[ Thomas McKenny Hughes, Woodwardian Professor of Geology, Cambridge University. ] Autograph Letter Signed ('T McKenny Hughes') to his mother, from New Mexico, while attending the 1891 International Geological Congress, with description of 'natives'.

Thomas McKenny Hughes (1832-1917), FRS, Woodwardian Professor of Geology, Cambridge University, 1873-1917 [ Margaret Hughes, née McKenny, daughter of Sir Thomas McKenny, Lord Mayor of Dublin ]
Publication details: 
On letterhead of the San Felipe Hotel, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 23 September 1891.
SKU: 16708

Hughes's mother Margaret - wife of Rev. Joshua Hughes (1807-1889) - was the daughter of Sir Thomas McKenny (1832-1917), Lord Mayor of Dublin. According to his entry in the Oxford DNB, Hughes and his wife 'attended the International Geological Congress of 1891 in the USA, where they were part of a small group which visited the national parks of North America, including the Grand Canyon, into which descent was made from the north rim. Much of the journey was made on horseback, through territory still under Native American occupation.' 2pp., 8vo. In ink and pencil. In fair condition, aged and worn. He begins the letter by explaining that due to the party's late arrival 'our conductor has decided to let us breakfast here so we got a peep at the interesting old Spanish or Mexican town though the hotel and Station are in a new town springing up like a mushroom in the desert. We got a capital breakfast and then some of our party bargained with Indians for personal ornaments', after which the party got on their train again ('the cry here [...] is "on board" as if it were a ship instead of our "Take your seats")'. The train 'rolled on over desert plains' to the 'Indian village' of 'Lacuna', 'where the train stopped for 10 minutes to let us run up and see the natives in their homes - A nice quiet civil people they seemed to be - we went into the houses and saw how they ground their corn and made their cakes. I saw a quaint copper ring on an old womans finger and got it for half a dollar. Some of our party bought pottery but we did not as it is so awkward to carry'. He reports the reduction of the group, with 'Carrie [his wife Mary Caroline Hughes (née Weston; 1863-1916)] the only lady left'. As the train runs along 'a great lava flow of comparatively recent date', he describes the 'tremendous effect of a heavy shower here in the streams of liquid mud that come tearing through what was a dusty arid plain'. He describes the arrangement on the train, now that the dining car has 'gone on with the other half of the party to Niagara &c'. He finds the American newspapers 'miserable only sensational paragraphs about murders robberies prize fights' and no European news. 'There is a mountain in sight called Mount Sedgwick - I wonder who gave it that name and whether it was after our old Sedgwick or after the American General or the American authoress'. From the McKenny Hughes papers.