1849/50: Capt. Edward Smith to Jones Perkins Veazie

How Capt. Edward Smith might have looked

How Capt. Edward Smith might have looked

These seven letters were written by Edward Smith who was the Captain of the Brig Samuel & Edward (or “Sam & Ned”) sailing from Bangor, Maine, to San Francisco, California. Smith wrote the letters to his employer, merchant ship owner Jones Perkins Veazie (1811-1875) of Bangor, Maine.

The letters — almost a ship’s log — chronicles the ship’s travels between October 17th 1849 and January 22nd 1850 as it sails southward through the waters off the coast of the U. S. and Brazil, around the southern tip of South America, and up the Chilean coast to Valparaiso. Smith makes reference to “Murray’s New Route” as opposed to the “old line” on which he appears to be attempting so as to gain time in the passage. The voyage was hampered, however, by winds so light that Smith complained they couldn’t “blow out a candle.”

There are frequent references to the Barque Gold Hunter which was known to have left Bangor, Maine in early October 1849 carrying a load of lumber for the government to be used in constructing buildings at Benecia near San Francisco. It also carried 27 mechanics employed by the government and 13 additional passengers. The Gold Hunter arrived in San Francisco in late March 1850 after a voyage of nearly six months. The Veazie family was in the lumber business and board lumber was in high demand in San Francisco at the time. Though the cargo of the ship is not itemized in detail, it seems clear they were transporting lumber as well and hoped to arrive in advance of the ships carrying government provided lumber so as to maximize their profits.

Abstract Letter No. 2 contains an amusing tale of the crews use of several birch bark canoe’s, apparently part of the brig’s cargo, to exercise and entertain themselves in the calm ocean waters.


Saturday Cove
October 17th 1849

J. P. Veazie
Dear Sir,

Fort Buck Cove is at Point 2 on this map; Bucksport is at Point 4

Fort Point Cove is at Point 2 on this map of Penobscot Bay

I have left behind the invoice of my [lumber] cargo made out by Mr. [Moses] Giddings.†  The invoice I have from the Custom House does not give the cost of each article as made out by Mr. Giddings. I therefore wish you to send it by Capt. Flowers and should this wind not shift before tomorrow, I can get it. Otherwise, he can return it. But I am in hopes it will come down in the Steamer Governor with the other articles left at P. & R. But should I not receive it, please send me a copy to Valparaiso [Chile] [and] also one by Mr. Lord to California.

I left Fort Point Cove yesterday morning at 6 A.M. with a light breeze from the N.N.E. but had only wind enough to get me out of the harbor when it became calm. Took a light breeze from the S.S.W. in the afternoon [and] anchored in this place at 6 P.M. Today it is a fresh breeze from the S.S.W. and rainy. The Brig works like a top and seems to move through the water very easy. I shall leave this place the first chance and I shall put this [letter] on board the Hennebeck if I can. If not, I shall send it on shore wishing you all the joys of the world and that which is to come.

I remain yours with respect, — Edward Smith

† This was undoubtedly Moses Giddings (1816-1911), the son of John Giddings and Joanna Trafton. Moses began his working life as a clerk for the Norcross Lumber Company, gaining practical knowledge of all branches of the lumber business. After a few years, he went into business for himself, gradually enlarging his operations until he became one of the leading lumber merchants and owners of timberlands in Maine. He was also involved in the shipping business, sending vessels to foreign ports and bringing them back loaded with various goods from those ports. He owned part interest in the ship “Golden Rocket,” burned at sea in 1861 as the first vessel captured by the Confederate ship “Sumter.” Giddings’ letters are housed in the Raymond H. Fogler Library at the University of Maine.

Abstract Letter No. 2
At Sea, November 5th [1849] Latitude 21.20 Longitude 38.20

To Jones P. Veazie, Esq., Bangor, Maine
Dear Sir,

At 2 P.M. this day I spoke and boarded a Dutch Brig from Amsterdam bound for St. Thomas and put on board a letter for you for my wife with the assurance that he, the Captain, would forward them to the States by the first conveyance from St. Thomas. I sent on board a few heads of cabbage as ours began to rot, also one pumpkin and in return I received wheat and Lo 2 jugs of Holland Gin Liquor when this is a temperance vessel — yes, all kinds, Gin, Rum, Brandy & Wine. I think you will soon begin to think who you have got in your vessel, however, I will endeavor to keep sober the most of the time — especially when I can have an opportunity to let you know whereabout we are.

“We had quite a spree” with the Birch Canoes

My much esteemed friend, the Dutchman, is still in sight, although we have just taking a small breeze from the S. E. right ahead as it can be but that is better than it has been for the last 4 days, which is calm. I must remark that those Birch Canoes does not go amiss for this forenoon we had quite a spree with them. Myself, Mate & passengers put them over and the way we crossed each other’s tracks and talking such language that you nor myself could not understand that you would suppose that all Old Town had broken loose and had put to sea. But such like only happens when we want something to set our drooping spirits in motion for we have had such a calm & lifeless time with the thermometer up to 82º that a little change in our body exercise would be quite beneficial to our health. But to close this page tonight, I will say we are a jolly set of Down Easters. — E. S.

November 6th. Latitude 21.20, Longitude 37.25.  A fine breeze through the night from S. E. to South but this forenoon we have had continued squall from East to S.S.W.  You see that we make but slow progress compared to our first start. Well all we want is the winds and that I cannot control. I am aware that the fleet I left in Bangor are now gaining on me. Well, I feel badly enough I assure you but I improve every chance that presents itself to the best of my abilities. Here we lay with a Cat’s Paw here one them and so it has been now. This makes 5 days we have not made as much as we could in one day’s good breeze. But hopes keeps my spirits up some although I have the blues sometimes. But I strive to keep up good courage by the hopes of the vessels that is after me & the Barque Gold Hunter is in the same situation. But never mind. When I do get a fresh breeze on my quarter, I will defy either of them to catch me as long as I can hold as good wind as they. I shall brag a little when I am alone but when I get beat, I will keep still.

November 7th P.M.  Here we are with light winds from the S. S. E., Latitude 21.43, Longitude 36.00 but we move along a little to the east. This is hard feed for our water is getting bad — very bad indeed. In all my going to sea, I never had such water before. But it is no use to cry for spilt milk. When we can’t drink it, we will eat it. But I hope to fill up on the line if we can get there. One thing I will here notice, that is I have not got the agreement between you and the carpenters. I hope you will lend them out by Mr. Lord. The Brig has swelled so tight that we have to pump her only 2 in 24 hours.

November 8. Here I am again. Fine breeze from S. S. E., Latitude 22.09, Longitude 34.50. Mot my longitude most up 20 miles now and I shall be up with Cape Blanco. I tell you this is a trying time to my feelings but I see nothing but to hang & hold. If I loose in Latitude, I gain in Longitude. If I tack, it will be the reverse, so I will be well to the Eastward when it does haul. We are all in good health but our water. We have been overhauling today & find but 2 casks that is fit to drink & those are the pipes down forward. We have not tried one cistern yet but I hope it is good. Bad water in such hot water is anything but pleasant. We are trying to make it over by charcoal & ma[n]ganese & I am in hopes to bring it to its feeling. If we don’t, that I know it will bring our feelings up.

November 9th. Still we are voyaging along slowly but as fast as the wind will let us. The wind veers from S.S.E. to S.S.W. Latitude today 21.56, Longitude 33.15. We are getting east fast as I want to and a little faster rather make a little southern. However, if that Gold Hunter is in no better winds than myself, I should feel a little easier. But I must say as did the Old Man about his belief in the Universalist Doctrine, he believed in it, but he would give his old horse if he knew it was true. Well, so I believe about the Gold Hunter, but I would give a little something if I knew it was so. However, I am bound to make the best of my way to the Gold Region as fast as possible and if I get beat, so be it. I feel anxious to hear from you all at Valparaiso. Then my greatest anxiety is to sell the cargo well and find something to do afterwards. These are my every day thoughts of course.

November 10th. Here I come again but I want to let you know that we set our studing sail yesterday at 4 P.M. with moderate breeze from W.S.W. at 9 A.M. the 10th in studing sail wind S. We want to steer South. 1 P.M. @ 11th, set topmost studing sail, wind W.S.W. 2 Sail in sight — one bound east, one north. We are now doing pretty good business. Latitude 20.50, Longitude 32.04. Gain a little but it is hard work. That is, the work is not so hard as the thought of getting whipped by some of my comrades by George, if I do get a fair wind & enough of it. If I don’t make Sam & Ned tread up wall. He is good for it, that I will vouch for. So wait a while. E. Smith

November 12. Here I am. Still light south winds. This beats all that I ever heard of. It has been for the last 10 days as a month on the Penobscot River and not wind enough to blow a candle out. I find a plenty of sail but we are Bully of all speaking after the manner of man. But we have found one ship that have give us a hard pull. We made here day before yesterday sight ahead say 16 miles off at 2 P.M. The next morning we was up with her but about 4 miles under her lee. I set my colors and found she was an American but to my surprise along about noon, she started and by sunset she was ahead of me some 6 or 8 miles. Well so be it. But this morning at daylight, I was ahead of her about 4 miles & we have been gaining on her ever since so that now while I write, 2 P.M., I can just see her Top Gallant Sails. So you see I am Cock of the Roost — Big Enough — but this wind, I cannot sleep, nor rest, no appetite here, We have been for 10 days with light winds right ahead and we are now close aboard of the Cape DeVera Islands where we had ought to have strong N. E. Trades but we have had but one day N. E. Trades since we came into the latitudes of them. This is ____ our passage fast but I suppose I am doing wrong in finding fault with rulings of the all wise Providence as he knows what is for our best good. I suppose I ought to be satisfied with my lot but I feel so anxious to get along that I could almost fly. But I assure you that I do not leave one chance mis-improved and it ever shall be my utmost endeavor to promote your interests. So, wishing you all pleasant dreams, I remain your — E. Smith

Latitude 19.50, Longitude 29.45½

Abstract Letter No 3
November 13th  [1849]
Latitude 18=50, Longitude 29-19 3/4

Dear Sir,

I did not intend to trouble you again so soon but when I have good news to tell, I want you to know it. We have got a Fair Wind, sat our studding sails at 9 A.M. but I wanted to set more sail so I sat a Topmost studding sail out on the end of the flying jib-boom so as to take all the wind that goes under the jobs. It pulls like a good one. Although the wind is light, we are going 7 knots & it begins to increase a little.

Last evening it was perfectly calm & as smooth as need to be so we took an excursion in our canoes, left the Brig at 5 P.M., returned at 6 o’clock. Did not make any land nor did we see the line, but I am bound to find it soon if this breeze will hold. Had we had a decent time along, we might have gone to the line in 25 or 28 days easy, but I fear we shall be some 38. Murry’s New Route gives to the line on an average of 34 days by the calendar do 42 days, but I have done the best the wind would let thus far. I shall now — if the wind will let me — make a straight line.

I know not as I have anything new to write you about the Brig. She is light enough & sails well both on and off the winds. Our crew & passengers are all well. Carpenters are now building a Booby Hatch. This day open a barrel of beef for the first time since we left. it is prime. Nothing to find any fault with but our water. We have tried our cistern & find it good — the best there is on board, but you must remember we have 2 jugs of Holland Gin to go with it & I suppose it will give it a different flavour. As I have not tried it. I am not able to vouch for its goodness.

The 22nd inst., we have set apart as a day of thanksgiving. We shall probably have a roast Foule; also some Flying Fish for a variety. Also a young Shark if we can catch him. We all of us are perfectly at home with all things at our hands that we need to make us comfortable. A good cook, plenty to eat and that, that is good. A good ship, plenty of work & pleasant weather. But you know that it is the nature of man to think of home & the many ties of friendship & especially your better half. All these sometimes comes up before me but when I think of my voyage and the results of it, it drives all such thought from my mind & inspires me with renewed energy to use my best abilities to advance the best interest of my employers.

Nov. 16th. Noon. Latitude 11.00=Longitude 27.33. All well, fine wind gust so that we can carry topmast studying sails. You see that for the last 3 days we have made more than all 10 of those calm, variable ones. The breeze is not so strong as it might be but I am going at the rate of 8 knots per hour. We can go to the line in four days if this wind will hold which will make us 32 days out. Murry says that 34 days is considered a good passage — especially by the old route but I am betwixt & between. But I want to get one degree further East. Then I think there will not be any trouble abut getting leeward on the coast of Brazil. I want to cross the line in about 29 or 30. We are all well as usual and are having fine weather. Thermometer up to 83º — Water 80º — while I suppose you are well muffled up and perhaps rubbing your ears for cold.

Nov. 19th. One month out. Latitude 6.30 = Longitude 26.55. Distance from the line 390 miles. Distance run since we came to sea 4200 miles, no. days 30, miles per day 140. We are now in the variables so that we get along slow. We have just had a tremendous squall. Drove her bows all under so that you could not see any of her lee Topgallant Forecastle. All on her well. She must go when there is a chance for I tremble when I think of the Fleet that is after me for it seems that the Brig does not sails fast as she did when we first came to sea. One thing is the barnacles is growing fast on her so that we shall have to scrape them off the first calm time.

As for myself, I have been quite unwell for the two last days. I expect it is a touch of my old complaint — that is the Liver Complaint — but I feel some better today than I was yesterday and it is so hot here that it is very uncomfortable. But we have provided ourselves with fresh meat for a change. We caught a very large porpoise one week ago today and he is now nice & tender so that we have beef steak for breakfast about every morning. The most that we want is wind to get along with. I will here say that Miller gets along very well, steers his trick regular, can make or take a sail pretty well. He was rather sick of his voyage on his first heaving, but now he says he is bound to do the best he can so no more today. Hope you are all in good health.

Nov. 23rd. Latitude 4.24 Longitude 26.59. We have been for 3 days before this calmed with now & then a squall and rain. Oh my soul, it has fell in torrents so that we have filled up our casks — all but one that is — in the hold. I hope soon to get out if this hot sultry weather fr it does not agree with me as well as a little cooler for I cannot say that I do enjoy first health. I am much pressed in breathing but by no means so indisposed to interfere with me as to to doing my duty. I had just such an attack when I first went out in the A. Hayford and by blistering my stomach I soon recovered & I have not had an attack since until now. But if I am not relieved soon, I shall blister again. With this exception, we are all well. Although Mr. Snow is a good man & capable, still in squalls & bad weather, I want to be at my post for I can truly say that I never felt so anxious as to the result of a voyage as I do about this. It seems sometimes as if I could not eat or sleep — especially during the 3 last days of calm. I am fully aware of the all importance of getting to California before the fleet. Also, if I get beat, it will look black against me but I ask how can I get along without wind. I find I get along as fast as some others for I possess a Brig. Last night, hand over fist, I put the flag to a Baltimore Bark a few days ago, but she could not answer it. I ought not to find fault, but I want to be going. I have been 13 days about becalmed now say out of then 13 days. I have lost some 1500 miles which I might have run easily. I should now have been some 20 days ___ south, but, I hope I shall have patience, for I would not murmur at the Providences of God. The Brig is perfectly tight — that is, she leaks 2 strakes per hour. That is tight enough, but the barnacles are growing fast on her. There is some now I should think one inch long and we are going to scrape them off as soon as it is smooth enough for there is such a sea on that we cannot do anything with a boat along side at present. We had our Thanksgiving yesterday but it rained so hard with such squalls that it appeared to us as usual. Heavy squalls rising so I must close at present.

2 Pm. A good fresh breeze from the E.S.E. running by compass S by W 1/2 W. I intend if I can to make St. Paul’s Island.¹ Bearing now S.S. by S. list 240 miles for I wish to see if my chronometer is right. I have twice compared it with other vessels and it only varies from them some 4 or 5 miles, but the mates runs just as she is a mind too. But I must close by saying I know not when I shall have an opportunity to send this to you but I shall as soon as possible for I wish for you to hear from me often.

My best respects to all and I remain yours truly, — E. Smith

¹ I believe Smith is referring to St. Paul’s Archipelago — not to land there but as a point of reference with his coordinates. It is in a region of severe storms some 600 miles off the coast of Brazil.

Abstract Letter No. 4
December 1st [1849]
Latitude 7.50 off the Harbor of Pernambuco [Brazil]

J. P. Veazie, Bangor Maine

I again commence to let you know where we are. We took the S.E. Trade Winds in about 4 North or rather the S.S.E. Trades and have had them ever since. I made the Brazil Coast in 6 South and had to stand off about 12 hours. we are now so that we can lay the shore along should the wind continue S.E. as it is at the resent time. I crossed the [Equator] line in Longititude of 30.28 and I if I had taken the wind S.E. as is commonly the case, I should not have seen the coast at all. I was 38 days and 12 hours to the line. We have had a very dull chance since the first week and have been on the wind 7/8 of the time but with a good smart breeze I can get 8 knots on a taught Bolin but light winds she is dull.

I can go now to Rio Janiero in 8 days with a decent wind. I have been running along the shore so close that I could see the Banana Trees plain (not Cocoa Nut) & here we see the Catamarans offshore 25 miles — nothing more than 4 or 6 logs fastened together — quite a sight for our passengers. I hope I shall get a little fresher breeze soon for I want to be moving along a little faster than we have been for the last few days past but I assure you we are doing the very best we can. If the wind is ahead, I cannot turn it nor make it blow. That Gold Hunter is all my fears. I would sooner give one month’s wages than have her beat me. We are all well and in fine spirits. Have got some 2,000 oranges, banana, &c. &c.

December 3d, Latitude 12.20 South, Longitude 35.22

We are having the pleasantest weather I ever saw but rather light winds. I have seen several vessels pass bound north but I did not wish to stop or run out of my course to put my letters on board. No doubt but what you would like to hear from the Sam & Ned but she is safe yet and at all appearance sound & I leel too anxious to get along, to run her much out of my course to report myself. But I am now looking every day for a vessel that will fall in with us so that I can board them without losing too much time. It is not so warm here as I expected to find it. I have not see the thermometer up to 85 since I crossed the line. I will here say to you that I have just learnt that one of our carpenters had an invoice of the cargo made out by Mr. Giddings so that I shall not need one to be sent by Mr. Lovell.

December 5th [1849], Latitude 14.30, Longitude 35.35

At 11 A.M. inst., spoke the Schooner Frances Helen — 41 days from Philadelphia for California yesterday.† The schooner was on our weather quarter this morning. She was about Beam light winds. 8 A.M. fresh breeze sprang up and we felt her hand over fist. Soon it became light when she came up with us so you see that in a light breeze she is dull but in heavy weather she is good. The schooner is a clipper and sails like the wind but if I had as much wind as I wanted, I should not fear him. I want you to say to J. C. Smith the next time he puts up store for a vessel not to put up damaged ones. Our Nafes & Fins is not fit to eat. Besides, there is no fins to speak of in the barrel. The rest of the stores is good but the men grumble at the beef for they say it is too fat but I find no fault with it. It is the best I ever saw on board of a vessel. Our potatoes keep well; does not rot. I will here say to you that the Brig started a leak yesterday somehow. She has been perfectly tight until yesterday, not leaking over 48 strokes in 24 hours. We pump her every 24 hours. I.E., 8 A.M. last night we tried the pump [and] found she had some 125 strokes in 12 hours. This morning the same as 8 A.M. I know not how to account for it. It has been  and is perfectly smooth with about 5 knot breeze but I hope it will close up as it has before.

I feel quite anxious to get to Valparaiso [Chile] so that I can hear from you [and] also to hear the State of California market. But if we have as light winds and as much ahead as we have had since the first week out, we shall be 6 months on our passage, that I am sure. But I improve every chance I am going along now with 7 studding sails set and all other sails that will draw. Can go up to Rio in 3 days easy with a good breeze which will make us 50 days out. I suppose some would call it 48 which will be an average passage. Those 10 days calm is what spoilt our run.

December 6th [1849], Latitude 17.40, Longitude 36.23

Getting along slowly but safe. Light winds and calm, hot weather &c. Open a barrel of pork for the first since leaving home. It is good. We are now getting ready for Cape Horn as fast as we can. Shall expect some bad weather soon.

December 7th [1849]

Fine, pleasant weather with light winds. Latitude 191.18. We now see a Bark [which] looks much like the Gold Hunter but we rather range her. I hope it is. We have averaged since we passed the Line about 1.40 Deg. M. per day and we shall be out 50 days at 6 P.M. Distance from Rio Janiero 200 miles. I expect we shall not have fresh breezes until we get out from under the sun. I tell you it is not warm, but hot. The Brig is shutting up so that she does not leak — only her usual rate. I.E., 48 strokes in 24 hours. I hope she will not leak any more than she does at present but I feel quite disappointed in her sailing qualities. She is dull in a light breeze and in a head beat sea & the reason is, I believe, that her bow flairs too much under water. She had ought to have up to her wales straighter. She is better on the wind than the Hayford but of the wind I think the Hayford will whip her. We have tried to alter her trim but it does not seem to make any difference with her. In a fresh breeze, we can get 9 & 10 knots off the wind. On the wind taught Bolin 8 but I want to see her going 11 & 12 off the wind & 9-10 on the wind. But the mount of the story is I feel so anxious to get along I cannot go fast enough. I have opponents on both sides, head and astern. But I hope I shall not weary your patience in my every day thoughts. But I cannot help expressing my anxiety to get there first of the fleet.

December 8th. Latitude 21. All well. Vessel close by. In haste, — E. Smith

† The schooner Frances Helen made the voyage from Philadelphia to San Francisco between 24 October 1849 and 29 March 1850. Her Captain was M. H. Leeds. She departed from Cape Henlopen, Delaware, with a crew of thirteen and eight passengers. A few days after her encounter with the Brig Samuel and Edward, a seaman named Jacob Bauman was drowned when he fell overboard despite rescue attempts. In February 1850, another hand named Samuel Gandy was lost near St. Ambrose Island. They anchored for a few days in Valparaiso in early February 1850, as was customary on this voyage, and arrived in San Francisco after 157 days at sea. A transcription of the captain’s log is archived at Newberry Library in Chicago.

Abstract Letter No. 5
December 13 [1849]
Latitude 25.00, Longitude 40.47

J. P. Veazie, Bangor, Maine
Dear Sir,

I put on board the Barque Walter on the 8th instant bound into Rio three letters for you. I boarded myself and learnt from the Capt. that he was 38 days from Providence, full of passengers bound to California. Since then we have had wind and light at that until the last 24 hours in which we have run 131 miles. The Brig is very dull in light winds; most everything will pass her. I cannot conceive why she does not sail better. O only out-sailed 3 vessels while running the coast of Brazil along. We have scraped the barnacles off of her & tried every means, but no use. She must have a gale of wind and then if it is abeam, she is so crank we cannot carry sail, so but what she will lay over on her side and drift off to leeward. It is nothing new when on the wind to have the lee side of her quarterdeck under water. She is as good a vessel as ever floated as to strength & tight enough & I very much regret that I have to inform you she does not sail up to our expectation. When we first put to sea, I thought she did sail well. Well we had a heavy wind & 10 & 11 knots was got out of her. We have got 8 knot on the wind taught Bolin, but as we are now getting to the southward of the sun, I am in hopes we shall have stronger breezes and more of them. I suppose I might have gone into Rio in 51 days but I was in hopes when I left to be up with Cape Horn in 65 days but I fear that 90 will not more than put us there — I mean around — so that I can keep off North for Valparaiso.

I will here remark that our flour is both sour & wormy. The rest of our provisions is good — all but the ___opes & fins as I remarked in my abstract previous to this. Our potatoes do not rot & I am in hopes to have enough to last us there.

We are getting ready for the stormy cape. The Brig will be in first rate order by the time she gets off Cape Horn.

January 3d 1850
Lattitude 47-12, Longitude 59-40 West.

I did not intend to write you again before I arrived at Valparaiso but it seems that I never should get there. We have had from Latt. 34 South, Long. 40, strong gales from the SW and a strong current against us so that we have bad to beat about the last 3 weeks against a strong head wind. This beats me all out as to weather. Such squalls of hail & wind it seems sometimes as if the sticks would go out of her besides such a heavy sea right ahead. For the last 24 hours we had the wind from NW to South 3 times blowing a close reef Top Sail Breeze and the Brig is very crank. She will go over so that her quarterdeck is underwater, then she will hang. Our water is about all spoilt. 2 casks is as sour as vinegar. the rest is as thick as oil & stinks (to speak politely) bad. We shall have to go into Faulkland Islands or Cape Good Success, I.E., East End of Tenia Del Fuego, to fill our water, should it not rain, so that we can fill up before we get there. The Brig behaves well & leaks but very little.

We are now 270 miles north of Faulkland Islands — about 3 days sail to Cape Horn with a fair wind and an 8 knot breeze but I think it will take us at least 10 or 12 days.

I got badly bruised on the 30 ult. by being knocked against the wheel, thence against the timber heads of the ___sail sheet. It has lamed my beck badly so that I was confined to my berth for 2 days but I am getting better fast. The cook was taking sick 31 ult. with the dropsy [and was] not able to do anything. He says that he was sick with the same disease & palpitation of the heart 4 months in the hospital at Chelsea before he came on board of this vessel so you see how we have been imposed upon by him. But our passenger Webber — the carpenter — has taken his place so that we can get along well without him. I do not have that charity for him that I wish I had but he is not so good as I took him when first out. If he does not get well, I be bound he will catch the ropes end if the mark is not well-toed.

This cold Bud weather puts a keen edge on my feeling if things is not right, but I hope soon to get past these troubles so that I can send you a letter from Valparaiso and a few lines from you may in some measure calm my anxious feelings.

January 22d [1850]
Latt. 49, Long 79

On the coast of Chile 8 days sail from Valparaiso with a 6 knot breeze. 93 days out. I wrote you last that we should have to put into some port for water. Well we finally fetched the straits of Le Maine intending to go into Good Success Bay but the day we made St. Diego N.E. Entrance of the Straits, a heavy gale set in from North to NNE with thick weather so that we could not see the land more than 2 or 3 miles. We entered the straits at 7 P.M. with a fair wind and Mr. Snow & myself concluded it was so seldom we got a fair wind to let her go and put up with our water. So we did & I have not had a better run on better weather since I left the Penobscot than we had around the Cape. We carried studing sails and T. G. sails all the way although our water is bad. I will willingly put up with that for the sake of getting around the Cape soon.

We are now where we shall in all probability have good weather with moderate breezes. I have not seen the Brig sail so well since we came out as she has coming around the Cape. We have made several Ship & Bark ahead when we would come up with them and pass them hand over fist but I did not put the flag to any of them as I was sick myself. But day before yesterday we made a Bark on our weather now and ahead we came up with him [and] found it to be the Bark Ada of St. Andrews, 142 days out. Then we sat the five fingers. The Capt, took it pretty well for he mustered all his passengers (he was bound for California) and gave us three cheers. We returned the salute and was again answered by him when we left him.

I am in hopes to make the passage to Valparaiso as soon as the Suilate which was 110. With a good breeze, I can go there in one hundred but we are getting along well. We passed Cape Horn just 87 days out to an hour by our time. O by the way, my chronometer was on the spot on making the land. She is good & can be depended upon but the mates was about 100 miles out the way. We have a plenty of everything yet. Plenty of fresh meat, porpoise in an abundance, but we have had or met with quite an accident. We had a gale of wind off Faulkland Island and by some means our Oil barrels (lamp) got started i the night and we lost about all so we are catching sperm porpoises to replace the oil. We got two yesterday. Have got 2 before, and get about 3 gallons oil out of each. I do not feel as if I wish to keep things from you. Well, you may say it was carelessness but as far as I can judge, there was not sang Blame on myself or mates and as it has happened so we will endeavor to replace it without any cost.

Our cook has got well and is about his duty. As for myself, I am just recovering from a severe attack of the pleurisy fever all owing to my bruises, having caught cold, and it settled on my left lung for 3 days. I hardly knew how it would turn with me but bleeding me and covering me as it were with blisters. I am now able to walk the cabin. I cannot lay on my side at all but my pains seem to be on the decrease. I had good care taking of me by Ebber who by the way is a first rate nurse & before I close this, I must speak a word for Mr. Snow. I can put confidence in him and he is trusty and a good man. So is Mr. Fowler and we are all getting along in peace. No trouble has happened yet. I never had a better crew nor a better vessel so I close.

Yours truly, — E. Smith


San Francisco [California]
May 27th 1850

J. P. Veazie, Esq., Dear Sir,

I came to this port 22d inst. with the Brig from Fremont where I landed my cargo. I have been endeavoring to find something to do but have as yet been unable. As for funds to work on, I have none. Neither can I get any, for money is now 10 percent per month at this port. I have been trying to get some $3 or 4,000 to go and buy a cargo of vegetables with, and I think I may raise that amount by paying a high rate for it. Capt. Young told me when I left him that he thought he could let me have $2,000 if I wanted but I have written him and received no answer yet. Had I $15 or 20,000, I would proceed direct to Manilla for a load of sugar & coffee as those articles are very high here. So is all kinds of produce. Potatoes is 37½ cents per lb., onions 87 cents, hogs 75 c@100, sheep $100 each.

I have now made up my mind to ballast and proceed direct to Pitcairn’s Island and if no potato is to be had, then haul my wind into the coast of Chile where plenty of vegetables grow. That is my route & if you insure the brig, you may know my route. It is all good clear & safe navigation and good weather. My first port will be the Island Santa Maria on the coast of Chile which island lies close to Talcahuano provided I do not find potatoes at Pitcairn’s Island, and, if I have a favorable wind I shall not touch at said island for I learn that several vessels has already gone there.

And now, dear sir, I must give you a few of my many troubles, In the first place, myself is all the one that is left of the crew brig Samuel & Edward. No, not so much as a cook. Mr. Snow left the brig at Fremont. So did all my men. Sued for their wages when I had got my deck load off but got nothing. After I got discharged, my mates says I am not going any further in the brig for I have worked for nothing long enough. So Mr. Snow packed up his clothes and left. Mr. Fowler quit & I was left up there 150 miles up the river with no one to help get the brig down and everyday was at least $100 damage to the brig for she was drying up. So I was compelled to hire them to help get the brig down. Men up there were scare and asked $100 by the run down. I paid Mr. Snow $75, Mr. Fowler, I paid him off if he would help get her down. So with 2 men and mates, I got her down to Sacramento City where I got 4 men for $10 each to get her to this port. Now I have to pay men $70 to 75 per month. Mates wages is $200 but I have got one for $175. Cook is 150 @ 125. So you can see for yourself what costly business it is to sail vessels in these parts. And I feel it would be for your interest to sell the brig for $6,000 which price I have been offered and for me to go back to Fremont and sell that cargo. I do believe that it would be money in your pocket but your orders was not to sell unless I could get a good price.

As to sending anyone else to purchase a cargo, I will not and Snow says he will not take charge of the brig under $400 per month. I have left by consent of Capt. Young in the care of one Mr. Hardy — the agent for the Propriate of Fremont [and] a first rate man. I should judge but could I be there myself I should feel much better and I believe that I would make that cargo meet you $200 per [metric ton]. I sold none less than that for $250. The cargo is in a good place and it will do well. I think you may safely calculate one $150 per [metric ton] for the cargo. The scows I have not sold. I had a few applications to let ten at $25 per day when I left & Capt. Young was in treaty for the Houtey with a man for $1,000 when I left but you need not look so high as that. My lights I sold some for $1.00 per light, doors $12.00 each, but it is now just the time when all the inhabitants have gone to the mines and all their funds is invested that way. But I have faith to believe that by the first of November next, not one board will be left of the cargo. The bark Rio Grande lays up at Fremont but I did not feel safe to leave the cargo in Capt. Thomas’ care or Hartley’s. You know we all want to see our own goods, not another mans. You know not my feelings at the present time for I feel as deep an interest in the sale of that cargo & the employment of the brig as if it was my own Father Property & could I have found good charter for the brig for 2 or 3 months, I would put someone in her and gone to sold the cargo myself. But as Capt. Yound is every day at Fremont, he can have an eye to it and advise at all times.

And now, dear sir, I am acting in my own judgement what I think and feel is for the best, & should I succeed in getting a full cargo of provisions at the present price, I shall do well. If not, you can judge the result. God grant that I may not make a miss-step.

My brick I keep in for ballast as they will not pay for taking out and will help ballast her. And I have bought 15 water carts at 3½ cents per gallon to fill with water which with what I have I think will be ballast enough. Then when I buy my cargo, they will answer to fill with provisions &c. [Consignment agents] Messrs. F. A. Hussey & H. M. Hale will, I think, take a draft on you as they say or Mr. Hale says he is well acquainted with. I shall want to take with me some $4500.5000 so as to be sure and have plenty and have much I shall draw on you for at this present moment I cannot tell for I do not know how much Capt. Young will send me, but will write you again before I sail.

Dear sir, as I have not received but one letter from you and one from my family, and as my wife has been sick and I know not the result, and as I have seen enough of California that on my return from this voyage I want to come home. But I wish to act for your interest, and will, but to be gone one whole year and hear from my family but once is depriving me too much of what little enjoyment I have of this life, for should I go to Chile, it will take 4 months. Now sir, will you write by mail while I am gone and give me your views. I think the brig will not pay to go to India at the present going rate of wages. Also it will require $20,000 to purchase a load. Shall I sell the brig and how much _____, or shall I go to Valparaiso or Talcahuano and if I can buy a load or take freight if not ballast well go around to Buenos Aires for a load of hides or go to the coast of Peru to Chinia Island and buy a load of guano at $3 to 5 per ton and bring it back to Bangor? I do not want to sell the brig unless it is for your interest but deprive me not of the privilege of returning back this coming winter. It is a good place for a sober man to make money. I have been offered $400 per ___ to lease the brig. Well now that is more than I can make or ____ for more than 4 months, but that is no guide for me. But should I betray my trust and family, my word, as some? Perhaps I might make more money then to stay by the brig, but when I come home I want to look my own.


San Francisco [California]
November 19th 1850

J. P. Veazie
Dear Sir,

On my arrival at port on the 15th inst., I had the pleasure of perusing 15 letters from the States: I.E. 9 from yourself, dated April 26 -1, May 21 = 1, June 16th =1, July 21 = 2, August 1st = 1, August 18th = 1, August 30 = 1, Sept 22 = 1; 3 from my wife, one from father, one from Lieutenant Murry of Washington D. C., one from Rhode Island. They all contained much and pleasurable news to me. But the death of Capt. W. R. Y. [William R. Young] has seemed to cast a gloom over the whole. I was expecting — or at least I feared — that would be the case before I arrived at the port as I was spoken outside and learned that the cholera was very bad at Sacramento, but at present the cholera is worse at San Francisco than at Sacramento, but on the decrease. When I first arrived, the number of deaths was 25 to 30 per day. At present, 6 to 12.

But I have no good news to write you of my last cruises and all owing to my having such bad weather. At first, as you will see by my letter written on the passage up, had my potatoes not rotted, I could before this have sold them or I had what would have brought at the going price $15,000. I.E., 120,000 lbs. at 12½ cents per lb. Now I got none on account of the Cholera. My hogs will not fetch over 20¢ per lb. when before it was 40 to 60¢. Barley also is down. Beans is up say 14¢ per lb., cost 2¢ do. peas is low, say 4¢. Dried fruit is low. You will see by my letter written November 5th that I am by no means discouraged. I fear that you will be when you learn the news. But your letters are so full of encouragement that it would have raised my spirits had they been ever so low.

I see no way but what I must loose money this time but I am by no means discouraged and I believe the best place to look for a thing is where you lose it. I shall try it again if my life is spared and I am going to Maule River. I can purchase things 100 percent less than any other place on the coast of Chile. Mr. Lords wishes to know when I intend to go. I told him I had a voyage in view in which I had full confidence I can make 15 or $20,000 so he requested Mr. Gould to charter 1/3 of the Brig for himself, 1/3 for Lord, saying that he supposed that he could not have any say about it, but I told Mr. Gould that Lord could have no interest in the S& E [Samuel & Edward] on cargo whatever. But if he Mr. Gould wish to take 1/3 interest, he could have it by paying a good sound hire and not without and as I am short of funds if he will give me $5,000 for 1/3, furnish the 1/3 the funds, pay 1/3 the expense of fitting the vessel, he can have it and I think at present that is the least I will take but I may take less. But I feel so sure that I can make money had I the funds no one should have the vessel or any part of her. I find that Mr. Gould has a good idea about such things and as he is about to open a store of that kind, he will be of much help to sell the cargo.

I intend to buy bonds here so that on my passage down I can make boxes to put onions in and potatoes also — about 100 boxes 2½ feet long from 1 foot to 15 inches square to fill with grapes. They now fetch 75 c/lb. and it will be a time when all things of produce will be plenty and cheap in Chile. I shall also purchase flour for when at Talcahuano I could not buy one bag, the monopoly was so great. But at Mauli River, you can get what you wish. It is rather a bad place to go to but vessels do go there and if other vessels go, I can and no mistake I shall want more funds than I have got but I do not feel at liberty to draw on you again under the present circumstances for the drawing and not paying anything back cuts me to the heart so that if I can get the money any other way, I shall not draw. But I want $8,000 at least and how much I may have left when I am ready for sea, I am not able to say.

But I can tell you that I shall lose money this trip. I have not yet sold anything but I expect to tomorrow. I am aware that if I draw on you again, it would make considerable talk, but I may have to yet, or let the Brig lay still which will not answer. My feelings, Mr. Veazie, I cannot express at present but as to the result of this voyage it is the first and I hope the last in which I have lost money for my owners. But if you do not get discouraged, I assure you I am not by no means. Still everything has worked against me since I left this port. Well other vessels came in before me that lost every potato so you see I am not alone so that does me some good. I set this voyage by the will of God of $15,000 and no mistake, it is my candid belief that I can make from 15 to $20,000 for if I had got my potatoes here this time, I should made clear about $12,000. But as you say, there is no use to reflect on what is past. I cannot control the elements. Neither can I help sea breezes and I thank kind Providence that I am alive and for the future I shall not complain at my lot.

As to the lumber, it is not sold. Neither is there any sale for it at present as the cholera has put a stop to all kinds of business up the river. Mr. Lord says he will take charge of the lumber if I say so or authorize him to sell it but I do not do that so I have by good consent given Mr. Gould power to ask for me as regards the lumber. It is of no use for me to stay here to sell it for I think that there will not be much sale until spring and I think by that if the prospects is not good (to hold on longer) to wind it up. I have told him I thought it best to take some of the coarse boards and make a roof over so as to put the water off this winter. Also if he could to put it into some good hands so in his absence they could sell if a chance offered.

If I could get a good charter for the Brig, I would go myself up and let someone else go in Brig but I shall not trust 6 or $8,000 in the hands of strangers to purchase a cargo. Neither will I let Lord have the handling of it (the lumber) for he has said that he hopes it would not pay a fair freight or in other words he did not care if it did not pay a fair freight. Also if he Gould chartered 2/3 of the Brig to be sure and beat me down to the lowest notch just as much as if I was bound to go for him. I think I know pretty nigh when I get the value of a thing and when Lord hauls the wool over my eyes with other folks hands it will be when I lose my senses. Mr. Lord says that when he goes up to Sacramento, he shall look at the letter Capt. Young had from you as they may give some insight as regards the sale of the cargo but I have today set up an express to the agent of the Dana to send me all the letters belonging to Capt. YOung or all he had in his possession one and all without fail, that I was now agent in place of Capt, Young as to the sale of the cargo of lumber left in his care and that the letter might give me some light on the subject. So if I get them, I will let you know. I have written this to send by the Express and I shall write you again of the mail of 1st December in answer to your several letters.

And to close, I will say I am well and shall comply with your request. I. E., stop out here until I find out what I can do for you see that my intention before I arrived. Your friend, — E. Smith


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