Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Thomas O. LeRoy Journal, 1841-1842

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, June 2012

Summary Information
Title: Thomas O. LeRoy journal
Creator: LeRoy, Thomas Otis, 1823-1893
Inclusive dates: 1841-1842
Extent: 1 volume
Thomas O. LeRoy's journal contains log entries, diary entries, and drawings that he composed while sailing onboard the merchant ship Natchez from New York to Valparaíso, Chile, and back to New York between September 1841 and May 1842. LeRoy recorded the ship's progress, his observations about seafaring life, the scenery he passed, his travels in Chile, and other topics.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1994. M-3033.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Thomas O. LeRoy Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Thomas Otis LeRoy was born in New York on July 9, 1823, the son of Jacob LeRoy and Charlotte Downs Otis. Between 1841 and 1842, he traveled to Valparaíso, Chile, onboard the merchant ship Natchez , under the command of Captain Robert Waterman, and he returned with the ship in May 1842. In 1845, he established Thomas LeRoy & Company, a firm which dealt in shot, sheet lead, and pipes. Despite initial successes, the firm eventually failed and LeRoy became destitute. He married Caroline Clark in 1855, and they had at least three children: Elenor, Colt, and Mary. Thomas Otis LeRoy died in 1893.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Thomas O. LeRoy's journal contains approximately 85 pages of log and diary entries that he composed while sailing onboard the merchant ship Natchez from New York to Valparaíso, Chile, and back to New York between September 1841 and May 1842. Also included are 9 drawings he made on the voyage, an inventory of the belongings he carried during the trip, and 7 pages of double-entry bookkeeping accounts of Captain Robert Waterman of the brig Konohassett and of Theodore Lewis of the brig Philip Howe .

LeRoy began his journal with a brief entry on August 28, 1841, and the Natchez set sail under Captain Robert Waterman on September 1. Between September 1 and November 11, LeRoy regularly kept detailed log entries documenting the ship's course, winds, and notable onboard occurrences. The log entries were often interspersed with prose accounts of life on the Natchez , in which he mentioned seeing birds and aquatic animals, and described the scenery, particularly after the Natchez reached the Brazilian coast. In early November, LeRoy interrupted his log with detailed descriptions of the scenery around Tierra del Fuego, and he resumed his regular entries until reaching Valparaíso, Chile, on November 15.

LeRoy recorded his impressions of the Chilean people and discussed his travels around the country, which included visits to nearby towns and to Santiago. He noted other ships in the harbor, reconsidered his decision to embark on a seafaring life, and discussed sailors' religious beliefs. The Natchez began its return journey on February 6, 1842, and LeRoy continued to write journal entries about his experiences onboard, sometimes mentioning his eagerness to return to his family. After a brief stop at Pernambuco, Brazil, the ship sailed through the Caribbean and, at a point of about 160 miles from New York, LeRoy composed his final entry, dated May 1, 1842. The journal is followed by an inventory of the belongings LeRoy brought along on his trip. He dedicated the volume to Midshipman Charles Cooper of New York.

LeRoy drew 9 pencil sketches during his time on the Natchez .

The illustrations are as follows:

  • Cape Horn
  • Juan Fernandez, "the Island where Robinson Crusoe resided"
  • Huasco, Chile
  • "Attack on fort Moultrie by the British"
  • "Ship Natchez ... in a snow squall"
  • "View of the Brazil Coast near El Salvador with Negro Fishermans Hut on a small rocky Island"
  • Cape St. Augustine, Brazil, and Saint Aleixo Island
  • Brazilian coast near Pernambuco, with a view of a "Coca Nut Plantation"
  • View of Brazil near Cape São Roque

The volume holds 7 pages of double-entry bookkeeping accounts. These record the finances of Theodore Lewis of the brig Philip Howe and those of Robert Waterman during a trip to Asia onboard the Konohassett .

Subject Terms

    • Brazil--Description and travel.
    • Chile--Description and travel.
    • Konohassett (Brig)
    • Ocean travel.
    • Pernambuco (Brazil)--Description and travel.
    • Sailing ships.
    • Seafaring life.
    • Tierra del Fuego (Argentina and Chile)--Description and travel.
    • Valparaíso (Chile)--Description and travel.
    • Voyages to the Pacific coast.
    • Water birds.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Brazil.
    • Fort Moultrie, Battle of, S.C., 1776.
    • Horn, Cape (Chile)
    • Huasco (Chile)
    • Plantations--Brazil.
    Genre Terms:
    • Accounts.
    • Diaries.
    • Drawings.
    • Ships' logs.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Thomas O. LeRoy journal,  1841-1842 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Bishop, J. Leander. A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860. Volume 3. Third edition. Philadelphia: Edward Young & Company, 1868.

    Briggs, L. Vernon. History And Genealogy of the Briggs Family, 1254-1937... Boston: Priv. print., C. E. Goodspeed & Co., 1938.