In camp at La Gloria, Cuba, Tuesday evening, Jan 9, 1900.
I arrived at the port of La Gloria yesterday afternoon at about 1 o'clock. We
reached this place, La Gloria town site, four miles back from the coast, at 4 o'clock.
Words cannot picture the [??] about this place, although there is unquestionably
rich land here and a fine climate. It still rains, however, and we have had half a dozen
Now for the story. You positively cannot get anything up here as things are now.
When we sailed up to La Gloria port in our schooners yesterday, we saw on the shore six
or eight tents and a mass of bushes with a few openings cut through them. The shore was
a mass of mud and such as I never saw before, nearly a foot deep yellow and sticky.
Over' it in some places were flowing streams of surface water. The mud on boards which
had been laid down was so slippery that you could barely stand up. Every body was
covered with mud to the tops of his shoes before he had been ashore two minutes. Here
we learned that the "road" to La Gloria "city," four miles, was all afloat, owing to recent
rains and the flat character of the country. We found that we could not carry our valises
on the tramp and so, upon advice, left them in a tent and our trunks and other freight are
still at Nuevitas, and we may not see them for weeks. My valise is still at La Gloria
"port," and I may not see it for two or three days. For 10 days I have not had my clothes
off, night or day, with the exception of shoes and coat. For the last three days the variety
of my food has been as follows: bread without butter, salt beef, coffee without milk, tea
without milk, macaroni, corn meal mush, pale baked beans, and warm water. When we
have beans and coffee we are happy. Sometimes we only have bread and water. Last
night my 25 cent supper was butterless bread, macaroni and tea. Ugh!
To return to our arrival at La Gloria port. At 2 o'clock we started on our 4-mile
tramp to this "city". On advice, we rolled out trousers to our knees, and taking our over-
coats and umbrellas, started for the "promised land"- mostly promise! I had the foresight
to take a dry pair of stockings from my bag and stuff in my overcoat pocket.
The "road" to La Gloria city, or rather open trail, is through a tropical marsh,
covered with water most of the time six or eight months in the year, cattle and horses sink
into the mud and water to their bodies, and men walking get in above their knees. I have
no words to make you realize the difficulties and hardships of that four-mile walk. In the
first place, one could scarcely keep his feet, and I had several very narrow escapes from
falling headlong into the mud and water. That would have been a tragedy, for Cuban mud
never comes off, chunks of it which I acquired at Nuevitas are still plastered upon my
[wedding?] trousers. They are of course mined, but one has to ruin one suit of clothes to
get here, anyhow.
The trail through the savannah was a miserable mixture of black oozy mud, water,
from six inches to two feet deep, tree stumps and branches, and the Lord only knows
what else. Twice sharp prickers penetrated the leather at the sides of my shoes (I had to
throw away my rubbers at the start) but my feet were not seriously injured. The trail was
lined with tropical tress, palmetto and others. I saw no fruit and but few flowers, difficult
as the trail was, 160 men tramped it.
We reached La Gloria "city" at 4 o'clock, with shoes full of water and plastered
with mud to the knees. We were tired, but not wholly discouraged. The "city" as we
found it consisted of a dozen tents and the wooden foundation of the hotel- the lumbar
from the latter is still at Nuevitas, and may not get up her for weeks or months. There is
not yet a wooden building here, and there are but few things that you can buy. I have
been unable to buy a tin cup or an earthen cup. We have to wash out of a brook, and
cannot possibly keep clean.
After we struck town we had to take hold and help put up company tents for our
shelter. I went in with seven others. It was hours before I got my wet shoes and stockings
off; I then dried them before a fire, going barefooted meanwhile. Now don't be alarmed,
you might think that I ought to be dead by this time, but as a matter of fact I am better
than I have been for years. The others here, even those who have worked in the water and
mud for months, are also well. Generally speaking, I think it's healthier here. We have
lots to sleep on and one blanket a piece. We are somewhat cold nights, but do not get
I am not spending my money very fast. My meals cost 75 cents a day, and as I can
buy scarcely anything, that is about my only expense.
One redeeming thing about this enterprise is that the land back here is
undoubtedly rich and productive. It's a fearful jungle and will be costly to clear, but there
good evidence that oranges and other fruits will de well here. Some of them are growing
wild. The Florida people say it's all right and will stick. [From page 7 this letter is being
written this evening, Wednesday]
I have walked miles over the company's lands, through dense jungles, on muddy
and watery paths, but the land seems every- where rich. This thing may pull through yet,
though the company is in a very ticklish & disorganized condition. [Peter E.] Park is here
in charge, trying to do some thing, indignation meetings are frequently held, and about
half the people have turned back disgusted. I shall stick for a while, anyway, but go slow
about spending much money. Five acres is enough. I shall not [hurry about?] paying even
my installments. Don't know when the land will be divided the whole things is extremely
We were 24 hours coming from Nuevitas on the schooner, and had bread and
"salt horse" to eat. Nearly 100 of us were crowded together, trying to sleep on boxes,
barrels, etc. I slept (a little) on the hotel, that is, on lumber designed for it. Some on board
were professional men.
In spite of the adverse conditions, there are half a dozen women in camp, who
seem to be happy. It is the strangest experience of my [life....] the dame. [Missing text]
and my paper is giving out. I have only one tablet, and don't know when I can get more
writing material. Am now eating at engineers table-food somewhat better.
The worst of it is that we can't seem to get mail here. Have heard nothing from
you since letter received on Yarmouth in New York. No papers. Mail may come later.
Have written you from the Yarmouth, from Nuevitas, and this one. Hope you get them.
Don't urge me to come home just yet, if all is well there. Money still on my person; no
other place. Everybody seems honest. This is a very safe place. We like the Cubans.
Many fine colonists. Candle gone.
Love and kisses to all,