With the Speed of Electricity

The prompt for week 28 of 52 ancestors is Travel.

I often think about how difficult travel must have been for some of my earliest known ancestors as they crossed continents, oceans and mountains. Each one was travelling for a different reason and each one traveled these long, difficult journeys because it was the only way to find what they were looking for.

Oswell Eve Deleware River Map

There were the DuPres, who were French Huguenots and fled Abbeville, France for England and then crossed the Atlantic to South Carolina in 1685. There is Oswell Eve who was away from his family in Philadelphia for years trying to make his fortune in other parts of the world. There is his granddaughter, Sarah, who sailed alone across the Atlantic in 1812, having just buried her husband in Ireland and her brother in England. On that journey, the ship she was on was captured by pirates, rescued by the British Navy, and diverted to Canada. In Canada, she caught another ship to Philadelphia, where she was picked up by her father and brought home to Georgia in a carriage. There are the ancestors that walked across the Appalachians, forging trails and looking for new places to live.

These travels were long and perhaps a little tedious and uncomfortable. These travels were often filled with sorrow and heartbreak.

From letters, I have details of some trips that my ancestors and their relatives took in crossing from Ireland to North America.

In a letter dated 29 December 1838, James Brown writes from Augusta, Georgia to his cousin James Stavely in Ireland. Both are grandsons of my 7th great-grandfather, John Adams. That fall he had sailed to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada and then on to New York City and Augusta, Georgia. Mr. Brown says,

I was very fortunate in getting a good strong vessel and although I thought the passage a long one it was shorter than any of the other vessels made at that time, ours was 38 days…

More than two decades later, J.W.B. Hamilton writes on 3 February 1860 from Augusta to a relative (possibly the James Stavely mentioned above) in Ireland:

Now when I got over the fatigue of the long journey I sat down to return my promise of writing you…Although the journey appeared long to me it would not have considered so 50 years since. Uncle [James] Bones was 72 days on sea when he first came out [in 1810]. We were only ten days and a half. I could have reached Augusta from Ballymoney in fourteen days. If the next fifty years make as much difference, travelling will be performed with the speed of electricity.

While we don’t travel at the speed of electricity some 158 years later, we do travel rather comfortably and quickly, compared to these early travelers.

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