• Traveler Details Dangerous New England Voyage to Wife and Children: "Delicate Navigation"

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    The Boston Almshouse was established in the 1600s as a place to house the poor who were considered a drag on society. In 1795, a new almshouse was built by Charles Bulfinch at Barton’s Point, near the present day Causeway Street. By this time, foreign born residents began to swell the rolls of the Boston Almshouse, which also provided work for the poor. 

    On October 31, 1854, our writer, who signs his name as “Harry Sr.” in a 3 pp, ALS, to his wife and children, finds himself at the Boston Almshouse as he provides profound details of his perilous voyage through New England. 

    In part, “…After a storm and dangerous passage, owing to thick fog which prevailed for almost the whole passage, especially after leaving Rockland [MA]. 

    “The boat’s whistle was sounded every half minute and she was navigated entirely by compass until the Captain supposed her near Portland. They then made ready to anchor and wait for the fog to lift but as darkness came on Cape Elizabeth light was discovered within a half mile. Then the boats head was pointed rite [into] the harbor and the whistle sounded again & again which was soon answered by numerous horns from countless vessels at anchor. Then followed a piece of very delicate navigation as the streamer threaded her way through the mist, now grazing the jibbook of one and…running plumb onto the broadside of another and backing out…is again put forward with slow and cautious motion until finally arrived at her wharf. We rush headlong haste to our seats in the cars. My first voyage in the fog. I hope it may be my last. Not that such a voyage is not somewhat exciting but for a man anxious to return to his wife & three children and has first to get to Boston and stay four whole days, it requires some patience… 

    “Don’t ‘get most discouraged’ not a bit of it – because you have no cause for being so. 

    “Affect yours, 

    “Harry S.” 

    Folds, even toning. In excellent condition.

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