Passengers at the Port of San Francisco: 1800s

Brig Colorado

Arrive San Francisco

June 15, 1850
Brig Colorado
Captain W. Baker
From Boston, around Cape Horn to Valparaiso


The 199 ton brig Colorado was built in 1844 in Nobleboro, Maine. She left Boston on October 23, 1849 and arrived in San Francisco on June 15, 1850.

Brig COLORADO, Harbor of Valparaiso, March 31, 1850

Mr. I. E. Sanborn Dear Sir, The Captain of the ship Pacific of Boston has promised to take a pacage [sic] of letters for us to New York. I write to inform you of our safety and my uninterupted [sic] good health. I was a little sea sick for two days, have never been confined to my birth [sic] a whole day since I left Boston. Weigh two hundred and five lbs. I am in good spirits. I like Capt. Baker very much. We have singing and prayers morning and evening and a sermon every Sabbath, when the weather will permit.

When two weeks out of Boston we established a weekly paper to be made up of original matter contributed by the passengers. Communications handed to Mr. F.H. Woods, The Editor were copied in to a large Book and the "Boston & California Pioneer" was read to us every Tuesday Evening. Advertisements of Lectures Concerts, Hat Stores, Shoe Stores. Lost Children, Patriotic, Moral and Religious peaces [sic], appear most every week. 4 or 5 Poets Some very good, some good for nothing. In our Police reports one week we were informed that "Sam'l M. Braclett was fined five dollars for whipping one of his children."

We have enjoyed ourselves vary [sic] well, had vary [sic] little sickness of any kind. Pleasant weather from Boston to St. Catherines visiting the different Calafornia [sic] vessells [sic] and the natives on Shore. Dined at the Consuls Mr. Cathcart who was formerly an old whaleman from Nantucket, has married a native and has a large family of children, has resided there 22 years. Sailed from St. Catherines the 2nd of January. 1 Ship 1 Bark 1 Brig and 2 Schon's [Schooners!] came out in company with us All California bound; they all out sailed us; had a pleasant run down the coast of Brazil went inside the Falkland Islands but did not see land till we made Staten land the 25th Jan., 14 sail in sight some of which were whalers. Jan. 28th made Cape Horn. Jan. 30th commenced with light winds from S E (our true course was west). At 10am wind S W increasing to a gale.

At 4pm Coast of Terra del Fuego on our lea 15 miles distant; our only chance was now in carying [sic] sail. At 9 p.m. away went Jib Boom, Foretopmast and Maintopgallant mast, blowing a gale all the while. Anxiety and alarm was in every countanance. [sic] The Sailors dared not go aloft to cut away the broken spars. Capt. Baker Said if It was "God will we should go clear If not York Minster Cape would bring us up before morning, he had done all he could." The Passengers looked on in Silence while the Capt. and Mate consulted maps and charts. It was a long and sleepless night for us all. At daylight we had passed the cape, how near we could not exactly tell but we where [sic] close in to land, the wind favored us 2 points we tacked ship and stood out to sea, thankfull [sic] enough for plenty of sea room. When we where [sic] a hundred miles or so from land, we lay too [sic] and when the gale was over cleared up the wreck. We where [sic] five weeks beating about with gale after gale what we gained one day we lost the next by laying too.

February 26th Lattitude [sic] 53 43 South Longitude 77 30, Capt. Baker united in Marriage Mr. Job Henry Grush of Roxbury and Miss Mary Jane Stinchfield. The parties were not acquainted before coming on board. The Capt. published them at Morning Prayers. Excitement and curiosity privailed [sic] for the intended wedding was known to but few. Jokes passed. Love, Courtship and Marriage was talked of. The morning was spent in moving beds, boxes trunks, and preparing a room for the Bride. At 4 o'clock pm the bride and groom made the appearance neatly dressed. Mr. Woods of Boston and myself had the honor of standing up with them. The gong was rung. The gentlemen Passengers came out on this Occasion in fancy costume, different nations fashions trades Shapes and Colours where [sic] represented most all wore enormous paper collars, Small men where [sic] stuffed to twice there [sic] usual size. Swords, Pistols, Eppiletts [sic] Guns, rings, eyeglasses, Tartan plaids and Policemen with badges where [sic] all there, while the representative from Sweet Irelande [sic] keept [sic] the door with a Shelalah [sic] in his hand. Perfect order was maintained while the marriage ceremony was read and prayer offered, then came kisses and congratulations for the Bride and nine hearty cheers for the groom. An extra supper was provided. At midnight they where [sic] serenaded by the Owl Club of which Mr. Grush was a member thus ended our Cape Horn wedding a time that will long be remembered by us all we all thought that such an important event would bring us a fair wind.

It came a few days after and we had a good run to this port Arrived here the 14th March. A whole fleet of vessells [sic] came in with us. All the vessells [sic] we left at St. Catherines have been here and gone, before we arrived. It will take about 3 weeks to repair the damage done the vessell [sic] and get fresh provision and water we shall be ready to sail the first fair wind after today. The Ship Sunden and Charlotte of Boston are here from California. Vessells [sic] are coming here from there most every week. They do not give the place a vary [sic] good name. The worst place for gambling and drinking in the world. They are bringing the sick from California here. Men stop at the diggings till the wet season and they get worn out and then ship for a run down the coast living on Salt Provision so ling at the mines they have the scurvy in a little time one ship came in with only 2 well men all sick with scurvy. Bitter complaints are made of the American Hospital here. It certainly is a most miserable place. The sailors say It is shure [sic] death to a man to go there. It is owned by Dr. Page, a Massachusetts man said to be worth 50 or 60 thousand doll[ar]s. We found Mr. Johnson one of our company at the English Hospital he pays 4 dollars per day and has good care and attendance. He came here in Reindeer from Boston is improveing [sic] in health. The E Hospital is well conducted, receives government patronage our government ought to do something for ours vegetables and fruit are very scarce in California.

The report here is that Mr. Moorhouse late American Consul and 2 other gentlemen have bought up all the Flour and fresh provisions at Conseption [sic] for one year for the California markett. [sic] Mr. Moorhouse has gone to California. 1 gentleman remains here and 1 goes to Conception prices fixed on a sliding scale I presume you understand how these speculation in lying up Flour Mills as managed. [T]he latest dates I have seen is the New York Herald of Jan. 14th we were shocked at the news of Dr. Parkmas death and the arrest of Prof. Webster.

Mr. Potter the present American Consul is a pleasant gentlemanly man, he was at the Law School at Cambridge 10 or 12 years since. Postage on letters from here to New York only 75 cts. I like Valparaiso vary [sic] much the city is built at the foot of a range of mountains while towering above them is the lofty Andes. The principal trade is in the hands of English and American men. Every thing is high but fruit and vegetables those are plenty and fine. Potatoes and onions and quinces are superior to any I ever saw in the States. Apples, Pears, Peaches, Appricotts [sic], Figs, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapes and other things plenty and cheap. Horses are plenty and beautifull [sic], every body rides on horseback much of the labor is done by mules. Horse racing and Theatrical Amusements on Sunday. The Spanish and Chilean women never wear any Bonnetts [sic] most of them smoke cigars. We visited the Fort was politely rec'd by the Officers treated to cake, wine and cigars. Last Friday eve we were invited to an entertainment on board the Helen S. Page from Boston we had music, dancing and Singing and a splendid supper. The Marcia Cleaves from Boston arrived yesterday. I suppose you would like to know If I have ever repented starting for California To tell the truth, the night we expected to go ashore on the Coast of "Terra del Fuego" I wished myself anywhere but where I was at no other time have I regretted It for a moment.

I have written this in a hurry as I did not know of the opportunity to send till within a few hours I have no time to copy or correct. Please excuse my poor scholarship and do not expose my ignorance to any but my friends. My letter to Nancy went on last week's Steamer. I send one to my Father with this. I hope your family and all my friends are well. Mrs. Brackett wishes to be affectionately remembered to Mr. and Mrs. Harris, is well and does not regrett [sic] starting for California. Will write to Mr. Harris folks when we arrive at California. My respects to all kind friends that inquire after me, Peticularly [sic] Mr. Cruft. with manny [sic] thanks to you and Mrs. Sanborn for all your kindnesses to me and mine and the wish that every good may attend you I am your friend

Ellen M. Knights

There is no place like New England. I hope to lay my bones in soil yet.

Note: The Reindeer, John Lord, Master, sailed from Boston November 22, 1849, arrived at San Francisco April 2, 1850. She reported 122 days net, and 36 days from Valparaiso, claimed as a record. The Reindeer was built by Donald McKay, East Boston, launched June 9, 1849. She is owned by J.M. Forbes, Geo. B. Upton and Sampson & Tappan, Boston (wrecked in South Seas, February 12, 1859).


Not noted.


List not provided.

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