Passenger Lists: San Francisco 1800s


SS Sierra Nevada

July 1853
Captain James H. Blethen
From San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


New York Post Times, August 6, 1855
From the Alta, July 16, 1855

Considerable excitement exists throughout town regarding the appearance of the cholera on board the steamer Sierra Nevadaduring her passage from San Juan to this port.

The disease was in New Orleans at the latest dates, where nearly 150 per week were dying. No signs of it appeared among the passengers until, at Virgin Bay, a young girl who had been eating fruit imprudently was taken with a severe cramp and died in a few hours; those who were accustomed to the disease pronounced it at once cholera of the most violent type. On the arrival of the passengers at San Juan dl Sur, several others died, and at Consul Priest's American Hotel there were three dead bodies at one time. Twenty dollars were offered and refused to bury them. The natives general left the town.

A few days out from San Juan, the cholera appeared among the passengers and continued to rage with great fury up to the day of arrival here (Saturday.) The deaths on board amount to 30.

Our informant, one of the passengers, states that in one four hour watch, seven cases terminated fatally. The chief mate of the steamer, Mr. Perry, died on Friday. The doctor did not succeed in saving one case. Most of them were among the steerage passengers, though several died in the upper and lower cabins. Among these was Rev. C. B. West, who was on his way here to take charge of a congregation in one of the interior towns. There are now three cases on board the steamer at the wharf, which the Coroner asserts are likely to prove fatal. Two women died yesterday morning, one named Mary Ann Allen, aged twenty one years, who was to have been married to a gentleman in Nevada, who had written for her to come out and join him. Her body is not at the office of the Coroner.

Ex Mayor Garrison is taking the most energetic steps in the matter, and has dispatched the best medical aid in the city to attend the sufferers on board the steamer. We hear the most flattering accounts of the conduct of Capt. Blethen during the trying scenes on board the Sierra Nevada. For a number of nights he did not take his clothes off, and, regardless of danger, was in attendance in all parts of the ship to lend assistance and soothe the last moments of the dying.

We furnish herewith a list of the dead, as reported by Purser Foster, who, we learn, did every thing in his power to alleviate the distress around him. Miss Rebecca Hirschman, whose name appears on this sad list, was a lovely girl from Europe, aged sixteen years. The two brothers, who had sent for her, resided at Nevada. One of them, who had not seen her for seven years (Henry Hirschman) was in the city awaiting her arrival. As soon as the steamer was telegraphed, he procured a small boat and proceeded on board. After inquiring of several passengers, he received the dreaded intelligence that she died when the steamer was four day's sail from this port. She is said to have been one of the most lovely of her sex. The gentleman that attended her during her sickness showed her every attention and did all in his power to restore her to health, but to no avail. Her brother obtained her trunks and found a lock of hair, which she clipped for her loved brothers in California.

In one instance, a whole family, husband, wife and child, died in three successive days.

Add to the following the name of Miss Mary Ann Allen, who died yesterday morning, and we have a total of thirty-one. There are now three cases in the Cowley Hospital, on Stockton Street, and four in the U.S. Marin Hospital, at Rincon Point, some of which cannot but prove fatal. The steamer has been hauled away from the wharf, and will be thoroughly renovated and painted.


Passengers who died on board The Sierra Nevada, July 1855.


July 4: Joshua Lord 
July 7: C. B. West
July 10: Miss R. Hirschman
July 8: Infant of T. H. Brown
July 10: T. H. Brown
July 11: Mrs. T. H. Brown


July 7: Chas. Berg
July 7: Thos Morrison
July 7: James Rogers
July 7: Gerd. Behnken
July 7: John Collins
July 8: Infant of Mrs. Riley
July 9: Mrs. Sarah Mullins
July 9: Wm. Slatterly
July 10: Charles Bole 
July 10: William Scotley
July 10: S. Camps (or Campo)
July 10: Pat Connell
July 11: J.H. Pope
July 11: Jesse Barstow
July 11: Hugh Mealy
July 11: James Fox
July 11: Ang. Mayer
July 11: Ralph Seymour
July 12: James Gallagher
July 13: J. Madden


July 14: John Perry, 1st Officer
July 8: James Buckley, Seaman
July 8: Mayor 
J. G. Foster, Purser

Central America Map. 1862.

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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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