VIPS in the Port of San Francisco

Madam Pfeiffer

Sacramento Daily Union, October 8, 1853


This remarkable lady arrived in our city on Monday. It is her intention, we are informed, to make a sojourn of a few days, and then leave for the interior of the State. The following facts relating to her, are copied from the San Francisco Public Ledger:

For twelve years has this persevering lady been traveling visiting alike the frigid countries of the extreme north, where eternal snows abound; the hot burning sands of the desert, or traversing the most luxurious countries in the tropics, under the heat most oppressive. She has already published a full account of her former travels, and contributed many curious and interesting articles to the Museums and Scientific Associations of Austria, her native land. She is now going on three years from her home, on this her last expedition, and has visited many strange lands and people, traveling where no white male adventurer ever dared to penetrate.

Starting down the Mediterranean sea, she has passed through Asia Minor and the Holy Laud; Arabia, Persia, Hindoostan, the Islands of Borneo, Sava, Sumatra, Malacca, and other East Indian countries, as well as some of the Cannibal Islands of the Pacific.

Much valuable information has been gathered in relation to the hitherto unexplored and unknown depths of some of these countries; and many have been the trials and hardships she has undergone; exposed, as the solitary traveler must be, who launches alone and unprotected, upon the wide world. Her sex alone has saved her life at times, when exploring savage countries; and once, whilst examining some of the Cannibal Islands, a barbarous chief communicated to her the pleasing intelligence that she must be prepared to be roasted and eaten. With extraordinary presence of mind, she stepped up to the Savage, and patting him on the shoulder, conveyed to him the fact, that she was not a tender young girl, but an old, tough and distasteful woman; and that he would not have any satisfaction in the dish that she would make. The savage was nonplussed, and instead of sacrificing her, turned about and treated her with the greatest consideration.

At another time, a Negro wantonly attacked the Madam and a companion that was with her, and would probably have massacred both, but for her presence of mind, in retreating, and drawing something from her pocket, and presenting it as though a pistol, which kept the blood-thirsty wretch off until assistance had arrived. This was a very narrow escape, as personal harm was done by the weapon in the hands of the savage.

Alone, unprotected, and on foot, she has climbed the sides of mountains 10,000 feet high; at other times traversing the craters of volcanoes, and then again in the lonely solitude of the desert, or forest, she has been compelled to drag her weary body along for days, with nought to satisfy the cravings of nature. After passing through wild, savage and inhospitable countries, for over two years, she comes among us to commence a tour of the State; after which she will go through Mexico, and after visiting the Atlantic portion of the United States, return to Austria, her native land.

Whilst examining the mineral portions of California, she intends looking at our valleys and products, and then traverse the Indian territory of the State, and probably portions of Oregon and New Mexico.

In personal appearance Madame Pfeiffer is rather short, thin, and spare, with a constitution capable of undergoing great fatigue. The expression of her countenance, in conversation, is mild and pleasant, at the same time the eye evinces a keen sense of observation; a quick ear; her hair is dark, and tinged with the frosts of fifty winters. She is, indeed, a most remarkable traveler.

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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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