A Lady Book Agent – 6

DSCF6026And here she is! Or should I say, “Here I Come,” since that’s what Mrs. J. W. Likins says herself on the picture. Six years of selling books had given Amy Likins plenty of confidence.

This is the title page of her book, first published in 1874, and reprinted by the Book Club of California in 1992. The text can be accessed online at the Library of Congress (that’s what I have been using for my excerpts), but the online transcript does not include the illustrations.

To see the illustrations I had to go to the History Room of the California State Library, never a hardship for a history researcher. I had several other things to look for, but first I had to find this book.

In her memoir Mrs. Likins included the story of their trip to California by the Nicaragua route. This was an alternative to crossing the Isthmus of Panama, but actually a very similar experience. Their steamship landed at “Greytown” (San Juan de Nicaragua) and they transferred to a smaller steamer named the “Active.”


The steamer was a small coaster with no cabin or accommodations whatever. There was a heavy sea, and the little steamer seemed to have all she could carry, but still battled with the waves that seemed to threaten her destruction at any moment: at every surge she seemed to crack, and sound as though she would break to pieces.

She was named the ‘Active’, and I think it a very appropriate one too, for nearly all on board soon became very active, and seemed as though they would throw up even their boots; but I will not jest about it. All the benches were occupied by ladies, lying down, groaning and moaning. The strongest man reeled, while others weaker soon became so sick that they lay on the bare floor, in all the filth and dirt—among them my husband. I was seated on some baggage, watching and tending my little girl, who was so white and limp I was afraid she would die.

The illustrations are crude, but nevertheless a delightful addition to the narrative. More to come.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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