In April 1915 the pastor and founder of the People’s Church of Minneapolis, Gulian Lansing (aka Golightly) Morrill, his wife Ada, and adult son Lowell, boarded the SS Wimmera in Hobart.

[New Year's card from G. L. Morrill, Pastor People's Church]
Postcard. Author's Collection.
[New Year’s card from G. L. Morrill, Pastor People’s Church]
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

Their voyage to Wellington, New Zealand was only one leg of a journey which saw them visit Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands over a period of several months. A description of their travels were published later that year under the title of  ‘South Sea Silhouettes.’

The SS Wimmera sailed from Hobart late in the afternoon of Monday 19 April 1915. G L Morrill included the following on their passage to New Zealand:


IN THIS Eden land of apples I wanted to drink the health and happiness of Hobart in a glass of cider. This was fitting, but the ship-bar had every other drink but that. We sailed out of the pretty, picturesque harbor, the little lights grew few and dim, the searchlights showed our path in a trackless sea. Mount Wellington was silhouetted against the sky, and we forever left this lovely little island, unless we return voluntary prisoners enchanted by its beauty.

The ship “Wimmera” was long, so was the time—the boat was high, so was the sea. It took four days in a fast steamer, and not four hours in a row boat, to reach Wellington over 1,000 miles away. The gulls and albatrosses were the white wing scavengers of the deep that followed and grew fat on what we threw overboard. Captain Kelley was a good skipper, he skipped tobacco and substituted apples, and was benefited by the change. As tobacco was more expensive he had more change for fruit. I had the honor to sit next to him, and he can have the place next to me at my table any time he drops in and makes a call. The most distinguished, world-famed person on the boat sat opposite me with his young wife. He looked young for a man of such distinction, yet there was no mistake; it was Captain Crawford, the champion cricket player. He could both teach and fit for college, yet this was his title to fame. Athletics is the chief study in many universities. Football rates higher than philosophy, brawn is brighter than brain. The Poles once made Lasko king because he won a foot race.

Another interesting passenger was polly, the pet of the fo’castle. Every morning we had a serenade from her cut tongue of the patriotic song, ” Tipperary.” I had heard it sung on land and sea by sailors, savages, society and soldiers, and now the birds were taking it up. She tipped off several lines. One of the most famous subjects of John Bull on board, the officers’ friend and protector, was ‘‘Larry,” a big bull pup fierce of exterior and friendly at heart if he thought you were true.

“Cockie and Punch”
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

Thus sailed the golden hours, freighted with reading, writing, music, games and cheer, until N. Z. appeared. We sailed all morning along the West coast of the Middle island, looked at arches, caves and natural bridges, took the first and last look of Cape Farewell, entered Cook’s Straits, and without the pilot aid of Pelorus Jack reached Wellington after a splendid sunset. Our old ironsides lay at anchor all night, the harbor lights blinked before us, and the moon and stars shone above us.


Morrill, G L. South Sea Silhouettes. Chicago: M.A. Donohue & Co, 1915. Internet resource.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021