Travel diary written aboard Arabic (II) in 1907
A Voyage on White Star Line steamer Arabic in 1907
The Travel Diary of Rev. and Mrs. Alexander Brown Riggs
Transcribed by Douglas Scott Brookes, their great-great-great nephew
Port Huron, Michigan, October 2016
Rev. and Mrs. Alexander Brown Riggs, of Cincinnati, Ohio, sailed to the Mediterranean aboard the White Star Line steamer Arabic in 1907 (when they were both about 65 years old), for the purpose of making a trip to the Holy Land. They sailed from New York on 7 February 1907, and disembarked the ship in Naples on 31 March 1907, having sailed aboard the Arabic throughout the Mediterranean.
During the trip they kept a handwritten travel diary, now in my possession. While Charlotte Riggs wrote the majority of the diary entries, some are also in Rev. Brown Riggs's hand, making it a kind of joint exercise.
Charlotte Richardson Riggs (1842-1924) was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York. In Brooklyn in 1870 she married Rev. Dr. Alexander Brown Riggs (1842-1919; known as “Brown”), a Presbyterian minister, and raised three children, Ella, Elsie, and Bert. After 1890 they lived in Cincinnati, where Rev. Riggs was pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church and also taught New Testament Greek at Cincinnati's Lane Theological Seminary.
My father, who knew them in his youngest days, referred to them as Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Brown. In the diary, “C.” is Charlotte, “B.” is Brown.
As the major purpose of this transcription is to document the sea voyage, portions describing land journeys have been somewhat curtailed, and noted as such by ellipses. In this transcription, annotations within brackets [...] are additions by the transcriber, and for clarity's sake the names of ships are placed in italics.
January 24, 1907. Leave Cincinnati
We, Brown & I, left via Erie Road [railroad] for New York. We had a pleasant journey, though we were one hour and a half late. Ollie met us at the depot. [Charlotte's niece, Olive Brady; until they boarded the ship the Riggses stayed with Olive and her sisters Eunice, Edith, Sophie, Emma, and Harriet at the Brady home at 141 Monroe St., Brooklyn]
[The following two weeks were spent visiting relatives and friends in & around Brooklyn, New York; this transcription resumes on the day they board the Arabic ]
Thursday, Feb. 7
This morning we start on our long journey. Ida, Clinton, & Ben came in to say good bye. Soph had ordered a carriage and we took our suitcases & started at 8:30 & reached the boat at 9:40. There was so much snow in the New York streets that it delayed travel. We found in our stateroom a box of lovely pinks from Mrs. Hay. Mrs. Williams, Ollie, Soph, & Hattie came to bid us good bye. The boat looked beautiful with the many colored flags flying. The sun shone though it was cold. We started promptly at twelve & it was wonderful to see the friends of our 630 passengers waving us adieu from the dock. Mrs. Williams brought us a large box of Heuyles[?] sweets all done up in packages and bottles. Ben & May sent a basket of candied fruits & other sweets from Vantines[?]. Bert & Ella a lovely basket of fruit & sweets. We rec'd 13 steamer letters & so started with loving thoughts of our friends, as they had had of us.
Saturday, Feb. 9
The sea was calm so much as that during the night I thought the boat had stopped, there being no perceptible motion, & this continued during Friday; but the sun set on a cloud & before morning we were at the mercy of the waves. The motion from stem to stern & between times a screwing motion made everyone almost sick on this fine large steamer. Brown had a slight touch[?] from eating an orange before breakfast, but did not have a meal. I concluded to omit breakfast & lunch & of our 630 passengers there were only about one third who appeared at the breakfast table. I crept up about 3:30 PM & took a light dinner of toast & tea & then sat in Library all evening, where we had lots of room, so many being still sick.
[The following paragraph is in Rev. Riggs's handwriting] The wind seemed to diminish a little Saturday evening; but during the night it rose again & Sabbath morning the sea was even rougher than on Saturday. We were both in good condition, however, rose early & were out on the promenade deck to see the magnificent view which the great waves presented—truly a majestic sight as the dashing waves plunged & rolled our great vessel at will—an illustration of the great power of the unseen forces in the universe of God—that unseen force, the wind, which our Lord used to illustrate the power of the Holy Spirit in John 3 [to quote from Dr. Riggs's own Bible, inscribed “A. B. Riggs, May 2, 1904,” John 3:8: “The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”]. Attended religious service in dining saloon at 10:00—a full service, good singing & a good sermon by a Dr. Munster from Kansas City. Before & after service we sat well forward on deck, fascinated with the waves, until lunch time. We can see nothing more beautiful in all our trip than the ocean has been today.
[In Charlotte Riggs's handwriting:] Had a pleasant service of song this evening. The Captain was up in the library this evening and most of the ladies made an effort to meet him. He is a jolly looking little Englishman.
Monday morning, Feb. 11
A most lovely bright morning. Everyone seems to be on deck. We both are in our steamer chairs, in the sun. The sea is not so beautiful & rough today.
This evening attended a meeting in dining room, a lecture on Madeira, our first stopping place.
Bought some postal cards.
The log says we came 379 miles today.
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 1907
Quite rough & cloudy this morning, but cleared in the afternoon. Saw some flying fish. A ship was sighted this afternoon, but we only saw a little smoke. Nothing doing but games on the decks.
Wednesday, Feb. 13
Pleasant day, nothing exciting. We are getting our letters ready to mail at Madeira.
Thursday, Feb. 14
‘Tis cool & a little cloudy this morning. Brown visited the lower parts of the boat & had the misfortune to break the frame of his glasses. We can see a freight boat today. It seems to be going with us. It seems good to see any life on this broad expanse of water. ‘Tis Valentine's Day.
Friday, Feb. 15 th. Madeira.
Madeira was in sight on the horizon when we awoke Friday morning, like a cloud mingling with the clouds in the sky. All were eager at the sight of land & closely watched our approach to the harbor. Anchored at noon, & spent the afternoon on shore. Sights & scenes all strange & interesting, white houses with red tile roofs, terraced gardens on sides of the mountain. Visited stores, left B.'s spectacle frame to be repaired, took ride in ox-carriage, visited Public Garden, Governor's Palace, Meth. & Pres. Missions, Market, & returned to steamer at 7.
Saturday, Feb. 16
Spent morning ashore. Got B.'s repaired frames, took horse car to depot & train to top of toboggan slide, visited church on mountain, took toboggan slide down the mountain two miles—strange experience, glad to travel aboard it, but would not care to repeat it. Returned to vessel at 12:30, & Arabic sailed at 2 PM. As we sailed, the smaller boats in the harbor gave us a parting salute & a good send-off with whistles & cheers. Small boats hovered around the ship all daylight & men & boys dived for money, & two dived from top of vessel. C. bought 2 strings of coral leaves for 50 cts each, on vessel, while they sold it in the stores at 2.00 each.
[At this point in diary there is a picture, cut out probably from a guide book, and entitled “Funchal, Madeira—A Bullock Sled”. Underneath it, Charlotte wrote:] The riding in these ox sleds is really very pleasant. But oh how they try to cheat one.
Sabbath, Feb. 17, 1907
Bright day, quite a little sea, but no one sick that I know of. Episcopal service in Dining Saloon. Sat out in our chairs till service time. Am writing in our stateroom. Mrs. Worthy [per online passport application records this is probably Helen L. Worthy of West Springfield, Massachusetts, traveling with her husband Frank L. Worthy] was with us at service. Out to sea again, after a lovely two days at our first landing, Madeira.
Monday, Feb. 18. Cadiz, Spain
We took a three hours drive through Cadiz. Saw many things of interest. This is the city which Columbus started from to find our America. Saw the Bull ring.
Tuesday, Seville, Spain
Rode four hours to the city of Seville. Took there horse carriage ride, saw cathedral . . . Took dinner at Hotel de Madrid, then started for our boat home, reaching it at 1 AM. A lady fell between the tender & our ship but was rescued. Very tiresome trip but full of interests.
[Following entry under this date is in the hand of Brown Riggs:] The lady referred to above, we learned later, stepped overboard in the dark while taking the tender at Cadiz for the boat.
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Stayed by ship this morning. But am going into Cadiz after lunch. Tonight leave for Gibraltar. ‘Tis cool today. This harbor & the city from our boat is most beautiful. Both tired today. Met Mrs. & Miss Duncan of New York on the trip yesterday [per online passport applications this would be Mrs. Julia J. Duncan, widow of Brevet Major General Samuel A. Duncan, commander during Civil War of 4 th U.S. Colored Troops, and her daughter Ruth Harland Duncan]. We kept together & we found them a great help & lovely people. Their stateroom is opposite to ours.
[Following entry is by Brown Riggs:] Later. Did not go car riding as expected, but instead visited home of Spanish Duke, and saw how the inside of such a residence may be made beautiful & luxurious with rugs & furniture & ornaments. B. returned to the steamer & C. wandered around with Mrs. Buchanan, & rested in a cathedral while a service was in progress. Sailed for Gibraltar at midnight.
Gibraltar, Thursday 21st
B. arose at 5:30 & at 6 AM was on deck to see ship enter the straits of Gibraltar. Beautiful sunrise out of the Mediterranean at 7 AM. C. came on deck shortly after seven, & we watched as we drew near Gibraltar. Were surprised to see that the perpendicular face of the rock does not face the ocean, but is towards Spain. The rock looks like a sleeping lion as we approach from the West. Anchored about 8 AM. After breakfast went ashore & visited Moor's Market, & took long, hard climb up steps & steep roads to the Moorish Castle about 300 feet above the ocean. There C. waited for the return of the party from the fortifications. B. went on up through dark passages for long distances, & saw some of the port holes & guns ready for use. Returning, we took carriage at the Castle & rode to the south end of the rock at Europa Point[?] & back through the town to the north end near neutral ground between England & Spain. Returned to ship for lunch at 1 PM. Stayed on board rest of day & sailed at 11 PM for Algiers.
Tuesday, Feb. 22, 1907. On the Mediterranean Sea
We left Gibraltar last night and almost all day have been out of sight of land. We are to be in Algiers, Africa, in the morning. We saw a whale yesterday swimming as we neared Gibraltar. The first one we have seen. This day of quiet on the boat is very restful. The Mediterranean looks just like the Atlantic.
Saturday, Feb. 23, 1907. Algiers, Algeria, Africa
We found ourselves here when we got on deck this morning. We took the tender to shore & then to carriages, when we had the most beautiful drive I have ever had. The day was perfect & the drive to the governor's house near the top of a hill upon the side of which the city is built, with the Atlas range of mountains, snow-capped in the distance. Then we drove through the city & the Arab quarter, where we saw Arabs, Moors, Turks, Jews, & many more of the unwashed, bringing to mind the lines of the hymn, “Though every prospect pleases & only man is vile.” As we looked in upon the little shops, most of the men were playing games, doubtless gambling.
The city government is under French control, & the two avenues nearest the harbor & parallel with it are filled with French stores, stocked with every variety of goods imported from France. The lady who had her hip broken at Granada was taken from the ship & placed in a hospital here which is said to be under Presbyterian control. At 1 PM we returned to the ship & remained aboard the rest of the day, watching the sale of all sorts of goods brought aboard. Weighed anchor & sailed at 4 PM.
Sabbath, Feb. 24, 1907
Most beautiful, mild morning. Spent time on deck till church time, 10:15. Had a fine sermon by Dr. Luccock of near Chicago. Fine description of the storm we had two weeks ago. We have had mountainous land on each side this morning.
In the PM met & passed a number of steamers & sailing craft going in or coming out of the Bay of Tunis.
Monday, Feb. 25. Valetta, Malta
Arrived at Malta early; about 8 AM as we were passing St. Paul's Bay the whistle blew to indicate the fact. Anchored 8:30 about 3 hours before the ship was due. Went ashore about 9 AM. Drove up the hill in carriages. Visited the Governor's palace & the Armory room in the palace. Saw the clock in the palace which has three figures of negroes who strike the bells with hammers. . . . With Mr. Scott & wife, a Baptist minister of New York, we drove out to St. Paul's bay, & had a fine drive & interesting view of the country & homes of the native Maltese.
Took lunch in town & visited some of the stores. The island is England's stronghold in defence of her passage to India. Returned to ship about 4 PM. C. bought 2 silk shawls. Sailed away for Athens at 5:30 PM.
Feb. 27, Athens, Greece
Arrived at the seaport of Athens, or one of its ports, for it has two, one 4 miles away from the city & the other 6 miles. We arrived at 8:30 AM, half an hour late. Landed about 9 AM & drove in nice carriages all day until 5 PM. Lunched at Hotel Grande Bretagne, and after lunch saw Hadrian's Bath, Schliemann's Museum of Antiquities. . . . Saw also the Academy with its paintings, and visited the King's Palace & were allowed in several rooms—a rather plain, but comfortable building. At 5 PM went to depot & took train to harbor & tenders to the ship. A cold wind from the north made the weather very chilly, so that our winter clothes were seasonable & a steamer rug was comfortable while riding. . . .
We spent the night on board ship, and the next morning, Thursday, we did not land, though most of the people did. Ship sailed at 1 PM. Our first mail since leaving home came at Athens. We had a letter from Ella, a letter posted from Bert, letters from Mrs. Williams & Sophia Brady & Ollie Brady & postal from Mrs. Folsom.
Feb. 28, 1907
Spent the morning at Athens, but we stayed on the boat as we were obliged to take two boats to get to shore. Sailed away for Constantinople at 4 PM. It was cold here, but we carried our rug to use when we drove. People were not prepared for such weather.
Friday, Mar. 1st
En route for Constantinople, cold north wind which compelled the ship to use her full speed to breast it. Sailed 20 miles an hour & reached our destination at 4 PM. Had to give our passport to the Turkish officials before we were permitted to land. We were so late getting in that only a few went ashore that evening.
Saturday, Mar. 2, Constantinople
Drove all day, except coming to ship for lunch. Visited the Museum, Mosque of Sancta Sophia, entering by rough passage up an incline, dark & cheerless. Mosque itself impressive for size, but with little decoration, no paintings, only texts from Coran on the walls. Pigeons were flying around the dome, & dropping their dirt anywhere. Sandals were required to be used by everyone who had not overshoes. Those who had overshoes, as we had, were allowed to take them off & carry them in the hand. In PM drove around the city & visited stores & bought a spangled scarf for Soph for 5.00.
Ship sailed Sunday morning (3 rd) at 8 AM & steamed up the Bosphorus past Robert College with all flags flying, band playing and people on ship & students at College waving flags & handkerchiefs—a most impressive sight. On the return from the Black Sea, where ship turned, the demonstration was repeated & three cheers given & returned.
Constantinople was dirty & muddy & cold. It snowed hard several times during the day, & the temperature must have been near freezing. Our people were glad to get back to the ship & to sail away from that port & few have any desire to return. Dogs everywhere and people get out of the dogs' way & not the dogs out of the people's way. The horses, like our American ladies, wear beads on their necks. The horse cars are small, but they have three & sometimes four horses & the driver blows a horn to let people know they are coming & get out of the way.
Monday, March 4th. Smyrna & Ephesus.
Arrived at Smyrna about 7:30. B. had early breakfast & went with Ephesus party by rail and visited ruins of Church of St. John, Temple of Diana, & Church in which 3 rd Council of Ephesus was held in 431, which declared Mary to be the “Mother of God.” Had lunch at Ephesus & returned to Smyrna at 1:30 & after walking through streets returned to the ship.
C. went ashore & visited the stores in morning & took drive with Buchanans in PM. Returned to ship at 3 PM. Ship sailed at 4 PM.
Little of special interest in Smyrna. Enjoyed Ephesus trip. Saw camel trains here for the first time. Trains consisted of from 3 to 25 camels in single file led by a man on a mule or donkey or horse.
Tuesday, March 5th.
We left Smyrna with little regret, though the day spent there was a pleasant one. Brown being at Ephesus, I went with the Buchanans all day. Saw quite a good deal of the Duncans. Today we are at sea all day on the Mediterranean.
Wednesday, March 6th.
Our first sight of land this morning was Mt. Lebanon. The Damascus party landed at Caifa [today's Haifa, Israel] & we see Mt. Carmel, the city, and Caifa from our boat.
Thursday, March 7.
Took boat from Joppa [today's Jaffa, Israel]. The sea was rough & we had a rough time getting from the ship. Saw two boatloads of Russian pilgrims en route to Jerusalem to visit the Church of Holy Sepulchre.
March 8th, 1907.
[Charlotte's handwriting; apparently she was here alone without Brown:] Arrived at Jerusalem & were driven to Notre Dame Hotel & oh, ‘tis a cheerless place. It used to be a convent. My room is like a cell. Cold stone floor & walls bare & cold. I wished myself back to the ship. But shall have to make the best of it.
Friday, March 8th. Jerusalem.
So this is the city of our Lord! Well, I'd rather read about it & not be here. ‘Tis cold and it rains every little while and the narrow streets are so dirty & such mud one hardly ever sees. I rode to Mount Olive yesterday afternoon with Mr. Warner & the Question Mark. This morning the Worthys & I walked to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre & visited some of the stores. A very hard walk.
Saturday, March 9, 1907.
This morning is clear & bright. The Worthys & I went to the Mosque of Omar. ‘Tis more beautiful in some ways than St. Sophia but much smaller. There we saw the rock where Abraham is said to have intended offering Isaac as a sacrifice.
This afternoon we rode out to Bethlehem & saw the Church of the Nativity. Saw the Catholics kissing a stone where the manger was said to have been.
Sabbath, March 10.
The Worthys left for Joppa this morning. Mr. W. was tired of it here & I did not wonder. I wished I was going myself. I moved into Mrs. Worthy's room from my cell in the sky parlor. ‘Tis much better down here, not quite so lonely but I miss the Worthys very much. I went to the Church of England this morning. ‘Tis low church & we had a good sermon and visited a Jewish Boys school in connection with the church. This afternoon stayed in my room & went to bed with the hot water bag to keep me warm. The Sabbath is not kept here at all. It seems terrible.
Monday, March 11, 1907.
This has been quite a spring-like day. The mud has dried up & now the foul dirt is in the air. I spent the morning with the Buchanans going to the stores. Met Mr. Warner in one of the stores & he spoke to a gentleman about Brown and I getting in the American Colony. They say ‘tis very comfortable there & good things to eat. Took the water bag & took a rest as I had a cold & feet tired.
Tuesday, March 12, 1907.
The Arabic people left this morning & I am the only one left to tell the tale when the others come tonight. I shall be glad to have Brown here with me in this lonely convent. It rained a little this morning, just enough to make the walking nasty. I took a stroll through some of the stores, bought something for Rob & Meredith [her sons-in-law]. There are a few new people here today, but so few that they did not kindle a fire in this writing room till I kept at them ever since breakfast, & now at eleven thirty they just started. Brown came this evening. The Notre Dame is full of German tourists. Brown brought me a pretty Damascus spoon.
Wednesday, March 13, 1907.
This is a lovely day. Brown & I drove to Bethlehem this morning. Had an old guide well-versed in scripture. Tomorrow we expect to go on the Jordan trip. I have a pretty bad cold but will try to take the trip.
[Pasted in here is small color drawing of five camels, & Charlotte's annotation, “Plenty of these here”]
Thursday, March 14, & Fri. March 15
We started this morning at 7:30 on the Jordan trip, Mrs. Gibbs having given me a ticket she did not intend to use. We first drove to Jericho. We had a large comfortable carriage all to ourselves except the driver & guide, who sat on the high seat, so that the forty-mile drive was not very tiresome, except rough & unsafe places where we were obliged to walk. One carriage was upset & ours came near turning over in a big mud hole. Jericho is a much pleasanter climate than Jerusalem. The orange & lemon trees were fine & the oranges we just feasted on & were better than any I ever tasted. Before we went to our hotel we drove to the beautiful spring of water that Elisha made sweet. On the way back we visited Bethany & saw the place where Martha & Mary lived. Also Lazarus's tomb. We saw the Jordan & the Dead Sea but did not get any of the dirty Jordan water as many did. We returned here at noon & after lunch I went to bed to rest. Brown went to the Wailing Place.
Saturday, March 16
We drove to Mt. Olives this AM. Stopped at the American Colony, ‘tis very homelike & I would have been so much more comfortable there all these dreary days. Brown went to Mosque of Omar. There is a large party of fine-looking German people here now. They are taking the trip on the Moltke & this morning they all got up early to start for Joppa, when a telegram came saying they could not embark on the large rowboats. So they have been about all day hardly knowing what to do. I do hope the sea will be calm on Tuesday, wen we expect to return to our boat.
Sabbath, March 17, 1907. Jerusalem.
This is St. Patrick's Day but I guess not many thought of it. This has been a bright day. Brown went to church. I did not go as the church was so cold last Sabbath. This afternoon we started for service at the American Colony, but we lost our way, so went to Calvary hill. The gate was open today so we walked in. I am thankful that this is my last Sunday here. A large party of English people came here this afternoon. Not as good looking as the Germans but just as noisy.
Monday, March 18.
It rained this morning but cleared later. I took my breakfast in bed. After Brown returned from sightseeing, we took a walk. Visited some of the stores. The wind blows cold, and I am so much afraid it may make the sea rough for us tomorrow. Oh how I should hate to be obliged to stay here another day.
Tuesday, March 19, 1907.
This has been a lovely day. We came back to the boat. The sea was rough & some were sick. ‘Tis good to get back to our boat home. The orange groves at Joppa were lovely & oranges are cheap. Cairo tomorrow.
March 20, 1907. Egypt.
We left the boat this morning [at Alexandria] & took a ride in the steam cars, reaching Cairo about 2 PM. We have a fine room with bath. Took a walk, sat on the hotel veranda & then dressed for dinner. ‘Tis lovely here. To think of my being in that terrible Jerusalem, making my trip, at least this part, so unpleasant, but ‘tis past now.
Thursday, March 21.
We made to Pyramids through a lovely road lined with large trees & along the river Nile. We crossed the river twice on five bridges. Saw the Sphinx.
[Pasted in here, printed paragraph apparently from a journal: “Dr. Riggs, of Lane Seminary, has gone on a three months' tour to Europe and the Holy Land. His classes in New Testament Greek are being cared for, in his absence, by Rev. Calvin Dill Wilson, D.D., of Glendale.”]
Saw Coptic church, Old Cairo, Nilometer, place where Moses was found, Mosque & Citadel, Bazaar.
Saturday, March 23.
Took a walk in morning, afternoon drove to Bazaar. Took tea with the Worthys. Buchanans called last evening.
Sunday, March 24 .
Went to Church of Scotland this morning. Sat on [hotel's] veranda after church. Also after lunch a while saw several funerals. Street full of all sorts of people. The people who live at this hotel are very dressy. At six o'clock attended service at American Mission. Dr. Kennedy of Pittsburgh preached. Took our last dinner here tonight. Leave the Grand Continental Hotel in the morning.
[Pasted-in here is a litho of the “Grand Continental Hôtel, Cairo,” apparently cut from hotel stationery.]
Monday, March 25.
We left Cairo this morning at 8:20 by steam cars & reached the boat about one o'clock safely. We were rushed through Alexandria as they have smallpox there, we hear. It was good to get back to ship though we had a lovely time at Cairo. The greeting of friends on the boat was pleasant after my being away twelve days.
On board ship, March 26.
We are again on our good ship on the Mediterranean Sea, & for the first time it was rough last night & is still so today & many are sick & many more half so. I am not sick, still do not feel very brisk but take my meals, but am not very hungry. We have decided to sail for N.Y. May 15.
Wednesday, March 27th.
This is a bright day & the sea not quite so rough as yesterday. I attended an Egyptian meeting this morning in the dining room and then came up here in the writing room.
We go to Naples tomorrow for several days, coming back to the ship for sleep & meals. Then on Monday the 31 st we go to Rome. Bidding farewell to the party & ship.
We saw the Island of Crete yesterday in the dim distance.
March 28. Naples.
We arrived here this morning about eight o'clock. The party is breaking up & some go to Rome today. We stay here till Monday. After lunch we went ashore & took a carriage to depot & then a twenty-five minutes ride on steam cars to Pompeii, where we saw the wonders of that once-buried city. It was wonderful indeed. We got back to ship about 6:30.
Friday, March 29.
This morning we started at 8:30 & drove to the fine Aquarium, where we sw the most wonderful fish. Among the rest an octopus & saw it fed with a live crab. Then we drove to a Museum were we saw statuary, mosaics, & pieces of the walls from the buried city of Pompeii. There also saw cathedral. This afternoon we went to the city, Mrs. Bradbury guiding a party of ladies. I bought coral beads for Miss Tobin & I bought a string also.
Saturday, March 30th.
We went to the coral store & I exchanged my beads for two necklaces for Elsie & Ella. Then we drove to Mt. Elmo. ‘Twas a fine drive & got back to the ship about 12:30. This afternoon B. & I took a car ride & walked through a lovely park on the beautiful Bay of Naples. Then I took a bath after our return & now am ready for my dinner.
We are packed, ready to leave for Rome on Monday.
Sabbath, March 31, 1907.
Another lovely day, mild & bright & sunny. I went to the city to the English Church with Mrs. & Miss Johnson of Washington, Pa. They stayed over to lunch & I was a little confused about the direction to get the streetcar, so I took a carriage to boat, for which I paid one franc. I only paid two cents on the streetcar. We go to Rome tomorrow. Some of the Rome party have returned to the ship today. I am beginning to know the way about her pretty well.
This ends the SS Arabic -related excerpts, as the diary for the next day, April 1, 1907, begins simply, “Arrived here [meaning Rome] about three o'clock,” with no description of leaving the ship in Naples. The diary continues with descriptions of the Riggs's travels from Rome through Europe to London.
Research on ancestry.com shows they sailed for New York from Liverpool on the maiden voyage of White Star Line's Adriatic (under the command of Edward J. Smith, captain of Titanic five years later) on 8 May 1907, arriving in New York on 16 May.
The last pages of the diary contain lists of “Postal Cards Sent” and “Letters,” with dates and names of addressees.
Finally, at the end of the diary Charlotte Riggs lists “Going Away Gifts” awaiting them in their stateroom aboard Arabic when they sailed from New York:
Mrs. Baker...small mirror
Mrs. Folsom...leather case
Mrs. Brown...silk bag
Elsie & Rob [Kidd, daughter & son-in-law]...steamer rug
Ella & Meredith [Atkins, daughter & son-in-law]...book
Bert & Ella [son Bert Riggs and daughter Ella Atkins]...basket of fruit
Mrs. Williams... box of Heuyles's[?] sweets
Ben & Mary...Vantine's[?] sweets
Mrs. Hay...box of lovely pinks
Elsie [Riggs Kidd, daughter]...handkerchief
Ella [Riggs Atkins, daughter]...handkerchief
Sophie M [Meserole, sister]....cologne & air pillow
Hattie B [Brady, niece]....bag
Eunice B [Brady, niece]....cologne
The last page of the diary has the following staitionery from Arabic pasted into it:
White Star History would like to express our gratitude to Douglas Scott Brookes for allowing his transcription of the travel diary of Rev. and Mrs. Alexander Brown Riggs, which is in his possession, to be reproduced on this website along with the photo of the stationery from Arabic with the image of the ship.