Hayes Perkins (1878-1964), a self-described “adventurer” who traveled the world by rail, ship, and on foot for most of his life, kept extensive notes of his wanderings that he later edited, typed, and bound (though never published) in five volumes totaling two thousand pages titled Here and There. Following Perkins’ reconstruction of his childhood in Oregon and Texas, dated entries in the diary begin in 1897 and continue through 1936. After a seventeen year gap during which Perkins was “settled” in Butler, Pennsylvania and Pacific Grove, California, the diary resumes briefly in 1952 and then again in 1955. Late in life, Perkins regrets having missed only Russia in his world travels.
Born February 10, 1878
Died April 30,1964
Pacific Grove, California
Henry Hayes Perkins, the third child and only surviving son of William Morrison Perkins and Malinda Frances Hayes, was born February 10, 1878, on a homestead where Lampa Creek meets the Coquille River near Bandon, Oregon. The Perkins’ homestead, located on a trail from the Coquille Valley to the Pacific Ocean, served as a stopover for travelers carrying news of the world. From a very young age, Hayes thrilled to tales of Stanley, the Congo Free State, and Emin Pasha, vowing to reach Africa himself to live a life of adventure and daring.
In 1890 William Morrison Perkins moved the family to Hico, Texas, in search of a more religious environment in his native south. Hayes’ obdurate refusal of his father’s evangelical Methodism precipitated increasingly severe beatings that escalated to a shot-loaded mule whipping on New Year’s Eve 1892 driving Hayes permanently from home. The need to earn his own living ended Hayes’ rudimentary formal education at country schools in Oregon and Texas at age fourteen. After a year sweeping floors at a hotel in Hico, one more violent confrontation with his father pushed Hayes onto a train to Sacramento, California, where he arrived at age fifteen with $1.65 in his pocket to begin a lifetime of world travel.
Here and There: The Diary of Hayes Perkins
Though Here and There is written as a present tense diary, in the opening sentence of volume I Perkins calls the manuscript a biography. Several misdates on diary entries indicate that the bound version was typed between 1959 and 1961. Perkins says that the earliest portions of Here and There were reconstructed from notes and memory as for an autobiography rather than recorded while happening, as generally is found in a diary.
In November of 1926, shortly after meeting the American glass engineer Frank Preston, Perkins writes of trying to reconstruct his diary going back more than 30 years. Perkins had purchased a portable typewriter in 1924 and learned to type to cut down on the expense of having his notes typed by others. Thus, from at least the mid-1920s, he was keeping detailed notes with the intention of compiling a record of his adventures.
Perkins had five original copies of Here and There printed before his death in 1964. Perkins himself donated one copy to the library at Pacific Grove, CA. Frank Preston donated a second to the Royal Geographic Society (to which he also nominated Perkins for membership). The Preston estate donated a third to the library at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Because Perkins never married and had no descendants, shortly before dying he gave two copies of Here and There to John Donaldson, a first cousin once removed. The family subsequently donated one copy to the Oregon Historical Society, and holds the fifth original copy privately. In addition to the five original copies, various family members hold about 25 secondary copies.
Synopses of the Five Volumes of Here and There.
Volume I (1878-1907)
An account of his early life with the family in Oregon and Texas;
Mining and ranching in the Western US and Canada;
Sailing around the horn working a three-masted schooner;
A religious conversion in Cripple Creek Colorado;
Naval work in San Francisco;
Mining and mill work in the Western US;
Second trip as sailor around the horn;
Ship’s passenger from Europe, across Panama to California;
Logging in Eureka, CA;
Roustabout for US Geological Survey to Southern Alaska;
Walking across the Sonoran and Mojave deserts from TX to CA;
Breaking rocks and logging in CA;
Second US Geological Survey to Southern Alaska;
High School at the Free Methodist University in Seattle, WA;
Logging mahogany in Nigeria;
Leaving Nigeria for London.
Volume II (1907-1914)
Odd jobs across Canada;
To Alaska for the gold rush at the Yukon;
Rowboat 900 miles down the Yukon River to St Michael;
Looking for work in Australia;
Working a plantation in New Guinea;
Ship’s passenger from Australia to Colombo to be turned back at Mombasa;
Clearing land for the Australian Naval College;
Ship’s passenger: Colombo, Aden, Suez Canal, Naples, Spain, England, US;
Logging in Eureka, CA;
Canal work in the Imperial Valley, CA;
Rail and ship’s passenger: Chicago, Montreal, London, Port Said, Khartoum;
Steamers passenger: up the Nile;
Grounds keeper at Heart of Africa Mission at Niangara, Congo.
Volume III (1914-1920)
Walking north out of Africa though Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt;
Ship’s passenger through submarines in the Mediterranean;
Ship’s passenger to San Francisco by way of Australia then Hawaii;
Mill work in Coquille, Oregon;
Ship’s passenger to the Congo by way of France then Cape Verde;
Diamond mining for the Forminiere Company in the Congo.
Volume IV (1920-1926)
Out of the Congo at Boma;
Ship’s passenger the coast of West Africa to Antwerp then New York;
Australia, then shopkeeper in Western Samoa;
Australia, then sailing down the East coast of Africa;
Into the bush looking for coal at Dar es Salaam;
Sailing around South Africa, up the west coast to London;
To New York, south through the Panama Canal to San Francisco;
Sailing to Australia by way of Tahiti;
To South Africa, then up the coast of West Africa to Congo River;
Up to the Congo to the diamond mines;
Blacklisted at the mines, so walks to Dakar;
Ship’s passenger to Bandon, Oregon through Tenerife, Casa Blanca, Antwerp;
Joins the Coast Guard at Bandon, Oregon;
Ship’s passenger to Japan, China, Singapore, Colombo, the Seychelles ¬–
Mombasa, Cape Town, Australia, Tahiti, to San Francisco.
Volume V (1926-1936; 1952; 1955)
Building Hydro-Electric plants in the High Sierras;
Mombasa by way of England and Italy then the Suez Canal;
By train, boat and foot to the Congo;
Visiting a pygmy camp in the Congo forest;
Forced by bad teeth to trek out of Africa;
Down the Arawimi River to Boma;
North to London;
Across the Atlantic to have teeth pulled in Portland, Oregon;
To San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and to San Simeon;
Common Laborer at San Simeon;
Zookeeper at San Simeon;
Fired by Hearst, to San Luis Obispo for more dentistry;
Back to the zoo at San Simeon at the height of the Depression;
Fired by Hearst, to San Francisco and Portland;
Hired at Hearst’s northern California mansion at Wyntoon;
By bus across the US to Butler, PA lecturing on his travels;
Back to construction work at Wyntoon;
By bus across the US back to Butler, PA for more speaking;
Back to construction and grounds keeping at Wyntoon;
(a 16 year gap while Perkins was settled in Bultler, PA, then Pacific Grove, CA.)
1952: From Pacific Grove to New York by rail;
By ship to France then to Algiers;
Traveling south through Algeria, Niger, to Fort Lamy, Chad;
Flew back to Paris, New York, San Francisco in poor health.
1955: Sailing down the west coast of the US and Mexico;
Sailing down the west coast of South America;
Sailing around the Horn and up the east coast of South America;
Through the Panama Canal and back up the west coast of the US;
Settles in Pacific City, CA at age 77 after 130 sea voyages with no further plans for travel.
Except for the two trips in 1952 and 1955, Perkins ceased his wanderings in 1936. He settled for about two years in Butler, PA working the grounds of Frank Preston’s glass laboratory, then moved to his retirement home, an 8’x16’ converted showerhouse in Pacific Grove, CA.
In addition to speaking about his travels, the principal work of his retirement was planting and tending pink ice plants along the shoreline in what is now Hayes Perkins Park at Pacific Grove, CA.
References to Perkins in the Literature
- Belozerskaya, Marina. The Medici giraffe: and other tales of exotic animals and power. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006.
- Grubb, Norman. Christ in Congo Forests. London and Redhill: Lutterworth Press, 1945.
- Pizzitola , Louis; Hearst Over Hollywood: Power, Passion, and Propaganda in the Movies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002
- Welch, Vince, Cort Conley, and Brad Dimock. The Doing of the Thing: The Brief Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom. Flagstaff: Fretwater Press, 2003.
- Wyman, Mark. Hoboes: Bindlestiffs, Fruit Tramps, and the Harvesting of the West. New York: Hill and Wang, 2010