Anna F[rances] Sleight, (1853 – ?) Daughter of Anna Charlotte Dering Sleight. November 30, 1878, a journal of 50 pages, pencil on paper, paper-bound tablet in good condition, written in portrait orientation, with two pages additional listing the passengers, kept aboard the steamers Acapulco and Granada.
Acapulco sailed from New York on November 30, 1878 for Panama. Arriving at Aspinwall on December 9, the rails of the train track were under water, delaying the crossing to Panama. Miss Sleight traveled with her brother, Cornelius (“Neil”) Sleight. She records the storm damage as she boarded the railroad on December 13, telling of ships aground, and wreckage in the harbor, with the Royal Mail dock a ruin. She and her brother crossed the isthmus by rail in two and a half hours. She describes the vegetation, natives’ states of dress and undress, and the transfer to the other steamer Granada on the Pacific side, remarking on the destinations of her fellow passengers as they leave her company. She describes the marvel of phosphorescence in the water. Also, she notes a death and the embalming of the body for eventual transfer to Acapulco. She describes sea turtles and a flash from the volcano of San Miguel. She describes two more volcanoes, seen from the anchorage off San Jose de Guatemala, Fuego and Agua, both 13,000 feet high. She did sketches with Miss Love to have something to remind her of that place, as well as drawing caricatures of their fellow passengers. Captain Williams joined them sketching. She saw whales as the steamer crossed the Gulf of Tehuantepec. On Dec. 19, she reached Acapulco, remarking on its beauty as well as its features as a protected harbor. She notes the presence of the Pensacola an American man-of-war. She describes the United States Consul as being overwhelmed by the influx of visitors. She describes a visit to the German Consulate and the fort. After leaving Acapulco, the next stop was Manzanilla. She thinks the harbor of Mazatlan is the prettiest she has seen. A wedding to have taken on shore in the home of an American was performed on deck, once it was learned the American had gone back to the United States. She describes the town in detail, including a visit to a match factory. Cape San Lucas is the last stop before San Francisco. One amusing observation in addition to the usual shipboard activities she describes is about a singer: “We took on board an Opera Singer at Mazatlan & how she does screech.” She states in plain language that the Christmas of 1878, spent on board was “The worst Christmas I ever spent in my life.” Despite this entry, she describes a Christmas feast and after-dinner festivities that both sound very entertaining.
Dec. 26, she notes the California Islands and being off Santa Barbara. Her description of passage through the Golden Gate and approach to San Francisco is not complimentary but a realistic objective description. She describes her time in and about San Francisco, even attending the theatre, where she saw Mr. and Mrs. Florence in the Mighty Dollar. On New Year’s Day, she starts for Los Angeles. The diary ends on Jan. 7, 1879, in an unexpectedly cool Los Angeles. We only learn the name of the steamer that Miss Sleight travelled on from Panama to San Francisco was the Granada from a newspaper clipping laid in that lists Miss “Annie Slight” and Cornelius “Slight.” Harry D. Sleight in Sleights of Sag Harbor, p. 44, states that the trip described here by Anna Frances Sleight was undertaken to aid the consumptive Cornelius by sending him to the dry sunny climate of Southern California. Cornelius Sleight died in 1880, aged 27 years.