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