Download Full Text (43.7 MB)


David T. Gillis

Transcription Volunteer

Transcription credited to Eilene Lyon


Departure – from No of days Arrivals

Kinsman – Feb 7th from 3 at 2 NY Feb 10th

NY – do 12th -- 13 -- 10 Panama 25th

Panama – March 7th -- 82 -- 2 Mansinilio May 28th

Mansanilo May 30th -- 10 -- 13 San Blass June 9th

San Blas June 22nd -- 12 -- 2 San Jose July 4th

Stn Joseph July 6th -- 27 -- 3 San Pedro Aug 3rd

San Pedro Aug 6th -- = 13 -- ½ Santa Cruz “ 19th

Santa Cruz – 11 – 19 8 30 San Francisco “ 22nd

9 163 10

16 20

Pacific sailing time = 147

Time in port = 20


Feb 7th 1852

Started for Californ Stoped in Meadvill [Penn.] first night

Feb 8th

Ship wreck on Slab Town goose _ind arrived in Erie at dark

Feb 9th

Left in the cars for NY rode all night


Arived in NY at half past 12 Stopd at the Sailors home was her unto the 12[th] Raking about from plase to place

Feb 12/52

Secured our tickets and set sail in the Sierra Nevada at 3 o’clock


Sick all day waves verry high in the gulf stream tonight

Saild 216 [miles]


We are most all sick and some of us wishing to be at home high seas all day Some bette at night

Sail 224 M

Sunday 15th

All on deck except Knox left the gulf stream John & Henry wishes themselves at home Sail 122

Monday 16th

Up in the morning breakfast at 9 tickets give for the table Sail 216 M

Tuesday 17th

first mate discharged Saw an english steamer weather warm all hands on deck Sail 210

Wednesday 18th Feb

Passed the Marriynana [sic] Islands Sail 238

Thursday 19th

in sight of St domingo on the east Sail 240

Friday 20th

Sail 240

Saturday 21st

Chicken pie for dinner and a glass of champagne to drink the Capt health Sail 135

Sunday 22nd

Landed [ ] passengers at navy Bay

Feb 22

We landed at Chegress [sic] at noon Started up the river in little steamer at one & a half oclock went half way and Lay up for the night

Monday 23rd

went on our way in small boats poled up by the natives lay a few miles below Gorgonia [sic]

Tuesday 24th

Arrived in gorgonia at 9 engaged our mules and set off on

our way to panama at 11 Stayed at the half way house 13 mls and lay with our heads uder the fence

Wednesday 25th

Set off for P arrived there at ten oclock and purcased our tickets on the Emily at 150 Dollars each Stoped at the California house

Thursda 26th

hired a room and board our selves


Friday 24

A man found dead in the market place

Saturday 28

up in the morn got our Breakfast and went out 2 mi to the creek to wash and done it up [Brown]

Sunday 29th

Kept the Sabbath as in the States

Monday March 1

Some wrote and some went a fishing eat dinner at the tavern


Tuesday 2nd

had a fire 25 to 30 huts burnt Hobart & Hunters Company arrived

Wednesday 3rd

Great excitement concerning the independent tickets they have attached the agents purs & intend to make a dividend among the passengers having such tickets


Thursday 4th

The Josephine run away las night the agents taken to the calaboose A Steamer sent on persuit the runaway

Friday 6th

Hiram sick

Henry “

Saturday 6th

Wrote to E C Davis Rufus sick I had the headache in the eve better at night


Sunday 7th

Made arrangements to sail went aboard at noon Sailed to Taboga for water lay up for night

Monday 8th

Lay at Taboga all day Saw a black whale orange umbras run all day

Tuesday 9th

All ready to sail at 10 oclock but calm all day breeze at sundown weighd anchor and set sail for Sanfrancisco had a breeze all night

Wednesday 10

In the Bay yet light breeze by day but stronger at night Saw two whales yams & rice for Din Read a novel of E Allen

Thursday 11th

In Sight of land yet Saw a shark Calm yet Knox sick

Friday 12th

Calm yet & in the Bay not well all day quite Sick at night duff for Dinner [plum duff: a pudding cooked in a cloth bag and considered a treat for sailors]


Saturday 13

Calm yet health better Breeze in afternoon land in sight

Sunday 14

Preaching in forenoon by a georgian Prayer in PM by Deacon Dryden Saw a drove of porpois or hogfish in sight of land yet

Monday 15

Hiram Knox Henry and I feel rather feeble A young man from Georgia died at 11 o’clock PM Disease was fever and supposed to be injured by taking lobelia Aged 17 years heavy rain

Tuesday 16th

Funeral attended at six in AM heavy rain and wind this morn Some six or 8 sick

Wednesday 17

Two more young men of Georgia died last night and cast overboard this morning one of a fever one of dysentery Some mor are very sick


Thursday 18

We sailed all day and all night for the first time without a calm

Friday 19

Commenced reading my Bible through rain in PM

Saturday 20

Our company all able for our allowance A man by the name of Alfred Drake of Millville Grant Co. Wisconsin Died at 1 o’clock leaving at home a wife and one child Aged 27 he had a fever

Sunday 21

Preaching in AM an address by the Doctor in PM Our Co all well but Hiram A young man died of fever in the Steerage at 8 PM he was from New Orleans [700th] drawed

Monday 22

Buried the Dead Appointed a commite to consult the Capt concerning provision 5 lbs flour pr day allowed to each mess hereafter

Thursday 23

rather calm Rufus Hiram & I done our washing


Wednesday 24

Sailing westarly yet Calm most the day H & I made a Craking Duff three or four lying with fever yet

Thursday 25

In sight of Cocoa Island [Cocos Island, Costa Rica] between 6 & 7 degrees North Lat

[Note: this indicates the ship has only traveled about 550 miles due west from Panama]

Friday 26

Messes overhauled and defisient ones filled up

Saturday 27

Dyed last night with measles a man by the name of Reed of Georgia Calm all Last night & today butchered our hog Shot one fish and caught a great many with a hooks Old Maid fish

Sunday 28

Very clam all day Preaching in AM Thermometer stands above one hundred fish in abundance on all sides of the ship in plain sight


Monday 29

Very calm yet and warm all day we had a little fight before Breakfast by the cook & a Georgian

Tuesday 30

A good breeze last N rain storms today Wind very unsteady

Wednesday 31

Wind very unsteady resolutions formed concerning lousy passengers combs presented & clean shirts recomended and in one case presented

Thursday April 1st

A shark followed this ship some time repeated firing of rifles at him without effect a slight rain & breeze The Cook caught stealing wine from the Capt.

Friday Apr 2nd

A good breeze all day & night John sick Bread stolen from the oven Our duff bag bursted in the pot A sail vessel in sight ahead

Saturday 3rd

A diamond fish following in the morning some 5 or 6 feet square with two white companions


Sunday 4th

Calm all might moderate breeze today up all last night with John we had preaching in AM an address by the Deacon in PM A Dolphin 3 feet long harpooned off the bow

Monday 5th

Passengers names residences occupation & age registered

The passengers all loafing on deck at dark

When a cloud in the south threatened our Barq

The sailors orders soon were given

And passengers from their lounges driven

Takle blocks flying in every direction

Meet passengers heads with bold reception

On the quarter deck sat amid the throng

A noble young man from the B-eye State

Listning to the Seamons Song

Unconcious of his future fate

As the mizzen sail was about to be furled

A takle block was swiftly hurled

Which caused the youngster a very black eye

And his beaver in the ocean forever must lie

[It isn’t clear which of his Buckeye friends sustained the black eye and lost his hat. David loses his hat later in the journey.]

Tuesday 6th

Died a young man from NY named White disease measles & phthisic

Wednesday 7

Waiting on John up to 3 oclock at night


Wednesday 7

Waiting on John up to 3 oclock in the morn

Thursday 8

Henry watched to 12 OC & Fergerson & I the remainder John some better Calm most the time vessel in sight

Friday 9th

Knox & Hiram watch Heavy rain

Saturday 10th

Struck the trade winds turned our coarse north I watched all night with J


Sunday 11th

Preaching AM exortation PM by the Dea Black fish all around us 10 or 12 feet long

Monday 12th

Wet and cool for this climate good breeze John is better a [conosi] heard in the night

Tuesday 13

Buried at ten oclock the 8th shipmate A man by the name of Myers of Georgia first mate a little tight at night wind steady all night

Wednesday 14

General overhauling of bunks & washing floor good breeze all day heavy storm at night

Thursday 15

Had abundance of duff and rice wind very unsteady current strong

Friday 16th

Good breeze by day calm at night up at night to 11 oclock Storm latter part the night

Saturday 17

Good breeze pan Cakes for breakf a rain storm at night 4 PM Porpoiss jumping without number to the heighth of 10 or 15 feet

Sunday 18th

Old Stewart detected in breaking the rules of the steerage before day A heavy storm commenced at Six which broke the main yard arm tearing the sail very bad the mizen gaff was broke also A new yard made and up before night a good breeze all day Great times at our house


Monday 19th

Two cases of nuisance to be tried at nine OC AM crimes commited in the steerage Died at ten PM Mr Stone of Georgia being the 9th shipmate we have buried 5 from Georgia one NY one Wisconsin one New O one Boston

Tuesday 20

Provisions examined 35 days P on board Lat & Lon given Lat 8-30 Lon 98 W contradicted [Lat] 14-30 by the sailors Calm today

[Note: this gives a huge discrepancy in the north-south location of the ship of about 400 miles. Either they were still west of Costa Rica, or they were about 100 miles from the Mexican coast.]


Wednesda 21

Rain and wind we raised the new gaff on mizen mast

Thursday 22

Buried at 2 OC AM Mr Norton of Georgia the Sarremiento [Sacramento] passed us this morning bound for Cal

F 23

heavy rain caught 400 galons water Old Johnson met with a sad accident on fore castle

Saturday 24

Heavy wind frequent accidents such as spilling beans & duff and bumping heads & etc


Sunday 25

Heavy wind for the last 48 hours Knox sick two or 3 days. Wind ceased & so much ahead we had to turn south Slowly all night or rather an Island ahead that turned us

Monday 26

Back on our north w course today quite calm all day our last cat over board today [poor kitty!]

Tuesday 27

rather calm today A splendid water spout in the SW


Wednesday 28

A whale came up on our starbard within a few rods and spouted a few times and returned Several Boobies lodge with us tonight

Thursday 29

A Slight breeze all day John sick Lat 12 = Lon 103

[Note: this puts the ship about 1120 miles west of Nicaragua and 440 miles south of Mexico]

Fryday 30

Great excitement concerning water stealing which ended in a fight Streter summoned to appear on the fore castle and there tried for making an indecent use

of the dishes of another mess they have a rehearing before a jury tomorrow. A tremenduous rain in the eve we washed our shirts in the flood of water that flowed on the deck we had but little wind 1500 gallons of water saved from the awning &C

Saturday May 1st

Court was called at 9 OC Mr S appeared but the evidence of the most important charge being circumstancial the prisoner was acquitted

May 1st

Died, and cast over [board] at 9 PM a man by the name of Roberts of Indiana being the 11th died on board

Sunday 2nd

Good breeze by day & better at night preaching at 10:OC A ship to our larboard bound east John unable to go on deck up with him most of the night

Monday 3rd

Good breez all day John quite discouraged

Tuesday 4th

Very calm all day and night John no better yet

Wednesday May 5th

Another 24 hours calm and very warm yet 1800 m from Sanfrancis the Capt consults the passengers concerning the course to pursue whither to go on our present route or run into port they allow him to act his pleasure he thinks we will run nearer shore and try it without running in we have yet 29 days Pr Boston rowdies had a spree at night kept it up until midnigh

Thursday May 6th

Calm yet all day and most the night a great shark by the ship in eve John no better today but rests well at night

Friday 7th

A moderate breeze moveing us on our north course

Saturday 8th

John some better Breeze rather light Buried the 12th pasenger between sunset & dark A man by the name of Sheldon of NY


Sunday 9th

Public worship at the usual hour by the rev Breeze rather light

Monday 10th

Passed a timber resembling a mast, while at dinner. great quantities of sharks and other fish near this place

Tuesday 11th

The Capt concluded to run into port (Mazatlan) calm yet clear and warm

Wednesday 12th

Died with dysentery and buried at 11 OC Mr Bernham of NY Taken with the mumps myself


Thursday 13th

Died and put oveboard at 2 OC Mr Vanduson with Diarrhea The three last days fall back each one day with my diary book good breeze Died with consumption and old man from Indianna

Friday 14th

unable to chew any thing all day. Making towards port with a tolerable [breeze 570 M from Mazatland [ 300 [M from] the nearest land]

Saturday May 15th

570 M from Mazatlan 295 [M from] nearest land Moderate breeze

Sunday 16th

A discoarse from the Dea able for my Duff at noon mumps some better prayer in afternoon lay on deck and caught cold quite unwell at night

Lat 14-24 N Lon 106-41W 490 from Mazatland 410 from San Blass 285 = Guatlan 420 from Acapulco


Monday 17th

Quite unwell all day the sailors scrubing old Em up and preparing to see land go into port

Tuesday 18th

Rather calm saw a Whale I feel rather weak with the mumps and cold

Wednesday 19th

Progress slow our rations reduced to ¼ of bread ¼ lb flour all the rice we want – 1 pt water

Thursday 20

No more tea and coffe without making ourselves but 3 pts water great doings grinding rice


Friday 21st

Every man for himself today. our rations are 3 pts water 2 lbs crackers to the mess we make our own tea & coffe rice cakes &C good breeze this evening quite cool A condencer set in operation yesterdy by Mr Dod is doing business day and night

Saturday 22nd

Up in the morn feeling quite well of the mumps I pounded coffe for John and I in the corner of the dish rag and with some dificulty made my way through the crowd and got my coffe on the stove to boil. The old coffe mill and mortar are going day & night grinding rice the condencer torn down on account of partiality practiced by the mangers [managers]

Sunday 23rd

Public worship as usual a little unwell took a dose of blue mass and salts Lat 17˚Lon 105˚31W Since last Sunday made V 23˚E 170 miles Mazatlan 350M St Blass 255 Guatlan 120


Monday 24th

Calm most of the time yesterdy and today passengers very much discouraged a great many sick water selling at from 25 cts to 1.50 it is truly a trying time it tries the fortitude of every man Rufus Henry M & I unwell I am well of the mump but have a cold John is not well yet Hiram better rice grinding the main business of the day 3 drunk men at night

Tuesday 25th

A good breeze today and a new condencer built which encourages the passengers very much

Wednesday 26

Eighty days since we set a foot upon land many an anxious look today for the Mexican land which we were so lately at war with but which we are now dependent upon those who personaly fought against them are now looking to them for life on account of the unsteady

May 26

breeze we have had in adition to our rations beans for dinner

Thursday 27th

Our Boys all better but John Land in sight this morning At 12OC the whole coast in sight A day of rejoicing at our house. Hiram Henry Rufus John & I threw in our [unites] of water, 3 gils out of a 3 pt ration, to cook some rice and had a good dinner rice is the only plentiful article we have on board but no water to cook it


Friday 28th

Mr James Anderson Died and buried at day break arived at the mouth of a little bay at 8 OC Sent out a small boat on search of water they sucseeded in finding it at a little Town of 40 or 50 huts called Mansinilio [Manzanillo] on the Mexican coast We ran in and cast anchor about noon went ashore and five of us bought a hen and had it cooked which revived us very much. returned at dark

Mansinilio May 29th

rose in the morning cooked a dish of tomato for breakfast went ashore again. A complaint entered to the Capt of the port that we had not provision sufficient to go to sea it was then his duty to order our Capt to not leave without it we had great excitement for a while on account of having to wait several days for bread or flour we concluded to take on water sugar and such things as we could get and live upon rice beans peas meat &C and go on to San Blass 180 M where we could get a suply 25 of our passengers took pasage in a little Spanish Brig for San Blass our Doctor was going to leave for one it was objected to by our Capt and the Capt of the port ordered him back to his own vessel as far as San Blass that there was higher officers at that place that would do him justice he cained [claimed]

that making so long a voyage that it had broken his contract. We learn here that the Arrzo Smith ran in at Acapulco in distress and her Capt absconded leaving ship and all on other little schooner is lying here deserted in the same manner we found vegeables such as melons plums bananas Tomatoes onions green corn Pineapples


Sunday 30th

Caught cold and quite unwell all day we weighed anchor at 9:OC and set sail out of the Bay in a few hours broken messes fitted up and arrangements made cooking again we have rice sugar & meat for Breakfast and coffe Beans or Peas & Meat for dinner Meat sugar rice & Tea for supper evenings some cooler warmer

Monday May 31st

And Tuesday June 1st

Better of my cold and feeling quite well John and Henry unwell Making good progress wind strong but a little too much ahead I am well satisfied with my fare although some make great complaint A Brig in sight We tack ship once in 12 hours on account of head winds run to the land in day time to sea at night


Wednesday 2nd

Complaints by the passengers concerning the cooking and ditributing to the messes the cooks had holodays so long they forgot their duty we run in near a most beautiful coast this evening Saw cattle on shore level along the shor and mountains back

Thursday 3rd

The northwest winds continues to blow tacked to the larboard this morning

June 3rd

Saw a man on shore return to shore in the eve run to sea all night

Friday 4th

returned on land tack after noon today passed a point of land which enables us to run a more direct caurse John no better Henry complaining yet we have plenty of rice Beans meat &C

Saturday 5th

Lay becalmed all night last night breeze sprung up at noon but we were very much disapointed by thinking we were running between an Island and the main land we merely run into a Bay and have to tack and run on our back track to get out as the wind is today. Had a splendid dinner today Roof and I fried Onions and meat and rice A Breeze in the afternoon run back to the south side the bay and lay becalmed all night near where we entered the Bay her I viewed the setting sun in was 2 ½ mi sinking in the water


Sunday 6th

In the Bay of No Biscuit yet a breeze at noon gave us some encouragement but we failed in trying to get out the breeze went down before dark and we drifted bak into the bay Saw a Diamond fish and sword fish we can see fire and smoke in different places on the mountains there is land in sight that has the appearance of being productive


Monday 7th

In the Bay of Crandes or No Biscuit as we call it yet Making 65 hours we have lain here. a favorable breeze sprang up at 10 OC carried us out in an hour and we feel once more at liberty 40 miles yet to St Blass wind fell before night

Tuesday 8th

A shower of rain last night and very little wind in sight of cape yet a breeze sprang up at 9 OC which carried us out of sight of land and left us at evening


Wednesday 9th

A good breeze sprang up that run us up to San Blas about 4 OC the officers of the portcame out and exmined the sick they allow the passengers to go ashore the Capt thought to get rid of paying port chargarges on account being in distress but they told him he could not go into two ports so near the same time in distress vegetation quite green here the rany season about commencing

Thursday 10th

Commenced a letter Hiram John & Rufus went ashore

Friday 11th

and Saturday 12th

On board all the time

Sunday 13th

Went ashore and saw the city

Monday 14

Tuesday 15

Wendesday [sic] 16

Thursday 17

and Friday 18

Still lying a San Blass taking on provisions went ashore and sold Pistol


Saturday 19th

Rufus sick

Rufus Hiram & I making arrangements to go aboard the Brig Condor Capt Harvy returned from Ta Pique with discourageing news concerning provisions he can get no money and no provision without unloading his coal

Sunday 20th

rather dull times for the Emily passegers very much in the dark as to their future progress


Monday 21st

Went ashore with our bagage the brig not quite ready to receive us the Condor was towed out and anchored we went aboard in the evening Capt Harvy goes to Te Peak this evening it is said for assistance Mr Buckler tells me he will never return and that the Emily is doomed to lie here for a long time We learn that the Race Houn that [left] NY the same day we did arived in Sanf in May making it in 84 days [note: around the Horn]


Tuesday 22nd

Taking on provision all day the Capt came aboard in the evening with his Wife we saw the funeral prossession of Mr Stark leave the Emily at sun down a breze that was scarcely peceivable sprang up at 9 OC which moved us off before we were aware of it very light wind through the night

Wednsday 23rd

A good breeze through the day made 50 miles lying near the Canary Islands [Islas Marias] all night without much wind we have chosen our berths formed into messes and all fareing well

Thursday 24th

A breeze today again caries us out of sight of the Islands but the current and head winds carried us back 20 miles

Friday 25th

head winds yet making little headway Rufus unwell yet the Capt has taken the sick into the cabin to doctor them


Saturday 26th

Calm most of the time passengers not allowed to go on the quarter deck any more great excitemen about it some loud talk on both sides

Sunday 27th

Very little respect paid to the sabath moderate wind but quite a breeze among the cooks plenty to eat

Monday 28th

good breeze in PM being oposite Mazatlan Made 120 M killed our last beef Rufus getting better


Tuesday 29th

A good breeze entered the gulf stream but in sight of the main land all day

Wednesday 30th

Very strong wind we are in sight of Cape St Lucas in the eve great excitement a piece of bread thrown over board the Capt in a passion about it threw his compass on the deck and down into the cabin for his sword Plank very much alarmed jumped the hatch and made his escape


Thursday 1st

Sardines for breakfast little sccess today the cape in sight I was unwell at night R better

Friday 2nd

Preperations made for runing into port wind unfavorable had to run to sea all night

Saturday 3rd

Runing in towards the cape all day came in sight in the eve failed to make the port on account of head wind and stood out to sea again

Sunday July 4th

the 77th aniversary of the American independence We enjoy ourselves very well but our Capt not taking any interest in the celebration of the day we get no more rarities to eat and drink than at other times After beating against head winds for several days we arrived at a little town on Cape St Lucas by the name of St Joseph or Jose and ancored at 6:OC PM the Capt went ashore and stayed over night (Spanish name San Jose)


Monday 5th

Spent the day on board hands busy bringing aboard provisions such as cattle jerk beef sweet potatoes sugar onions squash water &C we moved our position and anchored in speaking distance of an American Barque with passengers 54 days from Panama their fare $65 steamer fare 1,10

Tuesday 6th

Finished bringing on provisions and set sail at noon with a good breeze the mountains at this place are quite barren inhabitance uncivilized in a maner

Wednesday 7

Sailing northwest with a good breeze weather cool and dry. drew our extras

Thursday 8th

A good breeze all day very heavy sea swells the current in our favor one mile an hour making 4 ½ miles per hour

Friday 9th

Making big licks all last night and most the day sea swells very high 350 M from St Joseph 1000 from San Francisco weather dry and cool the old Condor rocks us most beautifuly


Saturday 10th

Rather dull hay weather cool and cloudy with a little mist flying heavy swells Sailed 120 M the last 24 hours

Sunday 11th

Buchered a beef before Breakfast perforformed [sic] by Dea D heavy breeze last night but calm all day the Capt and two french sailors rode out in the small boat and caught a Turtle a great drove of Porpois now in sight

Monday 12th

Heavy fog for some nights and rain this morn a moderate breeze made 5 M the last 24 hs


Tuesday 13th

Heavy fog and head winds this morning cool and cloudy all day over coats quite comfortable to wear

Wednesday 14th

400 Ms from land light breeze today. buchered our last St Joseph beef today Studying some scientific inventions and sucseeded in making some discoveries Drew wine instead of brandy

Thursday 15th

A perfect calm most of the time Terible disasters here last night which diminished the vulgarity in the steerage greatly

Friday July 16th

Turtle buchered last night a fight between John the cook & the second mate a good breeze all day and allmost cold enough for frost 300 M from Yankee Town San Diago 600 M from San Francisco

Saturday July 17th

A vote taken by the passengers whither to go on half rations of bread or run into port at San Diago the decision is to have full ration and make port high wind clear and cold

Sunday July 18th

high and head winds runing towards the land came in sight at noon a large whale shows himself close by supposed to be 60 or 70 ft in length as we came up to shore we passed three whales close together throwing their fins into the air 10 or 12 ft. it is imposible to number the spouts that is to be seen in all directions. at a distance they resemble the smoke of steamers at eve a lot of whales appeared which alarmed the porpois tribe very much

Monday July 19th

Sailing west with a north west wind cold

Tuesday 20th

Passed the Gaudalaupe Ile last night on the south side Strong wind runing west by nw. A school of sperm whales 12 or 14 in number in sight

Wednesday 21st

Drew our vinegar and wine Sailing west by NW yet with a good breeze. Cold enough so as to require an over coat, to be comfortable on deck, jerk beef plenty

Thursday July 22nd

Rationed to one biscuit yestarday. Sailing north west with a cold beam wind our Lon made and 50 ms over 500 M from land wind unfavourable for runing in Tackd ship at 8:OC PM to sail towards land lost my beaver over board last night

Friday July 23rd

Sailing in a northerly direction with a strong breeze our meat exibeted this morning on quarter deck and our rations raised by the means Rufus lost his beaver by being run over by the NY Stomper

Saturday July 24th

The wind and course continues the same cold & cloudy the Portuguese sailor sick by being booted from the quarter deck by the Capt 350 M from San Francisco 220 [M from] land our provisions as to meat rice beans &C raised and bread reduced. Calm this eve killed a Pig

Sunday 25th

Made nothing last night the wide swells with their silvered surface rock us most beautifully Forbiden by the Capt to read Bibles on deck

Monday July 26th

Moderate breeze last night calm today plenty of rice meat and beans & one cake pr day As I was arrangeing my little notions in the steerage I was started by the rustling of feet on deck I ran to the hatch and found John & the cook and Charly the Steward engaged in a combat they were soon parted by the first mate exchanging locks of hair to the memory thereoff

Tuesday 27th

Clear and Calm. by means of the quarrel Charly gets the distributing of the victuals to the messes hereafter

Wednesday July 28

The first sight this morn was a whale the next was Mr Nichols and I on a log eating jerk Beef and rice and drinking coffe in a 12 qt tin pan with free excess to a tub of sour beans and the last crumbs of the biscuit Jack we thus make a breakfast for diner pork beans & rice drew our wine new baked bread pork beans and coffe for supper

Thursday 29th

A light breeze and no bread sweet Potatoes by the [smalls] for dinner. Beans and Coffe for supper

Friday July 30th

Good breeze last night calm this morn rice and coffe and beef for breakfast Beans and coffe for supper 180 M from San Diego

Saturday 31st

Good breeze last night Pork rice and beans for Din Fresh Bread beans and coffe for supper I traded my bread for 2 rations rice and one beans good breeze in evening


the breeze increased at night causing merry times in the steerage

Sunday Aug 1st

Caught 2 sea fowls good wind. Sailing 7 Ms per hour part of the time our provisions continues the same as to daily rations

Monday 2nd

The second of the week and month, and 42 days from San Blass we here be becalmed between two Islands by some called the twin sisters 80 Ms from the main land A Sea Lion layed round us some time with his head and body pacialy out of the water he resembles a lion very much. Black Duck [ ]

Tuesday Aug 3rd

A breeze last night carried us from the Island to the main land the Isl


Barque Emily; Brigantine Condor; California

Date Original



MSS 100 Gillis Family Papers, 1809-1888

Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections.

Copyright Statement

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item beyond that of educational use - such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Upload File




In early February 1852, David Thomas Gillis and four companions – Hiram, Rufus, Henry and John – left Kinsman, Ohio. Traveling most likely by stage for the first two days, they made 30 miles the first day to Meadville, Pennsylvania, and 40 miles the second day to Erie. In Erie, they boarded a train to New York where they embarked on a ship to the isthmus at Chagres.

After crossing the isthmus to Panama and spending ten days in the city, they boarded a British sailing ship, the barque Emily. The Emily had originated her journey in London, England, and sailed to Sidney, Australia, where Captain J. Harvey purchased a 500-ton load of coal before crossing the Pacific to Panama. In addition to being an old ship, Capt. Harvey had never made the voyage from Panama to San Francisco. Experienced sailors would head directly to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) then head north and then east, using favorable winds and currents to arrive in San Francisco in 40 to 60 days.

Capt. Harvey, however, stayed too close to the continent and the ship suffered from lack of wind, headwinds, and generally southern-trending currents, all of which stymied his progress northward. After 82 days at sea, he finally put into port at Manzanillo, Mexico. Not finding sufficient supplies there, he headed out for another 10 days to reach San Blas. The port authorities had no sympathy, saying the ship could not claim distress twice in such a short period of time. Captain Harvey was loath to sell his cargo of coal at a bargain price in San Blas, so it appeared that the Emily would be stranded in port for an indeterminate period. By selling his pistol, David made enough money to procure passage fairly quickly on a Mexican brigantine, the Condor. Three of his companions, Rufus, John and Hiram, joined him. Some of the other Emily passengers boarded other ships soon after, but many were stranded in San Blas as long as six weeks. The Emily never did reach San Francisco. After abandoning the passengers in San Blas, Harvey went to Acapulco to sell his coal to the steamship operators.

David’s trip on the Condor was, if anything, as bad or worse than the voyage on the Emily. Another incompetent captain failed to head west to Hawaii and fought the currents and headwinds instead. It was common for gold-seekers (landlubbers nearly one and all) to complain about the abilities of the sailors, but surprisingly, the passengers on the Emily seemed to get along with Capt. Harvey and give him the benefit of the doubt. Not so on the Condor. There were ill feelings all around between the Captain and the passengers. In all, David’s journey from Panama to San Francisco took 167 days at a time when steamships were making regularly scheduled trips, in 21 days on average, and for lower fares than what David and his friends had paid. By comparison, David’s trip on a steamer, the Sierra Nevada, from New York to Chagres took only 13 days. For the Emily passengers, the trip must have been extremely frustrating, boring, terrifying at times, and generally unpleasant. Sadly, 17 passengers died of disease between Panama and San Blas.

David arrived in San Francisco on 22 August 1852. He proceeded to Stockton and began working as a laborer to make enough money to buy supplies to head to the mines. Over the next 18 months or so, he traveled throughout the mining region, working at various diggings. He eventually purchased a team of horses and started transporting supplies. In early 1854, David began farming in San Joaquin County and the diary ends somewhat abruptly in February that year.

David T. Gillis Diary, 1852-1854

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.


Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. In addition, no permission is required from the rights-holder(s) for educational uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).