Week 7 of #AnniesDiary100 – Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls, #OnThisDay 12-17 March 1924

Niagara Falls, 1921 – Wikimedia Commons

Our last 2 posts from Annie’s Diary recorded their experiences of 1924 California, in particular in carring the message of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to the congregations of Welsh Community Churches in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

After over a week on the Pacific Coast of America, Annie and her travel companion Gladys Thomas headed west again, this time southwards towards Arizona and the Grand Canyon – from where they would continue across the States to Chicago and Niagara Falls, taking in 2 ‘great wonders of the world’ in one week. After several weeks of non-stop campaigining on the message of Wales’ Women’s Peace Petition, this week was one of almost pure sightseeing – an insight into 1920s America as a ‘tourist’.

Annie’s Diary Excerpts

It is worth noting for readers that there is some discrepancy in Annie’s Diary between the correct dates / days, and what she had written – these are noted below.

Annies Diary – Digitised Pages

Annies Diary – Transcription

Annie’s Diary – Who’s Who

Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52

March 12th 1924 (Wednesday)

NB – Annie noted this as a Tuesday in her diary.

Page 47“Left Los Angeles by 11:00 a.m. train. Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Morgan got their car to take us to the station revenues as John Davis this is Daniel James Mr. And Mrs. Johns reverent D Jones and the 2 ladies alone saw us off. A letter was handed to me as I left station – an anonymous letter telling us to get out of the States.”

It is perhaps worth noting, with some surprise, that Annie does not make more of what sounds like quite a threatening moment; this is the only record of any negativity expressed towards the Women’s Peace delegation and their message of international cooperation. However, it is important to remember that America in the 1920s was isolationist in the extreme, and many people were stroingly against the League of Nations as they saw this as vehicle for dragging the US into European wars. So it is perhaps not surprising that there would have been some voices of opposition to the women’s campaign; not to mention of course, that womenhad only just won the vote in both US and UK – and many men felt threatened by this, just as misogynists continue to do so today. The anonymous threat letter remains a classic bullying tactic across the generations. Thankfully, the rest of theirt journey was more positive – and Annie made light of this incident in her diary.

We journeyed through California state all the day-and reached Williams the Junction for the Grand Canyon early-on.”

Contemporary 1920s postcard of Grand CanyonWikimedia Commons, reproducing 1882 painting by William Holmes

Wednesday morning (March 12th)

Got off the train at Grand Canyon and went to the Hotel El Forar for breakfast, a splendid meal. Then booked seats for motor trips – one round hermit rim & another after lunch in the other direction. The G- C- is beyond description in formation, colour, & effect.”

This celebrated historic hotel located directly on the rim of the Grand Canyon first opened its doors in 1905. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.  The Chicago architect envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa. Following their tour, Annie continues:

We went to a Morie Lecture given by two brothers called Kolb – who had travelled through the Canyon from Colorado river right thro the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of 217 miles. We saw pictures of their wonderful experiences in 2 flat bottomed boats & the many escapades they endured & narrow escapes they had. We then went over to Hopi House (the Indian centre). Saw the Indians dance & shook hands with the chief who had a university training. He told us he had already 4 wives but he was still on the market. We walked a dozen to the station, only a few yards by 7:00 p.m. – got on the train & found Section Car 42.

Then travelled down to Williams – where we spent the night – & had a good night’s rest.”

Images – Grand Canyon National Park Archives, via Flickr

The Hopi House (1905) visited by Annie in March 1924 is a large, multi-story building of stone masonry, shaped and built like a Hopi pueblo. Mary Colter was commissioned in 1904 by the Fred Harvey Company to design an “Indian Arts Building” as the hospitality giant liked to call their souvenir shops; the talented and stubborn architect was eager to accept the challenge. She was one of just a few women in a male-dominated field, and ‘lady-like’ wasn’t in her vocabulary. Neither were the words “traditional European influences.” Colter’s vision extended well beyond that. Inspired by the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon, she wanted to design something that appeared native, natural and timeless. Hopi House, modeled after the 1,000 year-old pueblo dwellings of the Hopi village in Old Oraibi, was a radically new experience for tourists; Colter’s attention to detail and human history created a strange and exotic world they could easily and safely enjoy – as reflected in Annie’s diary account.

Page 48 .

Thursday March 13th 1924

“In the train all-day. Left Williams at 5:30 a.m. and went along, passed Winston where we transferred from our section to compartment B which was far more comfortable. We got to Albuquerque by 5:10 p.m. & got out & bought mugs & oranges – & Mrs. Thomas had a sandwich – I left her in the church. Got in the car & Mr. Davey called upon us and asked if I was the lady who had come over from Wales with a mission. He is from Briton Ferry. his wife a pretty woman from Llanelly. They lived at Mansfield, a large tinplate industry town near Cleveland Ohio – Mansfield Tinplate Company – Mr. Davey one of the directors. We had a comfortable night.

Friday March 14th 1924 – Eastwards on the Southern Pacific

Southern Pacific Railroad, 1920s

After breakfast Mr. And Mrs. Davy called to see us & were very pleasant & asked us to stay with them in their home in mansfield. He spoke much of the great effects of Prohibition in this country. Difference between breaking state and federal law.”

The men drank before-and enjoyed it all himself. Now he spends the money on a Ford car. His family enjoy it with him, more money saved. The Workman did not ask for it. The worst offenders were the people who could buy it – the masters – & the coast towns gave an instance of _.

During the Prohibition era from 1920 to 1933, the US prohibited production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic drinks.

Page 49

One of the most prominent men in Mansfield providing whisky at 1 of the clubs. Found out – & though all the wealth of the place was available for his defence, he was condemned to prison for 3 years.

We sat and sewed most of the day. & went in to see George & his mother who lived next door to us. Then we went to call upon Mr. & Mrs. Davey in their compartment & they invited them to have dinner with them. An invitation we accepted with the alacrity. Slept badly this night. Got out for 20 minutes at Kansas City.

Saturday March 15th – Chicago

Annie’s return via Chicago enabled her to see again her brother David Charles Davies, Director of the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, and sister in-law Abbie, who they had stayed with a few weeks previous on their way westwards across the States.

Chicago Field Museum, 1920s

Got up early, & I had breakfast & packed. Got to Chicago by 10 to 10. Got a taxi & drove up to 4933 Lexhampton Avenue where Abbie [Annie’s Sister-in-Law] greeted us very warmly, & where we found a bundle of letters awaiting us – 3 from Peter, 4 from Tom, 2 from Lily, 1 from John – & many others. Tidied up & went round to station to secure sections for the trip to Buffalo. $5.63 each – Back to Abbie’s & then had lunch & down to Field Museum by 3.p.m. Met David [Annie’s Brother] there & went to a lecture on Egyptian Mummies.”

Mrs Pearson soon arrived & we went to David’s room & she told me of the Student Fellowship and spoke for an hour – wanted me to be the sponsor for Wales & gave me brooch & information on movement etc, etc – We drove back to Dorchester & then had tea, & went out to the Kenwood to dinner at 6.30, walking there and back!

Page 50

Got back home and listened to the radio- a terrible Sobotch – & it was soon turned off. We sat & talked & read papers – Went to bed & slept well.”

Sunday March 16th – Overnight train across Michigan

“Got up & had breakfast at 10 a.m – then packed up my things and a Mr. Cheney, a friend of David, called with his little girls Sally & Betty – we sat & talked, had lunch at 1.30 & left at 2.45 for 53rd Street Station on the Michigan Central RR (Railroad). David & Abbie drove with us & we left at 3.11 in Car 8 – Section 807 for Niagara Falls. A lovely afternoon, & passed along the side of Lake Michigan & thro’ small orchards of peaches and vines and to Kalamazoo where 2/3rds of celery used of the United States is grown.7.20 p.m. just passed through Battle Creek. A young Belgium girl called Georgette came and spoke to us.”

Monday, March 17th – Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls 1920 – edited by Paul Sherman, WPClipart Licensed to the public under Creative Commons.

Our kind porter on the train called us before 6.a.m. by a gentle “tap, tap” under our beds & told us we were nearing Niagara. We dressed quickly & hastily & had all our baggage & ourselves in readiness when the train steamed in to Niagara Falls Station, at 6.05. Too dark to see anything of the Falls, as we passed along.

We got off the train & went into the station & began wondering what we had better do about getting in touch with Elined Prys who had arranged to meet us at Buffalo that day. As Buffalo was 23 miles beyond Niagara we decided to get off there & get in touch with Elined at Lennox Hotel Buffalo – the place arranged for our meeting. We phoned to the manager of Lennox Hotel, but she was not there. “

Page 51

We then went to a café the other side of the street from the station – the 3 of us – Mr Thomas, Georgette, & myself. We then sent a long wire to Elined to Lennox Hotel. We then made arrangements for going round to see the wonders of Niagara Falls. We started walking through the Park & had our first view of the wonderful Falls – we saw two rainbows as we saw the Falls. We then arranged to take the Scenic Trip around the Falls & through the Gorge – paying $1.50 for the round trip.

We got over the great steel arch bridge to Canada and on to Table Rock– where we got off & went into the stores where there were various things for sale, made of spav and leather etc – we decided to go down to see the Falls from inside – so we donned oil skins, sou’westers and rubber Napoleons & set forth! Going into an elevator, we went down, down into the bowels of the Earth & came eventually to a spot where we got out & where a tunnel had been cut thro’ the rocks & had several peeks of the Falls from within & behind, so to speak.”

A frozen Niagara Falls in 1921, exactly as Annie would have seen – and unfortunately slipped (see diary text). Wikimedia Commons / Charles Dow (1921)

Large parts of the water was frozen, & the tunnel was lined & beautifully decorated with icicles – many of them yards long – I tumbled (nothing new) on the ice & slipped many yards, but our valiant escort rescued me & I soon found my feet again. We retraced our steps & then got back to the top safely – After removing the extra clothing, & making some purchases we made our way to the Power Houses of the Canadian Electrical Plant & were conducted over the whole place and shown everything of interest by a guide. Booklet gives all details of this & of our Scenic Trip. We then continued our trip around & had most gorgeous views of everything. Setting back by 1.30 – we went to the same place for lunch – Louis’s Restaurant.

Page 52

“No sign of Elined.

We played round bought some trifles s.p. post came until 3.42pm when we left by train for Utica – Leaving Georgette alone on the platform. We had a pleasant trip by train to Utica; passing through Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, where Miss Carver & her brother in law came to see us pass through. Miss Carver looked well & bonnie & was very cheery & told us the news of Elined’s engagement to an Austrian Count!! She told us she intended sailing for home on April 5th.

This remarkable piece of news records Elined Prys’ engagement to Walter Maria Kotschnig, whom she met whilst working with refugees in Austria after WW1, and went on to marry, becoming Elined Prys Kotschnig. Walter Kotschnig went on to work for the US State Department, and would be instrumental 20 years later in helping establish the United Nations.

Hotel Utica, 1910

We got to Utica at 9.42, where we were met by Rev T.O. Hughes of one of the Welsh American Churches who was supplying [as a Minister] at Utica – Mr Henry Hughes of the “Utica Press” & Mr Morris Williams secretary of the Cymreigyddion Society. We waited about for a time, hoping to have news of Elined & I gave Mr Hughes a short interview & then we went by taxi to the Hotel Utica, where reservations had been made for us by the Welsh friends.

Upon reaching the hotel we found several ladies awaiting our arrival – Shy, timid women who gave us a warm welcome, standing in a semi circle & beaming upon us & we were so tired, we just wanted to go to our rooms to rest- we were shown our rooms 605-606. Two rooms & a bathroom- reserved for Elined & Mrs Thomas and me.

We had just begun to unpack when two ladies arrived – Mrs Hitchcock, of whom more anon, & Mrs Lloyd, wife of brother in law to Mrs Elvet-Lewis, thro her first husband. The former talked & sputtered. The other tried to get in a little remark edgeways, but failed. We were then left in peace & had a good night’s rest.

Next Post – Utica, March 18-19

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