2016-04-14 / Columnists

The Gold Rush of 1849: The Last Days of the Sabina Gold Miners! -- Part 4

by Sandi Brewster-walker

Before returning home, Captain Henry Green’s journal tells the fate of Sabina (ship), as well as the seamen. He also explained in detail how the Sabina came to rest at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay during the Gold Rush years.

By November 1849, Charles Howell (Sr.) recovered from being sick, and was able to return to the mines. He did not have much success! Charles was a descendant of one of the founders of Southampton, and was married to Mary (Rogers).

Three Jagger family members sailed to California to become miners: Lewis, Austin, and Albert Jagger. Albert (1814) was one of the original two men chosen to close out the Company business. He is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census with his wife Maria (Pettreau). He gave his occupation as farmer in all of the Censuses until his death March 25, 1886.

Captain Green’s journal mentioned Alfred Sanford on the way to Fosters Bar, who believed in self-preservation only. Alfred just sat in the camp, while David Hand and Captain Green did their best to get the Company as a team to the gold mine fields.

A half-share seaman, 23-year-old Franklin Jessup (1824) made it back to the Island, and is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census as a seaman. After Franklin’s gold mining experience, he is found in the 1860 U.S. Census with his wife Charlotte. He was living on Fishers Island and gave his occupation as farmer and captain. Franklin died May 20, 1909 and is buried in the West Hampton Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

Franklin’s brother, Isaac Jessup’s Seaman Journal dated Aug. 17, 1849-June 16, 1850 recorded a voyage from Cold Spring Harbor to San Francisco on the ship Sheffield. The Sheffield was actually bound on a whaling voyage to the Pacific Ocean, but carried a cargo of lumber and wheels to San Francisco. They made little effort to take any whales during that part of the voyage.


The new committee was at work by April 4, proposing that captain Green and Alfred Sanford be the new agents to close the business. The proceeds of the sale were to be placed in the hands of Nathaniel Miller, who would pay each stockholder the amount due. The next day, Captain Green hired two men to assist in cleaning, and preparing the ship for sale. The same day, nine men left the ship to go to the mines and find their fortune. On April 9, the wind was too rough to move the ship! When the weather got better around April 20, the ship needed to be towed. The captain traveled a fourth time to San Francisco to hire a ship for the towing. An agreement was reached with the Mint (steamer) for $500. The captain returned on April 24, and informed everyone that the Mint (steamer) would take them in tow upon her return from Stockton. The next day was spent preparing the Sabina for towing. The Mint (steamer) arrived on April 25, and made an attempt to take the Sabina in tow, but could not accomplish the task because of the wind and the tide. The Sabina had to be anchored again! On April 26, Captain Green’s journal stated that “we cleared our anchor and hauled the ship out into the Bay.” He had hopes of sailing her to San Francisco! On Monday and Tuesday there were “strong gales from the westward”. This also kept six men from starting their journey to the gold mines. Again the captain made a fifth trip to San Francisco to hire another steamer to tow the Sabina. He agreed to pay the El Dorado (steamer) $600. On May 4, while the captain was still in San Francisco at 4 a.m., there was a great fire that caused extensive damage to the city, so the captain returned to his ship. The suspicious fire erupted in a building on the east side of the U.S. Exchange, a drinking and gambling house. With ashes still hot and smoking, the first evidence of arson was found. Within 10 days, San Franciscans rebuilt half of their city. “The great fires of 1850, while at the time considered a curse, were really beneficial to the city in their results. The old ramshackle shanties were replaced by more respectable buildings, a water supply system was secured for the city, an efficient volunteer fire department…and it became fashionable to become a fireman,” Katherine Chandler wrote in “San Francisco Statehood.” On Sept. 9 1850, California received statehood becoming the 31st state. Green’s journal stated on the next Monday the weather was nice with light winds from the west. The steamer El Dorado arrived early making “fast to the ship.” She towed the Sabina for 22 miles passed Benicia, and through the straits. The El Dorado ship’s machinery failed, and the The new committee was at work by April 4, proposing that captain Green and Alfred Sanford be the new agents to close the business. The proceeds of the sale were to be placed in the hands of Nathaniel Miller, who would pay each stockholder the amount due. The next day, Captain Green hired two men to assist in cleaning, and preparing the ship for sale. The same day, nine men left the ship to go to the mines and find their fortune. On April 9, the wind was too rough to move the ship! When the weather got better around April 20, the ship needed to be towed. The captain traveled a fourth time to San Francisco to hire a ship for the towing. An agreement was reached with the Mint (steamer) for $500. The captain returned on April 24, and informed everyone that the Mint (steamer) would take them in tow upon her return from Stockton. The next day was spent preparing the Sabina for towing. The Mint (steamer) arrived on April 25, and made an attempt to take the Sabina in tow, but could not accomplish the task because of the wind and the tide. The Sabina had to be anchored again! On April 26, Captain Green’s journal stated that “we cleared our anchor and hauled the ship out into the Bay.” He had hopes of sailing her to San Francisco! On Monday and Tuesday there were “strong gales from the westward”. This also kept six men from starting their journey to the gold mines. Again the captain made a fifth trip to San Francisco to hire another steamer to tow the Sabina. He agreed to pay the El Dorado (steamer) $600. On May 4, while the captain was still in San Francisco at 4 a.m., there was a great fire that caused extensive damage to the city, so the captain returned to his ship. The suspicious fire erupted in a building on the east side of the U.S. Exchange, a drinking and gambling house. With ashes still hot and smoking, the first evidence of arson was found. Within 10 days, San Franciscans rebuilt half of their city. “The great fires of 1850, while at the time considered a curse, were really beneficial to the city in their results. The old ramshackle shanties were replaced by more respectable buildings, a water supply system was secured for the city, an efficient volunteer fire department…and it became fashionable to become a fireman,” Katherine Chandler wrote in “San Francisco Statehood.” On Sept. 9 1850, California received statehood becoming the 31st state. Green’s journal stated on the next Monday the weather was nice with light winds from the west. The steamer El Dorado arrived early making “fast to the ship.” She towed the Sabina for 22 miles passed Benicia, and through the straits. The El Dorado ship’s machinery failed, and the The Ludlow family of whalers was represented on this Sabina expedition. Captain Lafayette Ludlow (1812), according to the California, Mortuary and Cemetery Records, was born in Bridgehampton, and died on board the Mary Thompson (steamer) on Aug. 19, 1852 in San Francisco. He was buried in Yerba Buena Cemetery; however his body was later moved in 1870. Augustus Ludlow returned to Long Island where he continued to work as a seaman.

George Post with his three sons: William (Sr.), Nathan, and Charles, as well as his grandson William (Jr.) made the journey. Nathan returned to Long Island, but later went back to California. He is enumerated in the 1860 U.S. Census with his first wife Elizabeth. The 1900 U.S. Census lists Nathan and his second wife Fanny in San Francisco. He died Aug. 21, 1912 in San Francisco, and was cremated in Stockton, California.

Henry Rhodes spent most of his time sick on the ship, after returning from the Sacramento camp in September 1849. He never reached the gold mining fields!

Horatio and Noel Rogers were passengers, and not part of the Company, but Noel worked for his passage as a seaman. James Rogers was a stockholder; his fate is unknown. Albert Rogers got sick, and traveled by steamer from the Sacramento camp in September, 1849 with David Hand back to the ship.

On Jan. 25, 1850, Henry Ross, a half-shore seaman, died on-board the Sabina. Four weeks prior, he returned sick from the mines with $2,000 worth of gold dust made by trading at the mines. There is no mention of what happened to Ross’ gold dust in Captain Green’s journal!

Charles Sealy (b. 1818) made it back to the Island, and is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census for Shelter Island with his wife Nancy.

Thomas Warren and William White were among the 20 stockholders who attended the April 3, 1850 meeting held by the available remaining members.

Edward White (Jr.) was sick on the ship on Oct. 10. Edward White died after his long illness, and was buried in California. This is all that was written in the journal for November 1849. Edward White (Sr.) died, and was probably related to the Cold Spring Whaling Company’s Eli White, master of the Tuscarora in 1841 and 1843, the Sheffield (1846) and the Alice (1851) ships.

John Woodward had returned sick from the Sacramento camp to the ship in September 1849. He was also sick on the ship on Oct. 10, and is said to have died.

The captain made a second trip to San Francisco on Feb. 23, and spent 21 days. He also sent for Charles Green, who spent a week. They visited their four cousins, who were on-board the Sheffield (ship) owned by the Cold Spring Harbor Company. The Sheffield (ship) had left its Cold Spring Harbor port with the Green cousins, and Franklin Jessup’s brother, Isaac on Aug. 17, 1849 to sail the whaling grounds in the South Pacific, Sea of Okhotsk, as well as the Bering Straits in search of whales, and would not return back to Long Island until Jan. 23, 1854.

On March 16, 1850, Captain Green wrote that he returned to the ship, finding that John Crook had signed on a ship in San Francisco, and died about a week after it got to sea.

It was the rainy season when Captain Green on March 21 went a third time to San Francisco. Upon his April 1 return, he found that all the men were in good health, and making preparations to go mining.

The captain mentioned things started out right, however “gold fever greed” began to take over infecting the team. He continued, “I, the greatest stockholder in the company, should not have shipped as I did.” His journal continued, “to dispose of my property at 300 or 400 percent less than it will fetch in the market”.

On April 3, a stockholders’ meeting was held by the surviving 20 members. They passed a resolution for the Sabina to sail to San Francisco, and be sold. They appointed a committee of five to manage how the ship and its store shall be disposed. Once again, Captain Green took charge of the ship Sabina!

Sabina for 22 miles passed Benicia, and through the straits. The El Dorado ship’s machinery failed, and the Sabina had to wait five days for the El Dorado to be fixed. When the El Dorado did not return, Captain Green decided to use his years of experience to sail the Sabina without a pilot to San Francisco and anchor. The Bay became the Sabina’s final resting place!

After returning from the Gold Rush, Captain Henry Green moved with his family to Main Road, Peconic. He would sail again as captain of the Sheffield whaler owned by the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company. He sailed the whaling ship leaving the Island on Sept. 9, 1854 to the South Pacific, the Sea of Okhotsk, and California; after 56 months he returned to home port on May 4, 1859.

The Sabina ship rests at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay along with dreams and memories of the Gold Rush. During the Gold Rush years, thousands of ships sailed into San Francisco Bay with “its strong current, rocky reef and low fog conditions,” the online Wikipedia stated.

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.

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