Lady Amelia Murray
The Honorable Lady Amelia Murray (1795-1884) came from Britain to make a tour of the United States, Cuba, and Canada. Her tour lasted from 1854 to 1855 and included a “gipsy expedition” through the Adirondacks.
Amelia Murray was no ordinary British citizen; she was Maid of Honor to Queen Victoria and an excellent botanist, artist and writer. She made it clear that women, even 59-year-old ladies of the British court, could traverse the region. She also proved that women could produce intelligent and interesting travel commentaries. She published Letters from the United States, Cuba and Canada.
Lady Amelia traveled down Lake George in a steamer. She visited Ticonderoga, and was surprised there were still ditches and fortifications that marked the battlefield. “This is the only interesting ruin I have seen in America,” she wrote.
On September 11, she took a steamer down Lake Champlain to Westport. The next morning she met ex-Governor Horatio Seymour and his niece Miss Miller at Elizabethtown. The dignitaries caused quite a stir. The local paper reported that “our citizens were agreeably surprised to find in our midst Ex-Governor Seymour, accompanied by the Honorable Miss Amelia Matilda Murray.” One of the townspeople, Samuel Hand, was lucky enough to be invited to join the grand party.
Lady Amelia adjusted quite easily to cooking and sleeping in the woods. She wrote:
About half-past two o’clock...we all roused up for half-an-hour, replenished the fire, and I removed my stew to a little fire of its own, that it might not get quite stewed away before morning. We then again composed ourselves to sleep again, and had comfortable naps till daylight. During the night I heard a horrible noise once or twice, and, imagining it might be the howl of a wolf, I called to Moody, who assured me it was nothing but a screech-owl.
When Lady Amelia made her stew on another occasion, she added “a little arrowroot, an onion, potatoes, two or three spoonsful of sweet wine, and several biscuits.” She was quite pleased with the result, writing, “It was generally agreed that this mixture ‘would not hurt anybody;’ indeed it might anywhere have been considered an excellent soup.”
One morning, the guides made a little dressing room for the ladies in a sheltered nook. The ladies bathed and used brushes, combs, and toothbrushes to improve their appearance. They even had the luxury of a small mirror hung from the branch of a fine hemlock tree.
Near the end of the trip, Lady Amelia met “Modern Mirandas.” The happening occurred when Amelia arrived at the Arnold’s farm. Six girls stared at her with astonishment. Then Mrs. Arnold informed Amelia that the girls “had never before seen any other woman than herself!”