declines to do so, by nonrecognition at the next meeting, he is at liberty to decline acting in the capacity of escort to her again.

A gentleman who is travelling alone may offer little courtesies to strangers, and even to ladies, carefully maintaining a respectful manner, that may assure them they need not fear to encourage impertinence by accepting the preferred civilities.

In travelling abroad, the truest courtesy is to observe as far as practicable every national prejudice. The old proverb, to “do in Rome as Romans do,” is the best rule of etiquette in foreign travel. The man who affects a supercilious disdain for all foreign customs and forms will not convince the natives of his vast superiority, but impress them with the belief that he is an ill-bred idiot. The most polite, as well as agreeable travellers are those who will smilingly devour mouse-pie and bird’s-nest soup in China, dine contentedly upon horse-steak in Paris, swallow their beef uncooked in Germany, maintain an unwinking gravity over the hottest curry in India, smoke their hookah gratefully in Turkey, mount an elephant in Ceylon, and, in short, conform gracefully to any native custom, however strange it may appear to him.

“Comparisons are odious,” and to be continually asserting that everything in the United States is vastly superior to everything abroad is a mark of vulgarity. If you really think there is nothing to be seen abroad as good as you have at home, why, you are foolish not to stay at home and enjoy the best.

A lady may, under certain circumstances, as, if she be a married lady, and not too young, begin a conversation with a strange gentlemen; but he must not, under any circumstances, begin a conversation with her. An unmarried lady, unless advanced in life, is not supposed to begin conversation with a strange gentleman.

When a lady, travelling alone, wishes to descend from a railway car, it is the duty of the gentleman nearest the door to assist her in alighting, even if he resumes his seat again. He may offer to collect her baggage, call a hack, or perform any service her escort would have attended to.

If a train stop for refreshments, a gentleman may, with perfect propriety, offer to escort a strange lady, who is alone, to the refreshment-room, or to bring to her any refreshments she may desire. If she accepts his offer, he must see that she is served with all that she desires before attending to his own wants. A lady may always accept such an offer of attention, thanking the gentleman for his politeness, and dismissing him by a courteous bow, which he must accept as an intimation that his services are no longer required.

Smoking in the presence of ladies is uncourteous, even if there is no law against it in the car, stage, or boat. Some smokers, of more inveterate weakness in the direction of tobacco than of strength in politeness, make a parade of asking the permission of any lady who
 may be present; but this is hardly enough. A lady will not like to refuse, although she may dislike the smoke, and she ought not to be put to her election between two alternatives almost equally disagreeable. If gentlemen only are present, the question should be put to each and every one of them whether they have any objection to smoking in their presence. One dissentient voice should carry the day; for no gentleman has a right to insist upon his own special gratification if it will cause annoyance and discomfort to others present. Should there be no objection on the part of the entire party, the gentleman who first strikes his fusee should offer it to any others near him about to indulge also before he uses it himself.

As regards the right to have the window up or down, the person who sits facing the the engine has the command. Ladies, being present,
should, of course, be consulted, no matter on which side they may be sitting, and their wish must be considered a final settlement of the question.

If a gentleman have any newspapers, he must offer them first to his travelling companions. If refused, he may use them himself, thus leaving them free to read also if they so desire.

It is a breach of etiquette for a lady to touch her baggage in a hotel after it is packed. There are plenty of servants to attend to it, and they should carry to the hack even the travelling- shawl, satchel, and railway novel. Nothing looks more awkward than to see a lady, with both hands full, stumbling up the steps of a hotel hack.

Published in: on February 16, 2013 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

A Day on a Railroad

I have to admit, reading this chapter, “A Day on a Railroad” from At Home and Abroad; or, How to Behave, by Mrs. Manners (Evans & Dickerson: New York, 1854), I am not the most patient, nor comfortable 19th century railroad traveler. Left myself or in a quiet party, I am okay assuming I get comfortable, the sun is not touching me, there is fresh air and it is moderately quiet. I find it difficult to carry on a conversation at length or to sit with the sun falling on our side of the car. If off set, I can be down-right cranky.

A Day on a Railroad

“Was you ever in the cars before?”

“If I had a’been I shouldn’t be here now,” was the reply, in a nasal and querulous tone.

I was sitting before the speakers, in a fine car on the — railroad, and the above question was asked and answered, at the first station which we reached, after leaving the city of S—. I turned around to see who the persons conversing might be, for the answer of the old lady had amused me. She was a fresh arrival from the heart of New England. She had accompanied her son, who, with his family lived at the South, on this long, and to her mind, most perilous journey. A “wagon” had conveyed them to the ship, which landed them at S—-. She was not afraid at sea, for a neighbor of her’s “had been a sea-faring man for forty-odd years, and never been drownded;” but the horrid din, “the supernat’ral speed” of the cars was too much for her, and then “Miss Johnson’s brother’s wife’s son, by her first marriage, had been killed, she believed, in this very State of Georgia, on the railroad. He ‘tended the ingine, and had been throw’d off and fractioned his skull.”

These particulars, I heard her give to her questioner, a respectably-cladwoman from the interior, who was so much more at home on the outlandish vehicles, because “the road run now within a mile and a  half of her house, which used to be more  than thirty-six miles from a town.”

The old lady groaned and complained during the remainder of the day, and reproached her son for bringing her to a place which must be reached by such a mode of travelling. Sometimes the scenes between them were amusing, at other times they were annoying to the involuntary listeners. These were not all the annoyances of that day. The heat was most excessive – the dust and smoke perfectly unbearable, and the scarcity of good water a great source of discomfort to the crowded, wearied passengers. There were some small children along with us, who were foolishly supplied with candies and cakes almost incessantly, which aggravated the thirst incident to the heat and suffocation. They were greedy, dirty, cross, sleepy, and altogether very uncomfortable little associates. Two of them, however, formed an exception to these remarks. One was a lively, intelligent child, about two years old – the other a noble, though rather delicate looking lad of perhaps ten years.

“Oh papa,” said he, as he caught sight of the younger child in a remote part of the car, “how much that little boy is like my little brother Malcolm. May I go ask his mother to let him come and sit with us?”

The permission was granted, the request made and acceded to, – the little one was enchanted with the prospect of a relief from the monotony of his own seat, from which he dared not wander alone, – and all parties looked pleased. The lad, whose name was Leslie, took most tender care of the little Bertie. If the cars stopped long enough for any one to leave them, Leslie’s father carried Bertie out in his arms to give him some fresh air. Leslie himself continually pointed out every object which could interest the child.

I was pleased as I regarded him forgetting his own discomforts to please the little fellow; whenever he had a chance he bathed his face and hands in the cool water, – often giving  him a drink. He was most solicitous lest the child should eat anything which would provoke thirst; an unripe banana was thrown away, a ripe one carefully peeled, a ginger-cake put out of sight, a piece of juicy apple given, – and thus he was continually consulting the happiness of this little protégé. Not a complaint was heard from Leslie during the whole weary day. He changed his seat, preferring to have the sun in his own face rather than in the child’s; he patiently held his head when he fell asleep, and carefully protected him from the black motes which are so annoying in the cars.

I truly  believe Leslie was the happiest person in the cars that day, because he was the least selfish; he was so much occupied attending to the comfort of the little one, as to entirely forget himself, and consequently his own troubles. That was the secret of the day’s pleasure, and the kind of words and looks which all gave him who saw his unselfishness. I can answer for Berties’ mamma, that she blessed the lad in her heart, and will never forget his kindness. When we reached M—-, Leslie said – “It has been a pleasant day, papa, has it not?” The weary passengers who heard him smiled; but all acknowledged he had deserved the day should be a pleasant one to him.

Published in: on February 9, 2013 at 9:10 am  Comments (3)  

Exerpts on Travel Advice

Today’s exerpts come from Eliza Bisbee Duffey’s The Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Etiquette. (Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, c1877.)

THERE is no time or place where true ladyhood is more plainly indicated than in traveling. A lady’s traveling costume will be exquisitely neat and plain, without superfluous ornament of any kind.  Jewelry, artificial flowers or lace are out of place on either dress or bonnet.


The first consideration in a traveling-dress is comfort; the second, protection from the dust and stains of travel.  In summer, for a short journey, a large linen duster or overdress may be put on over the ordinary dress, and in winter a waterproof cloak may be used in the same way. But a lady making an extensive journey will find it convenient to have a traveling-suit prepared expressly. Linen is still useful in summer, as the dust is so easily shaken from it and it can be readily washed. In winter a waterproof dress and sacque are the most serviceable. There are a variety of materials especially adapted for traveling costumes, of soft neutral tints and smooth surfaces, which do not catch dust. These should be made up plainly and always quite short. The underskirts should always be colored woolen in winter, linen in summer. Nothing displays vulgarity and want of breeding so completely as the white petticoat in traveling. Gloves should be of Lisle thread in summer and cloth in winter, never of kid. Boots thick soled, stout and durable. The hat or bonnet must be plainly trimmed and completely protected by a large veil. Velvet is unfit for a traveling-hat, as it catches and retains the dust. Plain linen collar and cuffs finish the costume. The hair should be put up in the plainest manner possible. Curls or fancy braids are inadmissible. A waterproof and a warm woolen shawl are indispensable in traveling. Also a satchel or handbasket, in which should be kept a change of collars, cuffs, gloves, handkerchiefs, towels and toilet articles. A lunch-basket is sometimes desirable. A traveling-dress should be well supplied with pockets. The Waterproof should have large pockets; so should the sacque. The pocket of the dress should be deep and large. In an underskirt there should be provided a pocket in which to carry all money not needed for immediate use. The latter may be entrusted to the portemonnale in the ordinary pocket, or in the bosom of the dress.


The most sensible directions we have observed for a sea-voyage appeared recently in a well-known paper. They are so good that we take the liberty of transferring them to these pages. Even though the directions may not be complied with to the letter, they will serve as a basis upon which to build the needs and requirements of a voyage across the Atlantic.

It should be borne in mind that it is desirable not to be encumbered with too much baggage at such a time. It is always troublesome to look after and really unneeded, for one is going where all the requirements of civilized life are to be found in abundance, and where one must shop, whether there is any need or not, merely to be in the fashion. Therefore it may be well to create the need, that the shopping may be done with a clear conscience. It is not necessary to supply ones self with many changes of underclothing in traveling; washing is always easily done on the journey at short notice. We not long since heard of a lady who was offered by her husband a trip to Europe if she would get all her personal belongings into a hand-valise. She did so, went and returned, and enjoyed the trip immensely.

The writer above referred to says: “An elastic valise and a hand-satchel, at the side of which is strapped a waterproof,” are enough baggage to start with. “In the valise changes of linen, consisting of two garments, night-gowns and `angel’ drawers. These latter are made of cotton or linen, and consist of a waist cut like a plain corset-cover, but extending all in one piece in front with the drawers, which button on the side. Usually the waists of these drawers are made without sleeves or with only a short cap at the top of the arm, but for
a European trip it is advisable to add sleeves to the waist, so that cuffs-paper cuffs if preferred-can be buttoned to them. Thus, in one garment easily made, easily removed, and as easily washed as a chemise, is comprised drawers, chemise, corset cover and under-sleeves, the whole occupying no more room than any single article of underwear, and saving the trouble attending the care and putting on of many pieces. A gauze flannel vest underneath is perhaps a necessary precaution, and ladies who wear corsets can place them next to this. Over these the single garment mentioned adds all that is required in the way of underwear, except two skirts and small light hair-cloth tournure.

“Of dresses three are required-one  traveling dress of brown de bege, a double calico wrapper and a black or hair-striped silk. The latter is best, because it is light, because it does not take dust, because it does not crush easily and because by judicious making and management it can be arranged into several costumes, which will serve for city sightseeing throughout the journey and be good
after ward to bring home. Then, if there is room, an old black silk or black alpaca skirt may be found useful, and an embroidered linen or batiste polonaise from last summer’s store.

“Add to these a black sash, a couple of belts, an umbrella with chatelaine and requisite attachments, a pair of neat-fitting boots and pair of slippers, some cuffs, small standing collars and a few yards of fraising, a striped or cheddar shawl, a `clouds for eveiiings on deck, some handkerchiefs and gray and brown kid gloves, and, with a few necessary toilet articles, you have an outfit that will take you over the world and can all be comprised in the space indicated, leaving room for a small whisk broom, essential to comfort, and a large palm-leaf fan.
“Stores, such as lemons, a bottle of glycerine, spirits of ammonia and Florida water, which are really all that are required-the first for sickness, the last three for the toilet-should be packed in a small case or box in such a way that the flasks containing the liquid will not come in contact with the fruit. After landing the box will not be wanted, as the lemons will have been used and the flasks can be carried with dressing-combs and the like in the satchel.”

Published in: on February 2, 2013 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  

A Night in a Sea-Steamer

This chapter from At Home and Abroad; or, How to Behave, by Mrs. Manners (Evans & Dickerson: New York, 1854) highlights the different behaviour of passengers on a steamboat in the mid-century. We are so lucky to have sea-sickness medications now. Notice how the one woman who lost her hair, had gingerbread in her workbag. Ginger was helpful, to some extent, for motion sickness.

A Night in a Sea-Steamer

I will not undertake to recall all the many scenes which twelve years of constant travel have brought be, but an incident or two in a recent journey will not prove uninstructive.

When I left the city in which I reside it was in a steamboat, and we were soon at sea, where the water was so rough, and the boat rocked so uneasily, that several of the passengers were sea-sick. Sea-sickness is one of the most unpleasant sensations in the world, and does not dispose those who suffer from it to be very amiable. The little children cared least for it, and though some were sick, it did not appear to affect their temper as much as it did that of some who were older, and ought to have known better.

There were three young girls, who looked very neat in their travelling costume, when they first came on board, and who seemed to be very lively and cheerful, but their liveliness soon subsided into almost total silence, broken only by impatience, and even rude exclamations of annoyance and illness. One was very cross to the chambermaid, who could not do anything to please her; she spoke pettishly to her sister and cousin, which seemed to be the relation the other bore to her. She sent several times for her father, and complained of her unpleasant feeling to him, as if he occasioned or could prevent them. Altogether, she certainly did all she could to make other as uncomfortable as herself, and when I looked at her cross face and listened to her pettish, whining tones, I wondered [if] I could ever have been pleased with her.

Her younger sister was much like her, only she made fewer demonstrations of ill temper; she seemed much more reserved, and would sometimes reprove “Elinor” in a sharp tone for “making such a fuss.” But if she said less, she was certainly no less unamiable than her sister. “Carrie,” as they called their cousin, was a gentle, blue-eyed little girl, who was in reality a much greater sufferer than the sisters were, but she was certainly the sweetest tempered girl; she seemed to try to give as little trouble as possible; she hand gentle tones, and said pleasant words, and even tried to smile when her uncle asked her how she felt.

It seemed they had all been at school during the winter in C., and were now going home, and the father looked very sorrowful as he contemplated the unpleasant countenances of his children, and saw these indications; for whatever change had been effected in his children for the better, it certainly was not their tempers which had improved.

When night came on, and the sea-sickness only grew more unbearable, the confusion became greater, and the scene was sometime ludicrous, and sometimes shocking.

One lady lost her false hair, which, with her side-combs when rolling on the cabin floor, in company with some ginger-bread which strayed from her work-bag. The attentive chambermaid picked them all up, and helped the poor lady to a couch, but her groans were most sonorous and expressive. A curtain was drawn, separating the ladies who, had no accommodations except mattresses on the saloon floor, from the gentlemen, who were similarly unfortunate, on the other side.

Among the ladies was one who had not been long married to her present husband; she had been a widow, and made great pretensions to refinement and intellectual cultivation. The husband was quite a servant to her various whims, which, however, were usually expressed in very insinuating tones. Now, as she rolled on her bed, her groans and complaints were indicative of any thing but refined affection. “Goof Lord, Mr. W.!” “What, my love?” from the other side of the curtain. “Oh, I shall die – I’m awfully sick. Come here and hold my head.” “I can’t, my darling, I also am” – and here his sentence was cut short by sounds of no unequivocal nature. “Come here, I say; what did you take me to sea for, when you could not take care of me? You are a brute, Mr. W. Oh, Lord!” But enough of this.

I have but one more thing to tell, and then I must stop, having hardly finished my sea voyage, and reserving all my railroad adventures for another time.

A friend, who passed most of the night on the upper deck, told me of a little incident which was quite a relief to the usual disagreeable scenes of sickness at sea. There was a lady, evidently from the country, and of plain appearance, who was sitting with her son near the boat-railing. He held her head whenever there came a paroxysm of sickness. By-and-by, the young man also became sick, and was about putting her head down on the bench, while he was to the other side of the boat. A number of well dressed and fashionable young men were walking up and down the deck. One of them observing the mother and son, and the situation of the latter, went up to him at once and kindly asked to be allowed to take his place; and there he sat, and actually held the old lady’s head for two or three hours. When he joined his companions, he had to bear much raillery on the subject of his gallantry, and his odd choice of a lady to whom to be polite. He took it very well, and his reply quite hushed their rattle.

“You may laugh as much as you please, but I thought if she were my mother, how I should feel to see obliged to be neglected, and I am not at all ashamed of the impulse which induced me to offer my services.”

I wish his mother could have heard him; I think she would have been more proud of him than ever. This little incident, and the sweet serenity, under such unpleasant circumstances, which the gentle “cousin Carrie” had shown, impressed me very much, in the contrast they formed, to the usual selfishness of people when sea-sick.

Now, one question would be… which type of passenger would you like to portray? Which would be more educational for guests or an audience? Which would be more interesting? What if you really were motion sick?


Published in: on January 26, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

How to Travel

Appleton’s Illustrated Hand-book of American Travel, by T. Addison Richards (New York: Appleton, 1860) which is actually from the 1857 edition originally, not only gives an over view of how to travel in the mid-century but also the embellishment of the luxury of travel found in some guides of the era. It reminds us read with a critical eye.

To the Traveller: Some Parting Words of Explanation and Advice.

In a journey over so vast a country as the United States, occupying nearly half a continent, and measuring its length and breadth by thousands, and it routes of travel by tens of thousands of miles, one may very readily be pardoned if he sometimes stumbles by the way. May we not beg the benefit of this consideration, if, in our present laborious itineraire, we have occasionally chanced, despite all our watchfulness, to only half look at points of interest or to overlook them altogether; or if, amidst the intricate riticulation of the roads, we may have momently lost our way? We hope, however, that we have not been thus unlucky in any considerable degree, for we have made very honest effort to guide our traveller truly and surely; to show him – hastily, to be sure, as needs must be, yet intelligently – the past and the present, the physique and the morale, of the great country through which we have led him; its differing peoples and places, from the mountains to the prairies – from the cities and palaces of the East to the wildernesses and wigwams of the West.

Though we have thus done our best for the present, we hope to do still better hearafter, as we revise and extend our volume year after year, with the benefit of enlarged personal observations and of the good counsels of others; for we trust that those who follow our guidance will do us the kindness to advise us of any and all errors and omissions they may discover in our pages. To assist them in rendering us this generous service, we have placed some leaves for memoranda, at the end of our book.


The Plan of this Book

We have thought it best to follow the familiar geographical order of the various divisions of the country, and thus to begin at Canada on the extreme north-east, and, continuing along the shores of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, end upon the Pacific, westward. With rare exceptions, we have instead of selecting a particular route and seeing all it offers of attraction, jumped at once to our especial destination, and then imtimated the way by which it is reached. Thus, if the traveller happens to be in New York or Boston, and desires to go to New Orleans, he will, be turning to “New Orleans,” find the routes thither. The chief cities are taken as starting points for all other and lesser places in their neighborhood. It has not, of course, been possible to mention every village or town in the Union, in the narrow limits of a pocket volume, like this.

General Remarks

The foreign tourist will soon observe, to his satisfaction, (and the citizen might remember it oftener, with thanks to his stars,) the great convenience of the total absence in the United States, of all annoying demands for passports – of scowling fortifications and draw-bridges, of jealous gates, closed at a fixed hour of the evening and not to be reopened before another fixed hour of the morning; of custom-housed between the several States, and of all rummaging of baggage by gens d’armes for the octroi; and yet nevertheless, of as perfect a feeling of security, everywhere, as in the most vigilantly policed kingdoms of Europe.

He may or may not like the table d’hote system of our hotels – the uniform fare and the unvarying price; that, excepting in the few metropolitan cities, where the habits of all nations obtain, we must submit to.

From the social equality every where and without exception, he will not suffer, however high his rank at home; and if it be not the highest, he will surely gain in consideration. To win attention and care, both the lofty and the lowly have, and have only, to dispense good will and kind manners as they pass along.


Gold and silver, it should be remembered, are always and every where current, while bank-notes, and especially of distant States, very often are not. Change, too, will save trouble; especially half-dollars, generally the fare of omnibuses and hacks, and invariably the price of meals. Twenty-five cent pieces, too, are useful, as fees for little services by the way. In travelling through the settled districts by the railways and steamboats, and at the best hotels, the daily expenses should be estimated at not less than five or six dollars per day for each person.


As little baggage as possible is always a good rule, though a very liberal supply is permitted on the railways and almost any quantity of the steamboats. On the stages, the prescribed limit of sixty or eighty pounds cannot be exceeded without extra charge.

The regular carriages of his hotel will convey the traveller securely and in season, to the railway station of the steamboat landing, where his first care must be to deposit his trunks in the keeping of the baggage-master, and receive a check for each one – corresponding marks will be attached to the baggage, and it will be delivered at the end of the route only to the holder of the checks. It is best to get baggage checked for the entire journey, or for the longest possible stage thereof, and thus save one’s self the trouble of looking our for it more frequently than is necessary.

Before arriving at his destination, the traveller will, on the principal routes, receive a call from an express agent, to whom he may safely resign his check and his address, confidant that his baggage will be duly delivered, and at the fixed tariff  of twenty-five cents for each piece or trunk. On arriving at the end of his journey, he should put himself in one of the carriages marked as in the particular service of the hotel to which he is going. If he employs other vehicles, it will be well to learn the fare beforehand particularly in the city of New York, where hackmen pay but little attention when they can help it, to the law in the case.


Tickets on the railways should be purchased at the office before starting, otherwise a small additional charge will be made. If a long journey over various roads is intended, it is cheaper and more convenient to buy a through ticket to the end of the route, or for as long a distance as possible. On the steamboats, the tickets for passage and for meals will be purchased at leisure, after starting, at the captain’s office.


The hotels of the United States are famous all the world over, for their extent, convenience, comfort and elegance. They are often truly palatial in their sumptuousness, with means and appliances for the prompt gratification of every want and whim. The universal price of board, from one end of the country to the other, is $2 50 or $2 00 per day at the most fashionable, and indeed at all the principal houses. Private parlors and extra rooms involve an additional charge, according to their position. Wines are always extra and always dear enough.

Waiters or Servants

It is not the general custom in America, as in Europe, to fee waiters at the hotels, though it may very properly be done for especial personal service. It is often done by those who like hot dinners better than cold or who may have a fancy for some rare dish when it unluckily happens to be “all out.”


At the watering places, the same resources of toilette are needed as in the city salon; but though you be thus provided, do not be unprovided with a travelling suit equal to rude usage. If the color be a gray or a brown, so much the better in the dust of  railway or stage routes. Don a felt hat, – it does not crush itself or your head in car or carriage, or blow overboard on steamboats. Leave thin boots (this especially to the ladies) at home, and be well, and comfortably, and safely shod, in stout calf skin. It is a pity to be kept in doors by the fear of spoiling one’s gaiters or wetting one’s feet, when the meadows and hills and brooks are waiting to be explored. In mountain tramps, a generous sized flask, filled with most excellent brandy, may be swung over the shoulder with very picturesque effect.

Published in: on January 19, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Toilette Cases for Travelling

Part of my 2013 plan is to delve further into traveling in the nineteenth century from what it was like to travel to the baggage. Advice books and contemporary magazines are filled with cases and bags meant to make travel easier. As toilette bags have come up as a topic of conversation on FB, I’ll share a few of toilette cases that can be made at home.

 Toilette cases used a variety of materials. For the exterior, you will want something strong, that will travel well and hold up to moisture.  You will see period recommendations for using firm material such as ticking as well as Oiled silk and Russian duck. As I have seen some sewing case made with a dark painted canvas that I think would do well for a toilette case as well. For closures, buttons with button holes or loops work well, as do pairs of ties done with ribbon.

 The Workwoman’s Guide has a case for just about everything starting on page 208. There are bags for shoes, nightgown bags, travel tidies, etc.



This Travel Sachet from Godey’s has each pocket embroidered with the contents. It can roll up as well as hang. Click on the image to see it reproduced.

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Proprieties in Traveling

To start the year, lets look at the “Proprieties of Traveling”, in this passage from At Home and Abroad; or, How to Behave, by Mrs. Manners. (Evans & Dickerson: New York, 1854.)

Proprieties in Traveling

It is not an uncommon thing to find young people who are considered well-bred, and pleasant-mannered at home, not simply regardless of proprieties in traveling, but so inconsiderate of any thing but their own comfort, that they become great nuisances to other travelers. This is the case with such children as are only superficial in their conduct; I mean such as behave, because they have been taught that this thing or that is vulgar, and low-bred, rather than because their hearts are trained to kindness, and their politeness is its outworking. When thrown into new scenes, and exposed to disagreeable circumstances, they act out the natural impulses of their selfish, or querulous spirits, and become wonderfully unpleasant companions,

In bright contrast to these is the conduct of the amiable and unselfish. To be an agreeable traveling companion is a great recommendation, and is a character all would wish to bear if only they could “see themselves as others see them.”

I have traveled much in the last few years, both by sea and land, and, as I am apt to do, I have made many observations on the people around me. I have had occasion to note the well-bred and the ill-bred, the amiable and the unamiable, and have drawn from their conduct some important lessons.

Before I speak of behaviour, however, I wish to refer to some proprieties of dress and other preparations for a journey, which it is desirable to attend to.

Nobody who is aware of the “wear and tear” which assails her garments on a journey, will wear fine or light, or otherwise delicate dresses, or shawls or bonnets. Exposure to the weather, which may unexpectedly become stormy; to the dust, and to the rudeness of those around, in the rush and crush which are the characteristics of traveling now-a-days, will effectually ruin almost any kind of clothing. Ladies, therefore, are accustomed now to provide themselves and their children, the plainest and most substantial kinds of dresses, shoes, shawls, coats, bonnets, and hats. All silks, laces, embroideries, fine ribbons, muslins, and jewelry, are considered, very properly, to be in bad taste in railroad cars or steamboats.

If it is desirable to wear a broach, let it be of the plainest and simplest kind. Wear your watch chain out of sight, or suspend your watch, as some do, by a black cord or ribbon. A thick veil is indispensable, as you are liable to be much annoyed by dust, or smoke and cinders, and also by the stares of rude and vulgar people with whom you are liable anywhere to come in close contact.

As for dresses, a plain-coloured foularde in summer, or a neat linen chambrey, or better still , a de bage, are appropriate materials. Plain straw bonnets, with green or other very neat coloured ribbons on them; linen collars, under handkerchiefs, and cambric sleeves, gloves to match the dress in hue, and gaiter boots, completes a neat traveling costume for ladies. Gentlemen usually carry traveling caps in their pockets, and wear loose brown linen sacques over their coats. It is a good plan to provide yourselves with convenient baskets which will bold night clothes, combs, and brushes, a small needle-case – containing sewing materials, and a pincushion. In addition to these, a bottle of good cologne is of great use; its odor is reviving, and it will refresh you to rub your hands and face with it, where it is not possible to make as plentiful use of water as you desire. I carry, in addition to these, one or two small towels, and a sponge. Children want crackers, oftentimes; and apples are good for them. But candies, cakes, juicy fruits, tarts, &c., are not only unwholesome, but make their faces, hands, and clothes so dirty, that they are to be avoided by all means. Linen coats, trowsers, sacques, and aprons, are best for children’s clothes, unless the weather is very cold.

As children seldom travel alone, it is to be supposed their parents, or those who have the care of them, will keep a close observance of all they do, and try to prevent their becoming annoyances to those around them. On thing, however, the children themselves must attend to. That is, that they pay the most entire and unquestioning obedience to any command given to them, or wish expressed, by those older. There are so many perils attending journeys, especially in these latter days , that there cannot be too much care exercised by their guardians, or too implicit obedience paid by the children. I shall reserve, for another chapter, my personal observations in my journeys.

Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (4)  

“Travelers and Traveling” from 1860

I stumbled across this article, “Travelers and Traveling” by Mary A. Denison in Peterson’s Magazine from 1860.

I rather enjoyed the first part, but then it took quite a twist.

“Think for a moment of the masses moving in every direction. From homes of wealth and of poverty they come – from the emigrant’s little cabin of mud by the wayside, and the palace of the titled noble – on the they throng, men, women, and children – sick and well – joyful and sorrowful. Some are in the first flush of wedded happiness, on their bridal tour – some are leaving the home of youth and childhood, where they have been sheltered and fondled, to seek a scanty living in a heartless world. Some go at the call of husbands to the land of the golden mountains – some to while away a leisure that is wearisome, to fill a void no earthly pleasure can satisfy. What endless packing of trunks and bags is perpetually in progress from the rising of the sun till its going down! Did you ever think of it, reader? How all th avenues of commerce are crowded with the constant coming and going of articles needed for transportation. Fourteen trunks carried off from the steps of our next door neighbor, who is going to show her two or three dozen new “loves” of dresses at Saratoga. “That place where really noblemen go sometimes, dear!” Truly man (and woman too) is a living locomotive, under full pressure, flying flashing from town to town, from country to country, never at rest, puffing and blowing, and steaming it through the world. Those who have pockets full of money, and can afford to wait for detention of boat or car, ought to enjoy all the delights of traveling. They can stop when they please, put up at the most expensive hotels, keep a hody-guard of waiters about them, all the time, by a liberal supply of the cash – be stared at, talked about, admired, and envied to their hearts’ content. To such, there is scarcely a higher pleasure than to make a sensation. They love to hear the sly side of communication, “Guess he’s rich.” They love to sit in state, on the right hand of the master of ceremonies – to have the wants of their wives and daughters attended to first, and themselves listened to as “Sir Oracles.” So, their little hearts are contented. Then they smack their lips, and talk smoothly of the little things, whose cognizance has chanced to pass through the avenue of their very limited brains. Others, languid and faint, to whom a straw is a burden, endure with indescribable anguish the discomforts of travel. How often have we seen some pale face, touching in its uncomplaining sorrow, leaning wearily upon the seat of car or steamboat! When the bosom is burdened with sighs, and brain and heart are throbbing with pain, the loud laugh of the throughtless, the chit-chat of the happy, the bounding steps of the little child – how strange they seem! One thought only fills the mind – one star shines through the deep gloom – it is the thought and the star of home! They are going home! The dear, old mother is there. At her touch the fires of the brain will sink into slumber; the heart will throb less heavily. The pillow and the couch are waiting there – the voice of love – the prayer of faith. So long the earth –weary for heaven! Sometimes there is a fugitive from justice on board, who sits in sullen silence, with clenched hands and teeth, and hat drawn over his brows. He dares not look at a single face, for he feels that on his own is branded an indelible mark. As the train nears the village or the town, he cowers in deadly fear, for he knows the very lightnings[sic] have proclaimed his guilt, and the officers of outraged justice are on his track. Poor, guilty wretch! was the paltry gain worth all this shame and anguish? The selfish traveler makes his mark. The windows shall be shut and opened, as his sovereign will dictate; though the winds, soothing to him, strike the chill of death through a tenderer frame, he never disturbs his precious self. He is an unabated nuisance – turn him out. It is passing strange, that many travelers, especially mothers with little children, will not take the precaution to provide themselves with water for the journey; a flask and dipper, or tumbler, would not take up an inconvenient amount of room, and would save much annoyance. Once, in traveling, we were seated near a little family, consisting of a mother and two children – one of whom was quite ill – and an aged grandparent. For the first part of the journey all went well, water could be obtained at the depots, to cool the parched lips of the little stranger. But night came on – a stormy night of wind and tempest, and the child grew very sick and impatient; we seem to hear her moaning little voice, faint, weak, and imploring; we see those large, languid blue eyes floating in tears. “Drink, mamma! – drink, drink, mamma!” resounded at constant intervals, accompanied sometimes with bitter cries. We wondered that we had not thought of obtaining water. The mother, worn out with watching and fatigue, burst into teas and sobbed piteously, while the little voice kept up its pleading, monotonous cry, “Drink, mamma, drink!” The fever burned her lips; her cheeks blazed; her breath was like fire – yet no water could be had for love or money, along the route of the rushing train. Think of it, the child was dying of thirst – absolutely perishing for water – and the thoughtless mother had no resort but teas. Could they but quench the poor child’s thirst, we could have wept till morning. Alas! when morning came the little sufferer had put on wing. She died in the cars, and – here we will leave the subject. It may induce some to think.”

Published in: on September 18, 2012 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  

LeMode to Godeys… A Bag

It is rather fun to see how an item or story appears from one publication to the next. I’ve been amused time and time again by how the accounts of shawl production numbers evolve into more and more flattering accounts. Sometimes the subtle or not so subtle evolution takes place over a couple months, other times over years.

This week, I found myself looking at an illustration in a May 1865 Godey’s convinced I’ve seen this travel bag before. In fact I did. About a year back, or so, maybe two, Marta, I’m pretty sure it was Marta, sent me a bag from La Mode’s July 1864 edition. This one was called a “Sac-Portefeuille”. A year later, across the water, the same bag was called “A Travelling Hand-Bag.” The description gives the option of making it of leather or canvas:

Our pattern is in dark brown leather, varnished on both sides, but may also be made of drab-colored canvas, in which case a small pattern looks well worked over it in cross-stitch. The bag is cut out all in one piece, with the exception of the sides. Each part is bound with silk braid, firmly stitched, after which it is easy to sew the different parts together. The leather handles, which are finished off with tassels, are fastened to the bag by small straps put on with steel buttons. The rosette in the centre is made with stiff ribbon; a buckle of cut steel is fastened in the middle of it; a loop of silk elastic is sewn on under the rosette, and fastens to a large steel button placed on the lower half of the bag.

I do have a similar bag started in leather, which I think I will be taking apart and starting over with this version once I find it.  I also think I want to work this up in canvas.

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment