VIPs in the Port of San Francisco

Charles B. Loomis and H. Loomis

From a letter dated July 1, 1850:

Dana Hungerford, & friends, came out in the same steamer with me, he has gone into business with his brother John, who I believe is doing well.

Quotation from letter August 28, 1850

I do not know if I gave you any particulars of my voyage in my last [letter], as you wish to hear them, the fact is I have made the passage so many times, it has ceased to be of interest to me and I supposed no one else would care to hear about it.

On Thursday we went on board the Tennessee, a much larger vessel than the Cherokee, but she had 484 passengers so we were as much crowded as ever, it was very warm and many passengers would sleep on deck, the deck was literally covered with them, it being the rainy season, it would rain now & then and it was amusing to see the sleepers arise take up their beds and run the next night they would all be there again.

I never slept on deck, for the reason that I think the place assigned me is the place to occupy besides I never suffer from the heat in 7 days we were at Acapulco, we remained 2 days, Acapulco is a Mexican town and the inhabitants differ little from those of the isthmus being a mixture of Indian, Negro and Spanish, I do not mean, that all the inhabitants, are the same for in all Mexican towns you will see many families of the pure Castillian blood.

After we left Acapulco we had strong head winds, which impeded our progress much, however, we arrived after 8 days of tedious rolling and pitching in the golden land San Francisco since my last to you has improved astonishingly, it is really wonderful to see the progress of this place.

His First Trip Out:

I don’t have the first letter home he wrote after arriving in California in 1849. We know he left New York on the Bark H. T. Bartlett on January 16, 1849. It seems he went to San Francisco on the steamer Oregon, based on the following circumstantial evidence. He mentioned in a later letter:

Mr. John Benson came out with me when I came out first he sings bass, we room together and are considered like seamen twins in these parts.

A Mr. George H. Beach wrote about the trip,

On leaving New York on the 1st of February, 1849, in the steamer Falcon, there being on board two ladies, Mrs. John W. Geary and Mrs. Bezar Simmons, sister of Mr. Frederick Billings, I organized a choir composed of those ladies and two or three gentlemen. Judge Geary officiated on the Sabbath, reading the Episcopal Service on the steamer. Rev. Albert Williams, who arrived by the steamer Crescent City at Chagres about the same time, officiated while we were at Panama, about three weeks. Our choir held together all the time. We came up from Panama on the steamer Oregon, and came to an anchorage off Saucelito on Sunday, April 1st, 1849. The same evening we steamed over to San Francisco, a number of the passengers landing that evening, and the rest next day.

He is quoted in an article in the California Quarterly which I cannot see all of:

“a choir for sacred service, Mrs. Simmons, soprano, Mrs. Geary, alto, Mr. Loomis, tenor, John Benson and myself, bass. The services were conducted in a Presbyterian order, and were continued on the steamer each Sabbath between Panama and San Francisco.”

Elsewhere, it has been summarized.

“He traveled out with John W. Geary, who was to be the last American alcalde. Geary and a Captain Simmons were both accompanied by their wives. On this trip an effective choir was formed under the leadership of Mr. Beach, the ladies, whose voices were rich and full, supplying alto and soprano, C. Loomis, tenor, John Benson and Mr. Beach, bass. They reached San Francisco April 1, without accident of note.”

So I am reasonably certain that my great-great-grandfather travelled on the steamer Oregon, arrived April 1, 1849, and sang in a choir on the way with John Benson, Mrs. Geary, Mrs. Simmons (who incidentally died two weeks after arriving in San Francisco), and Mr. Beach. I know that my ancestor was a tenor, and John Benson was a bass.


The Annals of San FranciscoThe Annals of San Francisco.

Frank Soule, John H. Gihon, James Nisbet

1855. Written by three journalists who were witnesses to and participants in the extraordinary events they describe. The Annals of San Francisco is both an essential record for historians and a fascinating narrative for general readers. Over 100 historical engravings are included.

Partial Contents: Expeditions of Viscaino; Conduct of the Fathers towards the natives; Pious Fund of California; Colonel John C. Fremont; Insurrection of the Californians; Description of the Golden Gate; The Mission and Presidio of San Francisco; Removal of the Hudson's Bay Company; Resolutions concerning gambling; General Effects of the Gold Discoveries; Third Great Fire; Immigration diminished; The Chinese in California; Clipper Ships; Increase of population; and Commercial depression.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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