Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lillie Paulina (Beard) Sherrod (1870-1938): World Traveler

Lillie Paulina (Beard) Sherrod grew up on a farm in Bedford County, Virginia, and trained as a nurse. After her parents died, she moved to Richmond, the capital of the commonwealth and worked as a private nurse. By 1920 shed lived in the household of John Mayo Sherrod as his caretaker. Mr. Sherrod suffered from Tabes dorsalis, which had afflicted him about 8 years before. The condition causes a loss of coordination and movement as a result of a syphilitic infection of the spinal cord. Lillie married her patient in 1922 according to Key and Allied Families by Mrs. Julian C. Lane.

Lillie buried her husband, John Mayo Sherrod, on 21 May 1927. Nine months later, she and her widowed sister, Elmira Lorena "Rena" (Beard) Sublette boarded the White Star Line's USS Calgaric in New York City for a three-week cruise. They returned to the metropolis on 27 February. I like to think of it as Lillie's test cruise for her big adventure in 1929 and this time she traveled alone.

On 20 December 1929, Lillie boarded the Red Star Line's SS Belgenland in New York City and embarked on an around-the-world cruise. She returned to New York on 1 May 1930.

Inside pages of the Belgenland's world cruise; courtesy of

How glorious the adventure could we have sailed that first voyage around the world with Magellan! But one of terrifying hardships, too; of crushing days of disappointment that would have dimmed much of that glory.

In this wonder age of today all the best that Magellan knew and saw -- and vastly more -- of the Seven Seas and lands and peoples of the earth may be experienced in supreme comfort and luxury by following the sun around the globe...World Cruise of the Belgenland, Red Star Liner de luxe, largest steamship ever to circle the globe.

This super-tour will be conducted by the International Mercantile Marine Company and the Travel Department of the American Express Company.

The uniting of these two vast organizations of proved efficiency and long experience in world travel assures the highest standards of tourist service.

Not only will living conditions aboard ship, as to convenience, cleanliness, entertainment and cuisine, be on par with the best in one's home life, but the American Express Travel Department, with offices in all ports visited on the cruise, will provide the very best service for land excursions, with highly experienced and trustworthy conductors in charge.

Just to look at the Belgenland, Red Star liner de luxe, is to inspire confidence and trust and the feeling that if one is to choose any ship for a home during a 133 days' sail around the globe, this is the ship!

One of the steadiest steamships afloat -- the kind that seasons mariners and travelers fondly dub "a good sea-boat" -- she is homelike to a degree, luxuriously appointed, immaculately kept.

Her decks are exceptionally broad, with generous space for open-air sports and pastimes. Splendid public rooms, staterooms with running hot and cold water (except a few rooms on the F deck) and beds in place of berths, one of the finest orchestras, exclusively a la carte dining-room service, without extra charge; excellent cuisine, directed by a famous European hotel chef, a superlative steward service, and a completely furnished laundry -- these are just a few of the Belganland's World Cruise advantages!

An oil burner, of 27,000 tons register, 697 feet long, 78 feet in breadth, having turbine engines and triple screws, the Belgenland is the eighth largest steamship in the world.

The itinerary included twenty-six ports of call, including:

Cuba: Havana
Panama: Colon and Balboa
USA (California): Los Angeles and San Francisco
Hawaii Island: Hilo and Honolulu
Japan (and Korea): Yokohama, Kobe and Inland Sea
China: Shanghai and Hong Kong
Philippines: Manila
Java: Batavia (now Jakarta)
Malay: Singapore
India: Diamond Harbour, Calcutta and Diamond Harbour
Ceylon: Colombo
India: Bombay
Egypt and Palestine: Port Sudan, Port Tewfik and Alexandria
Europe: Naples, Monaco, and Gibraltar

If Lillie left a journal or photograph album of her trip, I've not seen them, but Mr. Roland C. Fenner kept a log book of his 1927-1928 cruise, which included this photograph of transiting the Panama Canal. Ahead of the ship is one of the canal locks.

From the cruise log book of Roland C. Fenner; courtesy of Florida
International University


Lillie Paulina was my first cousin three times removed and the youngest child of Charles Edward Beard and Ann Elizabeth Key. She was born on 22 March 1870 in Bedford County, Virginia, and died on 22 July 1938 in Richmond, Virginia. She married John Mayo Sherrod on 22 July 1922. He was the son of Dr. John W. Sherrod and Louisa Tabitha Mayo, of Hamilton, North Carolina. Lillie was interred in Evergreen Burial Park in Roanoke, Virginia.

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