23. Resurrection Bay AK to Hico TX

July 1, 2011

Down from Alaska for the winter, Hayes declines an offer to study at Stanford returning coincidentally to Hico to see his mother and sisters just as word of his father’s death arrives from Colorado.

On the map, chapter 22 is the yellow path.  The current chapter is pink with popups.  Chapter 24 is the blue circular path.

(If the map doesn’t appear in the email, click the title to go to the blog.)

Click here for links to maps and downloads of more maps.

Here and There Synopsis:
23.1 A “four flusher” and Hundreds of Sea Lions

September 14, 1903

Before Hayes and Martin changed ships from the Newport to the Santa Ana at Resurrection Bay, they got an illustration the danger of the extreme tides in these long narrow Alaskan Bays. The Newport dragged anchor and came to rest against a rock at high tide; as the tide ebbed, the fore part of the ship pointed high in the air threatening to snap the hull. Fortunately, it held, and when the tides reversed, the ship floated serenely off. “Now all is well again, and the priests, the whores, the prospectors and various scientists who make up the list are celebrating with wine and song.”

On the Santa Ana Hayes bunks with an interesting mate, Jack Carroll, who with another sourdough and three college students looking for adventure, accompanied Doctor Frederick Cook on an expedition to climb Mt. McKinley.

Dr. Frederick Cook

Ignorant of even the rudiments of Alaskan life, Cook scoffed at Carroll’s insistence on a mosquito-proof tent. The first night Carroll and Jones, the other sourdough, slept comfortably inside the tent while the other five roughed it outside. “Next night, and each ensuing night thereafter, seven men were crowded into this 7×10 tent.”

Carroll took ill with pleurisy and had to leave Cook’s party at the foot of Mt. McKinley, but not before forming a poor opinion of the expedition’s leader: “Carroll says Cook is a fourflusher.” (The word comes from bluffing with a weak hand when playing poker. It now roughly means one not true to his word.) Carroll’s principle evidence for the charge is Cook’s inability to listen to men more experienced in the wilds of Alaska. (Wikipedia cites other evidence supporting Carroll’s assessment of Cook’s character, including a famous faked photograph of a first ascent of Mt. McKinley from a 1906 attempt.)

On a great rock off shore from the mouth of Resurrection Bay, hundreds of sea lions line one wall, some several hundred feet above the sea. “The Santa Ana ran near the rock, then gave a loud blast on her whistle. The lions tumbled down any way they might, rolling, somersaulting, leaping to the water, then surrounded the ship and barking their indignation.”

23.2 The Beauty of Southern Alaska

September 16, 1903

Snow creeping toward the edge of town brings “the lonely men who have spent the short summer on distant creeks in search of the elusive gold,” down into Valdez where the fortunate “are given smiles, and if necessary further favors by the ladies of the evening,” who haunt the dance halls, saloons and other sporting houses. The nights are lengthening and, “In a few weeks all will be covered with snow for the winter.”

“Words fail to tell of the marvelous scenery of Southern Alaska. The highest mountains on the North American continent front on the sea here, and snow is always present on these above 3,000 feet, even in mid summer. There is forest below the snow, and rivers tumble down the steeps into the sea, and glaciers may be seen at every turn. Islands separated by winding blue channels give passage to the heart of these mountains… It is an empty land, these fine harbors wasted on a wilderness where they are of no use to man.”

23.3 Yakutat

September 20, 1959 (sic)

(The misdating of this entry probably reflects when the diaries were typed.)

At Yakutat native women “sit in front of the trading post and sell beaded moccasins, ladies hand bags and all sorts of trinkets they have made during the long winters,” for whatever price they can get. The young people native to the area “are becoming Americanized,” at a school in Sitka where they are taken when quite young. The US government offers men who live with Indian women two choices: “marry her and keep her as wife, or else jail.”

At Valdez most of the passengers left the ship to be replaced by a new list. Now Hayes bunks with “one Cloudesley Rutter,” a biologist at Stanford University, who offers Hayes a job for the next summer assisting Rutter’s study of the Alaska salmon industry. In the meantime, Rutter asks why doesn’t Hayes come down and enroll at Stanford? “It sounds good, but I wonder.” Maybe the quick bond between Hayes and Rutter forms because, “We have one thing in common, both dislike Martin’s pretensions.”

Perhaps the long nights with the coming of winter send Hayes back to his darkest assessments of humanity. A prostitute on board has lost the malamute pup she loved, tangled in some rigging and killed; maybe that set him off – or the end of the Alaska adventure with no plan for tomorrow? At any rate, he writes: “Men are the most degraded animals this world holds. They prostitute their own kind, exploit each other and slay each other without mercy if it profits to do so. The most fortuned die in infancy, or are never born at all.” And so on at some length.

23.4 Summing up Alaska 1903

Septermber 23, 1903

After some geological speculation about how glaciers carved the bay leading to Juneau and all the waterways south to Puget Sound, Hayes comments on the viability of the future state capital: “Mining keeps Juneau from dying, there being no industry or farming hereabout to make a town.” Juneau will be a business center of the region until the rich mines at Treadwell across the bay are worked dry – but then what will support a town?

A comment Hayes makes on passing again through Sitka encapsulates his impression of Alaska and its cultural history formed while traipsing about the region in the summer of 1903: “Sitka remains the same sleepy village is has always been. The Indian schools, the territorial staff who govern the country and the old Russian mission makes a living for 1,500 people”

He goes on to say that 50 years of Russian occupation stripped Alaska of its furs and broke the spirit of the native population: “The 36 years of American rule has been insufficient to uplift them from their lowly estate, but it can be done.” He sees the Indian schools as the great hope for future civilization of the area because the native children will be taught practical skills and, “kept free from the gamblers, the licentious miners, and others who corrupt them utterly.” In Hayes’ view, these young natives will surely inherit Alaska. When the minerals are stripped and the fisheries regulated, there are too many mosquitoes in summer and too much cold in winter “to make it a white man’s country.” He’s hopeful that the educated children of Alaska “will rebuild what has been lost within a hundred years.”

As for Hayes? He’ll be in Seattle within the week.

23.5 Where to next?

September 30, 1903

Slow boats like the Santa Ana poke down the coast “for they creep into all sorts of outlandish places and load and unload cargo for small mines, fisheries, trading stations and such.” But the pleasant sightseeing trip will end tomorrow in Seattle.

Hayes’ will be glad to part ways with Martin whose “head has been turned by the publicity he has received.” Early in the summer he was reasonably companionable but now, “he seeks the society of scientists, politicians, or rich mining people who can help him up on his way to the top, wherever that is.” While softening the critique about Martin’s turned head with,“I suppose we are all like that,” Hayes makes clear by his own choice of working class companions that he understands “the top” differently than Martin.

So, that’s Alaska – what next? Uncle Epam in Washington who wrangled the trip for Hayes wants him to visit another uncle, Epam’s brother, out in Oregon. To Hayes this seems an odious though necessary part of the job. Nevertheless, “I think I’ll funk it this time, go back to Eureka and stay the winter.”

23.6 Same Old Eureka

October 10, 1903

After a brief stop in Victoria BC – “a dull town with an English atmosphere” – and the usual violent seasickness coming down the coast in a small boat, Hayes arrives in Eureka where George Glynn, his old boss at the mill, has a job waiting for him. But “I don’t like it. I want to wander.”

In this frame of mind, of course Eureka receives a tawdry description: “There is little to recommend Eureka to a vagrant.” With five large sawmills, a shingle mill, and some dairies and farms, “It is one of those towns that is built, has no further need for expansion.” No need for any new houses, and “the business section has a run-down appearance.”

Uncle Epam still presses Hayes to visit the family up in Oregon, George Glynn wants him to stay on –“but I wonder.”

23.7 Galveston? Stanford?

October 22, 1903

To wander the world one must have either cash or sailor’s work. Lacking the former, Hayes tries in San Francisco for a ship to China or to the South Seas. “Nothing doing, no chance ever.” So, it’ll have to be Galveston and wherever ships are going from there.

On a visit to Stanford University, Cloudesley Rutter, the biologist Hayes met on the Santa Ana out of Valdez, offers another alternative: an expedition to the Galapagos Islands departing some months hence. In the meantime, Rutter wants Hayes to enroll in a special geology course. Never mind the tuition money, Rutter can set him up with a job as a club secretary.

October 24, 1903

“Was out at the Twin Peaks yesterday, thinking it over.” It’ll have to be Galveston: “I won’t handle booze, and to be a club secretary means I must do just that.” The decision made, he’s on a train for Texas that very night.

23.8 William Morrison Perkins 1841-1903

October 30, 1903

At 25, Hayes has been traveling the world for 10 years since leaving Hico at the end of a horsewhip. Returning to a place he says he never cares to see again, he gives the following terse account of his sisters: “May is married, lives in Oklahoma. Jennie is in Houston. I will see her on my way south. Annie is teaching at Iredell, a small village next station to Hico. Memrie is in the post office here, and Pearl and Vance still attend school.” He reports being happy to see them.

November 3, 1903

Remarkable that Hayes should be in Hico with the family when “Word has come that father was killed by an unruly horse at Walsenburg Colorado.” He lived three days after the horse crushed his head against a fence rail.

“Our reactions were different when the tidings came.” He reports that his mother went pale, “But there was little sorrow for his passing. He had been too cruel for that.” Hayes is glad to have written to his faterh before he died, but “To be truthful, it means no more than any other person whom I have met casually. Whatever affection there may have been, it has been wholly eradicated by his brutality when I was in his power. Somehow I am glad it has been no worse, for I might have slain him had I stayed home.”

Hayes and his mother will leave for Houston tomorrow to visit sister Jennie on his way to find a ship at Galveston.

21. Washington DC to Katalla River AK

June 19, 2011

Finally, some real adventuring with one of the earliest US Geological Survey teams in Southwest Alaska.

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Here and There Synopsis:

21.1 Passing through Chicago.

June 5, 1903

Six weeks previously Hayes arrived in the US from Liverpool with less than $5 in pocket. Now he’s at a stopover in Chicago with a first class ticket, “on a fast train that will reach Seattle in four days.” George Curtis Martin, (Jean the genealogist says GC is not related to John Martin the author of these synopses) the leader of the Alaska survey, instructed him to find his own Pullman sleeper and dining car, but that was all too rich for Hayes as he still has only about four dollars to make his way to Seattle.

East of Chicago Hayes marvels at the density of the population, “One wonders where all the people come from, how they all live and how so many can find sustenance in one land.”

June 6 1903

West of Chicago he marvels at the desolation and emptiness, “The Bad Lands are very picturesque, earthen hills eroding rapidly, of little use to man.”

21.2 Outfitting in Seattle

June 8,1903

In the five years since Hayes last visited Seattle, the gold boom has settled and the town shows signs of maturing, it “is much larger and is getting paved streets and cement sidewalks instead of the planked streets and wooden footpaths of those days.”

Martin puts Hayes up at the Hotel Seattle in Pioneer Square carelessly instructing him to pay for his own meals “for a couple of days, then he would settle with me later.” Hayes says he can get just enough to eat for 10¢ at a low-ramp Japanese restaurant nearby. In this contradictory moment, Hayes lodges at a fancy hotel, works on outfitting the Alaska expedition on a $6,000 budget, and has only 10¢ a day on which to eat. “Martin is more extravagant than I am, but I am inclined to believe there is a lot of game to be had in the north, and count on that rather than lump round a heavy burden of unneeded grub. Even my hip boots and oil skins are included in the outfit, which is more than one can hope for after these ships of recent years.”

21.3 Running the Seymour Narrows

June 13, 1903

An uncharacteristic joy suffuses Hayes’ description of the Seymour Narrows and his trip up through this watery labyrinth of British Columbia. “There are green islands on every side, large and small. Winding channels that burst suddenly into wide gulfs and into narrower fjords, with snow mountains sometimes near, always in the distance if we are not shut in. Waterfalls leap into the sea, or roaring rapids boil into the bays as if they were anxious to escape the hills.”

The beauty of the natural world sustains Hayes in all his travels. Perhaps a current reader can understand his ceaseless roaming as pursuit of out-of-the-way corners of transcendence like he found at the Seymour Narrows. “They are said to be about 800 yards across, and there is a large rock in the center of the strait. It is a crooked passage; and when the water is high, ships can pass. Deep enough at any time, but the current is tremendous as the water pours through the passage like the creeks pour into the sea all the way. For twenty minutes the water is still. It is then the ships put on all steam ahead and make the short run before the current begins to run in or out of the Gulf of Georgia.”

This far north daylight lingers very late. Hayes will not go below deck as long as light remains to reveal some new beauty round the next bend. “To one who loves nature it is an ideal life.”

21.4 The Beauty of Sitka

June 20, 1903

In a rugged wooden vessel called the Bertha, Hayes and Martin make their way up the southern Alaska coastline through Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau, Douglas, and finally to Sitka. Traveling with them are, “scientists, priests, girls seeking moneyed men for husbands or for prey.”

The biggest catch on board would be Colonel William Greene of the Cananea copper mines in Mexico, one of the wealthiest men in the world. Greene travels with a group of mining men from Arizona whose drunken, debauched behavior elicits this comment from Hayes, “If this is all that wealth brings men, I am content to be counted among the humble of earth.”

Colonel William Greene (with hand raised)
addressing striking Cananea copper mine workers
Mexico, 1906

The beauty at Sitka fairly takes Hayes’ breath away: “The gold mines at Juneau and Douglas may be more profitable, but Sitka has the transcendent beauty that one never forgets. It fronts almost on the open sea. Cut off by numberless tiny islets, it wanders about the rugged coast line and back into the forest in bewildering fashion.” Much of the architecture here is Russian and Hayes wonders why they ever gave up this vast territory rich in natural resources.

21.5 Hemmed in at Dundas Bay

June 22, 1903

Poking up the coast to Dundas Bay, the small ship gets hemmed in by thousands of tiny icebergs off Muir Glacier. They’ll have to wait for the winds to scatter them across the bay before leaving the small salmon cannery near which they are blocked.

The cold water makes the teeming fish life here tastier than in warmer climates but the cannery wants only salmon. There are so many, Hayes wonders where they all come from. Any fish not a salmon is discarded for the gulls. “This when Europe is full of starving people who never knew a square meal, yet so vivid in my mind.”

21.6 Yakatut Bay: Real Alaska

June 24, 1903

At Yakutat Bay: “This is real Alaska, with Indian women selling furs, mukluks, beaded moccasins, ditty bags, everything possible they know to make.” The world’s largest glaciers are on every side. Forty miles distant, though seeming only ten in the crystalline air, “is the famed peak discovered by Vitus Behring (sic) in 1741, I think it was.”

Vitus Bering,
Danish Navigator in service to the Russian Navy

One more short hop across the ocean and the expedition will have arrived at their base and begin some inland explorations.

21.7 Wingham Island

June 27,1903

When Hayes and Martin land on Wingham Island, place names mentioned in the Diary become confusing. Hayes refers to places with names used by the locals, while Martin continually renames them. So when Hayes says a scow immediately towed them from Wingham Island across to the mouth of the Chilkat River, a current map shows this as the Bering River – Martin’s names stuck.

On the scow, Hayes picked up another interesting name: “an ex-prize fighter, one Ed Smith, who was famed for defeating Joe Goddard, the Australian Barrier Champion, was working long-shore at the beach.”

”Denver Ed Smith”

Above the high tide line, the men set up a tent to hold back the voracious mosquitoes, “that are the curse of the north.” Hayes and Martin brought a small skiff from Seattle; the plan is to wander up and down the costal inlets, rivers and lakes of this roadless area looking for resources. Already Hayes can see coal-bearing rocks around what is now Bering Lake.

As Hayes frequently notes throughout his travels to the frontiers of European and American expansion, cultural contact usually is not genteel: “The white man has in Alaska crowded the natives out of all best places, has brought to them social diseases, liquor, and dishonesty.”

21.8 Exploring far Inland.

July 10, 1903

Traveling in the skiff and by hiking along bear paths pushed through “the jungle of devil’s club, tag alder and in the spruce forest”, Hayes and Martin explore where, “No maps have ever been made …. We are the first government party.” Hayes marvels at the volume of water cascading from the enormous glaciers: “there are eighty rivers in the thirty miles falling from the ice field between [the mouth of the Bering River] and Yakataga.”

By law no company can take more than sixteen land claims in this territory. But Hayes knows of one company with more than 1,500 claims taken by two men. “Talking to them, they told me they had difficulty in studying up names to put on claims.” If some mineral resource proves good on a claim, the company places a real homesteader there; if not, the claim lapses in a year. “There are four companies grabbing all prospects of coal, oil or anything else that may give evidence of remuneration in this district.”

During their explorations over the moss covered ground, at the edge of glaciers, and across torrential streams (Martin nearly drowned in one) Hayes feeds himself and Martin on ducks, geese, ptarmigan, and the salmon everywhere. Eagles and gulls gorge on the abundance of salmon and other small fish. “There are numerous bears, and the old Scotch foreman at the coal mines has killed eighteen of these splendid animals for so-called sport.”

21.9 Two Men alone in the Bush and Not Companionable

July 15, 1903

Down from the backcountry, Martin and Hayes push west to Catella River which Martin promptly renames the Katalla. The two aren’t getting along well. For Martin, “Everything must be done according to the book, and this goes ill when one must use his head as emergencies arise in the bush. He has almost caused us to lose our lives several times already.”

Part of the trouble stems from Martin’s inability to see Hayes’ expertise. At Katalla a number of frontiersmen gather as in a gold rush looking to get rich quick on coal or oil claims. As these men watch Hayes pilot the small skiff in off the ocean through the breakers at the mouth of the river, all marvel at his skill with a boat – but not the boss of their little two-man expedition: “Martin never realizes any danger, being inexperienced and foolhardy.”

Nevertheless, the money is good and Alaska endlessly fascinating so Hayes will stick it. At Katalla the mineral wealth astounds him: He describes many coal seams six to eight feet in diameter, and one reaching 27 feet. Not to be outdone, Martin reports one 63 feet in diameter near the glacier line. In addition to coal, oil seeps from the ground in a pool covering several acres. Hayes dips up a gallon to be sent to Johns Hopkins for analysis.

20. Liverpool to Washington DC

June 12, 2011

For this segment of the diary I am indebted to my newly found cousin Jean who contacted me when I first began publishing this synopsis of Hayes’ diaries.  On the Abbreviated Perkins Family Tree  you will see that Daniel Perkins was my great, great, great grandfather.  His wife was Lydia Banks Perkins.  Jean and I share these ancestors which I know because of Jean’s remarkable genealogical work on the Banks family.  At the end of this chapter, Hayes runs into a bit of great good fortune in Washington thanks to an aunt and uncle who give him a boost up.  In four diary entries, Hayes names neither the uncle nor the aunt, only his two cousins.  From this information Jean was able to identify Hayes’ Uncle Epaminondis and Aunt Jennie correcting my guess that it was his Uncle Thomas Jefferson Perkins and Aunt Eliza Jane Houghmaster Perkins.  Thank you Jean.

(If no map appears in the email, click on the title above to go to the blog page.)

Click here for links to maps and downloads of more maps.

Here and There Synopsis:

20.1 Broke in London

March 29, 1903

With only two pounds in his pocket, Hayes takes up worried residence at the sailors home at Dock & Wells streets, London.

Inside the London Seamans Home

“The Home Officials, … saw my penurious condition and told me candidly that when my money was gone I would be put into the street….” Hayes will see none of the sights in London this time through; “It is a matter of finding something to keep me from walking the streets starving. I’ll do my best, trust in God, who has never forsaken me.”

Together with an Australian lad, Hayes walks miles of docks up and down the London waterfront “seeking a place as work-a-ways, seamen or anything to any place in the world.” – Still nothing.

Just as they had given up, Hayes spied one more ship, the Allegheny. He knew (his emphasis) this one would take him. The dispirited Australian called Hayes a fool and collapsed into a nearby station. “The mate, gruff though he was, was kindly. He told me to get a permit from the consul, which I did, and we sail in the evening.”

20.2 Bull Pusher

April 4, 1903

All down the English Channel, the crew of the Allegheny puts off stowaways desperate to return to the United States. They deposit three at Goodwin Sands, two more in the Straits of Dover, and then two more off Plymouth.

The mate hired Hayes as a sailor and sent him forward, but Hayes must have arrived at the forecastle shabby of appearance and poor in health. The sailors wouldn’t accept him; they said he was a bull pusher. “Vosper, the mate, is angry, but I am willing to stay where I am.” This will mean considerably less pay for the voyage, but a sailor named Jackson, a bully, rules the forecastle and Hayes knows that trouble would result from asking an officer to intervene where a bully doesn’t want him. He can push bulls.

The next self-contradictory paragraph entered by a battered, world-weary, 25-year-old Hayes describing his bull pushing mates, encapsulates all the wisdom this mean life has taught him thus far: “My mates are drunken, lousy, filthy in personal appearance. They are degraded as only bull pushers may be, but having reached the depths, have ceased to hate those about them. They share their miseries, their few good things together as men should, and are more Christian in spirit than the ones who condemn them.”

For once at least, among the lowest of the low, Hayes finds something of humanity worthy of praise. “But it is cold, oh so cold!” The Allegheny follows a slightly northern route taking the ship more directly home than would a warmer westerly course.

20.3 Icebergs of Newfoundland

April 12, 1903

The Allegheny belongs to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company but flies the British flag to save money. “The boat is unseaworthy apparently…” She broke down for four hours, lying to in a gale, then some drums of creosote got loose below careening about so violently in the rocking hold they would have ruptured the hull had the crew not “managed to chock them with loose bits of dunnage, else they would have wrecked us.”

Fog lies thick in these cold northern climes off the banks of Newfoundland but on the morning of April 12, dawn broke unexpectedly clear. “When daylight came, we were in the midst of a fleet of icebergs, some of them huge mountains, others growlers, scattered on each and every side.” His tone rings more of admiration for the beauty of the sight than for the danger to the ship.

Iceberg Off Newfoundland

On this meager cattle ship, in the northern cold, “We are scrubbing paint as ever, like this ship was a liner…. My hands are like birds’ claws, so numb, so numb.”

20.4 Newport News

April 16, 1903

“If all goes well, we will be in Newport News tomorrow. I will be happy to be rid of her [the Allegheny], but what next?” A well-to-do uncle in Washington DC has been demanding a visit from Hayes next time he’s on this coast. Even in his reduced circumstances, disdain for anything to do with the family runs very deep, he says, “ I am going to see him for a day or two, then have that duty fulfilled for good and all. I have never seen any of them.” The idea that a wealthy, well-positioned uncle might be able to help him seems not to have crossed Hayes’ mind.

One middle-aged bull pusher served in the U.S. navy and receives $80 a month pension. According to Hayes, he ferries back and forth across the Atlantic tending cattle because, “he wants to stay where he is, taking the blasphemous abuse from the head pushers, the hard living and almost loathsome company with whom he associates.” His pension and all the money he earns goes to drink and riotous living ashore ¬– except for his expenses for periodicals; he shares the latest magazines and papers with Hayes and “sometimes unburdens his wearied soul.” Hayes says of all the bull pushers, “At least they can fall no further, and this brings peace to their sordid souls.”

As for peace to their lice infested bodies? “If they ever bathe I have not seen it.” However, hanging an article of clothing through the grating above the steam exhaust “soon kills all the livestock there. Thus they keep the vermin down without washing their clothes at all.”

April 18, 1903

In port at Newport News, all the bull pushers have gone to the groggeries ashore. Hayes has no interest there so doesn’t mind being ordered by the skipper to remain alone on the ship until clearing immigration. As it happens, despite sharing all their work, Hayes shipped at status even lower than bull pusher – as an unpaid “work-a-way.” The Skipper kindly gives Hayes 50¢ for his 17 days labor across the Atlantic but even that is essentially a gift to a work-a-way crewman. The 50¢, Together with $3 from selling his boots and oilskins to a sailor forward, his $2 savings, and a fair exchange on fourteen shillings and six pence, give him enough for a ticket to Washington with $5 left over. “At least there is a door to enter, but I dread it.”

20.5 Caught the Ferry at Fort Morgan

April 19,1903

At Fort Morgan Hayes waits for a ferry making the night run between Norfolk and Washington. Earlier, touring Fort Morgan, Hayes passed by the veteran’s home where old soldiers still in Civil War uniform caroused and drank showing exaggerated Southern civility to every passing woman. Then in the room waiting for the ferry, Hayes ran across the bull pushers from the Allegheny also carousing and drinking – though feebly; one day after de-boarding the ship, not one had money enough remaining for a real drunk. “… The rest of the passengers drew aside from these men as if they were unclean. No wonder, for all of them were blatant, loud mouthed, ribald in conversation and appearance.”

With a happy farewell to the bull pushers, Hayes boards a “wonderfully clean and well appointed” steamer, regretting only that the night ride will deny him the opportunity to see Chesapeake Bay on the ride north.

20.6 Fantastic Opportunity in Washington.

April 22, 1903

Landing in Washington, Hayes can find no seaman’s home to stash his “kit” before calling on the relatives. “Washington is not like other cities, it has no manufacturing, no workingman’s quarter, nothing but government offices and the homes of those who work for Uncle Sam.” He had no choice other than carrying his luggage right to the door of the three-story brownstone on Rhode Island Avenue. “I managed to slip my bag of clothes down under the stoop leading to the basement, so had my hands free on ringing the bell.”

Hayes writes four diary entries over the next month during his stay in Washington. In all four he names his older relatives only “uncle” and “aunt”. However, because he does name cousins Lydia and Adam, the astonishing genealogical abilities of my newly discovered cousin Jean, reveals that they were his father’s brother Epaminondis Daniel Moore Perkins and his wife Jennie Sanders Perkins. On answering the bell, Aunt Jenny did not recognize Hayes; “She was civilly polite and wished to know the stranger’s business.” One might add – the scruffy, ill-fed stranger in clean but ragged clothing – but apparently his aunt did not phrase it that way.

“To skip the details, I may say they could have welcomed me no more warmly than if I was their own son.” Immediately sizing up his lack of funds and “everything else in worldly goods,” and with tact enough not to offer charity, cousin Adam immediately found Hayes a job “to earn some money and leave town like a man.” Hayes has his eye on a railway job in West Virginia but, “Uncle says he can get me a place with the government, but I don’t see how he can.”

May 2, 1903

May in Washington, and “all is green now with the coming of spring.” Hayes and Lydia visit the halls of congress listening to, “the blather of the senators and congressmen.” He and Uncle Epam tour the White House, “but I did not see Roosevelt or any of his family.” And alone, Hayes walks the tree-lined streets, through the statues, and even to the top of Washington’s monument.

May 23, 1903

Uncle Epam must have had some powerful connections: “The impossible has happened. My uncle has wangled it some way, and I have a job with the geological survey in Alaska.” A lone geologist sent to that “far-off land” to investigate for coal “and anything else lying loose in that part of the world,” needs an experienced hand, “to cook, sail boats, to look after the camping and a general roustabout.” With returning health, good clothes, and the promise of an exciting new adventure, “the world looks rosy once more.”

June 2, 1903

On meeting his new boss, named G C Martin, Hayes, ever able to size up the bad in any situation, describes him as, “too eager and has a determined look that bodes no good in the end. He has a very large head for a man his size, for he is almost a pigmy.” But beneath all the dour caution, Hayes simply cannot contain his delight. “Is this what I have been looking for all these years? … I am one of the favored ones, it would seem.”