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Passenger Lists: San Francisco 1800s Brig Osceola

Arrive San Francisco

August 4, 1849
Captain J. Fairfowl (also listed as Fairfield)
From Philadelphia

Passage

The Osceola was built in Philadelphia in 1839. On January 1, 1849, she left Philadelphia with 65 passengers, 15 crew members and rounded the Horn with stops in Rio de Janeiro and Talcahuano. On May 23, she was reported to be at Talcahuano (also spelled Talcahuna), with American ships Panama and Hopewell, bark Georgiiana, brig Mary Wilden, Oxford and ship Trescott, all for San Francisco with passengers and freight.

The Osceola reached San Francisco in 200 days from Philadelphia.

Merchandise to Bulling and Thomas.

SEA ROUTES TO THE GOLD FIELDS 
The 18, 000 Mile Migration by Water to California
1849-1852

The Voyage: Below decks.Author Oscar Lewis tell the story of travelers round the Horn who had, for the most part, to look to their own little world for means of keeping themselves occupied over long periods of time. Their ship was a self-contained unit, their universe bounded by an unlimited expanse of sea and sky. They were bound on one of the longest and most varied of all sea voyages; the great lonely void of the ocean was an ever present companion, and few failed to discover that, for all its apparent sameness, it was full of interest and variety.

"In her moods and caprices," wrote one, "the sea would put the most spoiled and pampered beauty in the shade" -- and went on to describe her benign charms when, "mile and gentle as a lamb, with friendly, helpful hands she wafts you on your way . . . Her eager eyes dance in the sunlight and you tell yourself you have never met anyone so gentle and fair. " A few days pass, or perhaps only a few hours, "but what in the meantime has happened to your friendly and radiant beauty She has become a vixen and a shrew." The sunny face has become "a dark and forbidding countenance, her icy glances chill you to the marrow and you flee in dismay from the torrents of her abuse." Then she is presently her old self again and you rejoin the circle of her admirers -- "but not with your old confidence, for you have begun to learn something about your lady's moods."

During these first days the Argonaut's morale was frequently at its lowest ebb of the entire voyage. Some journals pass over the ordeal in complete and eloquent silence. Those whose owners were able to write at all confined their entries to brief and heartfelt comments on the horrors of seafaring life. "Descriptions of a life on the ocean wave," wrote Samuel C. Upham from the brig Osceola, ten days out from Philadelphia, "read vary prettily on shore, but the reality of a sea voyage speedily dispells the romance." Wet and slippery decks, leaky cabins, the pounding of the seas again the hull, and the howling of wind through the rigging -- these were almost invariably part of the picture, but only a part.

Scene below decks on a passenger ships, 1800s.

In the dim recesses below decks conditions were about as bad as could be imagined. With all but a few incapacitated, little attempt was made to clean up the litter, to care for the sick, or even to secure and lash down the passengers' belongings which in the haste of departure had been piled on disorderly heaps both above and below decks. The victims lay clinging weakly to their slanting bunks while trunks, boxes, valises, and anything else movable slid from side to side with each roll of the ship, and the prostrate ones wondered, without really caring, if their straining vessel would survive the next shuddering lunge into the oncoming seas.

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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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