The Maritime Heritage Project

World Harbors and International Migration from The Maritime Heritage Project.

Dear Maritime Heritage Visitors: This season The Project is asking visitors to help keep the site growing. While publications and prints to aid in your research are included (and bring in a few dollars per sale), the director is now "officially" asking if you will kindly donate. If everyone reading this right now gave $5, it would help provide additional names and stories to the more than 100,000 ship passengers arriving in San Francisco during the 1800s. This 18-year-old Project is free and is accessed from every country around the world. The Maritime Heritage Project (,, is basically a one-person operation developed and managed by the now 70-year-old great-great-grandaughter of Captain James H. Blethen, Master Mariner. Costs include equipment, research materials and time. The Maritime Heritage Project is special: it keeps alive our history of shipping, commerce and migration during an era when more people changed locations than in any other century in the history of the world. It is a resource where all can research ancestry and find heretofore "lost" family members at no charge. If you have visited our site and found it of value, kindly take one minute to keep it growing. Thank you very much. ~~ D. A. Blethen Levy


Passengers at the Port of San Francisco: 1800s

Ben Holladay

Born 1819 in Kentucky; Died 1887 in Portland

Ben Holladay was characterized as a devoted, diligent, enterprising man and a transportation magnate. He speculated in gold and silver mines, distilleries, general stores and slaughter houses, but he was said to have made a great deal of money selling supplies to the U. S. Government during the Mexican War, but is best known for making his name and fortune in transportation.

Ben HolladayHe started the Concord Stagecoach to the West, in the 1860s and established his headquarters in an office at the corner of California and Liedesdorff streets in San Francisco to run his California, Oregon & Mexico Steamship Company.

His vessels sailed between Francisco to the Southern states, and to Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Orient.

Around 1861, Holladay took over steamers from Pacific Mail Line; this included the Cortez, Oregon, Sierra Nevada, Republic, Panama.

His cabin fares between San Francisco and Portland were $45.00 and passengers unconcerned about food and accommodations could travel in steerage for $25.00.

Daily Alta California, December 11, 1866

Judgment Against Holladay.

New York, December 9th — The United States Circuit Court, Judge Smally presiding, gave a verdict of $10,000 against Ben Holladay, for the loss of a money package near Julesburg, two years ago, when the Indians destroyed the Overland coach. The defence claimed that the loss was by an act of the public enemy, and so he was not liable; but the Court ruled otherwise.

At one point in his shipping career, it was said he owned all shipping in Oregon.

Holladay and Brenham Agents 1864.

Competition was such that he established the North Pacific Transportation Company, which was comprised of his own shipping company and a Maine Yankee named Patton's Anchor Line and the California Steam Navigation Company.

By 1869, this collaboration was operating ten side-wheelers and six propeller steamers north from San Francisco. The ships included Active, John L. Stephens, Moses Taylor, Oriflamme, Orizaba, Pacific, Panama, Senator, Sierra Nevada, Ajaz, California, Continental, Gussie Telfair, Idaho, Montana, Pelican.

Purportedly, Holladay's favorite ship, the Oriflamme, was built in 1864 as a fast naval gunboat and had engaged in China coastal trade. Holladay used this ship for private parties, some of which lasted all the way from San Francisco to Alaska.

In 1862, Holladay was the sole owner of the Overland Mail and Express Company and he is credited with introducing the Concord Stagecoach to the West. With Ben Holladay 's acquisition of the Butterfield Overland Dispatch in 1866, the name changed to Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company. He became known as the Stagecoach King.

Combative and ruthless, he expanded and modernized; his Overland Mail & Express Company, running regular services across more than 3,000 miles (4,800km) of stage and freight lines from St. Louis to Salt Lake City and Oregon, was the biggest and most successful operation of its kind ever mounted.

He was also the sole owner of some 20,000 vehicles, with more than 15,000 employees; passenger revenues often totalled $60,000 a month - the fare from Atchison, Kansas, to Salt Lake City was $350 - and over five years the US Post Office paid him nearly two million dollars.

Holladay moved from San Francisco to Oregon in 1868 in order to get involved in the railroad business. He stirred things up wherever he went and was decribed as "a bit of a dandy," dressing like a riverboat gambler. He was said to be "wholly destitute of fixed principles of honesty, morality, or common decency." Holladay's goal was to build a rail line to California along the east side of the Willamette River. In order to do so, he spent a total of $55,000 in bribe money to help secure his company's endorsement. He also built two large hotels in the area where the park bearing his name is now located.

The enterprising Holladay established Portland's first horse car line to connect the ferry at Front and F streets with downtown Portland. It was a muledrawn car, worn out from long usage in San Francisco before Holladay brought it to Portland, and it was pulled over iron rails from the turntable at Front and G streets down through town to Carruthers street, in South Portland, where another turntable was located. On November 1, 1866, Ben Holladay sold his stagecoach company to Wells Fargo.

In January 1872, Holladay and servants boarded the steamship Oriflamme for San Francisco, returning to Portland in March.

Ben Holladay lost his fortune in the stock market crash on September 18, 1873. In 1875, the bankrupt Holladay sold out to Goodall, Nelson & Perkins Steamship Company which reorganized the company as the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. He outlived his two wives and two daughters and died in Portland in 1887 at the age of 68.

Recommended Reading

If you cannot find recommended books locally, consider the links provided to or AbeBooks
both of which have proven to be reliable on service and delivery.

The Annals of San FranciscoThe Annals of San Francico 1855.
Frank Soule, John H. Gihon, Jim Nisbet. 1855
Written by three journalists who were witnesses to and participants in the extraordinary events they describe. The Annals of San Francisco is both an essential record for historians and a fascinating narrative for general readers. Over 100 historical engravings are included. Partial Contents: Expeditions of Viscaino; Conduct of the Fathers towards the natives; Pious Fund of California; Colonel John C. Fremont; Insurrection of the Californians; Description of the Golden Gate; The Mission and Presidio of San Francisco; Removal of the Hudson's Bay Company; Resolutions concerning gambling; General Effects of the Gold Discoveries; Third Great Fire; Immigration diminished; The Chinese in California; Clipper Ships; Increase of population; and Commercial depression.

San Francisco, You're History!
A Chronicle of the Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, and Performers Who Helped Create California's Wildest City
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, Performers.

California Performers.
J. Kingston Pierce
Seattle-based freelance writer Pierce presents a fascinating view of a variety of colorful people and events that have molded the unique environment of San Francisco. He chronicles historical highlights along with a focus on current issues. Pierce touches on the gold rush, earthquakes, and fires and introduces the lives of politicians, millionaires, criminals, and eccentrics. Pierce sparks the imagination in telling of San Francisco stories of yesterday and relating them to today.

When America First Met China
An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail
When America First Met China.

Eric Jay Dolin
Ancient China collides with America in this epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships. Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin traces our relationship with China back to its roots: the nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a ancient empire. It is a fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. The furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer -- a rare sea cucumber delicacy -- might have catalyzed America's emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe. Peopled with fascinating characters--from Robert Morris: Financier of the American RevolutionRobert Morris, Financier of the American Revolution. to the The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong: Splendors of China's Forbidden City, who considered foreigners inferior beings -- this saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick's MayflowerMayflower. or Mark Kurlansky's Cod.Cod, the fish that changd the world. Two maps, and 16 pages of color and 83 black-and-white illustrations.

Latin America, World Journeys, Discovery.
The Explorer's Eye:First-Hand Accounts of Adventure and ExplorationLatin America, World Journeys, Discovery.
Fergus Fleming, Annabel Merullo, Michael Palin
During the eighteenth century, exploration entered a new phase; many more explorers were motivated by scientific inquiry rather than greed. Their job was to open new lands, but also to investigate the globe's mysteries. They were expected to make a full record of everything they encountered, and include pictures as well as words. Combining firsthand accounts with original images, The Explorer's Eye gives insight into who these people were, how they operated, and, above all, what they saw. Here you have Alexander von Humboldt braving the electric eels of South Africa, Robert Peary explaining the rigors of polar travel (and his wife giving her own slant), Umberto Nobile lamenting the loss of his Zeppelin in an ice floe, Jacques Cousteau examining the planet from under the waves . . .


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Ben Holladay.Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
The Saga of Ben Holladay
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Coming to America.
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Your story begins as far back as you can imagine.