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 (,, 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


Ships arriving at the Port of San Francisco

Arrivals 1855

Please note: Generally, these arrivals are merchant ships, included to give a sense of the volume and type of goods into early San Francisco. If you had the money in San Francisco during the 1800s, you could have anything your heart desired. They are by no means complete, and passenger lists for these vessels are often unavailable. Click here for lists of passengers.

° 1846-1848 ° 1849 ° 1850 ° 1851 ° 1852 ° 1853 ° 1854 ° 1855 ° 1856
° 1858 ° 1860-1862 ° 1863 ° 1864 ° 1868 ° 1870s ° 1880s ° 1890s


Buy at
San Francisco, California 
Historical Map
Importations per Winged Arrow February 9, 1855.


  • February 9: Daily Alta California. Clipper ship Winged Arrow, Bearse, 115 days from Boston. Mdse to Flint, Peabody & Co. Memoranda Per Winged Arrow: Was 12 days off Cape Horn in heavy gales; made the run from 50 degrees in the Pacific to within one day's sail of San Francisco in 34 days; has been becalmed for teh last six days; crossed the equator in 118 degrre 30'; made the passage in 115 days; was in company with the clipper ship Pampero from New York for San Francisco for three days.


  • March 15: Brig Hodgdon, Wade, 15 days from Oregon; lumber to J. B. Harvey
  • March 15: Brig Merchantman, Gilroy, 9 days from Puget Sound; lumber to G. A. Meiggs
  • March 15: Sch. E. L. Frost, Hempstead, 16 days from Honolulu; mdse to G. B. Pest & Co.


Advertisements from 1855.
  • April 20: Steamer Goliah, Fauntleroy, from Crescent City to J. T. Wright. Passengers: J. A. Witt, C. Fairfield (or Foirfield), R. Baker, J. Flechman, J. Wyman, P. Fitzpatrick, J. A. Hamilton, C.H.C. Taylor, Jas Light, John Wilson, Wm. Hutton, N. O. Brient (or Briest), A. Walker
  • April 20: Barq Equator, Morton, 40 days from Puenta Arena, Costa Rica; mahogany to D Gibb & Co. Memoranda Per Equator - Left barque Union, from New York, for Callao. First part of the passage had fine weather; 14th inst lat 34 12, long 127 30, experienced a heavy tempest accompanied with lightning and hail which covered the deck some 6 inche sin depth. Capt. M. says he has never experienced such weather on this coast before
  • April 20; Sch Mount Vernon, Smith, 36 hours from Santa Cruz, produce to Davis & Jordan.
  • April 20: Sch Palestine, Stoddard, 12 hours from Salt Point, 75 M feet lumber to Neefus & Tiehener
  • April 20: U.S. Revenue Cutter Wm. L. Marcy, 10 hours from Bodega


  • May 14: Steamer Republic, Isham, 2-1/2 days from Oregon, with passengers; to Forbes & Babcock.
  • May 16: Sloop Falmouth, Wiley, six hours from Bolinas, with lumber, to Master.


  • July 16: Clipper ship Polynesian, 128 days from Boston
  • July 19: Barque Louisiana, Crosby, 63 days from Hongkong, via Honolulu. Mdse to Capt. Williams. Memoranda Per Louisiana. At Whampoa 13th, U. S. Sloop of war Vandalia; shipGazelle in dock and condemned, ships Wizard, Boston and Beverly, discharging; ship Bald Eagle, just arrived; two ships passed up, names unknown. Left at Hongkong, May 17th, ship American and Electric, waiting cargo. Sld from Hongkong on the 17th, the ship Hoezan, Winson, destination unknown, Storm King, Devans, for Foschowfoo and London; barque Golden Fleece, for sale. Vessels up for San Francisco - Peruvian ship Inca, Peterson, to sail in 7 days; ship Lizzie Jarvis, Burrows, uncertain. The price of rice had fallen some 60c, a picur, but there was still much suffering among the poor, thousands dying of starvation. The pirates still continued their depredations on the east and west coast among the native junks and fishermen. Two pirate junks attemped to board the barque G. E. Webster, in the latter part of April, off Pedro Bianco, but were beaten off. The Webster was bound from Hongkong to Amoy.

New York Daily Times, August 6, 1855

From the Alta, July 16, 1855

The Cholera on Board the Sierra Nevada


Considerable excitement exists throughout town regarding the appearance of the cholera on board the steamer Sierra Nevada, during her passage from San Juan to this port.

The disease was in New Orleans at the latest dates, where nearly 150 per week were dying. No signs of it appeared among the passengers until, at Virgin Bay, a young girl who had been eating fruit imprudently was taken with a severe cramp and died in a few hours; those who were accustomed to the disease pronounced it at once cholera of the most violent type. On the arrival of the passengers al San Juan del Sur, several others ded, and at Consul Priest's American Hotel there were three dead bodies at one time. Twenty dollars were offered and refused to bury them. The natives generally left the town.

A few days out from San Juan the cholera appeared among the passengers, and continued to rage with great fury up to the day of arrival here (Saturday.). The deaths on board amount to 30. Our informant, one of the passengers, states that in one four hour watch seven cases terminated fatally. The chief mate of the steamer, Mr. Perry, died on Friday. The doctor did not succeed in saving one case. Most of them were among the steerage passengers, though several died in the upper and lower cabins. Among these was Rev. C.B. WEST, who was on his way here to take charge of a congregation in one of the interior towns. There are now three cases on board the steamer at teh wharf, which the Coroner asserts are likely to prove fatal. Two women died yesterday morning, one named Mary Ann Allen, aged twenty one years, who was to have been married to a gentleman in Nevada, who had written for her to come out and join him. Her body is now at the office of the Coroner.

Ex Mayor GARRISON is taking the most energetic steps in the matter, and has dispatched the best medical aid in the city to attend the suffers on board the steamer. We hear the most flattering accounts of the conduct of Capt. Blethen during the trying scenes on board the Sierra Nevada. For a number of nights, he did not take his clothes off, and, regardless of danger, was in attendance in all parts of the ship to lend assistance and soothe the the last moments of the dying.

We furnish herewith a list of the dead, as reported by Purser FOSTER, who, we learn did everything in his power to alleviate the distress around him. Mrs. Rebecca Hirschman, whose name appears on this list, was a lovely girl from Europe, aged sixteen years. The two brothers, who had sent for her, resided at Nevada. One o fthem, who had not seen her for seven years (Henry Hirschman), was in the city awaiting her arrival. As soon as the steamer was telegraphed, he procured a small boat and proceeded on board. After inquiring of several passengers, he received the dreaded intelligence that she died when the steamer was four day's sail from this port. She is said to have been one of the most lovely of her sex. The gentleman that attended her during her sickness showed her every attention and did all in his power to restore her to health, but to no avail. A Her brother obtained her trunks and found a lock of hair, which she clipped for her loved brothers in California. In one instance, a whole family, hunband, wife and child, died in three successive days.


(Editor's Note: List is extremely difficult to read so we have included the list from theSacramento Daily Union, July 17, 1855 below the clipping)

Passenger Deaths On the Sierra Nevada July 1855.

July 4: Joshua Lord 
July 7: C.B. West
July 10: Miss R. Hirschman
July 8: Infant of T.H. Brown
July 10: T.H. Brown
July 11: Mrs. T. H. Brown

July 7: Chas. Berg
July 7: Thos Morrison
July 7: James Rogers
July 7: Gerd. Behnken
July 7: John Collins
July 8: Infant of Mrs. Riley
July 9: Mrs. Sarah Mullins
July 9: Wm. Slatterly
July 10: Charles Bole 
July 10: William Scotley
July 10: S. Camps (or Campo)
July 10: Pat Connell
July 11: J.H. Pope
July 11: Jesse Barstow
July 11: Hugh Mealy
July 11: James Fox
July 11: Ang. Mayer
July 11: Ralph Seymour
July 12: James Gallagher
July 13: J. Madden

July 14: John Perry, 1st Officer
July 8: James Buckley, Seaman
July 8: Mayor 
J. G. Foster, Purser

Sacramento Daily Union, July 17, 1855

LIST OF THE DEAD: The following list of the persons who died on board the Sierra Nevadaon her passage to the is port has been handed to us by the agent of the Nicaragua SS Co in this city: Joshua Lord, C.B. West, Miss Rosalie Hirschman, T.H. Brown, Mrs. T.H. Brown, infant T.H. Brown, H. Amew, Chas. Berg, Thos. Morrison, James Rogers, Gerd. Behnken, John Collins, infant Mrs. Riley, Miss Sarah Mullins, Wm. Slatterly, Charles Bole, Wm. Scottey, S. Camps, Pat Connell, J. H. Pope, Jesse Barstor, Hugh Mealy, Jas. Fox, Ang. Mayer, Ralph Seymour, Jas Gallagher, J. Madden, John Perry, James Buckley, Mayor. -- Chronicle

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


Ad for the Sierra Nevada, Captain Blethen, August 1855.


  • Arrived September 8th -- Bark Carib, Pray, 15 days from Puget Sound. Lumber to G. A. Meiggs
  • Sch. Laura Bevan, Morton, 9 days from San Pedro, mdse to A. Pierce
  • Sailed September 8: Clipper ship Game Cock, Osgood, Shanghae, in two of steamersResolute and Herclues
  • Sailed September 8: British ship Lord Geo Bentick, Talbot, Callao
  • Sailed September 10: FOR SYDNEY: Messrs. Hughes & Hunter and Lubeck and Co. have put the fine clipper ship Kit Carson, Capt. Crowell, upon the berth for Sydney. The Kit Carson is a fine new ship and turned her cargo out at this port in admirable order. We understand that she has a large portion of her cargo engaged and will have quick dispatch.
  • September 10: CLIPPER LINE FOR AUSTRALIA -- The fine clipper ship Starr King, Capt. Turner, has been put upon the berth for Melbourne, Australia, by Mr. J. W. Parker, Australian Packet Office, Sacramento street, between Sansome and Battery. The Starr Kingis one of the best ships ever put up for Australia, and shippers for Melbourne can rely upon good ventiliation and a quick passage.

The Maritime Heritage Project.

Site Search


Ships in Port






World Seaports


Research Sites


Ship's Store

Books & Publications

Expedition Compass.

Monthly Updates

* indicates required

Recommended Reading

Under Full Sail: Silent Cinema on the High Seas
° The Yankee Clipper
° Around the Horn
° The Square Rigger
° Ship Ahoy
° Down to the Sea in Ships)
San Francisco waterfront commerce, ships, shipping history.

DVD bonus features include an audio reminiscence by Frank Junior Coghlan about the filming of The Yankee Clipper. An enclosed booklet includes detailed program notes by film scholar and U.S. Navy marine engineer John E. Stone and an essay about the scoring of The Yankee Clipper by organist Dennis James.

Merchants of Grain.
Merchants of Grain:
The Power and Profits of the Five Giant Companies at the Center of the World's Food Supply
California commerce, ships, shipping lines.
Dan Morgan
Details how a handful of families have controlled the worlds grain trade for centuries. A great piece for families that till the soil, but one that is even more important to the people who live in the city; and have no idea of the power and control that these families wield.
From Captain John R. Sutton: "I am a captain on Mississippi River towboats. I have pushed millions of tons of grain down the Mississippi River for years. But I never really understood the gobal impact of the world's grain company's until I read this book."

A Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Merchant Marine and Shipping Industry
Since the Introduction of Steam
Merchant Marine and Shipping History.
Rene De La Pedraja

Bonanzas.Gold Lust and Silver Sharks.
Bonanzas & Borrascas: Gold Lust and Silver Sharks, 1848-1884 (Western Lands and Waters)Gold and Silver Sharks.
Richard E. Lingenfelter


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!