The Journal of William Cooper, Jr.; December, 1848 to March, 1849


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The Journal of William Cooper, Jr.; December, 1848 to March, 1849

Note: This Journal was written by the second son of P.E.I.'s Capt. William Cooper, William Jr. The subject is his journey from London, England to New Orleans, USA on board the "UXINE", Capt. Livingston. Transcribed by Edward A. Cooper, March, 2002, Aztec, New Mexico

Monday, 18 Dec., 1848 (City Canal, London - EAC):
Went on board the Uxine bound to New Orleans to work my passage. Was employed lifting (?) sails on board and the ship ready for sea.

Tuesday, 19 Dec., 1848:
Hauled out of dock and was towed down to Graves End where we brought up and remained for the evening.

Wednesday, 20th, 1848:
Remained all day at Graves End for a carpenter. The ships carpenter not being permitted to go in the vessel on account of some deficit in his register ticket.

Thursday, 21st, 1848:
Got underway and was towed part of the way down the river (Thames - EAC) against a strong headwind. At 5 P.M. brought up for the night.

Friday, 22nd Dec, 1848:
Got underway and was towed down nearly to the Nose Light against a strong headwind. Brought up for the night, not being able to make head against the wind.

Saturday, 23rd Dec, 1848:
At 2 P.M. got underway and worked down to the Nose Lightship. At 5 P.M. brought up for the night.

Sunday, 24th Dec, 1848:
At 3 P.M. got underway and worked down against a heavy headwind about 5-6 miles. Brought up at 5 P.M.

Monday, 25th Dec, 1848:
At 9 A.M. got underway, the wind being favorable. At 11 the wind comes ahead next on until 4 P.M. This is the seventh day I have been on board, and have had nothing but salt meat. This being Christmas Day, expected to have something better, but was disappointed.

Tuesday, 26th Dec, 1848:
At 9 A.M. got underweigh (sic), wind ahead, weather very cold. At 4 P.M. brought up in Margate Locks.

Wednesday, 27th Dec, 1848:
At 4 A.M. got underweigh (sic). A very cold weather. I was so unwell with a bad cold, had to turn in after getting underweigh (sic). At 2 P.M. brought up in the Downs. Pilot went on shore.

Thursday, 28th Dec, 1848:
Fair wind from N.E. blowing hard. 12 got underweigh (sic) and proceeded to sea. At 3 P.M. off Dungeness boater made eventually ashore (?). Sent a letter to Mr. Tombleson by him.

BLANK (sick ?)

Sunday, 14th Jan, 1849:
Weather fine and warm - going in my shirt sleeves. Fine steady breeze from the eastward. All sail set. Studding sails (?) low and aloft, going 94.10 knots (24 hours - EAC) in latitude 25 N. by observation today. Getting pretty well acquainted with the crew, both officers and men, and find myself more happy and healthy than formerly. Put my watch and nine sovereigns in the Captains care until we get to New Orleans.

Monday, 15th Jan, 1849:
Warm weather and fine breeze from the eastward, going 10 knots. Have been employed today, as I have been for the last fortnight at carpenters work. Beautiful starlight night puts me in mind of our summer sky. Some of the planets appear more bright and majestic than I ever saw them. Have seen neither fish nor birds for some days past.

Tuesday, 16th Jan, 1849:
Breeze increasing, close, sultry weather. Feel a great degree of lassitude. Everything I have to do is disinteresting to me. At 6 P.M. took in all small sail and double reefed foretopsail. Weather looks stormy. Caught a flying fish this evening. The scales and color is something like a herring but the fish is mostly square and about Ĺ the size of a herring. The flying fins are large and reaches back as far as the tail fin the whole length of the fish.

Wednesday, 17th Jan, 1849:
Squally with heavy showers. Taking in and setting sail all day. Last puff, topsail and foretopsail, being old sails, they went in a squall. I was employed as usual at carpenter work.

Thursday, 18th Jan., 1849:
Weather very warm and showers of rain. People all kept busy doing very little. I was employed as usual. Got the (deck ?) put in my little brig.

Friday, 19th Jan., 1849:
Squally with heavy showers of rain. People setting and taking in sails continuously. Was employed pretty much as I pleased. Mated groins (?) shaft and leaded it. We had a shark in sight today. We have no less than 5 new ships underway at present. The Captain being the promoter of this enterprising spirit, having one on the stocks himself. (Capt. Livingston, or Capt. Cooper? EAC) 8 P.M. night clears up. I keep the first watch and sleep the rest of the night if I please, indicating that I find myself much more at home than formerly.

Saturday, 20th Jan., 1849:
Showers and sunshine, calm and squally. All hands in good humor today. I suppose with the prospect of (Duff, Dufy?) tomorrow, and Boullie soup today. Getting quite tired of salt meat and hard bread. For my own part, find myself rather lazy today, the weather being warm and favorable to the disease (lazy?).

Sunday, 21st of Jan., 1849:
Alternate showers and sunshine light winds and variable. Spent most of the day reading Travels in Spain. The rest of the day was spent attending to duty and speculating how I shall proceed on my arrival at New Orleans. Expect to stay there a few days, and then to proceed up to Cincinate (sic) and from there to upper Canada.

Monday, 22nd Jan, 1849:
Pleasant weather, but headwinds. Caught a fine dolphin today and a fish last night that we are uncertain about itsí name. I could perceive very little of the change in colour that is reported of the Dolphin while it was dying. Itsí colour remains a beautiful yellow green with a few red spots on itsí side. All hands were kept busy today, but there was little work done. What I have seen of the employment of people on board lately is quit sufficient to convince me that to get any work done, people must be encouraged either by appealing to their ambition by creating emulation among the workers or rewarding them for work performed, not for time spent. My days work today, for example, was making a cribbage board for the Captain.

Tuesday, 23rd Jan., 1849:
Headwinds, but little of it. Weather dry but sultry. Crew employed reroping (?) and oiling between deck and like jobs. One of the seamen struck a Dolphin with the (grains?) but lost it. I was employed making cleats, battens, cap lock for the Captain. And from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M. mending (sails?). Reading and light goes out. Walk the deck until 12 in A.M. Sleep until 6 A.M.

Wednesday, 24th Jan, 1849:
Light variable winds. At 2 P.M. the heaviest shower of rain that I ever saw. Myself and crew employed much the same as yesterday. Forgot to mention before that our carpenter turns out to be a countryman from PEI, John McDonald, belonging to Lot 49. He has been very kind to me, but is rather jealous that the Captain should let me do all the light work, while he has to do the heavy.

Thursday, 25th Jan, 1849:
Fine weather and fair wind. Crew employed oiling, painting, (reroping?) And cutting up rope. I done a heavy days work for my own part - made a bench for sail maker, a harpoon staff out of an old oar, put a pane of glass in the mates skylight, and repaired the water pump. Also got the rudder hung on my brig. Had to make rudder braces, into the bargain. Spoke the "Duke of Manchester" of London bound to Jamaca (sic) out 58 days Lati. -- W. Long. 53ě 58í.

Friday, 26th Jan., 1849:
The calmest weather we have had yet, and little wind. 8 P.M. heavy rain layed 2 puncheons of water off the poop (?). Crew employed painting scraping beatup the rust off the anchors and iron work and working at the (riging ?).

Sunday, 27th Jan, 1849:
Winds variable, weather sultry. People employed as yesterday. Caught a fine Dolphin this evening. Observed today among the crew that ridicule has more influence on themselves than reason. For instance, if there is one among them that is inclined to attend to his duty and be diligent, he is immediately accused of wanting to curry favor, and if the person be weak he is taunted with such like intentions until he is made as idle and disagreeable to his officers as themselves. It is evident that a well written exposition of the errors that sailors get into and mostly through the influence of a friend. Dissatisfied sea lawyers, as the cunning among their class are termed, would be a great benefit to the whole service.

Sunday, 28th Jan., 1849:
Fair wind and pleasant weather. Assisted in trimming sails in the morning. Washed, shaved and dressed after breakfast. Watched the flying fish as they passed us, they appeared like some of our little shore plovers on wing at a short distance, dipping into the water after going about 200 yards, and always flying against the wind. Today I am fully commissioned (?). There are pleasures altering every situation in life if we are only preposed to enjoy them. I have often heard stated the pleasures of eating, drinking, of love and of joviality. Cannot say that I can boast of any of these pleasures here. The eating and drinking part, being more like task work than pleasure, indeed. I am getting completely tired of the worst provisions I ever let tooth on, and what is worse, it never changes. But then, the weather, the sea, the sky, so mild, so leisure (?) and beautiful; who is there with a mind that could not enjoy them. Who that has the common wants of nature supplied and beholds a view so boundless and beautiful that does not feel pleasure, that does not feel inspired with admiration of the beauty and order of Creations Mighty Laws, that keeps all the parts of his boundless empire under such order and control. I must acknowledge that a sea life hear (sic) appears in a different light to whatever it did before to me. The mildness of the climate, the steadyness of the wind and weather, and consequent smoothness of the water is altogether different to what I ever saw before. Yet I am not going to say with the same leisure to admire it is equal to a life on shore, when we have all these beauties and the ever changing and attractive object oflife and vegetation to amuse and gratify us.

Monday, 29th Jan., 1849:
Fair winds and fine weather. Land all around us this morning. Passed Guadalupe (Is. - EAC) on our Larboard (port - EAC) and Antigua on our Starboard. Also Montserrat and the Redonda Rock on our Larboard. Both are peculiar looking Islands. The Redonda Rock is a layered dome rising abruptly out of the sea apparently about 1/8 mile circumference. St. Kits is the most fertile looking of the Islands that we passed, looking very much at a distance like the shore of Cape Britain (Breton ? - EAC). None of the Island that we have passed have a pleasing appearance, or I would impress the observer with an idea of their value. People employed as usual, all busy but little work to show. Commenced making a chest for the Captain and got on very slowly. My stack of wearing shirts being all used but one, had to wash out 2 and some other small articles.

Make very little progress in the washer woman's act. Used more soap than would pay for the washing and find my shirts nearly as dirty as at first. Donít think I will try any more.

Tuesday, 30th Jan, 1849:
The wind fair but squally. Passed a St. Johns ship bound the same course as ourselves, but did not speak her. Very few other ships in sight and neither birds or fish to be seen. People scraping anchors and windlass gear and painting ------? with variety of other such jobs, I was making cleats. The carpenter planing half deck and not well pleased that I should be exempted from so disagreeable a job. Find myself pretty well but getting very trim in flesh. The Captain and officers very nice to me and getting better acquainted. The weather is so warm here that altho we have all the side port s open and the hatches off, yet I sleep without blankets over me. The deck would be the most comfortable place to sleep, only for occasional showers. The sky is beautiful and clear with a pleasant breeze.

Wednesday, 31st Jan., 1849:
Fair wind and fine weather. People busy painting, scraping ------?. I was making a chest for the Captain. Kept no watch lately. Made the Is. of St. Domingo this evening.

Thursday, 1st Feb., 1849:
Fair wind and beautiful weather. All hands except the carpenter up to their elbows in paint and oil. We are now oiled, painted, greased and tarred from the royal mast down to the Nelson. St. Domingo in sight all day. Caught a Dolphin this evening. I had my share of it. I finished making the Captains chest this evening.

Friday, 2nd Feb., 1849:
Light winds and fine weather. Had watch and watch below today getting most of the work done. I done (sic) very little today. To do better for the future. 4 ships in sight today.

Saturday, 3rd Feb., 1849:
Fair winds and weather. Found the sun oppressively hot today, sighted the Island of Jamaca (sic), passing to the northward of it. Had boullie soup for dinner. I think it would be a profitable business to set agoing in countrys where meat is cheap to preserve it.

Sunday, 4th Feb., 1849:
Fair winds and fine weather. Passed Grand Mans (Cayman - EAC) Island today. 2 boats or canoes came off to us with fish. Only one of them gained the vessel. Got 2 small turtle, 4 crawfish and a parrotfish. The crawfish here are different.

Monday, 5th Feb., 1849:
The crew employed cleaning up the hold and carpenters putting on iron knees on the B_____ stanchions. I was repairing the Jolly Boat and helping the Captain make a stand for his little ship. 8 P.M. the Captain dressed in shirt and duck trousers without braces playing cards with the Boatswains and sailmaker. Our ship is now clean and painted. Our boats, poop, spars, and Bulwarks all shining beneath a beautiful calm sky and brightest of moon and stars passing down their flashing rays in the most prodigal allowance. Our mate and second mate are playing cards on the poop by their light, which is nearly like day. The watch below are scattered, some below in their hammocks, some on the deck, and some beneath the long boat, while the watch on deck have taken possession of the windlass and foredeck and busy striving with each other who can clean up the tangled end of his own wonder (?), the best not altogether by the powerful and convincing proof (?) "of stamping and toe thumping" but by the quite as effective means of both noise and ignorance. For myself I have been as busy as any of them. What with the speculation of the chance of life and ______? in New Orleans, thinking of this and home and which of the many courses I shall pursue that lays before me, I have enough to employ if not to amuse.

Tuesday, 6th Feb., 1849:
Pleasant weather, but wind ahead. We have watch and watch regular now, the most of the work being done. People employed about invisible jobs. Got soundings at 8 A.M. with 50 fathoms of line. Tacked ship and stood to the Northward.

Wednesday, 7th Feb., 1849:
The weather becomes cooler. We have been close hauled with the starboard tacks aboard since last night. Stormy N.W. Ĺ N. People still find some jobs of oiling and painting to be done. Carpenters making a spar. Because I was making cleats and battens, feel rather unwell since yesterday. All the studding sails and gear put away today, the wind being variable and coming in with land.

Thursday, 8th Feb., 1849:
Pleasant weather. Ship going her course. People employ to making spun yarn (baggywrinkle?) as jealousy springs up between the carpenters, each being unhappy when the Captain shows attention to the other. Passed the ship (blank) bound to New Orleans. Got some of the spars for my Brig and the deck work finished.

Friday, 9th Feb., 1849:
Pleasant weather and light winds. Got the chains up and bent. Expecting to make land tomorrow. Got leave from the Captain to leave my luggage in the ship until I have decided how I shall proceed.

Saturday, 10th Feb., 1849:
Close hauled all day. Weather cool. At 2 P.M. a squall (termed by the seamen a Norther) struck us aback and split our fore and maintopsails. Got them unbent and others up in their stead. A number of ships in sight. All our stock on board consisting of 3 Dogs, 2 Boars and 2 turtles, appears to thrive well, and although our meat is very indifferent, yet our crew is in excellent health.

Sunday, 11th of Feb., 1849:
At 6 A.M. thick weather. 8 ships in sight. 8 A.M. got soundings. At 10 got a pilot on board. A steam tug came alongside and took us in tow with the "Bosque". The water thick and muddy, but no land in sight. 2 P.M. crossed the bar. No buoys, but poles stuck in for marks got sight of some mud flats, the first land that we have seen. At (?) P.M. land on both sides. The River not a mile wide, but the weather being so thick and wet, could see little distance, all appearing to be level mud flats covered with reeds and water. At 6 P.M. went on board of the steam tug, a very powerful boat. Got acquainted with the engineer who give me good hope of employment in New Orleans. States that the Cholera is not so bad as we were at first informed. This day we have all been busy with setting, taking in and stowing sail, with all the other attendant on going into harbor. I have a very bad headache at present.

Monday, 12th of Feb., 1849:
Last night we came to anchor at about 10 P.M. This morning the wind blowing strong ahead. Did not get underway. All hands employed getting in studding sail booms. Sails unbent and gear unrove. Current strong against us. The land continues unbroken, but on the Starboard it is cut up by different channels or outlets of the river, forming the land into a number of islands just level with the river. The 2 or 3 miserable houses that we have seen are built on posts, some distance from the ground. The weather has been very cold since last night - such as we have in our Autumn.

Tuesday, 13th Feby., 1849:
Last night I turned in and saw little of the country, as we passed up the river, but this morning, the appearance was quite changed since yesterday, comfortable houses and well cultivated fields adjoined such others on both sides of the river. And in proportion to the extent of the farm or the wealth of itsí owner, so were the huts of the Slaves Small or great in number. The hands were kept busy as usual in drying sails, washing decks and scrubbing the outsides of ship. Had part of our sails set, the wind being fair. The weather continues cold, although the sun is warm.

Wednesday, 14th of Feby, 1849:
Very cold this morning, turned warm as the sun came out. Last night came to anchor below the town of New Orleans. Got underweigh (sic) this morning at 6 A.M. and got the ship moored at 10. I went on shore after dinner. Traveled through the town and a short way into the county. The town is much larger and important than I expected to find it. At this time there is about 500 shipping in the port, and most of them heavy ships. The land both of the town and country around is several feet below the water of the river, which is banked out. The inhabitants are a mixture of all nations, but mostly of French decent, and the later influx of Irish labourers. The morals of the people is supposed to be improving, but the state of society is yet anything but appreciated to an Englishman. While walking out of the town to look at the country I met a slave sent for a piece of wood to make (al helges ?). He was possessed of natural good sense and appeared much dissatisfied with his lot. He pointed out a swampy spot occupied now by large stumps where his former master shot-down two negroes for running away. The place at that time was standing wood. The slave now belongs to the son of the murderer.

Thursday, 15th of Feby, 1849:
The weather very cold. Hard frost last night and the AM. For this morning traveled the town up and down to get employment as carpenter or out-doors. Clerk got no offer, tryed to sell the cloath (sic) I brought with me. No person would give me a bid for it except 3 Jews that wanted it for half what I gave. The Captain gives me permission to stay on board while I remain in town. I avail myself of his offer and save the expense of boarding ashore. Got one Sovereign from the Captain of what I put in his care. Spent it.

Friday, 16th Feb., 1849:
Hard frost last night. Thick fog this morning. Turned warm and clear as the sun comes out. Crossed the river to look for employment among the building jobs. Could get no offer of employment. Feel very homesick and dissatisfied with America. Not British. Feel very undecided how to act, whether to follow on the route by land that I at first intended, or to go the nearest way home by N. York.

Saturday, 17th of Feby, 1849:
Weather continues very cold, frost every night. Went through all the steam boats to get a situation as carpenter. Only one boat out of 3 or 400 without one and no certainty of being employed there. As I came on board this evening I met one of our sailors in the custody of an officer taking him to jaol as a runaway slave. His hair is curly though long but his skin not darker than some of the white people on board. Flat boats. There are large boats of an oblong square ruffly (sic) but strongly constructed, carrying from 100 to 200 tons. They come down from the branches of the Mississippi from 500 to 2000 miles. When they are discharged, they are made firewood of, or are used for building houses. They are mostly loaded with one commodity, either flour, meat, corn or fruit.

Sunday, 18th of Feby, 1849:
Called on board the steam boat to see the master about engaging me as carpenter. He was not on board. Business going on as usual. Shops open, carts and trucks going hauling goods, etc. New Orleans is not only a receiving and exporting port with foreign nations, but a market where the merchants of different States meet to exchange produce. The Northern and upper States bringing flour, corn, meat, cattle (?), fruit and their home manufactured articles in exchange for cotton, sugar, molasses and foreign goods. The chieff (sic) exports to foreign countries are sugar, flour, meat, corn and cotton, the latter being the most important of all.

Monday, 19th of Feby, 1849:
Started early this morning to get the situation of carpenter on board of the steam boat that I applied to before. Carpenter was engaged. Haunted (?) over half the town, heard of no employment that would suit me. The weather continues very cold. Met in with a person from Upper Canada that has commenced business here. He has a poor opinion of the place, his intention being to leave it soon for the western states. From what he states of Upper Canada, it does not appear to be more favorable for settling in than our own Island.

Tuesday, 20th of Feby, 1849:
Went to engage a passage to Cincinates (sic). The cheapest that I could get was 3 dollars, and find myself was persuaded from going by a person acquainted with the Upper Country on account of the severity of the weather.

Wednesday, 21st of Feby, 1849:
Stayed on board today to work. Assisted in fitting up the pump well. Engaged to watch the foods coming on board tonight, having no other employment. The weather is very pleasant today, the wind having shifted to (add in ?) Southern.

Thursday, 22nd Feby, 1849:
Very fine weather. Stood out all night to watch the food, therefore done nothing today. Received a letter from John (W. Cooper - EAC) wishing me to go to California with the rest of the family.

Friday, 23rd of Feby, 1849:
Beautiful weather. Watching foods last night. Very undecided in my mind. Have to act whether to go direct home, or not. Received a letter from my father (Capt. Wm. Cooper - EAC) wishing me to return home.

Saturday, 24th of Feby, 1849:
Weather continues very fine. Was employed as last night, find it very disagreeable to stay on board. The crew getting drunk gives one no rest beging (?) for drink.

Sunday, 25th of Feby, 1849:
Very fine, warm weather. Walked out of town about a mile into the woods. Found it a perfect swamp covered with the bones of horses and cattle that I suppose have got weak and swamped (?) in the mud. Had to take off my trousers and wash them after I returned, being mud up to the knees.

Monday, 26th of Feby, 1849:
Went to most of the vessels bound to New York and Boston to get engaged as carpenter, but could find no chance of that sort. Could get an opportunity to work my passage, but as it is early in the season to arrive in Boston, I did not engage.

Tuesday, 27th Feby, 1849:
The weather continues very fine. Was walking about most of the day reading the papers. Posted the Picayune (?) News Paper for my brother (John W. - EAC) who ever immagines (sic) that there is neglect or mismanagement in the discharge of the duties of government here is (pretty decent ?) even every branch of the government executed with the strictest regard to justice. So says the inhabitants, and I believe it true.

Wednesday, 28th of Feby, 1849:
Weather continues very fine. Great activity among the shipping. Loading took very bad with dissenting last night. Stood out to watch the cargo, which made it worse.

Thursday, 1st of March, 1849:
Weather very fine, continued very tired with dysentery.

Friday, 2nd of March, 1849:
Fine weather, dust flying in clouds. Went to a Doctor who charged me a dollar for a box of pills, yet no better.

Saturday, 3rd of March, 1849:
Fine weather. Am very ill today. Went lodgings and had the address of a Doctor.

Sunday, 4th of March, 1849:
Continue very ill.

Monday, 5th of Mch :
Continue very ill.

Tuesday, 6th of Mch, 1849:
Weather fine. Got a little better, although not able to go about.

Wednesday, 7th of Mch, 1849:
Very pleasant weather, mending slowly.

Thursday, 8th of Mch, 1849:
Getting better. Left my lodgings and went on board the UXINE. Got the second sovereign from the Captain.

Friday, 9th of March, 1849:
Wrote to by brother, stating that I would proceed to Boston, and from there homeward. Requesting him to send letters of instructions to meet me there. In the afternoon went on board the ship I had engaged my passage in and found that she could not take me, being already full.

Saturday, 10th March, 1849:
Weather continues very fine. Was all day looking for a vessel to take passage in to Boston. Agreed to pay 2 sovereigns for a steerage passage in the "Governor Davis"

Sunday, 11th March, 1849:
Hot, sultry weather. Staied (sic) on board until evening. Took a walk up the River. The trees are just beginning to break into leaf, the grass sprouting up luxuriantly. Everything looks Spring-like.

Monday, 12th March, 1849:
Got my trunk and bedding on board the "Governor Davis", as she is to sail tomorrow. Met-in with Joseph McDonald, rigger of P E Island and his brother John. In the evening they brought (Faulkner ?) (McCormack ?) of L Pond (?) on board. Went with him to his lodgings and found that one of the daughters of the family, Ellen (McNeil ?) had formerly been servant girl with us in P E Island, her family having moved from there some years since.

Tuesday, 13th March, 1849:
Went on board of my ship, took a berth and got all ready for sea. Ship moved down to the lower pass (?) and waits until the next evening before they sail. Visited my last-night acquaintance Mr. McNeils, where I staid (sic) the night and was very mindly used the directions to them. Would be in the neighborhood of the Announciation Exchange.

Wednesday, 14th March. :
Settled with Captain Livingston (of Uxine - EAC), having 7 sovereigns to take of the money I deposited in his hands, and six dollars to take for watching four nights. Paid 2 sovereigns for my passage, bought some small articles for my passage. Ship started at 6 P.M., but brought up after proceeding a few miles down the river.

End of Wm. Cooper Jr. Journal 1848/1849, from City Canal in London, England, on the "Uxine" Captain Livingston, working as carpenter, to New Orleans. Homeward bound as steerage passenger on the "Governor Davis", bound for Boston.


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