Vessels: 19th Century Vessels in California

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HIDE AND TALLOW TRADE: The California hide trade was based on the export of hide, horns and tallow during the early nineteenth century from around 1810. Rancheros and their vaqueros cared for free-ranging livestock along the California seaboard with the help of a Native American workforce. The cattle were not only the source of their food and many common supplies, but also their economy and livelihood. The hides of the cattle were taken to the shore and fat from the cattle was liquefied and separated, into tallow, collected in repositories crafted from hides known as botas. Both goods would be stockpiled near hub ports like San Diego and Monterey to await sale to international trading vessels. Constituting the most widely traded good, the California hides were often known as ‘“California banknotes”’ due to common use as a medium of exchange. Hides to be shipped were soaked in saltwater for 24 to 48 hours to soften them. They were then scraped to remove anything that might decompose and then stretched out to dry. If dried on a beach, they were beaten with sticks to remove sand particles. Increasing industrialization in the eastern U.S. created a growing leather goods market; the shoe factories of New England were major cattle hide consumers. Tallow, the fat of the steer, was also an important commodity. There were two kinds of tallow-the manteca, lying nearest the hide, was used for cooking; the sebo was used for candles and soap and was the type most often shipped abroad. The hide and tallow industry was in decline by the mid 1840s, a decline that was greatly accelerated by the discovery of gold in California in 1848.


Note:1807: “The discovery was made of a huge rock bearing the names of Samuel Chapman and others; below these was an American flag and the statement that Chapman had visited the island in 1807 and left the following year.” [Gordon, P. R. Filming the Sea Elephant in The Wide World Magazine 43:258 (485-491), October 1919]


19TH CENTURY VESSELS IN CALIFORNIA
YEAR NAME VESSEL TYPE MASTER OWNER VESSEL ACTIVITY
1801-1805 Leila Byrd brig Capt. William Shaler California sea otter trade
1803-1808 O'Cain brig Capt. Jonathan Winship California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1806-1813 Mercury Capt. George W. Eayrs, Bostonian Benjamin Lamb and others California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1807 - Peacock (19th century) California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1807 - Derby Capt. Benjamin Smith Boston California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1806-07 Tamana schooner Capt. John T. Hudson William Shaler Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1808-09 Pearl (19th century) schooner Capt. John Suter California sea otter trade
1809-1813 Albatross owned by Winships California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1809-1813 Amethyst owned by Benjamin W. Lamb and others of Boston California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1809-1813 Catherine California sea otter trade/Baranoff partner
1823-24 Mentor ship Capt. George Newell Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1824 Arab Hide and tallow trade
1824 John Begg Hide and tallow trade
1825 Sachem Hide and tallow trade
1823-1826 Rover schooner Capt. John Rogers Cooper Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1827-28 Heros ship Capt. Auguste Duhaut-Cilly Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1828 Andes Hide and tallow trade
1828 Courier ship Capt. Cunningham Hide and tallow trade
1828 Franklin Hide and tallow trade
1828 General Sucre Hide and tallow trade
1829-31 Brookline ship Hide and tallow trade
1829-31 Louisa bark Capt. Wood Hide and tallow trade
1829-32-34 Volunteer bark Capt. Carter Hide and tallow trade
1830 Maria Ester Capt. John Andrew Christian Holmes Convicts dropped at Prisoners' Harbor, Santa Cruz Island
1831 Harriet Hide and tallow trade
1831-33-34-36-38-39-40-42-43-44 Alert ship Capt. Frank Thompson; Capt. Penhallow; Capt. Phelps Hide and tallow trade
1831-32-33-37-38-39-40-41-42-43-44 California ship Capt. Arthur Hide and tallow trade
1832 Plant brig Hide and tallow trade (tender to California)
1833 Newcastle brig Hide and tallow trade
1833 Harriet Blanchard schooner Hide and tallow trade
1833-34 Loriot brig Capt. Gorham H. Nye Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1833-38-45 Don Quixote bark Capt. Paty Hide and tallow trade
1833-36-43-45 Bolivar Liberator; Oajaca after 1844 brig Capt. James Garney; Capt. Nye; Capt. John Dominis; Alpheus Basil Thompson Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1834 Roxana brig Hide and tallow trade (tender to California)
1834-35 Pilgrim brig Capt. Falcon Hide and tallow trade; Allen Light (aka Black Steward) deserted
1835 Peor Es Nada Capt. Charley Hubbard Removed Native Americans from San Nicolas Island
1836 Lagoda ship Capt. Bradshaw Hide and tallow trade
1836 Loriotte Hide and tallow trade
1836-37 Kent bark Capt. Steele Hide and tallow trade
1837 Rasselas ship Capt. Carter Hide and tallow trade
1837 Sophia Hide and tallow trade
1837-1838 Lama California sea otter trade
1838-1845 Don Quixote bark Capt. Paty Hide and tallow trade
1839-43-44 Fama ship Capt. Cornelius Hoyer Alpheus Basil Thompson Hide and tallow trade
1840 Alciope ship Capt. Clapp Hide and tallow trade
1840-41 Monsoon ship Capt. Vincent trade vessel
1841 Thomas Perkins Hide and tallow trade
1841-1842 Fama Alpheus Basil Thompson
1841-1842 Naslednik Aleksandr Russian ship Furs [salt from Isla Carmen]
1841-42-43-45-47-48 Tasso bark Capt. Hastings; Capt. Elliot Libbey; Capt. Lindsey Immigrant ship; Hide and tallow trade; California sea otter trade
1842-43-44-46-47 Barnstable ship Capt. Hatch; Capt. Hall Hide and tallow trade
1844 Menakar Hide and tallow trade
1844-45 Sterling ship Capt. VIncent Hide and tallow trade
1845 Martha Hide and tallow trade
1845 Admittance ship Capt. Peterson Hide and tallow trade
1846 Collingwood [Nidever p. 70]
1846 Congress [Nidever p. 70]
1846 Euphemia Capt. Rossom California sea otter trade
1846 Fama ship Capt. Nye Alpheus Basil Thompson's ship; lost at Goleta Hide and tallow trade
1846 Savannag [Nidever p. 70]
1846 Vandalia ship Capt. Everett Hide and tallow trade; a Boston ship
1846-1847 H.M.S. Herald ship Capt. Henry Kellett British government Expedition and exploration
1846-1847 H.M.S. Pandora ship Lieut. James Wood British government Expedition and exploration
1847 Loo Choo ship Capt. James B. Hatch California sea otter trade
1847-48 Olga bark Capt. Bull Hide and tallow trade
1852 Mary Helen California elephant seal trade


» Davis, William Heath. 1889. Sixty Years in California: A History of Events and Life in California. S.F.: A. J. Leary (1889)

» Smythe, William Ellsworth. 1908. History of San Diego 1542-1908. The History Company, (1908)

» Ellison, William Henry, ed. The Life and Adventures of George Nidever (1802-1883). Berkeley: UC Press, 1937

» Ogden, Aldele 1941 California Sea Otter Trade. Berkeley: UC Press (1941)