Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 42

One of my brothers was to go with me as far as Moberly, Missouri, where another brother was in business. It was not exactly for my sake that he went, but it was very convenient for me to have him as he was accustomed to traveling and I was not. Then I was still a semi-invalid, and his company was a safeguard. There was another man going so the three of us had the big coach all to ourselves. That made it more convenient especially at night, for it gave us room to stretch our limbs and rest. We had no hotels to stop at for the night but our journey was one unbroken move with the only interruption of changing our horses at the various relay stations which were about fifteen miles apart. Leaving Denver we had six prancing grey horses, and our big Concord coach cut quite a swell as we left the city.

          At the first relay station we got but four horses, and so for the rest of that day. The following day when we could see we found ourselves jogging behind our mules and we continued thus until the last relay before reaching Hays City when we got six horses and entered the new town with some style about us. For our meals we brought our own food, and you may be sure our mother put up plenty and of the best. We saw no Indians during the trip, although we were passing through dangerous country where they might appear at any moment. But we were well armed and would have put up a good fight if attacked, and made a race for the nearest relay station where we could have been safe for the time. These stations were built mostly under ground- showing over ground only a dirt covered mound with openings for light on all sides and serving as lookouts and portables for defense against attackers.

          Hays City was then the terminus of the Kansas Pacific Railroad then in course of construction, and it was served by a mixed train for building material, freight and passengers to Kansas City, 300 miles distant. There was no sleeping coach, so I got a full seat and with a blanket for covering stretched out as comfortably as I could, and although there were no cushions on the board seats, I slept more comfortably and restfully than I ever have done since in any Pullman. The starting jerks and stopping bumps did not disturb me in the least. The cars then were linked together loosely in the old fashion and took up the slack between the coaches and each started with a jerk, and the stop came when each coach bumped against the one in front. A night and a day were required to make the distance to Kansas City, and there we stayed at a hotel for another night’s rest, and the next day we reached Moberly, then a town just started in the woods where the North Missouri Railroad was building a branch road to Brunswick and farther west.

          The priest attending the district was Rev. Michael Walsh of Macon City. He had not said mass at Moberly yet, but on New Year’s day he was at Renick, a small town a few miles away, and some of us went there by handcar to hear Mass at the house of Mr. O’Keeffe, a foreman of the railroad. A few days later my Missouri brother accompanied me to St. Louis, whence he returned home and left me to pursue the rest of my journey alone. It was the first time that I had ever been in such a large city, and the crowded streets were strange to me. I never felt so much alone as in that crowd. I was not homesick, but a spirit of lonesomeness came over me, and I was immenseley [immensely] relieved when the bus came to take the passengers across the ferry to East St. Louis  for the eastbound train. The next morning,

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