Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s


Captain Nathaniel Webber

The following is a compilation of work done by Gina Sammis, great-great-great grand daughter of Captain Nathaniel Webber. She also recently sent in a copy of her research entitled The Story of Nathaniel Webber. (Click on the name to read her impressive work).

Nathaniel Webber enlisted as a boy in the war of 1812 and served in the Massachusetts militia, achieving the rank of Sargeant. He also served on the privateer Favorite.

He sailed the world's oceans as captain of the ships Mary Melville, the Baltimore Brig Triton, Brilliant, the brig Wishicon, and Tartar.

He had hankered all his life for a big, fast ship, had taken charge of the huge three-decker Trade Wind.

August 23, 1851, The Daily Orleanian, New Orleans, Louisiana

LARGEST MERCHANT SHIP IN THE WORLD.--The new clipper ship, Trade Wind, was recently launched from the foot of Houston street, New York. The Trade Wind is the largest merchant vessel ever launched; her length is 235 feet keel, 265 feet over all (English measure,) 43 feet breadth of beam, 23 feet hold.

With 3400 tons of measured cargo the largest that had ever been loaded in New York and 46 first-class passengers in a hurry, he drove her around the Horn in 1852 to San Francisco in 103 days, arriving on February 25, 1853.

When he lost the Trade Wind, he want back into the coasting trade as master of the 657 ton Diadem, one of William Frost's New Orleans packets. Captain Webber sailed from New York for New Orleans in her on the 22nd of August 1856; a few days later the Diadem foundered in a hurricane.

Captain Webber's daughter, Jeannie, and her husband Oliver Ketcham Sammis, were apparently married aboard ship, but the family has not been able to substantiate this. His wife, Sarah Frances Mayer, was born in England and apparently Christened in Westminster Abbey. Their marriage certificate indicates they were marred March 16, 1824 in St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, a part of London.

His death certificate says he was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, occupation sea captain, lived in Brooklyn, NY 30 years, living at #48 Hunter St., 7th ward, cause of death chronic diarrhea, existing for 12 months before death. 1860 Census, 2nd Dist., 7th Ward, Brooklyn, NY, Kings County. Nathaniel Webber, 65 yo, male, sea captain, 1000 value personal estate, born NY (possibly incorrect).

She accompanied him on many voyages to different parts of the world.

His death certificate notes that he was born in Beverly, Massacusheets, occupation sea captain, lived in Brooklyn, New York for 30 years at 48 Hunter Street, 7th Ward, Brooklyn, NY, Kings County:

  • Nathaniel Webber, 65 yo, male, sea captain, 1000 value personal estate, born NY (possibly incorrect)
  • Frances Webber, 60 yo, female, born Mass.
  • Frances S. Webber, 33 yo, female, born New York
  • Edward W. Webber, 18 yo, male, born Pennsylvania
  • Nathaniel W. Webber, 18 yo, male born Pennsylvania
  • Fanny & Jenny Webber, born 9 yo, female, born New York Obituary from the Logansport Pharos from Indiana says: "Born in England and christened in Westminster Abbey. Late husband Nathaniel Webber followed the sea (sea captain) for 50 years and she accompanied him on many voyages to different parts of the world. She was 94 years old."

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 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 Authority to Sail.The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's PapersThe Authority to Sail.
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.

Merchant Marine License.

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational ChartsThe Sea Chart.
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. 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 Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition. Charlie  Wing.
Charlie Wing
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

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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; 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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