Rachel Wilson Barker Moore.

Journal of Rachel Wilson Moore, kept during a tour to the West Indies and South America, in 1863-64 online

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Online LibraryRachel Wilson Barker MooreJournal of Rachel Wilson Moore, kept during a tour to the West Indies and South America, in 1863-64 → online text (page 1 of 13)
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IN 1863-64.







Nos. 17 & 19 S. Sixth St.








The Voyage — Nassau, 9


Havana — Slaves and Slave-ships — Churches — Vehicles, . 21

Matanzas — Cave of Bellamar, 41


Negro Amusements — Trip to Manito — Private Hospi-
tality, 52


Voyage to St. Thomas — Slavery — Corals, ... 59


Religious Meetings — Santa Cruz — Insurrections in the

Islands, 82




Frederickstadt — St. Croix — Vice and Immorality, . . 103


Beauty of the Roads — Coolies — Bassin, or Christiau-

stadt — Visit to the Governor, 115


Schools — Sugar-Grinding — Drives — Visiting Plantations
— Mount Washington — Moui t Victory — Harbor —
Streets — Markets — Birds — Game, .... 126


Departure — St. Thomas — Trip to Barbadoes, . . . 145


Barbadoes — St. Vincent — Landing at Demerara — Drives

— Departure, . . . . . . . .158


Return to Barbadoes — Description of the Country — Kind-
ness and Hospitality — Friends' Burying-grounds —
Religious Meetings, ....... 174


St. Vincent — Grenada — Trinidad — Coolies, . , . 192




Barbadoes — St. Vincent — Burial at Sea — Martinique —
Dominica — Guadeloupe — Antigua — St. Kitt's — Re-
turn to St. Thomas, 204


Farewell-rThe Return Home, 220


Conclusion, 228

Memoir op John Wilson Moore, M.D., . . . 253




The Voyage — Nassau.

Having been absent during the summer of
1863 for the purpose of improving impaired
health of myself, when, on returning from the
Catskill Mountains, instead of being benefited,
fever, cough, and lassitude took hold of the
system to that extent that we believed nothing
short of going to a warmer climate, before the
commencement of winter, would prove availing.

After making all necessary arrangements for
the voyage, we took passage from the port of New
York the fourth of twelfth mo., 1863, on board the



Corsica, Captain Lemesurier commander, at ten
o'clock, on second day. Many of our friends
accompanied us to the ship, remaining with us
several hours, under feelings of great solemnity,
anticipating sad forebodings as to my ever re-
turning to my native land. We parted from each
other prayerfully, desiring we might be per-
mitted to meet again. The weather was now
extremely cold, and, having no fire on board the
ship, save in the furnace under the boilers, we
endured much suffering from the cold; and, as I
was ill, and very weak, shivering continued for
many hours, notwithstanding the steward made
applications of hot water by placing bottles and
pitchers around me. My dear husband was under
great concern and fear, lest we should not reach
the island of Cuba without my enduring a severe
illness, striving every way in his power to warm
me, and alleviate my cough, which was now ex-
treme. For myself, I thought it very doubtful
whether I ever reached Havana ; but we strove
to put our confidence and trust in that God, who
suffers " not a sparrow to fall to the ground with-
out His providence."

"While thus revolving in our minds the many
sad events that were transpiring in our native


land, that we were leaving, filling our hearts with
sorrow, we heard a great noise in a state-room
opposite our door, amounting to a scuffle. We
opened the door, and discovered several men in
the state-room, with one or two police officers
with them, denouncing them as spies and rebels;
at the same time demanding papers which they
had in their possession, relative to the affairs of
our Government, which the men denied. Their
persons and trunks were searched, but finding
none, they were ordered to take off their boots,
which one of them offered to do, provided one of
the officers would promise to put them on, which
the officers knew would be no easy task, and
would not make the promise. One of those
rebels then said to an officer, " Come, go with
me; why should not you and I be friends?"
when they all voluntarily went to the bar, and
there drank themselves good friends. The officers
left the ship, and the rebels returned to make
themselves merry over their success, relating to
a large number in the cabin, in our hearing, how
they had wheedled the officers out of their plan,
from taking them from the ship, or getting any
of their papers, through the influence of liquor,
as well as politeness ; one of them saying, " There


is more contained in the version of the Irishman,
in getting on with a bad job, than one would
suppose, 'It is not so much in good looks as in
winning ways,' " saying, " My winning ways have
saved us to-day."

The same evening, leaving our moorings oppo-
site Jersey City, we set sail on our voyage, passing
through the Narrows, where we beheld the great
amount of shipping, which is to be seen at all
times in the Bay of New York. • At the hour of
ten at night, we endeavored to compose ourselves
to sleep, after solemnly commending our lives
and our all to Him who rules the winds and the
waves, and slept tolerably well. I still continued
very sick with fever, cough, and oppression.

My dear husband went on deck in the morning,
but finding it very cold, could not remain long.
We now began to feel somewhat sea-sick, which
continued most of the voyage.

Our ship's company was composed of a very
great mixture of blockade-runners, secessionists,
and but very few loyal men and woman. The
only exceptions w T e found were George Gardner
and wife, of Boston. There was amongst them
a T. W. Whitney, of Matanzas, whose offers of
kindness bespoke the gentleman, but whose sym-


pathies were evidently enlisted with the South.
There were many women on hoard with chil-
dren, from England and the Southern States,
who were going to rejoin their husbands at the
island of Nassau, as well as many of them at
Cuba; saying they had not seen their husbands
since the commencement of the war, but that
they were entirely satisfied to have been so long
absent from them, they never having been in
such lucrative business before. I innocently in-
quired what that business could be, when they
would answer, "Blockade-running; it is the best
of all business," and seemed highly delighted.

In the great variety we had on board, there
was a young German girl, by the name of Jo-
sephine , whom, if one could judge by her

looks, might be about twenty-five, but she may
have been somewhat older. She was travelling
alone, highly educated, said she understood ten
different languages, and appeared to be a profi-
cient in each, of which she gave an example.
She was indeed a prodigy, a philosopher, as well
as an exception to womankind. As we were
much alone together, and I admired her for her
learning, as well as for her agreeable manners, I
desired her to give me a short account of her

14 J U 11 N A L.

history. She appeared to have been bred in high
life. She told me her father resided in one of the
large cities in Germany ; that she had no mother ;
her father was advanced in years, and she, if I
rightly remember, was the only daughter. She
had one brother living in .New York city. I
asked the question, how she could leave her
father, and native land, and all other dear friends
and early associations, and come to a land of
strangers, rather than remain with her aged pa-
rent, to soothe and comfort him in his declining
years ? Her answer was, " That is best known
to myself." I took it for granted that a dis-
appointment, or some love affair, the same cause
that has taken many a young girl to a convent,
brought her over sea and land, to seek a foreign
home, in almost entire isolation, — telling me she
came on from Germany to New York, I think,
about three years previous to the time of our
meeting. On her arrival, she went immediately
to the house of her brother, where she had not
been long before she took up a newspaper con-
taining many advertisements of farms for sale.
She saw one that struck her forcibly, as the spot
for her, above all others, in Potter County, Pa.,
the extreme northern part of the State, in the


midst of a primeval forest, several miles distant
from any habitation, which she afterward pur-
chased. After seeing the advertisement, she in-
quired of her brother what train of cars she should
take to proceed thitherward, and the following
day took all she possessed and pressed onward.
She found the agent, without any difficulty, on the
spot, and purchased the farm at once, containing
one hundred acres, and in a short time after-
ward, made another purchase adjoining, on
which was a tenant-house and some cleared land.
She got some one to assist her in procuring per-
sons to work on the farm, while she took the
entire management of the whole. She found no
difficulty in procuring a friend, companion, and
domestic, from a farm-house, several miles dis-
tant, — herself and the young woman performing
all the duties of the house, being its only inmates.
She told me she was educating her in the best
manner, and that she already knew several differ-
ent languages. That, as they lived in so much
isolation, they had plenty of time for all the
duties they had to perform, having no company.
I asked her if they did not feel timid. Her an-
swer was, "No, that she did not want to injure
any one, and she was sure they did not wish to


injure her." They spent much of their time
riding on horseback; that they sometimes met
men riding out, but avoided them as wolves of
the forest. She said she still continued to live
there, with much pleasure, and never expected
to leave it. I queried with her why she was
leaving it to go to Havana to spend the winter, if
isolation was so delightful ? She replied, she had
very intimate friends on the island of Cuba, who
had sent for her to come and spend the winter
with them ; that she had brought her companion
with her, and left her at her brother's, in New
York, until she should return. I desired her to
give me her address; she requested mine in re-
turn, while each extended a kind invitation to
interchange visits. We saw her leave the ship
with one of her friends, on her arrival at Havana.
I presume if the history of many who have
gone to convents, or other places of great isola-
tion, was unfolded, the cause would not prove
unlike that which led this German heroine to
sacrifice all she held near and dear on earth, to
fly from scenes of disappointment and sorrow,
and, not unfrequently, of slander, that goes forth
like a whirlwind, causing many an innocent
maiden to pine her life away in obscurity, and in


her timidity to seek for peace alone in some quiet
vale, apart from the world; while he who has
deceived her is walking erect, with infamy in his
soul, and the "brand of Cain upon his forehead."
In the broad sunlight he wends his way to the
homes of others, innocents like her. When will
society become so far reformed as to look on
both sexes impartially; when public opinion
shall tend to the great principle of justice and
right, rather than that of fashion or of caste ?

I give my views on this subject, as I have
mingled much with all classes of society for
many long years, and have found in ".life among
the lowly " less immorality, more virtue and
truth, than I have among the rich and great.
After stating that all the warm pulsations of my
soul beat in unison and deep sympathy with these
injured ones, the sands of time will have passed
from my glass, before I shall cease to lay a soft
hand gently on the heads of this class, which I
could only desire may rest as dew upon the

On fourth day afternoon we began to feel a
milder climate, and to experience its refreshing
influence, especially myself, who up to this time
had been confined mostly to my state-room. On


fifth day, the seventh of the month, we expe-
rienced a spring-like atmosphere. In the after-
noon a steamer was discovered making after us,
and as she gained upon us, fired a blank car-
tridge, warning us to come to and wait her coming
up, which Captain Lemesurier did, much to his
mortification and chagrin, not knowing but it
might be a pirate ship, as many infested the seas
at that time. The steamer proved to be a rebel
war vessel, who, on finding ours to be her Bri-
tannic Majesty's mail steamer Corsica, bound for
Havana, passed on, leaving us to follow, calling
upon us, as she passed, for newspapers, to which
we replied in the negative. She detained us
about one hour. On sixth day morning we were
in quite a warm latitude, the thermometer being
seventy-six to eighty.

We now saw the island of Nassau in the dis-
tance, and about nine o'clock in the morning
attempted to enter the harbor, but found it too
rough, surrounded with rocks, so that the water
was thrown up a great distance. The waves beat
with violence against the rocks, giving it a terrific
appearance. The captain concluded to go to the
opposite side, it being to the windward, where we
found a better anchorage. We laid there during


the night, and discharged the cargo and most of
the passengers designed for that place. They
were placed on board a lighter at night, which
looked very fearful to us left behind. The sea
being very tempestuous, many thought they
would not reach the shore. The storm raged
considerably through the night, driving a ship on
shore, where we saw her in the morning, high
and dry, being a total wreck. I felt like condol-
ing with those on the wreck, as well as with
the owners of the wrecked steamer, but was told
I might give myself no concern on that head, as
it was often done intentionally, to get the insur-
ance on vessel and cargo, but if so, the passengers
had to suffer. It required four or five schooners
and a small steamer to take away the freight and
passengers that landed here.

On the ninth of the month we continued our
course round the island, and came in front of the
principal town, and sent the remainder of the
passengers in lighters on shore. It was rather a
fearful operation getting the women and the aged
off the steamer. They were let down in an arm-
chair, by means of a tackle ; numbering in all
ninety souls, as pure secessionists as ever rebelled
against any government. This island, Providence,


as it is called, is a small, barren, rocky island,
grown over with underbrush, without culture of
any kind, and depending on the States for every
article of subsistence. It is now the depot for
blockade-runners and Southern sympathizers, and
a brisk trade is carried on between this island
and the South. The town of Nassau is a small
place, having one large hotel, a few government
buildings, and private residences. A mulatto
man, our informant, gave us reliable information
concerning the condition of the island previous
to the war ; that it was of little account until the
brisk trade commenced with the South, of block-
ade-running. We concluded it could not be a
desirable place for invalids, or residence for any,
except such as are engaged in contraband trade.
We left our anchorage about two o'clock p.m.,
taking on board numbers of passengers from
Nassau; and we steamed our way for Havana.


Havana — Slaves and Slave-Ships — Churches —

We reached Havana on the morning of the
fourteenth of twelfth mo., 1863, at eight o'clock,
a. m. Among the passengers were an English
gentleman and wife, with whom we became in-
timately acquainted, we both going to the same
hotel in Havana, where we spent a mouth. The
steamer came to anchor in the harbor, about one
mile from the landing, to which we were conveyed
in small boats, at one dollar apiece. On coming
to anchor we were boarded by the custom-house
officers, and runners from the different hotels,
offering us their accommodations, and taking
charge of our baggage. The harbor is a fine one,
of basin shape, the entrance to which is through
narrows, on the point of which stands Moro
Castle on a high bluff. It is an extensive and
formidable structure, and would seem to defy
the assault of an enemy; but modern warfare



sets at nought every superstructure of ancient

After completing custom-house duties, we
walked up to Alany's Hotel, a few blocks off', and
which stands in Plaza de Francisco, exposed to
the view of the harbor. It constitutes a block,
so built as to have a court-yard in the centre,
accessible through a large doorway, and stone
steps to the second story, where you land on a
wide piazza. The lower story is occupied as
stores, or eating and drinking saloons. The
house has been kept for eighteen years by a lady
from Philadelphia — an elegant woman, of worth
and acquirements. Her hotel is said to be the
best kept of any in Havana, and is resorted to
by the first class boarders. , Our friends, George
Gardner and wife, from Boston, who had been
our shipmates from New York, together with the
English gentleman and wife, from Canada, were
our companions here, as well as George Bernado
and wife, from Philadelphia, making it highly
agreeable, while our stay was prolonged one
month, waiting for a steamer to take us to St.

The bay or harbor is surrounded by hills, and
is a complete basin, on one side of which stands


the city, forming the segment of a circle. The
shipping is arranged along the wharves, bow
foremost, so as to occupy the smallest possible
space, in front of which is erected a long shed,
extending from one end of the town to the other,
for the accommodation of loading and unloading
vessels, and there merchants meet in the morn-
ing to transact business. The hours for business
are from six to nine o'clock, after which breakfast
and custom-house operations. On these wharves
may be seen large numbers of slaves, continually
loading and unloading vessels. The city looks
quite pretty from the harbor ; but on entering it
the stranger is struck with its jail-like appear-
ance, every house of much account being guarded
with iron-grated doors and windows; also, large
massive iron doors, which open into court-yards,
that lead to dwellings and stores. The lower
stories are chiefly occupied as storehouses or
places of business of some kind. The streets are
narrow, with foot-pavements from two to three
feet wide, mostly of round stone. Some of the
streets are paved with square blocks of granite,
and mostly kept clean, so that you walk in the
middle of the street as common as sidewalks.
The lower part of the city is in a wretched con-


dition, scarcely fit for decent people to pass
through, being tilled with groggeries, gambling
places, and filth ; for my own part, I felt afraid
to pass through any of those miserable streets,
which was proved to a demonstration by one of
our boarders.

There are a few places in the city somewhat
attractive. The Governor's Plaza is an open
space, ornamented with trees and shrubbery, that
affords a pleasant retreat, where, every evening
at eight o'clock, the citizens are entertained with
a band of music. Outside of the city proper the
houses are more expensive, streets wider, and
open areas more numerous. There the elite of
the city are seen driving every evening, from five
o'clock, along the Pasio del Ysabel, Casse del
Plado, Campa del Marie, up the Tacon. These
siaras are where the aristocracy of the city re-
side, and where is found grandeur and squalid
poverty intermingled to the greatest extent we
ever beheld. Here is seen an elegant mansion,
according to their architecture, with its fine gar-
den and beautiful grounds, and alongside a mis-
erable shanty, with groggeries, and squalid
poverty, in the greatest filth and degradation ;
most of the latter native Cubans, who with the


Spaniards are always at variance. The Cubans
are allowed none of the privileges or rights
claimed exclusively by the Spaniards. All the
fine buildings here, as well as in the city proper,
are barricaded with iron bars, as we concluded,
to guard against insurrections, as I was satisfied
would eventually come upon the people of that
island, if they continued to enslave and oppress
both colored and whites.

Having travelled through all the Southern
States when slavery existed, we never saw it in
so horrible a form as on the island of Cuba.
We did not visit the calaboose, at Havana.
We daily saw passing our boarding-house a large
number of slaves, heavily loaded with irons, and
chained together, going into different parts of
the city, to labor on public works ; such as re-
pairing pavements, cleaning out sewers, or any-
thing else of the most menial character. As all
are chained together, one could make no move
unless all moved, which must have given them
in their irons the most excruciating pain. We
saw them down in deep sewers, amid mud and
filth, not only performing labor, daily, in those
wretched ditches, but taking their meals (if they
might be so called), surrounded with this stench.



My heart bled for them, and I queried with some
of the inhabitants, to know what their crime had
been, that brought them to this condition. They
answered very indifferently , that they did not
know, perhaps for some misdemeanor. I replied,
" Do you suppose a people can prosper, while
oppressing their fellow creatures to the extent
they are here ?" Their only answer was, " You
must be very careful what you say, as no one
dares speak on the subject." But I was made to
cry out in the agony of my spirit, " How long,
oh Lord, holy and true, wilt thou suffer this mys-
tery of iniquity to be going on in the land, under
the high profession of serving Thee ?" As the
priests were continually parading the streets in
their long robes, in going to mass, and other re-
ligious exercises, and were they the ministers ot
Christ, we believed, would do all in their power
to turn the captivity of this deeply oppressed
people, which would be as easy for them as that
of the water-courses, as their power and influence
is unlimited.

As we were riding out one evening, on the
Pasio, in the finest part of the city, in company
with our friends, G. Bernado and wife, of Phila-
delphia, we passed a gang of slaves, apparently


in great wretchedness, with a driver behind them
with an uplifted whip. They were probably be-
ing driven out to a plantation. "We saw them
every day while on the island, always under great
oppression, and were informed by a gentleman
from one of our Eastern States, that he had re-
cently returned from a visit to a slave-ship, which
had just come in with eleven hundred slaves on
board, valued at eleven hundred thousand dollars.
He was invited by a friend of his, residing in
Havana, to go with him to witness the enormity
of the slave-trade.

I will give the relation, as nearly as I can, in his
own words. " They went," he says, " in the dark-
ness of the night, to a certain point on the island,
where slave-ships generally unload their cargoes"
— it being an isolated spot. "We there saw a
large number of planters on the shore waiting for
the arrival of the anticipated slave-ship. We wait-
ed there for several hours, in the darkness of the
night, until at last she made her appearance.
On reaching her moorings, the cargo was hurried
out of the ship, with all the rapidity possible, and
placed upon the shore, many of them, poor mis-
erable creatures, not being able to stand. I
had heard of the horrors of the slave-trade, but


the sight of these poor creatures, torn from their
native land, in their filth and degradation, beg-
gars all description — few of them having the
appearance of human beings. After the ship
was cleared of its inmates, the gentleman who
had invited me to go with him, insisted on my
going on board the ship, which I did, and never
can I forget the horrid spectacle that met my

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Online LibraryRachel Wilson Barker MooreJournal of Rachel Wilson Moore, kept during a tour to the West Indies and South America, in 1863-64 → online text (page 1 of 13)