34. Accra to the Osse River

September 25, 2011

How do you find work in Africa?  If you are a 28 year-old American with logging experience, you call around to the biggest Mahogany cutters in Lagos and get hired on to oversee a lonely outpost deep in the bush.

Google maps is letting me upload again.  The green path down the west coast of Africa shows the previous chapter.  This chapter shows in orange.  Hayes’ trip into an isolated logging station north of Sapele shows in pink for the next chapter.  The map won’t show in an email; you’ll need to click the title to go to the web page to see it.

Click here to download chapters 1-34 on Google Earth.  

Here and There Synopsis:

34.1 Ashore at Lagos

December 31, 1906

Hayes first set foot on African soil at Lagos, in what is now Nigeria, on the last day of 1906, at first believing the “terrific row” going on was the “usual procedure in Africa” –no, just the celebration of the New Year.

He writes one last epilogue on the “aristocratic prisoner” who Hayes now terms “our swell headed prisoner”: At Lagos Hayes finds him handcuffed to a rail outside a saloon with the old coasters bating him unmercifully. He had stolen 1,500 pounds from his employers “and had been to Sierra Leone having a wonderful time.”

Because his purse is light, Hayes chooses not to put up the best hotel, instead, “I took an inferior one run by Negroes.” A bad choice: the food is not good.

As to the business of landing a job in Lagos? “On the ship coming down was the head forester for Nigeria, and I approached him for an introduction to the mahogany shippers of this province. He was very courteous about it, and promised to do what he could.” All the old coasters on board the Mandingo scoffed at Hayes’ chances of finding employment, but taking encouragement from a Bible verse, “The Lord shall be thy confidence and keep thy foot from being taken,” (Hayes’ quote) he plans to call on all the largest producers the very next day.

January 3,1907

On New Year’s Day, Hayes came to the offices of A. Miller Bro. and Co., one of the largest and best paying traders in Africa, and “Strangely, Miller’s were looking for me.” The head forester, to whom Hayes had spoken on the Mandingo, told Miller’s about a young American with forestry experience, “and they wanted just such a man.” Miller’s hired him on the spot chiding him for not taking a room in the best hotel. “As I will be going up country soon, I can stick my present place until that time.”

With a little time to look around the town while provisioning, Hayes sees that Lagos is a low-lying island, “with so-called creeks a mile or more in width surrounding it on every side.” He predicts that, with a little improvement, Lagos will be one of the great harbors of West Africa. For now, he sees many great canoes hauling palm nuts, oil, coal, and rubber to the trading “factories” for export. He estimates the population of Lagos to be 50,000, “Not more than a few hundred of these are whites, chiefly British, but a sprinkling of French, Germans, and others from Europe.” Also living in Lagos, though of lower status than the Europeans, are Syrian traders who “live with the Negroes and on the same scale,” at least to begin with. The Syrians are sharp traders who have “about ousted the French traders” in French Territory. Hayes cannot help but notice the Syrian women are beautiful, loaded with bangles, and that “no one seems to molest them.”

At Lagos, Hayes meets locals accustomed to Europeans. “The Portuguese were the pioneers, more than 400 years ago. Then the slavers and now the booze merchants, worst of all.” Hard to imagine that trade in alcohol could be worse for Africa than slavery, but Hayes presses his assertion. One has to wonder where he got his statistic, but he claims “spirits form 67% of the imports into West Coast colonies.” He says the Elder-Dempster line brings most of it but also the German Woermann liners, the French Chargeur Reunis and several others – importing booze and exporting chiefly palm products. Elder-Dempster alone has 96 ships (British sailors tell Hayes that a line with 100 ships must build a battleship for the British navy, so Elder-Dempster spun off a subsidiary) whose tonnage ranges from 5,000 to 9,000 tons each with a regular run to the West Coast carrying intoxicants. “It is a bad outlook for the African people, for all drink,” from the oldest men and women to the smallest children.

January 6, 1907

European employees of lesser trading companies envy Hayes’ 100 pound yearly salary. “But Americans get better pay than Europeans.”

On his last day before heading up country, Hayes takes a moment to record his impressions of the missionary work underway at Lagos. “I find most of the missionary work hereabout is financed by the trading companies, for it is the policy of these merchants to keep in the good graces of the dispensers of salvation.” He surmises two reasons for this: “For one thing, the traders want to keep the missionaries silent on the liquor question.” And somewhat more laudably, “most of the societies doing missionary work in West Africa have industrial work, also educate many of their converts, teaching them to read and write and enabling them to become clerks on the beaches where the trade is carried on.” The companies then hire many of the mission-trained clerks whose language skills are invaluable to trade. “As the black can always speak his native tongue and perhaps several other dialects common to West Africa, he can deal with his fellow countrymen more successfully than can a newly arrived white man.”

But Hayes is to be a timber man not a trader. And he’s already made it clear: no booze, either in trade or as a customer. “It makes me appear a queer one among these coasters, but I should care. I have never handled the stuff and never will.”

Last time Hayes visited his family in Hico, Texas, his parochial “old gang” wouldn’t believe his tales of flying fish – now traipsing around the mangrove swamp he’s come upon thousands of walking fish!

Walking Fish, Mangrove Swamp

“Not more than six or eight inches in length, they run about freely on the mud among the mangroves, using their four under-fins as legs easily. Their eyes are large compared to the size of the fish, and they can turn their heads and stare one in the face.” Hayes is certain the walking fish are evolving to live on land.

January 10,1907

Except for two Englishmen, and now Hayes, a lone American, the hundreds of Europeans working for Miller’s along the African coast are all Scots. “The Englishmen are razzed unmercifully.” On the night of Hayes’ departure to the logging site up country, the Scots held a big party with haggis, oatmeal, Old Scotch whiskies, and, when the party mellowed, maudlin patriotic songs with barbs tossed at the two Englishmen. When pressed by the Scots to name some Scottish hero or battle known in the US, Hayes could only dredge up Flodden and Culloden (both disastrous losses for the Scots to the British). “The Caledonians glared while the two Englishmen went into spasms of mirth, and I innocently remarked that I thought these were Scotch battles too.”

34.2 An Endless Maze of Winding Channels

January 10,1907

The straight-line distance from Lagos to Siluko measures about 120 miles, but Hayes says he’ll travel 250 miles by launch through “such an endless maze of these broad, winding channels I wonder how the black pilot ever finds his way.” At long intervals the launch pulls onto “some bit of firm land,” and the crew unloads cases of booze for the locals.

(When tracing the map, I was happy to see that waterways connect Lagos and Siluko. My path is, of course only a guess, as are my locations for the villages about which Hayes writes.)

The only other white traveler on the launch with Hayes is a “phlegmatic District commissioner” covered in heat rash and pickled in alcohol. “A human tank, one might call him. All the old sourdoughs in Alaska would be abashed in the presence of this connoisseur of booze.” In Alaska, Hayes used to chide Martin for his foolhardy stunts; now in the unfamiliar geography of Africa, it’s Hayes who needs a caution. After Hayes dove into the wide lagoon, the District Commissioner, warned him of crocodiles: “Said he had seen one raise its head as I plunged into the water.”

Every few miles up river a new district begins, and with it a new language. “The Englishman, with that adaptability that has given him his world wide empire, has pieced together a new medium of communication that has spread the length of this coast from Dakar to the mouth of the Congo, perhaps beyond.” Everyone, European or African gets along with about 300 words of English, “with additions of native jabber as needed.” Hayes cites a few examples: “Chop lib!” means ‘food is served’; “Small beef” is any food insect or animal smaller than a squirrel; “Large beef” denotes larger animals. All the business of the coast proceeds in this Pidgin English, “for few white men trouble to learn even the larger languages such as Yoruba, Jekri, Beni, Dahoman, Ashanti, and so on.”

34.3 West African Rain Forest

January 13, 1907

From an unnamed stop deep in the rain forest, Hayes relates a malicious anecdote about pretensions ruptured: At one small riverside villages the District Commissioner receives effusive greetings from, “A native administrator, one ‘Mr. McCoy,”… Clad in immaculate whites, a western hat a la cowboy, puttees and well shined boots with a flowing four-in-hand gracing his neck, he strutted among the naked blacks and aired his English, which was correct.” Mr. McCoy had been rowed out in a small canoe and stood hanging onto the side of the launch while chatting with the District Commissioner. As the two crafts slowly drifted apart, “Mr. McCoy had to either break in two pieces or else let go at one end.” He chose to release the launch and went head first into the muck. It was the first time Hayes heard the District Commissioner laugh, though he tried to hide it by shouting for another drink.

Hayes is of course captivated by the unfamiliar wildlife: Gorgeous butterflies, parrots and one bird specialized with “toes of vast length” to walk on the water lilies “that spread their cupped leaves over large areas.”

African Jacana Actophilornis

“It is a never ending thrill to watch what appears round the next bend, and I enjoy it from morning to night, when we tie up til next day’s journey.”

Quite often evidence of Ju-Ju appears round the next bend. “At intervals we see tied goats and fowls by the waterside, or bolts of cloth and bunches of bananas, or any sort of food or material wealth the simple natives possess. They take their religion seriously.” The British are mostly tolerant of local religious practices, “unless it be some of the more terrifying sacrifices where human life is endangered.”

34.4 Siluko

January 15, 1907

Siluko is a “pretty post” with fertile ground growing an abundance of foodstuffs. A dense population, mainly Jerkis and Yorubas, inhabits the region; “Most are Ju-Ju but there are many Mohammedans.” The latter wear white Jibbehs and turbans and heed the call to prayer five times daily.

Sudanese Jebbeh c. 1909

The European influence at Siluko centers on Miller’s, the Scotch trading station called a “factory,” and a German firm “between whom is the keenest competition.” Agents of the rival companies visit and exchange pleasantries – all the while plotting to swindle the other whenever opportunity affords. “This is called business, anything that can be put over without going to jail.”

For Europeans in Africa, it seems to Hayes that either the hospital or the morgue are more likely destinations than jail. “All the country is unhealthy to the European. The dread blackwater fever, common malaria, dengue fever, guinea worm, jiggers, dysentery, and so many more I have not yet learned the names of are rife. One must be careful of everything.” Boil the drinking water. Watch the sun. Take your quinine. “And always (Hayes’ underscoring) the protective mosquito net that shields … from the tiny insects carrying malaria.”

January 17,1907

While waiting for J.F. Herald, head of forestry for Miller’s, Hayes reports “wandering about in the bush” accompanied by the junior partner at Millers’ Siluko factory named White. Their wandering includes a bit of deplorable disrespect: Hayes writes in light-hearted terms about knowingly defiling a mosque: “White and I have been to church. Not that we are getting especially good, but more from a spirit of curiosity than anything else. It was at the Moslem mosque, where all Unbelievers are forbidden entry. Fortunately none observed us, else the mosque would be defiled and would necessitate endless cleansing to make fit for worship again.”

A commotion at the front of the mosque regarding the discovery of a young convert who “had neglected circumcision,” allowed Hayes and White to sneak in the back door of the mosque. While the Moslem elders out front immediately attended to the young man’s oversight, Hayes and White, “browsed round the place, seeing little except dirt and vessels wherein the faithful bathe five times daily.” The two didn’t stay inside long; “we hurried, trying to make the circumcision as well as investigating the sacred mosque.” They avoided detection inside the mosque and exited in time to witness the circumcision – Hayes gives a full paragraph description of the operation.

Now Herald has arrived breathing fire. “All seem afraid of him, so great is his reputation as a bogey man spread abroad.” Hayes has heard that Herald, an intolerant Catholic, once tangled so forcefully with a muezzin “calling the faithful to prayer” in Benin, local colonial authorities called out the military to save Herald’s life. Hayes and Herald are to depart for the Osse River, “two days short journey,” the next morning.

34.5 Osse River

January 20,1907

On the thirty-mile hike to the Osse River, Herald strikes an easy pace while assessing Hayes’ skills. “He seems satisfied concerning my ability to get about the forest and to handle timber.” The two crossed clear flowing streams in the evergreen forest; where swamps intervened, “the husky blacks carried us over the morass.” Herald is, like all Brits – at least according to Hayes – a stickler for form and caste.

And now follows a passage so contradictory to the entry written just three days previously, that one wonders if Hayes re-reading his diary in old age didn’t laugh aloud at his own self-contradiction.

Hayes describes Herald as having a sense of humor – “though this is somewhat dulled.” Herald tries to persuade Hayes “to raid the Ju-Ju at the waterside.” Quoting Herald: “The crocs will only get those fowls and goats tied there. We can depend on those being the best they have, they always give the best to the bloody Ju-Ju.” Herald brags about eating eggs at the village he previously visited. “An ancient crone brought each evening two eggs as an offering to her Deity, whoever that was. She was flattered on finding her tribute taken each morning, and continued to bring the eggs as before.”

Hayes’ reply? The man who three days previously defiled a mosque writes in his diary: “if I expect another to respect my beliefs I too must respect theirs.”

Catholicism, Ju-Ju, Islam aside, the business at Miller’s camp on the Osse River is cutting mahogany.

African Mahogany

On the one hand, Hayes applauds the conservation methods Miller’s practices: “We are not permitted to cut anything less than twelve feet in circumference ten feet above the ground. This to conserve the forest, a wise provision. Three new mahogany trees must be planted for every one cut.” On the other hand, he deplores the antiquated and wasteful logging practices. “So crude are the handling methods the forest cannot be worked more than two-and-a-half miles from water, the logs being hauled by men [!] “ Herald wants to know all about modern methods of logging in the Northwestern United States. “I advocate crosscut saws, jackscrews, and a wheeled truck to bring logs from greater distances. The men are right enough but need instruction.” Hayes sets about filing saws, “rip saws of all things.” [Rip saws are designed to cut parallel not cross grain.] “Who would have devised such tools in a bush?”

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33. London to Accra

September 18, 2011

No long gaps signifying dull times in Hayes’ diary now:  he’s sailing South bouncing from town to town along the coast of West Africa.  Everything is new, exotic, and exciting.  Along with the tingle of anticipation we get a running firsthand commentary on styles of European Colonialism.

I’m still blocked from uploading maps on mapquest, so no little map again this week.

Click here to download chapters 1-33 on Google Earth.  

Here and There Synopsis:

33.1 Bound for Lagos!

December 5, 1906

People familiar with the African coast told Hayes someone in Lagos would most likely offer work – so at Liverpool he paid second-class passage on the Mandingo to Lagos. “No European is allowed to go third else I would.” After all the hardships he’s experienced to date (perhaps because of them), one reads Hayes’ fear of this gamble to win Africa: “Naturally I am fearful of consequences, for I have not the fare back, and may not get a job. But one must take chances; he may not obtain a place there unless he does.”

Hayes’ companions the Mandingo include missionaries to the dark continent, traders to their stations, miners headed for the Gold Coast, railway builders to Nigeria and Sierra Leone, and sightseers going as far as the Canary Islands. Some are “old coasters who tell horrifying tales of cannibals, the Ju-ju and the boundless bush. From these fables I gather much that is true.”

Nice to read Hayes write his excitement even with its tinge of apprehension: “I am really going to see Africa at last. It thrills me, tho I am in a quandary what to do. Something always turns up, there is no need to worry. Providence takes care of the details, it is up to me to go.”

33.2 Santa Cruz De Tenerife

December 11, 1906

Six days out of Liverpool and still more than one hundred miles from Tenerife, Hayes and the other passengers spot Pico De Teide rising more than 12,000 feet above the warm waters of the Canary Islands.

Pico De Teide, Tenerife

“The island appears to be sun burned, dry and one wonders how the many villages so full of people find a livelihood on the almost barren slopes of the rugged hills.” As the Mandingo drops anchor at Santa Cruz De Tenerife, “multitudes of hawkers” swarm to the ship in “lighters” with fruit, post cards, silken garments, salacious books, and directions to the bordellos for those so inclined. “There are Indian merchants also, these with every intriguing toy and novelty known in the East to temp the passengers to purchase something for the trip. Many do, but wonder after why they bought such foolish things to take to Africa.”

Santa Cruz De Tenerife has “all the gorgeous coloring peculiar to Spanish towns.” Once ashore, “one finds dirty, cobble-paved streets that wind about courts and in unguessed ways,” traversed by barefoot men and women, staring but courteous to the tourists. Hayes sees that concrete dams block several arroyos upcountry; with the volcanic soils here, “Water means everything.” Further evidence of the volcanic history marks the shoreline: “…great cliffs of lava rise perpendicularly from the sea in many places.”

Los Gigantes, Tenerife

33.3 Dakar, West Africa

December 16, 1906

Hayes’ first sighted the African continent on December 15, 1906, “as we approached the barren sandy coast somewhere about the mouth of the Senegal River, which falls into the sea at St. Louis.” Greeting his ship, the Mandingo, were, “myriads of porpoises leaping about the ship and over the sea far and near. I never saw so many before.” The heat has forced the Europeans into white clothing and pith helmets. “The British affect one styled much different to the coal-scuttle French type.”

Arriving at Dakar, Hayes sees French dredging equipment and a former “convict station” at Goree Island at the mouth of the harbor with no mention of the slave trading history there. The native boys who dive for coins tossed from the ship at Dakar are less discriminating than those at Tenerife who would dive only for silver.

Hayes’ diary is something of a first hand analysis of comparative styles of European colonialism. At Dakar, the capital of Senegal, a French colony, he records that many Senegalese hold positions of “authority and responsibility, for there is no color line among the French.” Many “half castes” are sent here to the Catholic schools. “It is nothing for a Frenchman to marry a Negress, and Negroes have access to all public places equally with whites.”

In 1906, peanuts were the main export from Senegal. But Hayes can see that Dakar’s strategic location will soon make it an important coaling stop and trading station for “hides, and minerals, and cotton and many other commodities.”

33.4 French Influence at Konakry

December 20, 1906

On its way to Freetown, the Mandingo stopped in at Konakry (Conakry on the current map) “where a railway runs up country somewhere into the low ranges that form the sources of the great Niger.” Hayes says that the Iles De Los immediately offshore from Konakry serve as French convict stations like those at New Calcedonia and Cayenne – but this one is to be discontinued. “The French, loving beauty, have planted many palms at Konakry, and the surrounding islands offshore are well clothed with trees and grass.” The rip tides at Konakry prevent the Mandingo from docking; she can only anchor in shallow water nearby.

33.5 British Influence at Freetown

December 20,1906

As at Konakry, Freetown has no pier, so lighters carry both passengers and freight to shore. “A considerable mountain lies behind the town of 35,000 people.” Once ashore Hayes immediately reports on the “super abundance” of luscious fruit: “Mangoes, paipais, bananas, coconuts, oranges, limes, lemons, guavas, breadfruit and many other varieties are exhibited in the open market.” Good-natured women do the trading, calling out to all – especially the Europeans. The African men and women both “seem to thrive under the rule of the Briton and proudly call themselves British if asked their nationality.” All speak English fluently.

Despite the friendly greeting and the abundance of good food Hayes is acutely aware that, “It is not a health resort. Few places on the West African coast are. The sinister name of “White Man’s Grave” (Hayes’ quote) applies to Freetown quite as well as to the places farther down the coast, and many Europeans are buried here.” He knows that Europeans have little resistance to African diseases.

33.6 Monrovia

December 22, 1906

As Hayes travels into Africa, his descriptions employ the racist assumptions and language of his time. It remains my choice to edit around his most overt expressions of those assumptions. Nevertheless, he was traveling in, and commenting on, the European colonial empire. Thus, the content, if not the precise language, of those assumptions unavoidably enter this account in order to remain faithful to his descriptions.

At Monrovia, the “capital of Liberia, Negro republic of West Africa,” no harbor greets the Mandingo, only a shallow river mouth and a whaleboat. “So the passengers bound to that place got a bit of a wetting down.” In addition to the passengers bound for Monrovia, some small amount of cargo went ashore but not before all “was carefully checked, and papers signed with due ceremony,” by “officers of the republic … dressed in all their regalia,” who “took themselves quite seriously.”

Hayes has great respect for the British style of managing an empire: “The British officers are well accustomed to dealing with these people, and know how to act under such circumstances. It is why they have built such a vast empire, for no other people has the patience…”

As the Mandingo sails beyond Monrovia, Hayes hears tales told by “old coasters,” of “cannibals and Ju-Ju men” inhabiting the low hills he sees inland beyond the well-forested shore. He muses that perhaps their stories are true, “but most are given to exaggeration for the benefit of the newcomers to the Coast.“ He sees an occasional village, “with white painted trading stations – factories, they are termed in West Coast English.”

Hayes also hears the voices of Africans as in the following extended reply to the assumptions of European superiority.

“It is interesting to listen to the Kroo boys. The lingua franca of the entire Coaast is pidgin English. Some of the British, teasing a small Kroo, were baffled by his ready return to their quips.

‘What do you black people know?’ [A European] queried. ‘You have no books, no mills to make cloth, no cooking pots other than earthen ware, no houses worth living in and no boats that can go far to sea. Just bushmen, that’s all your are!’

‘Oh, das alri’,’ returned the Kroo easily. ‘S’pose white man want dem ting, wot he do? All time he say wheah book? Wheah book? Black man, he no wantum book, he know all dem ting!’”

33.7 Grand Bassam

December 24, 1906

Before arriving at Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, the Mandingo stops at several places including “Half Jack” and Grand Lahou. “Every stopping place has been like the other, a long sand beach fronting on a low foreshore, with heavy rollers from deep Atlantic beating on the sands.” No place has docking facilities, so passengers and goods are ferried ashore by “naked giants who paddle the whale boats through the raging surf to the side of the ship.” Even when the boats don’t capsize on the way back to shore, all passengers are well drenched before reaching the sand. Passengers in boats that do capsize are pulled from the sea and dragged ashore. “A ceaseless chant can always be heard as these splendid boatmen propel their craft to or from the shore, and this does not cease even when they are overturned.”

At Freetown a number of educated Africans boarded the Mandingo. “None of the Coasters will have a second look at them.” The Africans sit at separate tables for meals, served by white stewards, bawling at the “humble stewards”: “What sort of ship is this? No serviette, no service, worse than savages!” (Hayes quoting “a bronze negro who seems to be the leader of the African colony.”)

Of course, “the old coasters boil under their collars and with little more provocation would riot.” Hayes reflects on the practice of the “South of my own country [where] the blacks are segregated, the only reasonable way the race question can be intelligently solved.”

Segregated or not, Hayes does admire the locals’ skill with boats. Men and boys from Grand Bassam fish from tiny canoes “as adept on the surface of the water as the fish that swim below. From earliest childhood they are playing in the surf, and before they are grown are perfect boatmen.”

33.8 Sekondi

December 26, 1906

All the miners on board leave the Mandingo at Sekondi headed for the rich gold fields up country – departing the ship still hung over from their Christmas celebration: “Both first and second class vied with one another to see who could put away the most booze, and from a neutral view point I should say it was a draw.”

Local peddlers board the ship hawking “ beautiful objects they have fashioned from pure gold, for many are artisans equal to jewelers in Europe. Butterflies, scarab beetles, fish and wild animals are all imitated and well executed by these gold smiths.”

But forget the gold; of greatest interest to the old coasters remaining on board are the antics and revelations concerning the leader of the Africans who was so offensive to the white stewards. Turns out he is an escaped criminal under escort of “a uniformed soldier (black) on board all the way from Freetown.” At Axim the escapee had bribed a ship’s fireman for a hiding place in the coal bunkers from which he hoped to sneak ashore. The old coasters hooted as he was discovered and “dragged along the decks by the mate.” But the man is undeterred; “he is in the salon again tonight, brazen as ever.”

33.9 Cape Coast Castle

December 29,1906

As the Mandingo dallies down the coast stopping at port after port, no passengers are permitted ashore; so Hayes has yet to set foot on African soil. He speculates that a dense population inland accounts for so many small towns along the seacoast. “Every one of them is a delight to the eye.”

At Cape Coast Castle, the infamous slave fortress, with its door-of-no-return, still stands (as it does to this day).

Cape Coast Castle

Hayes also saw, “the old barracoons where slaves were held until ready to ship to the Americas, perhaps hundreds of years ago.”

Slave Baracoon

Hayes makes two comments about the slave trade. First: “The Negroes themselves sold the slaves, kidnapping their countrymen from the hinterland and selling them to dealers at these coast ports, where they were held until a load was ready.” And second: “If only someone had been thoughtful enough to keep a diary in those days!”

That’s all about the slave trade. Continuing in the same paragraph he notes, “the boatmen seem even larger as we proceed down the coast” and adds his usual lament that “Most of our cargo is spirits. Gin, rum in great hogsheads, case liquor for the whites and for the blacks. Surely there are not enough people to drink it all.”

33.10 Accra

December 29, 1906

While still on board the Mandingo anchored at Accra, Hayes writes the last chapter of the “aristocratic prisoner” who tried to escape at Sekondi. At Accra he tried it again. Just as his soldier/guard and all aboard had given up searching for him, “a whaleboat ranged alongside, occupied by Kroomen only. They had with them the escaped prisoner. Naked as the day he was born, he had slipped out of his clothes and over the side right under the nose of the soldier.” Because the shore was too far, he swam to the boat promising the boatmen any sum they named to row him ashore. “The only fly in the ointment was he had no money, no nothing, with him. So they returned him to the ship where he was gladly received.”

Hayes describes Accra as “one of the oldest towns on the coast. Also the largest and the capital of the Gold Coast colony.” Cocoa, palm oil, palm nuts, mahogany, and other topical products all ship in quantity from Accra. “Surely West Africa is a rich country, but oh so deadly to the European. This largely because of the free use of liquor.”


32. Tacoma to London

September 11, 2011

After that quiet winter at school in Seattle, and a summer spent breaking rocks in Tacoma to toughen again, two months in autumn take Hayes around the world from Tacoma to London with only a brief stop in Hico to visit the family.  Africa is in sight!

(Tim Bell – Hayes mentions a “Kelvin Patent” for measuring ocean depth.  I couldn’t locate it.  Do you know what he is talking about?)

I’m sorry I can’t upload a map of this chapter and the next; google maps seems to be glitching.  I’ll update the map when they address it.  A shame, not to have it now; it shows Hayes finally sailing down the coast of West Africa in the chapter following this one.  Download the map below to see the truly impressive trace of all his travels to date.

Click here to download chapters 1-32 on Google Earth.  

Here and There Synopsis:

32.1 San Francisco in Ashes

October 6,1906

On the way to San Francisco, Hayes stopped off at Portland “to see a girl I think a lot of.” Both of them ended up hurt. However, “Women have no place in the life of adventurers. He must be fair to them, but must be a celibate or resign himself to settle down in one place for life. This I am not willing to do yet, perhaps never. One dislikes to decide such a problem finally at one full swoop.”

Arriving celibate in San Francisco, Hayes finds a city in ruins. “As far as the eye can see are ruined, blackened walls and heaps of burned rubbish.”

San Francisco in Ashes

“I climbed to the top of Nob Hill and looked down on the burned city. I never expect to see such a catastrophe again. Where was once a city whose streets were lined by great buildings is now wreckage indescribable.”

Despite the ruined city with every street currently clogged black with rivers of ash and mud following heavy rains, Hayes sees nothing but optimism. “There are thousands of men working as if their lives depended upon it, hauling away rubbish, chipping mortar off bricks, hastily erecting new structures and tearing down the old. There is an air of optimism on every side, and the city will rise again from the ruins, better for its purging.” Hayes estimates the city will rise anew in ten years at the current rate of construction. He has no idea where all the money comes from, “but there seems to be plenty of it to carry on now.”

32.2 Riding the Southern Pacific

October 9,1906

Paying fare on the Southern Pacific Railroad with money earned breaking rocks, Hayes retraces his desolate walk across the American southwest from two years previously on his way back to Galveston. Cotton ships from Galveston this time of year; the ships will be signing men. “We are just getting into the sage country, near Indio. How well I remember passing this way two years ago! Hiking it then, footsore and wondering where the next meal was coming from. Life is like that. Up today, down tomorrow until the end.”

32.3 Out of Step in Hico

October 15, 1906

Visiting the family in Hico always unsettles Hayes. The old crowd he knew from ten years ago, who now consider themselves educated, all accepted invitations to a party arranged by Hayes’ sisters. When pressed for stories of his travels, he immediately captured the room. But these educated men and women whose sun rose and set in rural Texas knew the exaggerations of a blow-hard: after an enthusiastic description of the flying fish he’d seen in the tropics, Hayes could see some of the guests smiling incredulously among themselves. “It angered me, and I will not tell again of foreign lands. Even my sisters, college graduates, asked me if there really was such a thing as flying fish when we were alone.” All this ignorance of the wider world: “They call themselves educated, but one wonders what education is.”

32.4 A Ship at Galveston

October 25, 1906

As Hayes anticipated, signing on a with a ship in Galveston will be easy; “Seamen constantly desert, and men are needed to take their places. British ships are best for me, I don’t like the German vessels, at least the bullying mates and petty officers who try to make themselves tin gods.” An extended passage disparaging the German worldview when compared to the Anglo-Saxon follows.

October 27, 1906

Hayes chose to sign on with a ship “not so good as many” because “there is a chance of getting to Africa on her, and take her I will.” The Elder-Dempster ship Sangara, whose usual run follows the West Coast of Africa, came inexplicably to Houston. “Why, unless to pick me up, I cannot say why she is here.” Her crew fascinates Hayes: below deck black men from Sierra Leone and Liberia trim coal. The deck hands hail from Liverpool but after years of the West Africa run, to Hayes they are, “all old Coasters and full of tales about the Ju-Ju, of the never ending bush and palm oil or mahogany.”

32.5 Eastward Out of the Gulf

October 30, 1906

As the Sangara steams east through the gulf, rumors reach the crew of, “a tremendous hurricane that swept the Florida Keys, washing away the barges where the construction crew were housed, many being lots at sea.” Overcast skies loom over the Sangara, “but surely the hurricane will be blown out ere we reach that part of the gulf.”

Pay is poor on this British ship: ten shillings a month for boys, three pounds – ten shillings to able seamen, and a pound for the Kroo men below deck. The first mate had been a captain, “but his ship was burned at sea by a madman who had hid in the hold.” No blame fell to the mate but LLyod’s, the insurance company, won’t insure a captain who’s lost a ship for any reason. The present captain is unusually cautious. “The British are the best of the lot in their courtesy toward their underlings, but poorest of food and quarters.”

The Elder-Dempster line, under the direction of Sir Alfred Jones at Liverpool boasts “140 ships under various company headings.”

Sir Alfred Jones

Sir Alfred takes a personal hand in policing commerce on all the ships, making him notorious among sailors out of Liverpool. When allowed, sailors can trade old bits of salt pork or old clothes for “parrots, gold, or anything salable when they return to Europe.” Jones sees to it that none of the men carries trade goods on board – even breaking into the mate’s quarters looking for contraband. Only certified traders can be allowed to buy and sell – the negligible quantity traded by one sailor would soon cut into profits if every man on every ship engaged the practice according to Sir Alfred.

Gusty winds from the hurricane have all men on board alert and watchful. “But we may make it without a gale, for the storm should have blown out.”

32. 6 Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

November 6, 1906

The Sangara takes coal at Norfolk in the winter chill of November. “Almost every ship coming into this port or elsewhere that passed thru Florida Strait has a number of men picked up from drifting barges. … Hundreds of men have been drowned, and the railway building toward Key West from key to key is badly wrecked.” The weather was so thick about the Sangara, her crew couldn’t see any castaways.

With outrage, Hayes notes that, “For some reason we are under armed guard. Men with rifles and side arms walk about the docks, and if one of us steps ashore that man is followed like a criminal.” When Hayes came ashore to cast a line adrift, the guard trained his gun on Hayes the whole time he was on the wharf. “So this is the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

32.7 Chill off Newfoundland.

November 12,1906

Hayes isn’t the only sailor on board with poor clothing, “No man has a warm suit of underclothing, let alone a sea outfit fit to turn the weather.” Chill winds blow off Newfoundland but even on the slow boat Sangara, Hayes hopes for a warm sail on a southerly route through the Gulf Stream.

Hayes likes his British shipmates. “Their tales are of pubs and the blowsy women who foregather there, or of their sordid homes and children, dear to them but of little value to the nation.”

32.8 Goldie and Bunyan in London

November 22, 1906

Hayes’ hope for good weather died swiftly. White squalls with gusty winds tossed the ship about the coast of Newfoundland while attendant grey skies prevented ship’s officers from locating the Sangara by either sun or stars. So the officers began “sounding, both with hand lead and the Kelvin patent every hour. At one place the sea was only seventy feet deep. From the mud or sand in the lead could be told about where we were.” Stormy weather all the way across to Liverpool, “but that is ancient history now, and why worry about it?”

Liverpool in November is a “grimy city” sodden from squalls that sweep up the Mersey. The chill sailors home at Canning place drove Hayes on to London.

Canning Place Sailors Home

In London, Hayes resolutely pursues Africa. “… I am seeing many people here. First some to the trading companies, then to the offices of the great Niger Company. At this last I was fortuned to meet Sir George Goldie.”

Sir George Goldie

To Hayes, men are men to be judged by their actions not their reputations. “The flunkeys approached him as if he were a demigod, but to me he is only a man.” A man who gave him a warm reception, remembering a letter Hayes had sent the previous summer, “and was glad to see a young man with so much spirit, he said.” Goldie encouraged Hayes toward Africa, “but not now.” When Hayes, “demurred at handling liquor in any way,” Glodie said the bush in northern Nigeria might still be possible. “Anyway, it is encouraging to meet a real African explorer. For Goldie was the man who secured Nigeria for the British Empire, and was for a long time governor of that protectorate.”

Not remembering if seven or eight years have passed since he’s been in London, Hayes remarks on the modernizations: plenty of electric lights now, and the streets paved with blocks of jarrah wood from Western Australia. “These blocks make an excellent pavement. Vehicles make little sound traveling over these blocks set on end, and boys and men with squeegees follow one another about four feet apart and that far behind, pushing the mud and slime nearer and nearer to the gutters until the debris falls into the drain.” Nevertheless, the streets are narrow, the houses antiquated, and the sky overcast. “I cannot say I have ever seen the sun shining in this city, so dense is the pall of smoke overhanging it.”

November 30, 1906

The Sangara, on which Hayes came to London, sails for Africa next but the skipper will not sign Hayes. “He says the company forbids this, but the mate, who favors me says it is all bunk.” With just enough money remaining for passage one way, Hayes makes the bold decision to return to Liverpool where he will pay the fare to Africa and count on providence to provide a job once there.

A man’s a man, but if he writes Pilgrim’s Progress, one ought to stop by and see his grave. Among the numerous sights of the city, Hayes viewed John Bunyan’s grave.

John Bunyan’s Grave


31. Seattle to Tacoma

September 4, 2011

“Settled” for Hayes always has a non-standard interpretation.  In the current chapter, settled means attending school in Seattle at a Free Methodist Seminary , from which he is eventually expelled – for laughing at their enthusiasms.  Followed by a summer breaking rocks at the quarry in Tacoma where he hears the hair-raising tale of the Edmund Creffield, Esther Mitchell and the Holy Rollers.

The map below won’t appear in an email.  The current chapter appears as the very short pink path with stops at only Seattle and Tacoma.  Though the distance is short, the time is long by Hayes’ standards – 9 months – with infrequent diary entries  as is customary when he is “settled.”  The previous green path shows him coming down from Alaska.  Only the start of the next chapter is shown in blue; it stretches to London.

Click here to download chapters 1-31 on Google Earth.  

Here and There Synopsis:
31.1 High School at the Free Methodist Seminary

November 10, 1905

From Seattle Hayes popped down to the twin towns of Aberdeen and Hoquiam at Grey’s Harbor looking for work in the mills. All he found were, “Vast mud flats piled with drifting logs and stumps from on up the Chehalis River flowing into the bay, more logs in heaps about the shores, sawmills dolefully humming day after day and the bleak streets … full of water from the incessant rain.” A quick look in at Tacoma before a new idea assaults him: “I propose to enter the seminary of the Free Methodist Church at Fremont for a couple of years, then try to get into the University of Washington. It is rather late in life to seek such learning, but I can try.”

Seattle Seminary; now Seattle Pacific University

While admiring Hayes’ pursuit of knowledge, one also notes that this looks like a warm dry place to spend the winter.

November 23,1905

Hayes paid two years tuition and board joining with four other young men and eight girls under the tutelage of the school’s first headmaster Alexander Beers. All the students like Beers but Hayes identifies his wife as “a nagger who has favorites and sees that they get the plums.” Though very tame, the place compares favorably with unpaid sailor’s work, hiking across the Arizona desert, and starving around Los Angeles. “I can get the winter in here and see what turns up elsewhere later.”

December 4,1905

At 27 years old, Hayes entered the Seminary as a freshman in High School. Either he or the place is out of step – “Anyway, I’ve never seen a place like it.” Gentle girls dressed in “plain garments that are not intended to attract men,” and soft boys, “who could not take it if thrown on a square rigger rounding Cape Stiff.”

The strict Free Methodists wear no ties, play no instrumental music in church, but are given to “a deal of shouting and fervent prayer, and when the spiritual unction and ecstasy falls on the assembled throng they lose self control and run about the house, screaming at the top of their lungs.” While averring no criticism, Hayes remarks, “To be good and kind, to help one’s fellows who are unfortunate, to play the game as square as one wants it played toward himself would seem to be of more practical value than all this undue excitement and enthusiasm.”

Hayes appreciates Beers as a good man, “sincere and truthfully trying to live right before his charges.” His charges? They are young people just like all young people: following their biological urges, pilfering unlocked rooms, and generally succumbing to temptation as easily as do others. With the “constant revival meeting … in force,” these young Free Methodists “repent of their sins, then do it all over again.”

Deccember 21, 1905

Less than a month at school and Hayes has passed two years work now. “The only fly in the ointment serious to me is the sedentary life forced upon me in this place. It is a hot house, and I am a flower that has bloomed on the mountain tops, or at sea, as the case may be.”

Hayes believes the heads of school intend to marry the boys to the girls in this institution. “Seated at the table with me thrice daily are several girls in the full bloom of young womanhood. They are as full of appeal as any one could meet elsewhere, and I know I have been placed with them for the possibilities of the contact.” While not immune to these allures, Africa still holds the stronger appeal. The school has a missionary society, to which Hayes belongs, but he believes only members of the Free Methodist church have any real hope of placement as “ambassadors to the heathen.”

Hayes writes with pride of his academic accomplishments achieved by constant study night and day. “None in the school has passed as many grades as I have, and even the faculty have not gone as far in geography, in geology and in general knowledge of the world as I have.” All this excellence avails him little without membership in the church. “I must accept these super tame people and like it or else––.”

February 9, 1906

The school held a little 28th birthday celebration for Hayes and several others born on the same day. The party gives a pleasant interlude, but Hayes tires of this place and these people who are not his kind. “My life has been lived among rough and uncouth men. But their sins, glaring as they were, were on the surface.“ Compelled to follow the rules set for “all these children” at the school, Hayes longs for exercise, fresh air, and self-determination.

In contrast, the masters of the school long for conversion for every student in residence. “There is a deal of excitement shown by parents when their offspring forsake the world and turn to things spiritual, but it is a question whether they can hold fast when it comes to the long, hard dray down life’s pathway to the grave.“ Hayes invokes the Spanish inquisition to describe the pressure exerted on students to come to the True Faith. “I think every student but me has been to the mourners bench several times, and it might be well if I did. Instead it excites my perverted sense of humor.” The chapel where services are held slopes down toward the pulpit, so that when those seized by the spirit begin running around the house, “they run down this incline and soon their heads are moving faster than their feet.” All very funny – except that Hayes has paid two years tuition and board here: “I’ll never last it.”

March 16, 1906

Some of the students in their late teens slipped into town for “shows and stolen kisses.” Now everyone at the school suffers reinforced disciplines, even those like Hayes with no girl friend. And the heating system doesn’t work. “The steam heat comes up through the shafts as cold heat, and might easily be used for refrigeration purposes.” Through all the conditions Hayes reports keeping up on his studies.

April 10, 1906

“San Francisco has been destroyed by a great earthquake.”

San Francisco Earthquake April 1906

Hayes’ dates his entry incorrectly; the earthquake hit San Francisco on April 18th. Nevertheless, the reports filtering north to Seattle are correct: “Fire is wiping out the wrecked houses left standing as well as burning the wreckage of the quake.” Rumors put the death toll between one thousand and fifty thousand. (Wikipedia records it as about 3,000, the highest death toll from any natural disaster in California history.)

All his diligent school work at the Free Methodist school over the past five months has advanced Hayes to a junior in High School, but “My shortcuts to the problems given us do not agree with all the professors.” Worse yet: he refuses conversion to Free Methodism; has not fallen for any of the girls seated beside him at table; and is guilty of sacrilege. “Not willingly, but being naturally wicked and unregenerate, I laughed at some of the more enthusiastic zealots as they leaped about the room during worship. I hid my head, but it availed me nothing. I would have laughed regardless of penalties, it was funny.”

So, that’s the end of school at the Free Methodist Seminary. A shame to lose the two years tuition and board, but at least a spring rain now falls in Seattle. “Where, oh where? There seems no stable place in this world for me. I am doomed to wander.”

31.2 Tacoma Breaking Rocks Again

April 24, 1906

Passing an entire winter sitting reading with the “super tame” people, Hayes has gone soft. So he decides to return to hammering rocks at the quarry in Tacoma. “As I needed exercise, I chose this place above all others.” His boss, Buck Stanley, put him on a fourteen pound hammer, “and am I sore?” A few of the old crew are still here, Andy the Boob, and Old Jack, but the cook married the Mississippi kid and the couple moved on with their newly born child. The new cook is better, “but the fleas are here, and if anything the moral standard of the crew is somewhat lower than when I was here two years ago.”

A powerful hunch seizes Hayes that his road will soon lead to Africa. “There is no especial encouragement for this belief, but I have a most particular hunch. And at times during my life these hunches have come true.” Scotty, a “powder man” at the quarry, who fought in the Boer War, encourages Hayes but wonders why anyone would hope to reach the hot Sudan.

May 30, 1906

Now that the Japanese have won their war with Russia, the men have little to discuss at the quarry. According to Hayes’ race based ideology, the wrong side won, which will mean a step back for the world.

The rocks Hayes and the crew crush go to line a nearby roadbed for the rubber-wheeled cars that are beginning to appear requiring better roads.

Blomstrom Queen Automobile 1906

Unlike the other men at the quarry, Hayes saves his money toward his Africa stake. “For the other men it means booze and an occasional woman’s society in the purlieus of Seattle.”

June 12, 1906

Though of wiry build, “not a bullock in stature as most quarrymen are,” Hayes has the knack of breaking rocks by knowing where to strike, so can manage the punishing physical labor. Old Pete returned to a touching reception from the rest of the crew, which includes Long Andy, Short Andy, and Andy the Boob. Long Andy is a gentle giant when sober, a mad bull when drunk. Short Andy is a genial Scandinavian when sober, a tiger who will fight any man when drunk. Andy the Boob is a half-wit with regard to everything but working steel at which he is “a genius.” “Then we have a few socialists, red ones who wish to turn the world upside down. They reject everything but their own philosophy.”

Hayes observes among the workingmen of the United States, “a certain movement toward a change of government.” Just now, these men praise the assassin who killed the governor of Finland. Hayes fears this kind of unrest will grow toward bigger things that will not be for the better. “To me it seems if there is to be any change that will benefit mankind it must be by raising the standard of the individual, and that can only be done by the man himself.” According to Hayes, only the precepts laid down by Christ so long ago hold any promise of breaking the cycle of domination by whatever group rises to the top – for once on top, the revolutionaries become “cruel, domineering, [and] lustful for power,” until the next group topples them, “and it goes on endlessly.”

July 6, 1906

Then July Fourth comes and Hayes gets to see what men actually do with their hard won liberty. “Andy the Boob takes his booze in the seclusion of his hut by the blacksmith shop, so does not offend his fellows.” But the two other Andy’s went into town “bosom companions, and for some strange reason did not spend all their money there.” They came back to the bunkhouse at midnight on the Third arguing who was the better man. Hayes quotes them. First Short Andy: “You knows I vas a tam better mans dan you vas!” Then Long Andy: “Th’ hell you are! Come outside hyar, I’ll show yuh who’s th’ better man!”

Their argument did not come to blow on the night of the Third, and, since Short Andy had some money left, he stopped by “The Meadows” to play the ponies on the Fourth and “With a drunk man’s luck he picked winners constantly, [and] won several hundred dollars….” With his winnings he bought fireworks, carrying them back to set off inside the bunkhouse –where Long Andy had continued his drinking – nearly burning it to the ground. After sharing his fireworks with Hayes and Long Andy at the bunkhouse, Short Andy returned to the racetrack where some newly acquired “friends” tried to rob him. “His great strength surprised them, and they beat him frightfully before he was subdued.” When the police arrived, Short Andy, despite the beating, had one of the robbers in a clutch he would not release. “Andy is in the can at Seattle now, held as a material witness against this man, who is a notorious criminal.” At least Short Andy isn’t “groaning in his bunk” like Long Andy, or “paralyzed” like Andy the Boob. Hayes summarizes the whole debauched celebration:

“So much for one’s glorious personal liberty we hear so much about.”

July 19,1906

Quarry work returns to the normal grind without Short Andy. The police caught all three robbers and want to make sure to convict them on Short Andy’s testimony. All the other quarrymen but Hayes are saving for another binge. “When winter comes, all will be broke, working for their board at some Salvation Army woodpile or starving about the streets, begging from any man who has a dime to spare. Such is the American workingman.”

Hayes picked five gallons of blackberries for pies. “There are few more desirable berries than these western blackberries. No other variety has the tang they have, especially in a pie.”

August 12, 1906

Though the rest of the quarry men think he’s “bughouse,” (Hayes’ quote) Hayes will try for the Niger River in West Africa, but not quite yet, maybe in October. Scotty, the powderman, tells any who will listen, “He’ll die if he tries it” (Hayes’ quote.)

Paid $2.75 for nine hours breaking rocks (minus a dollar a day for the bunkhouse), and by avoiding the frightful binges of the three Andys, Hayes has gathered a small stake. This together with some savings from Alaska and a refund from the Free Methodist school will bankroll his adventure to the Niger.

September 5, 1906

Short Andy got back from Seattle pale, subdued, and bringing the tale of Ester Mitchell, “a pretty little thing” – who shot her own brother.

Esther Mitchell

George Mitchell

Edmund Creffield

Hayes recalls that he also has a slight connection to Esther Mitchell’s case, “I was in Seattle last spring, walking down First St., and a man shot another a couple of blocks distant.” The man shooting was Esther Mitchell’s brother, George. The man shot was Edmund Creffield, founder of the Bride of Christ Church – better known by the derogatory name Holy Rollers. (The reader can find extensive accounts of the Holy Rollers on line.) Hayes summarizes his understanding of the church as follows: “These people were given to stripping themselves of all their clothing, rolling about the floor in their ecstacies (sic) and at last devoting themselves to sexual orgies, in which Creffield led.”

In May of 1906, Hayes heard George Mitchell shoot Edmund Creffield in Seattle. Mitchell claimed Creffield had defiled his seventeen-year-old sister, Esther, a member of the Bride of Christ Church. The Seattle jury acquitted George Mitchell who was free only a few days before Esther(!) shot him. Short Andy brings with him all the lurid gossip about Esther Mitchell straight from the prison in Seattle where, “She is waiting for trial now.”

Scandalous gossip to pass a man’s September swinging a 14-pound hammer, but: “At the end of this month I intend to leave. Despite the unusually hard work I have spent a pleasant summer. Time slips by easily and pleasantly, and these men are as good companions as any other. Misfortune has placed most of them where they are, and the others are not fitted for any other sort of work. The hard work has been good discipline for me.”