Transcript of Martha D. Allen Log of the Okahumkee, 1874


Material Information

Transcript of Martha D. Allen Log of the Okahumkee, 1874
Series Title:
Martha D. Allen Log of the Okahumkee
Physical Description:
Allen, Martha D. (House), 1827-1900
Logroño, Caitlin ( Transcriber )
Creation Date:
Physical Location:
Box: Diary Box 16


Subjects / Keywords:
Steamboats -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Oklawaha River (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Jacksonville (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Palatka (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Duval -- 12031   ( ceeus )
Putnam -- 12107   ( ceeus )
Economics and Society: Post-Civil War Florida, 1865-1913 -- Reconstruction Era, 1865-1877   ( fhp )


Logbook, photographs. This document records a steamboat trip up the St. Johns River to the Ocklawha and on to Silver Springs, February 19-24, 1874, written at Enterprise, Florida. Other passengers are mentioned only as aliases--the Professor, the Governor, etc. Describes shipboard activities, camping, sights, etc. Photographs of Martha D. House (Allen) and her husband Charles J. Allen are stored with the journal.
Martha House Allen (1827-1900) and her husband Charles J. Allen (1822-1887) were from Baring St., Philadelphia.
General Note:
Originally derived from archival-level ALEPH record 028140097 ( OCLC: 49280356 )
Funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) as part of the Pioneer Days in Florida Project
General Note:
Metadata, abstract, transcription, and scanning by Caitlin Logroño.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, Special Collections
Rights Management:
Restricted access;
Resource Identifier:
System ID:

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Full Text


Log Book of the OKAHUMKEE from Jacksonville up the OCKLAWAHA & back to Palatka 2 nd Month 19 th to 24 th 1874 Enterprise, Fla. 1874 [ Attributed to Martha D. Allen (1827 1900) ; also associated with Martha H. Holmes ]


9.30 AM. Cast off and headed up the St. Johns; temperature about 30, wind nearly north; weather dull with a hope of improvement; spirits as good as could be expected. 9.35 Passed sail boat on larboard side going South, with an ash [?] breeze, 9.36 blew off some steam and corrected map. 9.46 Captain put on travelling hat & the Professor took to mathmatising the sunrises of the Peninsula. The Governor is interested in talking with a fellow passenger. 10.45 Nearing Mandarin, the Scribe kn itting, Professor still deep, though showing signs of a pause. At 12 M. The Captain takes a recline on one of the new green cushions of the salon. The Governor erect & dignified sits by the door looking at the scenery and listening to the Reader while she interests us all in the lively descriptions of Florida experiences given by the ready pen wielded by Harriet message from him to some one of the company. The Captain s 7/8 & the Scribe are both knitting. 12.38 Passed Hibernia & the Professor there upon took to the couch. 1 P.M. are passing Magnolia. The Reader is reclining, the Captain & Professor having each had his turn on the green cushion. Dinner table nearly set. 1.19 Dinner bell rang as Green Cove Springs were approached. Dinner satisfactory. Green Cov e Spring was visited, a sulphur water flow of some force, very clear. Greenish bottom, bad s mell; those who tasted made faces in describing it. Captain took a nap, the rest ought to have done so but 3 P.M met the Florence coming d own from Tocoi. Temperature 55; Wind northern, weather getting more pleasant as the day wears on. 3.40 S topped at Picolata to unload corn. 4.30 Nearly opposite Tocoi, me t the Volusia bound South. 4.54 Clear streak of sky in the west, nearly the prettiest thing out to day. Most of the party doing up some writing of brother Ebony down stairs whose tickling tickled the Governor & he tickled the rest. Steam reported 80 pounds. Ebony probably depressed. 7.PM. Supper over and Palatka at hand. Prospect of accessions 7.30 Arrived at Palatka. Here the Governor and Reader made a call on some of their friends, while the Captain and Scribe to ok a promenade to see the town, its Hotels & Stores. The St. Johns & the Putnam are the principal Hotels, by whose windows they walked an d peeped in. A pleasant looking company occupied the parlors of each. The Stores and curiosity shops attrac ted the pedestrians most, & per ha p s only one thing prevented their returning to the boat quite heavily laden. Most temptations cost more than 25 ct, Scribe thought she would like the simple & unadorned tooth of an Alligator, bu t the price


was two dollars, for one th e size of her thumb. A fine wing of the pink Curlew cost $2. 50 and a Duck with out stuffing $2. But the Captain thought of his beloved 7/8 a nd bought her a pure white wing of the Snipe, pure & white, a mete little token of his affectionate remembrance. He thought of his nephews at home and finding a photograph of Steamboats on the St. Johns, he purchased it for them. They called at the Teleg raph Office, but no message awaited them. Then they returned to their party on the Okahumkee, apparently to the joy of the Professor and the Captain s 7/8. The Governor had retired, & it therefore being the proper time fo r the rest they did likewise. Nos 10 &11 answered for most of the party, but the highest location was awarded the Governor & Captain, the sky bed room. About 12 P. M. the Okahumkee left its moorings & sailed a few hundred yards, then returned to the w h arf and put up for the night, the wea ther being too thick to navigate with certainty. Shortly before daylight the voyage was resumed up the St. Johns. The first stopping place w as Buffalo Bluff, Hamilton Store, a wood wharf, he Reader we nt ashore to flowinge[?], & the Captain to do something which proved to be whittling. Returning breakfast was in due course dispatched. Th e Professor then went deep into his Botany Book, taking with him the Specimens Gathered. Party gathered int o the Pilot House to enjoy the e ntrance of the Ocklawaha which imposing ceremony took place at 10.23 AM 2 [nd] mo 20 th 1874 The Gunners are a bothersome set of fellows, crackwacking at the animals not often to their damage but making the Alligators skoo t befor e we can see them. The river near the mouth is about 40 to 50 yards wide, quite winding or torturous. Numero us cree ks enter it from either side, but no names or sign posts being put up they cannot be designated. The vegetation is now decidedly more Floridi an. The winter is past. He must sail back far down the St. Johns. These green and tender leaves are too beautiful for his icy touch. 11.9 T he sun shines brightly and our voyaging is perfectly exquisite. The Governor & Captain care naught for the price o f Gold. 12.25 Stopped at Durenport [ ?] to put off 2 bales of hay & 5 sacks of corn. Sufficient for the place until the boat comes again. One little low wooden house, one man & two mules for m the settlement. But then comes a man through the woods on hors e back & then another, so there may be a settlement beyond. The sun shines bright & warm, the birds are singing but notwithstanding, the Reader & 7/8 have gone down aweary We have seen several birds; kingfishers & a large crane. Mistletoe is growing upon many of the trees, as also an air plant which resembles the leaves on the top of a Pineapple. Butterflies occasionally flit about. A limpkin just flew across the pines; quite a large bird with brown plumage. 1.05 Thermometer 76 in shade. It was 55 at River now about 20 yds wide, that is the open water; swamp said to vary from to one mile wide. Palmettos now more frequent, sky perfectly clear, sun bright & hot making the day all that should be desired for the light & shadows. Cypress t rees large & numerous. 2.02 Passed a water moccasin [?] sunning on a log. River now double the width at 1.05. We have passed at great many turtles to day, m is call ed the Alligator terrapin, another is the soft shell turtle. The shell is soft and can be nearly all cooked. 4 PM Temperature 80.


4.30 Passed a large collection or grove of Palmetto trees. 4.45 Reached Fort Brooke, went ashore for recreation. Profe ssor again found something new in the plant line. A f ew passengers went ashore here, among them a colored mother & child, who went home on a mule, the Grandmother walked along s ide carrying the trunk. Orange S prings is about two miles from Fort Brooke & th at is about 25 miles by land from Palatka & we have travelled probably 60 miles or more by water. 5.49 Let Fort Brooke, sun set about this time, beautifully as reported by the Reader, the only one who thought of looking. River here about 40 yards wide. 6 PM The new moon has been visible for sometime, growing brighter as the darkness comes on. At 6.45 the torch was lit, a fire of pine sticks in an iron stand on top of the Pilot House. This fire was kept up all night. It cast a bright light on the trees, o n either hand & for a short distance before and behind us. The effect was very striking. The tall crowded trunks of the Cypress were beautifully illuminated, as was also the drapery of moss that hangs in such profusion from the branches. This gave a sort o f enchantment to the scenery and added much to the variety & interest of this unique expedition, giving us a realization of the description s of the Ocklawaha. The party spent all the evening before & after tea, on the front part of the boat, that they migh t have full enjoyment of the weird like voyage up the river. Stopped at Isla [?] a timber place. Land behind said to be high priced, $5 per acre. halted f or a few minutes making a strong contrast with the solitude of this wilderness place. Most of the clock though not to sleep al l the time, as the temptation was strong to look out upon the trees from time to time by our fire light Camp, During the night the b ranches often brushed our boat as we rounded the short curves or passed the narrow places. Now and then poles were used to assist in s teering and once or more we ran into the ba nk or slightly grounded. 2 nd mo: 21 st Seventh day. At 7.45 we left the Ocklawaha R ive r and entered Silver Creek for Silver S prings 6 miles up. The country near the mouth opens out on either side about half a mile wide for some two miles & then the trees again come to the water s edge as before. 8.45 a flock of par a que e ts flew across our pathway, adding another evidence that we are in the Sunny South. The water of Silver Creek is very clear, the bottom showing distinctly at the depth of 15 or 20 feet. The bed of the stream is white, but much of it is covered with a ribbon like grass. In some places it had a bluish greenish cast, which reminded the Professor of specimens of copper ore. Fish and turtles appeared to be enjoying their limpid home. The boat la y at S ilver Spring about an hour, where her passengers very generally took a stroll along sandy road ways without finding much that was interesting in the vegetable world. One of the party was interested in a conversation with an aged


colored woman who had come up on t he Okahumkee & who said she lived 6 miles back in the country. A mule was there in readiness to carry her hom e. She seemed delighted to be free said they could do as they pleased and that they were doing well, that her children were going to scho ol. She had thoug h t she was too old to learn, but she was so much encouraged by what was said to her, that she said she would go home and begin. We enjoyed our sail down Silver Creek, and entered the Ocklawaha about [?] (The temperature of Silver Spri ng is 72) The day is all that can be desired The sunl ight through the trees that skirt our beautifully winding stream, lends an enchantment to our noon day [?] r ide which makes it truly enjoyable. At 12. 5 passed the ferry with the corduroy [?] coming down to the river on either side and we noted the post box on the [?] described in the magazine Picturesque America Now at 1.30 P.M. our r iver flows through a marshy savanna and our gunners take more delight in shooting at the birds than some of th e more humane passengers do in hearing them. Wild ducks, a long white crane, a limpkin & a red winged starling have been seen. 2.30 Thermometer 87; it was 60 at 7 A.M. Sun hot, but a delightful breeze bl ow ing so that in the shade, the day does not seem l ike a warm one. 3.55 Passed a man plowing on the fast land & next a corn field & a sweet potato field & fields for other things. 4.15 Stopped for wood, r an ashore & got some bitter sweet oranges to look at. Ab out 7 men started off to walk 1 miles while th e boat goes 5 by water. About 4.45 PM the Professor & Scribe made a visit to their trunk, to do which they had to climb over boxes & bags of merchandise, a bale of hay, etc. In the basement they saw sundry colored hands emplo yed about the boat, also the st ee rage passengers. Of the latter a colored man and his wife, with two little children, who came on board at Palatka interested the two visit ors afore said. They informed that they were going to Lake Griffin to settle for a year or longer, the man having bee n engaged to take charge of a church there. At 5 PM the Professor & Scribe made a safe passage over the pile of fr e ight already alluded to & emerged from the basement to the ma i n story, bringing with them trophies of their visit in the shape of articles of clothing calculated to make them more comforta ble in the heat of the day, also some Zephyr work to give a casual employment to the fingers of the Scribe. 5.40 Reached the landing at Moss Bluff and took in the pedestrians who repo rt a pleasant walk of 2 m iles. T hey brought in some large lemons, one of which was sliced & handed around to taste and found to be very like a lemon indeed; size and shape of a large ora n ge, with a very thick skin. A natural lemon without cultivation. The sun went down behind clouds to which it gave gorgeous trails & lini ngs, and the daylight of the wee peaceful, but a wanderer s thought now and then flitting across the great intervenin g space, with query made but not answered, how is it with all the loved ones of the good old city of Penn our Home [?]. Ten days of our journey pass before the mind as we sit in a quiet review of the varied scenes, from snow covered fields & wintry air, t o tropical lands & balmy bre ezes and a little feeling of thankfulness arises that He who holds us in the hollow of His hand has thus far mercifully extended to us the blessing of preservation from perils by land and perils by water, while our senses have e njoyed the glories and the marvels of His footstool.


The evening wore away, a pleasant starlight & moonlight evening. Lake Griffin was entered about 12.25 & several stops made on the shores. It is about 12 miles long and 4 wide, a new and pretty feature o f the Oklawaha. First day 2mo 22 nd 1874. At 6 AM the lake was left and the course was again a narrow stream through the marsh. 7 AM Thermometer 66. Sky overcast, air soft. Last night we saw several fires in the woods on or near the east border of Lake Grif fin. At 12.15 (midnight) these fires were about East of us. There appeared to be 5 or 6 fires apparently in a row. Some parties, no doubt were clearing up the land. Entered Late Eusti ce [?] at 9.10 a beautiful sheet of water some 4 miles by 8, and said to be about 12 feet deep. Stopped at Fort Mason on the Northern corner which we left about 10.30. The sun is now out of respect to the day, are not pursuin g their sport & the day is quiet & lovely. It is said that from Leesburg on Lake Griffin to Palmyra on Lake Harris the distance is of a mile, but round the Lakes an d through the river as the boat goes the distance is over 30 miles. About 11 AM a refreshi ng treat of Oranges was given by the Captain of the boat Rice which was very satisfactory. 11.15 Left Lake Eusti ce & passed through the connecting stream about of a mile long and 125 yards wide into Lake Harris. Saw severa l Alligators on the way through some 5 or 6 ft long from tip to tip. The on the shore of Lake Harris and some of us visited a garden & yard attached to quite a comfortable looking dwel ling. The hostess was sitting on a rocking chair on the piazza, enjoying the balmy air of a quiet first day morning. Lantanas, verbenas, geraniums & several other plants were in bloom; a fine Coleus had been in the ground all winter. The hostess said they had had no weather to injure their plants out of doors this winter. Their corn was about 4 inches high & nearly ripe mulberries were upon the trees. We saw some pineapples which were just beginning to bud. But I believe we did not see a blade of grass. 12 .45 Stopped at H left us here. Took on board some oranges for Jacksonville. A small boy came to sell some little rabbits but as there was nothing for them to eat no one pur became quite interested in the lad & enlisted the sympathy of some of the passengers and the penniless boy was made the happy possessor of 29 ct. The Captain took a run to the orange grove, but could find no one to sell fruit, so he only brought us accoun ts of the beauty of the trees, etc.. 1.17 the whistle hurried some of the passengers on board, others waited until they could comfortably come. One of the passengers reported a lemon tree with 7000 lemons on it. Left the wharf at 1.25. Reached Okahumkee 250 miles from the mouth of the Oc klawaha as travelled by boat a t 3.10 & remained until 5:38. The party went ashore, some up to the town a few hundred yards distant consisting of 2 or 3 stores & 2 or 3 other house s. No school but a meetings reported 3 &5 miles distant with preaching once in three weeks. Cotton and oranges were taken in as fr e ight. Some of the men got a boat & went out for Allig ators. They returned with one 6 ft long from tip to tip. Quite a collec tion of specimens of Natural History were


brought on board; Stuffed Alligators, otters, a gar fish, a deer, and quite a number of deer horns. They belonged to a man who came on board & who appears to follow gathering such things as an occupation. He appear s well versed in Nat. History & is dubbed Dr. At 9.10 PM Entered lake Eustice & at 9.30 passed out. The moonlight r ide on the Lake was very beautiful. In the river which w a s very narrow between Lake Eustice & Lake Griffin we managed to get aground, but wor ried off after a few trials. After the moon went down the fire torch was lighted to show the route over the meadows, as a fog was prevailing. 2 nd mo: 23 rd Morning opens a little overcast & damp. Lake Griffin was passed in the night. A good sized Alligator swims on ahead of the boat for a few minutes, grunting or making observations which the Governor hears but does not understand. The Pilot however translates by saying that it is a saucy fellow. The dimensions of the sky state room by long measure are 71 i nches high in the clear, 73 long & 47 wide. 24 of these are occupied by the berths, le a ving 23 for promenading in completing toilets. 8.45 Left the open country or marsh and entered the woods. 9.19 Passed the ferry at the Corduroy road. 9.41 an unfortunate shy [?] on a tree sends us plunging into the woods. The Professor takes out his compass and announces we are in the right direction for Jacksonville. The boat however not being calculated for land travel stops, and a series of pushings & capst ainings take place, resulting in getting off; mean while a large moccasin is killed & held up for view. 9.53 A log or two is lying across the river, which we pass by simply running over it. 9.57 We again enter the beautiful Silver Creek. The Professor, who has been deep in his bird book much of the morning to be scenery. 10.19 Doctor now appears with a bucket & exhibits his stock of live Alligators & informs that the Alligator is a peculiar animal & will live 2 months out or in water without food. They lay twice a year 40 to 120 eggs to hatch at once. The male Alligator eats all the little ones he can find until they are 3 mos. old. The Professor takes out hi s rule & finds the one supposed to be two years old, is 18 inches long & the two littler ones about 12. The Alligator has two ridges on his back, while the Crocodile has but one. 10.30 A large Alligators 8 to 10 ft long slides off into the water from the base of a tree. 11.23 Reached Silver Spring, some of the passengers went boating round the Spring. Captain Rice opened a box of oranges from the freight & allowed the passengers to purchase greatly to the joy of the party, who proceeded to have an orange f east. Left Silver Spring at 12.45. The Professor strengthened by his lunch goes deep as ever into his botany. He left home to rest & this is perhaps his way of doing it. But it f his coat to do it. 1.38 pas sed a rookery of white cranes. 1.5 3 reached the Oklawaha again. 1. eggs packed in cotton and a large Calabash also containing eggs. 2 .45 Stopped at Beef landing where we took in about 4 beeves & 4 other animals whose slaughtered remains somewhat resembled mutton. This meat was hanging under a roof thatched with palmetto leaves, supported upon 6 upright posts, with two smoking fires near by, which we supposed were for the purpose of keeping off fli es. Etc. W ell intended care, for surely the consumer could not afford to have any of the remaining juices extracted.


Florida may be quite a high bluff took in some venison. Saw two dogs & the Dogwood in bloom. 4.10 A letter handed to our boat in a slit in a stick. Palmettos quite numerous and the wild orange growing on the shore of our stream. The interest in botany seems to be spreading & we have succeeded in gathering seve ral plants this PM as we sweep by them in our boat. No idle time for the Professor. 4.30 Passed the Dardanelles so named we are told from a narrow passage in the English Channel. This is a particularly interesting part of this peculiar river, so winding & so narrow that the boat is scraping the trees & bushes first on one side & then on the other. Some of the Cypress trees are very large and the Palmetto tall with tall and slender trees of various kinds making a thick wood. 4.45 Stopped at Goen [?] to tak e on some on e said Butter. Pleasant freight as we were informed at supply had all been consumed. Air plants grow along the Ocklawaha four varieties of the Tillandsid [?] but although the passengers of the Okahumkee have spent 4 days up on its waters, they seem unable to adopt t he habits of these plants, & wis h them old desires, enjoy their bread & butter. Weather warm & oppressive. The r ide, the last day & evening on the Ocklawaha was full of interest. The current being with the boat in creased the speed, as also the difficulties of navigation, as the curves could not all be safely rounded current frequently set the boat ashore. At the narrowest point the width of the river between two large Cypress trees exceeded that of the boat by only 18 inches. In due time the fire torch was lit, & the wildness of the night some enjoyed to the full. A t 10 the party retired, but loathe to leave that which they might never see again. Several adventures occurred during the night but no accident & in the morning we had left the wild Ocklawaha & were upon the placid bosom of the St. Johns and arrived safely at Palatka about 7.45 AM (3 rd day the 24 of 2 m o.) We leave the good Okahumkee with a kindly fe eling. Five days and nights thou hast borne & housed & fed us, as we journeyed in ways and places unknown before. We shall remember thy cabin, they state rooms, they sky b ed room, and thy Captain & Pilot shal l have a pleasant place with us. We will remember they patient plodding s on the long voyage, th y buffetings with the bushes, the boughs & the tr ees, th y turning s & trials in tortuous pathways & safe delivery of us all at the end. Long may thou live to gi ve pleasure & profit to the unknown passengers, who shall in the future succeed us. And now we bid farewell to thee Oh Ocklawaha and leave thee to flow on in the depths of thy solitudes, wherein we felt some of the charms, which sages have seen. Other sce nes shall daily meet our vision but we shall still meet see thee with thy wondrous panorama. We shall recall thy grand old Cypress trees, thy Palmettos, and graceful draperies of moss, thy mistletoe & thy air plants, thy blooming je ssamine & delicate form s & thy beautiful water lilies. Thy limpkin shall skip & flap, thy ducks shall swim & spatter & fly, the flocks of thy red starl ings, thy white cranes & the green wigs of thy band of paraque e ts shall rise again & again before us. We cannot


fully recall the glories of thy hundred miles of forest, thy many windings through the savannas and of thy spreading Lakes as we looked upon them day by day & nig ht by night, though we saw the m by the sunlight, in the moonlight and by the more mysterious glare of our own weird like torch of the midn ight, for the mind of man is finite and cannot grasp the detail s of the work of the Infinite. But thy memories shall be so our mental p erception, a feast perennial and a continual joy. Note 1. Some of our passengers got down th e s hips yawl at Silver Spring & rowed down the Creek. Having left the Spring sometime before us, they had quite a row before we overtook them. They kindly brought us a specimen of a large white flower that we had observed both on 7 day & to day growing on the banks of Silver Spring Creek. On examination the Professor found it to be the Pancratium Coronarium, one of the Amaryllis family. It is a Southern plant and it would appear that it has been found in but few localities. Ga & near Columbia S.C. Note 2. The trip on the Ocklawaha is one which the robust and hardy traveller may enter upon and enjoy. The perils and hardships to be endured in case of accident or sickn ess far in the wilderness a hundred miles from the comforts of life, and out of their reach by several days of weary travel, are not pleasant to contemplate. We entered upon the dangers while unknown, and have no regrets that the trip was made, but to the weak or sick who may be tempted to take the voyage, we would say consider & be discreet.