Francis Himes Family Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
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St. Louis Mo.
March 4th, 1857.-
Here I am after a ride of 200 miles on the old “Father of Waters”. I started from Warsaw on Monday at 10 ½ P.M. on the boat “Minnesota Belle” and arrived here at about 12 last night. I am now on board the boat “Omaha” which will plough the “mad Missouri” tomorrow at 4 P.M.- I am ticketed for Glasgow the nearest port to Fayette Howard Co. Mo. where [illegible] brother lives. I felt sorry to leave the Reeds as I was going out of a family and however I may be situated hereafter I’ll sensibly feel the absence of the children travelling on the Mississippi in a way-boat is very tedious and scenery extremely monotoonous. The banks are shaggy with large timber on the low lands and occasonaly a bluff or ledge of rocks releives the eye. There a very few landing places of any importance below Hannibal Mo. you get too near Egypt to see much animation or activity. For Souths(r)on Illinois lies in the penumbra of the
shadow that eclipses the otherwise sunny south. We had quite a large number of passengers from all parts of the country some twenty for Kansas. They were a right eleven set taken all in all. But it is useless to attempt a description of Western Steamboat life. As soon as the tables are cleared at each meal card playing begins and is carried on till 12 at night and by some straglers longer some for money some for amusement and some for pastime. I amused myself looking at the river and working mathematical questions with several others. There was a self made mathematician aboard and a Kansas Engineer. He wanted to know where I learned so much mathematics as I appeared very young only about 18 or 19 the first person yet that has come near my age. He taught me to solve a question which I would have considered insolvable you may give it to Dr. Pfieffer if you see fit – “to find x in the equation x² = 211y²+1”. We discussed various questions political, religious and literary. A man from Georgia eradicated the last root of
sympathy from my heart for slavery if ever I did sympathize with them in any degree. I am so glad Buchannon is about to take his seat and that he was elected his administration from present appearances bids fails to equall Washington in popularity in fact it will only be decried by Southern and Northern secessionists I hope we’ll get the Inaugural before we start tomorrow. Steward the would be Sherrif of Douglass Co. Kansas was shot (seemed him right), but I don’t think there will be any more disturbances of any magnitude and the prevailing opinion is that it will be a Free State although the South has not ceased to hope. I don’t intend carrying a single weapon as I had intended its not necessary to defend myself from men for I would bear a great deal rather than spill blood and when I anticipate any possibility of an attack from Wild beasts I’ll arm. A man on board our boat this morning drew a pistol like a coward and a fool on a little cab man, a police officer however settled him very quick.
Another man had a gold $125 watch stolen poor fellow I pity him, my motto is “hands on your pocket books”. Heaven’s blessing go with the rogue that steals my purse for he’ll not have much else to repay him and I do hope that my stolen Testament will ‘send the arrows of conviction to the rascals heart and make him so penetent that he’ll have no rest untill he forwards it to me. Whoever it was did not, make a big “[illegible]”. When he stole my two worn out shirts, testament, socks [illegible]. This (St. Louis) is the most gloomy, noisy and smoky city on the mundane sphere Pittsburg is daylight aside of it. Streets narrow and irregular, and the river streets so crowded that you can scarcely walk at all worse ten fold than Philad- or N. York, but then the trade has just opened fairly and the boats are lying side by side at levee loading and unloading, and starting in all directions as high water now allows them to reach the remotest heads of navigation. The levee is piled with goods, there is a boat starts today for Kansas but I want to see St. Louis and board costs nothing on board the boat.