In 1833, two young missionaries, William Arms and Titus Coan, were sent by the
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) with instructions to study the
feasibility of establishing a mission station on the Pacific Coast of Patagonia. Finding
themselves unable to obtain sea transportation to that remote area, they made their initial
base of operations at Gregory Bay, on the north shore of the Strait of Magellan. After two
months living with nomadic natives (the Aónikenk), they became convinced that overland
travel would also be impossible, and, shortly thereafter, in early 1834, began their
return voyage to their native land.
Two accounts of this visit have appeared in print: the first, a serialized set of short
extracts from both their journals in «The Missionary Herald» (1834-35), online at
this same website; the second by Coan, published
in book form 46 years later,
entitled «Adventures in Patagonia: a Missionary's Exploring Trip»,
accesible online here.
In 2006, while visiting the US Library of Congress, we found
Titus Coan's Patagonia journal.
Given the importance of such
an early historical source, we decided to photograph it.
Subsequent examination of the
manuscript revealed significant differences from the published accounts mentioned above.
In our opinion, Coan's Journal, written from immediate, direct observation, is more
trustworthy than the later publications, which were undoubtedly coloured by 19th century moral
and literary considerations.
We are pleased to announce that the photographed pages have now (2013) been
transcribed and published here, in full, to facilitate their study and comparison with the other works.
Duncan S. Campbell