A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883. William Horsfall.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.
A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.

A Brief Account of William Horsfall’s Tour of America. Commencing May 1st and Ending July 24th, 1883.

Troy, New Hampshire, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls, New York, Boston and other locales, 1883. 8vo, half black calf with pebbled red cloth, re-backed and re-cornered. 84 pp. of manuscript, calligraphic title page. Three 7” x 9” letters, folded-in-half, 1 8” x 5” letter, 1 newspaper clipping.

An interesting account of an 1883 American tour by English carpet manufacturer William Horsfall with his wife and niece, chronicling their visits to Connecticut, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls, New York City, New Hampshire and Boston.

William Horsfall was a manager of Naylor’s Carpet Factory in Kidderminster, located in the Birmingham-West Midlands area of England. This journal opens with Horsfall’s departure from Liverpool on the Cunard ship Parthia and his subsequent arrival in New York Harbor—from which he travels by steamboat via Fall River to his initial destination of Troy, New Hampshire, where his wife Ann’s relatives had settled. In the 1890s, Troy Blanket Mills would recruit workers from Naylor’s—likely constituting one result of the present trip. As chronicled here, Horsfall stayed with his brother-in-law Thomas Birtwhisle who was foreman of the Blanket Works. On their tour, Horsfall and company travel for a month by boat, train, horse and carriage through Hartford, Philadelphia, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, New York City, and Boston. He describes the town of Troy and a variety of bucket, blanket, Indian rubber mills and factories, etc. in Troy, Hartford, Boston and elsewhere. Other subjects treated include a Hartford prison, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a Temperance meeting in New York, and the new Brooklyn Bridge. Horsfall comments at-length on his transportation experiences; the Fourth of July; the cultural differences of America and England; the evils of American rum and English beer, and much more. They return to England well-satisfied via the Capolona.

Laid-in items include a newspaper clipping of an 1892 tribute to Horsfall on his retirement from the T. & A. Naylor Co.; a 2 pp. 1890 ms. birthday letter to Horsfall from an admirer, one Mr. Stainer[?], on bifolium; a 1 p. ms. prayer on a bifolium; a 1 p. 1904 solicitor’s letter from Mr. Talbot in Kidderminister to Mrs. Mary Thompson (the niece who accompanied the Horsfalls to America); a 4 pp. 1907 ms. letter to Mrs. Thompson from T. Cane on bifolium; an 8 pp. 1908 ms.  letter to Mrs. Thompson from Thomas Cane on 2 bifolia.


Some representative passages:

Liverpool, England; May 1st, 1883 [Upon departure in Liverpool, Horsfall describes a procession of] “fine English horses loaded heavily with that useless stuff called Beer. We had not been there long before it began to show itself in a young man ... who had taken too freely of that worthless liquor until he was quite stupid and when asked at the station where he was going, he said America and here is my ticket at the same time handing his pass. The man at once left him taking with him the poor fellow’s pass, there he was without money or friends…”

Ship Parthia; May 5th, 1883 [On the Parthia], “I found I had made a mistake in place of having the best berth it turned out to be the worst...”

[As] “people began to think about landing, some of the old Americans giving advice to those who were going out for good, and in all cases, they dwelled very strongly on the Rum, be sure they said to keep away from it and you will be sure to get on. So you see, the same advice there as here and go wherever you will where drink [reigns] predominately, they are sure to be classes among the lower scale of society. I believe they [U.S.] have less sympathy with drunkenness than we have. It appears to be the only advice they could give if they were seeking farming, go out as far west as you can, keep from the Rum and you will do well.”

Boat from Boston to Fall River; May, 1883 [On the five o’clock boat to Fall River,] “You can find every comfort you require as they are carpeted and furnished and a room especially fit up for Ladies and the center of the Boat is fit up for smoking and it is astonishing to see so many men & Boys with Cigars. I thought we had sadly too many who indulged in this bad habit but there is more in America. There is a black man kept for the purpose of sweeping and keeping the place clean.”

Troy, N. H.; May, 1883 [In Troy,] “We visited the Mills & Factories, the largest place being a Horse Blanket Mill where my Wife’s Brother is Foreman, they employ about one hundred hands who are called helps [?] there. Blankets are made out of all the Rubbish they can get together, all Kinds of Rags are bought up either Cotton, Woolen, String or anything else is put through a machine and torn to pieces and when finished they look very well. The next place was a Buckets shop and I must say they have a very ready way of making them, I was surprised at the quantity that can be turned out per day, all is done by machinery, one man cuts the timber into lengths, another man shapes them, the third places them for the turners and the 4th puts on handles & finishes them. These four men can turn out from 150 to 200 per day.”

“I should not like to live in such a place ... you are tied to do business with one of these [few] places for almost everything you require and they are carried out like the Truck System, they do not care for you paying for your Goods as you get them. They prefer you having a Book and paying every month and if they have any doubt that you will not pay they can go to the Works where you are employed and have the amounts they want from you stopped so that when you go for your money, you are surprised to find someone has been there before you.” “If you are a good servant, they will want to lend you money at 6% to buy a house...but I made use of the word servant, they would soon tell you they do not acknowledge any man as master, they call them “Boss” and when the Boss refers to his hands he will say my helps. Another thing they do not do that is [k]nock at any door before entering which of course I do not admire.”

“I may say that the Americans are a very persevering, clever & sharp lot of people and the same time they are full of Boast & dash, they think nothing impossible but I believe our own people to be quite as clever and after a time I really believe surpass them.”

Hartford CT; June, 1883 I[n Hartford], “we went by car to the State Prison, here we had to pay 25 cents each to go through. We had a guide with us to explain as we went along, there were 205 prisoners in all, but only 8 Females who appeared to be very clean & as busy as possible but dared not look from their work, 2 were in for life, one for poisoning her husband & the other for poisoning her two children... [one male prisoner] appeared to be unwell and as we approached him, he was ordered to turn his face to the wall; we were told that most were in through crime committed while under the influence of Rum.”

“A lawyer agreed to take [an assault] case for 5 dollars, they agreed and were allowed a private room. The lawyer wished the man to tell him the Truth; when he had told him & paid his money he was told there was no chance for him only by flight and suggested the windows for his escape ... the man took his advice ... I tell you this to show that money can command almost anything in some parts of America.”

Brooklyn, N.Y.; June 1883 [Crossing the Hudson River,] “we landed at Brooklin & crossed the river to New York, we went to our lodgings very tired, we retired to rest but I cannot say slept for it was almost as bad as having our bed in a Boilermakers shop but our main object was to see the new suspension bridge, the one that spans the river from New York to Brooklin and a finer piece of workmanship I never saw in the shape of a bridge... I will just give you a brief outline of what it is like—the first estimates & plans made by Roebling in 1865 but this gentleman dies July 22nd, 1864, the work began at the Brooklin Tower... and was completed so it could be opened on May 24th 1883, our Queen’s Birthday, but it was feared that the Irish would be rather troublesome...”

Troy N. H.; July 4th “I shall never forget being wakened at just 12 O’clock [midnight], they prepare themselves and get into every place where there is a Bell Kept, whether they get permission or not, there is a Bell at each church & Town Hall and as soon as the clock strikes 12, very Bell is rung as though they were pulled with one cord, the procession starts with Tin Whistles, Tin Cans, or anything they can get hold of. There are cannons places at different places, and one place they selected was close to our door, when it was let off I can hardly tell you what I thought...”

Boston, MA.; July 1883 [From the Bunker Hill Monument] “the largest ropewalk in the world, can be seen, its length is 1350 ft and all the cord used in the United States Navy is made here and beyond is seen the sea wall on which is a Battery of Guns … there are nearly 100 churches, there are over 150 newspapers printed in the city, and contains about 150 Charitable & Literary Societies and 1200 Streets & Avenues.”

“I cannot say but what I like Boston the best of all the places we went to; not but what New York and & Philadelphia are far superior in their buildings and perhaps that is the reason I like Boston the best as it is more like home, and there are some very good business places & very large ones too. We went into a Dry goods store as they call them, we call them drapers... where your money is placed into a round box fastened onto the mouth of a Brass tube & the air sucks it up in about 2 Seconds, it is transferred to that office & the change returned in about a minute.”

Ship Capolana, July 1883 [Returning home on the Capolana,] “all on Board very lively, some having a game of chess, some reading & others singing up to a late hour when the Watchman orders the Ladies down at 9 o’clock.”

CONDITION: Wear at extremities, covers rubbed, contents clean, an appealing volume.

Item #5473

Price: $2,500.00

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