The Maritime Heritage Project

World Harbors and International Migration from The Maritime Heritage Project.

Dear Maritime Heritage Visitors: This season The Project is asking visitors to help keep the site growing. While publications and prints to aid in your research are included (and bring in a few dollars per sale), the director is now "officially" asking if you will kindly donate. If everyone reading this right now gave $5, it would help provide additional names and stories to the more than 100,000 ship passengers arriving in San Francisco during the 1800s. This 18-year-old Project is free and is accessed from every country around the world. The Maritime Heritage Project (WikiMaritime.org, WikiMaritimeHeritage.org, WikiSeaports.org) is basically a one-person operation developed and managed by the now 70-year-old great-great-grandaughter of Captain James H. Blethen, Master Mariner. Costs include equipment, research materials and time. The Maritime Heritage Project is special: it keeps alive our history of shipping, commerce and migration during an era when more people changed locations than in any other century in the history of the world. It is a resource where all can research ancestry and find heretofore "lost" family members at no charge. If you have visited our site and found it of value, kindly take one minute to keep it growing. Thank you very much. ~~ D. A. Blethen Levy

Kindly

Sea Captains at the Port of San Francisco 1800s



William Chapman Ralston

Captain Ralston died in San Francisco August 27, 1875.

William Chapman Ralston was a Scots-Irishman born at Wellsville, Ohio on January 12, 1826. He captained Gold Rush steamers ferrying gold-seekers up the Coast from Panama.

Settling in San Francisco in 1854, he opened the Bank of California, which offered tempting low-interest loans to Nevada's newly formed mining companies. As owners defaulted, he kept the mines and became a Bonanza King.

He also became a transportation giant, establishing dominion over Pacific shipping lanes and inland waterways.

In the 1860s, Captain Ralston tied in with Asbury Harpending. They were arrested on March 15, 1863, as they prepared for their first voyage. "Scattered among the boxes and barrels" on board their ship, the Daily Alta California reported, "were large quantities of pieces of paper, torn to bits and chewed up, evidently with the design of destroying all written evidence." SFPD captain John Lees carefully collected the spitballs and reassembled them for use in court.

Convicted of treason, Harpending and his companions received $10,000 fines and ten-year prison sentences. They were out on the streets again in months, perhaps because the courts found it difficult to take these youthful schemers seriously, perhaps because the wannabe privateers had powerful friends.

By the summer of 1875 Captain Ralston, who had an early career as a cabinet maker, was a hero in the eyes of the ordinary people. He was a bank president, backer of great and small business enterprises, builder of a vast, unfinished hotel, confidante of little men to whom he loaned money on character alone.

 
Along the San Francisco Waterfront in the 1800s.
Along San Francisco's Waterfront

~ ~ ~ ~

Entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
View of Golden Gate and Fort Point
San Francisco, California

The Presidio has served as a military reservation from its establishment in 1776 as Spain's northern-most outpost of colonial power in the New World. It was one of the longest-garrisoned posts in the country and the oldest installation in the American West.

In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, the 7th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment occupied the crumbling adobes at the Presidio. The U.S. Regular Army took over the post the following year. This military reservation at the Golden Gate developed into the most important Army post on the Pacific Coast. Over time its armaments evolved from smooth bore cannons to modern missiles. It became the nerve center of a coastal defense system that eventually included Alcatraz and Angel Island and that reached as far north as the Marin Headlands and as far south as Fort Funston. Eventually, there were five distinct posts at the Presidio, each with its own commander: the Main Post, Fort Point, Letterman Hospital, Fort Winfield Scott, and Crissy Army Air Field. Also on the 1,491-acre reservation were a Coast Guard lifesaving station and a U.S. Public Health Service Hospital. From 1847 to about 1890, the Presidio defended San Francisco and also participated in the Indian Wars in the West. From the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the conquest of the Philippines to the end of the Vietnam War in 1973, the Presidio was a key link in the projection of American military power into the Pacific Basin and further west onto the mainland of Asia. New concrete fortifications built after the 1890s indirectly preserved native plant communities on the dramatic Pacific bluffs by making them off-limits.

Get Your Captain's License, Fourth EditionGet Your Captain's License.

Charlie Wing
Get Your Captain's License.Here is 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.

This complete study tool includes:

  • The six-passenger "Six-Pack," Master and Mate Inland, Master and Mate Near Coastal, and Sail/Auxiliary Sail Endorsement
  • Every question and answer on the Coast Guard exams--all 9,000 of them
  • 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

Make Money With Your Captain's License:
How to Get a Job or Run a Business on a Boat
Run Your Business from a Boat.

Run a Business from a Boat.

Author David Brown describes how to get a job on a boat or run a practical boat-based business, including fishing charters, excursions, dinner cruises, and water taxis. He also covers business issues, safety, marketing, liability, and Coast Guard licensing requirements. The author details the possible ups and downs and risks about running a boat-based business.

The Maritime Heritage Project.

Site Search

HOME PORT

Ships in Port

Passengers

Captains

VIPS

News

Vessels

World Seaports

Resources

Research Sites

Bibliography

Ship's Store

Books & Publications

Expedition Compass.

Monthly Updates

* indicates required

Recommended Reading

Johnson and Nurminen History of Seafaring.History of Seafaring.
The History of Seafaring:
Navigating the World's Oceans
Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Donald Johnson and Juha Nurminen

San Francisco.

"Master Under God"

Gold Rush ships.Gold Rush Ships.

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.

On international voyages, the captain is responsible for satisfying requirements of the local immigration and customs officials. Immigration issues can include situations such as embarking and disembarking passengers, handling crewmembers who desert the ship, making crew-changes in port, and making accommodations for foreign crewmembers.

Customs requirements can include the master providing a cargo declaration, a ship's stores declaration, a declaration of crewmembers' personal effects, crew lists and passenger lists.

Kindly

Coming to America.
Coming to America:
A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life
First Immigrants to America.
Roger Daniels

Planning for your 2015 Ship Travel?
West Marine has everything you need, including holiday discounts!

WestMarine.com