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New England Historical Genealogical Register - vol. 90 - pp. 32-41 - Jan. 1936
Some Records of the "Forty-Niners"
Passengers in the Barque "SELMAN"
From New York 11 April 1849
Communicated by Edwin Stanley Wells of Newington, Conn.
The original document containing the passenger list of the Selman, bound from New York for San Francisco is headed : "Report of Passengers on board Barque Selman, Orrin Sellew, Master From New York April 11th 1849 For San Francisco" It was owned in 1934 by Leslie N. Hale of Newington, Conn., grandson of Lorin G. Hale of East Hartford, Conn., one of the passengers of this ship. A copy of the list is as follows :-
From Boston Around Cape Horn to Valparaiso
Contributed by Frank Edwin Sanborn, S.B. of Columbus, Ohio
The letter given below was written to Ira Edwin Sanborn, who was born at Parsonsfield, Maine, 4th March 1806, and died in Boston 24th January 1859, the grandfather of the contributor. A resident of Boston from about 1837 until his death, he was a broker and salesman, and in the fifties was captain of the South Watch.
The contributor knows nothing about the writer of the letter or about the persons named in it.
Since the writer of the letter states that her ship, the brig Colorado, had made the run from Boston to St. Catherine's (an island off the coast of Brazil, some distance southwest of Rio de Janeiro) in sixty-one days, and since the Colorado apparently lay at St. Catherine's for several days, resuming her voyage on 2nd January 1850, the brig must have sailed from Boston about the latter part of October 1849.
Brig COLORADO - Harbor of Valparaiso - March 31 1850
Mr. I. E. Sanborn
The Captain of the Ship Pacific of Boston has promised to take a pacage [sic] of letters for us to New York. I write to inform you of our safety and my uninterupted [sic] good health. I was a little sea sick for two days, have never been confined to my birth [sic] a whole day since I left Boston. Weigh two hundred and five lbs. I am in good spirits. I like Capt. Baker very much. We have singing and prayers morning and evening and a sermon every Sabbath, when the weather will permit. When two weeks out of Boston we established a weekly paper to be made up of original matter contributed by the passengers. Communications handed to Mr. F.H. Woods, The Editor where copied in to a large Book and the "Boston & California Pioneer" was read to us every Tuesday Evening. Advertisements of Lectures Concerts, Hat Stores, Shoe Stores. Lost Children, Patriotic, Moral and Religious peaces [sic], appear most every week. 4 or 5 Poets Some very good, some good for nothing. In our Police reports one week we were informed that "Sam'l M. Braclett was fined five dollars for whipping one of his children". We have enjoyed ourselves vary [sic] well, had vary [sic] little sickness of any kind. Pleasant weather from Boston to St. Catherines visiting the different Calafornia [sic] vessells [sic] and the natives on Shore. Dined at the Consuls Mr. Cathcart who was formerly an old whaleman from Nantucket, has married a native and has a large family of children, has resided there 22 years. Sailed from St. Catherines the 2nd of January. 1 Ship 1 Bark 1 Brig and 2 Schon's [Schooners!] came out in company with us All California bound; they all out sailed us; had a pleasant run down the coast of Brazil went inside the Falkland Islands but did not see land till we made Staten land the 25th Jan., 14 sail in sight some of which were whalers. Jan. 28th made Cape Horn. Jan. 30th commenced with light winds from S E (our true course was west). At 10am wind S W increasing to a gale. At 4pm Coast of Terra del Fuego on our lea 15 miles distant; our only chance was now in carying [sic] sail. At 9pm away went Jib Boom, Foretopmast and Maintopgallant mast, blowing a gale all the while. Anxiety and alarm was in every countanance. [sic] The Sailors dared not go aloft to cut away the broken spars. Capt. Baker Said if It was "God will we should go clear If not York Minster Cape would bring us up before morning, he had done all he could". The Passengers looked on in Silence while the Capt. and Mate consulted maps and charts. It was a long and sleepless night for us all. At daylight we had passed the cape, how near we could not exactly tell but we where [sic] close in to land, the wind favored us 2 points we tacked ship and stood out to sea, thankfull [sic] enough for plenty of sea room. When we where [sic] a hundred miles or so from land, we lay too [sic] and when the gale was over cleared up the wreck. We where [sic] five weeks beating about with gale after gale--what we gained one day we lost the next by laying too. [sic] February 26th Lattitude [sic] 53º 43 South Longitude 77º 30, Capt. Baker united in Marriage Mr. Job Henry Grush of Roxbury and Miss Mary Jane Stinchfield. The parties were not acquainted before coming on board. The Capt. published them at Morning Prayers. Excitement and curiosity privailed [sic] for the intended wedding was known to but few. Jokes passed. Love, Courtship and Marriage was talked of. The morning was spent in moving beds, boxes trunks, and preparing a room for the Bride. At 4 O'Clock pm the bride and groom made the appearance neatly dressed. Mr. Woods of Boston and myself had the honor of standing up with them. The gong was rung. The gentlemen Passengers came out on this Occasion in fancy costume, different nations fashions trades Shapes and Colours where [sic] represented--most all wore enormous paper collars, Small men where [sic] stuffed to twice there [sic] usual size. Swords, Pistols, Eppiletts [sic] Guns, rings, eyeglasses, Tartan plaids and Policemen with badges where [sic] all there, while the representative from Sweet Irelande [sic] keept [sic] the door with a Shelalah [sic] in his hand. Perfect order was maintained while the marriage ceremony was read and prayer offered, then came kisses and congratulations for the Bride and nine hearty cheers for the groom. An extra supper was provided. At midnight they where [sic] serenaded by the Owl Club of which Mr. Grush was a member--thus ended our Cape Horn wedding--a time that will long be remembered by us all--we all thought that such an important event would bring us a fair wind. It came a few days after and we had a good run to this port--Arrived here the 14th March. A whole fleet of vessells [sic] came in with us. All the vessells [sic] we left at St. Catherines have been here and gone, before we arrived. It will take about 3 weeks to repair the damage done the vessell [sic] and get fresh provision and water-- we shall be ready to sail the first fair wind after today. The Ship Sunden and Charlotte of Boston are here from California. Vessells [sic] are coming here from there most every week. They do not give the place a vary [sic] good name. The worst place for gambling and drinking in the world. They are bringing the sick from California here. Men stop at the diggings till the wet season and they get worn out and then ship for a run down the coast--living on Salt Provision so ling at the mines they have the scurvy in a little time--one ship came in with only 2 well men--all sick with scurvy. Bitter complaints are made of the American Hospital here. It certainly is a most miserable place. The sailors say It is shure [sic] death to a man to go there. It is owned by Dr. Page, a Massachusetts man said to be worth 50 or 60 thousand doll[ar]s. We found Mr. Johnson one of our company at the English Hospital--he pays 4 dollars per day and has good care and attendance. He came here in Reindeer • from Boston is improveing [sic] in health. The E Hospital is well conducted, receives government patronage--our government ought to do something for ours--vegetables and fruit are very scarce in California. The report here is that Mr. Moorhouse late American Consul and 2 other gentlemen have bought up all the Flour and fresh provisions at Conseption [sic] for one year--for the California markett. [sic] Mr. Moorhouse has gone to California. 1 gentleman remains here and 1 goes to Conception--prices fixed on a sliding scale--I presume you understand how these speculation in lying up Flour Mills as managed. [T]he latest dates I have seen is the New York Herald of Jan. 14th we were shocked at the news of Dr. Parkmas death and the arrest of Proff. Webster. Mr. Potter the present American Consul is a pleasant gentlemanly man, he was at the Law School at Cambridge 10 or 12 years since. Postage on letters from here to New York only 75 cts. I like Valparaiso vary [sic] much--the city is built at the foot of a range of mountains while towering above them is the lofty Andes. The principal trade is in the hands of English and American men. Every thing is high but fruit and vegetables those are plenty and fine. Potatoes and onions and quinces are superior to any I ever saw in the States. Apples, Pears, Peaches, Appricotts [sic], Figs, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapes and other things plenty and cheap. Horses are plenty and beautifull [sic], every body rides on horseback--much of the labor is done by mules. Horse racing and Theatrical Amusements on Sunday. The Spanish and Chilean women never wear any Bonnetts [sic]--most of them smoke cigars. We visited the Fort was politely rec'd by the Officers--treated to cake, wine and cigars. Last Friday eve we were invited to an entertainment on board the Helen S. Page from Boston--we had music, dancing and Singing and a splendid supper. The Marcia Cleaves from Boston arrived yesterday. I suppose you would like to know If I have ever repented starting for California--To tell the truth, the night we expected to go ashore on the Coast of "Terra del Fuego" I wished myself anywhere but where I was--at no other time have I regretted It for a moment. I have written this in a hurry as I did not know of the opportunity to send till within a few hours--I have no time to copy or correct. Please excuse my poor scholarship and do not expose my ignorance to any but my friends. My letter to Nancy went on last weeks Steamer. I send one to my Father with this. I hope your family and all my friends are well. Mrs. Brackett wishes to be affectionately remembered to Mr. & Mrs. Harris, is well and does not regrett [sic] starting for California. Will write to Mr. Harris folks when we arrive at California. My respects to all kind friends that inquire after me, Peticularly [sic] Mr. Cruft. with manny [sic] thanks to you and Mrs. Sanborn for all your kindnesses to me and mine and the wish that every good may attend you -- I am you friend -- Ellen M. Knights
There is no place like New England. I hope to lay my bones in soil yet
The Company on the CRESCENT from Salem, Mass., and an incident of their Voyage
Communicated by the late Henry Byron Phillips of Berkley, Calif. [Mr. Phillips, a life member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, died 22nd Nov. 1924. For fourteen years he was president and later was librarian of the California Genealogical Society. See memoir of him in the Register, vol. 81, pp 338-339 1927]
In this article is presented a roster of the officers, crew, passengers, and company of the ship Crescent, that sailed from Salem, Mass., 6th Dec. 1849, and arrived in the Bay of San Francisco 26th May 1850, with an account also of what happened when the Crescent and the ship Charles, one hundred days out of Boston, Mass., and bound for the Sandwich Islands, came together in the Pacific Ocean, off the southern part of South America.
This voyage was an enterprise of a company that styled itself "The Salem Mechanic's and Trading and Mining Association," which purchased the ship and the major part of a cargo, consisting of building materials and provisions, while the remainder of its cargo space was filled with mixed freight, including a knocked-down steamboat intended for use on the Sacramento River.
The prime intent was to secure a passage to California, and at the same time to make the enterprise pay its way by the profitable sale of the vessel and cargo on arrival.
This roster is exceptional, in that it gives the name, the place of birth, the occupation, the then place of residence, and the age of all the members of the Association, and states whether each was married or single.
It is extracted from the diary of William Berry Cross, one of the members of the Association. Mr. Cross, was for many years a resident engineer at Sacramento, for the California Steam Navigation Company, operating on the interior waters of California. He died in San Francisco 7th May 1891, and is buried in the family lot at Sacramento. There are a number of volumes in this diary, and it contains very much of interest, being a record of current events taken at the time, day by day.
These extracts have been taken through the courtesy of Mrs. Arthur W. Cross, daughter-in-law of William Berry Cross, directly from the diary, and follow the spelling of the text.
The Names Berth Places ages and Places of Residence of The Salem Mechanick Trading and Mining Association. [transcriber note :- there is nothing to indicate whether all of the people named below were on board Crescent. One might assume that Albert Lackey was onboard, as his family is named above. There are also references such as "…about thirty of the Company…" ]
The book from which the lists given above were copied was begun by the writer on his twenty-first birthday, 17th Feb. 1847, and extends to 16th Feb. 1853, a period of six year. It is volume 1 of a series kept for many years, and brought to California on the Crescent. Almost without exception daily entries were made. As an example of the descriptive powers of the writer an entry under one date is appended.
March 9th 1850. Saturday, In lat. 49º--47´ S. long 79º--35´ W. Spoke the Ship Charles from Boston 100 days out bound to the Sand Witch Island. Saw the Ship Charles to the leeward Standing N.W. as time passed on the two ships came nearer together, at 12 oct. M. the sails were seen in the distance very destinkly. At 3 oct. the two Ships had shotened the distance between them so that our Mate with his Spiglass read on her stearn Charles, Boston. The weather was fair, the sun shone out upon the broad waters of the Pacific Ocean with all its Splendor. A gentle breeze sweep across the wateres sufficient to fill the Canvis that ornamented the two Ships. The Band Came on Deck and seated themselves in a suitable situation to perform their musick to welcom the meeting of relitives friends and Streangeres that were watching in the distance to Catch a glance of some familiar Countananc that they had long been absent from.
And still nearer they came, handkerchiefs were waved, hats wers swung which seemed to say walcom onse more the friends that to me were so Dear in the Days of my Childhood.
The Charles Crossed our bows, kind words were said of freind and home and kind looks were passed from one ship to another. The Captains passed the usual Conversation about the weather each others longitude &c. The Charles passes astearn about one half of a mile. By a request of Wm. Hardy the Captain give permission for a boat to be lowered for H. and others to go on board the Charles in which he had a sister.
The boat was maned by the 2d. mate and others and pushed of from the Ship, as soon as the boat left our main, maintop and maintopgalent sails were backed and the ship hove leawes into the wind entirely to the Controle of the wind and waves which drifted one knot per hour to the leward. As soon as they saw the boat coming towards them they wore ship, stood toward us, passed the boat and came up to the leeward of us. When within 20 rods od us they backed their main sail, main topsail and main topgaland sail, to waite for the boat--this did not Stop her headway when she was even with our stearn they Clued up her fore sail put her helm hard down luffed up into the wind under our bows, both Ships were now entirely to the controle of the wind and waves to toss them to and fro to their own liking.
Now look you to the Countanancies on board both when the Captain of the Charles cryed out to our Captain "Hard up your helm"--Which was executed with the utmost exsertion, hoping that our Ship mite pass her stern to leeward, But no, when our helm was hard up our flying jibboom passed over her quarter Deck with our flying jib set and passed through her spanker when her stern rose ona wave it caried away our flying jibboom and martingale. Of which we recovered again with the flying jibboom in two pieces. By this time the tow ships had swang broad side to each other, her quarter Came in contact with our bows which carried away the bullwork of out labboard bow even with the plankshead. by the repeated action of the two Ships assending and descending and Crashing to gether it tore away our labboard anchor which lodged on her quarter deck. Our labboard swinging studding sail boom being set it passed through her uper Cabin and pantry and doing a fierfull Damage by bracking the Crockery ware and smashing up things to a terriable rate.
As the two, ships rose and fell on the waves (which was about 12 feet high) and smashing together with awfull vengance about thirty of the Company took spars and pushed the two ships on opersit directions to a good effect’ Some of our men that was on board the Charles sprung into the misin riggin and Cut away some rops that made the connection between her stern and our bows then her stern began to swing Clear from us, her top sails filled and her bows took a parting farewell by smashing in pieces our quarter boats and raking the sides of our ship with her bow anchor and bracking a hole through the planksheir, when to the unspeackable joy of all on board, the two ships parted after making themselves very familiar on short acquaintance’
The most of the damage done to our ship was the loss of our anchor and fore topmast studding sailboom and swinging studding sail boom, the latter of which was smashed up as fine as wood fited for a stove, the flying jib boom martaingail and its stays and sprit sail yard were carried away and brock in pieces, the bullworks of our labboard bow were Carried away even with the plankshier and the quarter boat was stove in peaces (woth $ 60) and a hole brock through the quarter plankshier. The main top gallant yard was brock in pieces and meny rops Carried away from the top rigging, And to finish of with her bow anchor racked the sides of our Ship in meny places nearly through.
The damage done to the Charles was very severe she had her mizzin rigging very badly ingured with the loss of her Spanker And most every thing aft of her mizzin mast above the hull was Carried away.
About the time the two ships Came together our boat puled up under her lee beam and the men went on board. Wm. Harday began to look for his sister he hunted the Cabin and state rooms through to no affect and at last found her in the fore Castle very much frightened.
The Capt. wished to have us lay to till he asertained the Condition of his ship, the two ships lay within one mile of each other about 1 hour when the Charles made sail and stood away on her Cours. We Cleared away our ruins our course being the same as his we made sail and stood on after her.
I will now say a few words and try to picture in your imagination the awful and horroable feelings of the men on board While the two ships were smashing and pouncing upon each other with a vengance that seemed imposable only to the eye of the beholder. Then look not only to one end of the ship but all over it you would see not only the youne with the picture of horror on their Countenance but you would see the young the middle aged and old age with its gray locks floating in the breeze Ringing their hands and Caling on the god of mercy to spare them in the hour of peril.
With all the terrible danger that was before my eyes I Cannot help reccolecting the awful Cadaverous looking Countananc of one of the members of our Company which Come to my view as I passed over the quarter Deck, It was a man whose locks had turned gray by the meny winters that had passed over his head, he stood with his hands upraised weeping like a Child and Crying out my God what shall I do we shall all go to the bottom My god my wife will be a widow. While in another part of the ship you would see others expressing the same amount of fear only in a different form, one of those that manefested the most Courage when danger was far at a distance in this Case were the most frightened. If you could look at the men with their sinewy arms and sun burnt faces who by long experience had made the ocean as familiar to their gaze as the home of their Childhood you would see them going about the decks Crying with anguish to to Clear away the long boat, While the officers of the Ship stood between hop and fear giving no orders to the men But saying we shall all go to the bottom soon.
Then look at some of the men between decks you might see men with a stout hart weeping like Children and thinking of the loved ones at home the near and dear friends that will watch for their return with an ancious eye and watch in vain till it shall grow an old mans story upon their native shore. Some were thinking perhaps of a wife and Children that would be left behind to mourn their loss And some are thinking perhaps of a father whoes step was once fearless and bold but now whoes totering step and gray hares will go down with sorrow to the grave without a son to linger around his dying Couch until his aged hart becomes motionless in deaths icy armes. While others were preparing themselves to end their days hear in the wild ocean and breathe their last farewell to earth by going down early to a watery grave without the kind hand of an affectionate sister to Close their eyes in death or breath by thir side gentle prayers and a last farewell!
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