Captain John G. Baker

The Kenilworth's Crew

August 3, 1898, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

No Attempt Made to Mutiny Death of the Captain

NEW YORK, August 2.
D. R. Dearborn, the New York agent of Arthur Sewall of Bath, Maine, the owner of the clipper shlp Kenilworth, says that the rumor that Capt. Baker, the chief officer and a boy had been murdered at sea by the crew was utterly untrue. A friend of Mr. Dearborn received from Valparaiso the following cablegram relative to the Kenilworth, which was on a voyage from Hllo to New York with a cargo of sugar:

"The following just received from Valparaiso:

"Kenilworth put into Valparaiso 24th Instant. Investigation made. Cargo of sugar on fire on the 8th Instant. Captain, mate and Hobson died same night by inhaling gases from the burning cargo. Burled at sea. Measures to extinguish fire have been taken."

July 31, 1898, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

Reasons Why the Ship Kenilworth Was Lost
Captain Baker Had Trouble With His Men Before Leaving Hawaii.
Had Them in Jail

SAN FRANCISCO, July 30. That there was foul play in the loss of the full-rigged American ship Kenilworth and Captain John G. Baker, First officer A. B. Piper and Cabin Boy Hobson on the high seas is plainly suggested by a story of a mutinous crew related by a man who saw the sugar-laden ship at Hilo, Hawaii, the night before she sailed for New York.

H. M. Thompson, who arrived here Thursday in the schooner Campbell, was a shore merchant in Hilo, and a close friend of Captain Baker. In view of his knowledge of the Kenilworth's crew he is strongly of the opinion that Captain Baker, his mate and cabin boy, met with foul play at the hands of the crew.

"When the Kenilworth came into Hilo," he said, "Captain Baker remarked to me, as I met him on the wharf: 'I have a stinking crew this time; had trouble with them all the way out from New York.'

"I knew Captain Baker well. It was a mixed crew that he had shipped In New York in a hurry. They refused to work at the time they were at Hilo. They complained that the food was not good enough. Captain Baker took the ringleaders to jail. There were twelve of them.

Some of the imprisoned men had openly remarked that they would fix the captain when they got out to sea. They hated him and the first mate. I heard no complaint on their part about the second mate. I don't know whether he stood in with the men or not.

"I told Captain Baker of the remarks I had heard, for I thought he ought to be warned. They had said: 'We will do the captain and mate up; settle with them when we get out to sea.'

"Captain Baker replied: 'Well, I'll attend to them myself when I get out."

"It was about the 1st of June when the Kenilworth sailed from Hilo. She was loaded only with sugar, which is not combustible. She had 50,000 bags, valued at $200,000."

For more than thirty years Captain Baker had been in command of different ships and was a mariner of remarkable success.

September 8, 1898, San Francisco Call

Suffocated Three of the Kenilworth's Crew

A few weeks ago the news was cabled to the Merchants' Exchange that the American shipKenilworth had put into Valparaiso on fire while on her way from Hilo, H. I. for New York with a cargo of sugar. The death of the captain, first mate and cabin boy were reported later, and at one time there were fears of foul play, as Captain Baker was known to have had a very "tough" crew. The following extract from the ship's log, which reached here yesterday, gives full particulars of the disaster and sets all doubts on the matter at rest.

"The Kenilworth sailed from Hilo on May 22. On July 8 at 3 p. m., when in south latitude 46 degrees 14 minutes, west longitude 110 degrees 21 minutes, the cargo was found to be on lire. An hour later, as the fire was assuming a serious character, the captain decided to bear up for Valparaiso. To effect this he altered the course of the vessel to northeast one-quarter north.

"At midnight the second officer went to the captain's cabin and was horrified to find the master of the ship dead. He had been suffocated to death. All the doors had been closed on account of the cold weather, and the gases from the burning cargo had gathered in the after cabin and caused death. The first mate was also found suffocated, and the body of the ship's boy, who was sleeping in the cabin, his own room having been destroyed by fire, was found close to that of the mate. A passenger named G. E. Thrum was found in a very critical state, but was got on deck and he finally recovered.

"The bodies of the captain, first mate and boy were buried in south latitude 40 degrees 05 minutes west, longitude 115 degrees 25 minutes. The names of the dead are J. G. Baker, captain, 61 years; Arthur B. Piper, first officer, 30 years; Henry W. Hobson, boy, 16 years. The fire continued until the ship arrived in Valparaiso."

The Kenilworth was taken to Valparaiso by Second Officer V. H. Generat, and as soon as the news of the disaster reached New York, Captain Murphy of the Shenandoah was sent out to take command of the vessel. Mr. Thrum, the passenger who so nearly lost his life, was the bookkeeper of the Papaicu sugar plantation, and was making the trip on the Kenilworth for his health.

Gold Rush Port
The Maritime Archaeology of San Francisco's WaterfrontMaritime Archaeology of San Francisco's Waterfront.
James P. Delgado
Gold Rush Port The Maritime Archaeology of San Franciscos Waterfront.Described as a "forest of masts," San Francisco's Gold Rush waterfront was a floating economy of ships and wharves, where a dazzling array of global goods was traded and transported. Drawing on excavations in buried ships and collapsed buildings from this period, James P. Delgado re-creates San Francisco's unique maritime landscape, shedding new light on the city's remarkable rise from a small village to a boomtown of thousands in the three short years from 1848 to 1851. Gleaning history from artifacts, such as preserves and liquors in bottles, leather boots and jackets, hulls of ships, even crocks of butter lying alongside discarded guns. Gold Rush Port paints a fascinating picture of how ships and global connections created the port and the city of San Francisco.

The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold RushPacific Worlds.
David Igler
Master Under God.The Pacific of the early eighteenth century was a place of baffling complexity, with 25,000 islands and seemingly endless continental shorelines. But with the voyages of Captain James Cook, global attention turned to the Pacific, and European and American dreams of scientific exploration, trade, and empire grew dramatically. By the time of the California gold rush, the Pacific's many shores were fully integrated into world markets-and world consciousness. The Great Ocean draws on hundreds of documented voyages as a window into the commercial, cultural, and ecological upheavals following Cook's exploits, focusing in particular on the eastern Pacific in the decades between the 1770s and the 1840s. Beginning with the expansion of trade as seen via the travels of William Shaler, captain of the American Brig Lelia Byrd, historian David Igler uncovers a world where voyagers, traders, hunters, and native peoples met one another in episodes often marked by violence and tragedy.

Rounding the HornĀ 
Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives. A Deck's-eye View of Cape Horn
Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives. Captains.Rounding the Horn.
Dallas Murphy
Fifty-five degrees 59 minutes South by 67 degrees 16 minutes West: Cape Horn, situated at the bottom of South America, is a place of forlorn and foreboding beauty that has captured the dark imaginations of explorers and writers from Francis Drake to Joseph Conrad. For centuries, the small stretch of water between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula was the only gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Storms are bigger, winds stronger, and the seas rougher than anywhere else on earth. InĀ Rounding the Horn, author Dallas Murphy undertakes the ultimate maritime rite of passage weaving together stories of his own nautical adventures with tales of those who braved the Cape before him from Spanish missionaries to Captain Cook and interspersing them with breathtaking descriptions of the surrounding wilderness.

Master Under GodAt Sea.Master Under God.
Captain Gwilym Williams
Captains exercised absolute authority at sea and so were dubbed "Master Under God" by early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade.

The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his ultimate responsibility.

The Authority to Sail.The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's PapersThe Authority to Sail.
Robert Stanley Bates, George Marsh (Editor), John F. Whiteley (Forward) (Batek Marine Publishing, 2011; Nominated in 2012 for a Pulitzer Prize)
This book depicts important aspects of our maritime history as a result of original research done by the author, Commodore Bates, the holder of an unlimited master's license who has enjoyed a distinguished fifty-year career in both the Coast Guard and the American Merchant Marine.

The U.S. Coast Guard issues all Captain Licenses for U.S. Ports.
Note: Other countries have different regulations, i.e. the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), conducts certification for Britain and Ireland. As of 2011, they did not recognize the USCG certification; certification through their courses was required.

Master Unlimited is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of a vessel any gross tons. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his or her ultimate responsibility. The STCW defines the Master as Person having command of the ship.

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational ChartsThe Sea Chart.
The Sea Chart.The Sea Chart.
John Blake
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. Herein is a history and development of the chart and the related nautical map, in both scientific and aesthetic terms, as a means of safe and accurate seaborne navigation. 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by 13th-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as 18th-century charts that became strategic naval and commercial requirements and led to Cook's voyages in the Pacific, the search for the Northwest Passage, and races to the Arctic and Antarctic.

Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition. Charlie  Wing.
Charlie Wing
Considered the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to prepare for the U.S. Coast Guard captain's ratings exams required for anyone who takes paying passengers on a boat, and useful for serious boaters who want to save money on insurance. 350 pages of seamanship and navigation tutorials. More than 1,500 questions and answers from the Coast Guard exams. Includes an interactive CD-ROM with all 14,000 questions and answers in the USCG database, so you can take an unlimited number of practice exams

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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