San Francisco News ~ 1800s.

Edgar L. Wakeman

In 1863, Edgar L. Wakeman was born to Captain Wakeman and Mary Lincoln.

When Edgar L. Wakeman came of age, he began wandering the world, but not as a sea captain, rather as a writer. He was published extensively throughout the United States and in Canada throughout the late 1800 into the early 1900s.

March 3, 1891, Syracuse Daily Standard, Syracuse, New York

A Splendid Feature


has contracted with Edgar L. Wakeman, the most popular of traveling correspondencts for his letters from abroad during the year 1891, for publication in the Sunday Edition.


Edward L. Wakeman, author, journalist, and traveler, who for the past five years has furnished the American press with the most charming feature-service articles printed, is certainly making "Wakeman's Wanderings" papers really famous in the highest literature of foreign travel and observation. His work throughout is poetry in prose; and to read after him is to travel beside him and see and feel the splendor and sadness of old-world life in marvelous comprehensiveness. He wanders on foot and along, and paints with so true a hand that leading journals of the country begin to recognize that the "mantle of Bayard Taylor has fallen upon him." ~ The Journalist

Sacramento Daily Union, October 23, 1891

The Mantle of Bayard Taylor Has Fallen Upon Him."

The series of foreign letters from the pen of Edgar L. Wakeman have proven such a popular feature of the Daily Union that we have entered into a contract with the gifted writer for weekly letters during 1891. Speaking of these letters the Journalist says:

Edgar L. Wakeman, author, journalist and traveler, who for the past five years lias furnished the American press with some of the most charming feature service articles printed, is certain to make his '"Wakman's Wanderings" papers really famous in the highest Literature of foreign travel and observation, his work throughout is poetry in prose; and to read after him is to trail beside him and see and feel the splendor and sadness of the old-world. He wanders about on foot and alone, and paints with so true a hand that leading journals ofthe country begin to recognize that the mantle of Lord Taylor has fallen upon him.

Logansport Journal, July 12, 1891, Logansport, Indiana

Wakeman's Wanderings


Gray, Battle Scarred and Ancient, Their
Records are Stamped in Their Hard Old Faces --
Charming Glimpses of a Region Wondrous In Scenic and Historic Glories.

(Copyright, 1891, by Edgar L. Wakeman.)

KELSO, Scotland, June 29. American travelers hastening between the English-and Scottish capitals miss what I have often felt is the most interesting portion of the two countries. That is the Border country with its ancient border towns, in and around which have been fought more ferocious contests than elsewhere in all.

On the English side, in the two great border shires of Cumberland and Northumberland, there are but two border cities of note of ancient origin, Newcastle and Carlisle, unless the little early day castle towns of Penrith and Keswick, the latter in the English lake district, may be included. But in the three adjoining Scottish shires of Berwick, Roxburgh and Dumfries, there are Berwick and Coldstream, Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose, Hawick, Langholm, Ecclefechan, Annan and Dumfires. It would indeed be carrying coals to Newcastle to attempt discovering much of interest in that border city beyond matters connected with manufactures and coal.


At Keswick one is preoccupied with the noble scenery of Derwent vale, dominated by huge Skiddaw and by the memories recalled by the lines of Southey and Coleridge, that its ancient character and traditions fade into insignificance. Little and quaint old Penrith is a place no tourist ever finds, yet it is certainly one of the oddest hives of humans in England. Here are the remains of a once huge border castle built by the Savilles. That is all the canny Scots could see when they sailed over the border, but they knew that at its base, in a little hollow, stood the grotesque town, its streets the narrowest, most winding and mazy in England, and that its wise old burghers had much of value hid in their tiny strongholds of houses.

It is at Penrith sacked scores of times in the English and Scottish wars, and for several brief periods the residence of that merry murderer, King Richard III that you will find one of England's most curious rude stone monuments. It stands in the little churchyard, and is known as the "Giant's Grave." There are two huge stone pillars, one each at the head and loot. They taper from a circumference of twelve feet at the base to seven at the top. Folk lore of the region affirms that they were erected ages gone by to perpetuate the memory of a legendary giant called Owen Caesarius. They are covered with Runic carvings. British antiquarians long since gave them up as a dead age secret, and Sir Walter Scott nearly went mad puzzling his poor knobby head over them.

But I saw the people of Penrith in a more vexed puzzle than this the other day. A portable engine and threshing machine of American pattern were being hauled down hill through its single thoroughfare, which sharply winds to the right and left to accommodate the entire place. It was too narrow in places to allow their passage. Presently the two pieces of machinery were wedged fast between the opposite houses. An extraordinary commotion followed, as all the town folk on either side seemed at once furious to pass to the other, and this sinuous street was the only means without making a circuit of half the place. Everything from dynamite to a queen's warrant and the giant shade of Owen Caesarins was suggested to relieve the city. When I left it mobs were struggling on either side of the barrier, massed into a writhing cone against and upon the machinery, while a stentorian burgher waved his arms and shouted to the multitude: "Ees cooms o' Hamerican inventions! They puts willin' hands in th' workus an' howdashusly stoaps oop our streets. Down wi' 'em, say Oi!" And "Down wi' 'em!" sang they all as they struggled to "Oop wi' 'em, an awa!" Perhaps they are at it yet in Penrith town.

Keswick and Derwentwater from Latrigg Keswick, United KingdomKeswick and Derwentwater.

Ancient Carlisle, a portion of whose castle was built over 1,200 years ago, is a fine example of the once - almost impregnable - border town. It stands at the edge of the foothills of the north English mountains, on one of their farthest outjuttings, and hill, town and castle have a topographical look of pugnaciousness as the whole faces the misty Scottish mountains. Between the city and the border stretches a vast fertile plain, once a fen, over which Scottish raiders slowly waded, and this delay always gave the Carlisle warriors time to get into good fighting trim. Indeed, the stronghold was the chief weapon of William Rufus to "bridle and render insecure the possession of the Scottish kings in the two northern counties." Poor Mary Queen of Scots was shut up here for some time after her landing in England.

Carlisle Cathedral.

The east window of the Carlisle cathedral is probably the largest in Britain, while within the same area can nowhere be found so great a number of ancient castles of residence and defense. Among these I visited Rose, Corby and Naworth castles, the latter the seat of the Earl of Carlisle, and I have not come upon such tremendous battlemented walls elsewhere in Europe. Even in Carlisle itself it is not uncommon to find ancient houses with walls from four to six feet in thickness, and splayed windows and bartizan towers of feudal times are so quaint and frequent as to form one of the most curious and interesting studies among the border towns.

Over the Scottish border where the Tweed, as it leaves a region of glorious tradition, is lost in the tides of the German ocean stands Berwick, looming darkly in a high antiquity. No man can tell its origin, or trace its early history. It comes first authentically into view in the early part of the Twelfth century. It was then a town of mark the capital of Lothian and it figured for some time as a great seaport, as a place of rich churches, monasteries and hospitals, and as one of the first four royal burghs of Scotland. The Scandinavians made descents upon it, but it was built for such visits, and they did little harm.

Berwick's ancient mighty ramparts, against which the first cannon fired by the English ID warfare were pointed, have been transformed into a beautiful promenade, a railway station stands on the site of its once almost royal castle. But, stretching across the Tweed, the Old Bridge, built nearly 300 years ago, still remains, a monument to the spirit of those troublous times, and is simply a chain of tremendous battlemented forts on piers. Musing upon its mossy old spans, wandering about the lofty bell tower where the alarms were runs in Halidon hill, where the eye sweeps from a far sea horizon to the very peaks of the mist swathed Cheviots, or listening to the soft notes of the curfew bell at eventide, a wondrous and stirring past is blended with the brightness of today in this one old border town.

What a host of mighty men and women have played some act of their historic lives in Berwick! The early Norse kings, the Saxon Thanes and Eldormen, the Norman Conqueror, Rufus, tho Edwards, Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, followed by Warwick, Surrey, Somerset, Norfolk, Russell, ' Dacres, Bolingbroko and Northumberland, with Queen Mary, England's first James, Charles I and II, relentless Cromwell, grim John Knox and the dauntless Scottish kings, David, Gregory, Donald, Alexander and the iron hearted Bruce; all and countless more are wrought into tin; brilliant perspective of its history, and spring into wraithful being with every footfall upon its grim old streets.

Taking one's way along the Scottish border to the southwest, every hill, baugh, brae, burn or acre of ground has its glorious or bloody memory. Some portion of the Cheviots, Lammermoors, Eildons or Kylo hills are ever in sight. Wherever one turns it seems that there mast be heard through the screech of the pibroch,

March! march! Ettrick and Teviotdale,

Why, my Jails, dinna yo march forward in order,

March! march! Eskdale and Liddesdale,

All the blue bonnets are over the border!

Battle of Flodden. George Goodwin.

Here at Coldstrcam you can look over upon Flodden Field, where James IV brought his army and himself to slaughter.

They passed its ford, as have scores of Scottish and English armies before and since. It was Monk's headquarters before he marched to London to restore Charley II, and it was in this lovely old town upon the Tweed in which he raised the regiment, existing to this day, and known the world over as the famous Coldstream Guards. A wonderful old priory for Cistercian nuns once existed here, but all that is left is tons of human bones, for the Scottish heroes of Flodden were borne back here for burial.

The dreamful old place once enjoyed nearly as high repute as Gretna Green for the celerity with which "Scotch marriages" were performed by the "priests" of Hymen, all the runaway couples of northeastern England securing safety and consummation here, the ford of the Tweed once being crossed where the Teviot stream forms a confluence with the Tweed. What tourist ever came here? Yet it is one of the quaintest and most beautiful places in Britain. Built around a huge market square, its fine old structures, shady wynds and closes, give you an almost exact reproduction of the oddest burghs of Holland. Its abbey ruins, of which few outside of its own shire know, or ever looked upon, are among the finest to be found in Europe. The abbey was built early in the Twelfth century, and received its confirmation from Pope Innocent II. A few miles to the south is Yetholm, cradled in the Cheviots and headquarters of the Scottish gipsies.

Sir Walter Scott.

It was in Kelso that the boy Walter Scott, afterward Sir Walter, passed his first school years at public school, which had been fitted up within the old abbey walls, and formed the acquaintance of the brothers Ballentyne, the printers of the Kelso Mail, who afterward became the great novelist's publishers.

It is but three miles, for I have tramped it, from Kelso to the former home of Thomson, author of "The Seasons." And over there on that emerald haugh opposite the city, where the Teviot and Tweed unite, once stood the royal castle of Roxburgh, perhaps the first of Scotland's stupendous border castles now the site of a famous annual border fair . . .

Sunday, March 6, 1892, The Syracuse Standard, New York

Malta and the Maltese--From Palma on a Maltese Brigantine--
A Typical Tunisian Merchant and His Views

Latin races dwelling to the north of the Mediterranean and all those of original extraction to the south and east, look upon the English occupation of the island of Malta and the two contiguous lesser islands of Comino and Goza in much the same spirit as they regard the occupation of Gibraltar by the English.

That is in an evil and vengeful spirit. The fact could have had to clearer illustration than in the sentiments expressed by the captain of the coaster upon which I made my way from Majorca to Malta, and by the only other passenger besides myself upon the odd little brigantine upon which we sailed.

My companion passenger came aboard at Tunis where we touched to land Majorcan wine, making up our part cargo of wine for Malta with Tunisian hides and wheat in curious little brown sacks which were tied in the middle and stowed away in the hold crisscross, as you would lay dump-bells each upon the other.

Our crew comprised six half naked and barefooted Maltese sailors with cotton trousers, crimson scarfs certainly 30 feet long wound about their waists, ugly sheath-knives in those, and no other clothing whatever save tiny tasseled caps resting jauntily upon the crisp and curly hair of their hard little heads. They were little wiry fellows, the best sailors in the world, it is said, with snapping, beady eyes, sharp, short noses, thick lips, splendid teeth, and altogether as merry and sunny-natured a lot as you could find sailing upon any sea.

The captain was of Spanish extraction and Maltese birth. He had been a fisherman of Valetta; had saved his money; had got an education at the free English schools of Malta; and from the position of port pilot had come to own the craft which he commanded. In his little cabin were many good books, both in Spanish and English, and his surroundings in his tiny sea home were as pleasant, and certainly more evident of education, refinement and good taste than you will often find in cabins of the most pretentious American sailing vessels.

His wife, Teresa, and nine children, the latter grading in size from an infant in arms to a lad of 11 as regularly as a set of ten pins and nearly as naked, cooked for
and waited upon us, lending a hand at light seamen's' duties whenever required with wonderful agility, adding pleasantly to the picturesque of the every-day life of the tiny vessel, and providing those blessed of all sounds at the, she voice of women and the prattle of children, ceaseless, tuneful and winsome as every make melodic the sunniest home of city, hamlet or vale.

Not the least picturesque object on board of brigantine was our other passenger, who with the dried hides, which so resembled in visage, had been taken on at Tunis. He was a Tunisian merchant trading between Tunis and Malta. We all treated him with much consideration because his flowing robes and white burnoose, which took up a good deal of room, gave this otherwise measly looking man a most important appearance, and, unconsciously, I presume, because he owned the hides and wheat. Then too, he was very bland and agreeable, a peculiarity of all Moslems when they are found one mile from home.

You will notice this characteristic if you travel much about the Mediterranean. In their own homes, streets and shops there are no more imperiously grave, imperturbable and sodden humans than Turk, Arab and Moor. But let them once turn their faces towards Christian ports and profit, and their manner and bearing at once change. They seem to have suddenly become ready-greased with graciousness for all trade and social exigencies. Their striking habiliments no longer comport with their reputed dignity of character. The bags on their heads and their ample robes and sandals suggest the harlequin. Neither Yankees nor Jews are a match for them in the subtle shuffling and diplomacies of trade. In fact, they are the "Oily Gammons" of the Mediterranean.

In the long, languorous days and glowing evenings of our lazy sailing they were both, The Maltese captain and the Tunisian merchant, more to me than weeks of desultory meetings of their kinds in their own lands. They were both intelligent, companionable and both spoke English fluently. Their true feelings and opinions came gradually and surely out of the confidential companionship of sea voyages universally impel. They represented, in heredity, education and feelings the implacable and endless religious and race war between the people of the Crescent and the Cross. The forefathers of each had doubtless been slain defending the banners of one or the other. They typified Christian Europe pitted against Infidel Africa and Asia.

But all the race and religious hatred was blended in a common hatred of the English masters of Malta.

To reach the sentimental reason of this I constantly espoused the English cause. To the Maltese captain I pointed out his own successful career, and reminded him delicately that he would have remained an ignorant and impoverished fisherman but for this very English rule which he resented.

"Si, si, senor," he would sadly reply; "but I would not have had the devil of greed set to work in my heart. I am no more hungry for a great ship than I was at first for a little felucca."

"But has not the condition of your 150,000 fellow countrymen of the Islands been vastly improved?"

"My fellow countrymen grieve over the passing away of the old things they loved. A little higher wall to one's patch of ground, another room or two added to one's home, a little more finery in one's ears or on one's back, or a little more coin clinking between the finger, do not make peasant folk better or happier. They cannot become like their masters. They learn only to envy them and to be ashamed of themselves and each other. I would give my brigantine and all but Teresa and the ninos (children)," the captain would conclude with an indescribably pathetic and loving gesture of protective fondness, which included all the romping curly heads on shipboard; "to live in a hut by the shore and see the red-coats no more forever!"

The grief of my Tunisian fellow passenger was of a different sort, though it was none the less real and poignant; but it was mitigated also by the fanatical belief that some time the Musseulman faith and folk will prevail and rule all lands.

"Christian feeling and despoliation," he would feelingly say," have been the real motive of every so-called holy crusade and expedition against us whom you call Infidels, but who along worship the one true God. The English have profited greatest by conquest under cover of pious pretence."

I called his attention to the fact that, with the exception of England's quasi occupation of Egypt to secure payment for moneys advanced by English capitalists in connection with the Suez Canal scheme, and the recent establishment of a trading post at Cape Juby, on the west Morocco coast, Great Britain did not claim to possess, or hold, a foot of soil to which any Mussulman race had the slightest possible hereditary right.

"Ah, but Gibraltar!--Malta!"

This would be uttered in passionate exclamation and with his face as hateful as a fiends.

"They were once ours with Andaluz, and gave us the empire of all Africa and supremacy upon the Mediterranean."

"Surely, but only through invasion and butchery," I replied, harrying him a little. "Simply for pillage the Berber invader, Tarik, took Gibraltar and overran southern Spain in 711; with the same purpose your Berber ancestors in 798 took possession of and held the Balonrie Islands for 450 years; and about a thousand years ago you seized and held Malta until the Normans dispossessed you. Moslem rights were not deprived by your expulsion from lands where you did not belong."

"But our imperial Barbary is cut into pieces. We are no more a mighty people. Our temples and our treasures are gone!" he passionately retorted.

"So are your pirates and slaves," I persisted unfeelingly. "Those are the sort of things civilization will never again tolerate. It will never disturb an earnest an zealous religion; but it will surely eventually extirpate any religion or race that deprives the lowliest of its followers and people, men or women, of equal justice!"

He would not dwell upon this implied contrast between Christianity and Mohammedanism, but continually bewailed the English possession of Gibraltar and Malta as a menace to all Oriental supremacy, and the direct cause, or permissible cause, of the dismemberment and appropriation of Northern Africa by Spain, Italy and France. He admitted that its development especially in Tunis, Tripoli and Algeria had been marvelous within the last quarter of a century; that Gibraltar and Malta in the hands of the English guaranteed permanent and peaceful trade with all Mediterranean countries by the fleets of the whole world; and even confessed that without this very English supremacy in the Mediterranean his own safety with his hides and wheat, in transit from Tunis to any neighboring port would be extremely problematic if not altogether improbable.

In such unusual converse with these strange folk, the voyage to Malta was passed. I was often able to lead the momentary topic from Moors to Maltese, and thus secured much valuable information concerning the real as well as the sentimental condition of the latter. Two very interesting facts developed through the apparent extraordinary hatred of English rulers by the captain and Tunisian and their seeming equal mutual affection for the common people of Malta, the folk who were its peasantry even before its days of chivalry under the olden Knights of Malta who deeds and fame were the most luminous to all medieval history.

The first was the passionate love all Maltese have for their sterile, sun-baked, sirocco-swept little hump of rock to which they cling and nurture so lovingly that it returns them, conditions being considered, the most bounteous and luxuriant rewards of any equal area on the face of the earth. "Flower of the earth" they call this treeless spot. "My country adored" they ever name the vessel or village where they are born. And as "the purgatory" or penance-spot they know any other land beneath the sun to which necessity has led them.

I have noticed the same almost pathetically desperate affection for one's birth spot to be true in other rugged and sterile abodes of men. Nothing could induce the half-frozen people of Labrador to quite those regions of silence and desolation. The Highland crofter of Scotland is a spiritless, heartbroken man when forced from his wild straths and glens. Who that has stepped foot on the Arran Islands off Galway ever saw other such pictures of hopeless poverty and suffering? Yet for generations their people have clung to the rocks like the dolorous puffins which nest in their sides amid the Atlantic's howlings and no power has been sufficient to tear them away from their starvation and wretchedness.

It was a curious thing, too, the learn from the Tunisian that the peasantry of Malta were more Berber and Arab races than of Greek, Italian and Spanish. By all affinities, save the one of religion, he claimed them as brethren to a man. In their customs, superstitions and many of their homeside ways, as well as in nearly all methods, or rather want of method, in agriculture they are, he claimed, precisely like the Berber tribe farmers in the valley behind Tunis and Algiers. But more striking than all Elysian proof that the Maltese were his kindred, was his claim which I have since found to be true, that while nearly all spoke a sort of English, Italian or Spanish patois, every one could at any moment cross into Northern Africa and converse with the natives in a measurably pure Arabic tongue.

"We are at Malta, senor. Would you look upon sleeping Valetta from the sea in the early morning?"

Such was the cheery call of our captain as we approached the most famous island of the Mediterranean. When I reached the deck our craft lay a league distance from port, almost imperceptibly moving towards the white island and whiter city over a rippleless sea with sails scarcely filled by the faintest of breezes which whispered of the morning; for the sun seemed to stand a tremendous globe of crimson on the sea horizon, away over there between Greece and Crete.

My eyes never before beheld so transcendent and radiant a scene. The whole bosom of the sea seemed enveloped in a downy mantle of pearl, gold and crimson, which, lying low upon the water, showed countless matchless changes of color, and possessed the added marvelous effect of lifting all discernible objects to an unwanted altitude.

Our brigantine, with our craft here and there about us, appeared to ride upon an opalescent, intangible yet palpable surface of solidly flaring cloud. Though Sicily lay 60 miles to the north, its shoreline, lifted vertically, and not in mirage, showed strangely near, with the huge cone of Etna like a spear-head of silver above.

Knights of the Order of Malta.

The Knights of Malta were formed long before their reign on Malta. The Order was originally established in 1085 as a community of monks responsible for looking after the sick at the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem. They later became a military order, defending crusader territory in the Holy Lands and safeguarding the perilous routes taken by medieval pilgrims.

The Knights arrived in Malta in 1530, having been ejected from their earlier home on Rhodes by the Turks in 1522. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, gave them the choice of Malta or Tripoli as a new base. Neither was to their liking, but nothing, they thought, could be worse than Tripoli. Having chosen Malta, the Knights stayed for 268 years, transforming what they called 'merely a rock of soft sandstone' into a flourishing island with mighty defences and a capital city coveted by the great powers of Europe. Knights were chosen from the aristocratic families of France, Italy, Spain, England and Portugal. On acceptance into the Order they were sworn to celibacy, poverty and obedience.

But where are the words with which to paint for another's seeing the island and its ancient city of the Knights as they rose out of the pulsing, throbbing, tins of that glorious morning witchery." If one could dream that the gods had transformed the sea into a bed of cameo rose, and through cycles of time, with their most cunning artificers wrought it into miracles of filigree, and then chiseled upon it a white relief of the island's area, whose wondrous design had culminated in outlines and detail of massive grandeur and matchless simplicity where the city of fortresses and palaces stood, a vague hint of this morning scene could come with the dreaming and seemings.

And on this morning, as we slowly glided into the eastern of the two ports, and the ideal gradually resolved into the real, the mind, following the imagery of the cameo, its setting, and those who wrought loved to linger oft the thought that those who had built had left their miracle of labor silent and still, as a ghostly and stately housing for all who came. Utter silence brooded over the vast bleached battlements. Escarpments, terraces, bastions, entablatures and huge flat roofs were lifeless and still. The shipping was flagless, apparently crewless, and still as though graven from onyx into the picture. Not an oar stirred the mirroring harbor. Not more still or pregnant with mystery in the Libyan Sphinx than was every strange object upon which the eye might rest. Not a thing having life stirred or was visible, save when our craft swung around and tugged gently at her anchor, the rays of the sun, shooting over ramparts, struck like golden spears upon St. Elmo. They routed a myriad drowsy jackdaws, which rose in flocks and hoarsely screamed. This was our only welcome to Malta and impregnable Valetta.

Edgar L. Wakeman

List of Stories written by Edgar L. Wakeman.

The Project

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



Kindly Kindly support our work.


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.