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Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s

Charles Henry Johnson was a passenger on the voyage of the Rhone around Cape Horn under the command of Benjamin Hill. The Rhone left Baltimore, Maryland on December 22, 1847.

Charles Henry Johnson wrote and published a a journal of the voyage:

On March 29, 1848, we arrived in Valparaiso, making the passage from the Capes of Virginia to the harbour of the above mentioined port in ninety-three days.

We were on the Equator January 29th, off the Rio de la Plate February 18th and on the 12th of March, we were off Cape Horn-fifty-six degrees and 42 minutes the farthest south I'?ve ever been.?

The Rhone departed Callao Peru and arrived in Honolulu on the 18th of July 1848.

On the 31st of July we set sail for California. We arrived in the harbour of San Francisco on the 11th of August AD 1848.

The Rhone was the first American vessel that reached California after the ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the U.S. and Mexico, according to the journal written by Charles Henry Johnson during the voyage.

The journal has been transcribed and published by Charles Henry Johnson's great great grandaughter, Patricia Volk. A copy of the published journal is available in the California Pioneer Museum in San Francisco.

December 30, 1848. A printed shipping receipt is signed in San Francisco by Benjamin Hill, master of the ship Rhone, bound for China.

It indicates that William Heath Davis shipped one bag containing $2,000 in gold dust on Hill's ship and directed that it be delivered to J. M. Finley.

By his signature, Hill agrees to carry out this directive, "the dangers of the seas only excepted."


The Sea Chart

The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational Charts
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. 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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