2016-04-07 / Columnists

The Gold Rush of 1849: The Fate of the Sabina Gold Miners! -- PART 3

by Sandi Brewster-Walker

On Feb. 10, 1849 , The Corrector (Sag Harbor) newspaper listed those who sailed for California on the Sabina (ship), and predicted the fate of these strong whale men, who sought their fortune in gold mining. What happened to the Company’s captains, crew, seamen, cook, stewards and paid passengers is interesting!

Very few of the Sabina men found their fortune in gold; some died on the West Coast, others returned home, but most returned “poorer than they went.” A few stayed in California, some returned to whaling and the fate of others is unknown.

By Sept. 21, 1849, Captain Henry Green and his brother Charles were beginning to get sick, but they were determined to return to their Sacramento camp. The Green brothers remained very ill in camp until the Oct. 1 Company meeting.

The meeting was called to decide if the men should remain as a Company, or dissolve it with every man “going for himself.” A vote was taken with the results being in favor of dissolving the Company according to Captain Green’s journal.


Photo of the home believed to be owned by Pyrrhus Consur Photo of the home believed to be owned by Pyrrhus Consur Edward Halsey had returned sick from the Sacramento camp to the Sabina (ship) back in September 1849. He had sailed the Tuscarora (ship) for the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company. Halsey never reached the gold mining fields!

From the Sacramento camp in September 1849 David Hand (Sr.) and Albert Rogers traveled back to the Sabina (ship), where they were still sick aboard on Oct. 10. David Hand (Sr.), a neighbor of Captain Green died on Dec. 2, and was buried in California. His son David Hand (Jr.) died out west in Des Moines, Iowa on June 27, 1876.

John Killis, a Shinnecock Indian and a half share seaman around the first part of Oct. 2, 1849 died. He had gone with the Captain to the gold mine fields, however when he got sick, he returned to Sacramento camp. Later, John would travel to the ship with chills, fever and diarrhea. The Book of Records of the Town of Southampton indicates that John Killis married Mary Ann Williams (colored) on November 18, 1847.


Pyrrhus Consur Pyrrhus Consur Ancestors of John Killis’s Indian family had fought with the British settlers in the New York Provisional Troops during the French and Indian Wars, 1754 -1763 (known as the 7-Year War). Ned Killis was listed as a Shinnecock Indian with Captain Alexander Smith’s men. By May 1758, Ned was with Captain Elias Hand’s Western Battalion at the expedition against Fort Ticonderoga. Charles Killis was with Captain Gilbert Potter between April and May 1759. Nemus Killis is listed with Captain Barnabas Tuthill, and from May through September 1759, Robin Killis was with Captain Thomas Terry. The following year (April 1760), Nemos Killis was with Captain Israel Horton, and Charles Killis served with Captain Jesse Platt of the old Town of Huntington. All of the Killis Indian men fought bravely until the war ended with the Treaty of Paris.

By the 1800s, John’s rel at ives Moses, Joshua and Israel Killis would all become seamen sailing together on the Pioneer (bark) in 1862. On the Pioneer (bark) were other Long Island indigenous people: Abraham Cuffee, Russell Bunn, and William Lee, the youngest at 16 years old; and Motley Lee, the oldest at 32 years old. John Killis, our whaler, was adventurous like his ancestors and descendants, when he joined the Company’s gold miners.

Lewis Sanford was still sick on Wed., Oct. 10, 1849. On Oct. 15, he departed life on board the Sabina (ship), and was buried in California.

Jerimiah Hanes, a seaman, and brother to William Hanes lived onboard the Sabina (ship) to take care of his brother, who died of dysentery on the 11th of October, and was buried in California. Jerimiah returned to be a Long Island farmer, and marry Frances (Rogers).

Jenir Reeves on Oct. 26, died on his way from Sacramento City to the mines.

Schuyler Halsey died in October at the new Sacramento City hospital, and was buried in the area; however there is a tombstone in the North End Graveyard on Long Island stating he died in California. The hospital had been located in an adobe structure made from the dirt, then on Aug. 4, 1849, the Daily Alta California newspaper had informed the readers that a “large and commodious building had recently been converted into a fully furnished hospital and was prepared to admit patients.”

Napoleon Griffing, a half share seaman, died on Jan. 11, 1850, after a short illness and was buried in California.

Onboard the Sabina (ship) about the middle of February 1850, Captain Green heard about the death of Daniel Glover at the San Benito Hospital. Glover had worked as a carpenter for Sam Dennison.

William Dennison, a whaling captain went to sea many times on the Henry (ship) between 1829 to 1835. Captain Dennison had also sailed for the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company on the Tuscarora (ship) in 1837.

Some of the Sabina’s crew sailed home to the East Coast around the Cape, others sailed south then traveled by land east across Panama to reach another ship. Still a few went east by land through the “Wild West.”

On Jan. 25, 1850, Jedidiah Conklin left the Sabina (ship) for San Francisco to take the next steamer. He had been sick for a long time, but now considers himself well enough and was going home to his family!

The half share seaman Watson Coney, one of the men left in Foster Old Bar, returned to the East Coast. In 1866, he sails from New Bedford (MA) on the Pioneer (bark).

Pyrrhus Consur (Concur, Concor) (1814-1897), the black seaman, had been aboard the Manhattan (ship), the first American ship to visit Tokyo in 1845. Consur was born to a slave mother named Violet (Williams), a slave of Nathan Cooper of Southampton on March 17, 1814. He was considered free because the March 29, 1799, New York State Gradual Abolition Act stated that any child born to an enslaved woman after July 4, 1799 would be free. He is also listed in The Book of Records of the Town of Southampton marrying Esther (Gad) on Aug. 20, 1847. He returned from the gold mines, and lived the rest of his life in Southampton. Consur operated a small boat on Lake Agawam for years. In Southampton, there is a monument by the lake’s northwest corner by Pond Lane of Consur. The website “27East” on June 13, 2014 reported that Pyrrhus Consur’s house was to be demolished.

Charles Crook (b. 1810), a half share seaman, remained at Foster Old Bar. His Seaman’s Protection Certificate of Oct. 30, 1830 showed he departed New York on a whaling expedition at the age of 20-years old. Again in 1844, he shipped out on the Nimrod whaler. He married Sarah Corwin at Hog Neck, LI in December 1847. A member of Charles’ family, Samuel Crook had told Captain Green, the first week in October 1849 that he did not like mining.

Another half share seaman Daniel Howell was enumerated in the 1860 US Census living in Islip with his wife Matinda and gave his occupation as a bayman working on the Great South Bay.

Captain Green was still weak in January 1850, and on Jan. 6, the Captain went with Barney, his brother to San Francisco paying $15 for the 50-mile trip onboard Captain Sutten’s steamer. Later, Barney Green (b. 1802) would ship home as first mate on the George Washington (ship).

The ship had left New York for California on Feb. 7, 1849 according to the Diary of Thomas Matteson, a gold miner from Albany (NY). The ship had taken 203 days to arrive in San Francisco Harbor on Aug. 28, 1849, and now it was returning to the east coast.

Peter Howell also left California on the same ship with Captain Holdrege, as master (from Mystic, CT). Howell arrived safe in New York, and was enumerated with his wife Maria in the 1850 U.S. Census. Isaac Van Scoy and David Parker of the Company also went home on Captain Holdrege’s ship.

Doctor Darling was discharged and replaced by Doctor Constantine off the Obed Mitchell (ship), which sailed from the New Bedford (MA) seaport. Captain Green believed Doctor Constantine to be a “quack.”

Captain Green’s journal mentioned very little about the ship Sabina’s cook, but research of the 1850 U.S. Census enumerated Alonzo Boardman (b. 1806) working at a hotel as cook in Stockton, California.

Before returning home, Captain Henry Green’s journal tells the fate of still others, as well as the fate of other whaling family members. He also explains in detail how the Sabina (ship) along with many other ships during the Gold Rush came to rest at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay.

The writer is an independent historian, genealogist, freelance writer and business owner. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees and acting executive director of the Indigenous People Museum & Research Institute and served in President Bill Clinton’s Administration as deputy director of the Office of Communications at the United States Department of Agriculture. Readers can reach her at acjnews@rcn.com or direct letters to her at CJ Publishers Inc., 85 Broadway, Amityville NY 11701.

Return to top













Suffolk County Shelter Locator and Storm Surge Zone Mapping Tool
The Shelter Locator and Storm Surge Zone Mapping Tool