THE HISTORY OF THE CLIPPER PANTHER
"That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early......"
Long shown on B.C. Nautical Charts, the sailing vessel Panther is one of the most well known wrecks of the British Columbia Coast. It was the first wreck surveyed in 1976 by the University of British Columbia and the Underwater Archeology Society Of British Columbia and today, its silhouette forms the Society's Logo. On November 5, 1983 the society placed a plaque on the wreck in hopes to "instill in the growing number of scuba divers who visit the sites, a respect and responsibility towards this part of B.C'.s Maritime Heritage"
The Underwater Archeological Society Of B.C. was the first to survey the wreck site in 1976.
The ship silhouetted in the logo, is the SS Panther.
The wreck is located on a reef in about 30-60 feet of water on the southern tip of Wallace Island (formerly Narrow Island). The reef bears the ships name, Panther Point. The point has been marked on navigation charts for nearly a century, and a large orange triangular reef marker points the way to the hazard just below the waters surface.
An 1898 nautical chart showing hydrographic surveys
between 1854-1898. The wreck lies just off the south tip marked at 3 1/4 fathoms. Narrow Island was renamed Wallace Island in 1905, by Captain John Parry, after Captain Wallace Houstoun of the HMS Trincomalee, who first surveyed the area in the 1850's.
Following island tradition, the southern tip of the island was named after the wreck, and today is commonly referred to as "Panther Point". The wreck is a mere 100 yards from the end of the pine trees, just past the tip of the reef marker.
While the wreck of the Panther is quite well-known, the story of the Panther has been for the most part lost to the annuals of time and sealed over by the sea. Some have claimed that she was old British warship, the HMS Panther and was converted to a coal barge at the time of her loss. Others, have speculated that she was an old three masted barque, and some know that she was once a magnificent clipper ship. Ironically, the most common date for her sinking on the point, in November is even inaccurate - she actually went down on January 17, 1874. The Panther has a remarkable and impressive story to tell.
THE HISTORY OF THE PANTHER
The Panther was one of Paul Curtis' celebrated designs. She began her career early in 1854 at the shipyard in Medford, Mass. The Panther was built at the end of an era which saw an impressive amount of clipper ships built in the surrounding area, it was only a decade earlier when nearly one-quarter of all shipwrights in Massachusetts were employed in the Medford shipyards. The shipyards were clustered along a one-mile stretch of the Mystic River riverfront, and Curtis' yard was between South, Winthrop and Curtis Streets. He launched his ships directly across the South Street roadway. The yards drew upon the ready supply of local timber until the local woods were depleted. Ships were then built from timber cut down and floated south from the hardwood forests of New Hampshire. Each ship was built from fifteen or more species of wood carefully pieced together where the special properties of each would do the most good.
The Clipper Reporter designed and built by Paul Curtis in 1853
was the last ship built by Curtis prior to launching the Panther.
The Panther was of similar size and lines.
The Panther was a particularly fine model, and very strongly built. She was diagonally braced with iron straps in the lower hold and between decks. She was built of out solid wood up to her bilge, and every knee in the ship was overbolted. It has been said that in some cases there were no less than thirty-two bolts in each knee, giving the ship an appearance when viewed between decks, from forward or aft, as an immense salamander safe. Shortly after her launching in 1854 she arrived in San Francisco where she has been described as "one the best built ships ever entering into this port." Her overall dimensions were 198 feet in length; breadth 28 feet ; and depth 24 1/2 feet. She was rated at 1,278 tons.
Old Ship knees from the Wawona,
built in 1897. Broken up for salvage.
The overbolting of the ships knees in the Panther has been described as resembling a Salamander Safe perhaps such as the one shown above circa 1824.
The Panther began her career under the ownership of R.C. Mackay & Sons of Boston, who were prominent in trade from England to India. Their offices were located at 16 Union Wharf. Robert Caldwell (R.C.) Mackay who owned the Panther, was the grandson of William Mackay, and the family was long established in Boston.
William Mackay was one the founding members of the Sons of Liberty in Boston. The Sons of Liberty was an organization of American patriots that originated in the North American British colonies. The group was formed to protect the rights of the colonists and to take to the streets a movement against the abuses of the British government. They are best known for undertaking the Boston Tea Party in 1773 in reaction to the Tea Act, which led to the Intolerable Acts (an intense crackdown by the British government), and a counter-mobilization by the Patriots. Their slogan was "no taxation without representation". In short, William Mackay was an important supporter and instigator of the American Revolutionary War.
Robert Caldwell (R.C.) Mackay inherited from his grandfather an unusual artifact with a particularly significant historical importance to the founding of the United States and is worth mentioning. R.C. Mackay was given a large silver bowl known as "The Liberty Bowl", upon which engraved on the front of the bowel is a Liberty Cap in a wreath that is centered above horizontal and has longer vertical leafy scrolls partly enclosing a famous inscription: "To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members / of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay, / who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power, / from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES / of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768, / Voted NOT TO RESCIND".
On one side, in a circle with a scroll and foliated frame topped by a Liberty cap flanked by flags is engraved: "Magna/Charta" and "Bill of/Rights." Inside the circle is inscribed: "No45. /Wilkes & Liberty" over a torn page labeled "Generall/Warrants."
Inscribed below the rim: "Caleb Hopkins, Nathl Barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjn Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichbod Jones, John Homer, Willm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb."
Stamped on the bottom is the mark of Paul Revere who made the bowl, originally it had a silver plate and ladel. The Plate is reported to have been one inch thick and about a foot in diameter.
William Mackay bought out the other shares of his associates in the bowl. The "Liberty Bowl" honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter sent throughout the colonies protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the "Glorious Ninety-Two" was a major step leading to the American Revolution. The bowl was commissioned by fifteen members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret, revolutionary organization to which Revere belonged; their names are engraved ...on the bowl as are references to Englishman John Wilkes, whose writing in defense of liberty inspired American patriots. The Liberty Bowl, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution have been called the nation's three most cherished historical treasures. The "Liberty Bowl" was eventually purchased by the Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston in 1949, with funds that included seven hundred donations by Boston schoolchildren and the public. It remains in the collection today.
R.C. Makay the original owner of the clipper ship Panther
The Mackay's were Boston merchants who were prominent in Calcutta and had contracts with the East Indian Railway company that was established in 1845 in London to build a railway through eastern and northern India from Calcutta to Delhia via Mirzapur.
The East India Company sent Rowland Macdonald Stephenson along with three assistants to India from England in 1845 and they "with diligence and discretion" surveyed, statistically studied and estimated the potential traffic for a railway route from Calcutta (the then commercial capital of India) to Delhi via Mirzapur in India.
A contract was signed between the East India Company and the East Indian Railway Company on 17 August 1849, entitling the latter to construct and operate an "experimental" line between Calcutta and Rajmahal, 161 km (100 miles) long at an estimated cost of £1,000,000. They planned to later extend the route to Delhi via Mirzapur.
All permanent ways, and rolling-stocks were to be transported from England in clipper ships to Calcutta via the Cape of Good Hope. At the time of the Panther's launching in spring of 1854, it was estimated that over 100,000 tons of rails, 27,000 tons of chairs, and some 8000 tons of keys, fish-plates, pins, nuts and bolts were needed to build the railway.
The Panther began her career helping to build the East Indian Railway
by shipping railway iron from England to Calcutta from 1854-1857.
Under the command of Captain Nat. G. Weeks, the Panther began her career with her first three voyages to Calcutta with railroad iron from England to help build the East Indian Railway. R.C. Mackay's son, George H. Mackay was dispatched as supercargo on the Panther from the counting rooms of the firm at age 19 1/2 to oversee the operations in India.
On her maiden voyage, she sailed out of Boston on March 4, 1854 and soon encountered a very heavy storm, and was 32 days on the run to New Orleans, and then 37 days on the crossing to Liverpool. From there, it is said she achieved some amazing sailing speeds, having made 3000 miles in the first 17 days enroute to Calcutta, and took only 99 days to reach Calcutta, and made the return to Liverpool in just 100 days. On her second voyage, she bettered the time, arriving in just 93 days.
During the return however she was not as fortunate as she hit a series of severe weather in the Bay of Bengal, and in the Indian Ocean. She did not clear the cape until 70 days out. However, it was her third voyage that established the Panther as capable sailor able to handle rough weather, as on leaving Calcutta she encountered a series of ferocious storms, and nearly foundered having sprung a leak that forced her back to port. However, the Panther was a well-built ship, and upon repair made her best run yet, leaving Sand Heads, Jan. 16 1857, she later arrived at Boston, on April 17th, in a fine run of 91 days.
THE FINANCIAL PANIC OF 1857
The Panic of 1857 was a sudden downturn in the economy of the United States. A general recession first emerged late in 1856, but the successive failure of banks and businesses that characterized the panic began in mid-1857. While the overall economic downturn was brief, the recovery was unequal, and the lasting impact was more political than economic. The panic began with a loss of confidence in an Ohio bank, but spread as railroads failed and fears that the US Federal Government would be unable to pay obligations in specie mounted. More than 5,000 American businesses failed within a year, and unemployment was accompanied by protest meetings in urban areas. Eventually the panic and depression spread to Europe, South America and the Far East. No recovery was evident in the northern parts of the United States for a year and a half, and the full impact did not dissipate until the American Civil War.
There were several major incidents that lead to the downturn in the economy worldwide, which spread to the United States and had direct impact especially to merchants and shipping companies in New York, and Boston:
The Indian Rebellion of 1857
In May 1857 soldiers of the Bengal army shot their British officers, and marched on Delhi. Their mutiny encouraged a rebellion by a considerable number of Indian civilians in a broad belt of northern and central India - roughly from Delhi in the west to Benares in the east. This uprising became known as India's First War Of Independence.
Prior to the rebellion, in the first half of the 19th century, the East India Company still ruled India on Britain's behalf, and there was a heady rhetoric of reform and improvement in some British circles. The aspiration of Thomas Macaulay - a member of the Company's ruling council in 1835, as well as a historian was to foster "a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions in morals and in intellect." However, it was his belief that given the resources, "it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people."
The means of the Company's government were indeed limited. The greater part of its resources went to it's armed forces, and not on schemes for improvement. However, the government out of necessity moved forward at the time with its plans when the Indian economy was generally stagnant.
European influences were strongest in the populated cities and towns of India. This was especially true in the old bases of British trade, such as Calcutta, Madras or Bombay, where a new Indian intelligentsia had begun to take root. Despite whatever Britain may have intended, their early rule seems generally to have consolidated the hold of what they regarded as 'traditional' intellectuals, rather than displacing them by new ones, and the authority of Brahmins, the ruling caste and the doctrines of caste separation grew stronger and not weaker.
Furthermore, upper middle classes in a newly acquired region of India, the Kingdom of Awadh, were annexed from their estates. Taxes were high throughout the region, and there were few opportunities for the enterprising to make a profit. Most of the Western influences were limited to the towns, where the first Christian missions had first appeared and new colleges had opened, this was an unwelcome intrusion to many devout Hindus and Muslims. They fed fears of a Christian offensive and forced conversions.
After Britain had gained two-thirds of India's land and imperialism had begun to affect every part of Indian life (whether by technology like the telegraph, evangelical missionary efforts, or administrative and land ownership reform), there was an incredible amount of tension that only needed a small spark to set off a huge revolt. There had been minor outbreaks within the sepoy ranks before 1857, but these had all been quickly and brutally suppressed. The "spark" that came to begin this period of revolts was the introduction of the new, more accurate breech-loading Enfield rifle. The loading of these rifles entailed the biting of a greased cartridge, which the sepoys feared was made with either cow or pig fat - "the first, from an animal sacred to the Hindus, and the second from an animal held unclean by the Muslims. The Hindu sepoys saw this as an attempt to break their caste as a preliminary to making them all Christians." The Muslim troops were disgusted and no less insulted than the Hindus and the revolts were about to happen.
Although most of the rebellious sepoys in Delhi were Hindus, a significant proportion of the insurgents were Muslims. The proportion of Muslims grew to be about a quarter of the local fighting force by the end of the siege, and included a regiment of suicide warriors, known as Ghazis who had declared a Jihad (a holy war) from Gwalior who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met certain death at the hands of British troops. There were also calls for jihad by Muslim leaders like Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi and the millenarian Ahmedullah Shah, which were taken up by Muslims, particularly artisans, which caused the British to think that the Muslims were the main force behind this event.
The first bloody uprising happened at the garrison in Meerut, in which the mutineers murdered every European they found. Then they marched to Delhi and placed themselves under the leadership of bewildered Mogul Emperor Bahadur Shah.
Throughout May and June the idea of mutiny spread throughout the Ganges valley, Rajputna, Central India, and parts of Bengal. Nana Sahib assumed leadership of the rebel army. Nana Sahib was an adopted son of an exhiled Peshwa (Prime Minister) of the Maratha Empire, Baji Rao II. When his father died, the East India Company's refusal to continue the pension after his father's death, as well as what he perceived as high-handed policies, compelled him to revolt and seek freedom from company rule in India. By 10 June, Nana Sahib was believed to be leading around twelve thousand to fifteen thousand Indian soldiers.
The revolt had brought about massacres and atrocities committed on both sides. James Neill was a scottish military officer, that had gained notoriety for indiscrimintate killing of Indians during the uprising. On June 9th, British General Neill set out for Allahabad, where a handful of Europeans still held out in the fort against the rebels. General Neill recaptured Allahabad and the rebel soliders that had surrendered were assembled on parade and ordered to lay down their arms and after doing so, were fired upon mercilessly by British troops. By mid-June, after securing Allahabad, he began a long march to aid beseiged Cawnpore.
Those who were lucky to escape the massacre at Allahbad returned to their villages only to hear of the brutality of Neills column in sacking entire villages that lay in the path of his march. As he entered villages, he ordered the hanging of those suspected of being the mutineers. According to one of his officers, he also allowed his soldiers to kill the "native" people without due process and burn their houses and villages to the ground.
On June 23rd, the rebel soldiers under Nana Sahib launched a major attack on the British entrenchment commanded by General Wheeler at Cawnpore. The British garrison had taken heavy losses as a result of nearly a week of successive bombardments, sniper fire, and assaults from the forces of Nana Sahib. It was also suffering from disease and low supplies of food, water and medicine. To make matters for the British worse, General Wheeler's personal morale had been low after his son Lieutenant Gordon Wheeler was decapitated by a roundshot.
On the morning of the 27 June, a large British column led by General Wheeler emerged from the entrenchment and surrendered Cawnpore to Nana Sahib. Nana Sahib sent a number of carts, dollies and elephants to enable the women, the children and the sick to proceed to the river banks to the Sati Chaura Ghat, an important maritime boarding point for the river route from Cawnpore to Allahabad. The British officers and military men were allowed to take their arms and ammunition with them, and were escorted by nearly the whole of the rebel army. Nana Sahib had arranged around 40 boats, belonging to a boatman called Hardev Mallah for their departure to Allahabad.
The Ganges river was unusually dry at Sati Chaura Ghat, and the British found it difficult to drift the boats away. General Wheeler and his party were the first aboard and the first to manage to set their boat off. There was some confusion, as the Indian boatmen jumped overboard after hearing bugles from the banks, and started swimming toward the banks. As they jumped, some fires on the boats were knocked over, setting a few of the boats ablaze.
Amid the confusion, a general panic and chaos ensued and shots were fired. Nana Sahib's general, Tatya Tope, allegedly ordered the 2nd Bengal Cavalry unit and some artillery units to open fire on the British.The rebel cavalry sowars moved into the water to kill the remaining British soldiers with swords and pistols. The surviving men were killed, while women and children were taken into captivity, as Nana Sahib did not approve of their killing. Around 120 women and children were taken prisoner and escorted to Savada House, Nana Sahib's headquarters during the siege.
By this time, two of the boats had been able to drift away: General Wheeler's boat, and a second boat which was holed beneath the waterline by a round shot fired from the bank. The British people in the second boat panicked and attempted to make it to General Wheeler's boat, which was slowly drifting to safer waters. Several of the people fell overboard and were swept away by the current,
all in all General Wheeler's boat had around 60 people aboard, and was being pursued down the riverbanks by the rebel soldiers. Many were recaptured, and brought together with the 120 captives.
On July 17, when Cawnpore was recaptured by the British forces, in what was to become known as the Bibighar Massacre, it was discovered that about 200 European men, women, and children had been viciously hacked to death and dismembered with meat cleavers a month earlier, by the Sepoy forces of Nana Sahib.
Following the Bibighar massacre of British women and children at Cawnpore, General Neill indulged in indiscriminate killings of local inhabitants. He personally executed many of his prisoners. In a disgraceful episode, now considered a blot on British conscience, he compelled randomly rounded up Brahmins from Cawnpore, who had nothing to do with the event, to wash up the blood of the Bibighar victims from the floor, an act that presumably degraded them with loss of caste, while they were whipped till they collapsed with cat-o-nine-tails by young ensigns. These clueless victims were then summarily hanged. Following the recapture of Cawnpore and the discovery of the massacre, the outraged British forces engaged in widespread retaliatory counter-atrocities against captured rebel Indian soldiers and civilians throughout all of India. The murders at Cawnpore greatly embittered the British rank-and-file against the Sepoy rebels, invoking feelings of vengence, retribution and inspiring the war cry "Remember Cawnpore!"
In Britain, when news of massacre reached the homefront, it sparked public outrage and British newspapers printed various so-called "eyewitness" accounts of attrocities committed by the Indian rebels, such as the rape of English women and girls, and reports that they were mass slaughtering innocent men, women, and children in order to stir public opinion in favour of swift and harsh military action against the rebels.
The general public unanimously approved of whatever measures were necessary for the British Government to end the revolt.
"Justice", a print by Sir John Tenniel
in a September 1857 issue of Punch Magazine
Vengeance was swift and harsh: suspected mutineers were tied to cannons and executed: "In six months, the mutiny had been broken, and, within the next year, British power was restored". However, the revolt had economic implications, the East India Company was dissolved by 1858, and during the revolt, export of Indian goods such as cotton to Britain were halted, railroad stations and equipment were destroyed and stolen. This particularly impacted trade between United States and Britain during this time, as exports to Britain of high-end manufactured goods, were greatly diminished by the rebellion, and while the need by Britain to import raw cotton for manufacturing textile goods increased slightly, manufactured goods and more expensive commodities were reduced. The mainstay of the business for the Panther were the railway supplies to India via Britain, which at that point was at a standstill.
The Indian rebellion also coincided with end of the Crimean war (1853-1856), a bitter, drawn-out war in the Near East which had erupted between Britain, France and Russia and was focused on the Crimean Peninsula. In order to feed its military, Britain needed wheat, and it needed more grain than could can be grown at locally. Normally prior to the conflict, 35% of Britain's wheat exports came from Russia. During the Crimean War, wheat prices soared as demand in Europe was great. In addition, British grain crops had failed in the previous years and with the necessity of feeding troops in the field, other sources of the essential grain were needed.
Fortunately, Britain's allies, the U.S. and Canada were able to provide to the much needed grain, and every effort was made to convert unused land into fertile farmland. Grain prices in 1855 skyrocketed to $2.19 a bushel and farmers began to purchase land to increase their crop supply, which in turn would increase their profits. Railroads were planned and financing secured for farm and railroad expansion based upon speculation that the agricultural boom would continue.
However, in 1857 with the end of the Crimean war, the United States was left with a large grain surplus, and rock-bottom prices and by 1858, grain prices dropped severely to $0.80 a bushel. The predicted boom and agricultural prosperity had not continued, leaving many small midwest towns such as Keoku, Iowa under immense financial pressure:
"A huge municipal debt magnified Keoku’s problems. By 1858 the town owed $900,000, mostly on railroad bonds, while the value of its taxable property dropped by $5.5 million. Lots that brought $1,000 before the crash now could not be sold for $10. Hard-hit property owners were unable to pay their taxes, and thousands of properties slipped into tax delinquency."
In round numbers, normally nearly two-thirds of the United States exports were sold and shipped to England, and her colonies. By the same token, usually only half of the United States imports were bought and shipped from Britain and her Colonies. This left a slight trade surplus, but in the years between 1856-1858 this balance changed. A newpaper article in May of 1858, sums up the difficulty, it compares the imports and exports to Britain between 1857 and 1858:
"The declared value of British manufactures and produce exported from the United Kingdom during May was less by a million sterling than in the corresponding month of last year; but even this decline was an improvement upon the average of five months, the falling off on the exports amounted to about seven millions compared with 1857. The import accounts of the Board of Trade, delivered to the legislature on the day the mail was made up in London, show increased supply of Cotton both as regards to the month of May, and the whole expired portion of the year, as compared with the corresponding periods of the year, as compared with the corresponding periods in 1857. The imports of the month amounted to 1,376,912 cwts, against 917,872 cwts, and of this quantity 1,228,127 cwts. was the produce of the United States. There was an increase from Egypt and Brazil, but the supply from India diminished more than half. The existing hostilities in the latter country are beginning seriously to affect the supplies of all kinds of Indian produce, whiule the contrary is the case as regards the exportation of British Manufacturers, for which India and Australia are the two best markets the merchant has. The quantity of wheat imported into the United Kingdom during the month was 508,567 qrs., but of this large amount only 18,842 qrs. was furnished by the United States against 22,725 qrs. in the corresponding month of last year. Nearly a third of the supply came from Prussia, but there was also considerable increase in the arrivals from Turkey and Egypt. Of flour, 414,955 cwts. were imported against 189, 172 cwts., the American portion of this supply being 156, 457 cwts against 151,339 cwts. The amount of bullion and specie for the month shows an importation of £140,643 from against only £7,414 to, the United States. Nearly half of the total imports were from Australia and the bulk of the exports to France.The shipping accounts show that of 3,482 vessels which entered British ports in May 1857, who tonnage amounted to one-sixth of the whole belonged to the United States. The entries and clearances of vessels continue to increase, notwithstanding the prolonged depression of trade. The increase embraced every flag except those of Denmark, Holland, Belgium, the Hanse towns and Spain. "
The recession in 1857 ended a period of prosperity and speculation that had followed the Mexican-American War and the discovery of gold in California in the late 1840s. Gold pouring into the American economy played its part by helping inflate the currency. Changes in worldwide economic trade, caused by the Crimean War between Britain and Russia, had pushed American firms into a precarious worldwide market. The immediate event that touched off the panic was the failure on August 24 of the New York City branch of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Co., a major financial force that collapsed following widespread embezzlement.
In the wake of this event, a series of other setbacks shook the public's confidence, including:
► The decision of British investors to remove funds from U.S. banks, which raised questions about overall U.S. economic soundness
► The fall of grain prices, which spread economic misery into rural areas, because of the end of the Crimean War and Russian re-entry into global markets
► The collapse of land speculation programs that depended on new rail routes, ruining thousands of investors
► These triggers lowered the value of stocks and bonds held by American banks, further reducing their investment assets.
In order to restore investor confidence and stabilize the economy, on Sept. 3, 1857 the SS Central America, a 280-foot sidewheel steamer that operated between Central America and the eastern coast of the United States left the Panamanian port of Colón, under the command of Commander William Lewis Herndon, a distinguished U.S. Naval officer who had served during the Mexican-American War and explored the Amazon Valle. She departed Panama with nearly 10 tons of gold ingots and bullion from the San Francisco mint and 550 passengers for New York City. It was expected that the nearly 30,000 pounds of gold would help increase investor confidence and stabilize wall-street stocks.
After a brief stop in Havana, Cuba she headed north towards New York. On 9 September, the ship was caught up in a Category 2 hurricane while off the coast of the Carolinas. By 11 September, the 105 mph (165 km/h) winds and heavy surf had shredded her sails, she was taking on water, and her boiler was threatening to go out. A leak in one of the seals to the paddle wheels sealed her fate, and, at noon that day, her boiler could no longer maintain fire. Steam pressure dropped, shutting down both the pumps keeping the water at bay and the paddle wheels that kept her pointed into the wind as the ship settled by the stern. The passengers and crew flew the ship's flag upside down (a universal sign of distress) to try to signal a passing ship. No one came.
A bucket brigade was formed and her passengers and crew spent the night fighting a losing battle against the rising water. During the calm of the hurricane, attempts were made to get the boiler running again, but these all failed. The second half of the storm then struck. The ship was now on the verge of foundering. Without power, the ship was carried along with the storm, so the strong winds would not abate. The next morning, two ships were spotted, including the brig Marine. One-hundred fifty-three passengers, primarily women and children, managed to make their way over in lifeboats. However, the ship remained in an area of intense winds and heavy seas that pulled the ship and most of her company away from rescue and eventually took the ship and many of the roughly 425 people still on board, her captain, and 30,000 pounds of gold sank to the bottom of the ocrean at around 8 pm that night.
J. Childs painting of the wreck of the SS Central American, 1857,
in the National Maritime Museum in London
When the sinking of the SS Central America and the loss of gold was announced, the general public's confidence in the government's ability to back its paper currency with specie was shaken as well. Thousands began to "run" to the banks, withdrawing money. This caused several bank failures, which further compounded the economic situation. Even future Civil War hero and US president, Ulysses S. Grant, was bankrupted and had to pawn his own gold watch to buy Christmas presents.
Investors run to the Seaman's Saving's Bank
New Owner(s) For the Panther: Minot, Hooper & Co. & Capt. Gannett
Not all companies however, struggled in the United States in 1857, some were able to use the downturn to their advantage. Lyman Mills, a textile mill in Holyoke, Massachusetts, was established in 1854, about the same time the Panther was launched, when the Boston-based directors of the Hadley Falls Company (established in 1832) decided to divide the firm into two separate corporations. The textile manufacturing arm was named Lyman Mills. The Hadley Falls Company continued to handle water power, machine shop and real estate operations. Although they were separate companies, Lyman Mills and the Hadley Falls Company had many officers and stockholders in common. George W. Lyman, for example, served as treasurer of both firms.
The Hadley Falls Company, its credit less secure than before the split, did not survive the Panic of 1857. It failed in 1859 and its property was sold at auction. Despite economic fluctuations that at times necessitated cutbacks and occasionally a temporary shutdown of one or both of its two mills, Lyman Mills prospered. It produced coarse goods such as shirtings, sheetings and heavy yarn but its greater success came from the manufacture of fine lawns, fancy-dress goods and drills. A third mill was built in 1873, with another expansion taking place in 1891.
George Richards Minot II, William Minot’s first-born son, built his summer home in 1846 on a lot just one-hundred feet from his father’s. After attending the boarding school kept by his kinsman Stephen Minot Weld at Centre and South Street in Jamaica Plain area of Boston, George became a merchant like his 18th-century ancestor Stephen Minot. George entered the mercantile firm of Chandler and Howard on Commercial Wharf as an apprentice at the age of 16 in 1829. He served on East-Indian trading ships for about ten years before he opened his own Indian trading company, Minot and Hooper of Marblehead, in 1839. The ships he owned worked the ports of India, China and Boston until trading dropped off during the financial panic of 1857. Minot and Hooper then removed to Milk Street opposite the Old South Church meeting house, which was the birth home of Benjamin Franklin and became a selling agent for Lyman Mills.
As did R.C. Mackay, the Minot family had long standing ties to Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers of the United States. George Richards Minot II, grandfather, George Richards Minot I, established his law office six years before the United States became the United States by adopting a constitution and when Massachusetts in 1788 held its convention to decide whether it would accept the constitution, John Hancock was its president and George Richards Minot, already a lawyer of reputation, was its vice president.
Minot had entered Harvard in 1774 and graduated as valedictorian. He studied law with Fisher Ames and in 1782, when twenty-four years old, he was admitted to the bar and opened an office at 39 Court Street, on which street John Adams also had an office. Minot’s first sign, or “shingle” was fixed to an elm tree which stood in the front yard of the building. He became clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and being able, industrious and of good family, it was not long before clients came his way. He was honest, faithful, trusted, and soon began to file with the Probate Court reports as trustees of property entrusted to him for management and care. He took active part in civic affairs. He was one of the organizers of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He helped to establish in 1798 the Massachusetts Mutual Company, one of the first companies organized to protect Boston against loss by fire, and judge of probate. So well did he serve as trustee that at his death in 1802 he had won position as one of the most successful in Boston. In time the original “shingle” and the elm tree at 39 Court Street disappeared, the first building was replaced by another, and that in its turn by another, but for nearly a century and a quarter there continued to be, where George Richards Minot established it, the office of Minot, trustee.
George Richards Minot at the time of his death had spent fifteen years at the Court Street office. He was not followed immediately at the office by a Minot for his son, William Minot, George Richard Minot II father, was then only nineteen and graduated from Harvard a few months later with the class of 1802. Out of college, William Minot studied law and was admitted to the Suffolk County Bar in 1805. At first he tried at opening an office in Marlboro but returned almost at once to the office at 39 Court Street.
One of the first funds entrusted to him as trustee was $4000 which Benjamin Franklin had bequeathed to Boston and this Minot administered gratuitously for sixty-four years, at the end of which time he handed over to the city the $125,000 into which the original sum had grown under his care.
In 1841 William Minot’s son, and George RIchards Minot II brother, William Jr. joined his father at 39 Court Street office, having been admitted to the bar the same year. The younger William prepared for Harvard at Boston Latin School, which then stood where the Parker House is today. He graduated with the Class of 1836 and began the study of law but because of his health he travelled abroad for a while before settling down to his life work in his father’s office and started out on his career as trustee. Young Minot soon found plenty to do. Trusteeships took up practically all of his time but he did, by request make a study of conditions of the Boston & Providence Railroad and as a result made recommendations which, being adopted, enabled the road to resume payment of dividends.
George Richards Minot II: Grandfather, Father & Brother
George Richards Minot I, William Minot Sr, and William Minot Jr.
Instead of following in his footsteps with his father, George Richards Minot II, became a successful merchant.
Minot, Hooper & Company advertisements circa 1894, 1895 & 1896
George Richards Minot II married Harriet Jackson in 1841 and for a time lived on Pinckney Street opposite Louisbourg Square. His summers were spent at the Woodbourne section of Jamaica Plain, a historic section of Boston after his house was completed, but after 1849, he and his family lived there year round. George’s house had vegetable gardens and a barn for horses, cows and pigs. The horses and cows grazed in the fields below the house and drank from Stony Brook. His house had a “beautiful view of the Blue Hills,” as James Jackson Minot wrote in his invaluable genealogy of his family in 1936. George’s brother William — with whom he was close — described him as a caring man who “took care of the poor people who lived in Canterbury Village [and] saw that they had work and food.”
George Minot II was a very philanthropic individual and was known for being of high integrity and generousity. His brother William wrote the obituary of George Richards Minot II in the Boston Advertiser of December 6, 1883: “[He was] the ideal of a Boston merchant… [a man of] commercial honor… unwearied in his efforts to make everybody about him happy.”
In mid 1857, the Panther would have docked up at "India Wharf", in Boston where George Minot, and the Minot, Hooper & Company held their offices. In those days, India Wharf became Boston's "headquarters of the trade with the Orient and many valuable cargoes from Canton, Calcutta, Russia and the Mediterranean ports were discharged there. ...There were 30 stores in the block. Many Bostonians of today can recall the time when several large square riggers were moored at the wharf, unloading their cargoes of tea, coffee, spices and fruit."
In 1815, an observer described the wharf as, "Across from the long wharves, or in the western part of the city, the India Wharf runs from north to south. An immense stone store, 1,340 feet in length, is divided into rooms containing merchandise from the East Indies...."
A New Captain & Part Owner for the Panther - John P. Gannett
Captain John Palsgrave (J.P.) Gannett was born in 1808 in Hartford, CT. His family belonged to the upper crust of society and was one of the founding pioneer families in Hartford. His father, John Mico Gannett was a lawyer, and his grandfather, Caleb Gannett and uncle, Erza Stiles Gannett were well respected Unitarianchurch ministers in Cambridge, Mass.
Ezra Stiles Gannett was a prominent Unitarian minister, editor, and a founder of the American Unitarian Association (AUA). Although his predecessor, Channing and many other liberals feared sectarianism, Gannett early on saw the necessity of a separate Unitarian institutional organization. In 1825 he participated in the discussions that led to the founding of the American Unitarian Association (AUA). He wrote the constitution and was chosen the first Secretary. "His whole soul is in it," Henry Ware, Jr. commented.
"The American Unitarian Association had its origin, not in a sectarian purpose, but in a desire to promote the increase of religion in the land," Gannett later wrote. "We found ourselves under the painful necessity of contributing our assistance to [false] views, or of forming an Association through which we might address the great truths of religion to our fellow-men, without the adulteration of erroneous dogmas. To take one of these two courses, or to do nothing in the way of Christian beneficence, was the only alternative permitted us. The name which was adopted has a sectarian sound. But it was chosen to avoid equivocation on the one hand, and misapprehension on the other."
Erza Gannett in his notes for his college thesis on theology, claiming "the right of private judgment" and the usefulness of reason in the interpretation of scripture. Among the errors that had crept into religion, in his estimation, were the "unintelligible" doctrine of the Trinity, the "repugnant" and "highly dangerous" doctrine of election - the belief that the salvation of a man depends on the election of God or Christ for that end, and the what he labelled as the "absurd" doctrine of infinite sin. He nevertheless showed profound reverence for revealed religion, including the miracles, whose evidence he believed "the highest which can be brought in proof of any system."
He was the colleague pastor, and successor, to William Ellery Channing at the Federal Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts. His son, William Channing Gannett, was J.P. Gannetts cousin and in the late 1800's became well-known for his views on social reform including carrying on his father's work advocating womans rights. He became pastor of the first Unitarian Church of Rochester, New York. Gannett was a strong supporter of the rights of women and African Americans, a prolific hymn-writer, and a champion of nonsectarian religion.
The Gannetts were early settlers of the "old colony", his grand-father Caleb was doubtless glad to count among his sixteen great-great-great-grandmothers, one Mary Chilton, a "Mayflower" pilgrim girl, and according to family legend the first woman to touch the Pylmouth sands at the general landing of the Pilgrims. Their family was a long sucession of sea-captains, farmers and theologists.
In 1848, New Bedford, Mass. was a focal shipping point, and through incoming vessels, the excitement and news of the California Gold Rush, centered in San Francisco began to spread.
This influenced Capt J.P. Gannett to head west to take advantage of the gold rush, and in May 1851, he was appointed command of a mail steamer for the Union Line, "the Confidence" that began regular runs from San Francsico to Sacremento.
An article in the Sacramento Transcript describes the steamer and appointment of Gannett to the Confidence:
"THE STEAMER CONFIDENCE -- This Splendid steamer not only started with a deal of reputation and popularity, but her officers and agent have a faculty of maintaining that popularity, which decidedly increases, the longer she runs. A captain of a steamboat in these days, should be not less a gentleman than a man of sound mind and talent. The trust imposed to his charge is important. He comes in contact with the best of society and none but such a man should have command of a splendid steamer. With this view, we must say that the agent of the Union Line, has made a very happy selection in Capt. Gannett, and the popularity of the boat is not likely to suffer in his hands. But if Captain Gannett gives such general satisfaction, we can say nothing less of the gentlemanly Clerk. Mr. Hanna is accommodating, prompt, efficient, and popular; and those that travel on the Confidence need never fear that their comfort and convenience will not be well looked after. The Senator's upper saloon is, on the one hand, spacious and princely, but on the other the saloon of the Confidence is elegant, and is just the size to induce to sociability. It is impossible for those at home to realize the splendid accommodations to be found for travelling on the Sacramento River. "
The Confidence - On the Hudson River, shortly after her launchings in 1849,
her sister ship Wilson G. Hunt is in the background. Painted by JJ BARD in 1849.
Wilson G. Hunt with her sister ship Confidence in the background, in New York shortly after launching in 1849.
Painted by J.J. Bard in N.Y. in 1849.
Both the Confidence and Wilson G. Hunt were originally built in New York in 1849 for the excursion trade to Coney Island. On March 2; 1850; shortly after her completion, the Wilson G. Hunt was sent around the Horn to San Francisco, arriving there in early 1850. She was immediately placed in the Sacramento River trade and became a 'bonanza steamer' carrying gold speculators to the gold fields. Shortly after, Confidence joined the Wilson G. Hunt on the Sacramento River in California during the gold rush. Confidence sailed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the run from San Francisco to Sacramento by Capt. Gannett. under the "Union Line", which also owned the Wilson G. Hunt, which ran on alternate days.
Later both steamboats were purchased from the Union Line by The California Steam Navigation Co. The Wilson G. HUnt was rebuilt as the ferry steamer San Antonio. During the Fraser River Gold Rush, the steamer was sent to Victoria, BC in August 1858; and ran for a short time on the New Westminster route. In October 1858 she was withdrawn and then in the following year replaced the steamer Constitution on Puget Sound. Early in the 1860's she was bought by the Oregon Steam Navigation Company and taken to the Columbia River where she operated on the Cascade Route under command of Captain John Wolf. She ran on the Columbia until 1869; carrying from 250 to 300 passengers; 100 head of stock and a substantial amount of freight on a single trip. The river steamer was rebuilt in 1865 and in 1869 returned to Puget Sound. She continued to be used on various runs until 1890 when she was broken up and sold for her iron scrap to Cohn & Company of San Francisco. Her hull was burned in Victoria shortly thereafter.
June 6, 1890, San Francisco Call
The Wilson G. Hunt.
Victoria, June 5.— The steamer Wilson G. Hunt, which ran on the Hudson in 1849, and later on piled on the Sacramento River and in British Columbia waters, was burned to the water's edge this morning. She was owned by Cohn of San Francisco, who bought her for the old metal in her.
The Wilson G. Hunt is noted as "one of the most notable vessel's who ever turned a wheel in Northwestern waters." Descriptions at the time make particular mention of her "white enameled cabins with elaborate gold leaf trim; and stained glass windows in the monitor of her main cabin."
Capt. Gannett was a competant but competitive steamer captain. In those days, it was common for the steamers to "race" each other to their destinations, often arriving minutes ahead of their rivals. This became quite a "sport" and significant wagers were made on the "races" and the captains of the fastest steamers not only had bragging rights, but were often held in high public regaurd. In one instance, the Confidence, raced the New World - an incredibly luxuriant steamboat, and lost only by a few minutes. As chronicled by the paper, the race was of large interest, and citizens lined up along the along the route:
"Steamboat Racing — The New World and Confidence came down from Sacramento under a high press of steam last evening; and we understand that many bets were pending on the fleetness of the two steamers. Tho Confidence arrived at Benicia a few minutes in advance of the New World ; but the latter steamer was first at her berth in this city. We are informed that a passenger, in coming on board of the Confidence at Benicia, accidentally fell overboard, and thus delayed the steamboat some minutes. We trust this steamboat racing will not be persevered in, for if it be, we shall very soon have some horrible catastrophe to chronicle which will chill the commuuity with horror."
Capt. Gannett and the Confidence quickly gained a reputation for being one of the fastest steamers in San Francisco, and a great rivalry developed between the New World and the Confidence for top honors in speed, and which was quite a spectacle and a daily news item often appearing in the Daily Alta, in a series of remarks and rebuttals:
"The Question Settled." -Messrs. Editors:— ln the Courier of the 17th there appeared a communication headed as above, in relation to our Sacramento steamers, the New World and Confidence, which boastingly gave it out as a fact that the Cofidence had the supremacy, as she had beaten the New World thirty minutes one day and twenty another day. On the day that the Confidence beat thirty minutes, the New World met with two mishaps, which detained her more than forty miuutes, viz: in coming through the slough she became unfortunately entangled in the trees which project over the bank, and at Benicia, it being very dark and the wind blowing hard, she failed to effect a landing, and had to turn around and back, so that a full half hour was lost. Yesterday, howrver, the "question" was settled over again. Both boats started in fine stylr, the Confidence ahead about the distance between the two landings. Before reachi g the point, the World came alongtide, when one of the most exciting races came off I have ever witnessed. The World, however, was gaining until they came near the brick kiln, when the Confidence lay close alongside and commenced crowding the Wor'd so that it was with difficulty that she could be kept from the shore.
As the point was gained, the World was so crowded as to change her coarse, so that she was compelled to back, to prevent running into the opposite bank. The Confidence was in a position to take advantage of this and passed her, which advantage she maintained until she arrived at Benicia. Here the World landed just astern of her, and after exchanging passengers, started off. and in the most gallant style took the lead, which she maintained until she landed at the dock.
The landing, departing, and resuming the lead at Benicia, was not to be beaten, and showed to all who saw it that Capi. Hutching is not to be excelled as a steamboat man.
I will here remark in conclusion that the New World officers and crew are not to be beaten, and beg leave to commend them to the travelling public. R.
The New World and Confidence - These superb steamers are justly the pride of our citizens, as well aa great favorites with the river cities, and the travelling public in general. The New World is larger, bat in point of speed it must be conceded that the Confidence has shown, by her average trips, to posess the "lightest heels." A correspondent in this paper instanced, a few mornings since, a trial of speed, in which the New World came out best. The particulars of the run do not appear to have been fully stated. Captain Gannett, of the Confidence, informs us that his boat led the New World six minutes into Benicia, and at that place some detention being caused, the rival steamer overhauled her, and slipping in between the stern of the Confidence and the landing, by parting a stern line, landed her passengers and was off, leaving the Confidence to back up, finish her shore business, and follow in the wake of the New World, reaching her wharf four minutes after that boat arrived. Last night the Confidence came in ten minutes ahead. We state these circumstances at the request of Capt. Gannett, in order that equal fairness and justice may be extended him that was shown our correspondent a few days since.
When Capt. Gannett took command of the Confidence at the end of 1850 there were 28 steamers on the Sacramento River, 23 barks, 19 brigs, and 21 brigantines. Voyage prices between San Francisco and Sacramento ranged from $10.00 and up, which included only the fare with cabin. Meals and liquor were additional and freight went for $8.00 a ton. Each year new steamboats arrived and added to these numbers.
Stiff competition would eventually drive down fares to about one dollar. The competition was so fierce and the steamboats numbers grew so high, that safety was completely overshadowed in the quest for maximum profits. In addition, steamboat captains continued to "race" to determine to better skipper and fastest boat. Accidents became more frequent, and even deliberate rammings to prevent a rival steamboat from capturing the lead started to become commonplace.
Capt. Gannett was fortunate in that for nearly two years he ran the river three times a week, racing for top position against rival steamboats with very few mishaps. If he was delayed they was usually a very good reason, he once gave an eloquant speech on the Confidence to a couple of important Sacrmento businessman, which after amassing a fortune during the Gold Rush decided to return to New York. An excerpt of the speech was recorded in the local newspaper, and it certainly contained quite a whiff of salt by a seasoned merchant captain:
For the Transcript.
On passing down J street yesterday, we noticed a procession of a large number of our merchants and leading men, and learned it was occasioned by the departure of two of our most active business men, and enterprising merchants, — for their homes on the Atlantic. Mr. T. C. D. Olmstead is identified with the early history and settlement of Sacramento, and with the foresight and sagacity of an experienced business man, made this his home, and a year since perfected arrangements in New York City for purchase and shipment of entire cargoes to this place and has legitimately amassed a fortune. Mr. Israel Vail, is another one of the many who arrived with the earliest immigration, and by prudence, foresight and calculation, has also realised an independence of means, beyond his most sanguine expectations. We learn with regret, he does not intend to return, but trusts that the demonstration of friendship and high regard manifested by his friends on his departure, will often recur to mind while at home, and be a strong incentive to a second visit. The Confidence was delayed by the courtesy of Capt. Gannett, to give all an opportunity for a parting word, and grasp of the hand; and when the steamer "rounded to," "three times three" for the "homeward bound," made the welkin ring, which was responded by the departing friends, and duplicated by those on shore. We wish them a safe and pleasant voyage, and merry re-union with their friends, and speedy return to the host of friends they leave behind.
An interesting archaic remark made by Capt. Gannett, is to "make the welkin ring", it is not commonplace today, but at one time it meant to make such a noise as to be heard in heaven, and to "make the welkin ring" was a commonplace expression that meant a good hearty laugh or cheer.
The New England Quarterley, Dec. 1943 stated, "It does the heart of man good to huzza for freedom, [to MAKE] THE WELKIN RING with the voice of the people when they make merry and are glad be cause of some noble deed—some act of humanity . .". It is not hard to imagine, Capt Garrett and the passengers, together with the citizens of San Francisco, on the wharf giving a mighty round of huzzahs as a send-off to these noble gentleman as they began their way to New York.
Eventually Gannett's luck would run out and the Confidence was involved in a steamer collision. It appeared that the the other captain purposefully rammed or crossed the bow of Capt. Gannet in order to avoid being beaten during a race. The Confidence was put out of commision as considerable damage was done. Although not permanent, it meant the Confidence would be down for some time. Capt. Gannet then made a decision to return back east.
Just before christmas eve 1852, Capt. Gannet was given an award for his service as a steamboat captain. The Daily Alta describes the elaborate and expensive celebration in his honor:
"Presentation of Silver Service. — A presentation of magnificent silver sets of plate took place at the Irving House on Wednesday evening to Mr. Thomas Hunt and Capt. John P. Gannett. The service presented to Mr. Hunt was complete to the most minute particulars, even napkin rings being supplied. It was the work, partly of Mr. James Bailey, of Sacramento, and Messrs. Jacks Brothers, of this city. The artistic skill displayed in its getting-up is highly creditable. The service presented to Capt. Gannett is entirely the work of Jacks Brothers, and worthy of the occasion. The entire service cost $2,100, and is in every essential, alike creditable to donors and receivers. Judge Chambers performed the ceremony of presentation to Mr. Hunt on behalf of the donors, (numbering fifty-seven names.) in a very happy style. Mr. D. B. Milne, responded on the part of Mr. Hunt in an appropriate and feeling manner. He then made the presentation to Capt. Gannett in a suitable and agreeable way, and to which Capt. Gannett replied in an eloquent speech. In the course of his remarks he adverted very happily to the delights, loves and beauties of his social life, as well as to the responsibilities of his business, or public one. The principal piece presented to Mr. Hunt exhibited an engraving of the steamer Wilson G. Hunt on one side, and the Confidence on the other, with the inscription, " Presented to Thomas Hunt as a testimonial of the high regard entertained for him by his friends in California." The same inscription was engraved on that presented to Capt. Gannett, with the necessary alteration of name. After the presentation, the company sat down to a sumptuous entertainment, got up in the best kind of style by the Losts of the Irving.
Wit, jest, repartee, bon mot and song, enlivened the festive reunion, whilst a large number of little cork pellets, branded with the word "Schreider", or some such other German appellation, kept up a merry popping around the room. Mirth and good feeling reigned supreme until "the wee sma' hours ayant the twal," when the joyous company separated for their several homes.
Shorly after, Capt. J.P. Gannett headed west back to Massachusettes, and eventually found his way to Boston, in the employ of Minton & Hooper. He was given command of the Panther and because of the economy being what it was, and the situation in India, he was to set sail carrying goods bound for San Francisco merchants. Certainly, the time he had spent in San Francisco and his good character had enabled him to develop strong business ties between Boston and San Francisco.
The good Capt. Gannett, set sail with the Panther from Boston July 9th, 1857. As was customary between clipper captain's headed for the same destination, it became a race to see who could arrive in the best time, and with their cargos intact.
A Clipper Race To San Francisco: Goddess versus Panther
Every circumstance connected with the weary, ocean route to be traversed between the Atlantic States and California, is of importance, as illustrating the vicissitudes besetting the navigator, and the chances constantly occurring for or against the making of speedy passage. The old adage, that the race is not always for the swift, is seldom more aptly exemplified than in the passages of clipper ships from the Atlantic to San Francisco. Often, whereby the merest hap-hazard navigation, "and without any extraordinary idling qualities, vessels quick passages, and, as an offset of the blind goddess' unequal dispensations, the most famous clippers, commanded by ambitious and experienced men, frequently arrive in port complaining of wearisome calms or destructive tempests, which have lengthened the passages for weeks beyond the time reasonably expected of them."
Lengthy abstracts from the logs of the best known clippers, show the difficulties or advantages under which they doubled the stormy South Cape, and illustrate the science and skill necessary to be exercised in conducting one of these valuable ocean gems safely into port. That commander may be justly proud, who can reflect that he has brought his charge uninjured into the Golden Gate, her cargo in good order, and every, mast and spar in its place. He has sailed through latitudes whose rigor and continuous storms have passed to a proverb, and from which few ships escape without some testimonial of the power of old Boreas, in his icy stronghold of Cape Horn.
However, the advancement of ship building technology, and scienctific naviagtion methods impacted the sailor's role upon the ship, and thereby the captain's skill necessary to complete a safe voyage round "the horn"; Where, formerly, a sailor was scarcely allowed the name among his shipmates until he could say he had doubled the Cape, thousands of landsmen, with no claim to seamanship, now make the dreaded passage, and custom has at last divested it of half its terrors. The hardships are the same, but the commander who accomplishes it is not, as formerly, regarded as a particularly adventurous or successful seaman.
Lieut. Maury brought the science of navigation, especially as regards
the trip between New York and California to ship Captain's in the 1850's.
Both the Panther & The Goddess used Maury's navigational aids
to sail between Boston and San Francsisco in a clipper race.
One of the largest scientific breakthroughs in navigation of the time was made by Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury, whose Huguenot ancestry can be traced back to 15th century France. Matthew Fontaine Maury's grandfather (the Reverend James Maury) was an inspiring teacher to a future U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson. Maury also had Dutch-American ethnicity from the "Minor" family of early Virginia. Lt. Maury, served as a midshipman on board the US Frigate Brandywine, which was famous for transporting the french general Lafayette back to France after the revolution. During this voage, Maury began to study the seas and methods of navigation.
An unfortunate carriage accident left him crippled, at the age of 33 ending his sea-going career. However this allowed him to work on several important scientific works. Maury quickly took a keen interest in plotting ships navigation and wind directions that had been laid out in log-books. He began to meticulously plot the information on graphs and charts, and combined it with several astronomical observations. His involvement with the navy, and keen interest in astronomy allowed him togain a position at the Naval Observatory, of which he would eventually become superintendant. The observatory's primary mission was to care for the U.S. Navy's marine chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment. Maury was in fact one of the principal advocates for the founding of a national observatory, and appealed to science enthusiast and former U.S. President, Congressman John Quincy Adams for the creation of what would eventually become the United States Naval Observatory.
At the Observatory, Maury uncovered an enormous collection of thousands of old ships' logs and charts in storage in trunks dating back to the start of the United States Navy. Maury poured over these documents to collect information on winds, calms, and currents for all seas in all seasons. His dream was to put this information in the hands of all captains, to make navigation around the world considerably easier.
Maury also used the old ships' logs to chart the migration of whales. Whalers at the time went to sea, sometimes for years, without knowing that whales migrate and that their paths could be charted.
Maury's work on ocean currents led him to advocate his theory of the Northwest Passage, as well as the hypothesis that an area in the ocean near the North Pole is occasionally free of ice. The reasoning behind this was sound. Logs of old whaler ships indicated the designs and markings of harpoons. Harpoons found in captured whales in the Atlantic had been shot by ships in the Pacific and vice versa, and this occurred with a frequency that would have been impossible had the whales traveled around Cape Horn.
Maury, knowing a whale to be a mammal, theorized that a northern passage between the oceans that was free of ice must exist to enable the whales to surface and breathe. This became a popular idea that inspired many explorers to seek a reliably navigable sea route. However, despite modern advancements, arctic exploration was still extremely dangerous, and many of those explorers died in their search.
In 1855, Lieutenant Maury published his Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of ocean voyages; his Sailing Directions and Physical Geography of the Seas and Its Meteorology remain a standard. navigational aid Maury's uniform system of recording synoptic oceanographic data was adopted by navies and merchant marines around the world and was used to develop charts for all the major trade routes.
Maury became known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas" and "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology" and later, "Scientist of the Seas," due to the publication of his extensive works in his books, especially The Physical Geography of the Sea (1855), the first extensive and comprehensive book on oceanography to be published. Maury made many important new contributions to charting winds and ocean currents, including ocean lanes for passing ships at sea.
One newspaper, wrote of the publication of Maury's work: "To such a complete system has Lieut. Maury brought the science of navigation, especially as regards the trip between New York and California, that the passages of clipper ships between those points may be reduced almost to the bearings of yacht races : the stakes, the reputation of the ships for speed ; the Atlantic and Pacific the noble arena for the competitors, and the distance nearly that of the earth's circumference."
Wind and Current Chart Of The North Atlantic (1855) -
This chart was used by both the Panther & Goddess to race from Boston to San Francisco.
The Goddess was under the command of Capt. Crowell and the Panther under Capt. J.P. Gannett, a successful riverboat captain.
The Goddess. had several hours start of her companion in the race. The two ships stood out to the eastward from Massachusetts Bay, and headed at once towards the point recommended by Lieut. Maury in his chart, for crossing the Equator. Both had light, bafflling winds and calms until their arrival at the line, which the Panther reached on the 8th of August, and crossed 36 hours before the Goddess. Up to this time, the Panther, drawing nearly 22 feet, had outsailed her rival, and apparently bid fair to make the best passage. Her superiority of model, and the extraordinary time footed up by her log, show her to be the fastest ship of the two.
Still following the directions of Maury, they steered down past Cape St. Rogue, the Panther taking the lead, as far as the parallel of the River de la Plata, when she was met by a tremendous gale from the westward, which forced her so far out of her course as to necessitate pasting to the eastward of the Falkland Islands, and consequently prevented her going through the Straits of Le Maire.
In the meantime, the Goddess came booming down the South American coast, escaped the Pampero, which had overtaken her predecessor, hugged the shore closely and slipped through the Straits of Le Maire, thus giving her competitor the dodge, and reaching the pitch of the Cape in 63 days, a point not gained by the Panther until a week later, owing to the circuitous course into which she had been forced. This made a difference, as Capt. Gannett supposes, of about fifteen days in his passage. Once off the Cape, and the two ships seem to have fallen afoul of a series of gales and tremendous seas, such as are rarely chronicled, even of those tempestuous climes.
The approx. route taken by the Goddess (red) and Panther (blue) in their race around the horn.
The Panther was blown considerably off course to the east of the Falklands.
The Strait of Le Maire - The Goddess beat the panther to this point by about ten days,
due to a strong gale known as a "Pampero", that blew the Panther eastward.
The Panther, stripped like a pugilist for the fight, encountered during all September, a succession of violent westerly gales, and was 27 days from Staten Land to the longitude of 80 degrees W., and latitude of 50 degrees S., or the place In the Pacific considered necessary to be attained before heading boldly to the northward.
An unknown clipper similar to the The Panther, fights and feuds
her way through the tremendous westerly gales off Cape Horn.
Painted by James. E. Butterworth circa 1850-90
From that point the scene changes; the southern extremity of the continent has been rounded, and the ships are now ready for the home swing. As they turn their prows to the northward, they fly with outstretched wings before the favoring breeze, which but shortly before had reduced them to their smallest canvas and met them in the teeth with its adverse blasts. Let us take either, as she cleaves the smooth waters, drawing steadily towards the tropics, expanding her broad canvas majestically to the southeast trades, and leaving behind her the icy gales and long dark nights of the Cape.
Gradually she nears the equator, throwing each day behind her five degrees of latitude. Her course is on a wide expanse of level ocean, over which she glides noiselessly and almost without motion, save the steady, onward sweep of the beautiful structure. Day by day the climate changes; the north star, long out of sight below the chilly horizon of a southern hemisphere, now begins to peep above the sea; each night its quiet light shines from a higher altitude, as the good ships plow swiftly to the northward.
Familiar constellations peculiar to northern latitudes, and for many days concealing their starry splendors beneath the water, rise from ahead and wheel in larger circles above the ship as she marches along her ocean course. The two ships thus ran down the southeast trades, the Goddess leading the Panther nearly a fortnight, and crossing the equator in the Pacific in longitude 114 degrees W. on the 26th of October, on her 108th day from Boston. Eleven days later, the Panther crossed in longitude 112 degrees W., or 120 miles to the west of the crossing place of the Goddeas, and on her 118 th day from Boston. It will be seen that after the gale which drove the Panther to the eastward of the Falkland Islands, giving the Goddest ten days start, the two ships preserved the same distance apart — crossing the line at about the same interval of time, and not far from the same place. From the equator, the Goddess experienced fresh N. E. trades as far as 39 degrees N., and thence into port light northerly winds
The Panther seemed to have struck an entirely different current of wind, meeting with light baffling airs from 2 degrees to 28 degrees N., and. was 23 days from the equator to the Heads.
The passages of the two ships, then, may be summed up as follows : The Panther— To the equator on the Atlantic side, 31 days ; to Cape Horn, 69 days ; to the equator on the Pacific side, 118 days; to San Fran;isco, 142 days. The Goddess— To the equator, on the Atlantic side, 32 days ; to Cape Horn, 61 days, to the equator, on the Pacific side, 108 days and to San Francisco, 130 days. The Goddess thus beat the Panther about 12 days.
The Panther next sailed for the Chilean Port of Valparaiso. At the time, the city of Valparaiso was the first and most important merchant port on the sea routes of the Pacific coast of South America that linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the Strait of Magellan. It had a major commercial impact on its region from the 1880s until the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. The territory was originally inhabited by Chango Indians, who lived on farming and fishing. The site of Valparaíso in the Valley of Quintil, on the Pacific coast, was discovered by Juan de Saavedra in 1536. The settlement was founded by Pedro de Valdivia in 1544, and it was designated the first port of the nation in 1554. The settlement developed first in the areas known as Juna Gomez (today Carampangue), San Francisco, and San Agustin. At the end of the 16th century, a road connection was built from Valparaíso to Santiago. The Spanish immigrants introduced the Catholic faith, and built the first chapel in the settlement village, at the foot of the San Francisco ravine. The church of La Matríz was built there in 1658, followed by the construction of the fortresses. At this time, other religious orders arrived, including the Augustinians and the Franciscans, and the settlement started taking shape. The commercial centre and the warehouses occupied the main coastal area. The opening of Cape Horn meant intensive wheat trading from Valparaíso to El Callao in the 18th century. The urban layout developed mainly around two focal points, the seaport with the commercial centre, and the Almendral beach area with farmhouses and small businesses. After a disastrous earthquake in 1730, the inhabitants were forced to move on the hillsides, thus developing the most characteristic feature of the town. From this time on, most of the settlement developed over the hills.
With the independence of Chile in 1810, Valparaíso soon became the most important harbour town on the Pacific coast. This meant commercial transactions with Europe as well as with the United States, ending Chile's dependence on Spain. Around 1839-40, Valparaíso was granted independent administrative status as an Intendencia, and in 1842 it became the capital of the Province of Valparaíso, with fiscal warehouses and the Stock Exchange. At this time, the town attracted great numbers of immigrants from England, France, Germany, and the United States, contributing to the development of shipping and commerce. This influence can still be appreciated on the streets at the foot of hills in Arsenal (now Bustamante), La Planchada (now Serrano), La Aduana (now Prat) and Del Cabo (now Esmeralda). The city acquired a cosmopolitan image. In the 1840s and 1850s, more warehouses were built between the present Aduana Square and the Duprat fortress. In 1852, a railway was built to the inner cities of the region and to the capital, Santiago.
The Port of Valparaiso Chile, circa 1857.
In the second half of the 19th century, the position of Valparaíso was further strengthened as the main harbour and commercial centre of the country, and its activities included mining activities with Tarapaca and Antofagasta. The main economic resource gradually shifted from wheat to saltpetre. Following this development, the town was articulated into areas characterized by their principal activities, such as commerce, harbour, industry, and business. The streets of Planchada and Aduana were the main areas for diplomatic missions, banks, and international agencies. Between 1847 and 1870, Valparaíso attained its characteristic identity as a commercial and financial centre. The town expanded, and the chain of hills was connected by the Cintura highway some 100 m above the sea, based on the project by Fermin Vivaceta in 1872.
The Panther, undaunted by heavy storms, the recent financial panic, or the rebellion in India, sailed for Valparaiso with a variety of goods early in January 1958, her cargo list included a wide assortment of merchandise:
50 bbls smoked salmon
250 boxes Candles
86 rolls Matting
313 Pkgs Firecrackers
12 cs Mdse
200 pkgs mess beef
3 do sugar
73 cks Tallow
1,990 bags California Beans
The total value of her cargo to be sold at Valparaiso, was valued, in 1858, at $16,892.97. She made an uneventful but quick & successful run of 38 days from San Francisco to Valparaiso. The Panther made a return trip from Valparasio, in a good time of fifty days. She delivered a full cargo of 1800 bbls of Chilean Flour, 450 tons of Chilean Coal and 182 ceroons of Chilean Peaches. In addition, Captain Gannett was able to capture a stowaway, named Robinette, who made it appear that he had drowned by suicide, but actually attempted to board the Panther by way of secreting himself away on another ship, the Mercedes until it made port in Valparaiso where he had endeavoured to make a getaway.
Reported Important Arrest. — We have learned that it was reported by the Captain of the ship Panther, arrived a few days since from Valparaiso, that the Captain of the Chilean ship Mercedes, and also the supercargo, had been arrested at Valparaiso, charged with defrauding the consignees. It will be remembered that the Mercedes sailed from Canton for Valparaiso, loaded with a valuable cargo, consigned respectively to Messrs. Alsop, Huth Gruning, Agaeio, and Hulin &. Vicuna. Alsop was interested to the amount of $100,000, Huth Griming to $80,000, and the others $15,000. The supercargo, a young man well known in Valparaiso, is said to have confided the purchase of the cargo to two Chinese in Canton. After being out some time the cargo was discovered to be on fire, and on being extinguished, it was found that the various burnt packages did not contain silks, as had been supposed, but India sacks. This discovery appears to have acted with most distressing effect on the supercargo, and aroused the fears of the Captain that he would destroy himself. A strict watch was consequently maintained on his actions, and one day the Captain declares that he surprised him on the point of blowing out his brains. The supercargo promised to refrain from any more attempts of the like nature, and was permitted to go at large. The voyage progressed finely until within a short distance of the Chilean coast, when it was suddenly discovered on the night of the 9th of April that the supercargo was missing, being supposed to have jumped overboard. It now turns out, however, that he had been concealed by the Captain, and was discovered and arrested while endeavoring to get away on board the ship Panther. The Captain was also arrested, charged with being accessory to the fraud, which is alleged to have been perpetrated by the supercargo and not by the Canton merchants. — Herald, June 11th.
The Panther then was consigned to the Glidden & Williams Line, and left San Francisco on July 5th for Calcutta. On this trip, Capt. Gannett took under his wing a young lad of 17, named Edward H. Burr. Capt. Gannett was considered one of the " best commanders of his time". She left Sand Heads, Calcutta Mar. 28, 1859 and was 99 days to New York; being 12 days north of Bermuda. In 1860 she then sailed from San Francisco to Callao and was 92 days to New York, via Hampton Roads. She then crossed to Liverpool and went out to Calcutta and Bombay. After several voyages, the young Mr. Burr was made first officer of the Panther. Soon after the Calcutta voyages with Capt. Gannett, he made his first voyage as master on the clipper ship Orion, from Liverpool to Boston.
Capt. Gannett continued to be in touch with his uncle, the Rev. Ezra Gannett, and appeared to be knowledgeable and sympathetic to the spread of the Unitarian doctorines.
Charles Dall (1816-1886), a well known missionary in India,
and Unitarian minister in the United States and Canada,
sailed 142 days from Calcutta to Boston onboard the Panther.
While in Calcutta, Capt. Gannett was approached by Charles Dall, a Unitarian missionary and a well-known Unitarian minister to the poor in the United States and an early Unitarian minister in Canada. He influenced and worked with the leaders of the liberal Hindu Brahmo Samaj movement and, controversially, joined the Brahmos himself. Working as an educator as well as a missionary, he helped foster the emergence of a class of liberal Hindus who were as well-acquainted with Shakespeare and Milton as with their own traditional religious literature. His Unitarianism proved to be a safe and useful way for the young Bengali elite to step outside their own traditional patterns in order to critique Indian society and politics and to propose needed reforms. Although like most other missionaries of his time he made few converts to Christianity, his work did much to promote inter-faith dialogue and to prepare the way for modern India.
He writes in The Monthly Journal of the American Unitarian Association :
"This day was the day of Lord Channing's [William Ellery Channing] departure from India; and I went down to the river-side to see him off. The display was good, yet by no means so good as I anticipated. On the music-ground, I met Capt. Gannett, of the Panther who said that Dr. Gannett was more interested than at first in my work, and sent some books to me, or at least intended to send what he, the captain, whould have brought me, but that he was not expecting to sail directly to Calcutta. " -Tues. Feb 18, 1862
"Dear Friend And Brother --- On the day after tomoroow, I embark for America. Since I was driven back from my door, by the almost wreck of the Great Eastern to England and to Calcutta, I have been hoping and praying for a speedy return; and a favoring Providence has brought the permission sooner than I expected. A fortnight ago, I mentioned the subject to one of our old firends, a near relative of Dr. E.S.Gannett: I mean Capt. J.P. Gannett, of the ship Panther (one of the finest vessels now in the river). He would charge me only the cost of living; half the usual charge of a passage ship from Calcutta to Boston; in fact, only the first-cabin fare from London to Boston by steam. This was pleasant, to begin with. " - Tues, April 8 1862
Dall eventually decides to take passage to Boston aboard the Panther and briefly reports the 142 day passage from Calcutta in the journal:
"On the evening before the first day of September instant, I came from a voyage of a hundred and forty-two days on board the good ship Panther, greatly indebted to Capt. Gannett for making so long a journey a very pleasant one. Nearly five months of quiet study were thus secured; and besides a daily stint of Bengalee, I was enable to prepare a course of seven or eight lectures on the new phases of human life and character which one meets with in Asia. Seven years of this strange contact have been grated me, and some thousands of miles of land-journeying in the east and south and north-west provinces of India, besides my passing through the midst of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The mere rehearsal of conversations, such as have been granted me with the Rajah of Burdwan, the Rajah of Kapoorthala, the Rajah Radhakanta and other leaders in Asiatic wealth, influence, and enlightenment, should interest our friends hereabout, and all students of human nature, if ti were only to unbend and rest the mind for a single hour, once or twice a week, in the midst of the agonizing and racking suspense between battle and battle of the present war. I am ready, if any wish to hear: though some say that the present anxiety precludes, even for the young, all possibility of hearing thse stores more true, and as such, more interesting -- certainly more instructive , -- than those of the "Arabian Nights." After seven years of exile at the antipodes, isolated and alone it should seem that a stay as many months, in pure cool air, on the part of your missionary, was highly advisebale. But I am now in health; and life is too short to spend many of its hours where little or nothing can be done. So I am ready now, if duty calls, to regirdle the earth, and restrace our last five months over the sea; during which our ship travelled, as bestormed and becalmed among counter-currents of air and water, a good twenty-five thousand miles."
She arrived back in Boston, on Aug.31, 1862 from Calcutta. The Panther had light head winds and calms in the Bay of Bengal with no trades winds in the Indian Ocean and then experienced a long succession of westerly gales from Madagascar until west of the cape.
This was to prove Captain Gannett's last sailing of the Panther, and she was then sold to Randolph M. Cooley, and became part of the Merchant Express Line of Clippers.
The Merchants Line, Randolph Cooley and Captain Sylvester B. Lothrop
Randolph M. Cooley & Co. was a wall street merchant house & shipping company, who acquired and operated many of the top rated clipper ships. In 1863, they boasted as having only "A-1" rated clipper ships in their Merchants' Express Line of Clippers, and the most vessels travelling between New York and San Francisco.
This New York Line was operated primarily by shipping agent and commercial broker Randolph M. Cooley, who for a time served as a junior partner in the shipping firm of Babcock & Cooley.
Prior to doing business on Wall Street, New York. Cooley was doing business on the West Coast in San Francisco during the 1850s. He worked not only at the California mercantile exchange, but also was a member of the Committee of Public Vigilance, which was active in controlling crime on the streets of San Francisco.
The Public Viligance Committee
Among the immigrants to San Francisco were the most ruthless criminals in the world. A substantial number came from Van Dieman's Land and New South Wales where the British had sent their criminals in the mid-1800s. Once those criminals served their time, they sailed for California.
The numbers grew and the "Sydney Coves" (Sydney Ducks) were almost impossible to control as witnesses and prosecutors were few. The offenders operated unchecked from late 1849 through early 1851 with robberies, midnight assaults ending in murder, gambling, and starting fires, during which they would plunder shops and homes. At one point, more than 100 murders had been committed within the space of a few months and not one criminal had been executed.
To regain order, two vigilance groups were formed between 1851 and 1856. Originally, comprised of some of the richest, most influential, orderly and respectable citizens of San Francisco during the City's early days, and developed it's own writ of conduct, to prevent it from simply becoming an "angry mob". However, despite the best of intentions rather than stemming crime, they were among the most notorious. The 1856 Committee was one of the most successful organizations in the vigilante tradition of America's Old West.
The Committee of Vigilance formed in 1851 and revived in 1856 lynched eight people, kidnapped hundreds of Irishmen and government militia members, and forced several elected officials to resign.
The original constution of the Vigilance Committee:
WHEREAS it has become apparent to the citizens of San Francisco, that there is no security for life and property, either under the regulations of society as it at present exists, or under the law as now administered; Therefore the citizens, whose names are hereunto attached, do unit themselves into an association for the maintenance of the peace and good order of society, and the preservation of the lives and property of the citizens of San Francisco, and do bind ourselves, each unto the other, to do and perform every lawful act for the maintenance of law and order, and to sustain the laws when faithfully and properly administered; but we are determined that no thief, burglar, incendiary or assassin, shall escape punishment, either by the quibbles of the law, the insecurity of prisons. the carelessness or corruption of the police, or a laxity of those who pretend to administer justice. And to secure the objects of this association we do hereby agree:
» That the name and style of the association shall be the COMMITTEE OF VIGILANCE, for the protection of the lives and property of the citizens and residents of the City of San Francisco.
» That there shall be a room selected for the meeting and deliberation of the committee, at which there shall be one or more members of the committee, appointed for that purpose, in constant attendance, at all hours of the day and night, to receive the report of any member of the association, or of any other person or persons whatsoever, of any act of violence done to the person or property of any citizen of San Francisco; and if in the judgment of the member or members of the committee present, it be such an act as justifies the interference of the committee, either in aiding in the execution of the laws, or the prompt and summary punishment of the offender, the committee shall be at once assembled for the purpose of taking such action as a majority of the committee when assembled shall determine upon.
» That it shall be the duty of any member or members of the committee on duty at the committee room, whenever a general assemblage of the committee is deemed necessary, to cause a call to be made by two strokes upon a bell, which shall be repeated with a pause of one minute between each alarm. The alarm to be struck until ordered to be stopped.
» That when the committee have assembled for action, the decision of a majority present shall be binding upon the whole committee, and that those members of the committee whose names are hereunto attached, do pledge their honor, and hereby bind themselves to defend and sustain each other in carrying out the determined action of this committee at the hazard of their lives and their fortunes.
» That there shall be chosen monthly a president, secretary and treasurer, and it shall be the duty of the secretary to detail the members required to be in daily attendance at the committee room. A sergeant-at-arms shall be appointed, whose duty it shall be to notify such members of their details for duty. The sergeant-at-arms shall reside at and be in constant attendance at the committee room.
» There shall be a standing committee of finance, and qualification, consisting of five each, and no person shall be admitted a member of this association unless he be a respectable citizen, and approved of by the committee on qualification before admission."
On the evening of June 10, 1851, the committee's charge was put to test when John Jenkins stole a safe from a store on Long Wharf. He was taken to the rooms of the Vigilance Committee, on Battery Street, near the corner of Pine Street. The bell sounded, and 80 members of the committee hurried to the site, gave the password, and examined evidence for two hours. The prisoner was found guilty and condemned to hanging. An armed committee proceeded to the plaza where a crowd of more than 1,000 people soon assembled to watch the first act of "justice" by the Vigilance Committee. Other notable cases include, the 1856 lynchings of Charles Cora and James Casey who were lynched by the Committee of Vigilance as murderers, after killing men in duels. Cora had shot a U.S. Marshall, who had insulted Cora's mistress while drunk; Casey had murdered a rival newspaper editor, shortly after the man published an editorial exposing Casey's criminal record in New York.
The 1856 Committee of Vigilance dissolved on 11 August 1856, and marked the occasion with a “Grand Parade.”
By the late 1850's Randolph Cooley served in the New York state legislature, and was a field officer during the American Civil War, where in November, 21 1861 he served as 1st Lieutenant, in the seventy-first New York regiment, in the first brigade, first division. The 71st New York division is known as "The American Guard" and in 1862 was designated as "the National Guard".
The crest of the 71st -
Randolph M. Cooley is listed as a field officer, 1st Lt. in Nov, 1861
The regiment was mustered out of service in New York on July 20, 1861. But during, the fall of 1861, the 71st, along with the 70th through the 74th New York Volunteer Regiments and 10 battalions of the Third Indiana Cavalry, formed the Second "Excelsior Brigade" under Brigadier General Daniel E. Sickles, which was placed under the command of Major General Joseph Hooker in October. Its tasks included assisting in the building of defenses around Washington and stopping resupply of the Confederates from Southern Maryland. It wasn't remustered until May 28, 1862, under Colonel Martin, and returned to the man the defenses of Washington in 1862.
Originally, Randolph M. Cooley held offices at the corner 118 Water and Wall St, in the original Tontine building. In 1861, it was decided that the old Tontine building be torn down and a new one established in its place. By the early 1863 Randolph M. Cooley was doing business in the new Tontine Building at No. 88 Wall street.
The History Of The Tontine Building: The Birthplace Of the New York Stock Exchange
The 2nd Tontine Building circa. 1860-1905.
The location of the offices of Randolph M. Cooley, 88 Water St.
The Tontine building has a very unique and interesting history. Situated on the north-west corner of Wall Street and Water Street, it was built by a group of stockbrokers to serve as a meeting place for trade and correspondence and was the main place of business for Randolph M. Cooley. The May 17, 1792, creation of the Buttonwood Agreement, which bound its signatories to trade only with each other, effectively gave rise to a new organisation of tradespeople. The growth of the Tontine's trade proceedings had effected the creation of the New York Stock and Exchange Board (NYSEB) and necessitated a larger venue. The NYSEB is recognised as the precursor to the present-day New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange in the world.
In its prime, the Tontine was among New York City's busiest centres for the buying and selling of stocks and other wares, for business dealings and discussion, and for political transaction. Having had a dual function as a combination club and a meeting room, the coffee house played host to auctions, banquets, and balls, among others. After hours, gambling and securities dealings were had – undertakings that were then deemed less than honest.The coffee house also provided a place for the registration of ship cargo and the trading of slaves. The Tontine was noted as classless; individuals from all social strata met there and collectively engaged in the many civil and economic affairs. John Lambert, an English traveller, wrote in 1807.
The building which stood at the time that the Panther sailed the seas (1855-1870) was the second erected, at the north-west corner of Wall and Water streets, and was commenced in 1792 by an association of New York merchants, and completed in 1795. Its origins began across Water street where a new Coffee House, was built in 1773.
The original proprietor was Madam Ferrara, who formerly kept what was known originally as the Merchants' Coffee House. It was very popular and often mentioned in the papers of that date, for nearly a year, after which it was seldom spoken of.
The Merchants' Coffee House had been such a great success, at the death of Mr. Bradford, the proprietor, in 1786, there was talk of building a new and large tavern, but it was not
until 1790 that any definite plan was determined upon. The original edifice stood on the northwest corner of Wall and Water streets in New York. It was commenced in or about 1792, by an association of merchants, and completed in or about 1795 for the purpose of providing suitable accommodation for the common convenience, and center for the daily business, and intercourse of the mercantile community.
By the constitution, 203 shares were subscribed for $200 a share. (Originally there were 137 males and 66 females, 203; 3 females and 3 males were duplicated, so that really only 197 names were mentioned.) Each share entitled the holder to name a life of each sex. Each nominee had his or her age and parentage stated by the nominee. During such nominee's life, the subscriber received his equal proportion of the net income of the establishment. It was slightly unusual in that the young lives nominated were also the tontine's shareholders and would receive the rents and any other income generated by the property. Upon the death of the nominee, the subscriber's interest ceased, and his interest became merged in the owners of the surviving nominees.
The nominee himself did not necessarily have an interest in the association; for each subscriber, in naming a person, generally a child, looked to such as had a premise of length of days.
"The plan of this Association originated from the scheme of Lorenzi Tonti, a Neapolitan, who introduced it into France in 1653, under Louis XIV., and hence the word Tontine came to designate a loan advanced by a number of associated capitalists for life annuities, with benefit of survivorship. There is, however, a distinction between the present plan and the scheme of Tonti. His intent was the establishment of a company who should each contribute a like amount of capital, to be loaned to a responsible party, at a certain rate of interest, which was to be divided between the members of the same age; but where there was a diversity of age, according to the fixed ratio, the elder received more and the younger less. As the members died off, the survivors absorbed their respective interests, and when the last surviving members died, the borrower took the whole capital."
In this case, the original shares were assignable and held as personal estate, and the whole property was vested in five trustees, who were to be continued in trust, or by succession, until the number of nominees was reduced to seven, when the holders of these shares, contingent upon these surviving nominees, became entitled to a conveyance in fee of the whole premises to be equally divided between them.
The Association, in their preamble, named the building the "Tontine Coffee House", and it was thereby directed to be kept and used as a coffee house. But with the opening
of the Exchange a little further up Wall street, the interests of the shareholders demanded a change in this special appropriation, they applied to the Court of Chancery for permission to let the premises for general purposes, and by its decree in 1834 the above restrictions were removed. In 1843, the legislature altered the title to "Tontine Building." On the 4th of June, 1861, it had existed sixty-seven years.
It seemed that all manner of meetings of citizens were held in the Tontine Coffee house. All the famous charities of the city were born there. So were banks and corporations. A grievance was remedied by a meeting at the old Tontine Coffee house, and it decided everything. It was a hotel, too. It was rumoured that George Frederick Cook, a famous actor at the time, known widely for his erratic habits, and who was largely responsible for initiating the romantic style in acting that was later made famous by Edmund Kean, died there in 1812. He was considered an eminent tragedian whose delineation of the tragic muse in his day was without competition, surrounded by many of his contemporaries, patrons of the house, who continued with him in the last act in the drama of his eventful life. Hither men from every section of the country were attracted by his reputation and they regarded a visit to the Tontine in those days as essential to the comforts and agreeability of a temporary sojourn to the city of New York.
The spirit of the age was also seen in the breathing of the "iron horse" and in the growing movements and wonder of the working press. In this building night and day, George F. Nesbitt & Co. from their extensive steam printing and stationery establishment, supplied the wants of the vast commercial community with promptitude and dispatch, and added to the renoun of this relic of a past age by their well appointed and efficient and thoroughly established printing house, which transmited through the commercial houses of this city and elsewhere, information connected with the trade, the resources, the supplies and the wants of the habitable globe.
The Merchants' Exchange was kept in this grand building in the large room, until 1825. It was only thirty feet square.
In 1855, the Tontine trust made a new proposition. They agreed to put up a new building, which should revert to the seven left, provided they,the builders, had the rent of it for the balance of the time. For this they agreed to pay the Tontine trustees the sum of $20,000 per annum. The new building, it was agreed, should not cost less than $40,000. However, slightly overbudget, it was completed in the 1860's it is described as replacing the old Tontine at the time:
"In its place arisen the magnificent building, a drawing which adorns our columns. It is a noble looking edifice, faced with French granite with a soft agreeable hue, and will, when entirely completed, cost over $60,000. It has a frontage on Wall street of 68 feet, and is five stories high; the ground floor is designed for banking corporation ; the upper floors are approached by a handsome iron stair-case, and are most conveniently arranged for offices. Altogether the new Tontine Building is an ornament to the locality. Much has been said by the press, the great efforts have been made by the speculators from interested motives to spread business over a greater area, but it can never be accomplished, only so far as necessity forces it, street by street, as one after another enters the mercantile commercial arena."
The Tontine Building was not only used as an inn, but also as a merchants' exchange, and was the first office building known to the city. It was here that a naval duel between Citizen Bompard, a French naval officer commanding the warship U Ambuscade, and Captain Courtney, of His Majesty's frigate Boston, was arranged. This remarkable contest took place near Long Branch. The English commander was killed and all the officers, excepting the sailing master,were wounded. The total losses were: Boston, 12 killed and 24 wounded ; U Ambuscade, 7 killed and 10 wounded. The frigates were very evenly matched, each carried 32 guns. The fight lasted for several hours. The Boston was badly whipped and obliged to run away. "Some enterprising mariners actually advertised that they would take passengers down to Sandy Hook to see the fight" (American Daily Advertiser, Aug. 1, 1793) .
In 1870 a suit in partition was begun and it was not until 1880 when the referee's report entered, that the building was sold at public auction to Peter J. O'Donohue for
$138,550. In 1905 he sold it to Tontine Company, who erected the present (the third) building, which became the property of John B. and Charles A. O'Donohue, coffee merchants.
The Rise of the Clipper Ship Advertising Card
Clipper ship trade cards are cards that were issued by dispatch lines to advertise specific voyages of clipper ships from one port (usually New York or Boston) to another (usually San Francisco). They were distributed primarily during the late 1850s and early 1860s.
During the pre-Gold Rush era, clipper ship sailings were advertised primarily by brief, unadorned announcements in newspapers. Once gold fever struck, posters and broadsides were the printed media most often used. While George Nesbitt & Co. of New York was printing at least a few clipper ship cards (albeit simple, drab ones) as early as 1849, the heyday of the clipper ship card was still some years away.
Ironically, this heyday for clipper cards did not correspond with the peak times of the industry they promoted. Many people quite naturally associate clipper ship cards with the frenzy of the California gold rush, but in fact most clipper ship cards were produced during the decline, not ascent, of the clipper ship industry. The depression of the mid-1850s, which culminated in the Panic of 1857, obviously hurt business. By the late 1850s, when clipper card production began in earnest, the clipper ship was facing a growing challenge from the steamer. And in the early 1860s, the period of heaviest clipper ship card distribution, shipping trade was disrupted by the American Civil War, with any California-bound clipper the potential prey of Confederate raiders.
Randolph M. Cooley & Co. had an advantage with offices in the same building as the massive steam powered printing firm of Geroge F. Nesbitt and Co. By 1862, most clipper cards were printed in full color, on coated stock, and represent some of the finest early American color advertising artwork.
A clipper advertising card for the Panther circa 1863-1866
A clipper advertising card for the Panther circa 1863-1866
Captain Sylvester B. Lothrop
At the end of 1862, Sylvester B. Lothrop/Lathrop took over as Master of the Panther. Captain Sylvester Lothrop/Lathrop, was born in 1822 in Barnstable, MA and was the son of John Lothrop and Maria Baxter. He was of proud lineage and had a long line of honorable sea-faring captains in his family. He was related to the first Mayflower pilgrims, and was also a direct descendant of Rev. John Lothrop, a religious pioneer and founder of a prominent and wealthy American family.
American Patriach Rev. John Lothrop (1584-1653)
Rev. John Lothrop is best known as the the spiritual leader of one of the first Congregational churches in England. Lothrop gained prominence in 1624, when he was called to replace Reverend Henry Jacob as the pastor of the First Independent Church in London, a congregation of sixty members which met in secret at Southwark. Many Congregational churches claim their descent from a family of Protestant demominations formed on a theory of union published by the theologian Robert Brownein 1592. These arose from the Nonconformist religious movement during the Puritan reformation of the Church of England. In Great Britain, the early congregationalists were called separatists or independents to distinguish them from the similarly Calvanistic Presbytarians. Today, some congregationalists in Britain still call themselves Independents.
Congregationalism, is a system of church governance in which every local church congregation is independent, ecclesiastically sovereign, or "autonomous". Among those major Protestant Christian traditions that employ congregationalism are those Congregational Churches known by the "Congregationalist" name that descended from the Anglo-American Puritan movement of the 17th century, the Baptist churches, and most of the groups brought about by the Anabaptist movement in Germany that immigrated to the U.S. in the late 18th century.
At the time, England was under the authority of the Anglican Church, which was based on a hierarchical system of Bishops, with the King having the final authority. The legislation of Henry VIII had effectively established the independence from Rome of the Church of England, but did not alter its constitutional or pastoral structures. Royal supremacy was exercised through the extant legal structures of the church, whose leaders were bishops.
Although Lothrop was ordained in the Church of England and appointed curate of a local parish in Egerton, Kent. In 1623 he renounced his orders and joined the cause of the Independents and to preach ideals inconsistant with the Anglican Church without permission of Bishop of London, William Laud was considered an act of heresy and treason against the state.
Following the group's discovery on 22 April 1632 by officers of the king, forty-two of Lothropp's Independents were arrested. Only eighteen escaped capture. He and his congregation were prosecuted for forming an unlawful conventicle, which was definded as a "meeting to hear unlicensed preaching" and convicted of heresy. The court record goes on with an opening address by The Archbishop of Canterbury:
“You show yourselves to be unthankful to God, to the King and to the Church of England, that when, God be praised, through his Majesties care and ours that you have preaching in every church, and men have liberty to join in prayer and participation in the sacraments and have catechizing to enlighten you, you in an unthankful manner cast off all this yoke, and in private unlawfully assemble yourselves together making rents and divisions in the church‐‐‐.You are desperately heritical.”
He and members of his congregation were sent to the Clink and Newgate prison. Some languished there and died. While Lothropp was in prison, his wife Hannah House became ill and died. His six surviving children were according to family accounts were left to fend for themselves begging for bread on the streets of London. Friends being unable to care for his children brought them to the Bishop who was in charge of Lothropp and after about a year, all were released on bail except Lothropp, who was deemed too dangerous to be set at liberty. The Bishop ultimately released him on bond in May 1634 with the understanding that he would immediately remove himself to the New World. Since he did not immediately leave for the New World, a court order was subsequently put out for him.
Lothrop was told that he would be pardoned upon acceptance of terms to leave England permanently with his family along with as many of his congregation members as he could take who would not accept the authority of the Church of England. Lathrop accepted the terms of the offer and left for Plymouth, Massachusetts. With his family, and approx. 30 of his congregational members, he sailed on the Griffin and arrived in Boston on 18 September 1634. The record found on page 71 of Governor Winthrop's Journal, quotes John Lothropp, a freeman, rejoicing in finding a "church without a bishop," . . . "and a state without a king." John Lothrop married Anna Hammond (?) (1616–1687) shortly after his arrival. In The history of Cape Cod: the annals of Barnstable county, including the district of Mashpee ... (1883), Lothrop is described as:
"...of a meek and quiet spirit." He brought four sons with him from England, viz., Thomas, who settled in Barnstable, Samuel, who settled at Norwich, Joseph, who was in Barnstable, and Benjamin, of Charlestown. He had also sons born here, viz., Barnabas and John, who remained in Barnstable. From Thomas, the eldest, it is said, those of the name of Lothrop in Plymouth County trace their descent; from Samuel, the second son, the numerous families in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, are derived, some of whom write their names Lathrop. Those in Essex County are supposed to bb descendants of Benjamin. The posterity of Joseph, Barnabas, and John has been numerous in Barnstable County. Rev. Dr. Lothrop, of Boston, published a memoir of his ancestor, in the Massachusetts Historical Collections. The name is variously written in the old records."
The congregation first settled in Scituate, then, in 1639, after gaining a grant, settled at Barnstable, Mass. They constructed their first meeting house in 1646 on Coggins Pond, about a mile west of the present church. Rev. Lothrop and his congregation thrived in Barnstable. The following passage describes the grant and the original members of his congregation who had travelled with him from England:
"Two persons only are named in the grant, Mr. Joseph Hull and Thomas Dimoc, 'who, with their associates,' were 'to erect a plantation or town at or about a place called by the Indians Mattacheese;' but many persons of character and note were embraced under the term 'associates,' among whom were the distinguished pastor, Rev. John Lothrop; also, Anthony Annable, Henry Cobb, Thomas Cudworth, Samuel Fuller, George Lewis, Barnard Lumbard, Samuel Hinckley, William Crocker, William Parker, Henry Bourne, and others.
Rev. John Lothrop's congregation became well-known throughout New England, and because of his reputation, Isaac Robinson, son of the leader of the Mayflower Pilgrims, left Plymouth to join with him as soon as he reached America. His contemporaries regarded him as one of the most important ministers to have come to America. Many historians consider his church in London to be the first true Congregational Church in the world, and the daughter churches, the First Parish of Scituate and the West Barnstable Parish Church, to be the oldest continuous Congregational Churches.
By the early 1700’s the town had grown sufficiently large to support two parishes. Members in the East Precinct erected a building on the present site on Cobb’s Hill, and another building was constructed in the west end of Barnstable. In 1717, the congregation split into two churches.
In the early 19th century there was considerable theological debate in the “churches of the standing order” in New England. Many churches actually split over this debate, the traditionalists becoming Congregationalists and the liberals becoming Unitarians. Already recently divided along geographic lines, the church in Barnstable did not undergo this split.
The church in the West Parish followed the line of tradition and is today a Congregational church. The church in the East Parish, leaned toward the liberal side of the debate and later became identified as a Unitarian church.
In 1836 the original Cobb’s Hill meeting house was removed and a new, larger one was constructed. It was destroyed by fire in 1905. The present edifice was dedicated in 1907. It was designed by Guy Lowell, the architect of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The Parish Hall was constructed in 1960. It is now named Warren Hall in honor of the Rev. Kenneth R. Warren, who served the church from 1953 to 1991. A further addition to the west end of the building was built in 1979.
Capt. Sylvester B. Lothrop was a unitarian, and married Sarah Simmons. He went to sea in 1850, and worked as a sailor. In 1860 he gained his captain's papers. He had a small estate that is described in The Barnstable Patriot, in 1893:
The estate of Capt. Sylvester Lothrop, consisting of a small dwelling house and about three acres of land, was sold by Auctioneer T.F. Drew on Saturday to Capt. Benj. D. Baxter for $575. The captain will move the house up onto Cedar street to let.
He had three children, Harold (b. 1853), Sylvester Jr. (b.1862), and Lulu (b.1864). Lulu eventually went to live with her uncle Levi Simmons, and his family according to the 1880 Census. Levi Simmons was one-time master of the famous clipper Red Jacket. Unfortunately, Capt. Lothrop's son, Sylvester Jr. was killed in a tragic railroad accident at the age of 27.
On 10 May, 1863 Sylvester Lothrop reached San Francisco on his first voyage from New York in the Panther. He was a total of 140 days from New York and met in company on March 25th, in latitude 35° south, longitude 81° west, with the famous Grace Darling from Liverpool. In fine clipper tradition, they agreed to race, and the Panther, considered by most to be the faster ship, took a more westerly course and was beaten into San Francisco by one day.
Her cargo manifest shows a wide variety of cargo from New York, particularly noteworthy are the individual components to manufacture glass lamps, including: glass, plaster, cement, marble dust, pipes, and pipe staves, tin, and the plank wheels to serve as bases. At the time, a change by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Services was made to the taxes on manufacturing lamps and inkwells. It was announced, "It has also been decided that the process of uniting the parts of a glass lamp at the foot and the burner, by the use of plaster of Paris, cement or other analogous means is not regarded as a manufacture. The decision will apply to glass ink stands with metallic tops, united by the same or similar means." The merchants in San Francisco and shippers in New York were quick to take advantage of the new tax rule, sending the components to San Francisco for manufacture.
The Panther's cargo list arriving in San Francisco, 10 May 1863:
75 tons pig iron, 854 bars iron,
18 cs steel, 10 pigs, 150 bxs tin,
63 bdls iron pipe, 2196 pkgs castings,
2626 kegs nails, 600 kegs, 5220 pkgs powder,
36 pkgs glassware, 64 pcs plank,
243 pkgs, plank wheels, 1200 pipe staves,
2 iron safes, 33 pkgs paper,
30 carboys acids, 11 bbls copperas,
321 cs boots & shoes, 20 bales hops,
30 pkgs carpeting, 20 pipes 38 3/4 do 20 7/8 do
6 gross 5 puns 82 bbsl 140 hf bbls 55 pkgs liqour
257 cs bitters, 2366 bxs candles
2360 bxs 50 hf bxs 500 qr bxs soap
1200 bxs 500 qr bxs starch
270 hf bbls 47 kegs dried apples
90 bbls 199 hf bbls sugar, 200 cs oysters
1000 bxs S C soda, 18 bbls 200 bxs saleratus
23 cs potash 34 bales 59 cs 72 pkgs tobacco
50bbls marble dust, 195 bbls plaster
1150 bbls 675 pkgs cement
10 csks 442 bbls 1605 cs 13969 pks merchandise
The Panther next sailed for Callao, and made a fine time of 45 days, arriving July 27th, 1863. A letter from the correspondant printed in the Daily Alta, 11 Sept. 1863, describes the voyage and the peruvian sea-port:
LETTER FROM SOUTH AMERICA.
(From the Travelling Correspondent of the Alta California.)
The Voyage. Callao, Peru, August 5th, 1863.
Editors Alta:— After a pleasant and prosperous voyage of forty-five days on board the good ship Panther, I find myself on terra firma, in the Republic of Peru. Our voyage was marked by no particular incident that is not common to successful voyages at sea. Gentle breezes filled our sails, and we kept steadily on our coarse, interrupted by neither calm nor storm. After losing sight of the Golden Gate, we saw neither land nor sail, nothing but "water, water everywhere," until we arrived at latitude 23° south, longitude 116° west, when a sail was seen low in the horizon, almost in the line of our coarse. Marine glasses were soon brought into requisition, and the sail proved to be a barque "lying to."
This, to our ever-vigilant Captain, was, at the time, an enigma he was unable to explain, as the weather was fine and the breeze gentle and steady. Various hypotheses were offered to explain the matter; one, that she was a vessel in distress; another, that she was a Confederate cruiser, seeking for a prize; but the larger number of our small party inclined to the opinion that the stranger was a whaler, looking out for sperm, and on nearing her so she proved to be. We bore down upon her, and spoke her and learned that she was the Benjamin Cummtins, of New Bedford, six months out. She had a a large sperm whale alongside and another in sight, just killed, which two boats', crews were towing to the vessel. We gave them the San Francisco news, bid them God speed, and resumed our course.
Soon after coming to anchor In Callao harbor, we were boarded by the Custom House officer. Although a Peruvian, he spoke English fluently, and was pleased to welcome me to his country; and as an earnest of his good feeling, insisted on carrying me ashore in his own boat. The invitation I thankfully accepted, and soon found myself and baggage passed through the Custom House without any objections, and finally quartered in good lodgings, kept by an American, named George Smith, who is every inch an American. l am happy to say that his place is the headquarters of all the Americans in Callao. I was agreeably surprised to see the great improvements that have been, and still are being made in this city. I found it difficult to recognize streets with which I was entirely familiar nine years ago. One-story bamboo and mud-built huts have given way to substantially built two-story houses, with uniform and ornamental fronts, which give the city quite an air of civilization and refinement. A new Custom House has been built, two stories in height, and although surrounded with corridors, it yet has much of the appearance of the modern style of architecture. Its rooms are light and airy, and appear admirably adapted to the uses for which they were intended. The quartel for the soldiers is also greatly improved; where once filth and dirt and darkness prevailed, I now find light, neatness, and cleanliness reigning. The wharves, the fountains, the paved streets, all go to show that Callao at least is a Spanish city where modern improvements are making considerable advancement.
The Celebration of the 28th July.
On my arrival, I found the city all alive in making preparations for appropriately celebrating the 28th July, the anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Peru. Many Americans find it difficult to devote one day to celebrate the anniversary of the independence of the United States; but these people, so devoted to their country, so patriotic and enthusiastic, consider it a privilege to devote a whole week, instead of a day, in celebrating this anniversary. It requires a far more able pen than mine to even imperfectly describe this feast. The entire city, from the Governor's mansion to the rudest hovel, was illuminated; every house had floating from its roof, window, or doorway, at least one flag. From the houses of the more wealthy, from the Government buildings, and from the Government shipping, floated the flags of all the American Republics, North and South. Prominent among ; these flags, wai the : " Stars and Stripes," '" with not a stripe erased, nor a star obscured."
The illumination commenced on the 27th of July, and ended on the 31st. The flags are still floating to the breeze, August 4th. Triumphal arches, bearing the names of their great heroes and the names and dates of their decisive battles, were erected in all the principal streets; in addition to this, Custom House block was decorated with life-size portraits of all their great Generals. In the principal Plaza, on an elevation, resembling marble, erected for the occasion, stood a female figure, dressed in white satin, with a head dress of plumes, designed to represent the Goddess of Liberty. At her feet lay a crown and sceptre; in one hand the bore the flag of Peru; in the other, a naked sword, with its point passing through the crown, designed, I presume, to teach death to monarchs and monarchies. On the evening of the 27th of July this figure was conveyed through the principal streets, accompanied by all the officials of Callao, a band or music of fifty pieces, and a regiment of soldiers, all in full uniform. On arriving at the Plaza the figure was placed upon the pedestal. After the ceremony of elevation the band played some national air, when three cheers were given for the Goddess of Liberty, the Republic of Peru in particular, and all other Republics in general. During this official proceeding, the Plaza became tilled with all classes and conditions of the subjects of this country, from " lily white to sooty black." The officials having completed their labors, the populace caught the enthusiasm, and made the welkin ring with "Viva la Patria," "Viva la Libertad." Seeing so much feeling displayed by this populace, it made me almost think I was a boy again, making preparations to celebrate the fourth of July as in days gone by.
Following her trip to Callao, she then returned to New York. In the daily financials of the time, of important consideration was the Exchange (NYSE), commodity pricing, and shipping information. A clipper ship was by itself, an investment, and so the various clippers and their lines were compared, and ranked - much like a horserace or comon stock. While the Panther certainly wasn't the fastest clipper in terms of speed, she was reliable and steady, with quick turn around times, and a good captain and crew. This was very valuable to the clipper line, as it attracted wealthy merchants with high value cargo and also kept the cost of insurance down.
At the beginning of 1863, the United States had been locked in an all-out civil war for nearly two years, and the costs of war was beginning to take it's toll. On January 1, 1863 President Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates and emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union Army. The war to preserve the Union now becomes a revolutionary struggle for the abolition of slavery. On March 3, 1863 the U.S. Congress enacts a draft, affecting male citizens aged 20 to 45, but also exempted those who could pay $300 or provide a substitute. "The blood of a poor man is as precious as that of the wealthy," poor Northerners complained. In the streets of New York, riots begin breaking out, anti-draft riots in New York City include arson and the murder of blacks by poor immigrant whites. At least 120 persons, including children, are killed and $2 million in damage caused, until Union soldiers returning from Gettysburg restored order. The United States, was under intense financial pressure, and concerns that had began to mount in Wall Street, to avoid panic, and strengthen the federal economy, the government passed the The National Banking Act, originally known as the National Currency Act.
The main goal of this act was to create a single national currency and to eradicate the problem of notes from multiple banks circulating all at once. The Act established national banks that could issue notes which were backed by the United States Treasury and printed by the government itself. The quantity of notes that a bank was allowed to issue was proportional to the bank's level of capital deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury. To further control the currency, the Act taxed notes issued by state and local banks, essentially pushing non-federally issued paper money out of circulation. The level of capital was primarly controlled by the gold-standard, that is the government could not print more money then it had gold or deposits in it's treasury. The National Banking Act was replaced by a new Act just one year later. The new Act also established federally issued bank charters, which took banking out of the hands of state governments. Before the Act, charters were granted by state legislatures who were under an immense amount of political pressure and could be influenced by bribes, and corrupt or "rogue" state governments. This problem was resolved to some degree by free banking laws in some states but it was not until this Act was passed that free banking was established on a uniform, national level and charter issuance was taken out of the hands of discriminating and corrupt state legislature. The granting of charters led to the creation of many national banks and a national banking system which grew at a fast pace. By the end of 1864, the demand for gold was once again at an all-time premium, and the port of San Francisco began to slowly prosper again.
OUR NEW YORK COMMERCIAL LETTER.
(From the Resident Correspondent of the Alta California.)
New York, Nov.3 1864.
EDITORS Alta:— The sluggish condition of general trade for many weeks past is beggining to give place to a quicker movement, stimulated by the advance in the premium on gold. The volume of business, however, is still below the average of former seasons, and no general revival is looked for until after the Presidential election. There has been a gradual stiffening of prices for all kinds of merchandise, though the markets are greatly unsettled. The rise, however, may be partly considered as a merely temporary incident of the gold speculation. A reation in the premium would in consequence give a downward turn in commercial values. On the whole, however, a much more cheerful feeling prevails in commercial circles, and the recent panic has about subsided.
There is no material change to notice in the Dry Goods trade. The advance in Cotton has imparted a little more bouyancy and firmness in prices, without much activity. The auction sales continue to be the feature of the times. At most of the sales prices have been satisfactory and higher rates have been readily obtained for all descriptions of marketable goods. This had been an exciting day in Wall street, and speculation has been rampant, both in the gold room and on the Stock Exchange. Gold advanced from 230, the opening price to 244 within half an hour, and then receded to 2.5 3/4 during the next fifteen minutes. The prospects now are that a steady rise will take place.
The Money market is easy for call loans at seven per cent, under an active demand from the Stock Exchange. Commercial paper is not favored. The rates for first class are from nine to twelve per cent. Stocks are more feverish than gold. It would be impossible to give a quotation, the range being all the way from twenty to thirty per cent. in twenty-four hours. There is nothing doing in them for permanent investment -- only for speculative purposes.
The Freight market to European ports continues stagnant; quotations are entirely nominal. American tonnage is gradually being withdrawn from the usual competition with foreign flags.
To California, Freights are improving, with an advance in rates to 70@75c per foot for measurement and 1@11/4c per lb for weight. Coleman & Co, have laid on the Favorita and Victorine, both A1 vessels They are filling up moderately well. The Panther and Reynard, in Comstock's line, are doing a good business. The former succeeding the Susan Howland, which cleared on the 28th Oct. for your port. Cooley has up the Fearless and Panther and Sutton & Co. the Hornet. The Sea Serpent, in the same line cleared yesterday. At Boston engagements are reported dull, and slack in offerings.
Auction sales proved a great way to sell cargo
to keep Panther profitable. (Daily Alta, 1865)
By the end of 1865, bulk freight had been more profitable than individual manufactured goods being shipped to San Francisco. Despite the risk, many carriers including the Panther had found that bringing bulk freight into port and then "auctioning" it dockside could fetch better freight prices and increased profits rather than product being directly imported by an agent. The United States economy began to rebound, as the civil war was drawing to an end. Guanao proved to a be a boom in the Pacific, a mini-gold rush - and several clipper ships, including the Panther sailed for recently discovered sources.
As described by the New York Times, 1865, "The ships Fair Wind and Panther had sailed for Baker's Island previous to the 12th of September, and the Odd Fellow was then there loading with guano." The Panther, along with Fair Wind then pointed her bow for Baker Island, in the South Central Pacific for a load of Guano, which was considered at the time to be the next "gold rush". A bulk, but highly valuable cargo.
Bagged Guano Waiting On Trolly To Be Loaded Onto Clipper Ships Such As The Panther
Short History Of Guano
Guano has been harvested and used for centuries. In fact, the word “guano” comes from the Quichua language of the Inca Empire. It commonly is found in islands in the Caribbean, and some isolated island atolls in the South Pacific. The conditions in the islands near present-day Peru were also perfect for forming large deposits of guano. A large sea bird population meant there was plenty of excrement settling on the ground.
Fish-eating sea birds, most notably the white-breasted cormorant, have been depositing their seafood-based droppings off the coast of Peru for thousands of years. The guano of Peru is most notable due to the limited precipitation in the region. Guano is dropped and dries quickly, preserving the chemicals that make it useful for fertilizer. Is moist environments, the nitrates evaporate, making other deposits less rich than those of Peru . For the Incans, Peruvian guano was a highly prized fertilizer. Disturbing sea birds (and thereby disrupting the process of making guano) was punishable by death. Also, many small isolated and unhabitable islands atolls, in the south and central pacific are also great sources of Guano deposits.
When the Spanish first arrived in the Inca Empire in the 1500’s, they were aware that people used guano as fertilizer for their crops. As the Perrysburg Journal noted in 1855, “the Spaniards obtained this knowledge from them [the Inca], but were too indolent to apply it in practical life.” Europeans and North Americans remained unfamiliar with the benefits of guano until the nineteenth century. From 1799 to 1804, Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt traveled around Latin America. In 1802, while in Peru, he investigated the fertilizing properties of guano. After hearing how effective it was, guano soon became highly prized on the world market. In the 1840s, guano was highly prized as an agricultural fertilizer. Over the next two years, 182 tons were shipped to England. Just twenty years later, in 1862, that amount had risen to 435,000 tons.
By the 1850’s, news of this revolutionary fertilizer being imported by the British had reached the United States. Americans wanted a piece of the lucrative industry. One writer said, “The commercial enterprise of our country is seeking out and bringing the treasures of the waters to our farms and orchards, in the form of guano…Treasures, indeed—rich in the one needful thing, without which our labor would be in vain, our fertile soils a barren waste.”
In his 1850 State of the Union address, President Millard Fillmore said this resource had “become so desirable an article to the agricultural interest of the United States that it is the duty of the Government to employ all the means properly in its power for the purpose of causing that article to be imported into the country at a reasonable price.”
The primary source for guano at the time were the Chincha Islands off of the Peruvian Coast. The guano mining operations of Peru kept the country from becoming bankrupt although American, British, and European farmers resented paying the high costs of Peruvian bird droppings.
Baker Island: An American Guano Gold Mine
Baker Island is a small atoll in the Central South Pacific, about 3,100 kilometers (1,700 nmi; 1,900 mi) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. The island lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia, and is a possession of the United States.
Baker Island was reportedly first sighted by Captain Elisha Folger, of Nuntucket, who visited it in the whaler Equator in 1818, who gave it the Name New Nuntucket. It was visted again in 1825 by Captain Starbuck in the ship Lopez, and in December, 1828, Daniel Mckenzie visited it in the American whaler Minerva Smyth. However, it was in 1832 and again in 1839 that a Captain Baker, after whom the island is now named, also came to the island aboard the whaler Gideon Howard to bury a seaman, plant an American flag and claim possession of the island.
As he was burying the seaman, Captain Baker made an accidental discovery of a large and rich Guano deposit, which he reported once arriving back in the United States. In June, 1855, the Farmer's Club, had urged by resolution the government to take possession of certain guano islands to which no other nations had claim:
Whereas, On the 22d of June, 1855, this body passed the following resolutions:
Resolved, That is the duty of the American government to assert its sovereognty over any and all barren and unihabitable gunao islands of the ocean, which have been, or hereafter may be, dsicovered by the citizens of the United States, and which are situated so far from any contenent that, according to the law which governs nations, no other power can rightffully exercise jurisdiction over them, and to gurantee the right of property therein to the discoverer, his successor or assigns.
Revolved, That the foregoing resolutions be printed in the form of a circular, signed by the President and Secretary and transmitted to the count and State agricultural societies of the several States, to the President of the United States, and heads of departments at Washington.
Shortly after, The American Guano Company was formed, trusting solely in the representations of Captain Michael Baker, who had accidently discovered an immense deposit of this fertilizer upon islands in the Pacfic.
The President of the United Stated ordered a national ship to visit Baker's and Jarvis' Island and report their promise. Commodore Mervine visited the designated vicinity and returned without landing upon them, sying that the alleged guano was worthless, that the coast was inaccessible from rocks, and that there was no anchorage for vessels.
Not satisified with the results, Secretary Dobbin ordered the commodore to send another vessel to explore the islands, and the St. Mary's was sent. Her report confirmed the Commodore's though, privately, the gentleman who was in command of her admitted, "off the record", that there was anchorage about the islands.
Nothwithstanding this, another expedition was sent out by the American Guano company, the bonds of $100,000 required by the United States government was given. Upon arrival, bouys were laid, timber was rafted ashore to build houses and also to boat the cargo off the island.Two cargos were sent to New York.
During the financial depression of 1854-55, government funds evaporated and further operations of the company were put on hold due to lack of funding.
However, Wm. H. Webb, a private investor, stepped forward out of the blue and furnished a ship which he sent out with a commander that he completely trusted in order to determine the feasibility of the Gunao operation. When Webb's commander reach the islands, he determined that Jarvis Island had a "boundless amount", which he estimated at 5,000,000 tons of high-grade guano and entirely accesible, and and Baker Island having no less a deposit. He reported that, “excepting this one, no Guano Island hitherto discovered possesses the natural advantages of a good harbor, safe anchorage, and convenience to load a large number of ships at once.”
Within Sixty days, Webb bought up some $18,000 shares in the American Guano company being hawked on the street for $5-$10 a share and owned about 1/5 of the company.
At about the same time, D.P.G. Judd arrived in Brooklyn with a cargo of Guano from Baker Island, and sold it a $38/ ton and realized a profit of $18,000.
Webb instanced experiments to show that the guano from Baker & Jarvis Islands was no way inferior to the best Peruvian article, in hopes of increasing its value. “From the past and present demand for Peruvian guano, now selling at fifty-five dollars per ton,” the company estimated that their profits would be $2,400,000 per annum. The American Guano Company urged The United States Congress to adopt the resolutions that had been passed earlier by the New York Farmers' Club.
Congress took action and on August 18, 1856 the Guano Island Act was passed. It empowered American citizens to take possession of any island or rock or key with guano deposits not under the control of a foreign government. The full act also allowed the President to utilize the military to protect the interests of the discoverer.
Guano Island Act of 1856 -
Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.
The discoverer shall, as soon as practicable, give notice verified by affidavit, to the Department of State, of such discovery, occupation, and possession, describing the island, rock, or key, and the latitude and longitude thereof, as near as may be, and showing that such possession was taken in the name of the United States; and shall furnish satisfactory evidence to the State Department that such island, rock, or key was not, at the time of the discovery thereof, or of the taking possession and occupation thereof by the claimants, in the possession or occupation of any other government or of the citizens of any other government, before the same shall be considered as appertaining to the United States.
And be it further enacted, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed obligatory on the United States to retain possession of the islands, rocks, or keys, as aforesaid, after the guano shall have been removed from the same.
Additionally, while the act allowed the President to annex a guano island or rock or key, it did not require that the United States retain possession of a guano-filled locale. This was a difference in law as typically annexations require a treaty to give up possession of a territory - thus the Guano Island Act set out to differentiate guano islands from other annexed territories.
On 1 May 1857 the American Guano Company shipped to Boston the first batch of Baker-Jarvis guano along with samples from Howland, just north of Baker Island. “The supply of guano upon these islands is reported as being almost inexhaustible, and of a quality not inferior to that of the Chinchas,” the Boston Daily Advertiser proudly proclaimed.
A Baltimore newspaper called the island "a new El Dorado" due to the value of guano as agricultural resource and the lower cost with which guano could be had by American farmers. The U.S.S. St. Marys (Commander Charles H. Davis) landed, surveyed the island, and took official possession in the name of the United States, in August 1857. They reported that ten whalers had touched at the island between June 21 and August 16, 1857. So frequently did whalers visit Baker during one period that it became the custom to leave messages and letters there, in a covered box, to be picked up and delivered, as an ad-hoc postal station.
The U.S. Pacific Squadron under Commander Mervine, attracted criticism for its continuing opposition to to acquisition of the island, and his previous reports that the Guano could not be harvested. “Commander Mervine, it will be remembered,” the Daily National Intelligencer informed its readers, "pronounced as worthless whatever guano might be found on Baker Island in
consequence of its being saturated by heavy rains.” However, worse was in store for Mervine. In April 1858 the Daily Mercury publicly rebuked him for “his superficial examination and unfounded report” on the islands that “retarded the progress of a great enterprise, and affected two or three years’ crops in our country.”
In February 1858 fourteen shipmasters took pains to rebute the squadron's findings, advising the secretary of the navy himself that the Jarvis-Baker region was "seldom if ever visited by gales" and that neither landing nor loading on the islands presented undue difficulty. They also reminded him that Baker Island was particularly important, apart from its guano treasures, since it was the traditional post office depot for American whalers. The shipmasters flatly rejected the navy verdict as in direct conflict with their own experience. For the hardened mariners, anchoring outside island reefs and landing by tender were routine operations, and the obtaining of a cargo of guano presented not half the diffculty they had “often experienced in taking an old and ugly whale.”
J.D. Hagues, chemist with the American Guano Co., in a lengthy report on the phosphate content, declared Baker's guano deposits the finest he had seen. The islands were worked continuously by the American Guano Co. from 1859 to 1878, with many thousands of tons of guano having been dug, carted across to the landing on tram cars, and loaded with great difficulty through the pounding surf onto schooners and clipper ships, which were moored precariously to buoys on the lee side. It is difficult to attempt to detail the activities, adventures and hardships of this period; or to tell of the many shipwrecks, although a fairly complete history has been pieced together from scattered accounts.
In November 1858 the importance of the island guano to the American economy was accorded official recognition with the award of six thousand dollars, “a present from Uncle Sam,” to both Captain Michael Baker, discoverer of the island bearing his name, and the estate of the late Captain Thomas D. Lucas, discoverer of Jarvis.
Gloucester Guano Advertisnent (U.K.) 1860
In 1866-1867 the Panther made a round voyage between New York and the East Indies. Captain Lathrop, made one more trip, which was the fastest New York-San Francisco run for the Panther in just 116 days.
During the 1850's and up into the late 1860's ocean traffic was primarly a one-way affair. Most of the cargoes of general merchandise and passengers were transported from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States on sailing vessels, many of which were the famous California clippers. Much of the time, these ships returned to the East in ballast, since the bulk of the freight was moving west. Clippers were large and expensive ships to operate, so they did not often bother to go from port to port to collect miscellaneous cargoes such as hides, this was often left to much smaller, less expensive ships.
The Civil War had drastically affected shipping and at the close of the war, many older clippers and sailing vessels were being offered for sale in favour of new steam powered technology. However, the end of the war did more to provide a surplus of sailing vessels, it convinced western shippers and businessmen that they did not need to be dependant on the eastern shipowners for tonnage for their trade.
Moreover, the exhorbitant prices for wheat and grain during the Gold Rush had encouraged farmers to grow their own grain crops. By 1865, this had developed into a lucrative export from San Francisco. The clipper ship owners, delighted with a return cargo from California, fostered the notion that the speed of the clipper was neccessary for delivering grain. One natural consequence to this was the annual race between clipper ships by admiring the fastest sailing ships that delivered wheat to Austraila and England. Most of the clipper ships had been hastily constructed during the boom days of the California Gold Rush, and in their eagernees to set records on the severe Cape Horn passage, the ships racing to cross each others' wakes were met with peril. Captain's in their zeal to be the fastest ship would often have out every inch of canvass possible, the over-canvassed ships in foul weather with inexperienced crews often ran afoul of trouble.
Being met with trouble, and battling the seas under extreme sail was often glorified, yet the experienced sea captain and crew with any whiff of salt knew better. There are many folklore sayings discouraging an over-canvassed ship, praising the bravery and wisdom of a true sailor, such as, "Any fool can set a sail, but it takes a sailor to take it down".
However, more often than not, an over-canvassed clipper with a zealous captain in a race around Cape Horn met with disaster. Frank Mulville, a contemporary world reknown sailor once said that, "With the wind fair a man is master of his boat and has the power to drive her as hard as he wishes – even to the point of destruction." He went on to say, "In a contrary wind a well found yacht is master. She has more stamina to windward than any man by himself".
Such extreme treatment was not conductive to the long life of a sailing vessel. By 1865, scarcely a dozen of these record setters remained to take advantage of the growing trade between San Francisco, the eastern United States and Europe. Wheat exports had increased steadily throughout the 1860's at a rapid pace. For Instance, between 1860 and 1870 cargoes of wheat moving out of San Francisco Bay increased from 1,000 tons of wheat and 59,000 barrels of flour to 243,000 tons of grain, and 353,000 barrles of flour.
By now, the seas and age had also taken the toll on the Panther. In her ship survey of 1867 she is now listed as A-1+, which means she was beginning to show signs of wear and tear. In September, 1867 she was then sold to Pope & Talbot of San Francisco for $25,000.
With the Sale to Pope & Talbot, Lathrop was then was suceeded by Captain Fred Johnson, who struggled off the Horn while he was surrounded by huge icebergs.
Pope & Talbot: The New Owners
Pope & Talbot's major founders came from families of sea captains, merchants, sawmill operators, and ship owners on the Machias River in coastal Maine. In the seventeenth century the first Peter Talbot and Ralph Pope arrived in the mainland colonies from England. Colonel Frederick Pope and Captain Peter Talbot, and their grandsons, commanded troops at the Battle of Lexington and fought throughout the American Revolution.
In Machias, Maine, the Popes became good family friends and joined with Talbots, and their neighboring Keller, Foster, and Chaloner families, in businesses, marriage, and town affairs.
The news of the San Francisco gold rush in 1849 had reached the eastern shores in Maine, Intrigued and excited by the business prospects in the fledgling California city, Andrew Pope and Frederic Talbot. who were lifelong friends left New York on October 16, 1849, in company of Captain J.P. Keller, also of East Machias and a family friend on the steamship Ohio.
After a hair raising voyage, and adventure, they finally arrived in San Diego on 28th November, 1849 where they made their way to San Francisco. In the early days on the California gold-rush, San Francisco was nearly a ghost town with a population of only about 6,000 people. Most of the people arriving were merley passing through and spent whatever money they had for supplies and miner's tool and rushed off to the gold mines. By the fall, many of the miners returned to the town for the winter, and late in 1849, the population of San Francisco had reached approximately 20,000. it was a town filled with shacks and tents that had sprung up overnight to accomodate the horders, htoels and boardinghouses which were filled to overflowing.
Somewhere in that great mass of men milling on the beach in San Francisco looking for they encountered Captain Lafayette Balch of Lubec, Maine, the uncle of J.W. Balch who was later to serve as the Panther's captain. They men knew him well for he was related to the Talbots by marriage and had often stopped at East Machias in vessels carrying lumber. Captain Lafayette Balch, offered them residence in a little house he owned located at the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant) streets.
Since Balch was returning to sea, they could use his little cottage for the time being. By their Eastern standards, the little house of Captain Balch's was a mere shanty, it stood on a small lot as described by Talbot, in "a barren waste of scrub oaks, chaperall and desolation". In size it was twelve by eighteen feet in dimensions and a sory and a half high, and had enough buit-in bunks to accomodate their griup. Balch charged them a rent of $200 per month, which may seem high for those times, but was very reasonable compared to the rates of a hotel. It worked out that the cost of living at the cottage was about $16.50 per week per man.
In San Francisco, in comparison to the cost of rent, Captain Keller had kept some notes of the prices of goods : Wood for heating and cooking cost $2.00 for "as much as a man could carry in his arms, no more", beef "not overstocked with fat" cost 25 cents a pound, potatoes 28 cents, a squash of "fair size" $3.50, molasses was 75 cents a bottle, butter ranged from $1.00-$1.50 per pound, milk sold for $4.00-$7.00 per gallon, eggs from $1.00 to $4.00 per dozen. A dinner in a better restaurant would cost anywhere from $3.00 to $10.00.
A.J. Pope and Frederick Talbot had the forsight to realize a city was developing and they had come to California, not to mine for gold in the foothills of the Sierras, but to help build and profit from city development. In true Pope and Talbot fashion, they prepared to go into business. They first bought an old longboat for $500, then upgraded to an old scow thirty feet long and twelve feet wide, by December they built a new scow and another small yawl. Finally, in mid January they purchased a small 17 1/2 ton sloop, the Bostonian. Captain Keller was placed in charge, and she carried freight to Stockton.
From the profits from shipping cargoes, they then entered the lumber business. Pope and Talbot quickly realized that the lumber shipments from New England were not enough to meet the growing demand for building materials in the West. The pair decided to return to East Machias, Maine where they would enlist the help of family and friends in their business affair.
After hearing about the dense forests in the Oregon Territory, William & Frederic Talbot , Andrew Pope, along with partners Josiah Keller, and Charles Foster, formed the Puget Mill Company to harvest the much-needed lumber for the expanding West.
In July 1853, Captain William C. Talbot, who was Frederic's brother, established a steam sawmill as the Puget Mill Co. at Port Gamble. Ten men, mostly from Talbot's hometown of East Machias, Maine, constructed a bunkhouse, a cookhouse, and a store before starting work on the mill. The site is on a sand spit the local Native Americans call Teekalet, meaning "brightness of the noonday sun." The settlers call the mill Teekalet until they change the name to Port Gamble in 1868. The mill operated continuously for 142 years, from 1853 to 1995.
The founding of the Port Gamble mill:
Port Gamble Mill circa 1861
In July, 1853, the schooner Julius Pringle dropped anchor in Port Discovery Bay, Puget Sound. She was commanded by Capt. W. C. Talbot, who was at the head of an expedition which had come to Puget Sound in the interest of the firm W. C. Talbot & Co., to select a mill site, build a mill for the manufacturing of lumber and engage in the merchandise and lumber business. The firm was composed of W. C. Talbot and A. J. Pope of San Francisco, California, and J. P. Keller and Charles Foster of East Machias, Maine.
The cargo of the Pringle consisted of lumber, tools, supplies and merchandise necessary for a beginning of the proposed venture.
After a hasty examination of Port Discovery Bay, it was decided to take possession of the place, and enough lumber to build a shanty was landed. After this, it was thought best to make up an exploring party to go further up the Sound in search of a more favorable location. A party was made up and started out in a sailboat and canoe under the direction of Captain Talbot.
They followed the western shore of the Sound, touching at Port Townsend, and next at Port Ludlow, where they found what has always been known as the best mill-site on Puget Sound. But this place was already occupied by W. P. Sayward and J. R. Thorndike, who were hard at work building a mill. Next, the party sailed up Hood Canal as far as Hazel Point, but no suitable place having been found, it was thought best to cross the canal and follow the other shore back until they reached Port Gamble, where they found a large "spit" suitable for a mill-site, backed up by a large bay, deep water, and plenty of most excellent timber handy to the water's edge. Some considerable time was spent here, cruising timber and sounding out the channel in and out of the Bay.
The party seems to have been pleased with the place, but hesitated to make a final decision, partly on account of a scarcity of fresh water for the boilers. It was finally decided to go further up the Sound in a small canoe, thinking they might find a still more favorable place.
The next place they visited, Port Madison, presented a snug little harbor and location for a mill-site. But the bay was small, and depth of water and timber around the bay were not in favor of a location there. From Port Madison, the canoe returned to Port Gamble, and it was decided to send out a sailboat proceeding farther South until it had sailed around Vashon Island (opposite Tacoma) and no more suitable place than Gamble having presented itself, they sailed for Gamble, via Seattle.
Seattle, at this time, boasted of a sawmill, a few houses, and many tents. After the return to Port Gamble a few days more were spent in cruising and making soundings, after which, they again started out, this time to return to Port Discovery, intending to locate there. On arrival at Discovery, they found settlers, who upon hearing that a mill was to be built there, began to come in and locate around the bay, and before discharging the schooner's cargo, Captain Talbot thought best to look at the timber that grew around the bay. It did not compare favorably with that at Gamble, which influenced him to weigh anchor and sail back to Port Gamble.
Arriving at Port Gamble, they immediately set to work discharging cargo and building a shanty, for loding house, a cookhouse and a store. These buildings were rough structures and construced of eastern lumber from the cargo and cedar splits. The schooner after being discharged went to Seattle and took a cargo of lumber and piles to San Francisco.
They then started in laying the foundation and to build the mill. The timber for this purpose was hewn at the head of the bay on land which was owned by W.S. Jameson. The full crew left behing by the Pringle was ten men.
On Sept. 5th, 1853, the schooner L. P. Foster, under command of Capt. J. P. Keller, one of the partners, arrived, 154 days from Boston, Mass. The Foster was about 176 tons burden and loaded decks to the waer with engine, boilers, merchanidse supplies and mill machinery and finindings. Capt. Keller's wife and daughter were with him, and were the first white women to land at the place. The Foster bound in met the Pringle bound out, at Port Townsend, and thus learned the location of the mill-site. After considerable hard work the heavy cargo was unloaded and landed, the schooner taken to the head of the bay, and the crew went into the woods, cut a full load of piles, loaded the schooner, and she sailed for San Francisco under the command of Captain Talbot. Captain Keller remained at Port Gamble as resident owner.
On October 6, 1853, Keller filed a Donation Land Claim for three sections of land including the Point Julia area, the current town of Port Gamble, and the spit at Teekalet Bluff (on the Northwest side of Port Gamble).
Keller had at least two obstacles to starting his mill at an otherwise ideal location. First, S'Klallam occupants lived at the site and their title had not been transferred to the federal government. Port Gamble S'Klallam elder Sammy Charles (born 1869) described what happened then:
"Boston [white people] are located just about on the edge of what was once the Nooksclime's [SíKlallam] grounds.... It just happened that the Nooksclime were camped and fishing on the Gamble spit when the Bostons came. There was talk, talk, talk. The Bostons said that they wanted to put a sawmill there, and would the Indians please move to the other side. There were inducements. There would be lumber, free lumber, and all that the Nooksclime needed to build big houses. They could have the trimmings for firewood, fine firewood, and all they wanted. The clincher was the Christmas treat. The Nooksclime didn't know what Christmas was, but it sounded good. (Seattle P.I. 1947)"
Not everybody was happy to see a large mill built in Port Gamble, and the aboriginal population was divided about it's existance and having to move their settlement across the bay, Martha John, who was born in 1891, also spoke of the move:
"The Klallams used to live in Port Gamble, where the general store is now, and all around where the Cemetery is located. The Mill people came along and sent the Indian over across the Bay, on the Spit. They promised to always have jobs for the men and also gave them enough lumber to build a small house for each family. Every winter the spit would be flooded. A lot of the people died."
In the end, a settlement was reached, The Point No Point Treaty was signed by representatives of the S'Klallam, Skokomish,and Chemakum tribes on January 26, 1855. Issac Stevens signed the treaty on behalf of the United States.The S'Klallam, Skokomish, and Chemakum ceeded or surrendered approximately 750,000 acres of land to the federal government under the treaty, but reserved their aboriginal right to fish, hunt, and gather. The federal government promised the services of a physician, blacksmith,carpenter, and farmer to teach necessary skills, and a school was also to be provided.
Pope and Talbot Shipping
As Pope and Talbot expanded their business efforts and profited from their successful mill the began to look towards other endeavours. With the growth of the city of San Francisco, more and more general cargo carriers entered the East-West cost trade.
With industrialization, and the upcoming used of steam power, San Francsisco began importing coal from Pugent Sound, Nanaimo on Vancouevr Island and from Newcastle. As well, trade had increased with the Orient, especially Hong Kong, and Canton (china) and began to take on proportions that showed promise. The profits for vessels, and shipping companies in providing the growing city with the necessary commodies were enourmous.
Pope and Talbot with their keen business acument saw no reason why Eastern ship ownders should glean all fo these profits, and began a "general" shippng company of their own. Pope and Tlabot were alert followers of rapid trade developments in San Francisco, and both men knew a great deal about intercoastal trade. During the years that Pope and Talbot had been in California, they had development Eastern connections, and had previously dealt with scores of cargoes that had been consigned to them. They were well aware of the risks, but at the time charter rates were very high, and they were equipped to deal with the challenges of running a shipping business. .
In expanding their shipping operation, Pope and Talbot had planned to almagamate their fleet, and intended to use their ships both for general cargo and for shipping lumber out of Port Gamble. By integrating the shipping, they could minimize the risk of the costs associated by maintaining such a large fleet, and depending on lumber prices, could shift vessels in or out of the lumber trade as required.
In early 1867, they bought a series of vessels in quick sucession: the Anglo Saxon, Buena Vista, David Hoadley, Elizabeth Kimball, Guiding Star, Atlanta and finally the Panther.
The Panther was the largest vessel in their fleet, and was the queen of the line. The Talbots planned to use her not only for carrying lumber from Port Gamble, to ports like San Francisco and New York, but also to carry general merchandise in the rising trade with Hong Kong and Canton (China).
They hired A.k. Kilton, who was a hard driving commander with tough cruel "bucko" mates as captain of the bark Buena Vista in 1867. He became commander of the Panther in 1869 when the Panther began carrying lumber, merchandise and passengers for Pope and Talbot from Puget Sound to San Francisco and then Austraila and returned with Coal.
A Pope & Talbot advertisement offering first class cabins and steerage accomodations
aboard the Panther from San Francisco to Melbourne
She sailed along the Australian coastline from New Castle, N.S.W to Melbourne and then Sidney. She also in the early 1870's plied the waters between San Francisco, Vancouver and Honolulu. In 1870, she made notably fast round voyages between San Francisco and Hong Kong, being 44 days going over, and the same length of time on the return; both good runs.
A newspaper advertisement from the Daily Alta,14 Sept. 1870
Shanghaiing, Crimps and Bully Mates
The introduction of steamship, meant the decline of clippers. Although clippers could be much faster than early steamships, they depended on the vagaries of the wind, while steamers could keep to a schedule. When fully rigged and riding a tradewind, the clipper had peak average speeds over 16 knots (30 km/h). The fastest speed recorded by a clipper was Soverign of the Seas, that was reported to hit a top speed of 22 nots (41 km/h) when running down to Austrailia in 1854.
Furthermore, besides the steamship, the steam clipper was developed around this time, and had auxiliary steam engines which could be used in the absence of wind. The final blow was the Suez Canal,opened in 1869, which provided a great shortcut for steamships between Europe and Asia, but due to its depth was difficult for sailing ships to use.
While steamships had the advantage of being able to sail to a set schedule, and did not rely the wind, they had the disadvantage of requiring a large amount of the cargo space to be used for fuel:
"there is a limit to the use of steam, and it is reached when the distance to be travelled makes the cost of coal and the space it occupies greater than the value of the cargo will warrant. Until some new motive power replaces steam, or steam is replaced by the use of petroleum or other concentrated fuel, the clipper still has an occupation, and the hearts of all old-time skippers will be gladdened by the sight of her white wings upon the seas.” — Chadwick, F.E., Ocean steamships (1891) New York: C. Scribner's Sons, p. 225-226
At this point, clippers like the Panther began to carry more bulk cargoes which were impractical for steamships, and steam clippers. Yet, the clipper ships still required a large crew to manage the multitude of sails. The ease of steam operation, and shorter and safer voyages through the Suez Canal, meant a large loss of the clipper ship workforce, as veteran sailors moved on to the newer ships.
In order to stay competitive, the clipper ship owners and captain needed to find labour at a low-cost. They obtained labor by taking advantage of an existing federal legislation enacted in 1790, that stated once a sailor signed on board a vessel for a voyage, it was illegal for him to leave the ship before the voyage's end, the penalty was imprisonment. Under this guise, men were kidknapped, and taken aboard ship, and either forced to sign papers, or forging a signature.
A "crimp" was a boarding master who used trickery, intimidation, or violence to put a sailor on a ship. Boarding masters were paid "by the body," and thus had a strong incentive to place as many seamen on ships as possible.This pay was called "blood money," and was just one of the revenue streams available in West Coast towns and cities. This practice of kidknapping a sailor or forcing him to sign aboard a shipw as known as "Shanghaiing", most likely named after the Clipper ships destination.
The most straightforward method for a crimp to shanghai a sailor was to render him unconscious, forge his signature on the ship's articles, and pick up his "blood money." This approach was widely used, but there were more profitable methods.
In some situations, the boarding master could receive the first two, three, or four months of wages of a man he shipped out. Sailors were able to get an advance against their pay for an upcoming voyage to allow them to purchase clothes and equipment, but the advance wasn't paid directly to the sailor because he could simply abscond with the money. Instead, those to whom money was owed could claim it directly from the ship's captain. An enterprising crimp, already dealing with a seaman, could supplement his income by supplying goods and services to the seaman at an inflated price, and collecting the debt from the sailor's captain.
Some crimps made as much as $9,500 per year in 1890s dollars, equivalent to about $270,000 in 2014 dollars.
Boarding house proprietors were masters of persuasion and, as further inducement, they were accustomed to advance reluctant seaman as much as three months pay when they signed ships' articles. Once he had scrawled his name or mark on the articles, in port it was almost futile to resist. Those who refused to sign articles to board the outward-bounder, were often knocked out by bruisers who were employed as boarding house "runners" and hoisted aboard waiting ships, like barrels of salt horse. In return, the boarding house master or "crimp" was reimbursed for the room and board and advance pay of his erstwhile guests, the money being deducted from the crew's wages. In addition, cash bonuses were often awared crimps for each body deliviered aboard.
Sailors' boarding houses flourished in most of the Pacfic Coast seaports, but one particularly notorious center was Port Townsend. It became a salty seaport in epic tradition, its waterfront lined with sailors' boarding houses, saloons, and brothels. Crimping was big business before Sailors' unions, and when manpower was at a premuim, knock-out drops and trap-doors in saloon floors were the tools of the crimps trade.
The respectable citizens of Port Townsend, and many of the shipmasters, lived high on a bluff above the waterfront, where their ornate Victoran houses still stand today. There were chruches, ans schools, and a sperate business disctrict were the "towns" people coudl go shopping without being bothered by the goings-on under the bluff.
However, the Townsend-Under-the-Bluff was quite a different place. It was seldom quiet there, and never respectavle, in that narrow slice of town at sea level between the square riggers in the bay, and the quiet homes on the hill. It was like a modern day, sin-city, open for business twenty-fours hours a day, seven days a week. The men on the street were mostly sailors, loggers, and blue uniformed artillery men from nearyy forts. Port Townsend historian James G. McCurdy described it like this:
"In the early days the worst of these resorts were locaed on the beach beyond Point Hudson and were known as "mad houses" or "gin mills." There, sailors from vessels lying in harbor, soliders from Fort Townsend, Natives, and renegades of all nationalities gathered... and drank, danced and gambled the night away. On quiet evenings the shouts of the revelers, mingling with the discordanty music originating from sour-toned pianos and wheezy accordions could be heard throughout the residential district"
But the most dangerous of all were the waterfront saloons. There was a saloon for every 75 men, women and children of Port Townsend, and almost all of them were within a bottle toss of the harbour. Some of them, had back rooms supported on pilings which were driven in the bay bottom. For it was in the saloons that crews were prepared for shipment to waiting windjammers. The process was simple and routine: simply give the suspecting a drink "on-the-house" with knock out drops rendering them unconscious, drop them through a trap door into a waiting rowboat, and then row out to the waiting ship. When the victim regained consciousness, he found himself in the clutches of a brutal first mate, often who would pride themselves of killing at least one man on a voyage.
A victim of the crimps, an incapacitated sailor
is hoisted aboard a clipper.
Another port city infamous for "crimps" was Portland, Oregon. In the late 1800s, Portland was known as one of the most "dangerous ports in the world" because of the "Shanghaiing Trade" that existed there. Portland, Oregon, the Victorian-refined "City of Roses" along the Willamette River, earned the reputation of being the "Shanghai Capital of the World" because of this uncontrolled shanghaiing of unsuspecting men. Ship captains paid bartenders to drug single intoxicated men that hung out in the waterfront area in order to lure them into the dark tunnels. Thousands of them found themselves in the clutches of shanghaiers and crimps that either forcibly grabbed them off the streets, or slipped "knockout drops" in their saloon, pool hall, and gambling parlor drinks. They were hauled out of opium dens and houses of prostitution, or cleverly dropped through "deadfalls".
In Portland, it was easy to find a good time with Speakeasies, brothels and drug dens. One notorious establishment was Erickson's Saloon, which seemed innocent enough, with its inexpensive drinks, great food and entertainment, but a victim could find that suddenly a trap door (deadfall) would drop open and a would-be victim would plummet into a dark underground tunnel where they would be shanghaiied.
Fame spread world-wide as sailors carried word about Erickson’s 16-ounce nickel beer, hard drinks that were just 2 for a quarter, a free meal of gargantuan proportions (as long as you kept drinking), the size of its 684 ft. bar and of the delightful lady performers at the Cabaret Grill. Loggers, farm hands & other robust working men came to Erickson’s with some spending their stakes in an all-night revery, in good cheer, buying drinks all around, but most were not so fortunate.
A near-forgotten past, Portland Underground survives quietly with its network of catacombs that reveal an infamous history of shanghaiing that has largely survived through oral tradition.
Portland was unique because it's trap doors (known as "deadfalls") were used to drop the unsuspecting victims into tunnels under the city, known as the "Portland Underground", where they were forcibly held in cells until the ship was ready to set sail. These catacombs, which "snaked" their way beneath the streets of what is now called Old Town, Skidmore Fountain, and Chinatown, helped to create an infamous history that has became legendary over the years. There are even hidden trapdoors in fireplaces!
However, in Portland, it wasn't just the men that were crimped - Women, in Portland's early history also had to be cautious when venturing into certain areas of the city. They were warned not to go to dances and to stay out of restaurants, saloons, and other establishments of the evening. They too, became victims of this shadowy part of the city's history, and found themselves being carried or dragged through this infamous "network" of wharf rat-dominated shanghai tunnels, and, unfortunately, sold into "white slavery". Like a "speck of dust", most of these women just seemed to vanish and were never heard from again.
The victims were held captive in small brick cells or makeshift wood and tin prisons until they were sold to the sea captains. A sea captain who needed additional men to fill his crew notified the shanghaiers that he was ready to set sail in the early-morning hours, and would purchase the men for about $50 a head. "Knock-out drops" were then slipped into the confined victim’s food or water.
Unconscious, they were then taken through a network of tunnels that "snaked" their way under the city all the way to the waterfront. They were placed aboard ships and didn't awake until many hours later, after they had "crossed the bar" into the Pacific Ocean. It took many of these men as long as two full voyages,or nearly six years, to get back to Portland. During the "heyday" of shanghaiing, a minimum of 1500 people per year were shanghaied out of Portland.
The remnants of Portland's infamous history of the "Shanghai Tunnels" and the "Portland Underground” are still with us. The stories have lingered, along with the rubble, the trapdoors, the secret entrances, and the catacombs that still extend their presence beneath the sidewalks, streets and buildings of the modern day city.
A trapdoor staircase and a makeshift holding cell as they exist today , once used by crimps in Portland, Ore.
In the city of Everett, the "Bucket of Blood Saloon" at the corner of Hewitt and Market Street was built without doors over the Snohomish River and had a trap door in the back room floor. Fritz & Heeny were the proprietors. The name was given
because of the large amount of blood shed there.
Abderdeen, on Grays Harbour, and Astoria on the Columbia River were almost entriely built over the water; trap doors and knock out drops were not unknown there. Aberdeen was nicknamed "The Hellhole of the Pacific", or "The Port of Missing Men", because of its high crimping and murder rate.
Even in the little mill town of Port Gamble, an enterprising dentist was part of crimping legend. His sign read, "Sailors, take notice! Remember there are no dentists at sea. Don't start on a long voyage with bad teeth. Extractions guaranteed entirely painless." When a ship was ready to sail form the mill dock, and was still short-handed, all his patients seems to need extractions, which were indeed quick painless. The dentist applied sufficient ether to keep his patients sedated until they could delivered aboard ship, and carried out to sea.
The captain of the Panther, A.K. Kilton and his bucko mates were no different. The Panther often frequented ports such as Port Townsend, Port Gamble, and other small communities in the Pacific Northwest from as far north Nanaimo, and Tekkalit on Vancouver Island and throughout Puget Sound, bounding for San Francisco and then outbound to the Orient, Australia, and the Hawaiian islands.
Captain A.K. (Kelton) Kilton
Captain Alanson Kingsly Kelton (Kilton), was born in 1831, in Jonesboro, Maine. Kelton left Maine and married Jennie S. Janvrin. He moved his family to New York, and then to England before settling in California. During the 1860's the family resided in Almeda, and he later moved to 756 Market Street in Oakland. Milford Kilton, follwed in his father's foosteps and became a sea captain and master mariner. Their other children became very popular on the Vaudeville circuits. His youngest daughter, Jane Kelton, was particularly famous in Vancouver, B.C. travelling with Del S. Lawrence's Company. Del S. Lawrence "and His Splendid Company" played the Alisky Theater in 1908.
The text of Jane Kelton's biography in the souvenir program reads:
Miss Jane Kelton
Miss Kelton, the popular leading lady of the Del S. Lawrence Company, now playing at C.A. Alisky's "Theatre Beautiful," is a native California girl, born in Oakland, and has been since childhood prominently connected with the drama. For many years this charming little lady has held a leading position in various stock organizations in the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, and her serious efforts have been appreciated by the many thousands who have watched with growing interest this "Child of the West." Californians are always proud of the honorable achievements of their people and Sacramento theatre-goers have certainly evinced their appreciation of Miss Kelton's splendid success. Her pluck and determination to play, regardless of the accident which lately befell her, proves the courage and determination of our "native born."
Unfortunately, Miss Kelton, passed away in 1912 from complications after a surgery in the Vancouver, B.C. General hospital, she was 38. The news of her death quickly made local headlines.
Spokane Chronicle - Jan. 26, 1912
Before taking command of the the Panther, A.J. Kilton (Kelton) commanded the 300 Ton Barque John Howe, and routinely made voyages for several years between Vancouver Island, San Francisco, and Australia. A report in the New York Times, reports the fierce storms encoutered by A.J. Kelton, when he first took command of the John Howe, in 1860:
Bark John Howe, Kelton, Cardenas, April 20, with sugar, &c., to H.D. Brookman & Co. Has experienced very severe gales from E. to NE. 29th April, off Cape Lookout, experienced a severe hurricane and lost part of deck load; was obliged to such before it, under bare poles, for ten hours. May 5. lat. 34° 15, lat. 72° 45', spoke bark jubilee, of and for Portland, from Matanzas, 12 days out. Same day, lat. 34° 26', lon. 72° 57', signalized a ketch, showing a red signal, white ball in the centre.
-New York Times, Marine Intelligence, May 11, 1860
List of Crew and Passengers of the Barque John Howe, A.K. Kilton master, Sydney, N.S.W. July, 1862
A.J. Kilton (Kelton) and his "Bucko" Mates
All along the West Coast from San Francisco to the Pacific Northwest, a new breed of captain and mate had emerged. They used fear, intimidation, and beatings to control their unruly crew. By now, most of the skilled seaman had gone on to better paying and easier tasks. "Crimped" men were forced unwilling aboard ships, and some who had no experience aboard a sailing vessel at all. These men were "whipped" into shape and driven hard, by strong large musclar mates, who beat their comrades into submission.
The Panther wasn't different then other clippers in this regard. The Panther left Puget sound on March 7, 1869, arriving in San Francisco, on March 20th, where she then headed for Hobson's Bay, in Melbourne, Austraila. She made the run in a respectable time of 63 days, arrving on May 22nd - carrying with her an assortment of cargo, and several passengers including: Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Barned,Messrs Morgan, Wheeler, Josephs, Jennings; and five in the steerage.
The Port Hobson Railway Pier circa 1870. Melbourne, Austrailia
The Panther also brought with her a cargo of lumber from the Pope and Talbot Mills. She had 708,611 feet Oregon Timber lumber, 16,590 5 feet pickets, and 172, 200 sawn lathe. It was auctioned along the Australian Wharf soon after his arrival.
Auction Advertisement for the Panther
The Ballarat Star Weds. May 26, 1869
Kilton was not able to sell all the lumber in one auction, and sailed up and down the Australian coast selling off the lumber through several auctions.
The Argus, Weds. July 7th, 1869
The Mutiny on the Panther
The Panther after selling off most of its cargo, then lay to at Australia Wharf for a couple months. The reasons she sat idle are not certain, but in any event it appears that Captain Kilton did not pay the crew their full wages earned. After sitting for nearly two months, the crew had become restless, and without the pay owed them. The captain had secured a load of coal, and it was announced that they would be shipping out, shortly. The crew after night of drinking, and carousing on the town, decided to demand their pay from the captain, and in a druken state pressed the captain on board the ship for their money. They had enlisted the aid of strong seaman from the Pompiero. The captain, pressed into his captain and refusing their demands, began to be beaten by the crewman. In an act of self defense, in the heat of the moment, he drew his dagger and stabbed several of them clean through, by then the shore police had clambered aboard and arrested the captain for "unlawful cutting and wounding."
The newspapers of the time, record the event in excellent detail:
By Telegram we have already learnt that the captain of the American ship Panther stabbed four men who had assaulted him. The Newcastle corrspondent of the S.M. Herald gives the following account of the affair: ---" On Tuesday night, shortly before 12 O'clock, a serious fracas took place on board the American ship Panther, then lying alongside the wharf, during which three of the seamen belonging to that vessel and one from the Pampiero, were dangerously wounded. It appears the man had been creating a disturbance in the city, and, it is said, they afterwards proceeded to the Panther, and demanded money from the captain. He refused to give it to them, when four men, named James H. McCourtenay, J. Wilson, David Clark, and John Clark rushed upon him, pressed him into the cabin, and endeavoured to enforce their demand. He says, that, in self-defence, he drew his dagger --- a weapon with a blade six inches long -- and managed to beat them off until the arrival of senior-sergeant Conway and a body of water police. When that officer went on board, Captain Kilton was standing on the quarter-deck, with his apparel in a very disordered state, and blood was trickling down his face as if he had been roughly handled. He had the dagger, covered with blood, in his hand, and this he handed to sergeant Conway, remarking, "That's what I did it with." The police next proceeded to the forecastle, where they found Daniel Clark lying on his back in a bunk, bleeding profusely from a wound in the left breast; and another man, named James Hugh McCourtenay, the seaman belonging to the ship Pampiero, who, it appears, had taken part in the melee. This man complained very much of his back, and could scarcely move. A subsequent examination showed that the veins leading from the spine had been cut and after his removal to the hospital he was seized with paralysis in the right side. Dr. Degrier was at once called in, and under his treatment the wounded man is now progressing favorably. Dr. Peel attended the others on board ship, and this morning I found that they were in no danger, the stabs, altough deep being only flesh wounds. After seeing the men properly attended to, the police took the captain into custody on the charge of unlawfully cutting and wounding, and conveyed him to the lock-up, where he remained until the following day, when he was brought before the Bench, and remanded until Friday, in order to enable the wounded men to attend as witnesses. Bail was allowed in £80, and two sureties of £40 each. It would seem that sergeant Conway was in search of the four seamen, who had been conducting themselves in a very disorderly way on shore, and when he found them only one was in a fit state to be taken to the lock-up. The captain was under the influence of liqour, although he seemed to be perfectly cognisant of everything that transpired, and the seamen were intoxicated when the affray took place.
- The Brisbane Courier, 31 August 1869
After a court hearing, Captain Kilton was released, and made sail from Australia to San Francisco with 1305 tons of Coal on 06 September 1869. The next couple voyages eemed peaceful and without inicident.However, the sailors' trouble with Captain Kilton and his bully mates was far from over. The law in those days seldom reached beyond the pierhead, captains and their mates were rarely held accountable for the maltreatment of sailors during voyages. But by 1872, the tide was changing and occassionally "bully mates" and crimps were brought to justice, especially when the crime was particularly brutal. When the Panther arrived in San Francisco, word had quickly spread of the violent maltreatment aboard ship. The Panther's had arrived from Nanaimo with coal, arriving on the 9th of December 1872. The newspapers at the time remarked at what a splendid vessel the Panther still was in when she arrived in San Francisco at the Gas Company's Wharf.
One could only imagine the surprise when in December 1872, A.K. Kilton, and his mates were arrested for the brutal beating and murder of sailors aboard the Panther.
Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 44, Number 6771, 14 December 1872
Captain Kilton was arrested for murderous assault and maltreatment of sailors on the Panther on December 13th, 1872
This wasn't the first time that Captain Alanson Kelton had a run in with the law in San Francsico for maltreatment of sailors,just five years earlier on August 28, 1867 he had been arraigned before the court for cutting and beating a seaman, William J. Haisley on the Buena Vista. He was convicted of assault with a belaying pin, and was ordered to pain a fine of $5, plus $100 for damages for each of the blows.
Captain Kelton had more than one run in with the U.S. Comminsioner for
brutality to seaman. He was arraigned previously on 08/28/1867
Kelton was fined $5 dollars and found guilty of striking a seaman on the Buena Vista
As it was to happen, in this case the Captain escaped further prosecution, and his case was dismissed because the "evidence before the court not substaining the accusation." Penhallow, first mate of the ship Panther was tried in the United States District Court, and was convicted of assaulting a seaman named Martin King on the 1st of September. He was fined $80. Penhallow shortly after the incident became master of the W.C. Park, and then went from her to take command of the bark Enoch Talbot, for six years until moving on to the barkentine Discovery. He went on to command several other vessels in quick succesion and sailed along the coast for nearly twenty-one years after leaving the Panther. The U.S. Marshall was dispatched to catch James Casey and bring him to justice, and he was captured on 17 December 1872.
Most of the accountability, and consequences were placed on James Casey, the second mate, who was brought before United States Commisioner, O'Beirne with the charge of a brutal assault on a seaman named George Quackenbush, with a belaying pin, during a voyage on the 25th of October 1872. He was commited to answer the action of the United States Grand Jury.
The proceedings did not go smoothly, and the infuriated James Casey - possibly angry at being scapgoated by Captain Kilton, and the first mate - flew into a rage, and had to be subdued.
The Sacramento Daily Union Daily Union on, 18th December 1872, reports:
James Casey, second officer of the Panther, accused with maltreatment of a seaman, George Quackenbush, was examined before one of the United States Commissioners this afternoon and held to answer. He became very violent and broke the doors and bars of the cell where he was confined, and not until he was bucked and gagged could the man be subdued.
James Casey was convicted and sentenced to the county jail on January 10th for forty-days for the assault. Kelton's habit of not paying the sailors had become a focus as well, and the U.S. Commisioner had to step in to see that the sailor's were fairly paid. Captain Kelton was originally chartered to make another voyage in the Panther to Europe with wheat, but could not leave port, for he had to stand trial for the maltreatment of seaman, and wasn't aquitted of the charges until December 23rd. The Panther was finally cleared to leave port and her destination was for lumber Port Townsend,
Unfortunately, at 4:15 on Christmas Day, 1872 as she was being towed away from the Gas Company's wharf, the Panther drifted across the bows of the Mary, and carried away some of her head gear. While no serious damage was done, it caused her a minor delay of a few more days, and she wasnt able to sail from San Francsico until December 27th.
Pope and Talbot decided to move their commanders around, and replaced Captain Kilton/Kelton with a civil war hero, John. W. Balch who had been captain of their second largest vessel at the time, along the coast the Elizabeth Kimball for several years.
The Last Captain Of The Panther: John William Balch
Capt. John W. Balch of the Panther,
at the time of her sinking. Circa 1874
John W. Balch was born in Trescott, Maine, on Feb 1st, 1834 into a long line of early pioneers, ships captains, builders and merchants. In 1635, his ancestor, also named John Balch arrived in America from England in 1623 at Wessegusset, Mass aboard the ship Zouch Phoenix with with Captain Robert Gorges and others in the "Gorges Company. Robert Gorges and his company set out to build a successful colony where others had failed. The first inhabitants of this new colony, in the beginning, tried to build and make their living purely through farming. In 1624 the colonists, hoping to make a profit, established the Dorchester Company and attempted to set up a successful fishery at Cape Anne. In the end, the fishery at Cape Anne was a failure and some colonists returned to England while others remained in the general area to return to agriculture. John Balch was one of about thirty colonists that remained in the region as they moved to a place bettered suited for farming. Settling in Naumkeag the colonists built a town that would one day become known as Salem.
In time the Dorchester Company would sell its rights to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and their colony was merged with that of nearby Plymouth. By about 1636 John Balch's name is showing up in town records indicating that he was one of the first thirteen executive rulers of Salem and later he is named one of the twelve selectmen for the town. After years of relocation, he and four others as original settlers of the colony were given 1,000 acres in which to divide amongst themselves. This was later to be referred to as the "Old Planters' Grant".
The "Old " Balch House - Circa. 1929
Boston Public Library - Abdalian, Leon H., 1884-1967 Photographer
In that same year, he built a house, which still stands today and is considered one of the oldest wooden houses in America. In the "Old" Balch house, the original fireplace remains, as does the wide 23-inch plank flooring and thick beams with it's distinct adz marks. There is no way to know if John W. Balch's father every visited the family homestead, but his great-grandfather was born nearby. Benjamin Balch, a minister and graduate of Harvard who saw action during the Revolutionary War. As a Lieutenant of a Danvers company, her marched to Lexington on April 19th, 1775, and participated in a battle which began the war for independance. He served as a champlain on several vessels, including the frigate, Alliance when she conveyed U.S. Ambassador Benjamin Franklin to France. According to the Genealogy of the Balch Families:
This vessel was in a severe engagement with a British Ship and brig, which they captured off Halifax. The fierceness of the battle so excited the champlain that he seized a musket and fought with such ardor that his exploits earned him the sobriquet of "The Fighting Parson"
Benjamin married Joanna O'Brien, who came from a seafaring family in Machias, Maine and was related to the Talbots. She had three brothers who were also noted American privateersmen. They had several children including John Balch, who was father to several Balch family members including, John W. Balch Sr., his oldest son and Lafayette Balch.
Capt. J.W. Balch (Jr) father was John W. Balch Sr. who was born on 13 Nov. 1803. The oldest of his siblings, he was a merchant, shipbuilder, and sea captain worth $15,000 by 1850 and was first involved in the lumber trade before becoming a ship builder in 1851; by 1860 he was a resident of Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he passed away the following year. He was primarily a builder and owner of smaller craft including a number of brigs and schooners (none much larger than 250 tons). However, He is known to have built two clippers:
Kate Hayes (sometimes given as Cate Hayes), completed in 1851, 700 tons berthen, built on his own account. According to the local records, John Balch, had a three-fourths share of the clipper that was valued at $8,400, though he later sold her to Stephen W. Dana of Boston. The clipper was first commanded by Captain Miner York of Trescott, and does not appear in the American ship regstry until 1859.
Sea Lark, built in 1852, 973 tons, built for Samuel Reed of Boston and E.M. Robinson of New Bedford. The first commander was twenty-six year old Charles L. Wilcomb a native of France. The ship was lost in May 1863, when she was captured and burned by the confederate raider, Alabama.
Several of Capt. John W. Balch Jr's uncles were also heavily involved in the shipping business. For example, Hiram Augustus Balch, was also a prominent ship owner, and heavily involved in the lumber trade. Evidence indicates that he may have dealt in general merchandise, foodstuff, and supplies, along with major trade in lumber. Balch traded extensively with merchants in the Boston/Portland area. As his business grew Balch chartered, and eventually owned, several vessels (primarily schooners) which carried his lumber and other goods. He owned, and perhaps may have built, the schooners AUGUSTUS, BENJAMIN, PERU, SUSAN STURGES, and the brig HANNAH BALCH, during the 1840's-1850's. Between 1828-1844 Hiram Balch was active in Trescott's civic affairs, first as a Collector for highway taxes, and later as Town Tresurer. He was also certified as a Justice of the Peace in 1842. The Balch family was well represented in Trescott and in neighboring Lubec
Another uncle, was Captain Lafayette Balch, an adventurous sea captain from New England who help establish Pope and Talbot in San Francisco in the early times of the gold rush. Lafayette also founded the town of Steilacoom along the Washington coast when the promoter of the new Olympia town site gave a quick brush-off to his proposal to build a store in that community. Captain Balch, noted for his independence, concluded that if Olympia would not have him on his own terms, he would build a rival community. Accordingly, he erected his building on the shore of Puget Sound a few miles from the military post already established at Fort Steilacoom. Captain Balch was not only the promoter of Steilacoom, he encouraged others to settle in the Puget Sound area. When Balch met Alfred Plummer and Charles Bachelder in San Francisco, they decided to take passage on the George Emory to Olympia. As they passed the future site of Port Townsend, Balch is said to have pointed out this good location for cutting timber and the excellent anchorage to two men. Bachelder and Plummer took the Captain's advise, and located claims at Port Townsend.
Pope and Talbot were also encouraged by Lafayette's stories of plentiful timber in the Oregon Country. The two lumbermen from East Machias, Maine, encountered Balch in San Francisco in January of 1850, during the gold rush. They knew him well because he was a relative of Talbot's by marriage and he had often stopped by East Machias to pick up lumber.
Lafayette's store was said to have been the best stocked one on the Sound and Captain Balch eventually left the sea to take charge of it. Between voyages he plotted a tract of 320 acres he had staked out, naming his infant town for the nearby creek and the Steillacomish Indian tribe.
Balch's wharf in Steilacoom was a bustling place in the 1850's with ships coming and going, cargoes being loaded and unloaded, and passengers embarking and disembarking. It was here that Lafayette Balch, co-founder of the town, docked the vessels used in his coastwide lumber and merchandise trade between Puget Sound and San Francisco.
While his partner, J. B. Webber, was tending the store, and the men at the lumber camp and sawmill were preparing timber, Balch began sailing between Steilacoom and San Francisco. He loaded his first ships, George W. Emery and Demaris Cove (Demariscove), with timber from the forests of Puget Sound and sailed it to his lumber yard on Pier 20 at Stewart Street in San Francisco. On return trips, he carried merchandise for his store, which was reportedly the best stocked on the Sound.
The George W. Emery, one of Balch's original ships, claimed some "firsts." According to Lewis and Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, the brig took out the first coasting license issued on Puget Sound on the 19th of November, 1851, and so was the first American ship to carry forest products to San Francisco from Puget Sound. The Emery also was the first vessel to call at Commencement Bay in Tacoma to load lumber from Nicholas Delin's sawmill.
Shipping during Captain Balch's time was a thriving but hazardous business. Because vessels were wrecked, Balch added new ones to replace them. Balch's line of packets included at different times the brigs Cyclops, Cyrus, W D. Rice, and the barques Glympse, Mary F. Slade, Ork and Massachusetts. From 1853 to 1860 four of the fleet were wrecked and one was stranded.
It took a rugged individualist to accomplish as much as Captain Lafayette Balch did in the brief twelve years in which he was a figure in Washington history.
J.W. Balch Jr. followed in his father and uncles' footsteps. He took to sea in 1848 and quickly became an accomplished sailor. He sailed to San Francisco, California in his father's clipper Kates Hayes in 1852. He became captain of the Kate Hayes in 1856.
Captain J.W. Balch
as a Master in the U.S. Navy
Balch volunteered during the civil war and was master aboard the sidewheeler U.S.S. Florida. The S.S. Florida, a 1261-ton wooden side-wheel steamship, was built at New York City in 1850. After more than a decade of commercial employment, the outbreak of the American Civil War caused her to enter Naval service. She was purchased by the U.S. Navy in August 1861, converted to a cruiser and commissioned as USS Florida in early October of that year. For the next three years, she enforced the blockade of the Atlantic coast of the Confederacy. Florida participated in the expeditions that seized Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861 and positions in northern Florida and Georgia in March 1862. She also took part in the capture or destruction of several blockade runners.
Steamship Florida - Captain JW Balch served as master in 1861
The USS Florida was part of the flotilla, in the Battle of Port Royale, one of the earliest amphibious operations of the American Civil War in which a United States Navy fleet and United States Army expeditionary force captured Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, on November 7, 1861. It was also the first time that a large force of African American soldiers would see combat duty. The attacking force assembled outside of the sound beginning on November 3, 1861 after being battered by a storm during their journey down the coast. Because of losses in the storm, the army was not able to land, so the battle was reduced to a contest between ship-based guns and those on shore.
The expedition began on October 28, 25 when coal and ammunition vessels departed Hampton Roads, accompanied by two warships, Vandalia and Gem of the Sea. The remainder of the fleet, including 17 warships and all of the army transports, put out to sea the next day. The full fleet of 77 vessels was the largest assemblage of ships that had ever sailed under the American flag; the distinction would not last long. In an effort to maintain secrecy, Du Pont had not told anyone other than his immediate staff the destination. He had given each captain a sealed envelope, to be opened only at sea. The message given to Captain Francis S. Haggerty of Vandalia was: "Port Royal, S. C., is the port of destination for yourself and the ships of your convoy". Although the destination was supposed to be secret, the New York Times had already received wind of the operation through its correspondants and published a large article describing the operation:
The Great Naval Expedition.
Published: New York Times, October 26, 1861
We publish this morning, from our correspondents, a very full account of the great Naval Expedition, which has at last left Annapolis, and is on its way to some part of the Southern coast. Its destination remains, as yet, a profound secret, and probably will so remain until it is revealed by the blow which it proposes to strike. There are in the expedition thirty-one large transport vessels, conveying over 12,000 troops, with all their arms, provisions, &c., -- sixteen steam gunboats, with eight or ten other vessels of war, carrying in all about 400 guns. It is in every respect a most powerful and admirably organized expedition, and but for accidents which cannot be foreseen, it will unquestionably render very essential service to the Union cause. It is under the command of able and experienced officers, and the troops embarked are among the best in the volunteer army.
One feature of this expedition is that about a thousand negroes accompany it, being mainly those who have come into Fortress Monroe from the neighboring districts of Virginia. They are to be employed mainly in throwing up intrenchments. This is the first instance, we believe, in which this class of people have formed any part of an operative force; they will, without doubt, be found highly serviceable.
To obviate criticism, we may state here that this publication of the departure and composition of the expedition is made with the knowledge and assent of the proper authorities. That any injury can result from it, it is simply absurd to suppose. It will reach its destination, wherever that may be, long in advance of this intelligence -- and even if it did not, there is nothing in regard to its character and strength which it would do the enemy the slightest good to know. If they knew the point at which it is directed the case would be different -- but as long as this has been kept an absolute secret, and they are left solely to their conjectures, they will find it difficult to make adequate preparations to meet it.
The Port Royal Flotilla - The Florida is the second ship from the left.
The USS Florida joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in patrolling the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The steamer helped capture a ship and a schooner, which were running the blockade. Returning to New York during November 1862, Florida was decommissioned for repairs. Toward the latter part of the war, the Florida is utilized as a supply ship and to transport Confederate prisoners. It remains in active service until 1867, when it is decomissioned. In December 1868, she is sold, renamed Daphne and used as a merchant steamer. Later, she is aquired by Haiti and used again as a warship and renamed the Republique until the mid 1870's.
In January, 1863 J.W. Balch served as master aboard the U.S.S. Columbia. The Columbia was a Confederate blockade-runner built in Dumbarton, Scotland, in July 1862. She was a 503-ton iron-hulled, screw steamer that measured 168 feet long and 25 feet wide, with a 14-foot draft. The USS Santiago de Cuba captured the Columbia on her maiden voyage as she attempted to run the blockade of Florida on August 3, 1862. The US government purchased the Columbia from a prize court at Key West the following November and assigned her to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Fitted out as a cruiser at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in the autumn of 1862, her armament comprised six 24-pounder smoothbore cannons and one 30-pounder rifled cannon. The crew totaled 100 officers and sailors commanded by Lieutenant James P. Couthouy.
The Columbia headed southward in late December 1862 to take up station with the Union's blockading force off of Wilmington, North Carolina. The squadron desperately needed her services, as the blockade of the Tar Heel seaport had been largely ineffective.
The Columbia's duty was to cruise along the coast and intercept blockade-runners attempting to enter New Inlet. Shortly after dark on January 14, 1863, Lieutenant Couthouy ordered his ship to anchor for the night near Wrightsville Beach. Unfortunately, the leadsman miscalculated the waters depth until the blockader was almost in the breakers. Alerted to the danger, Couthouy sounded the bell for the engines to be reversed, but it was too late.
The Columbia ran hard and fast aground in about eight feet of water at Masonboro Inlet.
In his report to the U.S. Navy, commander Couthouy describes her grounding as follows:
"Going on deck I saw for myself that there was a competent leadsman in the chains, directed Acting Ensign James S. Williams, one of the most intelligent and trustworthy of my officers, who was doing duty as sailing master, to stand beside him and watch carefully that the casts were correctly reported, and took the deck, stationing myself on the bridge in company with my executive Acting Matser J.W. Balch and master's mate of the watch Esrom Morse. The water continued to shoal gradually and regularly to eight and a half fathoms, when I gave the orders to slow her and prepare to bring ship to anchor. On eight fathoms being reported, I directed Mr. Balch to come to anchor; that moment we struct half seven, and on that depth being called gave the order to stop her and come to at once. At the moment Mr. Balch who was outboard of me on the bridge, looking ahead, turned and said, 'there is something, sir, on the starboard bow that looks like white water.' I replied, 'back her Mr. Balch! back her instantly! sir; though it cannot be that there is any white water within two miles of us, with half seven alongside.' The bell was rung immediately, and at the same moment the lookout on the forecastle caleld, 'breakers ahead!' I then sprang from the bridge and shouted down the engine room the order, 'back her quick, there is a shoal ahead!' The order was promptly obeyed but before the action of the propeller could be reversed, the vessel took the ground at 6.25[p.m.], and in another moment was in the surf, striking heavily, with only eight feet of water under her bows, and nine to ten along the waist and quarter, while her draught was nine feet three inches forward and eleven four aft"
Despite the crews best efforts to free the iron-hulled ship, waves pushed her broadside to the shoreline and filled her boilers with seawater. Anxious sailors fired flares into the night sky, hoping another Union blockader would spot the Columbia and come to her rescue. When that failed, Couthouy sent a lifeboat to inform the Union blockading fleet at New Inlet, some 20 miles to the south. The boat made little headway in rough seas, and it was late the following afternoon before it reached the USS Cambridge, the nearest vessel, which immediately got underway.
By the time the Cambridge reached the Columbia, the USS Penobscot had already arrived and begun rescue operations. She managed to get crewmen off the wreck, but a gale on January 15 hampered efforts. The following morning Confederate troops showed up to lay claim to the Union ship. Sentinels patrolling the beach had probably spotted the Columbia sometime during the day on January 15 and alerted military authorities in Wilmington. Gray-clad artillerists and infantrymen soon took up positions behind sand dunes on Masonboro Island. Both the Cambridge and Penobscot fired their cannons at them, only to be answered by Confederate artillery fire.
Rufus E. Lester claimed that his regiment, the 25th Georgia Infantry, participated in the battle. The Wilmington Daily Journal reported on January 17, 1863, that Colonel William Lamb took a Whitworth rifled cannon and a detachment of cavalry and infantry from Fort Fisher near New Inlet to assist in the capture of the Columbia.
The Columbia sustained considerable damage from the crossfire throughout the morning of January 16. The shooting and heavy seas halted rescue operations by the Penobscot and Cambridge. Realizing that the game was up, Lieutenant Couthouy threw most of his cannons overboard to keep them from falling into Confederate hands and then hoisted a white flag of surrender.
Lieutenant Couthouy reports:
By 10 O'clock the surf was tumbling in so heavily again outside of us that no boats could have got through it to our relief had the attempt to send them been made, and regarding it as my duty not to hazard longer, to no purpose, the lives of my remaining officers and men, I gave orders to spike the Parrott, down the powder in the magazine, and run up a white flag in token of surrender. The rebels persisted in firing upon us for nearly an hour longer, till I sent acting Ensign Manter ashore in our only remaining boat, with a flag of truce, to inquire the meaning of their keeping up a fire after our surrender, when they ceased and showed an answering flag of truces, alleging that they had not previously seen our white flag. On the batteries ceasing their fire, the gunboats in the oiling ceased theirs also, and soon afterward the Penobscot and Genesee steam away in the direction of New Inlet.
At 2:30p.m. in our boat returned without Mr. Manter, bringing a verbal message from Colonel Lamb, commanding the Whiteworth battery, requiring myself and as many of my officers as the boat could take come on shore immediately and report at his quarters. According, at 3 p.m. I left the ship, in company with half a dozen of my officers, having previously thrown overboard all the Coston's and other night signals, and destroyed all the United States and squadron signals, books and instructions in my charge, by burning them to ashes in the presences of Acting Master J.W. Balch, A.A. Surgeon P.Treadwell, and A.A. Paymaster T.Hill, as set forth in the certificate to that effect which will be found appended to this report. On reaching the shore I was met by a mounted field officer, with his staff, who announced himself as Colonel Wilson of the Georgia brigade, station near Masonboros, and senior officer of the post, to whome I formally surrendered the Columbia
and myself, with my remaining officers and crew as prisoners of war.
We were courteously treated by Colonel Wilson, who returned our side-arms, and expressed regret and mortification at the batteries having kept up their fire so long after we showed a white flag.
During the afternoon of January 16 and much of the following day, Confederate soldiers went on board the Columbia to salvage weapons, equipment and souvenirs. The Cambridge and Penobscot harassed them with cannon fire. With a Confederate flag defiantly flying from the masthead, the southerners stripped the ship of usable items and then burned what could be burne.
All told, 12 officers, including Lieutenant Couthouy, and 28 sailors were made prisoners of war. After a brief stay in Wilmington, the officers were transported to a military prison in Salisbury, North Carolina, while the sailors were sent to Richmond, Virginia. Lieutenant James P. Couthouy recounts:
From this point the petty officers and crew, twenty-eight in number, were sent forward to Richmond, Virginia, while my officers and I were ordered to the military prison at Salisbury, North Carolina, which we reaced on the morning of the 19th. During out stay we suffered only a nominal imprisonment, having the free range, on parole, of the garrison yard, and enclosure of fifteen acres; were comfortably lodged, furnished with fuel ad libitum. Our rations, though insufficient, and of a very poor quality of bread and bacon mainly, were the sames as those served to their own men. There was no restraint to our purchasing outside; and our treatment throughout by all the officers of the garrison was, I feel bound in justice to say, entirely courteous and considerate. We remained at Salisbury till March 26th, when we left for Richmond, with the understanding we were all exchanged. Owing however, to some disagreement between the commissioners, wer remained in close confinement at the Libby Prison until the 28th of that month to the 5th of present, when we were sent north, for exhange, by flag-of-truce boat State of Maine; and reaching Washington, by way of Annapolis, on the evening of the 7th, had the honor to report in person to the department on the following morning.
The names and rank of the officers who were made prisoners with me are as follows:
Acting Master and Executive J.W. Balch
Acting Master E.A. Howell
Acting Ensign E.T. Manter
Acting Assistant Paymaster T.Q. Hill
Acting Assistant Surgeon Parsmore Treadwell
Acting First Assistant Engineer George M. Bennet
Acting Second Assistant Engineer W.W. Shipman
Acting Second Assistant Engineer Samuel Lemon
Acting Thrid Assistant Engineeer J.H. Pelton
Acting Third Assistant Engineer W.H. Crawford
Acting Masters Mate E.M Clark
I cannot close this long report without earnestly commending to the favorable consideration of the department Acting Master J.W. Balch, of whose conduct during the time he was under my command, both on board the Columbia and while a prisoner in the south, it would be difficult to say too much in praise. It fully justified the high terms of appreciation in which he as spoken by his former commander, Captain J.R. Goldsborough, with whom, prior to joining the Columbia her served for more than twelve month on the United States steamer Florida. A thorough seaman, a good disciplinarian, intelligent, zealous and energetic, cool and self-possessed in danger, fertile of expedients in emergenices and loyal to the core, I take leave respectfull to express my conviction that the interest of the service would be advanced by the promotion of Mr. Balch to a command.
-Jos. P. Couthouy. Acting Volunteer Lieutenant United States Navy to Hon. G. Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C. May 18, 1863
J.W. Balch was also given further commendation, in a report to the Admiralty from the Paymasters Clerk, H.H. Fanning of the Penebscot who attempted to rescue the officers and sailors of the Columbia, he writes in his account, "From the time the ship first struck the captain seemed to loose all self-possession, and left everything to his first lieutenant, Acting Master Balch."
After he returned from his imprisonment, Balch was placed as master of all small gunboat, the U.S.S. Aries. The USS Aries (1863) was an 820-ton iron screw steamer built at Sunderland, England, during 1861-1862, intended for employment as a blockade runner during the American Civil War. She was captured by Union Navy forces during the Union blockade of the Confederate States of America, and was commissioned as a Union gunboat. Aries was named for the constellation.
Although sold by the United States Navy post-war in 1865, Aries — the first ship to bear that name for the U.S. Navy — continued her work in the merchant service for nearly half a century, before being scrapped in 1908.
Balch's next adventure came at the end of the first week of 1864 as Master of the Aries. Shortly after daybreak on 7 January, while his ship was lying within the entrance of Little River, North Carolina, Devens "...discovered a strange steamer standing to the E.S.E., with the Montgomery (1861) in chase of her..." Aries immediately got underway to join in the pursuit and gained on the stranger. Weather was bad and, about 8:20 a.m., thick fog settled and hid the fleeing steamer. When it lifted a bit over an hour later, the chase was considerably closer than she had been when last seen. Aries opened fire, and her shot fell close to the target. This accuracy prompted the blockade runner to haul "... to the westward..."
However, the steamer ran aground close to North Inlet, near Georgetown, South Carolina; and her crew escaped to shore. Closing fast, Aries came to anchor to avoid being stranded herself and "...immediately sent two armed boats to board the steamer and get her off."
High surf thwarted their efforts to refloat the prize, so the boats' crews set the vessel afire and returned to Aries with word that the blockade runner was the Confederate steamer Dare. Unfortunately, Aries second cutter swamped in the surf during the expedition resulting in the capture of two of its officers and seven enlisted men by Confederate forces. A boat from Montgomery also capsized with the loss of two officers and fourteen men who were imprisoned.
The commander of the Aries, Volunteer Lieutenant Devens writes in his report of the incident:
"Allow me to mention the gallant conduct of Acting Master J.W. Balch executive officer of this ship. When the boat was capsized he swam ashore with two men and brought me off again to the Montgomery's launch on his back. He has suffered four months' imprisonment at Richmond, Virginia, having been captured at the loss of the Columbia, in January 1863. He is a good seaman true and loyal , and would do well as a commanding officer"
At the end of January 1864, as acting Volunteer Lieutenant, John W. Balch was given command of the U.S.S. Howquah, a screw steamer that had been purchased from G.W. Upton in 1863, and converted to a gunboat. Balch and his crew were assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Lt. Balch quickly gained notority as a very capable commander, in one instance during the early morning of 7 May 1864, Howquah and five other blockaders engaged Confederate ironclad ram CSS Raleigh and drove her back toward the harbor to run aground and "break her back" while attempting to cross the bar to safety.
The Howquah was to engage other blockade runners, and J.W. Balch was praised for his actions, in a letter to the admiralty:
Report of Commander Howell, U. S. Navy, relative to condition and operations of the vessels off New Inlet, North Carolina.
U. S. S. NEREUS,
Off New Inlet, June 7, 1864.
ADMIRAL : I have the honor to enclose herewith my abstract log to June 1.
On the night of the 4th instant, at 8 o'clock p. m., the Howquah fired into and chased a blockade runner, coming out. I chased off east, but could not discover her. Spoke the Fort Jackson in the morning, and am glad to announce that she had, on the previous evening, captured the Thistle, side wheel steamer, of about 50 tons. The Thistle had thrown overboard all her cargo (she was bound in) except a cotton press. (So reported to me. I have just seen Captain Sands, who says she has some cargo; does not know what.)
The large side wheel steamer, before reported as having been run on shore, coming out (supposed by Howquah), is still lying under the Mound. She has slewed considerably and the sea breaks over her. I think she is certainly bilged.
The ram, I believe, is almost entirely broken up. An intelligent (really) contraband avers that he has seen her, broken in two. He also says that five were killed by the Howquah's fire, and here let me bear witness to the excellent conduct of Acting Master J. W. Balch, of the Howquah. His gallantry in engaging the ram, his exertions on the bar, night after night, the constant danger he runs of being sunk or injured, for they fire at him frequently, his cheerfulness and alacrity in the performance of his duties at all times, merit some substantial recognition. I am confident Captain Sands, were he present, would join me in recommending him for promotion. I speak of Acting Master Balch only from what I have seen and heard on the blockade. I know nothing of his previous character.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. HOWELL, Commander, Senior Officer Present.
Acting Rear- Admiral S. P. LEE, Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
In September 1864, Lt. John W. Balch again gained famed and notariety as commander of the U.S.S. Howquah in and engagement with a blockade runner Lynx.
The Lynx was a long, very fast paddle-steamer with two stacks and two masts, all painted white. Managed by John Fraser & Co., Charleston, she carried Confederate Government cargo and is believed to have been a public vessel for all practical purposes.
She met her end bound for Bermuda, running out of Wilmington, N.C., under Captain Reid, 25 September 1864, with 600 bales of cotton, passengers and special cargo, including $50,000 in Government gold. She was h t eight times, six below the waterline, by the 100-pounder and 30-pounder rifles of much slower USS Howquah, assisted by Niphon and Governor Buckingham; sinking, with one of her wheels damaged, Lynx had to be beached about six miles below Fort Fisher. The Confederates all escaped, along with the gold, although Federal sharpshooters got near enough to wound one crew member. The ship's remains were set afire.
Ironically, an intelligence report to Secretary Welles, about 1 September 1864, had warned that, "the swift steamers Lynx and Badger were being fitted out at Wilmington to make a dash at our blockaders ... their machinery protected by compressed cotton ... each vessel having about 200 men, will sally forth early in September, and, by boarding, attempt the capture of one or more of our vessels. If precautions are not taken this plan will certainly succeed."
It was a false alarm, although Lt. J. W. Balch, Howquah's captain, in this instance made one of the rare charges that a blockade runner had fired back at him—but only two shots and they could have been cross-fire from the fort.
A report of the battle is as follows:
Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Balch, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. S. Howquah.
U. S. S. HOWQUAH, Off Wilmington, N. C., September 26, 1864.
SIR : I have the honor to submit the following report :
While standing on our station on the night of the 25th instant, saw a rocket and the flash and heard the reports of three guns, Fort Fisher bearing S. W. by W., distant 1 miles, ship in 4 fathoms of water. Spread fires and called all hands to quarters and wore ship, head to the eastward. Made a side-wheel steamer (with two smokestacks) standing to the northward and eastward, and two of our vessels to the southward and eastward of the steamer, firing rockets and guns toward the steamer. Started ahead full steam, intending to run her down, but the strange steamer was going so fast I found I could not reach her (although we were going a good 10 knots at the time). Put the helm to starboard, which brought the two ships side by side, heading N. N. E., distant about 100 yards. Fired from the starboard battery two percussion shells from the 30-pounder rifles, one of them striking the paddle box and the other forward of the paddle box. The explosion of the shells illuminated the ship so that we could plainly see the parts of the paddle box and ship flying in all directions. During this time (to the best of my belief ) the steamer fired two shots at us. Shot and shell were fired at us from the shore batteries, and also a continued fire from our own vessels, coming from a southeast direction, shot and shell passing over and near us. At 7 : 20 p. m. one 30-pounder percussion shell struck the main rail on the starboard bow, cutting it through, also striking the forward end of the 30 pounder pivot carriage, cutting the breeching in two and disabling the carriage, glancing over, striking the main rail on the port side, and falling on the deck (I have the shot now on board). Fortunately this shell did not explode.
This shell in its passage struck Patrick Bagley, ordinary seaman, taking off his right leg and killing him almost instantly; also slightly wounded Martin Glynn, landsman, Thomas Judge, landsman, William Roach, landsman, and George Stevens, coxswain. Owing at this time to the cross fire from the batteries and our own vessels, and with a green crew that had never before been under fire, it was almost impossible to keep them at the guns.
Immediately after our shell struck her she hauled up for the beach, we losing sight of her when getting end on.
Shortly after made a sail to the eastward, challenged her, and was answered by the night signal. Spoke the U. S. S. Governor Buckingham and requested a surgeon to be sent on board. At 7:50 Acting Assistant Surgeon W. S. Parker came on board and did all that could be done for the wounded. At 8:30 p. m. saw the steamer on the beach on fire, where she continued to burn all night. We returned on our station at 8:30 p. m.
I beg to call your particular attention to gallant conduct and coolness displayed by Acting Assistant Paymaster E. W. Brooks, Acting Ensign G. P. St. John, Acting Second Assistant Engineer William G. McLane, Acting Second Assistant Engineer D. R. Wylie, Acting Master's Mate E. B. Smith, Boatswain's Mates William O. Conner and Alex Robinson, for the faithful performance of their duties under trying circumstances.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
J. W. BALCH, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, Commanding U. S. S. Howquah.
Actng Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE, Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Christmas Eve 1864 found Howquah engaged in amphibious operations. This time the objective was Fort Fisher, which protected Wilmington, one of the South's most successful centers of blockade running and her last port for overseas aid. Howquah landed troops who took the Flag Pond Hill battery and bombarded enemy positions to support Union forces ashore. Unfortunately, Major General B. F. Butler nullified this success by ordering his troops to give up their beachheads and return to their ships; and Howquah had the unpleasant task of assisting in the evacuation. But in less than a month, the Northern ships were again attacking Fort Fisher in conjunction with the Army. Howquah anchored offHalf Moon Battery 16 January 1865 and fired at targets ashore while her cutters evacuated the wounded. She remained in the area supporting Northern troops and the fleet's landing force with her guns until the last pockets of resistance along the Wilmington waterfront had been snuffed out.
The war ended shortly after in mid 1865 and J.W. Balch returned to shipping operations in the Pacific Northwest. By 1869, he rotated through a command of several of Pope Talbot's ships including the clipper Elizabeth Kimball, and bark David Hoadley, remaining involved in coastal trade as he had done prior to the civil war. He often carried lumber and lathe from Port Gamble, and coal from Nanaimo to San Francisco.
By 1871, Balch is listed in the San Francisco directory as living aboard the David Hoadley at the Pope and Talbot Pier 12, Steuart St. By the end of 1873, Balch had moved his family aboard the Panther and was making regular trips from Nanaimo to San Francsico with full cargoes of coal.
For 108 years coal was the dominant industry in Nanaimo, and the driving force behind its expansion. The arrival of steamships on the West Coast in 1836 created the initial demand for coal. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) sent prospectors to Fort Rupert in 1849, but they were not successful in finding a viable coal seam.
In December, the Snuneymuxw chief Chewichikan was watching an HBC blacksmith at Fort Victoria repair his gun when he noticed the man tossed coal on the fire. When the native asked the blacksmith where he obtained his coal, he was told it was shipped from England. The elderly chief was amused and commented it was silly to bring black stones from so far away when there was plenty where he lived. Company authorities offered Chewichikan free repair of his gun and a bottle of rum if he brought samples of the “stones that burned”.
Snuneymuxw chief Chewichikan also known as "Coal Tyee" (center) and his family c.1860.
A year later Snuneymuxw Chief Chewichikan, often referred to as "Coal Tyee", brought a canoe laden with coal from Nanaimo to Fort Victoria. The coal proved to be of high grade.
In 1852, Joseph William McKay took possession of the deposits for the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC)at the direction of Governor James Douglas.
A small contingent left Fort Victoria aboard the brig Cadboro. Aboard was Muir, who was again appointed manager when the brig arrived September 6th. Meanwhile, McKay supervised the construction of seven log huts roofed with bark for the families on the Nanaimo waterfront while HBC opened a trading store and built loading docks. Only 4 days later, on September 10, 1852, the first 480 tons of Nanaimo coal was loaded on the Cadboro and shipped to Victoria. Over the next century Nanaimo coal was shipped to locations such as Vancouver, Victoria, San Francisco, Chile, Hawaii, and Alaska.
Most of the coal was stripped from surface seams and loaded by the Snuneymuxw who were paid a two and a half point blanket and other goods for twenty barrels of coal.
The peaceful Snuneymuxw were eager to help HBC, but the newcomers were unnerved by raiding parties of enemy tribes, especially the Haida to the north. Douglas instructed McKay to build a bastion as a refuge for the workers. Construction began February 3, 1853. The builders, aided by a group of Snuneymuxw, hand cut logs, using axes and adzes to hew the 16-foot timbers. The timbers of the octagonal, 36-foot-high bastion were secured with wooden pegs using a method honed by French Canadians called “poteau-sur-sole”.
The roof was made of clay reinforced with cedar bark and painted with lime concocted from clamshells. Later it was refurbished with handmade cedar shingles. The bastion's eight openings were covered by heavy shutters made of two-inch planking. Long-barreled rifles could be fired through slits above the openings. A single entrance on the main floor was covered by a massive plank door on heavy hinges. A bell hung above the main entrance.
HBC used the first floor as an office and store; later it would serve for a short time as Nanaimo's jailhouse. The second floor was the defense arsenal. It stored grapeshot and canister while trap doors on the building’s sides concealed two six-pound cannon. The guns were used primarily for firing salutes or to announce the arrival of Governor Douglas.
Occasionally the cannon were fired into the forest across the harbour to intimidate the First Nations or, in emergencies, to prevent fighting between warring tribes. The largest level on the third floor sheltered settlers and offered a vantage point to fire down upon foes. The bastion was finished in 1854.
That November another 27 mining families from England arrived aboard the Princess Royal. The area was first known as Wintuhuysen Inlet, as the community mushroomed it became known among the settlers as Colville until 1860 when it was renamed Nanaimo, which means “gathering place” in the local native dialect. By 1874, the town had 1,000 residents.
Nanaimo Harbour and coal docks circa 1868
By 1859, 25,000 tons of coal had been shipped from Nanaimo, mostly to San Francisco. In 1862 the HBC sold its coal interests to an English Company known as the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company (VCML). Output was 100 tons a day by 1863 and double that by 1866. By 1874, annual production was 80,000 tons and it was 10 times that by 1884.
Three major coal seams were discovered in Nanaimo: the Wellington, Newcastle, and Douglas. The Douglas seam runs from the north part of Newcastle Island to south of the Nanaimo River. Several mines were built to tap into this seam in the vicinity of the estuary and river.
The mines in Wellington were owned by Robert Dunsmuir. Initially his company was Dunsmuir, Diggle and Co but after he bought out his partners he carried on as R. Dunsmuir and Sons. The family company was sold by son James Dunsmuir in 1910 to Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Ltd (CCD). The VCML mines were mainly under Nanaimo and the harbour. The East Wellington colliery was owned by R.D. Chandler of San Francisco. Peak production of the Nanaimo coal fields was 1,400,000 tons in 1922.
Dunsmir coal wharf at Nanaimo circa 1874
Captain S.D Libby and steam tug Goliah
The passages between Nanaimo and the Strait of Juan De Fuca are difficult to navigate, specially for a ocean going wind powered clipper ship. Better suited for small brigs and coastal schooners, the passages not only contain strong currents, but surrounding each island are submerged rocks, razor sharp shoals, and sandbanks lying in wait for the careless sailor. The passages between islands and even the inshore straits are often filled with tide ripes that can form into vortex like whirlpools, so that passage can only be made during slackwater. In addition, hazards such as submerged floating logs carried downstream from the rivers are flushed out in the straits and are referred to locally as "deadheads", and gigantic bull kelp stretching like the tentacles of the lengendary giant Kraken, make navigation treacherous in these narrow inland straits.
An early chart of Georgia and Juan De Fuca Straits,
the harbour of Nanaimo is marked in red.
With the advent of the steam powered ship, in order to make safer passage to Nanaimo in the early days it became a necessity to pilot clipper ships through the hazards under tow by a sidewheel steamer, despite the protests of the clipper captains who had triumphed against the tides and winds of Cape Flattery for several decades using only their own resources and seamanship,
Even today, against the backdrop of the Pacific, the mighty white sailed clipper generally garners all the attention, romance and praise, and the workhorse tugboats and their captain's usually play second fiddle. However, in the treacherous waters of south coastal British Columbia, a good tugboat skipper is no less competant a commander as the master of a sail vessel, for ultimately it is his knowledge of local waters, judgement and keen sense of when to take a chance that the safety of not only his own craft, but also the vessel he has in tow relies upon.
In the early days, Pope, Talbot, Keller and George Meigs purchased the Resolute and brought her around the horn in 1854 with the purpose of towing logs between mills. It was slow going at the time, the tug could barely make 2 knots against a strong current, but behind the tug trailed over a quarter mile of logs all bundled and tightly rafter together. While log towing was good business, with a turndown in the mill, Pope and Talbot and Meigs seeked to find other sources of income, and sought to tow clipper ships through the narrow and treacherous strait. They sought to convince ship owners that a tow was a necessary expense as it represented a savings in time, sails, and a decrease of the possibility of wreckage.
Af first, ship captains scoffed with idignation, they were competant, skilled, knowledgeable of local waters, and prided themsleves on their abilities. They resented being ordered to be towed by what they viewed as "wood-eating, smoke-spitting, aquatic threshing machines." However, it wasn't long before Pope and Talbot had convinced ship owners to issue instructions to clipper captains to look for a tow at the entrance of the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
No sooner had Pope and Talbot developed a lucrative business towing ships and logs throughout the Pacifc Northwest then inexplicably on 19 August 1868 when she was towing a raft of logs, in North Bay, just 15 miles from Olympia, the Resolute's boiler exploded with a roar that echoed throughout Puget Sound. She sank instantly with the loss of all members of her crew except the captain and one other.
In 1871, Pope and Talbot secured a replacement steam tug, the Goliah. The Goliah was the second tug boat ever built in the United States, and some of the old timers say that builders had originally intended her to be named Goliath, but it was misspelled on her name plates, as Goliah. She was soon to be known as the "everlasting" and the "old" Goliah, as eventually more tugs were to come to the coast bearing the same name.
The Goliah was built in New York City in 1849. The original purpose for Goliah was to tow sailing vessels in and out of New York Harbor. Previous steamers, which had not been purpose-built for the task, had been underpowered and many ships had been lost as a result.
On completion the vessel was sold to parties who intended to enter it into the Sacramento River trade, then booming because of the California Gold Rush. The new owners ran into financial difficulties, and the Goliah was seized by marshals acting on behalf of their creditors. Regardless of this, on April 1, 1850, Goliah's owners quietly slipped the vessel out of the harbor, quite illegally, and without any coal. Some have claimed that the U.S. Marshal himself was aboard, and intended to make passage to San Francisco, and other says she was taken when he stepped ashore for a glass of beer.
In any event, Goliah managed to reach St. Thomas (then not U.S. Territory, but rather part of the Danish West Indies), where fuel and provisions were secured. She came around the horn under sail and steam. It is said that in order to make the journey, part of the wooden partitions between her cabins were chopped up and used as fuel. The Goliah arrived in San Francisco on January 1, 1851.
For a time, the vessel was lengthened and ran as a passenger boat on the Sacramento under the name of Defender. During this time, Goliah was engaged in fierce competition with the New World, another steamer brought around from the East Coast in defiance of creditors. The New World had also raced against the previous captain of the Panther, J.P. Gannett, who at the time was in command of the Confidence. At one point, in 1855, this competition was so fierce that it produced gunfire between the passengers and crews of the two steamboats when Goliah aka Defender, or so it is alleged, attempted to ram and sink the New World. Most eye-witness account claim that the New World was zig zagging to avoid being passed, and previously had collided with the Confidence in similar fashion.
The captain of the Defender was arrested and charged with attempting to kill, but was later relased, and he in turn filed charges against the captain of the New World. Goliah was soon bought off by the California Steam Navigation Company, which was building a monopoly on Sacramento river shipping, and as a result was then placed on the ocean routes.
Goliah was again shortened and in 1864 she re-entered the towing field. The Goliah ran for many years as a towboat in San Francisco harbor, finally passing into the hands of the Wrights, a family of ship and riverboat captains. The Wrights again lengthened Goliah and placed the vessel on the route from San Francisco to Humboldt County. After being successively shortened and lengthed like an Irishman's knife that had been given a new handle and several new blades, there was little of the original material left.
In 1871, Goliah was bought by Pope & Talbot, and her name was changed from Defender back to Goliah, who also happened to be the name of one the Skagit chiefs. The mighty side-wheeler arrived at Port Gamble on 22 March 1871, in charge of Capt. William Hayden, who ran the vessel for a while and was succeeded by Captain Noyes and Capt. J. A. McCoy, who in turn gave way to Capt. S. D. Libby, who remained in command for the next twelve years.
Steam tug Goliah w/ clipper, unknown date, but before 1899.
University of Washington Libraries.
The Goliah was readily recognizable by its large size and sidewheels. From the time the vessel arrived on Puget Sound until 1876, when the tug Tacoma appeared, Goliah towed more than half of the vessels that entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca bound for Nanaimo, and nearly all of those bound for the American side.
Clipper under tow near Strait Of Juan De Fuca
Captain S.D. Libby was her master for nearly twelve years andwas "one of the most popular navigators who ever ran on Puget Sound." Libby was a native of Maine but left for the California gold rush in 1849. During several visits to Puget Sound, he could see the potential in the fledging ports for growth and in 1859 he built the first ever pile driver used in the area. Subsequently, he briefly became master of a steamboat Dashaway and was involved in the White River Valley trade, navigating the Duwamish Channel servicing Steilacoom, Tacoma and Olympia. He then built the steamer J.B. Libby a craft that became legendary all along the Pacifc Northwest. In 1872, he took command of the steam tug Goliah.
He became affectionately known from Cape Flattery to Olympia as "Old man Libby". He is described in 1913 by James McCurdy in "Deap Sea Tugboats of the North", Overland Monthly, vol.62 P.383 as having a "voice like a trumpet and eyes that could pierce a Flattery fog bank, a face tanned and seamed by salt air, and a battery of expletives that was the despair and envy of the opposition, he looked and was every inch a steam-boat man. Yet beneath his rough exterior, he carried a heart as big as Mount Rainier and when outside the confines of his pilot-house he was gentle as a woman."
A steam tug approaches a bark for a tow showing the relative size between the ships.
In the early years, competition between tugboats for towing large vessels could be fierce -- the onus was placed on the mills and their tugboat captains to convice the sail masters that a tow through the straits was a necessity and worth paying for. The larger the vessel, the bigger the bragging rights for the tow captain, and the faster word would spread that the tug was a very capable vessel. Time, Tide and Timber: A Century of Pope and Talbot records an incident where Captain Libby of the Goliah, and Captain Williams of the Tacoma both spotted a large British clipper needing a tow through the Strait of Juan De Fuca. The story goes that they both "spoke" to the ship:
"I'll tow you in for $300" shouted Captain Libby of the Goliah.
"I'll make it $200," Captain Chris Williams of the Tacoma retorted.
"Call it $100," yelled Libby.
"Fifty dollars will pay the job," echoed Williams.
"I'll tow you in for nothing, and buy you a new hat in the bargain," bellowed Libby. And Libby was good as his word.
By the end of 1873, the Panther, under command of Balch had entered in the coastal trade shipping coal on a regular basis from Nanaimo to San Francsico and returning in balast to stop and pick up lumber and materials from mills in Port Townsend.
She arrived in Nanaimo in January, 1874 and loaded 1750 tons of high grade coal. It was supposed to be a routine tow out of Nanaimo and through the Juan de Fuca Strait, but the wind was freshening, and the seas were starting to get a little rough. It was a very dark and cold Saturday morning 17th January 1874, when the Panther set out from the wharf. A storm was brewing that would drop 40 inches of snow on Nanaimo overnight. The newspaper reported that the temperature was three below zero farenheit[-19c], "...with the severe frost of the night having turned everything icy cold. The water for the first ablutions was ice. The toilet arrangements with sponge, nail and toothe brushes were frozen stiff and hard and wait for use. The breakfast table found the butter solid, and the milk turned to ice cream. A more severe snap of cold has not been experienced in our city for many a long day."
The Goliah puffed and chugged as it pulled the Panther out of the harbour that morning, and proceeded towards the Straits. They encountered terrible weather in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off San Juan Island. Captain Libby reports that by 8PM that evening the glass was down to 28:70 and he writes in his log:
8 1/2 p.m. We are off Turn Point again, blowing harder than ever, and tide running ebb. Signalled the ship to get her fore and aft canvass [set]; but they have not done it. The steamer is becoming unmanageable; no sail on the ship, and we are drifting on Pender island; can do nothing with the steamer; the hawser is in the starboard chock; cannot get her head to the wind.
At 8 1/2 p.m. the Panther and Goliah were
off Turn Point at the North End of Stuart Island drifting toward South Pender
Turn Point is known for its strong tide rips shown on this nautical chart
11:15 O'Clock - She is dragging the steamer astern so fast that the engine will not past centers. We have made every effort to save the ship but to no avail; the hawser has to be cut to save the steamer!! The hawser is cut! In less than a minute they flashed a bright light, and she struck broadside on; the sea was making a clean sweep over her from stem to stern. We can render no assistance, as long as the sea is running as it is. The steamer has washed every moveable object on her decks overboard; and stove in the windows in the forward house; have got to get her before the wind or she will founder; shiped a sea that buried her fore and aft. She is around at last. The wind and sea if anything, have increased. We can still see the ships light, but that is all.
It is worth nothing, that it is said that the tug's firemen were standing in water to the waist on the Goliah before the hawser was cut.
Even at the best times, a clipper can hardly be seen at
the end of a tow over the ocean rollers
1 O'Clock A.M. - Set in snowing; can see nothing; wind moderating.
1 1/2 O'Clock - Head to the sea again, making good weather of it, can see nothing; snow falling thick and fast.
Meanwhile, aboard the Panther, at 2AM Captain Balch reports, "the ship struck a rock, raised about six feet out of the water and bounded over it. The pumps were sounded and about 9 feet of water found in the hold." At this point, his civil war experience than prompted him to try and beach the vessel in shallow water, so he headed up Trincomalee channel. Captain Libby still attempted to track the movements of the clipper through the blinding snow and darkness. And he continues:
3 AM - Stopped snowing; wind moderating can see the ships lights; fearful sea and cannot do anything for them;will make the attempt at daylight or sooner if possible.
4 AM - Have just seen her light flash; it only lasted for a minute and was gone;wind gradually moderating, and sea smoothing; but can see nothing of her or any living soul or any sign of life.
4 1/2 O'Clock - We are yet cruising by the the place she struck but cannot see anything of her, nor any sign of life.
7 O'clock - Daylight - We are at the place she struck,but cannot find the least trace of her crew.
Captain Libby kept up the search for the Panther, finally having to give up the following Monday evening in the face of another "storm. He writes, "Monday 7 p.m. - Wind has hauled to the S.E.and blowing a living gale. we will have to abandon the search until more a favourable opportunity..."
Meanwhile, shortly before daylight, the Panther struck the reef off Narrow island, where she settled on her side, all but her weather rail reported to be submerged at low tide. Captain Balch ,his wife, officers and crew totaling 26 people, made it safely off the Panther to the settlement where they were attended to by Mr. Sampson and other local settlers.
The memoranda of the Prince Albert of Victoria states:
She passed ths ship Panther lying on her beam ends about 120 fathoms from Point Narrow Island, in 6 fathoms at low water. Her sails and running gear were sent ashore except the braces. They can save all the spars and standing rigging except the lower rigging which cannot be got at, the lee rail being underwater at low tide.
Captain Balch states that she had 8 feet of water in her hold when she struck the reef.
Margaret (Shaw) Walter later writes in Early Days Among the Gulf Islands, ""...from pine trees on the island a rope could be stretched, and thus help in salvaging some of her contents, which, like the men themselves were sheltered for the time being in a rude building put up for the purpose. The 'Panther' itself was a total loss and lay for years on the rock to which it has given its name, until it very gradually disappeared..."
Several efforts were made in March, 1874 to raise the ship with heavy duty pumps being brought in on the Prince Alfred. All efforts to raise her failed, and she was then placed up for salvage auction on April 20th, 1874. Some of the coal, and all of her riggings was salvaged, but eventually further attemptsto raise her failed and she was eventually abandoned along with most of the coal.
The wreck of the Panther was auctioned off with all of her cargo.
Despite numerous attempts to raise her, she was eventually abandoned with a full cargo of coal.