Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s


Thomas Nielsen

October 20, 1911, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, USA

Captain Doubts If Mate Killed Boy
Former Master of Barkentine Describes Japanese as Quarrelsome, With Enemies

Captain Thomas Nielsen, master of the barkentine Makaweli at the time Charles T. Smith was accused of killing K. Inabi, the Japanese messboy, while off the west coast of Australia last April, was the principal witness in the trial yesterday before Judge William C. Van Fleet in the United States circuit court. According to Captain Nielsen there is some doubt as to whether the mate killed the messboy.

That the Japanese messboy had made enemies of most of the crew and that Smith was a good sailor was part of the testimony of the skipper, who said that Inabi had many quarrels during the voyage. At one time he tried to stab the cook, also a Japanese.

Captain Nielsen said that Inabi was disliked by Otto Hartman and William Warren, sailors, and that Hartman. in his judgment of men, was the meanest sailor that ever put to sea. He testified that Hartman and Warren hated Smith, and they were among the foremost demanding that he be put in irons.

Mrs. Nielsen, wife of the skipper, testified that when she stepped on deck Smith was sweeping where bloodstains were found afterward. She had called her husband when the alarm was sounder! at 5 o'clock in the morning, when Smith reported Inabi missing.

Thomas W. S. Holmes, first officer of the Makaweli, will resume his testimony this morning.

Midshipmen Eat, Read and Study in their mess
Royal Navy Warship Caesar

Origins of Nielson/Nielsen

Recorded in many spelling variations and found throughout Europe and Scandanavia, this is a surname of ancient origins. An estimated eighty spellings include: MacNeill, O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neil, Niall, Neill, or the patronymics Neals, Neilsen, Neilson, Nielson, Neelson, Nealon, and Nelson.

The origination is from the pre-7th century Gaelic name 'Niall' meaning 'champion'. It is claimed that the personal name was 'borrowed' from Ireland by the Norse-Vikings, and introduced into Scandanavia as 'Njall', before being taken to Normandy by the 'Norsemen' in the 8th and 9th centuries. It was then 'returned' to the British Isles with the Norman Conquest of 1066, as Neil or Nell. Recorded in surviving ancient charters is that the O'Neil's were the chief clan of County Tyrone in Northern Ireland from the 10th century. In Scotland during the reign of King James Vth of Scotland, the Neilsons were the hereditary Lords of Bute. The first recorded spelling of the family name is supposed to be that of John Neilson, dated 1314, in the Royal Charter of Craigcatte, during the reign of King Robert of Scotland (1306 -1329). Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation.


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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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