A Travellerspoint blog

Lyrical Ballads

Following in the footsteps of William Wordsworth

View William Hatch's Travels in Europe, June 1st 1901 on W.Hatch's travel map.

We last left Mr. Hatch exploring the charming town of Chester, just south of Liverpool in England. He and his traveling partners - Mr. Ed Harper and his wife - spent just two more days in Chester before setting off into the English countryside.

It is now June 14th, 1901 as he writes his wife Nelly from the Moss Grove Hotel in Grasmere, England. This part of England, two hours north of Liverpool by car, is known as the Lake District and is revered throughout the country as having some of the most beautiful scenery found anywhere in England. This district, now a national park, consists of 885 square miles of lakes, rivers, valleys, and the tallest mountains in England (though Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have several mountains which are taller) including Skafell Pike. The Lake District is also intimately associated with literature in England -- William Wordsworth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wordsworth, Robert Southey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Southey, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Taylor_Coleridge are three of the most prominent authors to draw inspiration from the incredible vistas found there.


"Westmorland cairn Great Gable" by Doug Sim - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Westmorland_cairn_Great_Gable.jpg#/media/File:Westmorland_cairn_Great_Gable.jpg

William Wordsworth had an especially prominent influence on our Mr. Hatch. William frequently references the author throughout his journal and clearly read and deeply appreciated Wordsworth's poetry. By reading his journal we find that not only has Hatch read Wordsworth, not only does he own copies of the author's work, but he has a copy with him on this trip across the pond. In fact, he carries it with him throughout the trip, including the rigorous hikes and long boat rides in the Lake District.


In describing his surroundings, as we already have seen, Hatch is very observant. He relates most of what he encountered in his travels in a way which his wife, who experienced it only through his writing, would have most readily understood. For example, in describing his room at the Moss Grove Hotel to Nelly, William says "My room is about as large as the little room that Jessie [Florida] had in the little house at Rock Island [in Illinois]. I can easily touch the ceiling." He relates sunsets and valleys, food and lodgings by comparing them to what he and his wife already have knowledge of. This habit is one that any person who has traveled will often find themselves doing -- we cannot help but experience and compare new things to those which we have already cataloged in our memories. This theme is one which Hatch returns to time and again throughout his journal.


William Hatch and Mr. & Mrs. Harper in front of the Moss Grove Hotel in in Grasmere, England

Hatch was clearly more entranced by the serene views and picturesque settings of the Lake District than even the quaint town of Chester. His love of Wordsworth is understandable once he begins describing the English countryside. A romantic at heart and in the heart of the Romantic period of literature, Hatch fulfilled a life-long dream by traveling through the mountains and valleys of his hero:


Mr. Hatch clearly has many wonderful things to say about his travels, but he also shares his admiration of his companions, the Harpers:


While William is obviously enamored with the landscape of this part of England, he also is impressed with its inhabitants. In the course of one of their hikes through the Lake District, Hatch and the Harpers came upon a well-spoken shepherd:




With this encounter, Hatch is beginning to see the value of travel beyond the thrill of checking countries off of a bucket list. The shepherd in the mountains of Grasmere is the first of several people who make an impression on William Hatch in the course of his travels. It is interactions such as this - chatting with the locals and discovering their favorite parts of home - which make travel to distant cities or even more distant countries one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. One can learn more about the world in the course of a conversation with a shepherd than with months spent at work or in the classroom.

What will William Hatch learn next?

Until next time, cheers!

Dustin Bardon
Interim Director, Rockford Area Historical Society

Posted by W.Hatch 15:26 Archived in England Comments (0)

"Not sorry to get on to mother earth again"

Arrival in England, June 11th 1901

View William Hatch's Travels in Europe, June 1st 1901 on W.Hatch's travel map.

It has been two weeks since our first entry following the exploits of Mr. William Hatch as he crossed eastward over the ocean. While he wrote much, a ten day voyage aboard a relatively small ship in the middle of the steel-gray North Atlantic left little more for him to do than observe the other passengers, and read -- as the picture below shows.



With his departure from Portland, Maine on June 1st 1901, Hatch had set out on the voyage of a lifetime. Travelling aboard the RMS Dominion, he remarked frequently on the food, accommodation, and other passengers, as we have already seen. The most common of his descriptions to his wife Nellie, however, was the persistence of the sea; "Think of it, nine days with only water, water everywhere." Hatch often remarks on the fine weather as well - apart from infrequent rain and fog - and finds that "the salt air gives a good appetite." Nevertheless, he is delighted when he "went out on deck before breakfast [and] we were in plain sight of the coast of the Emerald Isle." Mr. Hatch continues, "we expect to reach [Liverpool] at eight or nine to-morrow morning. It seems good to see land. ...Our voyage has been very prosperous and all are happy. I shall not be sorry to get on to mother earth again."


The image above is an 1890 advert for the Dominion Line Royal Mail Steamers. This shipping company bought the "Prussia" from a German shipping company in 1894 and designated it as the lead ship in their fleet, renaming it the "Dominion." It was this very ship aboard which William Hatch sighted the shores of Ireland on June 10th, 1901 and landed ashore in Liverpool, England just one day later. While still aboard the Dominion Hatch had the first of what would be many experiences which only occur while travelling abroad. These are the unique instances in which the traveler is smacked full force with the realization that they are no longer in their home country. Such occasions can be confusing and intimidating, but they are always invigorating -- there is nothing quite like these experiences "back home." Below is an excerpt from his journal in which Mr. Hatch recounts just such an encounter:


Clearly his first interactions with the English had been a bit discombobulating but were far from disastrous. On the contrary, Hatch quickly found the English people, their customs, and especially their countryside to be exceptionally endearing. On Wednesday June 11th, 1901 the Dominion docked in Liverpool harbor, and from there Hatch and his companions traveled to Chester, a town just a few miles south east of Liverpool. His first glimpses of a city that was hundreds of years older than his country clearly made its impression on William:



These first impressions of England are where we will leave off for now. Until next time, cheers!

Dustin Bardon
Interim Director, Rockford Area Historical Society

Posted by W.Hatch 16:26 Archived in England Tagged england travel_journal rms_dominion william_hatch Comments (0)


Departing for a European adventure

View William Hatch's Travels in Europe, June 1st 1901 on W.Hatch's travel map.

One hundred and fourteen years ago yesterday, William Hatch set sail for the green isle of England. A prominent teacher and school administrator, Hatch served as superintendent of ISD#97 in Oak Park, Illinois from 1882 to 1917. An elementary school in Oak Park still bears his namesake because of Hatch's immense contributions to education in that community. At the turn of the 20th Century, at the age of 56, Mr. Hatch set out on the trip of a lifetime. He wrote almost daily regarding his travels to his wife Nellie, who was a member of a prominent milling family from Rockford, Minnesota. Through his travels William retraced the paths that inspired his favorite poets, visited streets and scenes immortalized by authors such as Charles Dickens, and discovered the delights that anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize.

Each week this blog will follow the path taken by William Hatch as he made his way through England, the Netherlands, Germany, and France. Accompanying these posts is a map, which can be found at the top of each entry. Excerpts from the many letters written by Hatch on his journey and information detailing places, people, or events of particular interest or importance will also be featured throughout. Follow along as turn-of-the Century Europe unfolds before your eyes thanks to the diligent writing of this remarkable man. This is the first of many of these entries.

In his first journal entry, Mr. Hatch describes the many things which he observed about the ship on which he and his companions traveled. Setting sail from Portland, Maine (which Hatch had reached from Chicago by train), the ship traveled over the Atlantic Ocean towards its destination of Liverpool, England. Mr. Hatch writes concisely but with much detail. In describing the meals aboard ship on June 2nd, 1901he says,

"We have great fun at meals. Everything is English. The waiters (or stewards as they are called [on ships]) are all men and they have very serious, courteous manners of the English waiters. We have breakfast at 8:30 to 9:30, lunch 1 to 1:45, dinner 6 to 7, supper 9 to 10 if ordered. In the middle of the afternoon the deck steward serves tea on deck if wished. The food is fine -- a good variety and all well cooked. No butter is served to you at dinner and they made great fun of me when I ask for some."

Clearly there is much in common with cruise ships of today where food is concerned. While the meals and the dining room might not have been as extravagant as they are today, Hatch is clearly impressed with what is available. Most interesting is his description of the stewards -- it is obvious that he hasn't had much exposure to people from a different culture. This fascination and observation of other people will remain throughout the coming entries. I can't wait to see what he thinks of the French!


The ship pictured above is the RMS Carpathia, famous for rescuing survivors of the sinking Titanic. Though not the ship that Mr. Hatch sailed to Liverpool on, this picture gives a good example of what passenger ocean liners were like at the turn of the 19th Century. Hatch remarks that, "there is a long, sheltered promenade on each side of the steamer. The walk may be extended to almost the prow of the ship." These were nothing like the massive cruise ships sailing the ocean today. No climbing wall in sight, no wave pools, no outdoor bars or acres of sun decks. Nevertheless, they still provided ways for passengers to remain active. Mr. Hatch describes the deck-side habits of English gentlemen as, "he seems to take his pleasures very seriously and he walks back and forth as though walking for a wager, and an important one at that... Back and forth they go as though they were on the way to business and were late. They are painfully active." Clearly the Midwesterner from 1901 loves people watching as much as this one from 2015 does.

Check back soon for more updates from William Hatch. What idiosyncrasies will he notice next about his fellow passengers? With days left of the trip across the Atlantic Ocean, I am sure that he will have many more illuminating observations as he sails toward Liverpool, England. To follow his route, just click on the map at the top of this page!

Until next time!

Dustin Bardon
Interim Director, Rockford Area Historical Society

Posted by W.Hatch 17:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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