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Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s

At a young age, Herman H. Greene went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and entered the counting-room of Alexander Ladd, a merchant.

While at Portsmouth, he frequently was sent on errands to the vessels lying at the wharves, and the associations thus contracted awakened a desire for maritime life. Determined to be a sailor, he began his career by going before the mast.

Adaptation and faithfulness secured him promotion, and he at length advanced to the position of captain of an East Indiaman (a specific type of ship operating under charter to the East India Company from the 16th century the 19th century C.E. Images right and below).

East Indiaman in a Gale.

He followed the uninterrupted life of a sailor till about 1838, in the meanwhile, among other voyages, making several trips to Calcutta.

Leaving the sea, he entered into business in the wholesale grocery line in Bangor, Maine, where he stayed two or three years, and then came to reside in Hopkinton.

While living here, he became imbued with the California fever, which broke out in 1849 with the discovery of gold.

In November, 1851, he took out a company by the way of Cape Horn, in the ship Leonora, which he commanded. Once in San Francisco, the ship was sold.

An interesting fact in this connection is, that on this trip the Leonora took out to California the first steamboat used on that coast. The craft, however, proved too small for use in the waters between San Francisco and Sacramento, where it was intended to ply.

While in California, Captain Greene mostly superintended certain hydraulic mining works. During this absence from home, however, he made a trip to Australia, returning with a cargo of coal and grain.

The Sea Chart

The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts
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. 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 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; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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