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News & Tall Tales. 1800s. Tropic Bird

San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.


Aphrodite's Island, European Discovery of Tahiti. Anne Salmond, author.
Note: In addition to The Barkentine Tropic Bird below, sailing during the 1800s were also:
  • Whaling Brig, commander E. E. Smith (formerly captain of the Corwin)
  • Ship Tropic Bird under command of Captain Foulkes who was boarded by the British gunboat Jasper in 1858 and accused of being a slaver. The Tropic Bird was laden with coffee and logwood.
  • In 1861, a condemned schooner Tropic Bird was running under British colors and was captured by the Americans.
  • 1864, Captain Hagar sailed the bark Tropic Bird, a whaler.
  • 1872-1879, Whaling brig Tropic Bird, Jernegan, Whaling Master.
  • January 18, 1888: Daily Alta California. Salvage on the American brig Tropic Bird, which he claims to have rescued as it was drifting to sea from the port of Ensenada, Mexico, last December. February 1888: Sold to J. C. Hendry, of San Francisco, for the sum of $4,500.
  • Whaling bark Tropic Bird was launched from a shipyard on the coast of Massachusetts and, at the time of launch, was considered one of the finest vessels of her class afloat. In 1894, she was turned into a home in Tiburon, with little changed about the vessel, except that she was turned into a home. The cook's galley stands were it always did and is used as a kitchen. The stumps of the masts remain and clotheslines were stretched between them.

North Bend, Oregon.In 1882, the new barkentine Tropic Bird, belonging to A. Crawford and Captain Burns, her commander, was at Main street discharging. She was scheduled on October 1, 1882 to leave for her first trip to Tahiti. This vessel was built at North Bend by the Simpson Brothers. She is 136 feet long, 31-1/2 feet beam and 11 feet 9 inches depth of hold, registers 331 tons. She has cabin accommodations for 16 passengers and is in every respect a first-class vessel and admirably adapted to the Tahiti trade. The price paid for construction of the Tropic Bird was $20,000.

December 20, 1882, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

The Dory "Pacific" Spoken -- Shipping News -- Society

The barkentine Tropic Bird, which arrived in this port from Tahiti, reports that on November 17, 1882, in altitude 14 degrees 50 feet south, longitude 149 degrees 5 feet west, she spoke the American boat Pacific, a schooner-rigged, 1-7/8 tons, Captain Bernard Gilboy of San Francisco, 90 days out from that port, and bound for Brisbane, Australia. He reported having experienced fine weather troughout, except between latitude 5 and 8 north, where he encountered head winds and calms and was delayed 23 days. He was sanguine of success.

March 19, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Tahiti. Gauguin.

Passenger Lists: From Tahiti - Per Tropic Bird: Capt. R. S. Davis, Mrs. H. Davis. Capt. H. Decover, Mr. De Perichon, B. Collet and three Chinamen.

June 14, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. :

The bark Tropic Bird arrived yesterday from Tahiti with a cargo of South Sea Island products, and docked at Mission No. 2.

September 19, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Business Part of the Town Destroyed on the 23d of July

News has been received by the barkentine Tropic Bird of a destructive fire at Papeete, Tahiti, on the 23d of July, which entailed a loss of 600,000 francs, or $120,000. The fire was discovered at 4 o'clock in the morning in the warehouse of A. Crawford & Co. The flames spread rapidly to the adjacent buildings, and before the people were able to check them a number of prominent business houses were destroyed. The principal losers are Crawford & Co., M. Rooney, M. Teyna, Cape & Young, Darsie, Coppenroth, and some Chinese merchants. The Civil Circle and quay escaped.

December 15, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Honolulu Captured and Sacked by an Armed Force.
The Host Audacious Piratical Raid on Record.
The King, Public Treasury and Merchants Despoiled.
Over Three Millions in Coin and Plate Carried Off.
The Town in Possession of the Pirates for Nine Hours.
Not a Blow Was Struck Nor a Shot Fired.
The Piratical Band Supposed to Have Organized in This City.
Escape of The Filibusters Next Morning — Probabilities that a Pursuing Vessel Will be at Once Despatched from This Port.

The details of the most audacious and successful filibustering raid on record were communicated to this office at a late hour last evening. The manner in which they were reported, and the circumstantial nature of the narrative are proof positive of their veracity. So startling and voluminous are the incidents, and so extraordinary the particulars of this bold and colossal robbery, that it is difficult to make a satisfactory beginning, or give the particulars in a connected form at this late hour. At 11 o'clock last night James Moran, second mate of the Mendoza, from Iquique with nitre to the California Powder Works, entered the Alta office and informed the city editor that he had news of the utmost importance to communicate. Hie vessel had arrived that morning and was lying in Santa Cruz Harbor. In latitude 26.40 she had spoken the barkentine Tropic Bird, from Tahiti for this port, which had carried away her foretopmast, and having no spare spars on board, had signaled the Mendoza. She sailed from Honolulu December 2d, where she had put in for supplies, the day after the Alameda left, and to Moran her captain related the following

Startling Narrative

Diamond Head. 1934.

At 2 o'clock of the afternoon of December 1st a strange vessel was sighted off Diamond Head. The Alameda had passed out, and was well into the Molokai Channel by this time. [As the memoranda of the Alameda made no mention of this incident, she could not have seen her. — Ed.] The craft, which was rigged like a steam whaler, after standing close along shore, shaped her course to the southward, and was soon a mere speck on the horizon. Towards evening, however, she was observed to go about and steer direct for Honolulu. The theory of those who watched her was that something had gone wrong, which seemed plausible from the low speed at which she steamed towards the entrance of the channel. At 9 p. m., or thereabouts, the stranger hove to just outside the reef, and a boat, containing Colonel Curtis Iaukea, the recently appointed Collector of the Port, and four men, pushed off for her. About half an hour afterwards a second boat was sent from the Custom House, as the one containing Iaukea had not returned. At 10 o'clock five boats, filled with armed men, pushed off from the strange craft and came alongside the Oceanic Steamship Company's wharf. A few natives who were engaged in catching the red fish, a shoal of which had come into the harbor, ran up town with the intelligence that the wharf was thronged with armed men. Mr. Brown, a reporter of the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, met them, and, doubting the information, walked down to the water front. He found himself at once

Surrounded by an Armed Force

Who bound him hand and foot and left him in charge of a dozen of their number, while the rest, about seventy or eighty, marched up Fort street in solid column. All had Winchester repeating rifles, revolvers and cutlasses. Nine 'o'clock in Honolulu sees the streets almost deserted, with the exception of a few natives and policemen. Three of the latter were captured by the filibusters, for each was now their unmistakable character, bound and carried into Nolte's coffee saloon on Fort street. The astonished inmates of the restaurant were told to remain where they were and no harm would befall them, and two of the armed men stood on guard at the door. By this time a native had carried the news of this singular visitation to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Mr. George Faasett, the manager, was inclined to believe the whole matter a hoax, but brought the man to Mr. Tilden and Mr. Dexter, both of whom are employed in the hotel. There were only nine guests in the house, and these at once proposed that if this were really a filibustering raid they should take some steps to protect their property.

The captain of the Tropic Bird was playing billiards down stairs at the time, and told Mr. Moran these circumstances: "I laughed at the idea," he said, " and assured them the native must be lying; but I had scarcely made the remark when a column of men marched into the hotel grounds, halted some yards before the entrance, presented their rifles,


"The leader, a tall man with a long, red beard, walked deliberately towards us with a cocked pistol in his hand. We stood in the porch, sort of paralyzed. No one thought of making any resistance then, and I tell you the rifles looked mighty wicked in the light of the lamps of the hotel ground."

"Now, gentlemen," said the Captain, "I don't want any foes. We have not come here to play at soldiers, and we don't intend to get hurt. If any of you show a weapon or make a threatening motion, we'll fire on you. We have not come here to rob you; you ain't going to be a dollar out, but we will not be interfered with."

"Then what the deuce are you doing here, anyhow?" said Mr. Fassett.

"Never you mind," said the Captain. "Give me the keys of the house." They gave them to him, and I was locked up with the rest. There was a sentinel posted at each entrance, and we sat in our rooms looking out of the windows, for no one knew how many men were on the island, or exactly what they wanted, for that matter.


That the leader was a man well acquainted with the town there can be no doubt, and, indeed, Dexter identified him as a person who had once been employed as a steward on board the Mariposa, and who had worked his passage in the steward's mess. So far, no one in the upper portion of the town, except the hotel people, knew anything about the invasion. The "King's Own," a company of about forty men, Kalakaua's special guard, were in their barracks, near the Palace, and the sentries were posted in their usual places at the Palace gates. The filibusters marched directly from the hotel to the Palace.

The king had a dinner party that evening, and was entertaining his Ministers, the occasion being the return of Attorney General Neumann from Mexico, and among the guests was General A. B. Hayley, Commander in Chief of the Hawaiian forces. The gates were opened by the unsuspicious sentinels, who were overpowered without offering any resistance, and the filibusters marched directly to the Palace doors. Mr. Walter Gibson, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the first of the guests to comprehend that something unusual had occurred, and he hurried to the portico of the palace, followed by Hon. Paul Neuman, the Attorney General, and General Hayley. They were immediately surrounded, but in the confusion that followed General Hayley managed to slip through the hall and to the barracks, through the rear entrance of the palace. Mr. Gibson was about to address the leader of the gang when the King pushed him aside and demanded haughtily what the meaning of all this was.

"It means, sir," said the leader, "that we've just taken possession of this little kingdom of yours, and we mean to hold it, too, by G — d !"


While this was going on General Hayley had rallied the "King's Own," with the idea of making some resistance and at least protecting the person of the King. The Krupp battery, which His Majesty had purchased from the German Government about a year before, but which had never been mounted, was, of course, useless. But the General succeeded riot only in getting his men together, but in sending a native to Capt. Aldrich, of the Honolulu rifles, a volunteer military organization, to beg of him to come to his assistance. Scarcely had the messenger clambered over the wall than some twenty-five of the filibusters marched directly on the barracks. General Hayley made a desperate attempt to form his men to repulse him, but the Kanakas were demoralized and threw down their guns without waiting for the opposing force to fire a single shot. General Haley was tied hand-and-foot and looked up in the barrack cellar, and with Mr. Ralph Smith, the editor of a Honolulu newspaper, who was calling at the Palace on business connected with his journal. Before hacking the Palace the King and his guests were locked up the dining-room under guard. Kamehameha.The Palace now being in possession of the filibusters, they proceeded to raid it in the most systematic manner. The feather cloak of the Kamehamehas, which is prized by the Hawaiians as a sacred relic, was carried off. The presents of silver plate which the King had received in his European trip were also taken off in addition to the silver service in daily use in the Palace. Colonel Charles Judd, the King's chamberlain, who had a large number of valuable orders which he had received while traveling with the King, was forced to give up every one of them, and besides was treated with ignominy by the leader, who seemed to entertain a personal spite against Judd — for after tearing the orders from that gentleman's breast he knocked him down and kicked him in the stomach.


Mr. Frank Pratt, the Public Registrar, who keeps the keys of the Treasury, was seized at his residence on Beretania street, dragged to the public building on Aeolani Hale, and forced to open the vaults. Here were $700,000 in Hawaiian currency—silver dollars and half-dollars— and $200,000 in American gold and silver. All the money the pirates sacked up and sent down to their boats. Their next proceeding was an attack on the residence of Mr. C. R. Bishop, the well-known banker. Mr. Bishop, who lost his wife recently, and who is in ill health, was taken from his bed and forced to open the safe in his bank on Merchant street. Here the filibusters bagged in the neighborhood of $500,000 in gold, silver and greenbacks. The door of the business house of W. G. Irwin & Co. was forced, where some $300,000 which Mr. Irwin had sent from San Francisco several weeks ago, rested. This money was taken off with the rest. Among the business places raided were the houses of G. W. Macfarlane & Co., Dillingham & Co., J. E. Wiseman, Eisenberg & Co., C. O. Berger & Co., and nearly all the important houses in the town. Mr. Irwin's city residence was also plundered, and Major Wodehouse'e, the British Commissioner, place was visited, but here the filibusters found nothing worth carrying away, except some liquors which the Major had received a few days before from an English war vessel. The American Minister, Mr. Daggett, was visited, and one of the party seemed to know Mr. Daggett, for he addressed some facetious remark to him, but the Minister failed to recognize the filibuster. In all, the filibusters mast have secured over $2,500,000, besides a large quantity of valuable plate.


At daybreak the next morning the leader withdrew his men from the town, and released the King and the other prisoners who were .confined in the Palace and the barracks. Not a blow had been struck on either side and no one was injured or insulted except Colonel Judd, who was bruised and kicked by the sentinel left in charge of him. General Hayloy had his left wrist broken in a fall over the breach of one of the Krupp guns in on attempt to escape from town after the first alarm. The Honolulu Rifle Company had weapons, and would have turned out and offered some resistance to this wholesale plunder, but they had no ammunition. Mr. Henry Sandsten, the employs of a Fort-street tailor, declared positively that he knew the leader of the gang; that he had seen him in San Francisco when he was a mining speculator.

Such is the remarkable story which Mr. Moran brought to tins office. The utterly defenceless condition of Honolulu, and the perfect practicability of such a scheme, removes all doubt about the matter. Moreover, the names Moran has given are those of well-known Honolulu citizens. That the filibustering expedition was fitted up in this city and sailed from here with the express purpose of sacking those islands, knowing how easily it could be accomplished, is evident. They laid their plans cleverly. In the first place they watched for the departure of the Alameda, and also until there was not a single war vessel in the harbor. They took with them some one who knew the town thoroughly, and who also understood that it was at the mercy of any .


No matter how small, who had the nerve and purpose for the job. It does not seem remarkable, in view of all this, that the raid should have been so easily accomplished. Where the vessel sailed for, or what her name was, Moran did not hear. She was away by daybreak, and possibly sailed for the Gilbert group, or perhaps Tahiti. That they melted plate and Hawaiian currency into bullion before they departed, Moran's informant had no doubt. Every act in this strange and unprecedented affair was most deliberate. The following paragraph appeared in the local columns of the Alta some six weeks ago:


Ports of Oakland, Alameda, Richmond, and Carquinez Strait, California.

For some days past those living on the creek at East Oakland, have been perplexed by the singular midnight excursions of some men to a vessel lying In mid-stream. They go and come at all hours, no matter how dark or unpleasant the night, but duaring the day there seems to be nobody on the vessel but a Negro care-taker.

Of course there is no certainty that this was the vessel fitted out by the buccaneers, nor indeed is there any evidence that she sailed from this port at all on her filibustering expedition. The entire matter, so far as who the men were, or where they came from, is shrouded in mystery. That they succeeded in capturing an immense quantity of plunder without striking a blow or firing a shot, will not seem remarkable to any one acquainted with the Sandwich Islands. Their total helplessness in case of attack, without a single fort or a military company which might be depended on in an emergency. It seems strange that Honolulu, where so much of the wealth of the islands is concentrated, has escaped so long. There is little hope that the raiders will ever be detected. When the plunder is divided they will separate, and it may be that the very ship that carried them on their filibustering cruise will return to this port or wherever she sailed from, with a cargo from some South Sea island, in the guise of a peaceful trader. Moran, whose wife resides in this city, is a seaman possessed of far more than the average intelligence of his class. He lives on Stevenson, near Third 6treet, and will this morning visit the offices of the consignees to confirm the information laid before this paper. It is not unlikely that the merchants here who are interested in the island will make application to the Secretary of the Navy this morning for a steam vessel to go in pursuit of the pirates, although if they managed their exit as cleverly as their attack, it seems a hopeless task.

April 1, 1885, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The barkentine Tropic Bird, Captain Burns, was cleared yesterday for Tahiti and Papeete with a miscellaneous cargo of merchandise valued at $25,340, including 800 mats Rice, 8658 lbs Sugar, 27,962 do Bread, 726 bbls Flour, 270 cs. Coa Oil, 75 do Salmon, 160 pkgs Dry Goods, 342 do Groceries, 530 bdle Shingles, 56,178 ft. Lumber, 25,000 Bruck and a quantity of Hardware and Naval Stores.

December 14, 1886, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Shipping Intelligence: Arrived, Bktn. Tropic Bird, Jamieson, 29 days from Tahiti; passengers and merchandise to A. Crawford & Co. Consignees: A. Crawford & Co.; A. Eisenberg; R. Thayer; Wilkens & Co.; J. Pinet; Turner & Chapman; M. Turner; Wm. Wood & Co.; Eugene Thomas & Co.

March 18, 1887, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Bktne Tropic Bird, Burns, 33 days from Tahiti. Mdse to A. Crawford & Co.
The bktne Tropic Bird reports that on February 16, at 56 a.m. in lat 12 28 S, long 148 08 W, they sighted a vessel on fire; kept off and found it to be the German steamer Raitea of Hamburg; lowered a boat and went on board; found the whole vessel on fire and beyond control; no news of the crew.

Memorandum Per Tropic Bird: Sailed Feb 13; had a fresh breeze from the Eastward; crossed the equator in lon 117 50 W. five days out; took moderate NE trades and had fine weather thirteen day south; passed the Sandwich Islands in Lat. 28 N; took a strong gale from the NE, hauling to the north, with a very heavy cross sea running; then had light winds from all around the compass

March 23, 1887, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A Belief That the Passengers and Crew Were All Saved.

Tahiti.The anxiety felt by many of the friends of the officers, passengers and crew of the abandoned German steamer Raiatea as to their safety is not participated in by those best acquainted with the position of the burning steamer when she was sighted by the barkentine Tropic Bird. The Raiatea when last seen was drifting with the current which runs so rapidly among the many islands of the Southern Archipelago. A gentleman familiar with these islands is of the opinion that the survivors reached one of them in their boats, although it is possible that no definite news of the crew and passengers may reach here for sixty days. The first information may possibly be brought to this port from Auckland, New Zealand, as there are a large number of trading schooners constantly plying between that port and the Islands of the Southern Hemisphere.

Kanaka Bill's Adventure

Daily Alta California March 25, 1887

Kanaka Bill's Adventure.

"Kanaka Bill," one of the sailors of the Tropic Bird, went ashore yesterday, and for the occasion "togged" himself out in his. very best go ashore clothes. On his return to the vessel in the afternoon he met with a most lamentable accident. Whether it was that the quantity of drinkables he had imbibed had made him heavier, or whether a smaller gangplank had been substituted for the old one, is not known. True it is, however, that when "Kanaka Bill" reached the middle of that plank, there was heard a loud crack and the unhappy man was deposited in the water. Luckily he was close to the steps and had no difficulty in climbing out, but the Bill who stood on the wharf was a very different person from the spruce "Kanaka Bill" of a few minutes before.

April 3, 1887, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A $1,000 FINE.
What a Sea Captain's Uncontrollable Temper Cost Him.

Captain Barns, of the barkentine Tropic Bird, which cleared yesterday, is now undoubtedly the maddest skipper that sails the seas. The cause of the Captain's choler is thus explained: On the evening of the 17th of March the Tropic Bird was sighted entering port, and shortly afterwards a detail of Customs Inspectors, under the charge of James L. Blethen, put out from the Barge Office in a Whitehall boat to intercept and board her.

There was a spanking breeze blowing at the time, and the Captain paid no attention to the signals which the Inspectors claim to have made, continuing straight on to his berth at the foot of Mission street. There the Customs officers subsequently boarded his vessel, and in response to their remonstrance against his cavalier treatment of their signals in the bay, waxed wroth, us they allege, and referred to the Custom House in a manner that was anything but complimentary to that worthy and venerable institution. The officials demanded his passenger-list, and again, as they allege, be indigoed the circumambient air with his fervid oratory.

Finally, the Customs officials, appalled at the tempest they had raised, were forced to accept the list in an incomplete form. They then left the Tropic Bird and her tropical atmosphere, and the next morning reported the story of their alleged wrongs to headquarters. The Collector invoked the counsel of District Attorney Carey, and it was decided that the Captain had violated Section 9 of the Passenger Act of 1882, and had thereby incurred a penalty of $1,000. The decision was broken gently to Captain Burns, but it only served to renew his anger, and he vowed him by the sacred beard of Neptune that he would never pay a dime. His bark was billed to depart Friday, carrying the mails for Tahiti, but he was refused a clearing until the fine was paid, and as the officers were incorrigible, he yesterday yielded to the inevitable, paid the penalty and shook the spray of the harbor from his keel, so to speak.


Just received ex Barkentine "Tropic Bird,"
336,000 Sweet and Juicy Tahiti Oranges.
The only Orangs in market suitable for shipping purposes.


30,000 Cocoanuts
For sale in lots to suit by

J. Ivancovich & Co.,

NW Cor. Sansome and Washington Streets, San Francisco, California

October 13, 1892, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


The Barkentine Tropic Bird Brings Up a Story.
It Was the Same Storm That Dismasted the Belle of Oregon and the Alexander McCullom.

Manifestly the circular storm which sank the William A. Campbell and dismasted the bark Belle of Oregon and the Alexander McCullom prevailed over a larger area in the Pacific than is comprised between 14 and 15 deg, north latitude and 121 and 123 deg. west longitude on or about August 26 or 27 of the present year.

Another vessel has been through the ordeal, and, fortunately, has returned to tell something about it. The barkentine Tropic Bird, which arrived from Tahiti yesterday, was fifty-nine days on a trip which, in the ordinary course of things, is accomplished in about twenty seven nays. The explanation is furnished by the hurricane above referred to.

The Tropic Bird sailed from Tahiti for this port on August 13. She had fair weather up to the 29th, when she plunged quite unexpectedly into the focus of a hurricane. The ship was then in latitude 19 deg. north and longitude 14. deg. west, or 5 deg. north and 22 deg. west of the area In which the McCollum, Belle of Oregon and William A. Campbell encountered the storm. As the date is three days posterior to the epoch when these three vessels crossed the path of the hurricane, it seems fair to presume that the latter was moving north by west. The Tropic Bird had a very hard time. Captain Burns being very sick, the command devolved on Chief Mate Ecelser, and he was lucky to get off with the loss of several sails and the craft severely strained. He estimated the force of the wind during the critical period at 100 miles an hour.

The Tropic Bird, was steered away for Honolulu, where she arrived on September 7. She was unable to put to sea until the 25th, and came up here in sixteen days. The men saved from the mate's boat of the William A. Campbell are reported as doing well, but the boy will probably die. The Hawaiian steamer Kinau had been dispatched on a two days' cruise after the captain's boat, but with little hope of finding any of the five men in her alive. Among the passengers on the Tropic Bird was J. L. Doty, American Consul at Tahiti. Captain Burns of the Tropic Bird is a very sick man, and as his fortunes had been ventured with Crawford & Co., the condition of the estate is not likely to help him on the road to recovery. He remains at Tahiti. The Tropic Bird has been particularly unlucky in the matter of losing sails in gales. On June 23, 1891, she arrived here with loss of three sails; on June 17, 1891, she again came in with loss of four sails, and on December 10, 1691, she reported loss of four sails.

March 24, 1893, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


French Military Police on American Soil.

The Guards on the American Bark Tropic Bird
Their Life in Tahiti. Pearl Oysters.

Felix Bonche and Jean Pierre Mancinl are the first two of the famous corps of French Gendarmerie to set foot on American soil in an official capacity. These two military police officers have been taking in the sights of San Francisco and fraternizing with their countrymen in this city during the past week. They wear at all times the uniform of their renowned organization, but the average San Franciscan has become so accustomed to seeing so many varieties of martial toggery in the streets that when he runs across a genuine French gendarme he does not know the difference between one and a cornet-player in a Petaluma band.

Tahiti Nui. French Polynesia, 1767 to 1945. Colin W. Newbury, author.

Thus it happens that whenever Gendarmes Boucho anal Mancinl leave the Gailhard Hotel, where they are quartered, for a stroll on the streets, both these members of an eminent foreign corps succeed iv some degree ii escaping public notice or the opprobrium of the small boy.

The gendarmes arrived here from Tahiti on the bark Tropic Bird on Saturday last. They brought in their custody the five American sailors charged with the murder of Mate Fitzgerald of the bark Hesper on January 13 last. After turning over their prisoners to the United States Marshal, they reported to the French Consul, who committed them to the care of M. F. Garrissere of the Gailhard Hotel until the Tropic Bird sails on her return voyage to Papeete.

A gendarme is such a novelty in an American city that an interview with MM Bouche and Mancinl could not fail to prove of considerable interest.

The representatives of the French gendarmerie from Tahiti are both men of good physique and very bright Intellectually. In bearing and deportment they are models of the traditional politeness of the French people. Neither can speak a word of English. When The Call reporter asked them whether they had any objection to giving the readers of the journal some information regarding themselves, their corps and their life in Tahiti they replied, with suave smiles, that nothing could give them so much pleasure.

The two gendarmes invited the reporter to be seated and then took seats themselves at the round table, where, over a bottle of Rhein wine, they spoke for two hours with great pride of the service with which they are connected and of the Islands of the sea whence they came. Tho uniform of a gendarme Is very different from that worn by the two gendarmes in the comic opera "Genevieve de Brabant," with which the theater-going public are familiar.

It is of dark blue with white facings. Bouche and Mancini wore blouses of fine French flannel. An aiguillette made of white braided cord, is worn from shoulders to breast. The buttons are of white metal of a very simple design, the device being a grenade encircled by the words, "Gendarn erie— Ordre Public." The grenade is also worked in silver upon the collar. A low-crowned shako trimmed with white cord is worn on the bead. The only weapon carried by them is a revolver.

Upon his breast Felix Bouche displayed a medal of honor, the possession of which be said entitled him to an addition of 100 francs, or $20 a year, to his pay. The medal is of gold enameled in blue, inside a wreath of silver. Upon It are embossed the words "Valeur et Discipline." The medal Is suspended from a jewel In which the symbols are a breastplate, anchor, cross, cannon and battle-axes. The color of the ribbon is yellow, flanked by two strips of green ribbon. Marcini acted as spokesman. He said that he and his comrade had served their time in the regular army of France and had then been transferred to the gendarmerie, It was a great privilege to obtain an appointment in this corps. Only soldiers who have served their time with the colors are eligible to appointment. The gendarmerie is about 40,000 strong, it is divided into what are called legions, departmental companies and local lieutenancies. There were also organized special corps of gendarmerie for maritime duty known as the colonial gendarmerie, to which Bouche and himself belonged.

The force stationed in the French colony of Tahiti consists of thirty-two men under command of a first lieutenant. The noncommissioned officers of the company consist of a sergeant-major and four brigadiers. The brigadiers correspond in rank to the American corporal and their duties are similar. The gendarmes in the country districts are mounted.. Those on duty at Papeete are foot soldiers. For the comfort of the men subjected to a tropical climate a uniform of white linen cloth has been prescribed and in Tahiti the gendarmes might be mistaken for a night shift of bakers and confectioners.

Mancini stated that they had come to the United States only as a matter of courtesy. The American Consul at Papeete had represented to the Governor of the colony that he had no adequate force at his disposal to take care of the five American sailors charged with murder, and he requested that a detail of gendarmes be made to escort the prisoners to San Francisco. As Mancini had applied for a furlough to visit France, be was selected, together with Bouche, tov make the trip.

The gendarmes said that their duty on the Tropic Bird was about the most arduous work they had ever performed during their military life. They kept watch alternately every four hours during the entire voyage, which lasted thirty-two days. The moment that sleep came it seemed as though they they were awakened to go on watch. During the whole month they never once undressed, except to change underclothes. The penalty for allowing a man to escape from a gendarme was very severe. It was to be dismissed from the service, to forfeit all pay and allowance's and to endure long terms of Imprisonment. No excuses whatever are accepted. Their sole duty was to guard the prisoners. Two natives of the Society Islands were employed by the American Consul to wait on the manacled sailors, to carry their food to them, and to perform such other vice as their condition of duress required.

The duties of the gendarmerie, according to Bouche, are many and peculiar to the maintenance of order and the administration of justice in France. They are not, as generally understood, merely police officers. Their functions are both civil and military. They are responsible for the maintenance of public order and not for the detection and arrest of criminals. They have nothing to do with criminals until after the latter have been arrested by the regular police officers. It is their business to escort prisoners to the jails and also to and from the tribunals of justice. They have duties in connection with the conscription of men for the army. They distribute in remote provinces proclamations In regard to new laws or decrees of the Government. In time of war they have work to do in connection with the mobilization of the troops, and during active campaigns detachments of gendarmerie serve as provost guards, enforce discipline and execute the sentences of courts-martial.

The gendarmerie, so a Frenchman in the embassy announced, were very much respected by the common people. They were not regarded as spies or detectives. They worked out In the open and in pursuance of orders previously issued. The ordinary French police was regarded as very much below them in character and standing, lt was recognized that the gendarmes were veterans of the army who had served France valiantly and that they stood exclusively for the preservation of public order. They are under the control of the Minister of War, but their duties were of such a character that they are also at the disposal of the Minister of the Interior as a police force and subject to the authority of the Minister of Justice as agents to secure the execution of judicial sentences and the enforcement of police regulations. They are also subject to the jurisdiction of the Minister of Marine and Colonies to enforce his authority over the marines and sailors In the colonies and the sea towns of France. The gendarmerie of Paris was organized as a special corps. The only occasions upon which the company of gendarmes at Papeete parade as a body is when the new Governor is received and on the celebration of the anniversary of the downfall of the Bastille.

Mancini is a veteran of the Franco-German war — during the campaign he served as a private soldier In the Franc-tireurs. His comrade, Bouche, though now a man 38 years of age, was too young to have taken part in that war. Speaking of the life of a gendarme in Papeete, Mancini said that the natives were so law-abiding that there was but little for the military police to do. The natives were indolent and unambitious. Tiny have a constitutional aversion to work of any kind. The soil was cultivated almost exclusively by Chinamen. The Chinese pay $500 to land, but they are forbidden from carrying on any sort of trade. They must till the soil only. Before they are allowed to land they are examined by health inspectors. If there be any disease among them they are rejected. If they are healthy they pay their $500 and are landed. The number of Chinamen on the Islands does not exceed 400.

When the gendarmes left Papeete the proposition of building a railroad along the entire coast was being agitated. Three years ago the scheme was proposed, but as it was supposed to promote some political purpose the subject was dropped. Lately it has been revived. The length of the proposed railroad is about 200 kilometers, or 148 miles.

Manzini, who seems to be quite an observing kind of Frenchman, said that what most interested him in Tahiti was the artificial cultivation of the pearl oyster. About two years ago a man came from Paris who proposed to show how the thing could be done. He Inserted in young oysters a piece of mother of pearl, and a year later took from each oyster so treated a genuine pearl. The process has created quite an excitement on the island, as the experiment is considered a success.

There is an abundance of good timber in Tahiti, but owing to the absence of good roads and the lack of saw-mills all the dressed lumber is imported from California. The port of Papeete is frequently visited by war vessels, but the only sailors who are permitted shore leave are Americans. The French, German, English and Japanese men-of-war never allow their crews to land. When the American sailor is ashore the gendarmes have their hands full. Though most of the gendarmes are men past the middle age they are bachelors. They are prohibited from marrying native women. The Government permits a few of the colonial corps to bring their wives from France. The Municipal Government of Papeete supports a band of native musicians, who furnish very good music at regular concerts and on state occasions.

The Europeans have very few amusements. One-eighth of the population are Europeans and Americans, but they lead a domestic life. They have no theater or public hall. The natives are very rapidly dying out. The Americans are all traders and engaged in mechanical and commercial pursuits, and are among the most active people in the community. Besides the company of gendarmes the French Government is represented by a compauy of infantry and a half battery of artillery of the regular army. Gendarme Mancini left on the overland train on Thursday evening for Paris. Bouche, his comrade, will return to Tahiti on the Tropic Bird. Meanwhile he has made up his mind that he will see what there is to be seen of American life in San Francisco. He expressed a particular desire to see the soldiers of the United States regular army and said he would visit the Presidio the first opportunity. He thought the most remarkable thing he had seen in San Francisco was the operation of the cable-cars. His chief enjoyment is riding on them, especially when they climb the big hills.

March 14, 1894, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Flew Southward

The Crack Trip of the Tropic Bird
The Puebla to be Towed to This City
A Terrible Accident Happens to a Mate.

The lofty trim white barkentine Tropic Bird is now the pride of the fleet that sails regularly between this city and Papeete, the capital of Tahiti. The Tropic Bird has broken the record. It cost her mizzen head to do it, but then there's the honor of it— just think!

Record-breaking seems to have become a fad in shipping circles. Captain Burns did not care to be out of the swim, so he just plunged into it with the Tropic Bird and started from San Francisco to Papeete in 17 days and 2 hours.

He left here with his vessel on January 1. The barkentine piled on canvas until she looked Ike a white cloud scurrying along the surface of the ocean.

Winds blew steadily and ever and anon a squall would break forth as if nature didn't like the way the Tropic Bird was doing business. Not a stitch of sail did Captain Burns take in until the morning of January 17, when the storm grew a bit serious. Then sail was shortened and none too soon.

Oil Papeete the blow increased in violence and before the strain aloft could be relieved the mizzen topmast was carried away. But the Tropic Bird broke the record. About fourteen months ago the vessels of the Tahiti line used to call at the Marquesas. Commencing with the brig Galilee, that sailed from here some days ago, these packets will again stop at the Marquesas...

September 25, 1894, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The barkentine Tropic Bird, Captain Burns, thirty-nine days from Tahiti, arrived in the afternoon. She brought fourteen passengers, mostly French people, from the islands. Passengers and merchandise to J. Pinet & Co.

February 23, 1895, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Bark Hesper in Port
Arrival of the Notorious Mutiny Vessel of the South Seas

The bark Hesper, Captain Sodegren, arrived yesterday afternoon, nineteen days from Honolulu. This is the notorious vessel upon which the first mate, Fitzgerald, was murdered by the mutinous crew several years ago in the South Pacific. The crime was the result of a conspiracy on the part of the seamen to kill Captain Sodegren and his wife, as well as the officers of the bank, and embark on a career of piracy.

Mrs. Sodegren heard the cries of the mate as one of the murderers cut him down with a hatchet, and she giving the alarm the work of butchery was stopped. The ringleaders, Sinclair, Sparff, Green and Han were arrested and sent from Tahiti on the Tropic Bird to San Francisco by the French authorities for trial. Green turned State's evidence, and the other three were sentenced to be hanged. They are now confined in San Quentin prison, and their cases are before the United States Supreme Court. The Hesper sailed for Sydney, but tales of trouble between the officers and crew were told in almost every port she visited. In Honolulu a few months ago the crew refused to remain in the vessel and were confined in prison for insubordination.

June 13, 1895, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Their Elders Threatened With Fine and Imprisonment in Tahiti.
Missionary Damron Tells of the Persecutions of the French Governors.

People are getting to be very unsociable on the Society Islands. The ones who are suffering are the Mormons. For over forty years they have had a large following in Tahiti and in the Tuamotu group. Now the French Governors are working to suppress the missionaries and are accomplishing their ends through threats of fine, imprisonment and banishment.

Mormons in French Polynesia.

Four Mormon missionaries arrived yesterday on the schooner Tropic Bird. They were J. W. Damron, W. A. Seegmiller, his assistant, and Acting Elder T. Jones. The fourth was J. A. Gilbert, a Josephite or member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both sects of the Mormon Church are being persecuted with equal severity.

"Our troubles began last November," said Mr. Damron. "The world should know of the action of these French Governors; yet I hesitate to tell you the story, for fear that it might increase the severity with which my brethren are being treated."

He held a hurried consultation with Mr. Scegmiller and Mr. Jones. He then decided to tell of some of the circumstances, but soon became so indignant and so in earnest that he disclosed his whole tale of woe:

"We have labored among the natives for a long time without restraint. In fact, Governor Tabanu, the executive officer of the Tuamotu group, encouraged us, as he said the natives who were under the Mormon teaching were more reliable and less given to drunkenness than the others. But about a year ago last May the French Government changed the Governors and put in Governor Papino at Tahiti and Governor Martin at Fakarava, the capital of the Tuamotu group.

"Up to that time the Mormons had grown in strength during forty years. Then a change came. The two Governors were not openly hostile at first, but they gave little evidences of unfriendliness by their uncourteous reception of the missionaries. When the schooner Kvanelia arrived last November their opposition became open. This vessel was brought from San Francisco by the "Reorganized" branch of the church, who are known in Tuamotuas as the Latter-day Saints. They intended to use it to carry missionaries from one island to another. Governor Martin forbade the vessel to carry the French flag, which practically prohibited its going among the islands. The American Consul interfered and the Governor had to withdraw from his position. He issued an edict first, though, that the vessel should not be used in transporting missionaries from island to island. Again he was forced by the American Consul to revoke his orders. This, of course, incensed Governor Martin highly. He then prohibited Mormons from holding any religious services or teaching a school on pain of tine, imprisonment and banishment. That is the state of affairs to-day. Mr. Damron declares that the reason of the persecution is that Governor Papino and Governor Martin, who is advised by Governor Papino, desire to have only the Protestant and Catholic religions taught to the natives. He says that when his people went to Governor Martin with a petition asking the liberty to worship the Governor told him he could not recognize any faith not recognized in France. Mr. Damron said: Is the only excuse he would give for his cruel actions. He had nothing against our people except that they were Mormons, and there are only Protestants, Catholics and Jews In France. We have always complied with the laws. When I first went to the islands Iasked the Governor for instructions. He told me not to marry people till they had been first married by the Government. As for preaching and teaching, he said for me to go ahead so long as I did not interfere with any established sect. These instructions I have always complied with. Nevertheless, I have been treated harshly and unjustly. When I have expostulated I have been insulted, and it has been impossible for my people to obtain justice. We are not the only sufferers, though. There has also been trouble for the Seventh-day Adventists. They had a school in connection with their mission. The school was in a very flourishing condition. Not only was their preaching stopped, but they were ordered to discontinue their school. The reason given was the same that we had received. The closing of the schools was opposed by Mr. Damton. He says that he went to Governor Martin and asked if they could not continue the schools in their dwellings, with their own saints as the teachers. The answer was, "Not if we know it." He continued : Then I asked that we be allowed to continue our schools till a petition we had sent to the President of France could be heard from. This was denied us. We were told that if we opened our schools we did it our peril. Why, several Mormons were ordered to get out citizenship papers. They were given three months in which, to comply. They were assured that if the order was not obeyed they would be fined and imprisoned and then banished. The greatest injustice came on April 6. From all the islands the saints had gathered at Takaroa for their annual conference. This they had done for forty years, ana during the time of preparation there was no intimation that there would be any objection. At the last moment a letter was received forbidding the holding of the conference. The police and acting Governor were ordered to see that it was not held, and were told to report the names of those who might take part in it. It was also announced that the American elders who participated would be held personally responsible for any disobedience.

Mr. Damron said, that the punishment would have been imprisonment and banishment. He explained that he was not banished, but that he had been relieved by the home board from his work, and returned to America, because it was impossible for him to accomplish anything when even meetings in private dwellings were forbidden. The islanders were originally converted to Protestantism. Then the Mormons arrived and obtained many converts. The Catholics and Latter-day Saints came later. The Mormons suffer from the disadvantage of a doctrinal division. In the Tuamotu group, according to Mr. Damron, there are about 700 "Mormons," 1000 "Josephites" or "Latter-day Saints," 1000 Catholics and 700 Protestants. In Tahiti the natives, he said, are mostly Protestants. Mr. Damron and his two assistants are all men of marked intelligence.

Mr. Damron was born in Utah. He is a handsome man, with a luxuriant black beard, bright black eyes and an earnest manner. They are going back to Utah in a few days.

June 24, 1895, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The ship Tropic Bird, from Tahiti, has just discharged 100,000 cocoanuts for L. G. Sresovich & Co. at their shredded cocoanut factory at North Beach. The demand for the Pioneer brand of cocoanut has so increased of late that the firm has added a considerable number of workmen to their force in the factory.

July 1, 1900, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

Tropic Bird Arrives

The barkentine Tropic Bird arrived from Tahiti yesterday after a fair passage of thirty-six days. She brought up the biggest number of passengers that has ever come from Papeete on one vessel. In order to accommodate them an extra cabin had to be built abaft the mainmast; and in that fifteen men made their home during the trip, There were over thirty passengers on the barkentine and all of them are bound for the Paris Exposition. Many of them are officials whose terms have expired, but all are more than anxious to get hack to La Belle France in order to see the wonders of the Jubilee year.

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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