UMass Amherst
William Penn Brooks in Hokkaido

William Penn Brooks letters, 1879 Oct.-1883 Jan.

Date: 1879 October 12download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: to Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Mentions student debate exercises in senior class. Having a building constructed for an experiment concerning the manufacture of sugar and syrup from the Early Amber sugar leaf. Governor puts in a propisition with the Chief of the Kaitakushi regarding him.

Date: 1879 December 08download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: to Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Offered a two year extension that he wants to renegotiate. Discusses producing draining tiles and sorghum syrup, as well as the difficulties in getting the manufacturing facility built.

Date: 1880 March 21download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Returns to Sapporo with great cordiality and import, including a meeting with the governor. His new contract describes his position as Professor of Agriculture and Director of the College Farm. Finds success in making syrup and sugar from the sap of the Japanese maple, and discusses plans to raise two new buildings.

Date: 1880 April 28download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Complains about Japanese mail system; calls it "in the line of "how not to do it.""

Date: 1880 August 08download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: On vacation. Describes a visit to Jsu Ishkari to see "the Aino," a people that emigrated from their home country of Saghalien after Japan exchanged it for Russia's Kririle islands. Undertakes an Aino tea ceremony ("some of the worst tea I ever tasted") and converses with a tribesperson, hearing how little they like Japan and how their people's deaths outnumber their births. Brooks theorizes of his interlocutor that "his race will probably become extinct at no very distant day."NOTE: The Aino (or Ainu) are an ethnic minority in Japan who mostly reside on Hokkaido.

Date: 1881 January 09download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Relates how this is the first time that he has gotten out of bed, dressed, and was able to write since he got sick. Describes the physical symptoms of his illness and proclaims that they are receding.

Date: 1881 February 07download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: He relates that his health is well enough to return to teaching, and that there is deep snow everywhere, such that his rides in the jin rikisha (a hooded light two-wheeled vehicle) are slow.

Date: 1881 February 11download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Writing at the end of the Jan. 9th letter, Will explains to his sister that the mail aboard a steamer was damaged in a severe storm, and that's the reason for no mail.

Date: 1881 March 07download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Concerned about his sister's health and describes a ride on the newly opened rail-road between Zenibako and Otaro.

Date: 1881 April 07download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Talks about how the snow will delay the planting season, and how landslides frequently block railroads. Thinks about traveling through Japan after the school year ends, to see "Old Japan," which still remains.

Date: 1881 May 03download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Suspicious of his sister's "Compound Oxygen Treatment"; snow has been gone for a week and farming begins.

Date: 1881 June 07download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Dryspell; farming suffers. Working on his speech for the graduation exercises and discusses summer travel plans, including a trip up Mount Fuji.

Date: 1881 August 08download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Tokio, Japan
Description: Examines forty-six candidates in Tokio for four spots in the college; has picture taken in Yokohama, and delights over three pecks of apples that the Kaitakushi, or the Hokkaido Development Agency, has given him.

Date: 1881 September 25download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Unsure of his future; will unlikely remain at the College in Hokkaido, and would like to return to the Massachusetts Agricultural College. Receives a hopeful letter from President Stockbridge; also mentions the death of President Garfield after Charles Guiteau's assassination attempt.

Date: 1881 October 26download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: A British steamer has arrived in Otaru bearing railroad iron. The captain is a jolly man who has befriended Brooks and his colleagues.

Date: 1881 November 16download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Thinks he will probably agree to be re-engaged to the Hokkaido college for two more years, "...unless an especially good opening offers at Amherst…"

Date: 1882 April 05download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Washington, D.C.
Description: Discusses visit plans in Massachusetts

Date: 1882 April 10download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Revere, Massachusetts
Description: Inquires where he will stay when he visits the "old home," and if she will sign for some packages if they should arrive before he.

Date: 1882 May 09download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: San Francisco
Description: Brooks writes from the Palace Hotel, relaying that the train ride to San Francisco went smoothly except for a minor accident on the train; is visiting family in the bay area, especially Uncle Volney in Oakland. Learns that his boat, the City of Peking, will not depart for four more days. Note: The City of Peking was a steamship cited by a Naval commander in 1874 to be the fastest ride out of New York, able to go about fifteen and a half knots.

Date: 1882 May 16download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: San Francisco
Description: Going to sail today at 2 p.m. Has had a "very pleasant time" in California visiting family.

Date: 1882 June 09download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Tokio, Japan
Description: Pleasant and fast journey across the Pacific (only 18 days); is the first passenger to physically disembark from the City of Peking onto "Dai Nippon" or "Great Japan." The captain was a pleasant fellow who loved to read and enjoyed discussing and quoting from the best works of time. Brooks is currently staying with friends in Yokohama while awaiting a steamship to Hakodate.

Date: 1882 June 11download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Yokohama Harbor
Description: On a mail steamer which will carry him North to Hokkaido the next day. Smell almost unbearable; ship previously carried fish.

Date: 1882 June 23download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: We learn the mail steamer that took Brooks from Yokohama to Hakodate is the "Toyoshima maru," and that the captain is from Boston. Upon arrival, he drops off a "summer hat" to Miss Hampton, which seems to contain many items, although a requested bottle of vaseline was not among them. In the evening, boards another steamer, the "Tokar maru," bound for Otaru. The next day he takes a train to Sapporo where he is met at the station by the entire college (students included).

Date: 1883 January 16download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: His wife Eva gives birth to a daughter, but three days prior they lost their house and all their possessions to a fire.

Date: 1883 January 29download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Describes his sleeping arrangements and the intense winter. Gales have destroyed costal railroads and boats, and temperatures have frozen many wells, including Brooks's.

 

William Penn Brooks in Hokkaido:
 
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