The Wheatons Tour Europe

In hopes of restoring Laban Morey Wheaton’s failing health, the Wheatons spent five months of 1862 touring Europe. They traveled with David Emory Holman, a cousin of Laban Morey Wheaton, and visited England, Wales, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium. Combining business with pleasure, the men registered a patent for a machine to shape the crowns of straw hats while in London.

During their journey, Mrs. Wheaton kept a journal and collected plants from the places they visited, which she pressed in a two-volume herbaria.

Wheaton professor of history, Kathryn Tomasek, noted that the Wheaton’s journey illuminates:

economic ties and political divisions between North and South during the antebellum period; social, familial, and religious networks of white middle-class and elite women and men; the place of household economic arrangements in capitalist economies; and the changing contours of travel and tourism at a point when technological innovations facilitated rapid transport of people and goods.”