1851: Aaron Holbrook to Capt. H. W. Fletcher

How Aaron may have looked

The author was Captain Aaron Holbrook, born on 19 March 1819. Throughout his life, he was captain and part owner of several seagoing vessels, including clipper ships, and he apparently circled the globe many times. [see comment by g-g-grandson who identified his ancestor’s handwriting.]

I assume the author was the same “Captain Aaron Holbrook” whose obituary appeared in the 8 May 1885 edition of the Boston Journal, which states that the Captain died in Winchester on 7 May 1885 at the age of 66 years, 1 mo., and 18 days.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Capt. H. W. Fletcher, Boston [Massachusetts]

San Francisco [California]
February 1, 1851

Capt. Fletcher, Sir,

As the mail goes tomorrow, concluded to write and remit you home some money. Business is very dull and flour declining every day. Have about 500 half-sacks on hand yet but cannot sell it. Offered it yesterday for $5 per half sack. What flour I have sold has brought about $11 per whole sack. Have sold it out at retail on in small quantities. Coal have not sold. Beans is not sold. Think I shall move them if I do not get 5 cts. per pound as they are good ones. Onions have sold at 14 c. less commission. Was about 8000 cts. Pigs are nearly all sold and think I shall close out next week.

Received your letter speaking about guano. It cannot be bought at Callao [Peru]. Freight was $12 per ton last Oct. Shall take a sail boat tomorrow and go up the bay on the islands to see if I cannot get a load there. If so, shall advise you as soon as I get to work or Capt. will as I am agoing to leave the bark as I am no more set to come round Cape Horn as my health and eyes are or as they get every passage than a be-crippled blind man. And what has brought it on? Why going without vegetables and making a slave of myself.

Have written home frequently about my wages but receive answers but nothing said about my wages. It shows there is something wrong. Now I am agoing where the owners live here and am agoing to have good wages and am agoing to put a good man in the bark so think you cannot find fault. You can’t think that I should remain and come in the bark and then have you give me perhaps the 50 or 60 per month that men command at home and live in comfort. Why its worth 4 times as much — that be as it will. Shall send an account and a load of guano if your next letter says so and send [gold] dust if I can get it today, but have not taken any since I have been here.

Have been waiting for the steamer from Sacramento as I was expecting some [gold] dust but she has not arrived so I send you a draft on Messrs. Willis & Co. Shall send the second by next mail and send some [gold] dust too.

Yours with respect, — Aaron Hollbrook

Draft for $1000.


2 responses to “1851: Aaron Holbrook to Capt. H. W. Fletcher

  • John Ayer

    The author was my great-great-grandfather, Captain Aaron Holbrook. You are correct, he was born on 19 March 1819. Throughout his life, he was captain and part owner of several seagoing vessels, including clipper ships and he apparently circled the globe many times. I have a log book of a voyage he made from New York to San Francisco in 1861-62, as well as other papers and am familiar with his hand-writing. It was very interesting to read that his health and eyesight was failing as a result of the rigors of sea travel. He was only 6 weeks shy of his 31st birthday at the time of this letter. I don’t recall reading about Capt. Fletcher in any of Capt. Holbrook’s papers that I have, so cannot enlighten you there, nor can i identify the bark that is mentioned. I do have a couple of photos of Capt. Holbrook, however. Thank you for posting this letter and the info about the date of his death. That information had eluded me up ’til now.

    • Griff

      Thank you for your comment, John. If you’d rather I posted a photograph of your ancestor rather than the one I chose to place with this letter, please let me know. I’d prefer an actual one of Holbrook.

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