Works of Annie Fields

Diary of a West Indian Island Tour
Annie Fields

Part 9


Monday 2 March - Tuesday 10 March

Page 99 continued

[ Monday 2 March ]

Monday March 2d  A good night quite smooth with a great moon. We were able to take great comfort in sitting up until near midnight.  The air was cool -- The scene splendid.  The Life of Lacordaire by Dora Greenwell was my companion all day -- finished it Monday A.M. before our arrival.  That book and Jowett's Sermons  have been sincere joy and help through the experiences of our sometimes tedious journey -- trying -- rather than tedious --*

The waves tossed our boat about well when we came to land at Palm Beach.  It was hard rowing to come to shore; when we reached the pier the great rollers made it seem almost impossible to land; but by aid of the Captain

Page 100

and his men who held hard in the boat and men on the steps who gave us strong hands we managed in spite of our petticoats to get safely up the wave washed steps.  How we were blown!

Anything wilder than this shore cannot be seen{.}  Of course the hotels and the piers and the planted land do something to take away this effect, but everything man does looks so slight and perishable by the side of this tumultuous sea, the unending line of beach, the fierce sunlight and the flocks of black carrion ^birds^ ^turkey buzzards^ whirling, lighting, posing, feeding with terrible intentness as if the age of man did not exist -- They give me a sense of power such as no other birds have ever given me ^done^ -- partly no doubt because they come so close to us.*  The picture which we knew of when we were children, of an eagle carrying a baby to its wild nest no longer seems a myth.*

Later in the day were walked through a beautiful avenue of palms to the second hotel -- The sunset was splendid -- setting in the fiery red light of [unrecognized word] behind the palm trees.  Again we admire her as we did in St. Augustine, in the early days of

Page 101

the hotel, the sense of beauty which in Flagler seems to show.*  He has made these wild places lovely for human habitation.

[Between the above line and the next is inserted in very light pencil this sentence: the hotels here are not especially beautiful -- It is the gardens]


page 100

Image from Page 100 of the manuscript.
Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society
Readers are invited to identify the unrecognized word.

The Life of Lacordaire by Dora Greenwell  ... Jowett's [Sermons ?]Wikipedia says: "Jean-Baptiste Henri-Dominique Lacordaire (12 May 1802 - 21 November 1861), often styled Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, was a French ecclesiastic, preacher, journalist and political activist. He re-established the Dominican Order in post-Revolutionary France."  Wikipedia also says: "Dora Greenwell, born Dorothy Greenwell (1821–1882), was an English poet."  Her biography of Lacordaire was published in 1867.
    And according to Wikipedia, "Benjamin Jowett ... (15 April 1817 - 1 October 1893) was renowned as an influential tutor and administrative reformer in the University of Oxford, a theologian and translator of Plato and Thucydides....[H]is interest in theology ... found an outlet in occasional preaching. The university pulpit, indeed, was closed to him, but several congregations in London delighted in his sermons, and from 1866 until the year of his death he preached annually in Westminster Abbey..... Three volumes of selected sermons were published posthumously."

black carrion ^birds^ ^turkey buzzards^:  The turkey vulture or buzzard is the most common carrion-eating bird of the Americas.


Turkey vulture in flight in Florida
Courtesy of Wikipedia

picture which we knew of when we were children, of an eagle carrying a baby to its wild nest no longer seems a myth:  The mythical story of an eagle carrying away a person suggests the story of Zeus and Ganymede.  Wikipedia says: "In one version of the myth, he is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus."  However Ganymede usually is not thought of as a baby.  The image below comes from Burt G. Wilder's "Kings of the Air,"  Scribner's Monthly Volume 1 Issue 3 (January 1871) pp. 239-246.  In the article, Wilder says: "The illustration depicts a terrible event which occurred more than thirty years ago; a similar tragedy was enacted in Missouri in 1868; and now in the present year (1870) a large eagle, which, by a rope upon its leg, appeared to have escaped from some cage, is said to have fastened its beak and talons into the body of a boy of fifteen, and was beaten to death before it would loosen its hold."
    Though such stories recur down to the present day, they are viewed skeptically by ornithologists.


Eagle carrying away a young girl
From Wilder, p. 240.

a beautiful avenue of palms to the second hotel ... Flagler ... St. Augustine: Wikipedia says: "Henry Morrison Flagler (January 2, 1830 – May 20, 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil. He was also a key figure in the development of the Atlantic coast of Florida and founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway. He is known as the father of both Miami and Palm Beach, Florida....
    "Flagler completed the 1,100-room Royal Poinciana Hotel on the shores of Lake Worth in Palm Beach and extended his railroad to its service town, West Palm Beach, by 1894, founding Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. The Royal Poinciana Hotel was at the time the largest wooden structure in the world. Two years later, Flagler built the Palm Beach Inn (renamed Breakers Hotel Complex in 1901) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach."
    Presumably, Fields and company, stayed at one Flagler hotel in Palm Beach and visited the other during their time in Palm Beach.  They were familiar -- from earlier stays -- with Flagler's Ponce de Leon hotel in St. Augustine, where they would recuperate from this cruise for several days before returning to Massachusetts,     Of the Royal Poinciana Hotel, Wikipedia says: The six-story, Georgian-style hotel was built as a winter retreat for the elite by Henry Flagler .... When he began buying tracts of land here ... Palm Beach was a desolate barrier island on Florida's Atlantic coast. That began changing, however, when Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railway to West Palm Beach. The Royal Poinciana Hotel, built beside the Lake Worth Lagoon, was intended to accommodate his railroad's passengers escaping cold northern winters. Ground was broken May 1, 1893, and the hotel opened on February 11, 1894—welcoming 17 guests."


The Royal Poinciana in 1900
Image from Detroit Publishing Co.
 courtesy of Wikipedia, who has it from the United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs
under the digital ID ppmsca.18068.

    It is likely Fields stayed in the Poinciana and visited the new Palm Beach Inn, "the second hotel," of which Wikipedia says: "The Breakers Hotel .... [f]irst known as The Palm Beach Inn, ... was opened on January 16, 1896 by oil, real estate, and railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler, to accommodate travelers on his Florida East Coast Railway. It occupied the beachfront portion of the grounds of the Royal Poinciana Hotel, which Flagler had opened beside Lake Worth Lagoon facing the inland waterway in 1894. Guests began requesting rooms "over by the breakers," so Flagler renamed it The Breakers Hotel in 1901. The wooden hotel burned on June 9, 1903 and was rebuilt, opening on February 1, 1904. Rooms started at $4 a night, including three meals a day."

Palm Beach Inn

Historical photo of the Palm Beach Inn
From Palm Beach: History


The Breakers Hotel - 2015
With its avenue of palms.
Courtesy of Breakers Press Room

Page 101 continued

[ Tuesday 3 March ]

Tuesday morning.  After a rest from the ship, more delightful than words can express.  We now start for St. Augustine.

[ Wednesday 4 March ]

Wednesday morning March 4th  Reached St. Augustine in the evening after a long dusty ride of eight hours in the train.*  It was not excessively warm because on one side was the sea nearly the whole time with sometimes acres of pineapple bushes and sometimes palmettos and sometimes only the white beach with its rolling waves between us and the deep sea. 

It was cool when we came into the station and the air fragrant with blossoms.  The little place was very quiet but beautiful under the stars with the fine [architecture ?] dimly seen in the half light. We found a few letters and went to bed in comfortable but not over old picturesque rooms.

Up early -- The air being cool and inspiring.

[ Thursday 5 March ]

Thursday, March 5th  Lovely weather. Yesterday they were taking up from the gardens flowers  or ^and^ plants which have probably been killed by the frosts{.}  There have been three severe "freezes" as they say, here this winter. The rose gardens have suffered with the rest.

Page 102

 In the afternoon a carriage was put at our disposal and we drove across the new bridge where we used to take the little ferry.*  Roads have been made over on Anastasia Island and the whole place is being tamed.  When I think of the dead wild-cat ^ just shot^ that ^we found^ we in our [the superimposed over our] path once over there less than ten years ago I feel as if everything except the vast wild sea would soon be brought into subjection.  It is still beautiful but [deleted word] has surely lost something of the old picturesqueness.  There was a fire in the old part of the town a few years ago which has swept away some of the old coquina houses.*  But birds are in the hotel gardens now and the architecture has grown rather than lost in beauty ---------- and it is quiet.  We like it very much.

[ Friday 6 March ]

Friday March 6th   Left with our friends for Jacksonville.  Drove at once to the yacht packed up such clothing as we were likely to need, took a last luncheon together, "Sadie" wrote up and signed "the Log" -- then bidding our companions farewell we were rowed ashore.  Kind Mr. Pierce went with us, bought our return tickets to St. Augustine where we are to rest a few days, and said goodbye only after seeing us safely into the train.  It was very warm but he returned again just before to [we was intended?] started to see if he could get better places for us --  From first to last{.}  Here ends the journal of our voyage to the westmost Indies{.}

Page 103

Saturday 7 - Tuesday 10 March

March 7th & to 9th  10th  at the Ponce de Leon.  In the afternoon of the 10th we drove into the woods and through Moccasin Swamp* with Mr. Pell, Mrs. Smith and a [Miss ?] [Samson corrected]  [added in pencil at the end of the sentence:  Sampson?]  found Princulas* in bloom –



in the train:  By 1896, Henry Flagler had completed a direct rail line from New York to St. Augustine and further south.  See above for further information on Flager's hotels in Palm Beach and St. Augustine.  Jewett and Fields had stayed at the Hotel Ponce de Leon  in St. Augustine in 1888 and 1890.  The hotel figures significantly in Jewett's 1890 story, "Jim's Little Woman."

Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine Florida
Courtesy of Wikipedia

In America's First City: St. Augustine's Historical Neighborhoods, Karen Harvey  reports that the first bridge to Anastasia Island was built in 1895, replacing the earlier ferry service.

a fire in the old part of the town ... has swept away some of the old coquina houses:  In 1895, a major fire in the area north of the Plaza de la Constitucion destroyed many dwellings and businesses.  Coquina is a form of limestone containing broken fragments of fossil shellfish.    Many major projects in St. Augustine before the twentieth century were built of coquina, including the sea wall, the "old gates" and Fort Marion.

Sadie:   Sadie is one of Jewett's nicknames.  Apparently she wrote some account of at least part of their journey in the yacht's log. This text has not been located.

Moccasin Swamp:  Moccasin Swamp is now part of the John M. Bethea State Forest, which is forms the southern end of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia, west of St. George, GA.  This is about 35 miles northwest of Jacksonville. FL.  That Fields visited this swamp in the afternoon of March 10 suggests that this made part of her return journey home from St. Augustine.
    Mr. Pell, Mrs. Smith, and Miss Samson or Sampson have not be identified.  Assistance is welcome.

Princula: Though Fields's handwriting at this point in the diary is quite difficult to make out, she does appear to have written "Princula," but there is no such plant. She may have written "Primula," but the only species of Primula native to Florida is restricted to a small area in the panhandle. Fields may have rendered her own spelling of a name she heard, perhaps the genus Pinguicula. They are small aquatic carnivorous plants commonly called butterwort.  Several likely species that grow widely in Florida include: Pinguicula luteaPinguicula caerulea and Pinguicula pumila, all of which thrive in sunny, open, wet areas, such as are found in the Moccasin Swamp.  While it remains uncertain which flower Fields meant when she mentioned the Princula, it seems likely that she would find the yellow bladderwort, Utricularia inflata, particularly interesting.  This blooms throughout the swamp from February onward.  It would be especially attractive to her because of its uniqueness as a floating carnivorous plant, without visible leaves, with rootlike structures below the water surface that float the stem and blossom and that contain bladders to trap small swimming animals. 
    Research assistance:  biologist Richard Roehrdanz, retired from USDA, and three members of an heirloom flowers group:  Joel T. Fry, Curator at Philadelphia's John Bartram Association, Dr. Arthur O. Tucker, Emeritus Professor at the University of Delaware and Emeritus Director DOV, Dept. of Agriculture & Natural Resources, and Nancy Wetzel, retired Sarah Orne Jewett House Gardener.

Pinguicula caerulea

Pinguicula caerulea
blueflower butterwort
copyright Eric Asai
Courtesy of USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Pinguicula pumila

Pinguicula pumila
small butterwort
copyright Jeff McMillian
Courtesy of USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service


Pinguicula lutea
Photographed near Jacksonville. FL
Courtesy of the Botanical Society of America.

Yellow Butterwort

Utricularia inflata

Okefenokee NWR
by Terry Heller, February 2016

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.
The original of this diary is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  My copy is from a microfilm, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas:  Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462 1986, Reel 2.

Works of Annie Fields