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Passenger Lists: San Francisco 1800s

Around the Horn in the 1800s.

White Swallow, Clipper Ship


White Swallow was an extreme clipper, 985 tons. Launched in 1853, Medford, Mass. She made three runs from Boston to S.F. and six from N.Y. to S.F. The fastest was 110 days and the slowest 150; average of the fastest 4, 122 days.

October 27, 1853: Clipper ship White Swallow, F. W. Lovett, arrived in San Francisco October 24, 1853, 149 days from Boson with merchandise to Flint, Peabody & Co. 11 passengers. (From the Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, November 29, 1853.)

Received per White Swallow November 29, 1853 ad.

Arrive San Francisco

Date October 24, 1853
Clipper Ship White Swallow
Captain F. W. Lovett
149 days from Boston


Rare print Rounding Cape Horn.
Lightning rounding Cape Horn. Rare Print by John Stobart

Per White Swallow -- Was off Cape Horn 6 days in heavy weather; crossed the Equator Sept. 25th, long 114, since which time have had light winds and calms until the last 3 days, when we had strong northerly winds. Off the River La Plata, experienced heavy weather, carried away maintopsail yard, etc.

Mdse to Flint, Peabody & Co. 11 passengers. Anchored off North Beach.

Will commence discharging this day (October 25, 1853), at Shaw's Wharf. Consignees are requested to call at our office, pay freight and receive orders for their goods. All merchandise will be at the risk of the owners when landed on the wharf, and unless removed before 5 p.m., will be stored a their expense and risk. FLINT, PEABODY & CO.


Per White Swallow Leholler & Brothers, G. B. Post & Co., Flint, Peabody & Co., Macauley & Co, G. N. Shaw & Co., G. W. Moore, G. F. Noyes, Ellis & Purse, Knox & Bonnell, Adams & Co., R. E. Brewster & Co., D. H. Haskell, W. Ray, J. J. Lathrop, J. F. Stewart, D Howard, W. O. Wilson & Co, D Toy & Son, Hixon & Sherman, Fairbanks & Co., G. W. Lake, J. Wales, Britton & Simpson, A. B. Cilley, W. O. Wilson, Piper, Griffin & Co., J. L. Reed & Co., J. Kohler, J. Perry, Jr., J. B. Seaward, Sweetzer & Hutchings, T. McGuire, R. S. Ellis & Co., Folger & Tubbs, C. Bartett, T. Adame, J. Pope, Hussey, Bond & Hale, C. G. Barney, B. H. Freeman, J. Hobart, W. Colton, R. Wheeler & Co., F. W. Beam, S. D. Gilman, French & Ruggles, J. Cowell & Co., Goldsmith & May, C. E. Toye, E. C. Soule, F. W. Beane, T. R. Robinson, Levin & Brothers, C. P. Kimball, J. L. Roberts, A. Kohler, R. B. Parker, T. Meader, P. M. Batchelder, J. Bradley, J. C. Cisma, Greene & Heath, L. A. Phillips, B. H. Bingham, E. L. Goss, J. B. Leocler, Wood & West, C. Henderson, J. Bigelow, G. Howorth, Goodwood & Co., Farwell & Curtis, Kenny & Fowler, L. J. Wilson, Johnson & Crumer, Lamden, Compton & Co., E. Kely & Co., Story, Redington & Co., Crosby & Diblee, Roggerhengen & Co., L. Snow, Main & Winchester, E. L. Holden & Co. G. Gardiner, Nichole, P & Co., J. E. Alson, N. C. Stetson, M. Ehrlic, Swain & Co., J. B. Roberts & Co., Dudley, Sander & Carlisle, Luce & Larrabee, W. C. Hall, D. Amiviel & Parsons, L. W. Shelton, J. Bradley, W. W. Meyer, Fearing & Whitney, J. M. Brown & Co., W. H. Darien, W. H. Hilton, J. Garett, Piper, Griffin & Co., Hubert & Stone, G. H. Moore, S. D. Jones, Hobart & Boyles, Ruggels & Nudd, A. Lombard, W. Gundler & Co., T. E. Bliss, R. Meader, Northrop & Symonds, Page & Webster, J. B. Ravel, C. B. Builard; J. D. Lord & Co; Smiley & Harrington; Johnson & Cramer; F.Garcia; C. Rumbom; Clark, Church & Co; Truett & Truett; Ray & Willis; T. J. Mitchell & Co.; G. E. Grant; C. A. Tiliston; Treadwell & Co.; J. W. Truman & Co.; M. J.Suydam & Co; Webster & Waite, J. B. Roberts & Co.; W. W. Messer; Stone & Hathaway; S. C. Bigelow; W. H. M.; and order.


Per White Swallow: SOAP, 800 boxes Hill's No. 1 sold at 10c; 750 do do, per White Swallow, before arrival, at the same figure; 125 do Chemical Oliver at 14C.

Ex White Swallow: 250 kegs lard; 100 cs. Thomas "Diadem" tobacco; 300 bxs candles; 230 kegs nails; 18 doz. ship scrapes. For sale by Wm. D. Messer, 93 Front Street

December 5, 1853, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Ex Clippers White Swallow and Wild Ranger:

45 cases Ladies Goat Welted Boots;
5 cases Ladies Calf Welted Boots;
10 cases Ladies Calf Buskins;
5 cases Ladies Goat Buskins;
5 cases Ladies kid side stitched do.

79 J street, between 3rd and 4th

Sacramento 1800s.


Mrs. Ballard and child, Mrs. Hobart and two children, Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Capt. Lovett, Messrs. Rice, Murphy, Thoyer, Stuart and Hollenbeck.

May 19, 1854, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

Foreign Ports

Sailed April 4th, White Swallow, F. W. Lovett for the United States.

August 31, 1854, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Boston, August 4th: Captain F. W. Lovett of the clipper ship White Swallow, from Philadelphia for this port, died of cholera on board of his vessel yesterday.

October 16, 1854, Daily Alta California
San Francisco, California

Vessels Up for San Francisco

Boston -- Sept. 19th, ships Flying Fish, Nickels; Lotus, Leckie; Winged Arrow, Bearse, San Francisco; Ringleader, Matthews, Australia, White Swallow, Captain Gore, San Francisco.

December 8, 1854, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

Vessels Up for San Francisco, etc.

Boston -- November 13th; ships Alexander, Baxter, for Madras; Boston, Pratt, Manila; CharmerLucas; Don Quixote, Nott; Mountain Wave, Berry; Reindeer, Bunker, and Saracen, Barray for San Francisco; Gleander, Hunt, Callao; Indiaman (new), McCallum, and Storm King, Sevans, Hong Kong; Ocean Pearl, Sears, Honolulu; Santa Claus, Foster, Calcutta; Tellgraph, Harlow, and White Swallow, Gove (cq. is probably Gore), Australia.

December 8, 1854, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Vessels up for San Francisco BOSTON: Nov 13th: White Swallow, Gore, for Australia.

February 14, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Consignee Notices: Unclaimed Merchandise by the following vessels will be sold at public auction on Flint's Wharf, Thursday, the 1st of March unless previously called for: Ex. White Swallow, 1 box, shipped by Winslow & Co., Wm. Nav.

February 24, 1855, Saturday, The Sydney Morning Herald 
Sydney, Australia

MELBOURNE ARRIVALS: Captain Gore, White Swallow from Boston. Captain Gore reports having sighted a large paddle steamer, under canvass, on the 13th instant, 145 miles to the westward of Cape Otway, steering tot he eastward. She was an English steamer, and had no steam on. Argus, 20th February.

April 16, 1855, The Argus Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Cleared: White Swallow, Captain Gore, Guam.

August 11, 1855, Daily Alta California
San Francisco, California

List of American Shipping in Chinese Waters
June 16, 1855

HONG KONG -- Ships Bostonian; Dalmatia; Don Quixotte; Ocean Peark; Waverly; White Swallow, Gore; barque Golden Fleece, and sch. Spray

August 18, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California: Foreign Ports: Sailed May 29, American ship White Swallow, Captain Gore, Hong Kong.

March 2, 1856, Daily Alta California

Domestic Ports. New York; White Swallow advertised from New York to San Francisco.

July 8, 1856, Sacramento Daily Union
Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

DROWNED -- J. H. Smith, J. Collins and R. Harris, three sailors of the ship White Swallow, fell overboard during a storm in the neighborhood of Cape Horn on last voyage to this port, to which she has just arrived, and were drowned.

April 18, 1860: From Boston. Made land 40 miles south of the Golden Gate in 104 days.

August 7, 1860, White Swallow, Captain Crosby, arrived San Francisco 110 days from New York. Left Boston April 18th; crossed the Equator 22 days out; passed through Straits of Le Maire June 12; passed Cape Horn 13th; cross the Equator in the Pacific July 10th.

April 21, 1863: White Swallow, Captain Bunker, 123 days from Boston, arrived tonight. To Meader, Lolor & Co.

May 14, 1863: Ship White Swallow, Captain Bunker, cleared San Francisco for Howland's Island, in ballast.

July 12, 1864: Arrived San Francisco, ship White Swallow, Captain Prince, 134 days from New York. Merchandise to DeWitt, Kittle & Co. Sailed from new York February 29th; had strong breezes in the Atlantic; was 67 days to Cape Horn; was off the Cape 13 days, with strong westerly gales; crossed the equator in the Pacific June 15th, lat 107 W; then had light winds and calms; have been within 500 miles of this port for the last 14 days.

August 23, 1864, Daily Alta California: Ship White Swallow, outward bound, has anchored of Meiggs Wharf.

In November 1864, the White Swallow was reported as lost in a recent gale at Howland's Island. However, she escaped and reached Hongkong on November 12th, 1864.

1865: There was a bloodless mutiny on the White Swallow. The case was decided in favor of the crew, and for many years the "White Swallow Case" was a topic of conversation in seafaring circles.

February 1865: At Manila the White Swallow was loading for New York, at $18, currency.

September 14, 1865: White Swallow, Knowles, New York to San Francisco, 84 days out.

February 6, 1866, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

The trial of the crew of the White Swallow on the charge of mutiny, in the United States District Court, is progressing, but will not be finished for several days. The testimony of the officers is positive as to the mutiny, but there are pretty strong indications of the fact that the scenes enacted on the Great Republic were repeated on the White Swallow before the crew rose and took possession of the vessel. On February 9, 1866, the Sacramento Daily Union reported that "the trial of one of the mutineers is progressing. It is the general opinion he will be acquitted and further prosecutions abandoned."

February 10, 1866, Sacramento Daily Union
Sacramento, California

The case of Top, the leader of the so-called White Swallow mutineers, went to the jury at three o'clock this afternoon. Judge Hoffman, in charging the jury, dwelt on the moderation shown by the crew while the officers were in irons, and said he considered them more than an ordinary crew. There was no conflict of opinion as to the law in the case, and but little in the testimony as to the cause of the mutiny and the circumstances. At the first blush this was one of the highest crimes of which a seaman could be guilty, but there were circumstances in which it was justifiable in law, and the question here was whether this was a case of that kind. It was no excuse that the maltreatment of the crew was not the work of the Captain. Whatever he permits his officers to do he thereby becomes responsible for as master of the vessel. There was danger to be apprehended, if the precedent were established that a crew had a right to take the command of a ship away from the officers, but still if the jury were convinced that in this case the crew had a reasonable justification of their conduct within the meaning of the law, it was their duty to acquit without regard to consequence. At nine o clock the jury returned unable to agree, and were sent back with instructions which will almost certainly result in an acquittal. There will be no conviction.

Gambling House, Sacramento, 1852.

February 11, 1866, Marysville Daily Appeal
Marysville, California


San Francisco, February 10th. The Jury in the case of the White Swallow mutiny, after remaining out for about fourteen hours, returned a verdict of not guilty. On first going out they stood six for acquittal and six for conviction. It was understood that the result of the trial in the case of the prisoner Top should determine the fate of the other five prisoners charged with mutiny, and the probability is they will now be discharged from custody.

February 15, 1866, Marysville Daily Appeal, Marysville, California

A LESSON TO SEA MONSTERS. Yesterday morning, in the U. 8. District Court, a jury decided a principle of great importance, both to commercial men and humanity. A portion of the crew of the White Swallow, a vessel which recently arrived here from New York, were arraigned on the charge of mutiny. The facts established during the trial are substantially as follows:

Clipper Ships and the Golden Age of Sail.

The crew were ordered over the side to scrape the ship when it was sailing at great speed, thus endangering their lives; the life of one man was lost in consequence; officers, or an officer of the ship, treated the crew with great brutality, by beating some of them with belaying-pins, buckets etc. As a measure of self-protection, to put a stop to such brutal practices, the crew seized the officers, placed them in confinement, and took possession of the vessel. After taking such possession, the crew conducted themselves in an orderly manner, and faithfully respected the ship and cargo. Upon promise being made by the officers that they would conduct themselves in a more humane manner, they were released and conducted the vessel to this port. It was contended that the acts of the crew were necessary for self-protection, and that their conduct after taking possession of the ship was such as to forbid the idea that they intended any piratical or other wrongful act. The crew were charged with mutiny, and the jury, after a careful consideration of the case, acquitted them of the charge, thus declaring that that it is the opinion of the jurors the sailors were, considering the treatment they had received, and the dangers to which they had been subjected, justified in the course they pursued. Every right-minded and humane man will coincide in the verdict of the jury. Call, February 11th

March 1, 1866, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Macondray & Co's Line

Clipper Ship White Swallow

TREASURE will be received on board at Mission Street Wharf on Thursday, the 27th instant, and the LETTER BAG will close at our office next day, WEDNESDAY at six p.m.

Macondray & Co.

March 3, 1866, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Cleared, March 2 - Ship White Swallow, Knowles, Hongkong. Macondray and Co.

February 13, 1867, Daily Alta California

Eastern Ports: New York: Cleared January 12th, White Swallow, Knowles, San Francisco.

May 27, 1867, Daily Alta California. Consignees per White Swallow:

White Swallow in San Francisco 27 May 1867.

June 30, 1867, Daily Alta California

To Follow The "Shirley"
From India Dock
The splendid Extreme Clipper Ship

1000 tons . . . E. E. Knowles, Master
This fine vessel is now at her berth, ready to receive freight and having a considerable portion of her cargo engaged, offers superior inducements to shippers of cargo and treasure. For freight or passage, apply to

July 6, 1867, Daily Alta California
San Francisco, California

Shipping Intelligence

Cleared: Ship White Swallow, Knowles, Hongkong, Macondray & Co.

July 8, 1867, Daily Alta California

Financial and Commercial

The ship White Swallow for Hongkong has 6,721 qr. sacks flour, 3,448 sacks Wheat, etc., etc., value $57,796.23.

Sacramento Daily Union: The exports have been also large, including the cargo of theWhite Swallow to China, embracing 1,000 flasks Quicksilver, 1,600 bbls Flour, 3,450 sks Wheat, Lumber, Firearms, etc., and $250,000 in Treasure. The trade with China just now is in a remarkably stagnant condition, to account for which various reasons are given; among others, the indiscriminate seizure of Chinese goods by the Custom House authorities last year. While it is quite possible that such seizures may have had the effect of stopping illicit importations, I do not think they have interfered seriously with regular business.

October 27, 1868, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Ship White Swallow, Captain K. K. Knowles, from New York, will commence discharging THIS DAY. (Tuesday.) October 27th, 1868, at Vallejo-street Wharf. Consignees will please call at the office of the undersigned, pay freight, and receive their orders. All merchandise when landed on the wharf will be at the risk of the owners thereof, without regard to the weather, and if not removed before 4 o'clock P. M. of each day will be stored at their expense and risk. GEORGE HOWES & CO.

December 3, 1868, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Shipping Intelligence - Cleared

December 2: Ship White Swallow, Captain Knowles, cleared Hong Kong; Koopmanschap & Co.

March 30, 1869, Daily Alta California

DIED At sea, on the ship White Swallow, January 3rd of small pox, Richard Henry Yale, aged 18 years, 6 months and 22 days, being the second son of Frances E. and Gregory Yale of this city.

June 15, 1870, Daily Alta California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Foreign Ports: HongKong: Arrive April 28, ship White Swallow, Knowles, Melbourne. 

August 13, 1870, Daily Alta California
San Francisco, California

HongKong: In port July 7: White Swallow, Knowles

October 17, 1870, Daily Alta California
San Francisco, California

Foreign Ports:
Sailed September 4th, ship White Swallow, Manila.

July 17, 1871, Daily Alta California
San Francisco, California

MARINE DISASTERS: The ship White Swallow, Captain Winslow, from Boston May 29th for Hongkong, was abandoned on June 17th, 180 miles southwest of Fayal. The crew arrived at Fayal on the 20th in the ship's boats. A cutter was despatched on the 21st to look for the ship, but returned on the following day without success.

Editor's Note: While the following seems to be about the clipper "White Swallow," there is no mention of a Captain Adams having commanded the extreme clipper "White Swallow." It may be a different ship altogether; it may be a Tall Tale. Nevertheless, it's a fine yarn about life at sea.

The Second Mate's Twister

Clipperships.Our Young Folks, Vol 1, No. 1 An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls" Clipperships.

"Some years ago I was second mate of a handsome little clipper ship called the White Swallow, then loading a general cargo in New York, bound for San Francisco. It was in the days before the Pacific Railroad, when most of the freight for California went 'round the Horn,' and there were always several magnificent ships on the berth for 'Frisco to be found along South Street, New York, so it was not an unusual thing that, when we sailed, we did so in company with two ships of rival lines. The White Swallow was a new ship, having made but one voyage, to China and home, during which she wasn't noted for any unusual speed. The captain and chief mate had been in her on her first voyage, and they said on the passage out she was badly loaded, and they couldn't carry sail on her as they wished; homeward bound there was no opportunity, as the passage, consuming one hundred and twenty days, was a succession of light winds and calms.

"For this passage, Captain Adams and the mate had looked out for the stowing of the cargo, and, when we sailed, the ship was in fine trim, with the exception of being a little too deep, perhaps. We made the run to San Francisco in one hundred and one days, beating the other two ships ten and thirteen days. I was quite young then, not yet twenty, but I had been at sea since I was twelve, and I thought I had seen sail carried about as long as canvas and spars would stand; but by the big boot that hangs in Chatham Street the dimity was swung to that ship till her lee rail would be a stranger to us for days on a stretch; and we never thought of coming on deck without our oil-skin coats, for she threw spray in perfect showers her entire length.

"When the watch on deck were not making or taking in sail, or bracing yards, every man who could use a palm and needle was mending sails, for about every watch we split some of our canvas. Notwithstanding the way we carried sail, we lost but two spars during the passage, a main-royal yard and a topmast stun'-sail boom.

"After our arrival at San Francisco, crowds of people, mostly merchants and other shippers, came down on Vallejo Street wharf to see the ship that had made the fastest passage of the year; and, before our cargo was entirely discharged, the ship was chartered to load hides, tallow, old iron, and rags for Liverpool.

1852 Aberdeen Clipper.
An Aberdeen Clipper

"Now on the berth for the same port was an Aberdeen clipper . . . Clippers built at Aberdeen, in Scotland are noted for fast sailing, as ours built at Mystic in Connecticut, and Newburyport in Massachusetts, are. The Scotch ship was about twelve hundred tons' burden, built of iron, and as handsome as a yacht.

She was called the Sea Horse, and had made some fine passages from China to London. She was loading wheat, and about half her cargo was on board when we commenced taking in our old iron, hides, tallow, and rags. One evening I was seated in the reading-room of the What Cheer House, and near me sat a sailor-like looking man of forty or more years, enjoying a cigar, when a gentleman came up to him, and said, 'Good evening, Captain Daly; how goes on the loading '

" 'O, so-so; we'll get off in a fortnight, I hope.'

" 'Well, we intend to have the White Swallow full in two weeks.'

" 'I hope you may. I should like to beat that ship to Liverpool, and will, too, if she don't have more than three days' start of me.'

"I made up my mind to tell Captain Adams what I had accidentally heard, and then, if he wanted a race, here was his chance. Our captain was a quiet, rather reserved man, troubling his officers but little with any conversation besides that which related to the sailing of the ship. He was young, not more than thirty, rather fine-looking, and a sailor-man every inch of him. The morning after overhearing what the captain of the Sea Horse had said, I remarked to our skipper, while at the breakfast-table, The Sea Horse will be ready for sea about the time we are, sir.'

" 'Yes, I hope so.'

" 'That 's what her captain hopes; he says, if we don't get more than three days' start of him, he will let our consignees in Liverpool know we 're coming.' "

'How did you learn that '

" 'I heard him tell a gentleman so last night in the What Cheer House.'

" 'Confound the fellow's impudence!'

"Two or three days after, a clerk in our consignees' office told me our captain and the captain of the Sea Horse had met, and, after chaffing one another in a friendly manner, had finally each deposited five hundred dollars with our consignees, the captain of the ship first in dock at Liverpool to draw on them at sight for the whole amount, a thousand dollars.

American Clipper Ships, 1833-1858.

"The report of an intended race, from San Francisco to Liverpool, between an American and a Scotch clipper, soon got spread about the city, and the amount of money staked on the result must have had a thousand added to it by every person who repeated the report, for it soon became fabulous as regards the dollars.

"Both ships were finally ready for sea, and hauled out from the wharves to be taken in tow by the tugs. A great many people assembled to see us off, and when we were fairly on our way out of the harbor, both ships were greeted by cheers and steam-whistles. The tugs cast us off when off the Farallones, and under a cloud of canvas, with a fair wind, we started on our long race. We parted company the first night out, and you may be sure there wasn't much rest for officers or men on board either ship, at all events, there wasn't on board theWhite Swallow. Captain Adams carried sail very hard night and day, and spent most of his time on deck; not that he was afraid the mate or myself would shorten sail before it was necessary, for if we were not so much interested in beating the Sea Horse as he was, we wanted to do it for the honor of the ship and the flag.

"I used to stand on deck and watch the little ship dive into the seas, and hold my breath as the drenching showers of spray came flying over the weather-rail; then, as soon as the salt water was out of my eyes, cast an anxious look aloft to see if anything had started. It was fun to hear the crockery go tumbling about the steward's pantry, and Captain Adams's cheery 'There goes another hole in my five hundred dollars,' as some grand smash occurred.

"We went tearing along with strong breezes and fair, never heeding such small accidents as a split sail or a sprung yard or two only as they delayed us in replacing them. I never saw a crew in better spirits than ours ; no amount of work in their watch on deck or below made them growl, and at the first call to make or reduce sail they would come tumbling out of the fo'castle, laughing, and making such remarks as The Sea Horse may be a goer, but she can't fly, like the White Swallow.'

"One morning, when we were in latitude about twenty degrees south, I had the morning watch. The night had been fine, with a strong breeze, and we were going free under a main royal and topmast stun'-sail; but after I had been on deck about half an hour I noticed the wind got puffy, and each succeeding puff stronger. I had a hand by the main royal halyards, and made up my mind that, if I didn't take that sail off her, it would take itself off. Along came another puff, and I sung out, 'Let go main-royal halyards', and started for the weather-brace just as the captain came on deck."

'Good morning, Mr. Blue Jacket; getting puffy, is it '

"'Yes, sir; going to have more than we want, I reckon. Shall I furl that royal, sir '

'"Yes, I think you 'd better.' "'Jump up there, two of you boys, and furl that main royal.'

"Away aloft went the two apprentice-boys belonging to my watch, and I noticed that, after getting on the yard, one looked to windward and then seemed to say something to the other, then they grabbed up the sail, passed the yard-arm gaskets, and while one was making fast the bunt gasket the other chap stood up on the yard, with one arm around the mast, looking to windward presently he sung out, 'Sail ho!'

'"Where away '"

'On the weather quarter, sir.'

"'Can you make her out '

"Just then Captain Adams called out, 'Point to it, my lad.' The moment the boy reported a sail, the captain, thinking it the Sea Horse, had gone below to his room for his glass. After the boy had pointed in the direction of the stranger, he swung himself on to the main-royal backstay and came on deck by the run, rushed up to me with a frightened look, and in a hoarse whisper said, 'It's a wreck, sir, with a signal of distress flying.'

"l turned to report what the boy said to the captain, and found him steadying his glass against the mizzen-topmast backstay; without taking his eye from the glass, he said, 'Call all hands, Mr. Blue Jacket! in stun'- sail, mizzen-to'-gallant-sail, and flying-jib, and single reef the topsails; we'll beat up to those poor fellows.'

"Out tumbled the watch below, and as soon as they heard there was a wreck to windward, I think each man did three men's work. When it was first discovered we were going eleven knots, and must have run two or three miles before we got sail off the ship and hauled our wind. I went aloft with a glass, and when I got on the main-topsail yard I saw to windward, about eight miles distant, a large ship, dismasted, and apparently water-logged. On a spar of some kind was a signal flying, that had the appearance of being part of some light sail; and on the poop could be seen what I took for a group of people, huddled about the stump of the mizzen-mast. As soon as we hauled on the wind we got the full force of the breeze, which had increased to half a gale, but, if we carried sail before, you may be certain we did not take in any now that we thought stood the least chance of hanging on. As the ship careened to the breeze she trembled like a frightened thing, but went flying through the water, deluging her decks, and throwing spray as high as the weather-leech of her topsails. The wreck was coming toward us with every heave of the sea, and, when we had made two tacks, we could make out six people on top of her cabin, who didn't seem to notice us particularly.

"After working to windward of the hulk we lay to, while one of our quarter-boats was lowered, and myself and a crew of six men pulled off to the wreck. When quite close to the dismantled ship I noticed her name, Cherub of Boston, as her stern rose on a sea. On getting alongside, we found her main deck nearly level with the sea, the only dry spot being the top of the cabin, where the people were assembled.

"I walked aft, and found five men and a woman near the stump of the mizzen-mast, and all so exhausted as to be entirely helpless. I never saw such an expression of thankfulness in any being's eyes as came into those of that poor, weak woman as I lifted her in my arms and carried her to our boat, where I laid her in the stern sheets, and covered her with a coat Then, taking four of my boat's crew, we went back for the five men, and got them into the boat. After that we went into the cabin of the Cherub to try and find some of the lady's clothes, for we had nothing on board the White Swallow to dress her in but a man's rig. In a state-room on the port side of the cabin we found a large trunk containing women's wearing apparel, and from the captain's room we took the chronometer, barometer, charts, and a quantity of clothing. These were placed in the boat, while two of us took down the spar from which the signal of distress was flying, after which the boat was manned, and we pulled away for our ship. After getting alongside the White Swallow, the boat was hooked on to the davits with the rescued people in, and so hoisted, because the sufferers were too much exhausted to climb up the ship's side on a ladder. They were carried to the cabin, and their clothes removed; then they were wrapped in blankets; and, after wine-and-water had been given them in small quantities, they were snugly stowed away in state-room berths, where they fell almost instantly into a sound sleep.

"When the people from the wreck had been got on board, the White Swallow was put upon her course, and went reeling off her eleven knots an hour after her detention of almost four hours. In two days the rescued people had recovered sufficient strength to walk about a little and be much interested in the time for meals to be served, and at the dinner-table the captain of the lost Cherub told his story.

His ship was bound from Honolulu to New Bedford, laden with oil and whalebone. When eight days out she had been dismasted in a gale, and became so strained that the pumps had to be kept going constantly, which, together with the loss by salt water of all but a small amount of provisions, so exhausted the crew, that, out of twenty-six people who left Honolulu in the ship, all but six had died from exposure, hunger, and thirst combined. The lady was the daughter of a merchant in Honolulu, going to the States to visit her father's relatives. They had been on the wreck twenty-seven days, drifting helplessly about, when we picked them up.

"Our fine fortune in fair winds continued, and we went booming around Cape Horn in terribly cold weather, up through the southeast trades, across 'the line' in the Atlantic, through the northeast trades up St. George's Channel, and into dock at Liverpool on the one hundredth day after leaving San Francisco. The Sea Horse had not yet arrived, and as day after day passed, and still she did not come, we began to lose all interest in a ship we had beaten so. badly. After we had been three weeks in Liverpool, one morning the papers reported the arrival of a steamer from Fayal, and among the passengers were the officers and crew of the ship Sea Horse, wrecked on Flores, one of the Western Islands.

"From the news paper accounts, it seemed the Sea Horse had experienced a continuation of thick weather after losing the northeast trades, and consequently the ship had been navigated by dead-reckoning. Judging themselves clear of the Western Islands, the ship had been kept away two or three points, and brought up ashore, about midnight, with a southwesterly gale blowing, on Flores. All hands had been saved excepting Captain Daly, who was drowned by the capsizing of a boat in which himself and thirteen others were leaving the wreck at daylight on the morning after the Sea Horse had gone ashore.

"The survivors were sent to Fayal, and from there the British Consul sent them to Liverpool by steamer. We on board the White Swallow learned that, after Captain Adams heard of the loss of the Sea Horse and her captain, he got the draft for the money bet on the race cashed, carried the thousand dollars to the owners of the lost ship, and had them invest the money for the benefit of the widow of Captain Daly.

"The people whom we rescued from the wreck left the White Swallow in Liverpool. The captain of the lost Cherub and the young lady took a steamer for New York, but I never knew what became of the four men.

"There, boys," said I, "that's the end of that twister; you don't often have two wrecks in one night."

Historic California

A Tour of Duty in California 1849.

A Tour Of Duty In California: Including A Description Of The Gold Region And The Voyage Around Cape HornCalifornia 1849. A Tour of Duty.

An Important Work on the California Gold Rush and Gold Regions Of California in 1849. The book ranks among the concise and comprehensive book of the time. The author's official capacity, and the favorable circumstance, of his approach to the “El Dorado,”together with an apparent accurate understanding of the matter, make his book exceedingly valuable to those who wish as it were a personal introduction to men and things in that remarkable region. –– From the 1849 United States Magazine and Democratic Review.

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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