San Francisco History
 

Reminiscences


CHAPTER III.

A vessel arrived here called the ''Uphamer,'' of which Captain Russem, an Englishman, was Master; William Davis (better known as ''Kanacka'' Davis) was Super-Cargo, and owner. A Mr. Sherman came to Yerba Buena as Davis's clerk, (afterwards of the firm of Sherman and Ruckler). At the time the city was under Martial Law, a young man, who professed to be a lawyer, by the name of Pickett, better known as ''Crazy Pickett,'' was put under arrest for saying more against the Government than those in authority though proper. In the latter part of November, there arrived in port Captain Mervin, of the ship ''Savannah,'' and Captain Hull of the ship ''Warren.'' Captain Hull was sent ashore on duty, and he rented two rooms for himself in the hotel, and got canvas from his ship to fit up the verandah, for the use of his men, as there was barely room in the Custom-House for the marines. He and I would often have some little trouble about matters in general. One I will mention here: The Californians would bring beef to me for the use of the hotel; but, would not bring beef to me for the use of the hotel; but, would not bring any for the use of the Government, and Hull would often make threats to confiscate my meat. This was about the time of Bartlett's imprisonment by the Californians. Bartlett concluded that the only way they could obtain beef, would be to go the ranches, and drive the cattle in; but, that was much easier thought than done. He obtained some horses and left the city with some eight sailors, well armed and equipped for any emergency. He arrived at Osa Lacruz Sanchez' house seventeen miles from the city, and as Sanchez, would not drive up the cattle he and his men undertook to do so. The cattle were driven into the corral, and they were getting ready to start home with them, when Francisco Sanchez and two of his soldiers rode into the corral and inquired of Bartlett what he was going to do with the cattle. Bartlett replied that he was going to take them for the use of the men of the Navy, Sanchez then threw his serrapa over his soldiers, and told Bartlett if he, or any of his men made the least move that he ''would blow their brains out!'' He came provided with rope, for the purpose of tying the hands of Bartlett and his men. He took them to his brothers house, and informed Bartlett that he must consider himself a prisoner, and the next time he went out to steal cattle, to take his fire-arms with him, as he might need them. Bartlett when he went to the corral left his fire-arms in the house of Osa Lacruz Sanchez, not knowing, that he had sent for his brother to see that everything went on right and lawfully. This information was given me direct by Francisco Sanchez, himself; he was a personal friend of mine; he also told me of a ''private lecture'' he gave Bartlett, in which he said: ''You have raised in this country, the American Flag. In your proclamation you say: 'all Mexicans citizens, and their property shall be protected by the American Government.' You, as one of the law-makers, come here and try to steal our cattle. What do you suppose our opinion must be of such people as you; what respect can we have for your Government?'' Sanchez then sent out runners, calling the Californians together to defend their property. This was the commencement of the Santa Clara war. In the latter part of December, there was a call for volunteers to go and release Bartlett, and his men, who were held as prisoners under Captain Francisco Sanchez. As William D. M. Howard was not able to go out on duty, the company elected William Smith as Captain, John Rose as First Lieutenant, and Dougherty as Second Lieutenant. Our first night out we stopped at Mission Dolores; the second night we camped at Osa Lacruz Sanchez' ranch, seventeen miles from the city, there we joined Captain Charles Weaver's company, and our force was made up of the following persons: Commander, Captain Marston, of the marines; Lieutenant Stanson, from a man of war, with a company of marines, and a small brass field piece; Captain Weaver and company; also Captain Smith and company, and this was the extent of our army.

On our arrival at Sanchez ranch, the marines had a great time. They were up all night hard at work, baking ''soft tack.'' They found some flour in the house, and also a large adobe oven attached, which was quite convenient for their use. We had one beef and two hogs in the shape of food, so we fared well. When we started in the morning each of the marines must have had, at least, fifteen pounds of soft tack lashed to their knapsacks, which was sufficient to last them during their march to the Santa Clara war. Our Second Lieutenant was not satisfied with the Captain, nor the company, as he said he fully expected that the privates would wait on him, and render such service as attending to his horse and getting his meals for him, etc., so he returned to the city on the second day out. Our next day's trip was to Covinger's ranch, he was an Englishman and once held the position of lieutenant in the English navy. He was quite an expert with the cannon. Here we got news that the Californians were only five miles in advance. That night Captain Smith came around to his men to find out how many men were willing to volunteer to start with him at four o'clock next morning, to go after the Californians. The men who volunteered were William McDonald, Clerk Jennings, Captain Smith and myself. From Weaver's company, were Lieutenant John Murphy and five privates. Our line of march was up a steep mountain the whole of the way. A short distance from the top we were ordered to halt; examine our weapons, and put fresh caps on our rifles and pistols. The fog was very heavy and falling fast, like rain. It was a very solemn time, not a word was spoken, everyone seemed to realize his position. The Californians were on the alert, and before we could reach the top of the mountain Captain Smith ordered us to halt; as we could first see them crossing the ridge, they must have been about half a mile from us. He said it was no use to hurry, so we moved along cautiously; only trying to keep them in sight, as it would be better and much safer for us to keep them at a respectful distance, as they had over sixty men and one small cannon. We kept after them that day until we met Weaver's company, and the marines, about fifteen miles from Santa Clara. The next day Captain Weaver, with three of his men, Lieutenant Rose, of Smith's company, McDonald and myself, were selected as a scouting party. About ten o'clock in the morning one of Captain Weaver's Indians rode up to the Captain and informed him that the Californians were near Santa Clara. Captain Weaver at once fired off his rifle, which was the signal for the companies to stop until we got up to them. I think that was about as hard a mile's ride as I ever experienced. As soon as we overtook them, the company was formed as follows: Captain Weaver and company were in front; the marines next, with the gun; and Captain Smith came next. All except four, Lieutenant Rose, Julius Martin, (now living in Gilroy) McDonald and myself were ordered to the rear, to take care of about twenty or thirty loose horses, following the company. There was one of our soldiers, who was always lagging behind; it was almost impossible to keep him up with the company. His name was Holbrook, of Boston, who arrived here as Super-Cargo of a Brig. Captain Smith ordered him to keep up with the company, or he would be liable to be picked off by the Californians. He said he could not make his horse go, as he had no spurs. The captain took one of his own spurs off and gave it to Holbrook, and told him to put it on and keep up with the company. He commenced fastening the spur to his toe, instead of his heel. The Captain then became angry, and took the spur from him, ordering us to drive him in among the loose horses, and keep him there. The Californians aimed to drive us into a mud-hole, and make a charge; but Lieutanant John Murphy knowing every inch of the ground avoided any catastrophe. We found his services of great value, as the Californians had gathered there in strong forces. I must mention one item here in regard to Julius Martin. He was riding on the outside, nearest the Californians, and he observed a Californian wearing a red serrapa, making himself rather conspicuous; and, as we came to a standstill near the mud-hole Martin observed to me that he thought his old rifle could carry a message to that man wearing the red serrapa, and if I would keep a sharp lookout he would try it. He got off his horse, took a rest on his saddle, sent the messenger on his errand, and the message was received at the proper destination. He asked me what I thought of the result, I told him I thought it had accomplished its object, as I saw two men leading the wounded man off the field. It must be understood that Julius Martin was considered one of the best shots in the country, as was also Purser Fonteroy of the Savannah, who was known to be the best shot in the American Navy. For about two hours the bullets were flying thick and fast; but only one person in our company was injured, and that was Bennett, of Santa Clara. A bullet took off the heel of his shoe, grazing his heel and making him lame for a few days. What the Spaniards could not accomplish with firearms--they thought to do with their tongues, for if one-tenth part of the blessing they showered upon us had befell us, not one would be alive to tell the story. We fought our way through to Santa Clara, arriving there in the evening. We went into camp and put out a strong guard. We had not been in Santa Clara long, when Mrs. Bennett sent her son to Lieutenant Rose and three or four others (including myself), inviting us to partake of a good supper. Captain Smith and Lieutenant Rose could talk Spanish well, and were good friends with most of the Californians under arms. They called on Alexander Forbes the English Consul, with the purpose of engaging him to go with them, and endeavor to make peace with the Californians without further loss of life. Soon after dark, Smith, Rose and Forbes started on horse-back for Captain Francisco Sanchez' camp; a distance of only one mile from where we were camping. On the way they were stopped and challenged at three different times. Forbes then told the guard to send for one of his men, and he would forward a note to Sanchez, (which he wrote by the light of a match). On receipt of the note, Sanchez sent for Forbes and his two friends, after first ordering the guard to search them to see that they had no concealed weapons. When they stated their business to Sanchez saying they desired peace, he appeared very much surprised to think that Captain Smith and Lieutenant Rose should take up arms against him, when they professed to be such warm friends; but, they told him the same as Forbes had done, that their sole object was to promote peace without the loss of life. They proposed to make peace on the following terms: That Sanchez and his company should deliver up all their arms, and the company to become citizens of the United States, and no one to be held responsible by law, for anything they had done. Sanchez, in the first place, told Forbes that he considered they were fully able to cope with such armies as the United States then had in this country. Forbes immediately informed him that he knew nothing at all of the power of the United States; that if those who were now here could not conquer the enemy, that they could send an army that would conquer them ten times over, then all their property would be confiscated for the benefit of the United States. Sanchez said he would agree to the terms mentioned, if Charlie Weber would fight a duel with him. He was told that it would be impossible; as Charlie was an officer of the United States Army. He asked him what his animosity was against Charlie Weber, more than any other man. His reply was: that Charlie Weber had received from the Mexican Government, all the privileges of a citizen, he had been made a prisoner in the commencement of the war; but had got his release on ''parole of honor.'' A week afterwards Weber raised a company to fight the Californians, and if it had not been for the influence of Forbes, they never would have compromised with him. In resigning the army it was understood that they would only deliver up their arms to Captain Smith's company that if any other company came to them, they would not relinquish them, nor surrender under any circumstances. When Captain Smith left the company he called his men together and informed them that Rose and he had important business to attend to, which would compel them to leave that night; and that Mr. Brown would have charge of the company in his absence; and that he hoped every man would attend to whatever duty he was called on to perform. In the company there was one man who was anxious to do more than was expected of him. While on duty he made two false alarms, by pretending to see Californians coming into camp. The men informed me that if any more false alarms were given, and I did not do my duty by shooting him, they would shoot me. I stood by him, all in readiness to shoot him if he made another false alarm, and I really believe I should have done so. Several times he called on me, saying he could see the Spaniards, and wanted to know if he would shoot. I then informed him that he heard the orders given me, and that I should certainly shoot him if he did not shoot a Spaniard. This was the only time I had command of a company, and, I hoped it would be the last, as I was up all that night.

It was a good thing for the Californians that they came to terms, as a company of over forty men from Monterey, under Captain Maddox, arrived soon after; they would not have shown the Californians any quarters, and they seemed to think that what Forbes had told them was perfectly correct. The flag of truce put a stop to all war proceedings, and peace again, reigned supreme. At the beginning of the battle of Santa Clara, one Castro, who had charge of Bartlett and his men, informed Bartlett that if any Californians should be shot in the fight, that Bartlett would be shot down first, and each prisoner should share the same fate. As Sanchez was riding by Bartlett called to him, and told him what Castro had said. Sanchez then called Castro to him, also the three guards under him, who had charge of the prisoners, and told them if they hurt but one hair on the heads of the men; or, if any of the prisoners were injured while in their charge, he would shoot Castro and the guards down himself.

Francisco Sanchez was an honorable, noble and high-minded man, and would scorn to do anything mean or contemptible. That night we went to San Jose; and, on the next day, boats from the war-ships arrived to take on board the cannon and marines who went to Yerba Buena by water. The following day we started to Yerba Buena by land accompanied by Francisco Sanchez, whom we left twelve miles from the city on his parole of honor, as he promised to be in the city the next day, which was New Year's Day, 1847. We were paid off by Frank Ward, at his store, by order of Captain Mervin--and we all had a jolly good time. I do not want it understood that Bartlett went out with the intention of stealing the cattle; the reason of his going for them in the way he did, was this: The Californians would not bring in cattle for the navy for less than twenty-five dollars per head. I was only paying ten dollars at the time, and I understood that they intended, and were willing to pay the Spaniards the same price I was paying, but no more. Prior to the commencement of the war they would bring the beef, slaughter it and bring it in, and all the remuneration they wanted was the hide and one bottle of California whiskey. Most of the cattle I obtained were from Sanchez. When Francisco Sanchez was in town he would make his home at the hotel, and that paid for what cattle I got, which was from two to three beeves a week.

I have here to chronicle one of the first and saddest events that befell this city in those days: Captain Montgomery, of the Sloop of War ''Portsmouth'' had on board with him three sons. One was an officer, one, a captain's clerk, and the other, a boy from ten to twelve years of age. After the raising of the American Flag over California, the Government had in their employ several men at Sutter's Fort. They had been without pay some four months, when a boat was dispatched with the money, under the command of Young Montgomery. The crew, consisting of seven men. Young Montgomery thinking it would be a pleasure trip for his youngest brother, prevailed on his father to permit him to go with him. After they had been out double the time it ought to have taken to go to the Fort, and boats arriving from the Fort not seeing or hearing anything at all from them, people began to be fearful lest something had happened to them. Boats from all the ships were sent out to search for the missing ones, and returned without any news whatever. Robert T. Ridley was then engaged, as he was supposed to know more about the inlets on the river than any other person. He was gone about two weeks, and all he could find was one cloth cap and a piece of a boat, which he found near a ranch, belonging to Major Bidwell. It was a supposition that the boat might have been carried to sea; but, when inquiries were made of Captain Richardson, at Saucelito, he was positive that he had seen the boat pass his place. No trace of them was ever found, nor anything pertaining to them, except the above named articles. There was also a boat sent out by the citizens, who returned with the same sad result, nothing could be found. Captain Montgomery was highly esteemed by everyone, and he had the heart-felt sympathy in his sad bereavement, of all who knew him.

A report arrived in town that the Californians were again mustering to take the city. It was only known by very few persons, Fonteroy being the principle one, he enlisted the following named persons to go with him to the Presidio. Captain King, Master of a vessel belonging to the Sandwich Island, and owned by Alexander G. Able; a Super-Cargo, by the name of Chever; Mr. Gordon, late of Boston, a newspaper agent; and Mr. Stetson. These gentleman had provisions put up for their journey, and a bottle of whiskey for each. They engaged a man named Collins, the second steward of the hotel, to carry the refreshments for them. They had been enjoying themselves pretty well that evening, as they expected to start between eleven and twelve o'clock, and ordered breakfast to be ready for them at ten o'clock next morning. About three o'clock in the morning there was some heavy knocking at the front door of the hotel, and who should be there but those great warriors; and such looking men as they were would be hard to find anywhere. It commenced to rain soon after they left, and one of the heaviest showers set in, that I have ever seen in California, fortunately it lasted but a short time, however. Steward Collins deposited the firearms and provisions about a mile from town, and went after them the next morning. The next day there were two marines sent out to ascertain what was going on. They reported, on their return, that there was not a living soul in sight. The next thing that happened of any note, was the bursting of the coffee-pot in Brown's Hotel. Captain King, who arrived from the Islands, brought with him a newly patented coffee-pot, the like of which I had never seen before, nor since. It held about a gallon and a half. On the top was a large iron wheel, which fitted tight to the tin; over that was a cover; on the outside was a screw, which could be turned with the fingers. It could be screwed down so tight that no steam could escape. Captain King had with him a Kanaka steward, who had learned how to use the coffee-pot with safety, and had done so several times. It was their habit to make coffee in this pot every day; but, it so happened at this time that the steward had other work to do, and after fixing the coffee-pot, as he supposed, all right, he left it in charge of the second cook, with instructions if too much steam escaped to turn the screw tighter; and the cook turned it down so tight, that no steam could escape. The consequence was that the coffee-pot exploded, blowing the cook twenty yards from the kitchen; also, scattering the cooking untensils in different parts of the room. At that time Captain Hull's head-quarters were on the north side of the hotel. When he heard the explosion he ran immediately to the Barracks, (which were in the old Custon-House), and ordered the long roll to be beat, as the Spaniards had come to take the city. George McDougal and I were in the bar-room at the time, and on looking out of the window, we saw the cook lying on the ground badly scalded; we went immediately and picked him up, and we thought at first he was dead, as he could neither speak nor move. Captain King with two other gentlemen came to our assistance, and told me to run to the military quarters for a doctor. In the meantime Captain Hull demanded the call of the citizens, who very promptly responded, and he ordered them to form in line, and be ready to fire at the word of command. He also sent out some marines, as scouts, to find out the strength of the Californians. He made signals for the men on ship to be ready, if required on shore. When I arrived at the quarters, I met Captain Hull as I was going up the steps, and he began to scold me for not being on hand, one of the very first, as he thought I had as much at stake as anyone; I then told him he could stop beating his long roll, all I wanted was the doctor, as the coffee-pot had exploded in the hotel, and the cook was badly scalded; perhaps fatally burned. He turned to his company, whom he had called together, and thanked them for their ready response to his call; and in case they should be needed in the future, he hoped they would show as great a readiness to respond as they had that day. They were then discharged from further duty. This, I think, was the last call to fight an imaginary battle in San Francisco.

When the Doctor came to examine the cook, he found there were no bones broken; he was only stunned and badly scalded; but not seriously. There is one witness to the above accident, who is now living in San Jose, by the name of William C. Clark, well-known in the city, who has cause to remember the circumstances; as he came from Clark's Point to the Barracks; which, in those days, owing to the roughness of the roads, was considered a pretty good walk. For some time after that, when Clark would meet me in the street, he would stop and have me relate the circumstance of the ''bursting of the coffee-pot'' to his friends. The next thing of importance was the arrival of Colonel Mason, who was sent as Governor of California. He made his head-quarters at Brown's Hotel. I was acquainted with him at Fort Gibson, and he was very glad to meet me in this country. William D. Howard fitted up some rooms for him over his store, on the old Hudson Bay property; but, he preferred staying with his old friend Brown; and whenever he was in the city he always stopped at the hotel. The day after Colonel Mason's arrival there was a large ball given in the evening in his honor, which was followed by a supper and other refreshments. This was the first ball given in the city under the United States Flag, and many American ladies attended. I will mention a few of the persons who were present, as some are now living in California: Mrs. Andrew Jackson Greyson, whose husband afterwards became a merchant in the early days of California; Mrs. Montgomery, whose husband was a gunsmith by trade; Mrs. J. C. Davis, whose husband was a ship-builder; there were also some fifteen to twenty ladies from the ship Brooklyn. This was a short time before the arrival of the Stevenson's Regiment. I was ordered to get up a supper, sparing no trouble or expense, as money was no object. William D. M. Howard gave two hundred and fifty dollars toward paying for the supper, out of his own pocket. The whole expense was five hundred dollars. Colonel Mason said he never enjoyed himself better at any entertainment than he did there. They all came to enjoy themselves and have a good time, and, they were not disappointed. Jackson Gordon, now steward in the United States Mint in this city, had full charge of the supper, and all persons acquainted with him, know that he was equal to the task and capable of managing the affair successfully.

In 1846 there were two ships on this coast belonging to Boston. One was called the ''Tosso,'' of which William D. M. Howard was Super-Cargo, Captain Libby, Master and Dave Long the Mate. This latter gentleman afterwards became famous as a clown. The other ship was the ''Vandalin,'' Master, Captain Everett and Super-Cargo, Henry Mellish. These vessels traded in general merchandise for hides, running from San Diego to San Francisco. They had small boats with which they used to go and come between the vessels and the shore to deliver goods and collect hides, etc. They went to Napa, Sonoma, San Rafael, San Jose, Santa Clara and all places on the coast where the water was not deep enough for vessels to run in. I have often read in newspapers that there was no wheat grown in this country in early days, which is a great mistake. In the year 1846 there was a vessel belonging to Sitka, which came here for the express purpose of taking on board a cargo of wheat, sent here from Sutter's Fort. The same vessel in 1847, brought to this city the first steamer that ever floated in the Bay of San Francisco. In the early part of 1847 a brig arrived in port, belonging to the Hudson Bay Company, having on board part of the crew of the man-of-war ''Peacock,'' which was wrecked on the Oregon Bar, the Captain's name was Houston, and the First Lieutenant's, Shanklin; besides these two there were Salem Woodsworth and many others, who came here to take passage for the United States. Salem Woodsworth remained in California, and soon after his arrival he offered his services for the release of those emigrants who were snow-bound in the California mountains. There was a call for a meeting of the citizens to take into consideration the best way for their release. The meeting was called by Jasper O. Farrell, and was held at Brown's Hotel. He stated that nothing could be done without means, and that he was willing to head the list by subscribing one hundred dollars. Captain Leidsoff followed with the same amount, after which some gave fifty dollars each, and many others contributed smaller sums; no one giving less than five dollars. Samuel Brannnn deserves much praise for the valuable assistance he rendered in raising a collection among the Mormons. They did their share towards raising the amount required, which was eight hundred and sixty dollars. San Francisco has at all times been noted for being charitably inclined; and has always responded liberally and generously to the call of the unfortunate or any in distress, who may need her assistance. Salem Woodsworth volunteered to go after the parties in the mountains. Before he could take charge, however, he had to get a leave of absence from Captain Mervin, as he was a United States Officer. There was a carpenter named Cody, who went also, and brought a woman out of the snow on his back; but he had to pay very dear for his most humane act, as he had both his feet so badly frozen, that he lost the use of them. Everything possible was done for him. There was a collection taken up; which amounted to two hundred dollars. Cody was discharged in this port from a French whaling vessel in June, 1846, and, although I have often tried to learn his whereabouts, I have never succeeded in doing so.

For many years the distress and suffering of emigrants, while crossing the mountains during the winter months, was fearful to contemplate. They were often overtaken by severe snow-storms, and their wagons afforded them little, if any shelter from the cold piercing winds. They were not provided with suitable clothing, and had no comforts whatever; not even a fire, and many of them endured hardships which are indescribable. The emigrants to California in early days knew well how to appreciate their new homes, and the fact that they were once more in a civilized country, among friends, strangers though they might be, who were only too willing to welcome them and make them as comfortable as possible. George Donnell was brought to the city about this time and I gave him his board and Lawyer Hastings (the Path Finder) gave him his clothes. The boy had many small presents given him in money, which he saved. George McDougal took what money he had and got some persons to contribute more to it, and bought two fifty vara lots for the boy, which afterwards proved quite valuable. The lots were on Folsom street. About this time Dr. Sample started a newspaper in Monterey, and the boy made a little by delivering papers, when they arrived in town; but it did not last long, as Dr. Sample sold out to Edward C. Kemble, who started a paper in San Francisco called the ''Sun,'' it was not expected to last long, as Kemble was very young, and was known as ''The Boy Editor;'' but the paper became a great success, and from that paper came one of the largest papers now published in San Francisco, we refer to the ''Alta,'' California, which has always been considered, one of the most reliable newspapers ever printed in this city. His associates were Lieutenant Gilbert and Hubbard, both from Stevenson's Regiment. In the early part of 1847, three ships arrived with Stevenson's Regiment; they remained in the city for a few days, and Colonel Stevenson and many of the officers stopped at the hotel. A company was left here in the city, and at the Presidio, of which Major Hardy was the Commander; Captain Folsom, Quarter Master; Edward Harrison, Custom-House Collector; and Captain Wright, Captain of the Port. There are many still living, who were in Stevenson's Regiment, who can probably relate their own experience in California much better than I could. The next important event, was the arrival of the sloop of war ''Siam'' and the ''Columbus.'' There was another sloop of war in port, the name of which I have forgotten, and besides these there were also other man of war vessels lying in harbor at the same time. During the time the vessels were lying in harbor, Governor Mason arrived at Brown's Hotel from Monterey. He was very fond of billiards, and invariably played with me from ten to eleven o'clock in the morning. Whether he lost or won he always paid a dollar; on one occasion, while we were playing billiards, the following persons met in the room: General Kearney, Commodore Bidwell, Captain Mervin, Captain Hull and Commodore Stockton. Commodore Bidwell during his stay in the city would spend an hour or so in the billiard-room every time he came ashore; but, would always leave before twelve o'clock, or prior to the arrival of any under officers, and I never knew any of them to take any refreshments, excepting Governor Mason, who took his meals regularly. Commodore Bidwell informed me that the war ship Columbus was going to leave port, and sail for the United States, and that it would be a grand sight to see her leave, being the first vessel that ever left this port direct for home; and it was a sight indeed, to see the yard-arms of all the war vessels, full of men cheering their companions, and saluting them with guns, on their leaving for home. Shortly after this all the other vessels left here, except the sloop of war ''Warren.'' She was overhauled and being found unseaworthy, was sent to Benicia. After this it seemed very quiet here, and we settled down to an easy every-day humdrum existence, business being very dull. San Francisco, however, was a place of note; there would be at times some excitement or other to keep the place lively. A short time after the arrival of Stevenson's Regiment, another vessel arrived from Boston, called the ''Vermont'' with Government stores and merchandise. Robert A. Parker was the Super-Cargo. She left in a few days for Monterey, where she landed her Government stores and returned again to San Francisco, to unload her merchandise, leaving soon after on her return trip to Boston. Some of the men, who were sailors on board, left the vessel for the shore, and commenced making brick at Mission Dolores, not far from the hotel called the ''Nightingale.'' When Robert A. Parker landed with his merchandise he rented the adobe store, belonging to Messrs. Fitch and McKinley. During the Mexican war a brig was taken as a prize under the Mexican colors. The vessel had a cargo of liquors, wines, panscha, or maple sugar and some dry goods, which were sold at auction from William M. Howard's storehouse. This building was taken between Clay and Sacramento streets, facing Montgomery, and was an adobe house. Soon after this, Captain William A. Leidsoff commenced building a large store house at high water mark, near where Pine street now is. In front of this ware house, the first attempt at anything in the shape of a wharf was made. At high water, it was deep enough so that a common sized schooner could come along side and discharge its freight. Shortly after the completion of the wharf and ware-house, Captain Folsom rented it for the Government. I will mention here that Captain Stephen Smith on his return from Mexico, in the early part of 1846, brought with him a steam saw-mill, which he put on his land at Bodega. Captain Leidsoff was agent for all the lumber that was sawed at Smith's Mill, and John Young was Captain of Leidsoff vessel, which brought down the lumber. The first cargo was landed near the foot of Pacific street, and stored in the old Thompson Hide-House, which was built at high water mark; the land belonged to Captain Smith. All other lumber was landed at Leidsoff's wharf. When Stevenson's Regiment came they brought out a saw-mill to saw by horse power, it was put upon a place called ''The Cordes Madera,'' belonging to Captain John Cooper, of Monterey, where now stands the State Penitentiary. The first auction held in this city, was the Mexican cargo before alluded too, and the second auction was held on Clay street by McDonald and Buchanan. It was a sale of books and took place in the year 1847. This firm held many small auction sales of dry goods and general merchandise. McDonald died at the hotel in 1848, and Buchanan afterwards left for Kentucky, his native home.

In the year 1847 the Bark Whiting arrived, which had on board as passengers the following persons: Charles Ross, and a young man, whose parents were very wealthy, and who had sent him out here to reform; but, I think it was a hard place in which to reform a young man. The captain left money with Robert A. Parker for his board, also a small sum to be given him as pocket money every week. Later on he left for Sutter's Fort, and I heard that he died at Cordeway's Ranch, now known as the city of Marysville. I have entirely forgotten the name of the young man; but, the captain told me that his father was one of the wealthiest merchants in the city of New York. On board the same ship, enroute for Oregon was a Methodist preacher by the name of Roberts, accompanied by his wife and daughter. While the vessel lay in the harbor, he often came ashore. He informed me that if it was convenient, and would be agreeable to the citizens to have him do so, he would like to hold services on Sunday. I told him he could have the use of the dining-room, and that I knew he would have a good congregation. On Sunday morning, June 1847, I posted a notice that there would be preaching that day at the hotel. The room was filled, and the Reverend Mr. Roberts preached a good sermon, and it was the first Methodist sermon ever preached in the city of San Francisco. The congregation was not very fashionable; but deeply attentive, and well pleased with the sermon. I can say that many who were at that meeting had not been to any place of worship for ten or fifteen years previous to that occasion. One old sailor, who was greatly pleased with the sermon put a five dollar gold piece in his own hat and went around the room and collected over fifty dollars, which he gave to the minister; and with the tears in his eyes, he tapped the minister on the shoulder in a sailor like way, and exclaimed: ''That was a d--m good sermon,'' he further showed his appreciation by inviting the minister and his family to take dinner with him the next day at the hotel. The dining-room was in the center of the house; on the other side was a billiard-room and saloon; on the other were two rooms, used for card-playing. I do not suppose another instance could be cited, where under the same roof there was preaching, drinking, card-playing and billiards all going on at the same time and hour. Those who did not wish to attend the religious services in the room had too much respect for the minister to make the least noise or disturbance. Let this much, at least be said to the credit of the early pioneers. On the next Sunday another application to preach was made by the Reverend T. M. Leavensworth, who came to California with Stevenson's Regiment. He was a minister, physician and druggist. He opened the first drug store in the city, in a small frame building on Washington street, between Montgomery and Kearny streets, on the fifty vara lot owned by William Davis.


Source: Brown, John H. Reminiscences and Incidents of "The Early Days" of San Francisco. 1886: San Francisco, CA. Reprinted, 1933: San Francisco.  Library of Congress, "California as I Saw It:" First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900.

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