Very Important Passengers

San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

The Drumm of Drumm Street

Common credit for the naming of San Francisco's Drumm street goes to Lt. Richard C. Drumm of the United States army. A search of California publications of the era indicates that Drumm Street is first mentioned in June 1852:

June 9, 1852, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Almost a Fire. Yesterday morning the lower part of the city barely escaped a fire, which, had it gained headway, could not but have done serious damage to the wharves and shipping. As Mr. Homer of the ship chandlery firm of Romer & O'Brien, on Sacramento wharf, corner of Drumm street, was passing round the rear of his store about one o'clock in the morning, he discovered that the wharf had by some strange chance taken fire. The flames were about two feet high, and had they not been discovered they would have eaagfcl the store in a very few moments. Of course they wore promptly extinguished and our city was saved from a conflagration.

However, in late 1998, James Drumm sent the following in order to set the record straight:

The ship record clearly shows Major DRUM (one M) arriving three years after the map was printed, with DRUMM ST (2 M's), and that book is used by every account of the street -- in error!

James Drumm has a file of all the sources that Ted Ballas consulted and says that as an electrician, Mr. Ballas was a great sleuth, but it came to nought.

The following was sent in to The Maritime Heritage Project; it is indicative of the process geneaologists take to verify information, and gives some information about the development of various parts of the City. Also, it pays tribute to San Francisco's dedicated, helpful researchers and historians.

Drumm Street, San Francisco

In the rolling Missouri countryside east of Independence is a boys home endowed by and named for "Major" Andrew Drumm (as in Major Domo). I was fortunate to have spent six years there, and shortly after graduation came to San Francisco in the early 60's. I noticed the unique spelling of Drumm Street but didn't give it much thought until late in the 70's, when I received a biography of Mr. Drumm, written by the man who had devoted his whole life to that boys home and had collected an oral history from those who had known him. (By George Berkemeier)

The biography tells of Drumm's early experience on a farm in Ohio; his decision to join the Gold Rush; his passage to San Francisco; and, most importantly, his endeavors relating to livestock. The story is that he brought herds to the City and slaughtered them on the shore of the Bay. Mr. Berkemeier, the biographer, imagined that it might easily have become custom to say, "Let's go to Drumm's place and buy some meat" and that "Drumm's place" became Drumm Street.

Years later, I became a fan of Matthew Brady's column, "The Old Town," and later presented him with the question and what information I had, hoping that would resolve the question. He was willing but unable to find any evidence other than that most historians assume the street was named for, a Lt. Richard Coulter Drum, who fought in the Mexican War and was later prominent in local history as he rose finally to the rank of Adjutant General.

Mr. Brady suggested I try the Sutro Library and, of course, the San Francisco History Room at the Main Library. I found City directories, genealogies, and lots of interesting history but no Andrew Drumm. I gave up. Years passed. The problem festered. I followed hunches, made phone calls, imagined scenarios and finally presented the problem to Stan Carroll of the San Francisco History Room. He and Susie Taylor led me through street histories, municipal reports, and a pile of books on early San Francisco and California. Still no mention of Andrew Drumm, but an increasingly clearer picture of the time and circumstance.

Jasper O'Farrell, during his term as City Surveyor, had extended the streets originally laid down by a man named Jean Jacques Voget in 1839. O'Farrell extended streets into the Bay; designed the grand promenade that is Market Street, partly to resolve the conflicting grids in the northern and southern parts of the City; and prepared for the sale of water lots on the still submerged streets as early as July 1847, but his maps do not include Davis, Front and Drumm streets. O'Farrell left the job at the beginning of the Gold Rush, and in August of 1849; the position of City Surveyor was given to William N. Eddy.

By this time, I knew that Drumm Street appeared on official maps dated as early as 1854, and that the steamship Tennessee was not the first steamship to come around the Horn, as the oral history had suggested.

At the society of California pioneers, with the help of Stanleigh Bry, I was to learn that the Willoughby Brothers, said to have later become Drumm's partners, were listed as James Russell, 35, butcher, and Otis Huntington, 31, merchant, both of 728 Howard Street, but that was in the late 50's and had no bearing on what I began to think of as a "window of opportunity" -- the time before Drumm Street's first appearance. It was Stanleigh who discovered that William M. Eddywas two different people who arrived five months apart. The second Eddy was a representative of an investment group from New York who went on to become a banker and died in Santa Barbara. William M. Eddy, the surveyor, was born in New York in 1819: arrived on the U.S. Mail SteamshipOregon on June 13, 1849; went on to become Surveyor General of California; and died March 9, 1854.

While Surveyor of San Francisco, Eddy's office was in a corrugated iron building at the northeast corner of Dupont and Clay Street, owned and built by Edward Laffan, and called the Laffan Building. There he headed a crew including J. P. Bush, a helper, and Nib Hoadley, engineer.

Hoadley's diary at the Bancroft Library includes critiques of that Sunday's sermons; exact accounting of expenditures, number of drinks consumed, medication, including opium, for a sick friend; surveys -- "Courses by needle" -- South of Market, April 1849, "Coast of Yerba Buena Cove" "Mission Creek" a measurement to Mt. Diablo (27-1/2 miles) and notes relating to various jobs beginning in March 1837 and including plans for the first water system and later "rail roads."

During his employment with Eddy are entries such as: "Mar. 11, '50 . . . established points with Mr. Eddy as finally fixed and corrected line westward to Stockton disagreeing with his work on Stockton from 10-18 inches. Went to office 2d time P.M. to report and found him drunker than usual." And "A modest man cannot run for office. Bofs E. certainly cannot be accused of that. I have some suspicion that he played me foul in the matter but think I have him on the hip. Haven't been in his office 4 months for nothing. He is an old campaigner up to all the tricks of New York politicians and entirely destitute of principle."

San Francisco Maps and Views. Since I couldn't find Andrew Drumm, I thought it best to find out all I could about those who might have been responsible for naming the street. While at the Bancroft Library, I saw a copy of the maps "Presented to the Senators and Representatives from California by Wm. K. Eddy, City Surveyor of San Francisco, Dec. 31, 1849." On that map, "Drumm Street" first appears and is spelled with one "M". Before I had a chance to be discouraged, Bonnie Hardwick offered, "Map makers traditionally include an error in their work to see if someone is copying their maps. I know, because my husband is a cartographer. The error most commonly used is the name of a street that does not yet exist."

That map was accepted and applauded by the City Council Jan. 28, 1850. There was an earlier map that was rushed off to Oregon city for copyright, but it does not include Davis; Front and Drumm Streets. On his "First official" map dated Jan. 15, 1851, Drumm street first appears as we know it today. All subsequent maps up to the present maintain that spelling.

I waded through the Alta California of 1849 still assuming that Eddy and Drumm would have to have met before the first map was submitted in December of that year, and also that the conflict in the oral history between first steamship around the horn and that it was the Tennessee left me with only one possibility, since the Tennessee did not arrive until April 14, 1850.

Bill Koolman of the Porter Shaw Library of the Maritime Museum had already established all the relevant ship information and suggested further research into the works of Wiltsee, Kimble, and San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists by Louis J. Rasmussen, but I avoided information later than 1849, thinking it would not relate. Later I would come to regret that assumption, but for the time being, I was engrossed in the daily life of San Francisco 1849 as reflected in the Alta. Often I returned to the San Francisco History Room for help and the inspiration of Susie Taylor, or to apprise Stan Carroll of my progress. Or I would as often have to visit the Porter Shaw Library where Irene Stachura kept me on course. The search would have been impossible without the help and guidance of the friendly knowledgeable people along the way. There was no mention of Andrew Drumm and very little about the other principal players.

Imperial San Francisco DeYoungs, Hearsts.San Francisco.I imagined still clearer scenarios and, one night was "present" in a group of men gathered in a primitive structure in Happy valley South of Market or in the Laffan Building, or possibly the office. 
"No sirree, sonny." An older man is talking to two young, fresh arrivals. "Any man that knows how to handle livestock's got no business in the gold fields. You fill their bellies and they'll bring the nuggets to you." One of the young men turns to the other, who says, "You know Andy, I did see an ad in the Alta for beef cattle for sale on a farm in the Salinas-plain." "Now far to Salinas, old timer?" "'four-five hours ride." I feel I have known men like these. They are men for whom challenge is more attractive than comfort. "like I said, sonny, the man that can get some fresh meat into this town will really make a name for himself."

Others had failed, due mainly to the arid stretch to the southeast.

Most of the food available was preserved and in barrels. Milo Hoadley writes about a man who made some good, quick money gathering old bottles and filling them with cucumbers and some vinegar and selling them for pickles. And of being pleasantly surprised to have bought a dozen eggs for a dollar and a half, he had been accustomed to pay six dollars. I realized that those who stayed in the city were few (military, political, merchant, infirmed) and knew each other well. And that there would be no record of a man like Drumm because he spent most of his time on the trail.

Susie Taylor of the San Francisco History Room had steered me away from the downtown area to what would later be Butchertown. And in the impressive works of Nancy and Roger Olmsted, I got a much clearer picture of the conditions of that time, and especially of areas such as Happy Valley, south of Market, where a transient population of from one to five thousand men lived in minimal housing and where endeavors such as Drumm's might have been carried out unnoticed by official San Francisco. Such as it was in a year when the city had practically emptied and then rose to a population of 22,000.

Irene Stachura of the Porter Shaw Library continued to assist me through the microfiche file of the California State Library. We searched for and pursued any clue relating to Drumm, Eddy, the Willoughby brothers, Milo Hoadley, Richard Coulter Drum, and anyone else who might have been associated with Drum. Of all that we found, the most promising lead concerned a woman named Harriet Ecker, who arrived May 21 1850, on the Oregon and was met by William Eddy and a wedding party. They married on board the ship before she had set foot on land. The pieces of the puzzle were being laid in front of me, but I still had no idea of how they tie together. I had cause to be in Sacramento and used some extra time to visit the State Library where John Gonzales was unbelievably knowledgeable and helpful. He suggested histories and resources one after another, and in every case, I had already looked there or been there and could tell him what I had found. He said be was impressed.. He was distracted by other patrons and then came back with more possibilities and then still more. He said it was an interesting question and that it had made his day. I am an electrician. I am not accustomed to having such positive, intelligent assistance as I have known throughout this search.

John asked if I had checked the Passenger Lists of Rasmussen, and I gave what had become an habitual response, that those lists do not start until 1850, and if Drumm got here that late, the street would have already been named and the search was over. Then John was off with another patron and with time to kill, I finally looked at the list for the Tennessee, and there was "A. Drum,", Volume I, Page 164.!

So now I had to go back through all the histories, newspapers, microfiche, etc. with a new point of view. I found lots of interesting background but still no supportable evidence that Eddy or his staff had known of Drum and had cause to honor him. I went back to the Porter Shaw Library to apologize to Bill Kooiman for not having pursued his lead. He pointed out that 551 passengers on a ship like the Tennessee was an overload and that we were fortunate to have a passenger list at all. That would explain why Rasmussen shows only one "M".

San Francisco. Then the conditions in Panama at that time became more relevant. Drumm had waited on the Western Isthmus for 27 days. There was a mob of people clamoring for any available space. And into that chaos would have come Harriet Ecker, bride-to-be of San Francisco's new surveyor. She was a month behind Drumm in line. Did he befriend her or deliver a letter for her? Had they perhaps met in New York? Ladies did not travel unescorted, especially for such distances. Was Drumm part of the wedding party? Had she waited for the next, hopefully less crowded, ship and sent Drumm ahead to prepare?

A friend of mine, Mary Clark, who has for years been associated with Karl Kortum and the Maritime Museum, has continued to be a source of inspiration and guidance throughout the search. She put me in touch with Nancy Olmsted, and in a conversation with Ms. Olmsted and her son Roger I learned a great deal more about the early history, but also about the present. There are already plans for bronze plaques to be set for each street that meets the Embarcadero that is named for a person, describing that person and their role in the story of the city. I had learned of one street name history that was being revised and two others that were seeking publication. I began to feel a sense of urgency. Mr. Berkemeier would be 85 in May, and I was hoping to have the record set straight as a birthday present.

I talked to others and found many who were interested and even some, with small libraries. One such person is John Sant, who was captain of the Bay Bridge far many Years. He gave me "Historic San Francisco," by Rand Richards; which led me to the Wells Fargo Museum and finally to Bill Strobridge, as well as to the Fort Point-Presidio Historical Association and Col Bud Halsey. Col. Halsey researched the military record of Lt. Richard Coulter Drum and determined that he was in the 4th Artillery in Mexico and the East during the time in question, and that his relationship with San Francisco did not begin until 1861. I also learned from Col. Halsey that Bill Strobridge was of the opinion that Drumm Street was NOT named for Richard Coulter Drum, and after a talk with Mr. Strobridge I had the sense that the tide was turning. Stan Carroll of the San Francisco History Library had already said he thought the weight of evidence was in favor of Andrew Drumm, but I still felt I needed something more conclusive.

Drum Barracks had been named for R. C. Drum with no conflict in the spelling. Rasmussen's passenger lists for the S.S. Sonora, May 6, 1861, has Drum(m) Capt. R.C., USA, wife and child. Bonnie Hardwick of the Bancroft Library had suggested I find the origin of the error. I found nothing at the National Archives. Bill Kooiman suggested I look for the official ship's log that would have recorded Eddy's wedding to Harriet Eckar.

Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association.Walter Biller of the San Francisco Almanac joined the search, with fresh ideas and a book titled The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association by William W. Savage Jr., which recounts Drumm's endeavors in the latter part of the century as a principal player in the struggle between the Indians, homesteaders, government, and stockmen. One sees the ethics, intelligence, determination and social conscience worthy of recognition.

From the great great grandniece of Andrew Drumm I received an obituary from the Zanesville, Ohio paper. Virginia Hatfield has studied and collected a history of the family. The article raises questions about when Andrew Drumm left home. If he was born in '28 and left home at 20, or born in '29 and left home at 19 (records differ), he would almost certainly have been one of the first to respond to President Polk's announcement in December 1848 and would have arrived at more nearly the same time as Eddy. In many other endeavors in his life he was first or among the first. Maybe he was on the first steamship to come around the Horn. That would have been the California which left New York October 6, 1848 and arrived in San Francisco March 1, 1849. At the California Genealogical Society, I was given, among many more places to research, a City Directory of 1850 by Kimball. It lists two more of Eddy's helpers (Hosfall, J.N., measurer, and Williams, H., measurer), but more importantly reminded me of the insanity of the time and place. The introduction begins, "It should not be expected, in a city like this, where whole streets are built up in a week and whole squares swept away in an hour and a large portion of the fixed inhabitants live in tents and places that cannot be described with any accuracy . . ."

San Franisco 1800s. The Public City:
The Political Construction of Urban Life in San Francisco, 1850-1900

Philip J. Ethington went back to the Bancroft and through the works of Alfred Wheeler, commissioned to inquire into city property and to report on "The condition of Real Estate." His Land Titles in San Francisco 1852summarizes all property transfers to that date including early Mexican grants. I learned: 1) that Andrew Drumm was not among those grantees; 2) that most of the lots were "grant on petition," not sold; 3) that "whereas, there was no organized town council at the town and district of San Francisco from the 1st of January to the 1st of August, 1849 . . . " 4) that a man named Robert Elwell had been granted a tract not to exceed 400 varas for the purpose of "salting cattle skins." The grant was made by then Governor Juan B. Alvarado on 10 December. '42, and was reconfirmed by City Council in '49. The area Elwell chose was bounded by Broadway on the north, Washington on the south, Sansome on the west, and extended east to ships channel. Is this a clue? ( I hope to shout!)

This is all I have at, present. A fellow grad is researching in Kansas city, and my brother is researching in New York City. (John Drumm notes here that he has not located either.) I took everything to the San Francisco History Room and left it in the capable hands of those who are already caring for our heritage so beautifully; and happily returned to my own craft.

Thanks to all of you from the founder, superintendents emeritus, the staff and the boys of Drumm Farm. Thanks especially to the Very Big Boss for a real nice trip.

The Annals of San Francisco

Historical Atlas of California

Click for a Selection of California History Books

Historical Atlas of California With Original Maps."Historical Atlas of California"uses nearly five hundred historical maps and many other illustrations -- from rough sketches drawn in the field to commercial maps to beautifully rendered works of art. This lavishly illustrated volume tells the story of California's past from a unique visual perspective covering five hundred years of history from before European contact through the Gold Rush and up to the present. The maps are accompanied by a concise, engaging narrative and by extended captions that elucidate the stories and personalities behind their creation.

Naval Order of the United States.

The Naval Order of the United States The Naval Order of the United States. has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths. When it was established, the Founders provided "that any male person above the age of eighteen years who either served himself, was still presently serving, or was descended from an officer or enlisted man who served in any of the wars which the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue or Privateer services was engaged was eligible for Regular membership." Today, the Order is a "by invitation only" society, and includes men and women who have served or who assist in accomplishing its Mission, including research and writing on naval and maritime subjects.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year:

The Project

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



To America

2017: 20 years of sea-faring research is being split between The Maritime Heritage Project and Ship Passengers to meet current WWW standards, and to offer easier access to information.


Kindly contribute so that we can continue adding maritime history information.


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.