Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s
Reader's Question: Two ships during the War of 1812 listed under French spoils. These two ships were captained by John Benjamin Labbree and the ships belonged to Stephen Girard of Philadelphia. They are mentioned in a shipping book in a Philadelphia museum with ships manifest and ships mates as well. It was listed they were bound for Havana but ran aground here in New Jersey around Barngate. Names of ships were Brig Dolphin and Brig Orange. File in Smithsonian only consists of a jacket per a relative. Captain may have gone by Benjamin Labbree and was a French immigrant from the Channel Islands to Main with Father James Labbree.
Given that The Maritime Heritage Project is a one-person operation with a main focus on immigration into San Francisco during the 1800s, there is little time for researching much beyond that scope. Please consider going through old newspapers, many of which are online. Links herein -- Maritime Research Sites -- will take you to the collections used by The Maritime Heritage Project and Ship Passengers.
However, a quick search turned up the following about Captain Girard, but without reference to either brig or Benjamin Labbree:
Stephen Girard was born May 20, 1750 in Bordeaux, France. By the late 1700s, he was an Eastern Seaboard captain and shipbuilder. From ushistory.org: "Stephen Girard came to America by way of Philadelphia in 1776 through circumstance rather than by purpose. He had been to New York on earlier voyages, but it was not until his arrival in Philadelphia that Girard made America his permanent home. He went on to be the wealthiest citizen and, in several ways, he contributed much to the early growth of the new nation he adopted. His influence was evident in shipping, construction, banking, and even in politics, later into coal mining and railroads." Girard's first voyage as a captain came at the helm of a brigantine named Sally. A series of voyages to New Orleans on vessels owned by Thomas Randall, who befriended the energetic Girard led to a highly profitable business association for both of them. Upon his return to Bordeaux in 1773, Girard was formally licensed as a captain in the French merchant marine by the French government. His reputation and skill as a sea captain obtained other potentially lucrative voyages for him, and he was soon carrying out sizable business deals that brought him extensive profits.
Business pursuits went on in methodical and practical fashion for Stephen Girard after the war ended. By 1781, he was a maritime entrepreneur of extraordinary dimensions. His expertise was widely recognized and his skills in business dealings seemed to flow quite naturally. But the success came from a practical and hard-working man. His prosperity came from an unstinting work ethic. All things pointed to a world full of promise and happiness.
The following was found in Queens Of thhe Western Ocean, the Story Of American's Mail and Passenger Sailing Lines:
Stephen Girard, who came to Philadelphia in 1777, had only one vessel in 1790, the little brigantine Kitty, of less than a hundred tons. His first large ship was the Good Friendwhich registered 247 tons adn was built in Philadelphia in 1793. Most of the craft he owned prior to 1800 were small. The Voltaire of 305 tons, built in 1795, was the first to exceed 300 tons. In 2801 he had the Rousseau built. She was almost identical with the Voltaire in size and design. She outlasted all the other Girard ships, ending her days as a New Bedford whaler. One hot summer day in 1893 I sat on the stringpiece of a New Bedford wharf and watched the ship-breakers taking her to pieces. At noon one of them came up and sat down beside me to eat his lunch. He said that it was the slowest job of the kind he had ever tackled--that her live oak timbers were as sound as the day the Philadelphia ship carpenters drift-bolted them together, more than 90 years before.
Altogether, Girard owned 14 ships. He was registered as sole owner of all but two, in which the masters owned small interests. His largest vessels were the North America of 288 tons, built in 1810 and the Superb of 537 tons, built in 1817. His best known captains were Ezra Bowen of Rehoboth, Rhode Island and Myles McLeven of Philadelphia.
The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's Papers
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 never before addressed. This synthesis of key elements of our rich maritime history might never have occurred without the many years 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.
Before the Wind: The Memoir of an American Sea Captain, 1808-1833
Tyng (1801-1879), who rose from cabin boy to captain and prosperous merchant, wrote this account of his early sailing days in later life. In 1996, this memoir was found by his great-great-granddaughter, Susan Fels, who edited the 419-page handwritten manuscript. An unruly boy sent to live in various homes by his rather forbidding father, Tyng first shipped on a merchant vessel at the age of 13. He hated it. But he loved his second voyage and soon became one of the youngest captains in the American merchant fleet. As Tyng tells of voyages around the world carrying cargoes of bullion, tea, linseed oil, molasses and other items to Holland, China, Cuba and other destinations, he writes with understatement, modesty and a deadpan humor that might or might not be intentional.
Tales of the Seven Seas:
The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien
Dennis M. Powers
Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien sailed the seven seas for over sixty years, starting in the late 1860s in India and ending in 1930 on the U.S. West Coast. He sailed every type of ship imaginable, but this book is more than the story of Captain O'Brien's incredible feats. Tales of the Seven Seas is about sailing where danger and adventure coexists on a daily basis. Smell the salt in the air and hear the ocean's rush as a ship plows its way through heavy seas with hardened men, leaking seams, and shrieking winds. These true stories are about tough times and courageous men in distant places, from the Hawaiian Islands to the Bering Sea, from the waning days of sail to the age of steamships.
The Life and Times of Georgetown Sea Captain Abram Jones Slocum, 1861-1914
Born at sea on his father's whaling ship in 1861, Captain Slocum learned the seafaring life in New Bedford, Massachusetts as part of the last generation of iron men aboard commercial wooden sailing ships in the Atlantic. His voyages often took him around Cape Hatteras to Georgetown, South Carolina, to load lumber bound for northern cities. He sailed in all seasons, through storms and hurricanes, for twenty years as captain of two schooners, the Warren B. Potter and the City of Georgetown. He was respected in Georgetown, where he wooed his wife. His ship sank in a collision with an ocean liner in 1913, but he survived, only to be lost at sea a year later as captain of another schooner.
The Sea Chart: The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts
The sea chart was one of the key tools by which ships of trade, transport and conquest navigated their course across the oceans. John Blake looks at the 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. This handsome work contains 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by thirteenth-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as eighteenth-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.
The Rebel Raiders
The Astonishing History of the Confederacy's Secret Navy
James T. deKay
During its construction in Liverpool, the ship was known as Number 290. When it was finally unleashed as the CSS Alabama, the Confederate gunship triggered the last great military campaign of the Civil War; yet another infamous example of British political treachery; and the largest retribution settlement ever negotiated by an international tribunal: $15,500,000 in gold paid by Britain to the United States. This riveting true story of the Anglo-Confederate alliance that led to the creation of a Southern navy illuminates the dramatic and crucial global impact of the American Civil War. Like most things in the War between the States, it started over cotton: Lincoln's naval blockade prevented the South from exporting their prize commodity to England. In response, the Confederacy came up with a plan to divert the North's vessels and open the waterways, a plan that would mean covertly building a navy in Britain with a cast of clandestine characters.
The History of Seafaring: Navigating the World's Oceans
Donald Johnson and Juha Nurminen
Royal prestige, intellectual curiosity, and territorial expansion all propelled mankind to undertake perilous voyages across unpredictable oceans. This large and lavishly illustrated volume brings that history to life. From the early Phoenician navigation techniques to the technologies behind today's mega-ships, the greatest advances in shipbuilding are covered, accompanied by hundreds of images, with an in-depth look at navigational instruments (including those used by the Vikings).
The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's Papers
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 Charts
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
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