Photographs and histories of steamships mentioned in family letters have been a major area of research. These are some of the pertinent (or just fascinating) websites I’ve found,
While we were building the Panama Canal, steamships were replacing sails.
At 7 a.m. a swell struck us and we have rocked up and down all day. I’ve watched it with fascination and haven’t needed the little stove yet. We reach Hatteras about 5 p.m. & then will see!
“My goodness, we got by Hatteras all right & I thought we were out of all trouble! A SE gale met us and waters rose up & up like the steep roof of a house, covered with white caps… We rocked and we reeled and we rolled…”
We could scarcely expect better passage than thus far—tho rolling a little now—and tho’ not feeling ill I did not want to think of dinner—and sat on deck—until now in thinnest of waists—even warmer than last night– Have been in Gulf Stream all day…
‘Is it the palm, the cocoa-palm,On the Indian Sea, by the isles of balm?Or is it a ship in the breezeless calm?”
“We are in the Gulf steamer crossing the Straights heading a little west of south …on our “floating prison” nothing is in view but sky and sea. A fresh wind is blowing from East and the steamer is rolling so penmanship is rather uncertain and there was many vacant seats at breakfast table.”
“Col. Higginson’s Life in a Black Regiment … is worth reading.”
I’ve found many ships, with their ownership history, construction data, and eventual demise at www.theshipslist.com/ but neither the Brunswick company, nor the ship itself, are listed.
The Potter branch of my family maintained a social and community-service membership in the Unitarian Church. Their religious orientation was most likely, like many of our New England forebearers, deist, or maybe agnostic, rather than Christian.