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James Ricalton
Courageous Schoolmaster, Photographer, Explorer
James Ricalton Journeys in Africa
Following are material in progress on JR's travel in Africa

We have a transcribed partial copy of James Ricalton's 1909 Diary. Transcript is about 60 pages. Below is a flash summary of some entries (dates are 1909 unless noted). Most travel described in transcript seems to be South Africa, Rhodesia, and Zimbabwe. Additional data, by his daughter Kathryn (following transcript excerpts), seems to confirm his passage through Kenya in 1909.

  • 1/2 -- Call at Underwoods to discuss photo possibilities during prospective trip.
  • 1/4 -- Order Rifle made by Winchester
  • 2/15 -- Sold today to Metropolitan Museum of Art Photo prints ... $120.80 ...
  • 3/8 -- Ship 4 cases photo plates to Cape Town on S.S. "Molktefels" .. Ship on same boat ... Tent, hammock, three guns.
  • 3/9 -- Teddy Roosevelt goes to S. Africa. [JW -- I have Ricalton photo of Roosevelt]
  • 3/16 -- Bought passage ticket for Southampton -- $55.
  • 3/17 -- Leave New York for Southampton on trip to Africa.
  • 3/20 -- High wind and heavy seas -- log 446 miles.
  • 3/24 -- Reach Plymouth at 9:00 am.... Leave for Cherbourg in one hour. Reach Southampton at 10 pm.
  • 3/28 -- At sea on Bay of Biscay.
  • 3/31 -- Reach Funchal at 7:00 am. Anchor in harbor. Go ashore and 24 exposures.
  • 4/4 -- At sea off Cape Verde.
  • 4/12 -- First Albatross appear today.
  • 4/13 -- Reached Cape Town at 4:00 am. Went ashore at 8:00 am. Took room at City Mansions Hotel at 25s. (shillings) a week.
  • 4/19 -- See Cooks about shipment of outfit to Livingstone.
  • 5/14 -- At Grout [Groot] Schuur [Cape Town] -- day fine. Photo the Rhodes stature.
  • 5/28 -- Start for Simon's Town at the 7:30 train. At Simonstown ...
  • 5/29 -- Leave Cape Point for Cape of Good Hope at 10:00 am.
  • 6/6 -- At Dassen Island.
  • [Ricalton maintains apartment and returns to Cape Town following these local journeys.]
  • 6/10 -- Start for Cape Point with two Kafir boys. [Ricalton sustains smashed-thumb injury and returns to Cape Town]
  • 7/2 -- At Cape Town. Nothing the worse after a 54 mile walk.
  • 8/1 -- On train all day....[Fellow passenger] advises me to go to Kazungulu, 40 miles est on Lingoter River where are French Fathers .... Reach Bulawayo on Sunday night and lodge at Palace Hotel.
  • 8/2 -- Leave Bulawayo on Tuesday [August 3] ... Reach Livingstone on Wednesday. All day on train.... Natives appear at station in primitive dress (no attire).
  • 8/4 -- Reach Livingstone at 8 am -- pass over great bridge and have my first glimpse of the famous Victoria Falls.
  • 8/5 -- Went to Victoria Falls ... My seeing confirmed that it does not surpass Niagara.
  • 8/7 -- At Livingstone, N.W. Rhodesia.
  • 8/16 -- At Livingstone packing up in preparation for start for Broken Hill.
  • 8/17 -- ... Send to Mr. Edison cigar box containing Kafir piano and bean pods; to Mrs. Edison Kaffir basket and mahogany bean pod and other bean pods.
  • 8/22 -- ...Reach Broken Hill at 8:15 pm. ... Wait long at station before learning where I might pitch my tent -- there being only a hotel consisting of mud huts.
  • 8/23 -- At Broken Hill ... Pitch my tent in the infant railway town of central Africa.
  • 8/28 -- Take 10 boys [servants/bearers] at 7s. [shilling] each ... Leave Broken Hill at 2 pm for Fort Jamison [Jameson?]. Make 20 miles to a river where we camp for the night.
  • 8/29 -- ... Saw one zebra and 4 roan antelope. 24 miles.
  • 8/30 -- Trek at 7 am and make over 20 miles by 1 pm. Feet better but one big blister. Lunch at Lasempto.
  • 8/31 -- The native village of Mkushi. Camp at night 3 miles west of Kimimbia.
  • 9/2 -- 5th day from Broken Hill ends at 2 pm today -- all well but one poor sick fellow, a skeleton with dysentery. His wrap is blood-stained from hemorrhage.
  • 9/3 -- ... Stop for lunch at Kamboko.
  • 9/5 -- Arrive at Mlembo and camp.
  • 9/7 -- Photo a Euphorbia tree with plantation workers -- Alala tribe.
  • 9/10 -- [Shoot and butcher/dry 3 hippopotamus.]
  • 9/16 -- Leave Crosby's for Fort Jamison at 8 am, with 23 natives.... Camp at Lukwiassi for the night.
  • 9/17 -- Reach the east side of Muchenagas today and camp.
  • 9/20 -- .... Entertain the villagers and Chief with stereoscopic views -- they wonder much.... Pitch camp here.... Within 9 miles of Petauke[-Mililo].
  • 9/23 -- At Petauke.
  • 9/25 -- Leave Umzimzara River camp at 5:45 am and reach Sassare Gold Mine at 9:30.
  • 9/26 -- Reach Luzingazi at 9 am. ... Leave Luzingazi at 3:30 and pass over last range by moonlight and reach Mgambi at 8 pm having walked during the day 38 miles.
  • 10/1 -- At Fort Jamison [Jameson, also, Chipata. Zambia]
  • 10/13 -- Leave Fort Jameson at 7:45 am with 16 boys.... The son of Chief to accompany me to right way towards the Luangwa. Stop at Zandile.
  • 10/14 ... Make 26 miles by 2 pm to head of Rekuse River [Rhodesia]. [JW -- Apparent photo for sale on Ebay -- see link.]
  • 10/20 -- On the Rekuse ...
  • 10/22 -- On the Rekuse
  • [TRANSCRIPT ENDS HERE]

From "The Life of James Ricalton" by his daughter, Kathryn Ricalton Murphy:

"In 1909 at the age of 65 James Ricalton took a trip to Africa and walked from Cape Town to Cairo, a distance of 1500 miles. Wearing out many pairs of shoes and averaging 30 miles a day. He had a safari of 20 natives to carry his baggage and to help him hunt wild game. He shot many elephants, hippopotami, antelopes, and wild buffalos, bringing home a great many trophies to add to his large collection of curios gathered from all his trips around the world....

"In 1912 Mr. Ricalton left for another trip under Thomas Edison's direction, this time to experiment with the famous inventor's moving picture camera. His son Lomond accompanied him and while father and son were in the jungles taking moving pictures of big game Lomond contracted typhoid fever. Mr. Ricalton transported him to the nearest British hospital, 50 miles away, but the trip on rough jungle roads aggravated the boy's condition, and after two weeks in the hospital, despite the best of care, he died and was buried in Nairobi, British East Africa. This tragedy ended Mr. Ricalton's travels...."




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Last modified Monday, 30-Jan-2006 20:54:17 EST