Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s
March 2, 1852, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California
Marine Intelligence: Port San Francisco, March 3, 1852: Arrived Bark William Watson, Ritchie, 60 days from Hongkong. Mdse to master. 160 passengers.
The Late Fire In Hongkong.
We briefly noticed in our paper of yesterday, that Hongkong had been visited by a most disastrous conflagration, involving loss of life as well as property. That city since the discovery of gold in California, has risen rapidly in importance until it has become the principal commercial mart of the Celestial Empire, and the depot from which we derive the great bulk of our Chinese supplies. It is stated that business was at a very low ebb on the departure of the "Watson," and that general stagnation pervaded every department of trade. This was to be expected, but the crisis must soon be over, as the Chinese are proverbially, industrious, frugal, and persevering, and will in an incredibly short time, with the assistance of the foreign population, rebuild their town in a far more substantial and permanent manner than before the conflagration.
The destruction of life we fear was very great, as the cottages were built of bamboo and the streets exceedingly narrow, which would naturally be choked up with the dense masses of population that crowd all the cities of China. We give below further particulars of the conflagration, which we take from the San Francisco Herald:
The fire originated in the store of an opium dealer, who fell asleep and knocked down a burning lamp. The military were called out as soon as it was discovered, and used the greatest exertions to suppress the flames, but to little purpose.
Col. Matthews of the Sappers, while in the act of laying a train to blow up a building, a Lieutenant in the Navy belonging to the English ship Hastings, and a Sergeant of the Sappers, lost their lives. The loss of Chinese life was unknown at the time of the sailing of the William Watson, but it was supposed to be very great.
Sir Wm. Bormer called a special meeting of the City Council immediately after the fire, at which it was unanimously resolved that no building should be erected of wood or bamboo thereafter, and that the Chinese streets should be of the same width as that of the Victoria Road.
When the Watson sailed business was dull and freights were low. The clipper ships Shooting Star and Flying Cloud (image right) were loading with tea for London at £2 per ton. The Game Cock sailed for Bombay, and the Mermaid was wasting.
The following Ships sailed for this port with Chinese passengers, male and female, viz the John Mayo and Louisa; the latter under a Chinese flag.
LOCAL MATTERS.May 1, 1852, Daily Alta California, San Francisco
From the Daily of April 26, 1852. San Francisco, California
Death of Capt. Ritchie.
On Saturday last Captain David Ritchie, died on board of the British barque William Watson, of congestion of the lungs caused by injuries received from a party who assaulted him on the night of the 15th instant. The particulars and details of that unfortunate affair have been made known to the proper authorities who are taking steps to arrest the offenders and bring them to justice. The funeral will take place to-day at half-past two, P. M. The friends of the deceased, and shipmasters generally are invited to attend, at the Masonic Lodge Room on Washington street near Montgomery, where the funeral procession will form.
San Francisco Bay. 1899.
Coroner's Inquest. Coroner Gray yesterday held an inquest on the body of Capt. David Ritchie, who died on board the barque William Watson, at 8 o'clock on last Saturday evening. From the evidence, it appears that the deceased had came ashore and started to return to the vessel at a late hour on the night of the 15th. On his way he was knocked down by two men whom he was unable to recognize, who beat him in a cruel manner, broke his finger, and robbed him of a ring, the only article of value that the deceased had about his person.
Dr. E. R. Smilie testified that when he was called upon to visit the deceased, he found him complaining of a pain in his head and back, caused by bruises, and that severe inflammation had resulted. The exciting cause was by cold being taken from his being too thinly clad. His disease was complicated with disturbance of the brain caused by free living. The progress of the disease was very rapid, and the tendency a congestion of the lungs.
The day previous to the assault, Capt. Ritchie had come ashore with $1000 in specie, which he had deposited with Mallory, Stewart &. Co. in this city. The jury rendered a verdict that the deceased came to his death from congestion of the lungs and brain, caused by bruises received from the hands of persons unknown.
Capt. Ritchie was a native of Scotand, and was highly esteemed and respected.
No clue has yet been obtained that may lead to the perpetrators of this foul outrage.
James P. Delgado
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