Home ° 2017

Central America

Costa Rica ° El Salvador ° Guatemala ° Honduras ° Nicaragua ° Nicaragua Canal
Panama: ° Aspinwall ° Cruces ° The Canal ° Panama Railroad


° La Ceiba ° Puerto Cortes ° Roatan ° San Pedro Sula ° Tegucigalpa

The great Mayan culture flourished in Honduras for hundreds of years until the early 9th century. Columbus landed at mainland Honduras (Trujillo) in 1502, and named the area "Honduras" (meaning "depths") for the deep water off the coast.

Spaniard Hernan Cortes arrived in 1524. Once part of Spain's vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821, when it was briefly annexed to the Mexican Empire. In 1823, Honduras joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America federation, which collapsed in 1838.

Gen. Francisco Morazan—a Honduran national hero—led unsuccessful efforts to maintain the federation. Honduras' agriculture-based economy was dominated in the 1900s by U.S. companies that established New World Gold.vast banana plantations along the north coast. Foreign capital, plantation life, and conservative politics held sway in Honduras from the late 19th century until the mid-20th century.


This island lies about 50 miles from the northern coast of the Honduran mainland. With many Caribbean islands, it shares a history of native cultures and languages, pirates and buried gold.

When Columbus discovered a neighboring island in 1502, Roatan was already populated. Other Spanish explorers came after Columbus. Van Horne, a Dutchman, raided Spanish-Indian settlements in 1639. English and French pirates also terrorized the area. The Spanish, desiring to rid the area of pirates so they could transport the New World gold to Spain, attacked Port Royal with four war ships under the command of Francisco Villalva Toledo in 1650.

The pirates successfully defended Port Royal, Roatan, forcing the Spaniards to return to the mainland for reinforcement. With the pirates greatly outnumbered and with fierce fighting, the pirates were conquered. The Spaniards gathered the remaining Indians on the island and moved them to Guatemala.

The English lost Roatan in March of 1782 and left the island completely in 1788. In 1797, the English forced about 5000 Black Caribs from the Windward Island of St. Vincent, moving them from island to island, finally leaving them on Roatan. Black Caribs are a mixture of people of African descent and Carib and Arawak Indians.

New Port Royal.

Europeans began settling on Roatan once again with the return of English between 1827 and 1834. With slavery being outlawed in English colonies in 1833 and with the soil in the Grand Cayman Island being depleted by cotton farming, some English families left the grand Cayman and settled on Roatan and neighboring Utila.

The Jackson family, a wealthy and influential family on Roatan today, came from the southern United States in the 1800's, descending from a Confederate Soldier who refused to surrender to the Union. A southern accent is still discernable in their speech.

Approximately 200 white people lived in Coxen s old kay in 1840. Ten years later, the population of the island had risen to five or six thousand people. In 1852, the British leadership appealed to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria to establish Roatan along with other islands to become a British colony. The United States objected, citing a treaty signed to create the Panama canal that forbad the United States and Britain from establishing new colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

July 4, 1856, British Banner, London, United Kingdom

With respect to the district of Belize, Her Majesty's Government consider that the only question to be determined as regards Central America, is that of the boundary between that country and the British possessions; and in the settlement of that question no insurmountable difficulty be anticipated.

With respect to Roatan and the other Bay Islands, these, at different periods, have been held by Great Britain, as well as by Spain, and having been again occupied by British settlers, formal possession was taken of Roatan in 1839 by Great Britain, which has since been uninterruptedly maintained. The population increased fast; and magistrates were, from time to time, appointed by the superintendent of Belize until 1852, when these islands received a regular form of colonial government solely for the purpose of their better internal administration; that Great Britain did not thereby acquire any territorial rights that she did not previously possess.

The Government of the United States, however, maintain that, even supposing the Clayton Bulwer Treaty were only prospective in its operation, these islands were no part of the British dominions earlier than 1852.

In 1859, England relinquished control of the Bay Islands. The Republic of Honduras accepted the Bay Islands as the Departemente de las Islas de la Bahia , officially making the islands a part of Honduras. For many years after coming under Honduran rule, islanders of English descent continued to claim English citizenship, although those born in Honduras after 1861 are legally Hondurans.

Novembver 23, 1889, Logansport Pharos, Logansport, Indiana

A Chicago Newspaper's Scheme for "Doing" Nicaragua.

The expedition of The Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper, which left that city recently on a trip to Nicaragua, is going very far from home on a very small ship. The yacht Fearless, which bears the party is but twenty-three feet long, six and a half feet beam and about two feet draught. On this miniature vessel the party are to pass over the following route:

Leaving Chicago, they pass through the Illinois and Michigan canal to the confluence of the canal with the Illinois river at La Salle. Thence down the Illinois river to the Mississippi; down this, stopping at St. Louis, Cairo, Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez and other places to New Orleans. From New Orleans they will skirt the northern and western coast of Florida to Tarapa bay. Thence by Key West to Havana.

Between Key West and Havana there is an open sea sail, which will be only undertaken with a fair breeze. From Havana the Fearless will keep along the coast westward to Cape San Antonio, and from Cape San Antonio to Cape C'atoche in Yucatan. Having thus reached Central America, she will sail under the east coast down to Belize in British Honduras. The Roatan Islands will be the next objective point, and then Blewfields, Nicaragua.

The expedition is under command of Commodore Brainard T. Ball, a member of the Corinthian Yacht club, of Chicago. Capt. William L. Brainard accompanies him. Both are experienced yachtsmen, and, although the Fearless is a small boat for such a voyage, no difficulty is anticipated in reaching its destination. Surely the trip is a novel one.

By what route they will return is not yet decided, but it is expected that they will run up the Atlantic coast to the mouth of the St. Lawrence and thence back to Chicago by the Great Lakes. The expedition being in the interest of a newspaper, of course letters will be sent to The Chicago Inter-Ocean, its patron, from time to time.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

Kindly Kindly Donate.


DALevy @


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.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.