12. Hard Days on the McCulloch

April 15, 2011

Though segment 12 starts on a bucolic Washington farm, it goes on to describe some very harsh shipboard conditions. Hayes describes signing on with the US Navy Cutter McCulloch and the abusive treatment that later caused him to desert the ship. However, it is the description of conditions on whaling ships told to him by other sailors that is particularly hard to read.

I’ve just received a package of some other materials written by Hayes. From museum records, I had known that two long manuscripts, one on Alaska another on Africa, existed but this is the first I’ve seen them. Thank you Michael! Tim, you will be very happy to know that also in the package was a list, with dates, of every ship Hayes traveled on.  As far as I know this document is not in any of the museums.  I had no idea it existed.  It contains a good deal of detail not mentioned in the diaries.  I will get to posting it when school and farming aren’t so pressing.

View the First Ten Segments Without Popups This is a preview showing the path Hayes records in the diary up to age 22 without synopses.  Look at it in Google Earth if you can.

View Segments 11-20 Without Popups. Google maps won’t let me put more than 10 segments on on map or I’d post segments 1-20 there.

View the first twenty segments without popups on Google Earth If you click this button it will offer a google earth download.  You will need to have Google Earth Installed.  This is by far the best way to view all his trips to age 25.

View the first twelve segments with popups on Google Earth This will mean a download again.  But it’s worth it.  Because…  when you have it up in google earth you can close the windows, then open them in order to see his progression.

Here and There Synopsis:

12.1 Farmhand South of Colfax

September 7, 1899

Judging from the speed of travel out to Washington from Coloardo, Hayes must have returned by rail. Though the harvest is nearly done, he finds work with a “gruff sort of farmer” in the same region he had worked the previous summer. Food is plentiful: apples, plums, cherries, and “garden truck” grow well in these rich volcanic soils.

The change from the wild-west boomtowns in Colorado could not be more stark. Here in rural Washington, farm wives define social castes as rigid as any in the fine cities. A farmhand sleeps in the stable and may usually eat at table with the farm family but no more. Heaven forbid a farm girl marry beneath her station – that is to say, to anyone with less money than her father.

September 20, 1899

The farm work dries up so Hayes drifts north to Colfax where he encounters many old workmates from the previous summer. He remarks that the local socialites disdain itinerant workers like him as “hobos and tramps”; he also says that without him and the rest of the riffraff drifting through every season the work could not be done.

12.2 Other Lands Down the Horizon Line

September 25, 1899

Driftng North to Oakesdale Hayes stumbles on a novelty just outside the town: a good job with short hours, good pay, and decent food, working for an educated man. He and the nephew of this “New England Yankee” stack grain to be harvested later. “It is a good place; one of the best I have ever had in the harvest fields.”

On a day off in town he meets Ed Oakes with whom he’d worked in Parkersburg Oregon the previous year. Ed is “badly gone” on Ethel, Hayes’ cousin, “who is now a beautiful girl of seventeen.” The two will marry even though Hayes thinks Ethel too good for Ed, “but one has to marry someone.”

October 4, 1899

Marriage? A tidy little farm in Washington? For Hayes Perkins? He seems to be turning over the option. The farm life is idyllic, all a man could want – but no – by now “wondering has me in its grip and means more than anything else this world holds for me.” Fully informed about the brutal life of a sailor, Hayes still longs for the sea. Not for the sea itself, but for the sea as an avenue to “other lands down the horizon line that need exploring, and to these I must go.” The choice is made; Hayes Perkins will wander – as a sailor because he has little money, and unmarried because… well, because he’s a wanderer.

12.3 A Man in Uniform

October 14, 1899

No remark about how Hayes got from Oakesdale to Portland, but the city on the Columbia seems like a familiar town by now; he takes right back up at Sullivan’s boarding house. When Jack Grant, who placed Hayes on the Austrasia, recognizes him, Hayes chastises Grant for lying about the advance money last time around. “We’ve got to live kid.” Hayes describes Grant as the worst man in Portland who “acts as pimp” for his wife’s high-class bordello under the protection of police and politicians when the business of cheating sailors falls slack. Nevertheless, it is through Jack Grant that Hayes must find work on a ship.

October 20, 1899

Despite Grant’s protestations, “You’re a damned fool kid!” Hayes signs on with a warship: the McCulloch, a “revenue cutter” recently returned from Manila. Grant knows that eighteen men have jumped ship since the McCulloch drew into port. To hear Grant, the hardboiled swindler, describing harsh conditions, poor food, and miserable pay is somber warning indeed. Right now, Hayes is “almost sorry he took her on.”

But Portland offers plenty to distract a newly uniformed sailor from these dark portents: country people clog the streets of the city where a fair is on and a uniform opens all doors. The bars won’t take money from a hand on the McCulloch, the first of Dewey’s fleet to return from the Philippines.  Even respectable women seek out the sailors and “show favors to them beyond the rules of convention.” It is a Sailor’s paradise.

USS McCulloch circa 1900

Admiral George Dewey

Boarding the ship though ends the idyll. Hayes immediately sees the darker side of discipline on a navy ship: every shackle in the brig of the McCulloch clamps to a wall some poor drunken sailor fed on only bread and water. As Jack Grant had warned Hayes, working the MuCulloch will be, “None of your easy going lime juice times while you’re there!”

12.4 Sizing up the Officers

October 27, 1899

The leg irons hang empty in the brig now that the sailors have all sobered up. In a blinding rain at Astoria some flapper girls attempt to vamp the sailors. No takers; the men are broke and exhausted from Portland and must work to prepare the ship for sea.

Hayes sizes up the officers as mostly bullies. The boatswain, “a Bluenose Yank,” yells constantly, even when immediately beside his object. “Worst among the officers is one At Lee … one of the five on board who was in the scrap at Manila,” who struts around as “a first-class fighting man.” Only the genial Norwegian master-at-arms, who also fought in Manila, is decent from among the officers.

12.5 The Worst Feature of This Boat

November 3, 1899

Rough seas down the coast bring the customary seasickness for Hayes. But eventually the McCulloch finds fair anchorage at Sausalito where the men can ferry to San Francisco every third day. “But it has been rotten.” The screaming, drunkards who command the ship have demoted the kindly Norwegian master-at-arms to the lowly post of coal passer. Common sailors fear to even raise their eyes to these bullying officers.

November 10, 1899

“The worst feature of this boat is the officers expropriate much of our food allowance and sell it to get money to dissipate on shore.” Sailors from all over the world man the USS McCulloch: German, Dutch, French, Italian, Greek, Canadian, Australian, Norwegian, even Japanese. Most know all there is to know about a ship but the abusive officers treat all as green “landsmen.” All hands will desert the ship if things don’t change. Hayes has been on board a month and is of the same mind.

12.6 Helping as Far North as Coos Bay

November 24, 1899

When rough weather rises, the McCulloch sails out to aid ships in danger. In November, the ship ventures as far north as Coos Bay on the Oregon coast looking for a schooner that has been 52 days at sea out of the Coquille River. They locate her 100 miles off the coast bereft of provisions with the crew eating seagulls to survive.

Behind At Lee, an officer named Gould, a protégé of the new commander Thompson, ranks as second worst officer on board. Some examples of his perfidies: The cosmopolitan crew divides evenly over the Boer War – half for the Boers, half for the British. Sometimes it comes to fisticuffs, sometimes just a lively row. During one “friendly quarrel,” Gould threw a heavy club into the crowd of men without ordering them to disperse. Worse yet, Gould stole seventy pounds of sugar from the crew’s provisions and now the men have to pitch in from their salaries to get enough to eat. Gould and the other officers use money stolen from the crew to bring prostitutes right on board the ship setting up house with the girls in the officer’s quarters aft. “This we can see through the fiddley hatch nightly.”

12.7 The Horror of Whaling Ships

December 3, 1899

The McCulloch has no shortage officers to detest. When one Thurber curses Hayes without cause, “I came back at him.” In reply, Thurber blasts Hayes with a firehose, a retort Hayes considers light punishment; officers routinely strike sailors who have no recourse to any form of redress.

The savagery on the McCulloch is, however, nothing compared to conditions Hayes describes on the whaling ships the McCulloch protects at sea. The eighty or so ships owned by the Pacific Whaling Company based in San Francisco are away from port “from nine months to four years.” Experienced sailors avoid the whaling ships but are sometimes kidnapped following “beer well spiked with knockout drops (chloral)”.

Conditions on these whalers are barbaric beyond contemporary imagination: “All these men … are roundly abused. Hanged up by the thumbs for hours, constantly flogged with a rope’s end or with fists or else kicked forward and aft with heavy ship’s boots. They may be marooned on an ice cake, or else chained down in the hold of the ship for months or even years on end.” At the end of a long brutal voyage, sailors often end up in debt to the ship for food, clothing, and supplies purchased against their share of the catch. However, by law every sailor is required payment of at least one dollar at journey’s end.

A particularly vivid example of the cruelty on these whaling ships scandalizes all of San Francisco just now. A year ago, Tommy Hart, a “pale faced boy” came from Yreka to see San Francisco where agents kidnapped him for a whaler headed for the Bering Sea. Tommy escaped at St. Michaels but was caught and sold back to the ship for $2 by some beachcombers. Back on ship, an officer repeatedly kicked Tommy from one end of the deck to the other and gave him three weeks hard labor: twenty hours on deck, four hours below, with nothing but bread and water to eat. He survived only because the captain’s wife snuck him extra bits of food.

December 9, 1899

Tommy’s story so inflames the indignation of San Franciscans that legal authorities launch an investigation – but it comes to nothing – the Pacific Whaling Company “shanghaied” all the complaining witnesses and sent them in deep water ships around the Horn to Europe. With no one to complain, no investigation can proceed. However, in what Hayes sees as divine retribution, the ship’s captain dies in agony from a ruptured bowel at the Palace Hotel.

12.8 Talk of Desertion

December 21, 1899

As a cheerless Christmas approaches, Hayes and all the men talk of deserting the ship. Hayes claims that American ship’s officers count on their sailors jumping ship because the men are paid only at the end of a tour. The money saved on deserters goes to pay the girls from the Barbary Coast gracing the officer’s quarters.

Amidst all of this misery on the McCulloch, a little levity: Two Italian fishermen in a “new fangled gasoline boat,” drift by the larger ship dead in the water “as is the usual thing in such craft.” How does a fisherman find a gas leak? With a candle of course. Both men survived the explosion and a nearby French bark saved the hull of their craft as well.

One more gruesome whaling story, this time from an American ship the Bowhead: Up near the Bering sea the Bowhead was pinched between two ice floes off Point Barrow. With plenty of time to lower the boats and row out some leads in the ice, the captain loaded all boats with supplies and “calmly rowed away, leaving fourteen men behind.” When the ice separated a bit, the crushed ship sank leaving the fourteen sailors stranded on a free-floating chunk of ice. Miraculously, the steamship Thrasher rescued the men, but not before “every man had lost fingers, ears, feet, or some part of his body.” One young eighteen-year-old who had lost both feet nearly to the knee particularly moves Hayes. None of the men have any legal case against the ship or its captain.

12.9 Desertion

December 26, 1899

Hayes and a mate named Lewis enjoy a Christmas feast – even if it is only the scraps left from the officer’s dinner. Lewis swears he will desert and revenge himself on Gould and the rest of the ship’s officers. Just last night, David Stockton, a seventeen-year-old boy, escaped the ship by jumping from the whaleboat and out-swimming the coxswain. Hayes plans his own desertion by taking his things off the ship – wearing several suits of clothes on every shore leave, then stashing them with a friend dockside so “I’ll have little in her when time comes to get clear.”

January 2, 1900

On the morning after “a deal of whistling” in the night celebrating the new century, the crewmen of the McCulloch completely forget the holiday because Lewis comes on board announcing major victories for the Boers in South Africa. This news touches off a wild celebration by the Dutch sailors – which provokes the Brits – and then, “we had a grand scrap until someone thought of the New year.”

But that wasn’t Lewis’ revenge. On the second day of the new century, Lewis went over the side into a small launch but not before tossing all Gould’s possessions, even family pictures, out through a port into the bay. “He also swiped three automatics from the armory, At Lee’s belt he had worn at the Battle of Manila, and anything that looked good to him.” He owed money to everyone on the ship (repaying only the $10 borrowed from Hayes), nevertheless, “The crew are openly delighted at this turn of affairs.”

January 5, 1900

Hayes narrowly passes the keen eye of Captain At Lee for shore liberty and it’s the last the McCulloch will ever see of him. By now the desertions from The McCulloch and two other cutters based at San Francisco, the Bear and the Rush, leave all three anchored without crew enough to sail. Hayes knows he is wrong to desert, but given the conditions aboard ship, one can well understand his decision.

8. To Sea

March 19, 2011

The map below shows the path of the previous chapter in orange, chapter 8 in red with popups, and the path of chapter 9 in pink.

View the First Ten Segments Without Popups This is a preview showing the path Hayes records in the diary up to age 22 without synopses.  Look at it in Google Earth if you can.

View the first twenty segments without popups on Google Earth If you click this button it will offer a google earth download.  You will need to have Google Earth Installed.  This is by far the best way to view all his trips to age 25.

View the first eight segments with popups on Google Earth This will mean a download again.  But it’s worth it.  Because…  when you have it up in google earth you can close the windows, then open them in order to see his progression.

Requested photo places (see About Photo Requests):

–  Portland OR
–  Astoria OR

Previous photo requests

Here and There Synopsis:

8.1 Portland

Oct. 9, 1898

When not chasing about Portland looking for a ship, Hayes records his familiar critique of the bars – where men are welcome to carouse bawdy until the money runs out – and of the friendly prostitutes whose lives and beauty are so short. He tells one particularly disturbing story of a young woman sitting on the sidewalk with a bad gash on her abdomen – cut by her own mother when their pimp transferred his affections to the more comely daughter.

Oct. 13, 1898

Hayes is hailed on the street by “a fine looking chap” who offers him a ship with the assurance that when the seas get rough around the Horn that’s when the crew all goes below for a smoke. He signs on knowing this is the only way he’ll ever get to Africa and takes up temporary residence at the “Home for Sailors and Farmers” until the ship sails.

Four Masted Barque circa 1892

8.2 Outfitted at Astoria

Oct 17, 1899

The ship’s crew is about half seamen and half green hands. The former are paid $25 per month the latter $20. All are assessed two months pay before the voyage begins for:

Two cheap cotton suits of underwear
Two suits of dungarees,
A cheap suit of duck for oil skins,
A 35 cent blanket,
A 10 cent straw tick,
Some tobacco (which Hayes doesn’t use), and
A couple pairs of socks.

Tom, an Australian; Riley, a Welshman; and Arthur McCoy, a New Zealander, are among the able seamen from whom Hayes can learn. The green hands are picked mainly for the brawn they’ll need handling the sails in the rough seas off Cape Horn. One is Dublin whose real name is Paddy O’connor – the biggest man in the ship and a bully of whom Hayes is immediately wary.

Some of the men are scoundrels. Hayes knows enough to remain silent when Liverpool, an experienced Welsh seaman, steals one of the two pairs of underwear just issued Hayes. The long voyage will offer some opportunity for a reply in kind.

Modern Tall Masted Schooner.
Photo by David Such

8.3  300 Miles Due West of the Mouth of the Columbia
October 24, 1898

Far out at sea. Hayes reports that he is seasick – “of course.”

The food is poor: “Lob scouse,” a glue-like mess made of potatoes and scraps of meat; “burgoo,” which is a pasty mess of unseasoned corn meal; weak coffee; and either soggy bread or pan tiles that threaten to break the teeth.

Hayes’ mates on the second watch are Fagan, a Frisco Irish boy, and Baker, a New York kid. All learn to jump without looking to another when a seamen calls for a hand to leap aloft.

8.4 Sailing South; Weather Getting Warmer

October 30, 1898

The men are now changing the heavy weather sails for lighter fair weather canvas. Handling the heavy sails is hard, dangerous work, but at least Hayes does not suffer dizziness as do some of the other boys and he likes being aloft.

At noon each day the men receive a pannikin of “pound-and-pint in regular lime juice,” to keep scurvy away and “to keep the passions in check.” Hayes reports that the poor food was enough for the latter.

8.5 Toward the End of the Trades

November 7, 1898

On leaving Portland, the bully Dublin had seen Hayes tuck some money into his waist belt. When he confronts Dublin about an attempted theft, Dublin threatens a little nudge one night when both are high up in the rigging. Now Hayes always takes the side closest to the mast on any spar and swears he’ll drag the big Irishman off with him should it come to a fight.

As the trade winds falter, the men are constantly aloft chasing “catspaws of wind.” On these sailing ships any man like Hayes who has never crossed the equator anticipates a rough initiation from the experienced sailors when Neptune comes on board. All are looking forward to a jolly time.

8.6 Neptune’s Visit at the Equator

November 20, 1898

When the initiates are locked in the boatswain’s locker to await Neptune, Dublin elects to fight for it. The seven or eight experienced sailors who finally subdue the big man deliver him an extra coating of tar from head to toe for their trouble.

At Hayes’ turn, Tom, a “genial negro,” makes a big flourish but pastes Hayes with only a little tar. His shaving is with a two-foot wooden razor and some pills made of chicken excrement and soap follow. Hayes mouths the pills before spitting them over the rail but Fagan isn’t quite so clever and swallows the lot.

After Dublin is subdued a second time, things settle down and Fagan begins wiping off his tarring on some oakum swabs. To Hayes, that silken scarf Liverpool (the underwear thief back in Portland) purchased in Shanghai seems better for wiping tar. Clean hands return the newly decorated scarf to its place in the forecastle.

8.7 Getting South Rapidly

November 27, 1898

When Liverpool finds his scarf, a volcano breaks loose. He has the gift of tongues acquired wandering the world in deepwater ships with “all the cuss words of every tongue jumbled together.” Liverpool and Dublin have a longstanding feud, so of course Dublin is blamed.

Their row of accusations and denials escalates until the skipper finally calls all hands on deck to watch Dublin and Liverpool fight it out. At dogwatch, with the jeering men circling the brawl, the giant Irishman thrashes his more compact Welsh opponent in a “rare scrap.”

Later, Hayes tallies Liverpool’s beating as just retribution for the underwear stolen in Portland.

British ships are notorious for both the poor quality and quantity of food. The men catch fish and seabirds and steal wheat from the cargo which, mixed with seawater, makes a kind of bread “hard as iron.”

8.8 Headed away for the Horn

December 3, 1898

With his experience of more than a month at sea, Hayes describes their ship, the Austrasia, as a “splendid sailer” with a “clean bottom.”

Stiff gales blow around the horn requiring bad weather sails. To ease the hard work hauling heavy canvas aloft, the men gather on the foredeck on Sundays to sing. Baker has been in the music halls in New York and knows all the latest show tunes. Hayes shares songs learned in the timber and mining camps now so far to the north.

Liverpool and Dublin are now best of friends, Liverpool sad only because “his judy” will not receive her silken scarf.

Technical information on the Austrasia linked by Tim Bell

8.9 The Roaring Forties

December 14, 1898

Throughout his life and all his travels Hayes remains conflicted about religion and morality. On the one hand, he is convinced, “All men are evil, the worst liars those who profess highest.” Still though, he remains haunted by his observation that all the men have at least some quiet faith in God. For now, the best he can muster is, “As for me, I don’t know what to think.”

On the side of practical morality, the men would starve if they weren’t stealing wheat from the cargo. The skipper will not allow them a scrap more than the regulated ration. Stealing wheat weighs heavily Hayes’ conscience and the skipper apportions justly according to British law of the sea – but the men are starving. In the push, Hayes always trusts his own inner voice. Ultimately he knows who to trust, but he can never quite let go his wish for a better world.

3. Portland to San Francisco

February 12, 2011

View This Segment on Google Maps The numbered titles below also link to this same map.

View All Segments Published to Date on Google Maps As the diary progresses, the entire journey becomes increasingly amazing.

View the First segment on Google maps You can view the numbered segments from first to most recent in the archive at right.

View the First Ten Segments Without Popups This is a preview showing the path Hayes records in the diary up to age 22 without synopses.  Look at it in Google Earth if you can.

Requested photo places (see About Photo Requests):

– Myrtle point OR
– Eugene OR
– Portland OR, the zoo
– Astoria OR
– Cape Arago OR
– San Francisco CA, China town
Previous photo requests

Here and There diary Synopsis:

3.1 Bandon, Coquille, Myrtle Point

September 3, 1897

Knowing that he is about to begin wandering the world in earnest, Hayes bids fond farewell to the Davidsons and his cousin Ethel in Bandon. Elijah Davidson is “a typical western prospector and miner,” a close pal to Hayes who he credits with discovering Oregon Caves near the California border.

Parting the farm of Uncle Jim is not so cordial. Hayes and cousin Lewis had been instructing one of the mares in bucking, “and this gave [Uncle Jim] great cause for wrath.” Still, Aunt Cretia cried to see Hayes set off on the river steamer bound who knows where.

At that time, the end of the line for the steamer was Coquille. Hayes walked on to Myrtle Point, sleeping in a barn and milking a cow for a “small pick-me-up.”

3.2 Natural vs. Human World

September 5, 1897

The road from Myrtle Point to Camas Valley winds 33 miles through the southern Cascade Mountains.  Hayes walked that far before catching a stage the rest of the way into Roseburg.

The ripe grain, luscious fruit, berries, golden leaves, fat cattle and sturdy sheep momentarily intoxicate the young traveler:  “It is a beautiful world, full of interest and zest for life…”  but this sentence ends, “… but one dares place confidence in none.”  Only by duping the other man first does one succeed in a world where all others are corrupt.

3.3 Riding the Rails to Eugene

September 6, 1897

Hayes has money to pay train fare, “but why waste good money on a railroad that cheats the public openly?”  When a rail yard bull accosts him, the lie comes readily:  Hayes claims he’s a University student lost his way.  The “whiskered chap” bought the story failing to note Hayes’ hands blackened from hanging onto the rods.

The natural world continues to delight him:  “There are few fairer scenes than Western Oregon in autumn.”

3.4 Longing for the Sea at Portland

September 8, 1897

Cities do not delight him:  “Portland is a seedy place.”  But a fair is on where he marvels at the produce of Oregon and Portland has a zoo with “deer, elk, cougars, bears, coyotes, and some smaller animals,” that fascinate him for many hours.

Besides the zoo, he hangs around the wharves noting the “peculiar garb of the men,” listening to their “strange oaths,” and to the “none too gentle orders from the officers” Portland is an important stop in a worldwide sea trading network connecting Australia, China and  Japan to North and South America and then to Europe around Cape Horn.  Hayes says, “I long to go with them, but it is not the time.”

One can understand this hesitation from a nineteen-year-old boy.  He cannot fail the obvious assessment:  “to say the least, these men are a degraded lot.”  Their scant pay for long months at sea buys perhaps a week’s riot in the “saloons, dance halls, and variety theatres,” then it’s back to cold lonely months at sea looking forward to another dance hall in some strange faraway town.  The life does not attract him, but how else is a man without money to see the wide world?

3.5  Down the Columbia to Astoria

September 12, 1897

Hayes turns down a job in a Portland sawmill working 10 hours a day for $1.25 and pays $2.50 “steerage passage” to San Francisco instead.  “Steerage” refers to the control lines of the ship but it might as well be the word for cattle.  Hayes says, “Our quarters are execrable.”

But the country along the banks of the Columbia River separating Oregon and Washington is beautiful:  green hills, tall trees, salmon fisheries, lumber camps, canneries, and lush pastures.

September 14,1897

In the drizzle at Astoria, the ship takes on a few more passengers.  The residents are mostly hardy Swedes and Finns, but also Chinese who wear queues and “conventional Oriental garb.”

3.6 Off Cape Arago

September 15, 1897

The seas are not rough and most passengers recover from the initial seasickness rapidly, nevertheless the steerage decks are nearly unbearable with “odors and vermin.”  On deck for the fresher air, Hayes spots Cape Arago near where he lived at Bandon as a younger boy.  “Somehow it made me a little homesick.”  But a clear wind is rising, and he and a buddy Marshall “look forward with interest to the big town.”

3.7 “A city is an awful place”

September 18, 1897

Hayes and Marshal enjoy touring the city: animals and pretty flowers in the park, Chinatown, and the waterfront – except the Barbary Coast where “being inexperienced country boys we might lose what little change we have.”

Gigantic horses drawing drays and trucks know how to step carefully over streets paved with large treacherous stones.  Their drivers are more humane than teamsters with oxen but no less profane.  A man with pride can find work but the streets are “filled with men begging,” and lined with more saloons than shops, every dive packed full with drunken men.

“For one who has always lived in the country a city is an awful place.”  Marshal and Hayes want agricultural work in the clean air of the county away from this foreign place.  For 25¢ they can ride east sitting up to Stockton in the rich Central Valley.

Out Into The World

January 30, 2011

View The Path on Google Maps Clicking any of the numbered titles below will take you to the same place.

Requested photo places (see Photo Requests):

– Hico, Texas

Here and There diary Synopsis:

1.1  Coquille River Where Lampa Creek Meets the Main Stream.

February 10, 1878

Hayes Perkins  (1878 –1964) traveled the world for more than forty years, working to pay his way, rarely staying more than a few months in any one place, and all the while keeping a diary titled Here and There that ran to nearly two thousand pages.  The full diary has never been published.

Though my grandfather John Donaldson was one generation and twenty-one years younger than Hayes, the two were close cousins.  Just before his death, Hayes called John Donaldson south from Bandon, Oregon to Pacific Grove, California to give him two copies of the diaries, one for John and one for John’s sister Mary Donaldson.  A copy of the diaries came to me from Ruth Engelbart, John Donaldson’s daughter.

Ever since High School in the 1970’s I’ve wanted to trace “Uncle” Hayes’ wanderings on a globe.  Forty years later the technology now makes that task relatively easy.  Clicking a place mark will give a date and synopsis of his diary entry for that place.

1.2  Perkins Ancestry


Dated entries begin when Hayes is nineteen, but he supplied a general introduction to his earliest years.

Hayes’ ancestors came to Virginia and North Carolina with the earliest Europeans fleeing religious persecution.  The family of his French-Irish mother Malinda Frances Hayes suffered particularly harsh treatment from the Catholic Church.  With conscious irony but not exaggeration, Hayes describes his Scotch-English father, William Morrison Perkins, as “of the Spanish Inquisition type” – only Methodist.  William Morrison never spared the rod to raise proper Christian children.

Hayes was born where Lampa creek meets the Coquille River in Oregon on February 10, 1878, the third of nine children and the only boy to survive to maturity.  Timber and rich agricultural lands were Oregon’s primary wealth, but gold was discovered there too.  One summer “two men washed up $80,000 at Whiskey Run by shoveling sand over rough boards.”  Large native populations still lived in these Northwestern forests, but smallpox, tuberculosis, forced displacement, and liquor had already devastated their communities.

Rude schools sprung up where populations permitted.  No teacher had more than the equivalent of a High School education and the term was four summer months yearly.  Neither William nor Malinda Perkins had more than grade school education but both had taught school and stayed informed, even purchasing “encyclopedias of general knowledge” from traveling sellers and also books of the African adventurers, “Stanley, Livingstone, Baker, Speke, and others.”  These books and hair-raising stories told by travelers staying at their home on a well traveled trail by the Coquille river, turned Hayes wild to get to Africa and “assist in the game.”

1.3  Frontier Boyhood


This was a wild, unsettled moment in Oregon with no real time for childhood.  By the time a boy was ten, the family depended on him as a breadwinner.  Hayes managed the yearly four-month school sessions, however, marks for deportment published in the Coquille newspaper reveal the quality of his scholarship: 56 out of a possible 100.  Clearly some Improvement had to be made.  So he and some of the boys with worse marks broke into the schoolhouse and changed all the records.  He says they escaped beatings at home but after the stern instructor finished, “some of us ate our meals standing for a week.”

Hayes also recalls that when he was four-years-old he saw a team of oxen abused with an iron goad and calk boots.  His revulsion at this savage mistreatment instilled an affinity for animals that never left him.

1.4  Back to the South


When Hayes was 12, his father “determined to return to his native South.”  Hayes thrilled at the long journey east, saw his first railway, rode a steam ship, visited a real city, and marveled at the barren country of Arizona and New Mexico so different from the “unbroken forest” he had known all his life.

1.5  A Joyous Trip East


William Perkins sought a more Godly place to raise his family in a religious environment with scriptural training.  Hayes remarks, “Of this I knew nothing, but the spirit of adventure that actuated me in every waking moment encouraged me to go.”  Every mile of the trip was a joy for him.

1.6  Alabama:  A Backward Country


Before eventually settling in Texas, William Perkins tours the family through the deep South where they stay the summer with the parents of Hayes’ mother,  Malinda Perkins.  (Hayes does not name his grandparents but thanks to the research of Jean Putman, they are known to be Henry T. Hayes and Mariah Whitten of Lauderdale County, Alabama.)  Hayes “cared little for the swamps of the Mississippi or the worn out hills and red lands of Alabama.” He marvels at barefoot adults and “Negroes who had been slaves.”  To him, this was a backward country.  So father’s decision to move the family to Texas and settle “amid ideal conditions,” pleased Hayes, at least initially.


1.7  Rural Texas


At Hico Texas in 1890, deep resentments remained from the Civil War.  As a boy newly arrived from a “Northern state”, Hayes fought frequent scraps.  He says it wasn’t so bad until two or three boys ganged up on him at once.

After the crops were gathered in August, “camp meetings” provided the only entertainment in this deeply religious countryside.  One could choose Methodists or Presbyterians who “sprinkled their converts,” or Baptists and Christians, “Who immersed the novitiates.”  Hayes’ father William Perkins was a sprinkler:  “a Methodist of the strictest sort.”

Even as the boys continued fighting the battle of North and South, one here and one there converted to the faith of his parents until Hayes alone remained without salvation.  He says the floggings from his father for this refusal to convert troubled him less than the vivid preaching of the “terrors of Hell Fire” promised to sinners like him.  But, despite intense pressure from the entire community, Hayes “turned from the whole proceeding with something like disgust.”

1.8  Two Hard Years in Hico


The father and son battle over religion escalated to such frequent beatings, that, at age thirteen, Hayes essentially took to living on the streets, sleeping in boxcars and barns in the warm months.  In the winter, as temperatures dip to zero, he buries himself in a neighbor’s slightly fermenting cotton seed bin to catch a little warmth.  Writing this diary entry as a grown man near the end of his life, Hayes says these days decided his life-long bachelorhood.  “I am wholly thankful … that there is no child coming up to blame me for bringing him into this world.”

Despite all the hardship, Hayes kept up with school until the age of fourteen.  When not in school, he got a job picking cotton.  However, at payday, his father William stopped round the farm and collected Hayes’ $18 salary.   “…dad’s dictum was that I was his property and what I had was his.”

His next job paid a dollar a day, working ten hours a day in a brickyard.  When William arrived at payday to collect Hayes’ money, Jack Woods, the brickyard owner with a saloon on the side, sent William packing and gave Hayes his hard earned wages.  Hayes gave the money to his sister and formed a lifelong tenderness for saloon men.

Hayes takes to running with Bill Evans, another waif of the streets driven from the house by his cruel stepfather.  With Bill’s 22 rifle, they can eat birds and squirrels or sometimes a fish from the creek.  But then they escalate to stealing:  apples from the grocer, butter, cheese, bread, a nest of eggs at a farm, chickens, and even cartridges for the 22 rifle.  “At least we were free from church, and we stuck to school as much as was possible.”

1.9  Cast Out Into the World

December 31, 1892

On New Year’s Eve, with freezing rain howling across the Texas plains, Hayes sneaks home to mother and sisters who slip him sandwiches where he’s hidden behind the woodstove.  A “loaded whip” like William Perkins used has a bit of lead wrapped into its tip.  William enters from tending the horses, spies Hayes,  “Aha my young man! I have you now,” and lays into him with the whip.  Raw and bleeding, Hayes escapes the flogging only because his father turns the whip on Hayes’ mother Matilda who tries to intercede.

Hayes spent his only money, ten cents, for bologna and bread while listening to the New Year’s bells ringing through the blizzard.  (The older Hayes, filling in these early years of the diary, says he hates to hear New Year’s bells to this day.)  He shivered around town all night rescued in the grey dawn by a “bright, well dressed mulatto” woman looking for a boy to clean up after the New Year’s dance at the town’s leading hotel.

His diligent work cleaning up led to a job paid $8 a month for twelve to fifteen hours a day working all sorts of jobs around the hotel.  When this soured after ten months, he caught on with a very kindly woman at another hotel.  Unfortunately, the kind proprietor believed William Perkins who begged for the return of his only son for proper education.  On the fourth day “home” (Hayes’ quotations) William informed Matilda that Hayes was “due a beating.”  Hayes bid his mother and sisters farewell and biting back tears of rage left the family never to return.

December 1893

Hayes began is life on the road at fifteen-years of age.  A young friend advised him:  “If I was you, I would pay my way as far as I could and then trust God for the rest.”  He wanted to reach San Francisco but all he could afford was half-fare to Sacramento.