UMass Amherst
William Penn Brooks in Hokkaido

William Penn Brooks letters, 1883 Feb.-1885 July

Date: 1883 February 26download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Gives two large lectures in Otaru and Sapporo, the first on Economics and the second on Women's Education. The Sapporo lecture was received by an audience of eleven hundred. Brooks is preparing to take time off as Eva arrives.

Date: 1883 March 16download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Yokohama, Japan
Description: Storm in Yokohama; Brooks awaits the arrival of the City of Tokio from the Grand Hotel. Complains of the conditions and prices at the Seijoken (Foreign Hotel) hotel when he visited Tokio. 22nd: "Eva reached here only last night."

Date: 1883 April 08download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Describes a pleasant journey with his wife from Yokohama north on board the stately steamer Takasago. Befriends the captain (an Englishman) and a missionary named Mr. Batchellor. Stops for a break at Oginohama, then proceeds to Hakodate, where at the residence of Miss Hampton Brooks and Eva, along with some missionaries, are "pleasantly entertained." When they arrive at the station he and Eva are greeted by the entire college and by Governor Dzinhio (spelling?), who brings carriages for each of them.

Date: 1883 April 30download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Brooks, Eva, and a colleague go to Otaru. Brooks finds find that the herring fisheries at Otaru "this year had been a failure." Ploughing began earlier this year than usual, on the 20th.

Date: 1883 May 27download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Suggests that Rebecca take of up the study of Botany as a healthy and fun pastime; recommends the books and offers to pay for them, as well as the use of his press and drying papers. He writes that he himself is busy cataloging indigenous flora.

Date: 1883 July 15download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Discusses an infliction of the eyes; goes to the coast with his wife "botanizing and walking on the beach…" Visits Poronai and the Ichikishiri penal settlement where Brooks inspects their farms.

Date: 1883 August 05download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Wonders whether the epidemic of Ophthalmia was world-wide or "confined to the Brooks family." He and Eva have entertained many prestigious foreigners, including Sir Harry Parkes, the former English Minister at Tokio, and Consul Wooley of Hakodate. Also included is their friend Mr. Batchelor, a missionary amongst the Ainus. The first three days of July were official holidays on account of the Shokonsha, a period of honoring and remembering "the slain in the late rebellion." The second day featured horse races and the third fencing. Drought on Hokkaido.

Date: 1883 September 15download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: He and Eva entertain a missionary family, and the other two single missionary women each running their own girls' schools, one in Tokio and one in Hakodate. He and Dr. Cutter are invited to attend the Opening Ceremonies of the new Poronai Railway and Coal Mines, which attracts a Prince representing the Mikado, or the Emperor of Japan, about sixty government dignitaries, and best of all (to Brooks), a brass band. They have the priviledge of meeting the Prince, watching horse races, and attending the Soiree, which is splashed with fireworks and paper lanterns and a second band playing ancient Japanese music that Brooks describes as "caterwauling." In addittion, Brooks and Cutter are invited to a small dinner with General Oyama Iwao, Minister of War. Educated in France in the French military style, he used his knowledge to organize the Japanese Army. Brooks finds him large and "one of the best appearing among all the high officials…"

Date: 1883 October 07download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Complains about family correspondence, but happy with Rebecca's. Warm autumn, and has been doing much of his botany work "of seeds of a number of trees and plants peculiar to Hokkaido." These he gives to the horticulturist Mr. Bochmer, who in return provides seeds of Japanese trees and shrubs. Brooks plans to send these home to get planted on his land. Encourages sister in her botanic frustrations.

Date: 1883 November 18download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Sends home some items from Japan, including crepe scarfs, a picture book (for the little ones of the family), and some shell beads for Christmas. First snowfalls of the year, but "the ground is not one particle frozen." The senior students are particularly engaged this year, to Brooks' great interest. Also entertaining Mr. Bowen, a jolly San Francisco merchant who buys timber in Japan for the American market.

Date: 1883 December 02download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Urges his sister to go to Winterport, or St. John or some other place for a vacation, and offers to pay travel expenses. Describes the Thanksgiving day celebration in Sapporo, including the presence of Mr. Bowen and his chartered ship's captain and the captain's wife, Mr. and Mrs. Howes, from Cape Cod, as well as the mouthwatering feast. Miss Smith, an American living in Tokio, was scheduled to make the dinner but barely missed it. She is up in Sapporo for the winter for her health, and Brooks is happy for Eva, who shares much with Miss Smith. Meanwhile an English nurse is due to arrive today to take care of Eva for reasons unclear.

Date: 1884 February 24download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: The family moves from Dr. Cutter's house (where they had been staying since their own house burned down) to a new home. Eva and Miss Shaw (the new nurse) travel by jinrikishas, or small two-wheeled vehicles pulled by one runner. Eva has a big absciss on her breast, and though it is healing, it has affected the nursing of the baby.

Date: 1884 May 23download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Receives a letter from Professor Goodell asking if he would accept the position of Chair of Agriculture at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (M.A.C.) However, he explains to his sister that an extension of his contract in Sapporo would better realize his financial goals for retirement.

Date: 1884 July 20download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Describes the closing (graduation) exercises at Hokkaido University. Also describes a visit to Sorachi, a prison where about a thousand convicts work both on a farm and in a coal mine. The prison farm is overseen by a Hokkaido University graduate. Tells Rebecca that most of them are not murderers because murderers get beheaded, but have probably comitted some less grievious crime such as "stealing a large sum of money." Discusses the diet of the prisoners and also the story of one prisoner who escaped and lived in the nearby woods for twenty-five days eating lily bulbs and snakes. He has now been recaptured and is in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. Wet and rainy in Sapporo.

Date: 1884 October 02download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Discusses baby's growth and the acquisition of a new pup.

Date: 1884 October 26download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Strangely, all Americans on Hakodate are missing a shipment of mail. Brooks has given two large lectures.

Date: 1884 November 30download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Description of Thanksgiving day, and Brooks is excited about the new houses being built for him and his family. Included amongst its features is a basement where the Brooks family can store food, provisions, and seasonal clothing, for "If burned out again we mean to have somethng left to begin over again with." Also has trained Eva's horse to pull a Russian-style sleigh. Asks Rebecca if she will be his "American agent" who will collect and dry whatever specimens the Japanese botanist desires that Brooks may obtain valuable Japanese flora.

Date: 1885 January 02download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: The Brooks have replaced most of everything lost in the fire and they expect to move into the new house in a few days. Tthe ordered rugs from San Francisco have arrived, and the furniture (made from native woods like cane) are nearly in order. Ends letter with Japanese salutations.

Date: 1885 February 11download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: The steamer San Pablo, carrying American mail to Japan, was forced to return to San Francisco after twenty-nine days at sea, Brooks reports. At college, some classes are good, some "like tooth pulling." At end, refers to Rebecca's spring schedule, including chicken raising.

Date: 1885 March 04download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Describes methods of botanical collection and how to poison the specimens to keep insects away. Rae (the baby) is now springing teeth.Holds party for some graduates of the college and their wives. (Eva is now adept at making French confectionary).

Date: 1885 March 22download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: March 20th was celebrated as the "Vernal" holiday in which the Japanese honor the deceased members of the Imperial family (also says that Japan celebrates a similar holiday in the Autumn). The college students also take advantage of a clerical error to skip school for an extra day. Brooks says that they will regret it. Going to give a lecture in Sapporo, and also invites Rebecca to come to Hokkaido to see if she can get a job teaching.

Date: 1885 April 13download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: (Out of order)Back in Sapporo, Brooks comments on Boston's harsh winter, and how he has never known Sapporo have such harsh and damaging winds. Is inquiring about Rebecca coming out to work in Sapporo's preparatory school, and observing the development of Rae.

Date: 1885 June 13download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Tells Rebecca that she must write on the schedule of the steamers, or about every twelve days. Also relates of the Stockbridge's arrival, and that "Sapporo Holiday" is two days hence.

Date: 1885 June 28download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: Rebecca will not be coming to Japan; Will discusses affairs in Massachusetts; will go to Tokio soon for a dentist.

Date: 1885 July 14download pdf
Writer: Brooks, William Penn
Recipient: To Rebecca Brooks
Place: Sapporo, Japan
Description: We learn that Brooks and Rebecca share a house together, each taking a half. Also includes a list of periodicals from the Trans. Asiatic Society for Rebecca to mail to him. The envelope also shows the length between when Brooks writes and when it reaches California: Brooks writes on July 14 It reaches Hakodate on July 19 It reaches Yokohama on July 22 "Yokohama" is stamped again on August 8 It reaches San Francisco on August 24

 

William Penn Brooks in Hokkaido:
 
[ Introduction ][ 1868-1879 July ][ 1879 Oct.-1883 Jan. ][ 1883 Feb.-1885 July ][ 1885 Aug.-1895 ]
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