A Captain’s Daughter

 Margaret Oakes, from Brewer, Maine, sailed with her father, Captain George Oakes, in 1880, aboard the barkentine Mary Jenness. Margaret was 14 years old at the time. They traveled first to Marseilles, France, with a load of oil, remaining in port for several months. They then sailed for Cuba with a cargo of tiles, returning to New York in 1881 with a cargo of sugar. Margaret’s journal may be read in Special Features on this website. Here is her account of her stay in Marseilles. If you would like to see more images of Marseilles, including some of the places Margaret visited, there are some views available online. Google “Quai de la Fraternite.”

Barkentine Mary Jenness

Margaret writes:

Marseilles is a very old city as it was founded 539 B.C. The old part of the city (where we discharged our oil) is mean and dirty but the principal part of the city is quite nice especially Cannebiere which has many nice places on it. There are many very nice cafes on the streets. The Chambre de Commerce is on this street and is quite a nice building. Opposite there is a public garden with seats for anyone to sit down. Marseilles has 2 harbors. One of these is called Vieux Port (Old Port). Here none of the vessels lay along side the wharf but all lay at anchor excepting at the foot of Cannebiere where there is room for 5 vessels. We were fortunate enough to get one of these berths to load our tiles. The other harbor is surrounded by a long breakwater on one side and the vessels there go along side the quay to discharge and load. There are some very large warehouses on these quays.

Marseilles Harbor, 1880s-Quai de la Fraternite

When we first arrived in Marseilles there were 4 American vessels there and we had very nice times. One Captain had his wife and we visited back and forth a good deal. One afternoon we all went to some gardens on Cannebiere. They were very nice. Every animal and bird that you could think of were there. There was one house a purpose for monkeys. Every variety that you could think of. Captain Hawkins in the Bark Boy Watson brought an animal from the Reiver (River?) for the gardens. At the entrance of these gardens is a very large building. Half of this building is an Art Gallery and the other is a natural museum. As it was getting late we did not go in the museum. In front of this house is a large fountain which is very pretty.

One Saturday morning the U. S. Consul took me to see some French weddings at the town hall. The law in France is that the couple has to go to the town hall first and be married and then go to the church and have the wedding over again. While going to the town hall we went through some very old streets where there are houses 5 or 600 years old. There were two married the day we were there. One of the brides was very beautiful. She was dressed in white silk and had a very nice white vail (veil) and a wreath of orange flowers on her head. The other one was not dressed as nice. She had on a lilac silk and a white vail (veil). That morning after we came from the weddings we went aboard of Captain Smith's in the brig Dudley (who had his wife with him) to dinner and after dinner we went to visit a French Cathedral that has been a very long time building and is not done yet. The inside of it was very nice and was finished.

Marseilles Harbor 1880s

Before we went to the Cathedral we went to our ship chandler'sChandlery Ship's chandlery

A business selling specialized supplies, such as for ships.
and he invited us to go to chateau D'If the next day. Sunday morning we all went aboard of Captain Hines in the Brig John Wesley and started from there. He laid at the foot of Cannebiere so it was very handy. The entrance to the harbor is between a fort called St. Juan and a castle that the Empress Eugenia erected though she never has lived in it. It is very large. It was so very calm that we took a tow out. Went all through the prison which was very large. The cells were very dark and were enough to make one shudder to be in them. There was a guide who showed us all over the prison explaining things to us in French which Mr. Martin (our ship Chandler) interpreted to us. After we went all over the prison we went to a cafe and had our dinner. After dinner we went up in the light-house. We then came back. Had to pull a good part of the way as it was quite calm. There is two ferry boats in the Old Port that run from one side to the other. They are very queer looking shaped more like a box than anything else.

On Thursday evening of the next week Captain Blanchard had us all aboard to supper. He had a Chinese cook and Steward and had a very nice supper. He goes in a Bark called the Quickstep and came to Marseilles from Singapore. He has a good many things to take home that he brought from Singapore. Friday morning we went aboard of Mrs. Smith and in the afternoon we went out "shopping." We went to a hotel opposite the brokers and had supper. The dining room was very nice and we had a very nice supper. After supper we went to a theatre called the Folies de Marseilles. The acrobatic performances were the best part of it. On Saturday morning Captain Hawkins went out. Wednesday morning Captain Blanchard went out and Friday Captain Smith went. So then Captain Hines and we were the only ones left.

The next day after Captain Smith went out we towed in to the Vieux Port. One afternoon we went out in the country on a drive. We went near the water on a road that was cut through solid rock. We went by many summer resorts that were very nice. We then came through some very pretty gardens that had many plants, large statues and fountains in them. They were very beautiful. We went by a large park that was used for horse racing and we also went by a Skating Rink which was on a street called the Plaza. It was a good deal like Broadway at Bangor only rather wider. There were a good many rich men's carriages out driving and also young ladies on horse back with their escorts. This is a very nice street. At the end of this street is a very beautiful monument of some French general.

In the streets of Marseilles you see many priests and nuns and a great many soldiers. Every young man in France after he reaches the age of 21 has to be a soldier for three years. We went to the English Church when we were in Marseilles two Sundays. There was quite a number of English people there as the church was crowded both times. It is very small. Captain Hines went out one week after we went down to the Old Port so we were the only American vessel in the port until about a week before we left when a Portland Bark called the Charles C. Lewis came in. The Captain had his wife with him.

We made the acquaintance of 2 St. John Captains and also one Nova Scotia Captain who had his wife with him. We went to the theatre 6 times in Marseilles, Folies 3 times, Crystal Palace and Alcazas once. They were not very interesting except the acrobatic performances and pantomimes as all the rest was singing in French.

We were in Marseilles 2 months in all discharging oil and loading tiles. One afternoon we went up to see the art gallery and museum. The art gallery was very large and had some large and beautiful oil paintings. There were several artists there copying the oil paintings. The museum also was very large and had many skeletons and stuffed animals and birds in it. Also every kind of shell. There are some very beautiful cafes on Cannebiere. The best one is called Cafe Glacier.

I liked Marseilles very much. "Finis"