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1830 Loomis

Elisha Loomis (1796-1836) was a missionary for the American Board of Foreign Missions. Loomis had been a missionary and printer in the Hawaiian Islands, 1820 to 1827. His health failed in Hawaii and he returned to his home state of New York. From 1830 to 1832 he worked at Mackinac Island as a missionary and school teacher. While there he edited a spelling book. His health was still poor and he returned to New York.

[October] 19. Detroit. We arrived here this morning 46 hours from Buffalo, having had an uncommonly good passage although last night it blew a gale. Our vessel was strong, and calculated for the navigation of the lake, which is generally boisterious at this season of the year.

Our company on the boat was quite respectable, but less numerous than usual. The price of a passage in the cabin is $10 which includes all expenses.. . .

It is now the capital of the Territory of Michigan and it ever has been since the Territory was erected. The population is 2222. It is pleasantly and favorably situated on the western side of the Detroit River as the strait connecting Huron and Erie is here called. It has five churches viz: a Presbyterian, an Episcopal, a Methodist, a Baptist, and a Catholic. I have seldom seen a place more handsomely situated. The river is here about a mile in diameter and very deep, although the current is nearly 3 miles an hour. Besides many sloops and schooners constantly trading between this and other ports, steam boats arrive and depart daily, ladden with passengers. A passage may be made from this place to New York City in four days and a half, although the distance is 750 miles. A few years since it was usually designated as being far "beyond the westward." There it was that Gen. Hull, after the blustering proclamation he had issued to the inhabitants of Canada, retired on the approach of the British and Indians under Gen. Brock. Fortifications, the remains of which are still visible were immediately thrown up, but the whole army was ingloriously surrendered on the 16th of August 1812. Gen. Hull was afterwards tried on charges of treason and cowardice, convicted and sentenced to be shot. The sentence was approved by the President but the execution of it remitted. Gen. Hull died a few years since, not however till he had published an able vindication of his conduct, in which he made it appear that much of the blame attached to him was chargeable to the War Department.. . .

I have taken lodgings at the Mansion House for a few days. Col. Mack, the proprietor, I learned visited the Sandwich Islands about 20 years since, when on a sealing voyage.. . .

[October] 21. Having taken lodgings at the house of a Mr. Davis, a merchant of this place, who has kindly invited us to remain with him while in port, I should mention that several gentlemen have interested themselves for us and would have taken us to their houses but for sickness in their families. Among them are Mr. Hastings, President of the State Bank of Michigan, and Dr. Rice.

[October] 22. Mr. George L. Whitney, a nephew of S. Whitney, resides in this place and is the publisher of the North Western Journal. He is a young man of respectability.

[October] 23. Sabbath. The Presbyterian clergyman, Rev. Mr. Wells, preached in the morning on the certainty of the triumphs of the gospel. He is evidently a man of talents. I could not however, but think the sermon would have better fitted another occasion, a week-day lecture for instance. There was no direct appeal to the impenitent to repent, an omission, which I think is culpable under any circumstances, where unconverted men and women are present. Yet alas how few comparatively of our preachers are free from this error. It is common to preach as if the conversion of souls was not the object of preaching. I sometimes think they have not studied the history of our Savior in his ministrations, or they think they have found out a method of preaching better than his. I can't but say that Mr. W.'s sermon was a good one, yet I think it would be a matter of wonder if it should lead any sinner to repent.

[October] 26. Wednesday. At the request of Rev. Mr. Wells I gave a statement, at meeting last evening, of the former condition of the Sandwich Islanders, and of the changes which had been effected by the introduction of Christianity. A few, comparatively were present; but as the subject was new to most of them, they listened with apparent interest. I regreted that I did not have previous notice that I might have made some preparation. Rev. Mr. Gregory, who was present, remarked afterwards that he had supposed he knew the character of the Sandwich Islanders previously, but he now found he was mistaken.

[October] 27. On Wednesday eve we had a pleasant party of select friends at tea, - among them were two who were acquainted with Mr. Richards viz. Rev. Mr. Gregory, and Rev. Mr. Bury, the latter of whom is now the Episcopal minister in this place. They, as well as the others, appear to take a deep interest in what is said of the islands. They express great indignation at the conduct of Lt. Percival whose history I briefly related.

The lady of Gov. Cass called today to invite us to attend a party at the Gov. tomorrow evening, expressing her regret she had not known of our being in town sooner. We feel reluctant to attend a large party, but as our vessel is ready to sail, and we shall have no other opportunity of visiting the Gov. We have thought it a duty to go.

Saturday [October] 29. Still detained by unfavorable winds. I engaged a passage to Mackinaw in the Sch. La Grange, Capt. Dingy, soon after my arrival here. The vessel has been ready to sail only two days and now the wind is contrary. The current here is so strong that it is in vain to think of beating up the river. So we must have patience. I have no cause to murmur, but great cause for thankfulness. My situation here is rendered pleasant and free of expense, by the kindness of a friend.

Last evening the Gov. held a kind of levee at his house, where about 100 persons assembled. As we had received an invitation, among others, we thought best to attend. I do not approve of Christians mixing often in parties of this kind, but do think it a duty under some circumstances to attend. I had much discussion of on this subject with Miss S. and Miss O. They would not admit that it was expedient for them to attend, unless under very peculiar circumstances. They feared that the example would prove pernicious, and the influence on their own minds injurious to vital piety. It is thought that Christians here conform too much to the world, a fact of which I have no doubt.

There was less of ceremony at the Governor's than I had anticipated. The Gov. is apparently about 50 years of age. Both he and his lady appeared easy and graceful in their manners, and everything passed off pleasantly enough. Still, to the Christian such parties give little satisfaction. He needs more substantial food. Mrs. Cass is I understand a professor of religion. Her dress as well as the Gov.'s was plain and becoming, while some of the ladies present, seemed to have bestowed no small pains in decorating their bodies for the occasion. I could but pity them when I thought how soon those bodies would be food for worms.

I had a specimen today of what some would call Yankee curiosity. Walking in the street, I was accosted by a countryman, who inquired if I was acquainted in the place. No was the reply. Perhaps you are looking for a farm? No. Oh, I presume you are a trader? No. Do you remain long here? No, I leave in a day or two for Mackinaw. Oh, you reside there do you? No I was never there. Just traveling about for pleasure I suppose? I assured him I was not. Well then said he, you are going on business I know? Thinking his guessing powers by this time exhausted I now frankly told him my object in going, assuring him I was by no means offended by his queries.

[October] 31. Sabbath. St. Clair Lake at Anchor. Word was sent us early this morning that the wind, for which the vessel had been waiting, was now favorable. We were sorry to be under the necessity of going on the Sabbath, but there was no alternative. We had previously sent our luggage on board. Our kind friends, Mr. and Mrs. Davis, to whom we are under great obligations, accompanied us to the schooner. The wind was fine, and we soon lost sight of Detroit.

From: DIARY OF TRIP ROCHESTER TO MACKINAC ISLAND by Elisha Loomis. Edited by Philip P. Mason. Michigan History 37(1953): 31-38.

See Also:

Mason, Philip P. Rochester to Mackinac Island, 1830. Michigan History 37 (1953): 27 -28.