The Brick Store Museum holds over 30,000 pieces of archival material written by historic Kennebunkers. A Voice from the Past shares from the museum’s collection. This week’s column is from a local woman named Hattie, who traveled with her husband, a ship captain, around the world in 1884. In this diary, she is writing from Hong Kong. Her diary is currently on view in the museum’s exhibition “Sea of Stories.”

Cynthia Walker, executive director of the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk. She can be reached at [email protected] or 207-985-4802.

Tuesday, January 1st 1884

It is now more than two years since my last attempt at keeping a diary. The year of ’82 (Aug. 10th) brought us another baby boy, and the year ’83 (Sept. 25th) took from us our darling Bennie, our first born, given, or rather lent to us Oct. 5th, 1880 in Hong Kong, and taken from us in the same place, on our third voyage to that port; within two days of his third birthday, it is useless to attempt to describe in words the bitterness of our grief – God alone knows it. He alone can help us.

My room was finished today, recess painted and carpet put down one room after another is being garnished and put in order — the three after cabin staterooms are done, also the bathroom and after vestibule. We are bound to New York with cargo of fire crackers, cassia, matting, etc. from Hong Kong and if our darling boy were only with us, this homeward passage would be a very happy one.

Wednesday Jan. 2nd, ’84 – Fine all day, until towards evening when heavy banks of clouds rising up brought a strong wind – calm, with heavy swell, all the afternoon. Captain has worked very hard today in the cabin and on deck; he does all the varnishing in the cabin, and oversees the work generally. Tom paints and steward and cabin boy do the scrubbing. We are not making very rapid progress toward our destined port having had head winds and calms for several days past. We are nearing the cape of Good Hope very slowly – hope the wind will not last much longer in this direction, as am anxious to get home – though why, I can hardly tell, as I can never be happy or contented there or elsewhere without my darling boy. When God took him, he took all earthly happiness from me at the same time. I shall never see another happy day as long as I live and I feel sometimes that I do not want to live any longer – still I know that I am not ready to die. Well, if I cannot be happy myself, I can endeavor to make others happy, and must and will try, to live a good life – one that shall be acceptable in the sight of God – so that when this earthly life is done, I may be reunited to my angel boy in that world where sorrow and partings are unknown and where God shall wipe away all tears.” Little Ralph is growing very fast, and is a dear little boy, but he can never take little Bennie’s place in my heart.

Comments are not available on this story.