The Isaac Hardy Letters - RMS Carpathia - 1904
Isaac and Mary Hardy on their Golden Wedding Anniversary, 1902. Photograph by E. Taylor, Courtesy of Kevin Hollub, 2020. GGA Image ID # 150f13e7b8
In 1904 Isaac Hardy (1833-1905), a retired brick factory superintendent and his wife Mary Slack Hardy (1833-1910), left their home in Worksop, England, to spend the summer and autumn with their sons and grandchildren in Momence, Illinois where they had previously resided from 1893-1899.
On 28 June 1904, as second-class passengers, the couple boarded the Cunard Line's RMS Carpathia in Liverpool, arriving in New York on 8 July 1904. They had previously sailed aboard the Cunard's RMS Campania and the RMS Lucania; it was their 7th Trans-Atlantic voyage.
While aboard, Isaac penned two letters to his daughter Helena Hardy (1863-1943) and granddaughter & ward Alice Armitage (1888-1977). Written on ship stationery bearing the Cunard Line logo, the first three-page letter was penned on 28 June when the couple initially boarded the ship.
The second, and far more extensive eight-page letter, was written between 29 June - 08 July in the style of entries each day of the voyage detailing different aspects of their time aboard such as weather conditions, food, entertainment, and even a special 4th of July celebration.
Page 1 of a Letter Dated 28 June 1904, Written by Mr. Isaac Hardy, Onboard the Cunard Line Steamer RMS Carpathia, on a Voyage Departing from Liverpool 28 June 1904 for New York. Courtesy of Kevin Hollub. GGA Image ID # 150f911a44
June 28, 1904
Dear Helena & Alice
I am just begun to write to you. We have just had dinner at 6:30 a fine set out, and Mother is now on deck whilst I write a few lines. This is a fine ship; it beats the Lucania and Campania. The cabin we have got is the best we have ever had, and the Dining room is magnificent.
The boat goes much more steady though hardly steady enough to allow of one writing very well, I suppose you will be able to read it. The weather is very fine, and the water is as smooth as possible. The promenade deck goes all round, and the third class is at each end. There is a large company on board.
There is accommodation for writing and reading. It looks like we shall be very comfortable, that is if the weather holds good; I hope it will. I have got two chairs, and I think Mother will enjoy being on deck.
Mary Lizzie met us at the station. She is going home tomorrow. What more can I tell you? You can put that girl into her grandma's store, and I think she will then be able to run the business. Give our kind regards to all enquiring friends; with best Love to both of you we are your
Loving and Affectionate,
Father & Mother
Cunard Line Twin-Screw Steamer RMS Carpathia - Rescue Ship of the RMS Titanic. GGA Image ID # 132609b26d
June 29th [Wednesday] 9:30 [am]
We just had breakfast, and are just leaving Queenstown. The morning is dull; it is some colder. Mother and I are both well. A good few have got on here and it makes one feel sad to see how these Irish people think of saying goodbye.
We see them embrace each other. They are warm-hearted people, and it moves one's feelings to see them. Those that are left don't know how to live, and those that are leaving don't know what they are going to do.
It makes me lift up my heart in thankfulness and gratitude to the giver of all things when I compare our lot with theirs. We are thinking about you this morning.
Jenny and Miss Bomer will be leaving you today, but we hope you will be cheerful and happy. It is almost too cold to be outside, and the wind is a little rougher, but the good ship is going splendid. My sincere wish is that every soul on board may be as happy as we are.
View of the Second Cabin Dining Saloon on the Carpathia. GGA Image ID # 14163b8b55
How soon things alter with us, the ship is going up and down. We are going up and down with it. Mother has been in bed most of the afternoon with dizziness in her head. Still, she is better tonight and is now in bed for the night. I am not feeling any too good though I am on my legs, yet if we can get over tomorrow pretty well, I think we shall be all right.
XXXX Good Night
[June 30th] Thursday 10 am
Mother is feeling better this morning but not able to go to the table. We have both had a good night's rest. I went to breakfast, had a plate of porridge, and then beat a hasty retreat.
I thought to go in search of the captain to stop that ship. I wanted to get out and walk. I felt kind of "flipety-flopety" and sick of the raging main and felt like having a cab to take us home again.
It is dull this morning with a cold wind, and the tides are rolling. The ship is like a swing boat going from end to end. There were many empty chairs at breakfast & people don't look very lively. I am feeling much better just now, so my feeling has not matured, yet we shall see later. –
A Second Cabin Two-Berthed Room on the Carpathia. GGA Image ID # 141693cd22
– The sea is rough & the ship is plunging many people confined to there berth. I tried the dining saloon at lunch. Still, I had to retreat before I had a look at it and got back to the cabin, got a cup of tea bread & butter, and marmalade.
We have been in the room all day hope it will be better tomorrow. We enjoy all quality on this boat. Breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 1pm, dinner at 7. Still, there are not many dressed for dinner today. Mother and I think it is the best man of the two...
XXXX Good Night
[July 1st] Friday 10-am
Had a pretty fair night rest
[July 2nd Saturday]
up yet we are about halfway to N.Y. now there was a game at cricket on board yesterday breakfast porridge fried whiting bread toast cakes molasse we ???? maple syrup & ??? poison
We just came from dinner. We have had an enjoyable day. The ship is going fine and steady. Mother has been quite well today. She has been out on the deck for about four hours, and we are feeling well.
We were out on deck to see a football match and talk about coughing. Well, I can't describe it, it is only on a ship deck you can see such a thing it has been a busy day.
A football match a cricket match ladies and gentlemen and a tug of war ladies and gentlemen, so you see the ships' company are all alive. It makes the time pass pleasantly.
The sea is calm, and the boat is going fine tomorrow is the Sabbath. I hope it will be a quiet day and that we shall all lift up our thoughts to him, who gives us life and health and all things to enjoy.
We are thinking about you often and hope you are both quite well how is the prospect now for passing the exam I hope beauty is going on all right.
XXXX Good Night
Passengers on the Deck of the Carpathia Enjoy a Deck Race. GGA Image ID # 1415c7a81e
[July 3rd] Sunday 7-30 PM
This as been a quiet day. Service was held in the Dining Saloon this morning. Both Mother and I enjoyed it very much the weather is getting warmer, and the sea is as smooth as a millpond.
Mother is spending much time on deck and is enjoying it, and I think it is doing her a lot of good. She is looking and feeling well, and it is my opinion she will get more real pleasure out of this trip than she as ever done before.
Food is plentiful and tasty, and we are both feeling better than we did when we left home.
There as been a heavy fog today, and probably we are not making very good progress. We made 371 miles yesterday, which is considered good for this boat.
We hope you have had a good day at school and church and that you are both well.
xxxx Good Night
[July 4th] Monday 10:30 am
A beautiful morning. Very much warmer with a light wind, which is very refreshing. Thinner garments are called for. Mother and I are feeling well.
It is the 4th of July the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack are flying together in the Dining Saloon and the English and Americans all fraternizing and just getting ready to celebrate.
We are about 1000 miles from NY now. Made 372 miles yesterday. You will see how much slower this boat is than the Campania. Still, the accommodation is very much superior in every way.
We just had dinner. It is independence day, and [in our] cabin, a regular program [containing] sports of all kinds all day. There is to be a concert tonight and dancing at 10:30. Motor cars to be ordered for 12.
There has been a special menu in honor of the day. I think about 10 courses fruits with watermelon tart and Britannia pudding and New York ice cream. A special card of crimson has been printed.
It has been very fine all day, and the voyage is very enjoyable so far.
XXXX Good Night
[July 5th] Tuesday 9-30
We just had breakfast. It is warm and bright, a grand, beautiful morning. Mother and I are both well. Mother is now on deck. The entertainment last night was very good, concluded with America, and God Save the King. I am going to find Mother on deck now. There is hardly a ripple on the water. We shall not be in before Thursday, midday.
This has been a very quiet day. I suppose I needed some rest after the entertainment of yesterday. It has been very fine and pleasant. Mother is enjoying a pleasant chat with a friend while I am writing this. We have just had a walk around the deck after dinner.
XXXX Good Night
[6th July] Wednesday 10:40
Mother and I are both well. Mother is on deck though the wind is rough and cold. She takes it well. Most of her time as been spent on deck, and she is looking remarkably well. We are yet a long way from NY. [It is] possible [we] may not be in before tomorrow night.
We just had dinner. We have had heavy rain this afternoon. this has prevented us from being out on the deck, and it is foggy now. There is a concert tonight at 8:30. We will send you a program later. You will see we are still on the high seas, and it is not at all likely we shall land before Friday morning.
[7th July] Thursday 9:45
We have just had breakfast. The sea is very calm this morning, but there is a fog. We shall not be able to land before tomorrow. A headwind throughout the voyage prevented the ship from making the progress that it otherwise would have made. Mother and I are both in the best of trim.
Mother is out on the deck. I shall have to close this letter now so you will not hear from us again till we are ready. Momence, we hope ought to be quite well. Give our love to H.E. and Wm and Lizzie Mr. and Mrs. Hollery, Mr. Elton Mr. Waller, and to who may enquire about us.
You will soon be getting green peas and potatoes, but don't get them too soon. You will have to pay 12p for the pony on the 13th of July and every four weeks after. I hope she is getting better if she is not quite well, and I hope you are taking care of the bulbs that I left on the grass.
I don't know that I can say more now. I will tell you all about the ship and the voyage etc. when I write again. We hope good progress is being made towards the exam. We are expecting to read good news and don't expect to be disappointed.
We had a [charity] concert last night. It was about up to the usual standard, and it realized [donations of] £11-2-6. There was a reception after with light refreshments consisting of port wine lemonade and biscuits.
I think this is all this time. With best love to you both. We are your
Loving & affectionate
Father & Mother
P.S. We passed Nantucket Light Ship at 4:30 this morning.
P.S. The red ink came in useful [as it] makes up for only having one color to use for a fortnight. This letter would not have been complete without this bit.
Letter, Transcription, and Photograph of Isaac and Mary Hardy courtesy of Kevin Hollub.
Note: We have made minor edits to this text to correct spelling and grammatical errors, or to improve word choice to clarify the content. We replaced words written using a non-American variant with the American English spelling for consistency.