Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s

Matthew Turner

Born: 1826; Died February 1909

May 6, 1878, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The " Matthew Turner " Outsails All Her Rivals.

Yesterday being a fine day, with a good breeze, the schooner Matthew Turner, with her owner on board, and a party of Invited guests, "Along the Wharves" among them, got under way, from her anchorage in Mission Bay, and proceeded down the harbor. She was followed soon after by Turner's latest, the schooner Rosario, sailed by Captain Turner himself, and had over a hundred people on board. Both vessels presented a fine appearance, as they passed along the front, and on reaching North Point Dock, they picked up the little Consuelo, and one and all went after Boisse's new schooner, which, at the time, was about a mile ahead of the Turner, and, with a good breeze, was evidently doing her level best. Nothing daunted, however, the Matthew Turner trimmed her sheets well aft, Guite "piped all hands" to grog, and the effects were soon visible. On reaching Black Point, the Turner was up with her rival, and to windward withal, and continuing down. When the Turner was a half-mile outside the Fort, Boisse's schooner was barely abreast of the Presidio, with the Rosario and Consuelo a mile below and to windward of her. We think this is a fair test of what Turner's models are, and all must agree that they can't be beat.

April 25, 1885, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Measured Vessels.

The official survey of the new steel ship Arago, built by the Union Iron Works, has been completed. Her registered length is 200 feet; beam, 80 feet; depth of hold, 16 feet; gross tonnage, 827.54. Deductions under the Act of 1882, exempting machinery and crew space, make her net tonnage 620.06 tons; displacement when loaded, drawing twelve feet of water, 1,500 tons. The new schooner Emma, built by Matthew Turner for Mexico, has been measured. Her registered length is 68.08 feet; beam, 20 feet; depth of hold, 6.50 feet; gross tonnage, 44.41; net, 42.19.

October 6, 1892, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Largest Vessel Ever Launched in the Shipyards at Benicia

Benicia, October 5. -- The largest vessel ever built at Turner's shipyards was successfully launched today at 1 o'clock. Her deck line is 165 feet, beam 30 feet 6 inches, and 16 feet depth of hold. She has a tonnage of 500 tons. She was built for Matthew Turner and others of San Francisco, and her rig will be that of a brigantine.

June 28, 1894, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

Matthew Turner Gets the Contract.
Marine Notes.

The contract for the building of the new drydock at the foot of Spear street for the California Drydock Company has been let to Matthew Turner, the shipbuilder. Work will be started in a few days. The story of the drydock was told exclusively in The Call about six weeks ago, but at the time it was not known what the capacity of the dock would be. It will be large enough to accommodate any vessel that comes to the port of San Francisco of average tonnage.

August 7, 1902, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Will Go to Australia

The new four-masted schooner Matthew Turner will leave in a few days for Eureka to load lumber for Australia. Years ago Matthew Turner was asked why he named none of his ships after himself. He replied that some day he intended to do so, but not until he could personally pick out every stick of material and then closely superintend the construction of the craft to bear his name. The time came when he could do this, and the new schooner is the result. She is one of the trimmest-looking craft in port, and Turner says she Is Just as good as she looks.

February 2, 1902, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Mrs. Andrew Aus, Wife of the Vessel's Future Commander, Breaks the Traditional Bottle of Champagne and Christens the New Craft in the Presence of a Large Gathering at Benicia

BENICIA, February 1.— Benicia's ship yards were the scene of a successful launching this morning, when vessel number 223 was released from her fastenings and gracefully slipped into the bay. Mrs. Andrew Aus, wife of Captain Aus, who is to be In command of the new barkentine, broke the traditional bottle of champagne and christened the new craft the Amazon. Although the hour of the launching was early, there was a large gathering of spectators. The Amazon; the schooner Solano, launched on March 1, 1901, and the Amaranth, launched on July 22, 1901, are to be under the control of Captain Matthew Turner and his friends. The Amazon Is a beautiful vessel and the largest of the fleet, being. 220 feet long, 42 feet 10 inches of beam and 19 feet 6 inches of depth of hold. She will carry 1150 tons cargo or 1,500,000 feet of lumber.

The Benecia shipyards were established by Captain Matthew Turner twenty years ago. The first vessel built here was named the Amethyst. She is still In commission and at present plies on San Francisco Bay. Since then 144 vessels have been launched. Among the noted schooners and barkentines which have been turned out here are the Benicia, the Rosamond, the Ariel, the Solano and. the Amaranth. A number of smaller craft have been 'built for the South Pacific Islands and lighters and barges for the Alaskan and San Francisco trade. The keel has just been laid for another four masted vessel and the contracts for several smaller ships have been signed.

February 6, 1904, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The Galilee's Record Run.

Nearly 3000 miles as the crow files is the distance from this port to Washington Island. As a sailing vessel would go, the distance is much greater. according to how far off the straight course the varying direction of the wind compelled the vessel to tack. The brig Galilee has just made the run from here to Washington Island In fifteen days. Had she sailed a straight course, her averse dally run would have been nearly 200 miles. She probably did much better, although fair winds must have been the rule. This is the record for this trip, and is better time than many steamers could have made. The Galilee Is a vessel of 329 tons register. She was built thirteen years ago at Benicia by Matthew Turner, and is one of the very few brigs on this coast.

February 11, 1909, San Francisco Call , San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Captain Matthew Turner Passes Away at His Oakland Home After Short Illness

BERKELEY, February 10. Captain Matthew Turner, pioneer master mariner and ship builder of the Pacific coast, founder of the Matthew Turner company of San Francisco, honored for heroism and splendid service by two foreign nations and one of the highest types of sturdy Americans, died this morning at his home, 2221 Vine street, at the age of 83 years. His last illness was a short one, although Captain Turner had been more or less an invalid for five years.

Captain Turner was a native of Geneva, Ohio, where on Lake Erie he learned the trade of master ship builder.

He came, to California in 1850. After mining successfully he returned to the sea and expanded his interests coastwise to Japan, China, South America and the south Pacific Islands.

He took to San Francisco from the Amoor (Amur?) river the first cargo of codfish ever landed there, and was the father of that extensive industry in the Pacific. For 40 years he was at the head of a large shipping business with Tahiti.


The veteran ship master engaged in ship building as a result of his desire to handle vessels constructed on his own lines. His first craft was the old brig Nautilus, built at Eureka. He established, large shipyards at San Francisco, subsequently moving to Benecia. From 1868 to 1905 he designed, planned, modeled and constructed 228 sea going vessels.

During his long service at sea Captain Turner was distinguished for his service. In the late 60's, he saved the lives of a number of British sailors in circumstances which caused Queen Victoria to send him a gold mounted spyglass as a token of her government's appreciation. From the Mendocino Lumber Company there was presented to Captain Turner a fine timepiece in recognition of similar service to a number of the company's employes.


For saving a Norwegian vessel from foundering, by safely towing it into Honolulu, that government tendered a fine silver service.

Captain Turner held the high esteem of many men for his sterling character and integrity. He was a man of many charities, kindly and benign. He was the second oldest Mason in California, having joined the Golden Gate lodge of San Francisco soon after he arrived.

He is survived by a widow, Ashbeline M. Turner of Berkeley; two sisters, Mrs. Phedora T. Jones of Geneva, Ohio, and Mrs. Stella P. Riordan of Chicago, and two nephews, Captain Louis H. Turner and H. P. Gray of San Francisco.

Funeral services will be held Friday morning at 10 o'clock at the Masonic temple, Bancroft way and Shattuck avenue, under the charge of Golden Gate lodge.

Masonic.Masonic Temple. Masonic Chart, 1846

The Authority to Sail.The Authority to Sail: The History of U.S. Maritime Licenses and Seamen's PapersThe Authority to Sail.
Robert Stanley Bates, George Marsh (Editor), John F. Whiteley (Forward) (Batek Marine Publishing, 2011; Nominated in 2012 for a Pulitzer Prize)
This book depicts important aspects of our maritime history as a result of original research done by the author, Commodore Bates, the holder of an unlimited master's license who has enjoyed a distinguished fifty-year career in both the Coast Guard and the American Merchant Marine.

The U.S. Coast Guard issues all Captain Licenses for U.S. Ports.
Note: Other countries have different regulations, i.e. the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), conducts certification for Britain and Ireland. As of 2011, they did not recognize the USCG certification; certification through their courses was required.

Master Unlimited is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of a vessel any gross tons. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his or her ultimate responsibility. The STCW defines the Master as Person having command of the ship.

The Sea Chart
The Illustrated History of Nautical Maps and Navigational ChartsThe Sea Chart.
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. Herein is a 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. 150 color illustrations including the earliest charts of the Mediterranean made by 13th-century Italian merchant adventurers, as well as 18th-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.

Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition Get Your Captain's License. Fifth Edition. Charlie  Wing.
Charlie Wing
Considered the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to prepare for the U.S. Coast Guard captain's ratings exams required for anyone who takes paying passengers on a boat, and useful for serious boaters who want to save money on insurance. 350 pages of seamanship and navigation tutorials. More than 1,500 questions and answers from the Coast Guard exams. Includes an interactive CD-ROM with all 14,000 questions and answers in the USCG database, so you can take an unlimited number of practice exams

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; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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