Saturday, March 2, 2013

On Safari With George Eastman: Part 3

In my last posting, George Eastman and his friends Audley Stewart and Daniel Pomeroy had arrived by their private train in Nairobi.

En route to Limuru: the Johnsons, George Eastman, Daniel Pomeroy and Audley Stewart

There they joined a party of more professional explorers for a safari that would last eight months ...

Mark D. Ruffner
... meandering through Kenya and Tanganyika. They had arrived during a prolonged rainy season, so the area around Nairobi was very muddy. While Pomeroy went with Carl Akeley to the artists' camp, George Eastman, Audley Stewart and the Johnsons went in the direction of Limuru, on sort of a trial run before they headed north to Lake Paradise. They were happy to get 20 miles by car.

Detraining cars at Limuru
This initial outing was to a camp where the Baileys (of another safari) had been about a week before. Mrs. Bailey had gone hunting without her husband (who had gone off in another direction), and she came upon two resting rhinos. When she shot at them, the rhinos charged — side by side — and one gored and partially scalped her. The attack had caused Mrs. Bailey to be tossed through the air, and then she was trampled. She was rushed to a hospital, where she recovered, and later resumed her safari! The Eastman Party came along after all the excitement, and camped in the very same spot. George Eastman later published the entire Nairobi newspaper account of Mrs. Bailey in his book.

Dr. Audley Stewart writing in his diary, at the Bailey Camp
George Eastman (right) with his guide, Phil Percival, at the Bailey Camp
Mr. Eastman had much in the way of supplies, but he noted that for this short expedition he brought along only two saddles, two camp tables, six chairs, hot water plates, cups with rubber separating rings, two candle lanterns, pneumatic beds, cots and bedding, a No. 12 kitchen table, an egg box and two pairs of food boxes.

It was while at the Bailey Camp that George Eastman shot his first lion. It had been with a lioness and two cubs, and as the others ran off, the lion had stood his ground. After that kill, Eastman went after the lioness, who eluded him (apparently, orphaning cubs was not a problem for Eastman).

"Country where I got my first lion"
To be continued . . .


  1. Dear Mark,

    Three things struck my attention while reading this:

    Whatever one might think of the hunting aspect to this trip, Mrs Bailey was certainly brave. Shooting at two rhinos, tossed in the air by them and trampled, taken to hospital and then back in the saddle (so to speak). A tough cookie!

    Secondly I think that Mr Eastman was not a man to be easily moved, in an emotional sense. I take him to have been a hard headed businessman with no time for niceties. The fact that the lion heroically stood his ground while the lioness and cubs were making their escape from danger, did not deter Mr. Eastman from shooting him. But I guess to be a hunter one needed to divorce oneself from such feelings. I could not have done it myself.

    And on another note, I see that Dr. Audley Stewart appears to be writing his diary while wearing a fez - I like that!

    1. The hard headed businessman had a kind side, he instituted profit sharing for all Kodak employees. As for all the slaughter. it was likely a prestigious thing to do at the time even though I can't say I admire him for it now.

  2. Dear Kirk,

    Well, one thing is for sure — Mrs. Bailey had great dinner party conversation for the rest of her life!

    I think your assessment of George Eastman is pretty close to the mark. He was a philanthropist who did support the arts and education, but he also comes across as a person with whom others didn't get too close.

    I'll bet Audley bought his fez when the Llanstephan reached the Suez Canal.

  3. Hello Mark, Eastman's idea of roughing it reminds me of those old picnics you read about with furniture, hampers of china, crystal, and silver, and innumerable servants. I had always thought that the idea of such outings was to escape from civilization for a while.

    I was coincidentally just reading about Eastman on another front. It was basically he who paid for MIT's move from Boston, and building its new campus in Cambridge, an event (and school) I had not associated with him before.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Hello, Jim,

      Actually, the picnic that you have described is the way I want go, though you have left out the oriental carpets!

      I knew that George Eastman funded a school of music at the University of Rochester, but I didn't know of his association to MIT. Imagine what he would think of today's technology, and especially today's digital cameras!

    2. Oriental carpets!--I knew I was forgetting something, not to mention damask linens and a Lucullan feast.

  4. Dear Mark - Seeing these photos is a reminder of how much the world has changed, especially the one showing the dead lion. What was tolerable then is unacceptable now. Today a safari is a photo shoot rather than a gun shoot.
    However having said that, I read that King Juan Carlos of Spain went on an elephant hunt in Botswana only last year. In an unprecedented act of royal contrition, after coming under attack for his actions, the monarch said he had made a mistake. The trip apparently was a secret but came to light when he fell and broke his hip necessitating his being rushed back to Spain for surgery.

    1. Dear Rosemary,

      Yes it was a different time, and as is true with resources generally, I think those early safaris viewed the thousands of animals they saw as an endless stream.

      It reminds me of my parents' retirement home, which was situated on two lots in a wilderness area. As other lot owners built their homes, many would cut down most of the trees on their lot because they assumed trees would remain in the lots next to them — which didn't happen. Fortunately, the homeowners association saw the writing on the wall and required that larger trees be saved.

      I did hear that story of King Juan Carlos, a mistake not just in shooting elephants, but also for going on a lavish vacation as his country's economy plummeted. Time to read up on Marie Antoinette again!

  5. Dear Mark, Where were Mrs Bailey's gun bearers when she needed them?
    Speaking of Persian rugs, Mr. G and I hauled up a large dark blue Persian rug, urns and tall vases with ostrich feathers, a tent made up from an antique piece of heavy fabric,to the mountain behind our city house. Silk scarfes flying from posts and champagne cooled in the nearby brook. Our guests thought that we had invited them to a dinner party at the house. We loaded them into cars and then hiked the rest of the way. They couldn't believe their eyes when we came around the bend and there it was all set up in its splendor. I have pictures, might have to do a post on it.

    1. Dear Gina,

      I gather that the whole rhino episode happened quickly, but Mrs. Bailey did have gun bearers with her, and it was they who carried her quite a distance before she was rushed to a hospital.

      Your dinner party sounds delightful in the truest sense of that word. I hope you do post about it!

  6. I can't even imagine being away from home for that long -can you? No matter how exotic and fun the destination!

    1. Dear Stefan, I agree with you; I'm always excited to leave and excited to get back. But don't forget, the safari had its own headquarters in Nairobi, and their route took them back and forth through Nairobi, where Eastman was surely making regular phone calls and sending telegrams.

  7. Oh, to be a hunter one definitely has to 'divorce oneself from feeling'. I couldn't do it either and I have a hard time being in the same room with people who do.

    Having said that, I'm still intrigued by these posts of the Eastman safari. Love the fashions.

    As for Mrs. Bailey, well if you're going to interrupt a rhino's nap, you have to expect repercussions.

    1. Dear Yvette -

      From what little I've read of rhinos, they're not too bright, and will charge at almost anything, and with the slightest provocation. In the case of both elephants and rhinos, their eyesight is not keen, and the animals rely heavily on their sense of smell and hearing. The hunters of this safari therefore were careful to appoach both animals from down-wind.

      The fashions are great, aren't they? I want a pith helmet, too!