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Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s

"Capt. Hopkins belongs in Portland, Maine. He ought to be brought home in irons, and his conduct fully investigated." The story follows.

(Editor's Note: No additional information on Captain Hopkins or his fate has been located.)

June 4, 1851, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

From the Hartford Daily (Connecticut) Times
Infamous Conduct of a Sea Captain
Arrival of Captain Kellogg

The family of Capt. Reuben Kellogg, of this city, were surprised most agreeably, however, at his sudden appearance among them on the 14th inst. They had given him up as lost, supposing that he was dead, as they had good reason to suppose. His story is a singular one. He has been through the most startling dangers, and the most extraordinary scenes.

He left San Francisco on the 9th of last October, as a passenger in the ship Powhattan, Capt. Hopkins, bound to Panama. There were 170 passengers on board, and it was soon found that the ship was not provided as well as it was advertised she would be. Indeed, the passengers were put upon an allowance of water, and there was much dissatisfaction. Captain Hopkins became alarmed, and called Capt. Kellogg to his room and told him he feared trouble that there were indications which led him to believe that the passengers were about to take charge of the ship.

Capt. Kellogg told him the passengers were well disposed; that they only asked or fair treatment, and if the ship would put into the first port and get water, all would be well. Capt. Hopkins said he would put in if the passengers would sign a petition requesting him to do so. A petition was drawn up and signed by over 100 passengers. Capt. Hopkins then made for Tehauntepec Bay, and was becalmed at the westward of it. Capt. Hopkins requested Capt. Kellogg to select a boat's crew and go into into the Bay and find a passage for the ship. He took nine men with lead lines, &c., and after rowing all day, and not finding any landing place, they put back and got on board the ship at 12 o'clock at night. This was on the 20th November.

On the 22d November the ship was again anchored, having run down, the coast a considerable distance, a point of land being within four miles of her. It was supposed the bay was round this point. But it afterward proved that it was not the bay Capt. Kellogg and a crew of nine men (part of the former crew) rowed round this point at 8 o'clock A. M. and found it was only a bend in the coast, , and that there was no bay there. They continued to row up the coast to find a landing place. At 2 o'clock P. M. to their surprise, they lost sight of the ship, but proceeded up the coast till 4 o'clock, when the men gave out being exhausted, hands blistered, &c.

A norther was springing up. and Capt. Kellogg saw at once that he must land or be sent out to sea. Capt. K. then went on to the top of a hill about 300 feet above the sea, and looked for the ship, but she was out of sight and they saw no more of her. They could not account for such rascality. The northerner was not so strong as to drive a ship to sea, and there was no good reason for leaving ten men upon the coast without provisions and among hostile Indians.

From the hill, Capt. Kellogg discovered a ranche about 3 miles to the northward. He at once told his men that their only course was to repair to the ranche, and after reloading their revolvers they did so. It proved to be occupied by three Mexicans, who were stationed there to sell salt. They were friendly, and provided the men with provisions and water, this being the only place along the coast where water could be had.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, 1885.

After staying there two days, they procured a guide and started for the town of San Matao, about 'thirty miles eastward, a place of about 700 people. They crossed the Tehuantepec River, and arrived at Matao about 8 o'clock at night. The cholera was raging badly, and the men procured another guide the next day and left for Saramaree, about twelve miles up the coast a place of about 200 people. From here they went to Tehuantepec, a place of about 12,000. There was a revolution here, and they found about 2,000 Indians, headed by Gen. Malindries outside of the place, trying to take it by storm, but being short of ammunition, they finally gave it up.

Here Capt. Kellogg was taken with the cholera, within half an hour after his arrival; and in about an hour later, Mr Henry Crunn, of Boston, who was taking care of him, was also taken. Mr. Crann died in four hours. This was on the 28th of November. Capt. Kellogg was sick at this place for 47 days. His companions, believing that he could not live, left him on the 29th of November and proceeded on their way across the country to Vera Cruz. Two of their number, James Witherspoon and Alonzo Vreeland, died on the route. Six of them arrived at Vera Cruz, and from there sailed for their homes in the States.

After his 47 days of terrible sickness, Capt. Kellogg left Tehuantepec for Manititlan, where he was detained 45 days. After waiting 45 days, he rode on horseback 60 miles to the San Juan river, and proceeded 90 miles down that river in a canoe with two Indians. This brought him to Clactalpo on the Alvarado River a place of about 3,000 people. Here he took a steamboat for Vera Cruz, and arrived thereon the 10th of March.

Capt. Hopkins belongs in Portland, Maine. He ought to be brought home in irons, and his conduct fully investigated.

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 handsome 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 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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