1908 ORIGINAL PAIR [2] OF EXTENSIVE AND EXTRAORDINARY LETTERS HANDWRITTEN BY AN ENGLISHMAN TRAVELLING FROM NEW JERSEY TO SAN FRANCISCO AND DISCUSSING THE TRAGIC DEVASTATION AND DESTRUCTION OF THE BAY CITY FROM THE ALL TOO RECENT EARTHQUAKE

By: WILL H. PAYNE

Price: $2,255.99

Quantity: 1 available

Book Condition: Very Good


On offer are a fascinating pair [2] of handwritten letters surrounding a cross-country trip taken in the first decade of the 20th century. The two letters, totalling 22 pages, are a fascinating look at early 20th Century America, and most interestingly, a chilling account of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that killed about 3,000 people died and destroyed over 80% of the city, that occurred two years before the author arrived in the city. The letters were written by Will H. Payne who was writing to his wife back in England. The letters begin with Will already in San Francisco. This first one dates February 24th, 1908. In it, Will tells his wife about the trip from Washington D.C. to California. His descriptions of the towns along the way across America is wonderful, especially his words on the wild city of New Orleans. From New Jersey, Will goes onto Philadelphia, Washington D.C., North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona and then onto California. In each new state, he writes both of observations seen from the train and also facts of the state that he is in (history, geography, landscape, names, etc.). The second letter is on March 21st, 1908 and Will gives an extraordinary, detailed and thoroughly fascinating account of the recent history of San Francisco. Most notably, he writes at length about the 1906 Earthquake that ravaged the city and killed so many. He also writes about how they are trying to clean up the city and describes the buildings still left standing. He describes the city as he sees it now and the neighborhoods and monuments that make up the beautiful city as it rebuilds: the conservatory, the museum, the harbor, and the Italian fishing village. Included as well is a postcard, written by Will in Idaho Falls, Idaho on August 30, 1908, to his wife. The content is simple, writing that he loves his wife and will write to her the next day. The postcard’s picture is of a horse drawn wagon crossing in front of a house, with a dry, dusty hill rising behind the caravan. It has “35 - Mountain Express” printed on the bottom. These really are incredible letters, both in their content and historical value. Each page of the letter has writing on its back and front and measures about 7 1/2” x 10”. The letters are unbound and each page came in their own plastic sleeve and numbered. The pages are in fair to good shape, exhibiting little wear or discoloration. The handwriting is clear and readable throughout, in black ink, showing little to no smudging or consistent fading. OVERALL: VG. Text: “February 24th, 1908. 138th Noe Street San Francisco, California U.S.A. My Dear Wife...After catching the train from New Jersey at 8 P.M., on the 10th inst. I got as far as Philadelphia (which is in Pennsylvania State) at 10:45 the same night. There I changed and caught the 11:32 P.M. to Washington (Virginia) arriving there at 3:30 next morning and as soon as it was daylight I had a walk around the place, saw the Capital where the congress sits and it is a most wonderful building…….“The next state is South Carolina or Palmetto State, one of the thirteen original states. It’s length is 280 miles. It’s principle river is Savannah, navigable for 130 miles. It’s mineral products much the same as North Carolina. I did not see many white people. Nearly all Nig-rs (he spells it out) and they lived in very rude huts made of logs and mud and thatched roofs and the place abounds with Malaria fever…..The river Alabama which we crossed by a very frail structure called a bridge, which shook very much, I am sure its quite a wonder the whole concern don’t collapse and the general aspect improves the further south. For miles I traveled and could only see vast stretches of Palm and ferns with just a few native huts dotted here and there and the only specks of civilization is to be seen only at stations and there the major portion of the people are colored. Then we only just skirted the border of Florida and the smell of oranges were beautiful but the scenery much the same...The place is infested with thieves around the docks at Mobile and you can see them walking about with slouch hats and belts full of cartridges with a revolver in their holster by their side. It is said that if any one get out of the train and go to a saloon for a drink, he comes out, plus his purse and valuables and got to put your hands up with a gun in your face. It’s not necessary for me to say that I did not get out there, although I got out most stations for a stretch. We stayed there about 1 hour….It is now evening and nearing half of the railway journey and at 9:40 P.M. we ran into New Orleans Station where I was transferred by company bus to a station the other side of town and found upon arrival that I had to wait until 11:55 A.M. next day, Thursday 13th instant...Saw the old market place (French) and is very curious. Also the ovens, a place something like a house covered with marble slabs. In the wall are small doors (iron). Each of these doors open into a small recess into which people were buried as it were the coffins were put in the door closed and then bricked up and a slab bedded, bearing their name, etc. But the way which the garbage and filth were run into the gutters in the street, which were about 18” thick deep, did not appeal to me as being healthy, in fact I thought it was very disgusting. The streets are very wide, there being five sets of electric train lines down the middle, and raised up about 6 inches with grass growing between and there being a space between the train lines and the curb of about 25 feet for ordinary traffic and after buying some hand and bread and some oranges, I wandered any way to the station…….P.S. I will write about San Francisco next week and tell George I will write him a letter at the same time. Will.”; “March 21st, 08. My Dear Wife, I am now going to give you a description of this city. San Francisco or the doomed city as it is generally known in America, has been destroyed either by earthquake or fire and fire alone seven times...April 18th, 19th, and 20th, 1906 was the fateful date when after the quake, which wrecked many fine buildings and killed a great many persons, there followed the fire which could not be stopped on account of the water pipes all being broken. The fire broke out in several parts of the city, however the main line of the burning buildings started near the water front, or about half mile from it, and was about two miles long and swept everything before it. Men tried to check it by blowing up some of the intervening property but to no avail, the raging flames simply had to take their course until they reached what is known as Van Ness Avenue, which road being very wide, coupled by the wind reversing, was then held in check otherwise there would not have been a house standing, that part of the town in which I live and was saved, the part too is all wooden houses. People were running about frantic, some seeking their children, children seeking their parents, others trying to save as much of their belongings as possible. A great many running in wild order to the parks and other open spaces in order to escape the flames. A great many also were caught in the burning mass unable to get away, like rats in a trap. They were doomed to die the terrible way possible. Some stood at the windows of the burning houses, imploring the soldiers to shoot them. Mothers, fathers and children ran out of their homes and in many cases got separated and never saw each other any more. There are several people here which lost their children in the flames and lots of young children who lost either one or both of their parents. Mothers were maddened with terror and running frantically about, vainly seeking their off spring…...”; Manuscript; 4to - over 9¾" - 12" tall; KEYWORDS: HISTORY OF, WILL H. PAYNE, LONDON, ENGLAND, CROSS COUNTRY TRIP, TRAIN TRAVEL IN AMERICA, EARLY 20TH CENTURY TRAVEL, TURN OF THE CENTURY, DESCRIPTIONS OF STATES AND CITIES, THE MOUNTAIN EXPRESS STAGECOACH LINE, NEW JERSEY, PHILADELPHIA, WASHINGTON D.C., NEW ORLEANS, THE SOUTHERN STATES, TEXAS, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, 1906 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE, DESTRUCTION OF SAN FRANCISCO, DEVASTATING FIRES, URBAN DISASTERS, REBUILDING OF THE BAY AREA, AMERICA IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY, ENGLISHMEN IN THE UNITED STATES, AMERICANA, HANDWRITTEN, MANUSCRIPT, DOCUMENT, LETTER, AUTOGRAPH, WRITER, HAND WRITTEN, DOCUMENTS, SIGNED, LETTERS, MANUSCRIPTS, HISTORICAL, HOLOGRAPH, KEEPSAKE WRITERS, AUTOGRAPHS, PERSONAL, MEMOIR, MEMORIAL, ARCHIVE, DIARY, DIARIES, JOURNAL, LOG, ANTIQUITÉ, CONTRAT, VÉLIN, DOCUMENT, MANUSCRIT, PAPIER ANTIKE, BRIEF, PERGAMENT, DOKUMENT, MANUSKRIPT, PAPIER OGGETTO D’ANTIQUARIATO, ATTO, VELINA, DOCUMENTO, MANUSCRITTO, CARTA ANTIGÜEDAD, HECHO, VITELA, DOCUMENTO, MANUSCRITO, PAPEL

Title: 1908 ORIGINAL PAIR [2] OF EXTENSIVE AND EXTRAORDINARY LETTERS HANDWRITTEN BY AN ENGLISHMAN TRAVELLING FROM NEW JERSEY TO SAN FRANCISCO AND DISCUSSING THE TRAGIC DEVASTATION AND DESTRUCTION OF THE BAY CITY FROM THE ALL TOO RECENT EARTHQUAKE

Author Name: WILL H. PAYNE

Categories: Books and Manuscripts General Overview, 20th Century Manuscript, All, 20th Century Ephemera,

Publisher: NEW JERSEY TO SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES, USA, 1908

Book Condition: Very Good

Seller ID: 0009130

Keywords: Keywords: History Of Will H. Payne LONDON ENGLAND Cross Country Trip Train Travel In America Early 20th Century Travel Turn Of The Century Descriptions Of States And Cities