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FROM ONE TO EIGHTY-ONE by Howard Williams

The Civil War

Mustered Out

(From the diary of Lieutenant Howard Williams, E Company 42nd Ohio Infantry, who was Assistant Acting Adjutant General under General E. Upton in 1866, and who commanded the Post of Denver at the end of the Civil War)

Edited by Suzanne (nee Williams) Ecclestone

Editor's Note:

The only editing I have done is putting in the headings, which I did for my own clarification, and dividing some of his very long sentences into two for my own and family's easier reading. Everything else remains as he wrote it.

Suzanne Ecclestone, great granddaughter of Howard Williams and great-great-granddaughter of Henry Harrison Williams

FROM ONE TO EIGHTY-ONE by Howard Williams

An Introduction


Henry Harrison Williams and his wife, Eunice Amelia (nee Porter), parents of Howard Williams, Avon, Ohio

The journey from 1 to 81 is a long and eventful time and consists of many and varied experiences. With some the experiences are of greater variety than others, being regulated by my vocation in life, and whether of a retiring nature or roaming one, and circumstances makes a great deal of difference.

This journey does not seem as long looking back from 81 to the year when, realising that the years are passing, you look forward to the time when you will reach the age of 81. To a child or person in their youthful days the time between these dates would seem to be endless, but to one who has succeeded in making the journey, while it seems a long time, the time has passed all too quickly and comparatively few succeed in reaching 81, and those that do must be considered very fortunate.

The only way to live a long life is to keep alive. Do not try to live two days in one. Worry less and play more. Ride less and walk more. Frown less and smile more. Drink less and breathe more. Eat less and chew more.

The writer was born January 21st, 1841 and was the eldest child [of Henry Harrison Williams], and, at this writing, has reached the age of 83, and has often wondered that he still is numbered among the living, after having been engaged in many various occupations, some of which were quite hazardous, and having travelled many thousand miles and on many kinds of conveyances by land and sea. First by my dog team, then oxen, horses velociped, bicycle and automobile, in row boats, rafts, sail boats, motor and lake steamers, ocean liners and in all this time have escaped without an accident or serious injury.

A New Axe

I did have one narrow escape when about ten years old. My father gave me a little axe. Well, an axe must be sharp to be of any use. In our mill there was a large grindstone which was mostly used by the millers to grind their picks. These picks were used to pick or sharpen the millstones which were used to grind the wheat and corn.

At the present time rollers are used instead of stones. This grindstone was a large one and had a shaft through it and a plank was put down under it to get nearer to do the grinding. There were some wedges driven in on the shaft to hold the stone in place. One day I went to grind my little axe and when I was standing on the plank doing the grinding, one of the wedges caught my pant leg and I was being drawn down between the shaft and the plank.

Luckily at this point the engineer looked in, saw what was happening and threw off the belt, stopping the stone. My leg was good and fast and it took some time to get me out by having to cut my pant leg off, but I was not hurt much. Had not the engineer come in as he did I might not be here to write this.

I served in the Civil War of 1861 between the North and South for over four years and was even more lucky than Pat who crossed the ocean seventeen times and was never drownded but once and that was on his last voyage.


1874 map of French Creek, Avon, showing the location of the mills of Henry Harrison Williams

My first three or four years passed, I presume, much the same as for all children. I was born and lived in Avon Township in Lorain County, Ohio, which is 19 miles by road west of Cleveland, and Elyria was the county seat. This part of Ohio was comparatively new and there was some swampy land and not much drainage. The consequence was there were many who had chills and fever or what was called the ague.

One of my first recollections was when I was taken with one of these chills and I recall sitting behind the kitchen stove in my little chair with a blanket around me. My how I did shake. The universal remedy for this was a patent medicine called Coligog. I was given one dose of it and that settled the shakes. Of course, I was too young to have false teeth, but if I had they would have been shaken out.

My father, Henry Harrison Williams, was named after William Henry Harrison who was a prominent person in the 1790's and thereafter during the Indian wars. He was made general in command of the western forces and held many high positions in the U.S. Government. He eventually was elected President of the U.S.A., in 1840, but only served one month owing to his death, one year before I was born.

My father was one of the early settlers and established many industries; flour mills, saw, lath, and shingle mills and he also kept a general store. He established a pottery, not for making earthenware but for making potash. This process consisted of leaching wood ashes which he bought from the settlers. In cleaning up the heavily timbered land, the hardwood was cut and stacked in great piles and then burned. The settlers were mostly from Germany and were a hardy, hard working and honest people and in a few years had become prosperous.


In my boyhood days my occupations were many and I seemed to be a Jack-of-all -trades. My father also had a farm and of course I was a farmer boy. But, I did not do much farming. I seemed inclined to get into scraps and I was in many, which sometimes I won, and sometimes otherwise. In a small place there are many opportunities to get into mischief and deviltry, and it appears I found the way quite frequently.


Mlll belonging to Henry Harrison Williams, Avon, Ohio, USA

I attended school when I could not get out of it, as I would much rather work, but I did succeed once in a while in getting out of it. I remember one occasion at school we had a visitor and one of my acquaintances, a boy my age, while sitting near me, made some insulting remark to me, and it was more than I could stand. There was an ink bottle handy and I threw it into his face and he got pretty well inked, and of course, I was in trouble. The teacher (a woman) ordered me up in front.

Well, I did not go, so she came after me and then the race began. I over the top of the desks, and she after me with her ruler in her hand and whenever she came near enough she would give me a whack, but that did not occur often for I was a good runner. Some time previous one of the panels of the front door had been broken out. I saw an opening to escape and I made a run for it and got to safety. Of course, I was out of my troubles and escaped with only one black and blue spot on my arm. I did not go back to school again that summer.

A Working Lad

A boy's usefulness or uselessness commences at various ages according to circumstances, and in my case I could not do otherwise than be useful, and if I was not, I knew what would happen. My father had a 50 acre farm on which we lived, as well as 100 acres of timberland from which he cut logs and wood for his mills. My greatest pleasure was to drive something.

My first thing to drive was a dog and sometimes two hitched to a wagon. I would drive three or four miles from home on occasions to my Uncle Garfield's. I also drove the cows to and from the pasture but this did not seem to be much fun. A little later I drove oxen teams and we had a number of them. Next came the horses and this was the greatest thing yet. At the age of 12 to 14 I would take a team and drive to Cleveland, 18 miles east of Avon. I was loaded with pearls or pearl-ash made at our pottery (or ashery) which were produced from leaching the lye from the ashes, which was then boiled down, as you would sap to make sugar. This produced black salts.

The black salts were then put into a large oven and a fire built which passed over them until the moisture was taken out and the salts became white and they were then called pearls and were cooled and barrelled and were sold in Cleveland to be manufactured into saleratus which took the place of the present day baking powder. Later on my father manufactured saleratus himself. On my return from Cleveland I would bring back goods for our store. The trip to Cleveland and back made a long day with a load both ways.






An ashery is a factory that converts hardwood ashes into potash, or pearlash. Asheries were common in newly settled areas of North America during the late 18th century and much of the 19th century, when excess wood was available as settlers cleared their land for farming.

Potash is the name for several different potassium compounds, including potassium hydroxide, potassium oxide, and potassium carbonate. Potash was originally made by boiling the ashes of trees in large pots, hence the name pot-ash.

Potash (especially potassium carbonate) has been used since the dawn of history in bleaching textiles, making glass ...

The potassium oxide present in the ashes would mix with the water to form potassium hydroxide, a strong base also known as lye.

Lye was produced by soaking ashes in hot water, filtering out the ashes, and repeating with fresh ashes as necessary to obtain the desired alkalinity in the resulting liquid. This liquid could then be mixed with fats to produce soft soap, or it could be evaporated (often by boiling) to produce black salts which still contained dark carbon impurities. The black salts could then be baked in a kiln to further refine the substance into a pearly white material called pearl ash.

Pearl ash (mostly potassium carbonate) was widely used in households as early as the 1790s as a leavening agent for various baked goods. Before this time cooks had to use yeast, spirits, or beaten egg whites to lighten their dough. Pearl ash quickly replaced these agents because it helped the dough rise faster than yeast and higher than spirits or egg whites.

The widespread use of pearl ash led to the development of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in the 1840s. Baking soda provided a better, faster rise and households quickly replaced their potash with baking soda.]

Taking Logs to the Mill

At the age of 15, I would take a team and go to the woods and load cord wood and take it to the mill, and I would draw saw logs on a truck. I loaded the logs with the horses by putting skids or heavy poles at one end which would be on the truck and the other on the ground under the log. By hitching one end of a long chain to the centre of the truck (wagon) and the other end under the log and up over it, then hitch the horses to it on the other side of the truck, when the horses pulled, the log would be rolled onto the truck.

I also worked in the mills sometimes as engineer and assistant Sawyer. I also helped in the flour mill and frequently cut shingles and lath. As there was no pine timber in this section, we had to use other timber, white ash, black ash, black oak and chestnut. The logs were cut into bolts being split up into certain sizes and sawed into length of singles and put into a large tight box or vat and the steam was turned onto them until the bolts became soft and then, a few at a time, taken out and sliced into shingles by being moved against the knife so as to cut one end thick and the other thin.

Hunting Pigeons, etc.

I did some work on the farm. Plowing, reaping and mowing all by hand as this was before much farming machinery was used but we had a hay rake on wheels and mowing machines later. Even with all my work, I sometimes got a chance to go fishing and hunting which I always enjoyed very much.I also used to go swimming in the lake or river.

At this time there were many kinds of game to hunt: rabbits, squirrels, black red and gray, quail, ducks, geese and a few wild turkeys, coon, opossum, wild pigeons by the millions. At certain times in the year they were so numerous that in their flight they actually clouded the sun. They rested and roosted in a huckleberry swamp near our house at night and you could go there and kill them with clubs. Many were caught in nets and many shot as they flew over. A short time after this they all disappeared and no one as far as I know ever found out the cause and I think no pigeons exist at the present time.


In those early days there were many coons and coon hunting was a favourite sport, and if one did not find any coon, we would find a watermelon patch or cornfield where we could roast corn and eat melons and corn. At that time, there were large woods of chestnut trees and in the fall of the year there were great quantities of nuts and I have started out before daylight after a wind to pick them by lantern light and they sold for about $1.50 a bushel and now sell for $20 to $30.

I remember very well the great comet that was passing through space about 1850 and was visible for quite a long time. I was about 9 years old. One great event of my boyhood was to see a meteor. One night I was on my way back from putting our horses into pasture, I thought the world was coming to an end and it was the last call, it seemed so close as it passed, and lighted up the sky as light as day, and when it struck the earth it did not seem more than a mile or two away. As I had turned out the horses I did not go to find where it struck but it was an experience I never forgot.



Which comet?

1853 Comet Scweizer had a bright appearance which was at about magnitude -1.

1853 Comet Klinkerfues appeared between early August and early October. The tail was about 10 degrees long and the comet was seen with the unaided eye at about a magnitude of -1.]

I was always ready to go into all kinds of sports. Baseball, croquet, marbles and pitching horseshoes in summer. Skating, sliding downhill on sleds and snowballing in the winter.

Oberlin College, then to New York

Along about 1855, my father and mother conceived the idea that their children should go to college, so it was decided that they would move to the great college at Oberlin, Ohio, and it was done and I commenced my studies. Greek, Latin and other ones I stuck to as long as I was able. I think about two years and then on account of poor health I had to give it up and so we moved back to Avon and my education was finished - but not a finished education.

Teaching Career

I was about 19 years when I took the notion that I would try to teach school but of course before I could teach I would have to pass an examination to get a certificate to teach. So, I went to Elyria, the county seat where the examinations were held every fall and took the exam, and to my surprise I passed and received my certificate.

I thought now my fortune was made but how was I to teach without a school so I made enquiries about a school and learned a teacher was wanted at Avon Lake on the Lake Shore about 5 miles from where I lived.

[During the nineteenth century, there were four population centers in Avon Township -- from west to east on the North Ridge (Detroit Road} -- French Creek, Avon Center, and Trinity, and on the shore of Lake Erie, Avon Lake.]

I made application and received the school but my stipend was rather small, I think about $25 a month and had to pay my own board, but board was cheap at that time.

Well, I tackled the job and soon found I was up against a pretty hard proposition. Some of my scholars were nearly as old as I, and it was a question at times who was going to run the school as some of the older boys tried to be boss. But I gave them to understand I was there to stay and I won out and finished the term which was in the winter, and I never had any desire to teach again.

I went back to work at home doing as much as I was able until I was 21 years old. In the Spring election I was nominated to run for Justice of the Peace. Well, the election was held, and I was elected and now I was in a fix, not knowing anything about law. I secured some law books and commenced the study of the law with the full intention of qualifying in the Fall when I was to take office.

Top -- Home

Enlisting to Become a Civil War Soldier


Howard Williams and cousin, Thomas Floyd Williams, (Massachusetts) Nothern Army (See Hamlin family Pg. 501) Civil War 1862

At this time, the Civil War was being fought between the North and South and it was the second year and the President was calling for more men as the northern army had been losing many men. Well a number of boys and men in Avon concluded they would enlist and as Father had a team and spring wagon I offered to take them to Elyria to enlist and I went with them to drive the team.

The result was I enlisted with the rest, so now I was a soldier. My father and mother had no idea I was going to enlist and when I told them, there was some commotion. Father said I would be left in the corner of the fence on the first day's march but this did not prove true.

Cincinnati, Ohio

In about two weeks we were ordered to go to camp at Columbus, Ohio, for duty. On our arrival there we were assigned to Co.E 42nd Ohio Infantry in command of Capt. M.H. Benham whose home was in North Ridgeville. Here we were equipped and commenced to drill and were here two or three weeks.

There was great excitement in Cincinnati on account of General Morgan's Rebels making raids near there and it was expected he would attack Cincinnati. There was a call for help and we were ordered there to go on provost duty.

I remember we had our meals at a long table provided by the City, in the market, and we were put into a large hall to sleep on the floor. When we arrived the city was filled with what was called squirrel hunters as they were from all parts of the country and had brought their squirrel rifles with them to fight Morgan.

We stayed in Cincinnati until the danger was over and were then ordered to West Virginia. We took the train to Portland, Ohio, and went into camp where our Company was. We had no tents. We slept in the most comfortable places we could find. I slept in a pile of corn stalks. From Portland we marched to Gallipolis on the Ohio River and took the boat from there to Point Pleasant, at which place the Kanawah River empties into the Ohio, and is the birth place of General Grant.

Confederate Beef Stew

At this place the real soldiering began as we were ordered to move up the river, then being in West Virginia. I was detailed on night guard duty. It was quite cold with two or three inches of snow on the ground. It had been reported before we arrived that the enemy were in this neighbourhood so I had to attend strictly to business.

I stood out my time and nothing happened so we went on march next morning towards Charleston. At noon we went into camp and it was near a farm house and as soldiers are always looking for a change of diet, Porter Sexton, my cousin, and I started out on a foraging expedition.

We saw a farmhouse with some chickens and we tried to buy one but the woman would not sell one, so we continued our explorations and went into the house. The first thing we saw was a pot with something cooking on the stove. Of course, we would not steal anything but merely lifted the pot from the stove and took it to camp where we enjoyed a nice beef stew for dinner. I suppose it was a rebel stew but that made no difference.

Charleston, West Virginia

On our arrival at Charleston, Colonel Sheldon from Elyria, Ohio, who was in command of the regiment came to see me as he was well acquainted with my father and said he wanted a clerk in the ordinance department and asked me if I would accept the position. I was only too glad to do so. Sergeant Hofster from Cleveland was Ordinance Sergeant so I reported to him for duty and we took the boat from Charleston to Cincinnati and remained there a week where we loaded a boat with ordinance stores which we took to a Memphis warehouse.

Memphis, Tennessee

The Sergeant left me alone in charge of the ordinance. The large brick warehouse was on the bank on the Mississippi River. At the time of our arrival the city had only been taken a short time before and conditions were pretty bad and every night there were fires. In the rear of the building was an office where I slept and did my cooking. This was the winter of 1862-63 and we had about two feet of snow.

In the upper part of the warehouse there were a large number of Negro refugees and they were a pitiful lot as they had no beds or accommodations for keeping house. I was quite excited one day on seeing fire dropping down from above onto the cases of ammunition. It appears there were fireplaces along the sides of the building and they had built fires to cook and keep warm. Well you can bet I stopped the fires, so I had no more trouble, but I was some nervous as I could not tell what next would occur and was afraid to sleep.

I remember one night, while on my cot trying to sleep, I heard something in the back alley. My back door opened onto the alley. I thought I was going to be set on fire but kept still and shortly I heard a thump and then the squeal of a pig. When it ran out of the lane I heard an old German who lived back there calling his "Pigie, Pigie". I asked the old German the next morning about his pig and he said it died.

Sometimes I went up through the City during the day, but never at night as there was shooting nearly every night. There was a lot of Confederate money in circulation while I was there and the farmers would take it for their produce. I also used some confederate money.

While I was here, one of my company, a Mr. Vanduson, was in the hospital in Memphis, and he found out I was there and came to see me. He wished to stay with me and I was glad of his company. While here, we both received some money from home as we had not as yet been paid.

I remained here until Feb. 1863 when the Ordinance Sergeant came up river to take ordinance down to Vicksburg. Mr. Vanduson had to leave. I gave him an extra blanket and I supposed he went back to the hospital. However he was never heard of after and no trace of him could be found.

Vicksburg, Mississippi

We loaded all the ordinance on to a steamer and took it down the river to the Yazoo River, which was about four miles above Vicksburg and when we landed at the bank someone asked us what we had on the boat. When we told him he said a shell had struck the day before just where our boat was. Well we got out pretty quickly.

At this time Vicksburg had not been taken. General Sherman had tried to take it and did not succeed after losing many men. General Grant was sent to do it and commenced the siege.

As Vicksburg was so well fortified it was necessary to go slow ... At this time my Company was in camp. Then General Grant conceived the idea of cutting a channel about three miles above Vicksburg to divert the water from the river so as to get boats up from below with troops and supplies ...

As there was no more work for me in ordinance, I was ordered back to my company and my easy job was at an end. I was glad to see all the boys that were in camp, but some of them were in the hospital and some had smallpox.

The Mississippi River

Now my troubles began. The first duty I was called upon to do was to cook for our Mess. I do not think I was very well up in the cooking business at this time but there was no way out of it. This was the rainy season and we were camped on the river bank and lived in tents and had to cook outside down near the water. For that week I did the cooking and it rained most of the time. I had to pull wood out of the river to cook with and the mud was deep and the water was thick with mud.

Somehow I got through the week and I think that was the cause of my chronic diarrhoea for which I had to go to the so-called hospital.

Before I was sick I was put on guard on a boat to guard prisoners. Our boat was tied to trees on the bank and the first thing I knew the trees began falling into the river and I jumped to shore as one had fallen on the boat. I rushed back to the boat just in time as it soon was floating down the river, and there was some hustling to get up steam. The cause of this was the swift current of the water between the boat and the washed out land under the trees.

I will admit I was some scared. If I had not got back on the boat I guess I would not be writing this. The only water we had on board was some from the river and it was like drinking mud.

On the Hospital Boat

The hospital I was taken to was nothing more than a shack and I laid on the floor and daylight shone through all around. But I was soon transferred to a hospital boat where I was more comfortable and I was able to be up and assisted the hospital steward as he was just getting better from sickness.

I looked after the names and numbering on the cots of those who were sick and reported any that died. A number died every night and in the morning there were many laid out on the bow of the boat covered with blankets. Some of them died suddenly.

I remember one man who had been down and eaten supper and came up to lay down and in less than an hour rolled off his cot dead. I had the same trouble but it had not gotten so bad and rooming with the steward I was able to get a better diet, an egg and a little wine once in a while.

It was a pretty trying time for me but I never gave up. While sharing the room with the steward one day, I noticed him take down a bottle from the shelf and pour some of its contents into a wine glass. I did not take much notice until a minute after he drank it he began to gasp and draw his hands over his face. I knew something was very wrong and he told me to go for the doctor. When the doctor finally got there he could do nothing and the steward died in half an hour. He had taken Aconite (a poison) instead of Iron. His home was in Gallipolise and his body was sent there.

Well, I was surely having some experiences, if not very pleasant, and shortly after this I had other troubles. An abscess came where I usually sat down so I had to stand or lay down, but I survived and was getting anxious to get away from that boat.

Off to St. Louis, Missouri

A boat frequently came to take the sick up the river to northern hospitals and I asked the doctor if I could go and he agreed. Well, I got lively and packed my few belongings into my knapsack. The next day a boat came along side and was taking on the sick and a good many were on and the doctor did not say I could go. So I jogged his memory and he said get aboard and in two minutes I was on and felt great relief getting off the hospital boat.

We started up the Mississippi River soon after I got on and I was taken to St. Louis and put in the marine hospital. I remember there were 13 of us walked upstairs into our wards and all in about the same condition [diarrhea]. When we first went in we were put on a special diet and I soon began to improve and thought I would get well. As soon as the doctor saw I was getting better he put me on an ordinary diet and I was soon as bad as ever.

I quite often went out to an old German woman's house nearby and got some bread and milk, a fresh egg and some cheese. I stayed in the hospital about three months and the same thing happened when I began to improve so I concluded I had better get out.

During that time 7 of the 13 in my ward had died. I asked the doctor if he thought I could get clerical work in the city. I was a pretty good penman and the doctor had me write an application and in a few days an order came for me to report to the Medical Directors Office for the State of Missouri. Now in my new job I was the same as a civilian: slept where I liked, ate what and where I wished, and wore what clothes suited me.

Under these conditions I was able to diet and do my work in the office. I slept in a room in the same building. I was in this office about a year and was then transferred into the Adjutant General's Office for the state of Missouri. under Colonel Alexander, then quite an old man of the 10th Infantry.

Adjutant General's Office

A private soldier being on detached service is made an allowance for living expenses and it amounted to considerably more than doing duty in his company. While in the hospital I was transferred into the 2nd Battalion of the Invalid Corps from the 42nd, Ohio.

I found my new duties quite different from the Medical Office as my duties here were connected with the military affairs of the state and it was quite a responsible position as I had charge of all enlistments, recruiting and drafting of men in the state. I had to figure out the number of men to be drafted from each section of the state and notify Washington as to the number.

Daily I received reports by wire from all over the State giving the number drafted from each town and city. I would compile this and telegraph the number nightly to Washington. At months end I made a detailed statement and sent that off to Washington. I was still suffering from my old trouble and I began to feel the strain.

Typhoid Fever

I kept at my work as long as I was able but it was only a short time before I was taken sick with Typhoid fever. Instead of going to the hospital I went to my room which was now in a private house. I was in pretty serious condition. I do not know whether keeping out of the hospital, my good constitution, pluck, or good luck pulled me through.

The Government sent a doctor to see me and I guess he was a very good one, but I had no nurse and no special care. The woman where I was provided me with what food I required which was little, and she gave me some attention. During this time it was quite cold and I remember the old stove in the room smoked so I could not have much fire and I waited on myself mostly.

There is nearly always a time during this disease that you go batty or out of your head and I felt this coming on. When I shut my eyes I would see the most wonderful sights and now I made up my mind the time had come to put up a fight and I did. For three days and nights I did not close my eyes except for a few seconds at a time and I won, and from this time on I began to improve, but it was six weeks before I was able to go back to the office.

When I came into the office the Colonel said: "Well Williams, glad to see you, as from what I had been told I did not expect to see you again." He then asked me if I wanted to go home and I said I would, as soon as I was able to travel. So he told the Lieutenant in the office to give me a furlough for 30 days and about a week later I started home. I stayed the 30 days and got an extension of 20 more. I had a good time at home and found that the Typhoid had put my old complaint out of business and never had any trouble again. [Did the high fever from the typhoid kill what was causing the diarrhea?]

I was taken back into the office and took up my work again. I had been there only a few weeks when the Colonel called me into his office. He asked me if I would like a Lieutenant's commission. I told him that hit me all right. Then he said he would recommend me for a commission and forward it on to Washington, and in only a few days my commission arrived and I was mustered out as a private and mustered in as a lieutenant in the 5th U.S. Vol. Infantry, being April, 1865

Becomes a Lieutenant

Colonel Alexander did the right thing by me after all, and soon after getting my commission I was ordered to join my company at Alton Prison; you might wonder why I was sent to prison to join my company. At this time it was the latter part of the war and the U.S. Government conceived the idea of enlisting into the army some of the Southern prisoners who were confined in the Northern prisons, and form them into regiments and companies for guard duty out in the Western country. This would relieve men who could be sent South to fight.

Of course these men had to take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. but were not to be used to fight their own people, and many consented to these conditions to get out of prison. On arriving at the prison I found I was the only officer there and had to take command of the company. This was a new stunt for me but I saw I was up against it and went to work to do the best I could. I chose the sergeants and corporals, distributed clothing and all but the guns, and as future events happened it was fortunate they had no arms.

Fort Leavenworth

On leaving Alton, we took the train and landed at St. Joseph, a small town across the river from Fort Leavenworth. We arrived there in the evening and as we could not get across the river we had to stay all night in the cars.

Some time during the night the men found a distillery and many of them filled their canteens with wines. I did not suspect anything of this kind and could not put on guards as we had no guns. Early in the morning I saw something was wrong as some of the men were in a very happy condition, and as soon as possible I made preparations to get them across the river on the ferry.

By the time we started across many of the men were crazy drunk and it was hard to tell what would happen. One man was so crazy he wanted to jump overboard. Someone would stop him but he persisted and he jumped over. When in about the middle of the river he must have sobered, for he was able to swim ashore and when I saw him he was leaning up against a tree crying.

I never saw such a drunken mess and I almost had a mutiny on the boat an I was some nervous and excited. I finally got the men into line to walk but many were laying along the shore and were left behind. We marched up to the Fort about a mile and the drunks straggled in later.

I did not receive any bill of damages from the distillery. We received our guns at Fort Leavenworth and only stayed a short time and I was ordered to Fort Riley, Kansas.

Fresh Roast Pork and Buffalo Meat

As there was no railroad in that direction we marched, being about 100 miles. From here we were ordered to Salina, Kansas, 50 miles and this we also marched. This march was a pretty bad one as we had to go through lowland, which was filled with water for some distance. There were some settlers along the route.

One day after going into camp, a pig came to our camp, or so near that, for some reason, when the owner came looking for it no one had seen any pig. The man made a search through the wagons and camp but could not find a trace of it. But I remember we had a fresh pork supper.

We arrived at Salina early in the afternoon where we relieved another company stationed there. The officers invited me to take supper with them and we had buffalo hump steak for supper. It beat any steak I ever ate.

Camping on the River, Salina, Kansas

Salina was the last settlement in Western Kansas. It is situated on the Smokey Hill River. A short time before we arrived there the Indians had burned all the stations and stolen the stock of the Smokey Hill Stage Line which ran from Leavenworth to Denver.

There were no railroads that ran to Denver so all freight was taken in wagons drawn by oxen, mule or horses and a number of teams would go together as more security against Indian attacks. Our duty here was to guard the trains as far as Fort Ellsworth, about 40 miles.

Salina was a very small town with just a few houses. There were quarters for the men and officers. My quarters was a dugout on the bank of the river and the roof consisted of brush covered with dirt. There was a cot, chair, and a table. A few drops of water didn't bother me but when the snakes dropped it was rather startling.

Our duties here were not very hard and we put in the time drilling. Kansas was supposed to be a dry state and there was no booze in sight. The nearest thing to it was Burdock Blood Bitters and the officers would play cards to kill time and see who should drink the bitters. It was agreed that the winners should, and the losers to have only have a smell of the bottle, and of course the losers always got the laugh.

Buffalo Hunting

Salina was 25 miles east of the buffalo range where they had their feeding ground and when we could not get fresh meat we would form a party of 6 or 8 with a team and wagon and go on a hunt for buffalo. We would take 5 or 6 enlisted men as an escort and two or three of the officers on horseback would do the hunting.

We would start early in the morning and ride the 25 miles and it would be about 3 p.m. before we got near the buffalo. We stopped for a rest, fed the animals, took lunch and would then start out to find the buffalo.

The country was quite rolling and uneven and, being summer, the cows and calves would be in the basins and low places feeding. The first indication that you were near the herd you would see a bull up on the high ground standing guard, and of course the bull would see you too. As you came nearer, the bulls would begin to get concerned and restless.

You will not usually get near enough to shoot because as you get nearer, the bulls start for the herd. As soon as this happens you put your horse into the run after it, but the bulls would get to the herd first and give the alarm and they would start off on the run. All of a sudden they would stop, look back, and if you were still after them they then, with heads down and tails up, would start again and not stop until you are out of sight.

An Inexperienced Visitor wants to go Buffalo Hunting

While stationed at Salina, a regular army colonel from Washington came out to Salina on an inspection trip and while there intimated that he would like to go out on a buffalo hunt. We made up a hunting party and one morning started out for the hunting ground and after riding 25 miles reached the grounds late in the afternoon.

We went into camp, fed our horses and ourselves and started out to find the buffalo. We found a large herd about a mile from camp. The colonel had rode from Fort Riley on a very large and excitable horse that was not used to hunting. So, after locating the buffalo which were surrounded by the sentinels, we made a run for them and when we got to them and commenced firing, the colonel's horse became excited and he could not control him so all he could do was hold on to his horse to stay on him.

He ran right into the herd and should he have fallen off would be trampled on by the buffalo. So he did not get a chance to shoot at all but felt satisfied that he got through as well as he did. On this hunt we killed 13 and arrived back to camp after dark, except for one man who became lost and laid out on the plains all night. After the sun goes down there is nothing to guide you out on the plains.

In fact, I became lost myself for when I stopped chasing the buffalo not a man nor buffalo was in sight. I started out to go back the way I thought I had come and went up a short distance over a rise and looked down in the basin and saw another herd that had not been disturbed and which were quietly feeding.

I concluded I had not come from that direction and went back and soon came across some of the buffalo we had killed and some of the party. In hunting buffalo, when you start after them you single out one and ride up on one side and shoot if possible behind the fore leg. As soon as you shoot you turn your horse suddenly away for should you seriously wound a buffalo it will turn and gore your horse if it can.

Horses Escape

That night while in camp, the colonel's horse became loose. My horse I did not tie up. After the colonel's horse got loose he started for Fort Riley, 75 miles from our camp, and my horse followed. In the morning I went out to the main travelled road to look for the horses and, lo and behold, a horse and a mule came along dragging a long rope. I hitched myself to the rope and led them into camp and gave them something to eat.

So the colonel and I were provided with mounts. We arrived back at Salina Sunday afternoon. Monday afternoon I took the horse I had found and started on a ride of 50 miles to Fort Riley. I rode 25 miles to Abaline which was a courier station. I changed horses here and left for Fort Riley about dusk, to ride the last 25 miles.

Soon after starting it commenced to rain and became so dark that I could not see the road and at times had to dismount to see if I was still on it. It was a very lonely ride. After riding 22 miles I came to a small town and while riding through, about 12 o'clock at night, I heard a gun fired but did not take much notice of it.

After getting outside of the town I thought to hurry up my horse. It being still very dark I could not see the road and the next thing I knew I found myself lying in the road with my saddle and blankets. My horse had evidently stumbled in striking a slight incline in the road and I went over his head.

I must have been stunned, but not hurt, for the first thing I knew someone spoke to me and there were two men on horseback on each side of me and with revolvers out. One of them asked me what I was doing. I said the main thing I was doing was picking myself up. "Well" he says, "it looks a little suspicious finding you here in this condition as a man has been shot and killed in town a short time ago". I said I was sorry for that. They asked me a number of questions as to where I came from and where I was going.

One of them said "you will have to go with us." I said I would when I got my saddle on. One asked "I suppose you have some arms on you?" "Oh yes," I said, "I generally carry something to keep the grasshoppers from biting me." "Well, he says,"you had better give it to me." "Oh, I guess not, I think I will take the chance of its going off." "Well," he says, "you had better ride in front."

These men were Missouri cavalry soldiers and their camp was on my way to Fort Riley so we went to their camp and got the adjutant up. I told him who I was and where he could find me in the morning so I was allowed to go and I was then less than 2 miles from the Fort. I arrived about 1 a.m. I turned my horse into the coral, took my saddle and blanket up into the barracks, laid down on the floor with saddle for my pillow and stayed until morning.

A few days previous to starting for Fort Riley, I had sent some men there with some prisoners and they were still there. In the morning I went to the quartermasters to see if the horses were there. They told me they had not seen them so I went and found my men who were there and they told me they saw a trainmaster leading my horse.

They told me where he was and I soon found my horse and led it away. I started back for Salina in the afternoon and travelled 15 miles with the two horses. As I was passing the quartermasters I stopped and looked in the coral and found the colonel's horse, so I left it there.

I came to a stream and there was camped a mule train loaded with corn so I hitched my horses to the wheels of the wagons, took off my saddle and blanket, and crawled under the wagon to sleep for the night. But it was not to be, for along in the night a heavy rainstorm came up and I had to crawl up into the wagon on top of the sacks of corn which had a canvas cover and put in the balance of the night.

I arose in the morning and rode 10 miles to Abaline and had my breakfast and after changing my borrowed horse, started for Salina, another 25 miles.

A Frightening Experience

At another time when out hunting buffalo I became separated from the rest of the party and had a buffalo hunt by myself. I came across quite a large herd and as usual as soon as they saw me they started off on the run and I after them as fast as my horse could run. It is one of the characteristics of a herd of buffalo, when frightened or chased, to go in one direction and keep it regardless of the consequences and it happened in this case that they ran into a ravine and were soon going over the top of each other to get up the bank.

I managed to get over, just as the last one came up, and I fired. I think it was the largest bull I ever saw. I must have hit him near the back as he settled down on his haunches losing use of his hind legs, but kept on his forelegs. As I rode around him he twisted and kept his head towards me. I was told a revolver shot would not penetrate the thick hair and skull in the forehead so I tried to get a side shot and I kept going around him but he did the same and after a while he got up on all four feet and he started to walk away but I followed.

When I got too close he would turn and chase me and once I thought he would get me as he got within 3 feet of me before I could get out of his way. I shot at him a number of times and could not kill him and we had it back and forth until I finally gave it up and let him go as my ammunition was getting short and I was liable to find Indians any time.

On my way back to find the rest of the party, I came across an old buffalo being followed by a large wolf but being short of ammunition I let them go. When a buffalo gets old and feeble it is driven from the herd, especially by the bulls, and evidently this had happened to this bull and he would soon be killed by wolves.

I did not know where the rest of the party was but I soon found them. By this time it was late in the afternoon and we did not know where we were but kept on until after dark and we finally came to a ravine which we could not cross and went into camp for the night, it being about 10 pm.

A contract doctor, who was stationed with the company, and I, started out to find the road and after riding a few miles we came to it. I left word with the guard if he heard a shot to answer it as we might not be able to locate the camp on our return. He did so and it was about 3 a.m. before we got back into camp. I guess I was some tired after being in the saddle for so long, but it was a great day of experience. The next day we went back to Salina with our load of buffalo meat.

Leave of Absence and Visit Home

About September 1st, 1865 the war being over, this post was closed and my company was ordered to Denver, Colorado, and the only way to get there was to march and it was no short march. Before leaving Salina I had made application for leave of absence for thirty days and was expecting it any day. I started on the march with the rest for Fort Kearney, through Nebraska. Our usual march was 15 to 25 miles a day and we reached our destination about Sept. 23rd and after marching 100 miles, my leave of absence overtook me, so there I was a 100 miles from any transportation and no money.

Fortunately the Captain of my company had a draft for $100. which he loaned me. Well, the only way to get back was a transportation train of covered wagons drawn by mules. I asked the trainmaster if I could go with him but he did not seem anxious to take me. Finally I was allowed to join them and I started back to Fort Kearney.

Well, I had my troubles with the train in one way and another but finally reached Fort Kearney where I took the stage for St. Joseph, Mo. and rode and slept on the top. From there I took the train for St. Louis. By this time my leave was running out, so on arriving at St. Louis I got an extension of 30 days and drew my pay and started for home in the forepart of October.

I stayed at home 20 days and then went on my way to Chicago and from there went to Dundee, 40 miles west of Chicago, to visit some friends made at Oberlin College some years before. I was here two or three days and started back to Chicago. My leave of absence required me to report back to St. Louis instead of my company at Denver, so I went there. After arriving at St. Louis and reporting for duty I was detained on general court martial.

To Denver, Colorado

I remained on duty here until February and was ordered to join my company at Denver. My captain was also on detached duty in St. Louis and he too was ordered back. General Clough who had received an appointment as Judge at Pueblo, and another captain and a woman composed the party to go to Denver.

The Butterfield Overland Stage Co. wanted our party to go over their line as an inspection party, so we went to Leavenworth by railroad and took the stage there for Denver. We then went to Fort Riley where we were furnished an escort of soldiers' teams to take forage and supplies as there were no stations for 200 miles beyond Salina. It was February, 1866, and the nights were pretty cold.


One day we had quite a scare. Our escort and train did not travel as fast as we did and they got some distance behind. When we began looking for them we could not see the white covers of the wagons, but a long way off we could see something moving in a long line. We concluded they were Indians and we kept on the move until we came to a pond of water where we went into camp.

We commenced to fortify for battle. We had two coaches and a number of sacks of grain. After getting everything ready, we sent out a scout on horseback to locate the Indians. Well, he was gone sometime and came back and reported they were Indians and had gone into camp down in a ravine but we could not see them from where we were camped.

Well, then there was some excitement. We fixed up everything the best we could and awaited events. I remember going on guard part of the night and sitting close to a buffalo chip fire and hearing the wolves howling all around a short distance away. I do not think anyone slept much that night as the thought of having to fight a band of Indians was not good for one's nerves.

Morning dawned at last, and everyone was up and prepared for battle and we sent out a scout and he came back and said they were coming and the woman says, "Boys, keep your powder dry". Soon we saw them on their way and we were all placed and ready. But we did not have to wait long for they soon came close enough for us to see that it was our own men and teams, and thus ended our battle. The day before had been very windy and our men had taken the covers off the wagons which caused all the trouble.

On Thin Ice

We had quite an exciting time after the 200 miles was travelled and our escort left us. We changed horses every 20 miles and made better time as we rode night and day. One night just before morning we had to cross a stream and it was frozen over but the ice was thin and as we were close to the bank the horses broke loose from the coach and left us in the water.

The horses did not stop and there were four of them and soon they were gone out of sight. We were surely in a fix now. Of course the first thing to do was to find the horses. We managed to get out of the coach to the bank and then look for the horses which we soon found in front of an Indian's hut and the Indian stood there holding them.

Well, we got fixed up and drove a few miles and came to a small place where we got breakfast. During that morning while waiting to get the horses back one of the passengers took a fit on the bank and that caused some more excitement.

After getting our breakage repaired we started again and had no more mishaps and arrived in Denver on the 25th of February, 1866. I joined my company and was with them a short time when I was detained as Ordinance Officer of the district and on the 14th of March [1866] I was appointed as acting Assistant Adjutant General on General E. Upton's staff.

As General Upton was not stationed here I was in command and transacted the business of the Post. On the 12th day of May, my Captain and 1st Lieutenant were ordered to Fort Leavenworth for muster out, the war being over and this left me in command of my company.

Top -- Home

A Public Hanging

On the 24th of May, 1866, I was asked by the city to furnish a guard to surround the scaffold where two men were to be hung, out on the open prairie near the city. Well, this was a new thing to me but I did not see how I could reasonably refuse. It was not a very pleasant thing to do but I took a squad of men to guard the scaffold

It appears two young men about 20 years old had been convicted of robbing and killing a man in the southern part of Colorado and were to be hung publicly out in the open. The scaffold was raised two or three feet above the ground and there were two ropes hanging down. As I remember these men walked up under the ropes which were soon put around their necks. They did not seem much concerned about what was going to happen.

There were many people there to see the execution. The crowd was orderly enough but from their actions you would infer that it was a celebration or picnic instead of the lives of two young men being taken, but in those days a man's life did not seem to count for much. The men were hung both at the same time. I was told that if they had not confessed the night before they would have been pardoned.

Mustered Out and Becomes a Photographer in Denver

In 1866 the war being over, I, being Ordinance Officer and in command, was ordered from Washington to sell all the Ordinance stored in Denver. These ordinance stores were in a large warehouse. There was much cavalry equipment. I decided to sell them by auction and engaged an auctioneer and advertised the days of sale.

I sold them in small lots, a gun, a saddle, blanket etc. I held auction until they were all sold and I sent the proceeds to Washington, amounting to $30,000. Soon after this I was ordered to Fort Leavenworth to be mustered out. This was in November of 1866.

After mustering out I went back to live in Denver. At that time there were no railroads nearer than 100 miles and stage lines were run. I have slept out all night on top of the stage. I won't say I slept much, but I managed to stay there.

Denver had about 4000 people at this time. After getting back to Denver I was induced to go into the photography business with Robert McDonald. He had the experience and I had the money. I continued this business for a couple of years and McDonald went out on a trip to take stereoscopic views down in the southern part of Colorado. He took about 100 views and after they were all finished I disposed of my interest in the business.

I took the views and started east and landed at Philadelphia with the expectations of making my fortune from sales of pictures but, I did not, as the negatives proved to be imperfect and did not focus right. I took the negatives and started home and at that time it was lucky I had a home to go to as you might say I was busted.

Back Home in Avon, then to New York

I stared to work in the factory making axe handles, spokes and various other articles. I worked at this until I was offered a job clerking in the store of Pomeroy and Day in Elyria, Ohio, at $600 a year which at that time was a lot of money for a beginner.

Before I went into the army I had a young Hamiltonian colt and when I came back it was grown, so I took it to Elyria and used it to go back and forth from Elyria every Saturday night. I had taken my negatives and left them in the store and one Saturday night while at home, the store burned down and of course my negatives were gone.

Fortunately I had a picture of each, which I still have. After the store burned, the company opened a store in a tent on the square. I stayed on with them some time longer and in the meantime I was married. We rented a house in Elyria and lived there until I left the store and then we moved back to Avon and lived in the house next to my father's.

Travelling Medicine Salesman

Soon after I was offered a job with a company in Buffalo, New York with D. Ransom and Sons, who manufactured and sold Patent Medicines. This, of course, was a new business but I accepted the offer as the work would not be so hard and I was to travel, advertising and selling their medicines throughout the States of Wisconsin, Minnesota and part of Iowa.

I travelled with a team of horses and wagon made for the purpose. I took in every town and city in these states, leaving goods on commission and collecting for amount sold during the year. The main goods were Ransoms Hive Syrup, Trasks Magnetic Ointment, Dermador and some others.

I left my wife in Avon and started for the West with my instructions where to find my team etc. I picked up my team in St. Paul where it had been left by the former traveller.

The first night on my route I stayed at a small hotel in a very small town. I did not think so much about it until a week or two after as I could not understand a certain sensation I had as if something was crawling over me. So, I made an investigation and found that there were other inhabitants in my clothes. Well, I concluded I would move out, as they were so numerous we could not all stay in the same place.

I procured a new outfit, took a bath and discarded my underclothes and pants. I left my old clothes under a stable and thus freed myself from the crawlers. I found after a few weeks my health much improved.

It took a year to cover the route and not go to the same place twice. My supplies of medicine and advertising material were shipped ahead of me on my route. I found this a very nice business and I usually found good places to stay over night and had a good chance to see the country, and it agreed with me.

It happened that I had to travel in Northern Wisconsin in the winter and I had to carry my bob-sleighs with me to use when there was too much snow for wheels, and then I had to carry the wheels, and believe me there was a lot of snow in some places.

I often travelled on snow the level of the tops of the fences and at times go through snow drifts when the horses would be almost out of sight and one would plunge, and then the other, until they got through and I had to sometimes get out on one side and push to keep right side up.

Wet Sheets and Frozen Water

I will never forget one bitter cold day I stopped at a small hotel and I thought it quite comfortable until I went to my room to go to bed. The hotel had no furnace to heat the rooms and when I went into my room there was no heat and no stove. Well, It gave me the shivers but I undressed and got into bed as quickly as possible and when I began to get the bed warm I found the sheets were so damp they stuck to me. Fortunately I had enough bed clothes and I soon got warm and slept sound all night and got up and broke the ice in the pitcher and washed.

That night it was 45 degrees below zero. I travelled all that day with temperatures 25 below and I did not seem to suffer. I made the round trip which took something over a year and then left my horses and went home for a visit to my wife and family. I then returned to my job, made one more trip, and then the company closed up their commission business and I went to work in their office in Buffalo.

I moved my family there and remained in the office for about two years, and then there was another change. I told you about my colt. Well, I still owned it and I had it shipped from Elyria to Buffalo and had the use of it there and I used to do some speeding up and down Delaware Ave.

As my services were no longer required in the office I was out of a job. But good luck came my way again as I had only been idle for a short time when D.W. Hodge of Buffalo, who was in the roofing business and a friend of my brother- in-law, Norris Morey, suggested I go to Canada and open a roofing business there.

The Roofing Business, and Coming to Canada, 1878

I concluded to try the new business and we went into partnership, he to furnish the capital and I my time in running the business. I went to Brantford first and looked over the situation there and secured some roofing jobs. Everything looked favourable so I moved my family there in 1878.

I made this my headquarters and from there canvassed other towns, Tilsonburg, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Stratford and any place where I could find a job. I was quite successful in the summertime but could not do much of anything in the winter and I could not afford to loaf all winter.

I had a chance to buy out a corner grocery up in the residential section and did so. As this was also a house to live in, we moved in and by working early and late made it go in the summer time. While I was away, my wife looked after the store and also helped when there was a rush of business. In the roofing business I worked very hard, sometimes from 4 o'clock in the morning until 8 or 9 in the evening and some nights I would be so tired I could not sleep. We lived in Brantford about three years.

Moves Business to Toronto

About this time I secured a roofing job from the Grand Trunk Railway at Toronto, being a round house. After I had finished that job I decided to open a business in Toronto.

There was a lot of building going on and I thought my chances were good and Mr. Hodge was favourable. I had an opportunity to sell my house and grocery in Brantford and in August 1881 we moved to Toronto.

I opened an office on Adelaide St. near Yonge and a yard on the Esplanades to store material and to keep my horse and wagon. I secured work and worked with the men, and also kept my own books so I was pretty busy.

At the end of the year I figured up how I stood and found I had lost $500. However I had not expected to make anything as I was a stranger and started late in the year. I was game, and about that time the great building boom started and the next year I found I had wiped out my last years loss and was able to buy out Mr. Hodge, paying him $1200, being his share of the profits and of the stock.

I continued the business and kept enlarging for about three years, and bought a house on Carlton St. near Parliament. We lived there four or five years. By this time the building boom was beginning to slow up and loans were hard to get and I had done the roofing on a block of 12 houses and the builder was not able to pay me or get money to finish them. So I had to take them over and finish them and assume a mortgage of $12,000.

Most of the building going on was speculation and about this time I had to take over two houses on Markham St. and finish them as well. I found I was getting pretty well loaded up and decided to take in my brother-in-law, C.B. Jameson as a partner, thus giving me more capital.

I was doing quite a large business but the greater part was for speculators and I had my troubles in collecting money due. I was over in Buffalo on a visit and met with Mr. Hodge while there. He still owned the roofing business in Buffalo and he wanted me to buy his business. I told him I had no money and he asked me what I did have. I told him that I had a block of houses on Wilton Ave. I would trade with him which were all rented. He said his business was worth $6000. so the deal was closed and the difference coming to me was a little over $400. which he paid.

I went over and took charge of the business and found it in pretty bad shape. I got busy and kept it going until Mr. Jameson moved over and took charge of the business. He soon put it in good shape and made money.

It was not long after that the bottom dropped out of the building boom in Toronto and there was a real panic. Men who thought they were well off suddenly found that all was lost. It also put me in a bad fix as I was doing lots of work for speculators and had taken their notes which I had discounted in the bank for about $6000. I had to make good to the bank which I did with assistance from the Buffalo branch.

If I had not disposed of the 12 houses as I did I could not possibly have pulled through as not any of the men who had given me their notes ever paid me and I suppose never will. Mr. Jameson had run the Buffalo business five years and had made good. He desired to close the partnership so we divided up, he taking the Buffalo and I the Toronto business.

Soon after this I bought a house on Parliament St. where I moved and rented my Carlton St. house. We lived in the Parliament St. house about 17 years during which time I successfully carried on my roofing business.

Off to Europe, First Stop Gibraltar

In November 1910, We made a trip to Europe via the Steamer Carpathia [which later picked up survivors from the Titanic] from New York by way of Gibraltar. It took 10 days to reach there. We stayed in Gibraltar for several hours and had a chance to look around.

Gibraltar is a British Fort so situated and strongly fortified that it cannot be taken. The Fort consists of one huge rock and the Fort is inside, consisting of numerous tunnels all through it and chambers made for storage of ammunition. It is within a very short distance from the Spanish borderline.

There is a neutral strip of land about a quarter mile wide which divides the Spanish from the British and on one side you find the Spanish soldiers and the other the British and no one can go from one side to the other without a pass and then only for the day. On the British side there is a high iron fence which would be impossible to get over or through.

The Rock of Gibraltar is 300 or 400 feet high and on one side is perpendicular. On one part of the rock where it slopes and is quite flat, about half-way up, is an old Moorish Castle 1250 years old and in a very decayed condition. At that time it was used as a prison for murderers and political prisoners.

There is a small town at Gibraltar. The streets are very narrow with a sidewalk on one side, and the streets have no regularity, running every way. There was a park with some shrubs, trees, umbrella and pepper, called the Alameda. A number of us took a bus and visited an old Spanish town and it looked very poor. Nearly all the houses were covered with Spanish tile.

Genoa, Italy

From Gibraltar we sailed to Genoa, Italy, where we stopped for a few hours and visited the wonderful cemetery there with many statues of noted people. Between Gibraltar and Geneva we passed the Stromboli Volcano and the smoke was coming out of it. Also we saw St. Helena Island where Napoleon was imprisoned. From Genoa we sailed for Naples but on account of the cholera there we were not allowed to land.

I might mention that before we left New York nearly all the passengers had cancelled their reservations on account of the cholera, so there were only about 40 first-class passengers, so we all got well acquainted and had a good time We played shuffle board, my first and last time.

We had some queer people on board. A doctor and his wife who, after each meal, would go into the smoking room and have their smoke. A woman who was travelling alone also hit the cigarettes quite often.

When we went into the Bay of Naples, just before noon, we were quite near Mount Vesuvius and could see the smoke from it. We took on coal here and it was a crude way they had of handling the coal. The men carried the coal in baskets, from a barge, on their heads to our boat.

In the afternoon it became cloudy and commenced to rain and before we got started it became dark with a strong wind and heavy downpour. I think it was the darkest night I ever saw and wondered how we could get out but we did, and now went on our way to the Straits of Messina.

We did not stop at Messina as there had been a terrible earthquake here the year before and many people were killed and all the buildings destroyed. We could see some of the rubble from our ship.

After going through the Straits we came into the Adriatic Sea which we passed through and landed at Trieste. We left the boat, having been on the water 14 days in all kinds of weather and I did not miss a meal so considered myself a pretty good sailor.

Trieste, Italy

At Trieste I had my troubles and I guess I will never forget it. On our arrival here we had to have our baggage examined by the customs officers. On our boat there were three American doctors going to Vienna to study. All the baggage had to be taken off the boat to the dock. On the dock were numerous men with hand carts to transfer the trunks, etc. to the customs house. I had a trunk and a suit case. I had one of the men put my trunk on his cart and I put the suitcase on, and supposed it would be alright, and followed the cart.

At the customs I discovered my suit case was missing. It gave me quite a shock as I could not account for it not being there. I had my trunk examined and made arrangements with the doctors to look after it at the docks where we were to take the boat for Venice, and I started out to find my suitcase. It was very warm that day and I made up my mind I could not walk so far and began looking for a cab. In the meantime, I met one of our party and told her my trouble. "Why, she said, "I saw a suitcase on the dock when I left."

Well, that was good news so I found a cab, but I could not make him understand what I wanted, so had to find another, which I did after a long hot walk. I explained I wanted to go to the boat. We started for the boat and on our arrival there I could not see my suitcase on the dock. I walked up the gang plank and as I got in the door, there I found it. I grabbed it and the cab took it to the customs for examination. You can bet I felt some relief.

Venice, Italy

I took the boat that night for Venice, arriving in the morning and again our baggage was examined. One of the doctors had a pound of tobacco and the officer wanted to collect duty and it was more than the tobacco cost and he would not pay, but made the fellow believe he was going to throw it overboard. This action so surprised the officer that he did not collect.

We did not land in Venice but anchored out in the Bay and we were taken from the boat in gondolas and each party had to hire one. Myself and the doctors went to a hotel fronting on the water. It was once a nobleman's palace and was a very nice place. You might say Venice has no streets, but instead has canals, and all traffic is by water and it was the only place I was ever in that did not have any horses or animals or wagons. Pushcarts were used instead.

If you wished to go any distance you had to hire a gondola. While there, I saw one donkey, and that was on a boat. There are numerous churches and castles. I saw the Bridge of Sighs, a covered passage over the canal which separated the prison and the court that tried the prisoners. When sentence was passed, the condemned had to go over this bridge, which gave it the name Bridge of Sighs. I was down in this prison where the prisoners were taken but at this time it was not used but it was an awful place.

I saw where the condemned were laid to be beheaded and the drain that carried the blood into the canal. I also saw tombs where men were walled in with brick while alive, and also machines of torture. Once there was enough.

As you ride through the canals you see many palaces. There is what is called the Campanille, an open space with a high tower. In this space you will find hundreds of tame doves and the people buy grain and go there to feed them and have them land on them. I had my picture taken with one on my arm. There were many things to see here. You are supposed to tip every employee in the hotel from manager to porter. I was there for three full days.

Vienna, Austria

On leaving Venice, I took a gondola to the Railroad Station and boarded the train for Vienna, Austria. One morning, instead of taking a sleeper I stopped over at a small town, about half way, and spent the night. The next day I arrived in Vienna and was met at the train by my wife and son Frank, and we all went to their apartment, it being the last of October, 1910. Vienna at that time was a beautiful and prosperous city with many sights to see and many peculiar customs of the people.

Emperor Frances Joseph ruled Austria and Hungary at that time. No doubt Austria was preparing for war as soldiers were everywhere you went. The Government controlled nearly everything, tobacco, sugar, railroads, fisheries, coal, etc.

The fish I saw were mostly German carp and were caught in the Danube River and brought to the city in large casks filled with water so the fish are kept alive. When they are brought in the Government weighs the fish and collects the tax on them and then the fish are sorted out in sizes and but into large tanks sunk in the Danube canal which runs through the city and the fish are taken to market alive and kept so until sold.

There are some queer customs in the city. If you live in an apartment you are under the control of the porter who resides in each and every apartment. Should you be out at night after 10 o'clock you would find the front door locked and then you would have to ring up the porter to let you in and you would have to pay him a small fee. Or if you had friends in to see you and they stayed after 10 o'clock they would have to pay to get out.

The cafes are mostly very good and the prices reasonable, but you are expected to give a tip to everyone who serves you from the head waiter to boy who opens the door to let you in and out.

On all new buildings I saw women mixing the mortar and carrying it up into the building in pails on their heads for the bricklayers. It was not an unusual sight to see women at work cleaning the streets. You see all kinds of vehicles, a woman and dog drawing a wagon, numerous hand carts and wagons.

Observations about Life and Transportation in Vienna

Having resided in Vienna for several months, I observed that the street cars were operated for the safety, comfort and convenience of people and without crowding or confusion. Each car has two compartments divided by a sliding door and each compartment seats 12 to 16 people comfortably. One half of each car is used for those who wish to smoke.

Two of these cars would operate together. No one is allowed to stand in the cars, therefore there are no straps. Passengers are permitted to stand on front and back platforms. The cars have stopping places at regular intervals of two or three blocks and all cars stop at these stations. No bell cords are needed as bells are not used but the conductor blows a small horn when transfer of passengers has been made and then the cars go ahead.

On entering the car the conductor comes for your fare which is a cash fare as tickets are not used. The fare was about 4 cents in our money but the amount would vary with the distance travelled. You are given a transfer which you must hold on to or you might have to pay again. The tipping habit prevails on the cars as it is customary to tip the conductor 2/5 of a cent (2 hetter). Upon his receiving your tip he salutes you with thanks.

It struck me rather amusingly how this would work out in the Toronto system along about 5 or 6 p.m. You seldom see a car off the track or a trolley off the wire. The trolley there is in the shape of a flattened hoop and slides along under the wire having a wearing or rubbing surface of over two feet. Very few of the cars are upholstered, the seats being wood. You see very few trolley poles on the streets.

The wires which support the trolley wire are fastened into the buildings on each side of the street, the buildings being brick cemented over. In the business centre there are no poles or trolley wires but underground connections. All motors are equipped with overhead and underground trolleys and change from one to the other system as occasion occurs. At the terminals of some of the streets the trackless trolley cars are used to connect and run out in the country some miles on roads of macadam or asphalt. The whole car traffic seems to be run under a perfect system.

Buses and Cabs in Vienna

There is also a system of busses drawn by horses in parts of the city. Also numerous automobiles, and taxicabs for hire as well as cabs and coupays with one or two horses, all of which are very reasonable in their fares. Cab stands you find in all parts of the city and on some of the best business streets where the cabs are washed by men and women during summer and winter, water for washing being drawn in barrels on hand carts.

From observation I should judge there were no speed laws as the taxicabs and automobiles run 20 to 30 miles an hour on many of the streets. I never saw an accident but no doubt there were many. The streetcars do not run as fast as ours do and as they have regular stops, can run on schedule time, and you never see the cars run in bunches to the same destination. Vienna has no tubes, although having a population around two million, but their system of passenger traffic seems adequate to take care of the requirements of the people.

I remained in Vienna about five months with my wife and Frank, who was studying music with Professor Seveik, being the winter of 1910 and 1911. I took the train from Vienna to London passing through Germany, France and Belgium and it is a very fine country, being kept so clean and the farms were mostly small and every foot was cultivated. I stayed in London three or four days and saw many interesting things: where the Queen was raised and lived, her bedroom and cradle, the museum, the Tower and bridge and many other things. I rode many miles on the busses.


Howard Williams and Family

Front row: Dad's [William Williams] dad, Alson [Allison Jay Williams], his grandmother Ada (nee McCartney). Dad's Aunt Nettie and Grandfather Howard.

Annette Morey Williams "Nettie", daughter of Howard Williams, married T Corbert Thompson, Jun 15, 1893

Back row: Dad's two uncles, Ralph (L) a New York orthopaedic surgeon and musician, and Frank (R), a noted violinist who died of T.B. in his late 20's.


I took passage home from London on the Adriatic, and was on the trip about six days to New York. On arrival there Ralph met me at the dock where I had my baggage examined but did not have any of it seized. I was in New York a few days and from there to Toronto and arrived home about the 1st of May, 1911, no worse for my journey but in fact much better. My wife and Frank stayed in Europe until the next year and came back on account of Frank being sick, and that winter we all went to California and lived at Long Beach. This would be in 1912.

Editor's Note:

Howard Williams was Aubrey Elmo (called Robert by his mother, and Ack.E by his friends). Howard died Sept.,1933 at 92 years. This memoir was written about 1924. There is no mention in his memoir of his son Alson [Allison Jay Williams], or daughter Annette.

Alson was my dad's father. He was the eldest son and went into, and eventually took over his father's roofing business in Toronto, so he probably looked after things while his father was roaming Europe. Eventually, under his care the roofing business went down hill and came to an end with his death in 1952.

The roofing firm of H. Williams and Co. was first established by Howard Williams in Brantford Ontario, 1878. In 1881 the business was moved to Toronto. H. Williams and Co. was in business in Toronto for many years. They first opened at #4 Adelaide St. E. and then moved to #23 Toronto St., where they remained for 38 years, and then in 1931 they moved to #43 Adelaide St. East. During their years in business they carried tile, slate, gravel and metal roofing.

They had contracts for many of the largest factory building and finest residences, University buildings, and churches in Toronto. They had the contract for Casa Loma but Sir Henry Pellet went into bankruptcy and consequently they were not paid.

Edited by Suzanne Ecclestone


Harrison Charles Williams obituary (born 1873; died 1953)

In 1953 there was great excitement in our home. It looked quite possible that we were going to inherit some money. However it wasn't to be! Harrison had left everything to his sister and she was busy negotiating with Aunt Nettie to locate all living relatives as she was childless and wished to share his wealth. Unfortunately she died before the lawyers had everything organized and signed so the money then went to his estranged wife Mona.

For the genalogy of Howard Williams, see


For the genalogy of Harrison Charles Williams, see


For the autobiography of Howard Williams, see


For biography of Harrison Williams, see


for a photo of the Williams House in Avon, see


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