Ewing

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Ewing (#) (1841-1876), [U.S.S Ewing], 91.6-foot topsail schooner built in Maryland and first stationed in New York. She was brought to San Francisco in 1849 to work for the Coast Survey off the California coast in the 1850s. A. D. Bache’s Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey for 1853 states:

“The schooner Ewing has been engaged in furnishing transportation to the parties surveying the Santa Barbara islands, and in the hydrography of that vicinity.”

Ewing was under the command of lieutenants McArthur and Cuyler for a time, and in 1854 under the command of Lieutenant T. H. Stevens, Ewing paid a visit to Anacapa Island. A field sketch by W. B. McMurtrie was sent to Washington and became the basis for the now famous drawing of Anacapa Island by James McNeil Whistler.

According to the 1856 Annual Report, the Ewing was assigned to make “observations on the currents of Santa Barbara channel, including examination of currents outside of and between the Santa Barbara islands.” Ewing had paid a visit to Santa Cruz Island in 1855 where survey artist, James Madison Alden painted Rancho & Valley Santa Cruz Island, California. The Ewing was followed by the schooner Humboldt. Ewing remained at work for the Coast Survey until she was decommissioned in 1876.

Photo at Cuylers with Active; watercolor 1856 NOAA. See Schwemmer’s article.

Log book (1848-1856) for the Ewing is in the National Archives, College Park, MD [130/7/45/02].



In the News~

April 11, 1851 [DAC]: “The Ewing—The U.S. Surveying schooner Ewing, so long the object of admiration to the nautical taste of strangers as well as to our community, will leave this morning on a trip of duty to the Farallones. So much has been said and written in regard to the precise latitude or position of these islands, and as the matter of corrections on this subject is of some little importance, Lieut. Commander Moore has resolved, if possible to settle the question beyond the change of a doubt. The exact position of this group has been variably set down, and on some charts entirely erroneous.”


June 25, 1853 [NYD]: “The surveying schooner Ewing, Lieutenant Stevens, was at San Pedro on the 20th instant, and would leave next day for Catalina Island. Lieutenant George Davidson was actively engaged in the performance of his duties as Chief Assistant of the Coast Survey.”


July 19, 1855 [SBG]: “The U. S. surveying schooner Ewing arrived in our harbor on Saturday evening last, from the island of Anacapa, where she has been engaged in the duties of the survey... The Ewing sailed yesterday for the Island of Santa Catalina, to continue the survey.”


July 21, 1855 [SBG]: “The surveying schooner Ewing, under the command of Captain McKae, returned to this port on the 17th instant, from the Island of Anacapa, where the party under his command have been engaged in making a hydrographic survey. The schooner left for the island of Santa Cruz on the 19th, and from thence, we learn, she is to proceed down the coast.”


October 4, 1855 [SBG]: “The U. S. surveying schooner Ewing, Lieut. Archibald McRae, commander, arrived in port yesterday afternoon, from Monterey. The examination of Santa Barbara Channel will be continued by the officer of theEwing.


November 8, 1855 [SBG]: “Sailed. On Monday last, the U. S. Surveying schooner Ewing, A. McRae, Lieutenant commanding, for San Francisco.


December 6, 1855 [SBG]: “Melancholy Suicide. Captain Archibald McRae, Commander of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Ewing, committed suicide on boar his vessel, between the house of 11 and 12 o;clock on Saturday night, 17th ultimo), while laboring under temporary insanity produced by some affection of the brain. During the night the Captain complained of an unusual sensation in the head. The physician of the Surveying steamer Active was summoned to attend Captain McRae, who took some medicine prescribed by the physician and retired to his private apartment. Soon after, the report of a pistol shot was heard, and it was found that Captain McRae had shot himself. The deceased was a native of Wilmington, N. C. He was aged 34 years.”


June 26, 1856 [SBG]: “The U. S. Surveying schooner Ewing arrived on Saturday last. The Ewing left San Francisco for the season's cruise on the 26th of May, and in company with the steamer Active, has been engaged in surveying at San Clemente Island. After making observations of the currents and temperatures in that vicinity, she sailed for this port. The following are the officers of the Ewing: — Lieut. Commanding, Richard Cuyler; Watch Officers, John Adams,James Kingsbury; Acting Purser, James M. Alden. The Ewing sailed again on Tuesday last.”


July 3, 1856 [SBG]: “The surveying schooner Ewing, R. M. Cuyler, Lieutenant Commander, arrived in our harbor on the 2nd instant, from a cruise in the Santa Barbara Channel. Currents were observed at five stations, namely: off Santa Barbara; in the channel between Santa Barbara and Point Conception; at Point Conception; between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands; and off San Miguel Island.”


July 11, 1856 [SDU]: “Santa Barbara. Coast Survey. The U. S. surveying schooner, Ewing, R. M. Cuyler, Lieut. Commanding, arrived in our harbor on the 2nd instant, from a cruise in the Santa Barbara Channel. Currents were observed at five stations, namely: off Santa Barbara, in the channel between Santa Barbara and Point Conception, at Point Conception, between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands, and off San Miguel.”


July 24, 1856 [SBG]: “The surveying schooner Ewing, Lieutenant Commander R. M. Cuyler, arrived on Friday last, from a cruise for the purpose of determining the currents of Santa Barbara channel and outside of the Santa Barbara islands. Five stations were occupied for the above purpose, viz: off San Buenaventura; near Anacapa Island; between Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz; off south side Santa Rosa; and off south side San Miguel.”


March 3, 1860 [Daily National Democrat]: “The Alta [Daily Alta California] says that Captain N. Pierce, the purchaser of the U.S. schooner Ewing, has decided to change her name to Laura Bevan, after the ill-fated schooner which was lost in the spring of 1858.”