The Atlantic Crossing Begun

Eliza Baylies Wheaton left her stateroom on April 18. The Niagara reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, at two o’clock in the morning. During their two hours in port, the ship took on coal. Seventeen passengers debarked and another seventeen boarded. Laban Morey Wheaton and David Emory Holman, to whom Eliza Wheaton referred as “Hus.” and “the Major,” went ashore.

The two men were cousins and business partners. Decennial censuses for 1860 and 1870 listed Holman’s occupation as “millenary,” and the men operated a straw hat manufactory in a house owned by Wheaton in Norton. Holman had spent a few months as a major in the Seventh Massachusetts Infantry. He retained his rank after leaving the army.

For Eliza Wheaton, beginning to cross the Atlantic meant an opportunity to spend several hours outside her stateroom. She found the sea air on deck refreshing, and she made note of sighting “a school of Porpoise” as well as a seagull that followed the ship. When she left the deck to retire to her stateroom, she became seasick again. The crossing would be a long one.
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Eliza Baylies Wheaton, Travel Journal, Wheaton Family Collection (MC089), Marion B. Gebbie Archives & Special Collections, Madeleine Clark Wallace Library, Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

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