Louisa Harker

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Louisa Harker (#15200) (1853-1877+ ), small schooner of 21.80 gross tons built by Captain Dominguez Marcucci, pioneer boatbuilder of the Pacific Coast, for John Ortley and the Alviso, San Jose, California trade. Marcucci was born in Venezuela, moved to Philadelphia in 1840 at 13 years of age, where he worked in the shipyard of Mathew Van Duzen until 1849 when he arrived in San Francisco.

In the News~

June 4, 1868 [DAC]: “...at Santa Barbara, schooners Eustace, Louisa Harker and Page, discharging.”

August 27, 1870 [SBT]: “Sailed. August 25. Schooner Louisa Harker, Davis, San Miguel Island, otter hunting.”

November 4, 1871 [SBT]: “Arrivals. October 27. Schooner Louisa Harker, Thompson, San Pedro.”

November 4, 1871 [SBT]: “Departures. October 31. Schooner Louisa Harker, Thompson, San Nicolas Island.”

September 18, 1872 [SBT]: “The schooner Louisa Harker, Captain C. Vasquez, arrived from a hunt last week. After a trip of one month and 22 days, the Captain brought in one hundred and nine beautiful otter skins. These skins, we are told, will average about $35 a piece, making the proceeds of the trip about $3,815.”

March 19, 1873 [San Diego Daily World]: “Sailed. Schooner Louisa Harker, Smith, master, for the Guadalupe Island with fifty Angora Goats.”

April 3, 1873 [San Diego Union]: “From Guadalupe Island—Yesterday the schooner Louisa Harker, Capt. Smith, returned from Guadalupe Island, where she has been with a consignment of fifty Angora goats. Capt. John G. Clancey has returned with the vessel. He reports that an abundance of rain has fallen on the island, and the grass there is now two feet high. The two herders on the island are in the enjoyment of good health, and are in excellent spirits. An immense amount of fencing has been done by them during the winter. Capt. Clancey goes north on the next steamer to bring down another herd of Angoras.”

March 13, 1874 [LAH]: “Mr. James M. Rodgers, of the Guadalupe Island Company, sailed for the island yesterday afternoon in the schooner Louisa Harker. He visits the island to make an inspection of affairs there, upon which he will report to the company. As our readers are aware, the object of the corporation is the propagation of the Angora goat. Thousands of wild goats are found upon the island, and it is proposed to cross them with the Angora, bringing the stock in time to nearly full blood. Guadalupe Island is, however, valuable aside from the main purpose of its owners. The timber shipments thence will one day be important. The island is about 200 miles below San Diego, off the coast of Lower California, in 29 deg. north latitude; it is about two days sail from this port. It is thirty-two miles long, and its greatest width is twelve miles. The north end of the island is mountainous, the highest peak rising 3,000 feet above the sea. Considerable forests of sugar pine, cedar, palm and sycamore timber are found in this section. There are many copious springs, and good grass for grazing. Some fine valleys are found on the island, which could be cultivated. The island has two good bays, the largest on the south, being known as Baker's Bay; it is formed by a deep indentation in the shore, protected in front by a long rocky ledge; the entrance is from the east, and the largest ships can safely anchor within. On the west Jack's Bay affords 25 fathoms of water 600 yards from the shore. —[San Diego Union.]”

March 26, 1874 [San Diego Union]: “The schooner Louisa Harker, Captain Place, arrived from a cruise on the Lower Coast yesterday forenoon. The schooner sailed for Guadalupe Island on the 19th instant, Mr. J.M. Rodgers, of the firm of Landrum and Rodgers, Watsonville, going down to the island on a tour of inspection. Mr. Rodgers informs us that the weather was so exceedingly stormy that they were unable to effect a landing, although several attempts were made, and were finally obliged to return. The sea was so rough that the safety of the vessel was more than once endangered.”

April 7, 1874 [Daily National Republic]: “From Lower California. The Late Storm on the Pacific—Guadalupe Island, Its Bays, Harbors, Timer and Flocks. A private letter received in this city from Southern California contains the following intelligence: A gentleman who arrived at Watsonville, March 25, from a sea voyage along the coast, reports that the schooner Louisa Harker, on which he was a passenger, encountered a terrific gale off San Diego—"the worst storm that has visited that part of the coast for ten years"—lasting four days. The vessel put into Esparza Bay, Guadalupe Island, (lying two hundred miles southwest of San Diego,) the water in the bay being a smooth eddy, where she lay to for four days to escape the gale and heavy sea, she in the meantime having sprung a leak, her captain was compelled to return to San Diego for repairs. [This must have been the same storm that jeopardized the safety of the steamer Colima, as reported in The Republican's dispatches eight or ten days ago.] Mr Rodgers, the gentleman referred to, reported to the president of the Guadalupe Island Wool Growing [sic] Company (which owns that island) some encouraging facts that more than confirm the company's previous estimate of the value of their landed property for pastoral purposes. He believes the island to be worth double the sum—$300,000—at which it was estimated when purchased in January 1873. He sailed along side the island its full length, twenty-six miles, and could see, even from the deck of the schooner, a luxuriant carpet of living green—the grass growing "thick and beautiful from one end to the other", the land smoother than the hills at the north of the Pajaro Valley, on the main land, and showing better grazing, "more than double as good as reported previously." The company's men, who are permanently stationed on the island, were doing well. They report that they had taken, up to October last, 700 pelts from old goats of the common stock, and would get as many more before the heavy rains stopped operations. Another man, (not connected with the company,) who arrived from Guadalupe, reports that the young Angora goats were "shining white all over the island, the prettiest sight he ever saw." He asserts, after having seen all the Pacific coast islands, the "there is no other island that will compare in any way with Guadalupe. Her harbors are excellent, she has unlimited range for stock, and more timber than any of the other islands." These statements are fully borne out by other disinterested persons who have recently visited the island. Mr. Rodgers reports that he saw from the vessel's deck more grass than the large flocks already there can eat off in many years. He saw and learned enough to satisfy him that the owners of this splendid pastoral domain "have the bed rock for millions of dollars" if they but "push things," (as Grant said to Sheridan at Five Forks,) and utilize to proper advantage the abundant grass that covers the face of the island. This course is to be pursued. Mr. Landrum, the president of the company, who was to leave for the island about April 6, means business. His motto is, "Push things." He will, upon his return in May, bring a full report of the results of the kidding and shearing season.”

June 1, 1874 [Daily National Republican]: “Guadalupe Island lies in 29º north latitude, about 190 miles, in a southwesterly direction, from San Diego, the run to this port being made by schooner in from 50 to 75 hours. A nearer port is that of San Quentin, 90 miles distant on the peninsular coast. The island is 26 miles long, average 10 miles in width, and embraces an area of 166,000 acres. Its general trend is north and south... About eight miles from the northern extremity of the island, on the eastern side, is Esparza Bay, another fine inlet, formerly the customary landing place of the goat hunters. Its anchorage forty yards from the shore is 15 fathoms, and it is admirably sheltered on three sides. During the late terrific gale on the coast, in March, the schooner Louisa Harker lay to in this safe harbor for several days. The trip from the main land to the island has been made in a fishing boat when the sea was smooth...”

July 25, 1874 [San Diego Union]: “The schooner Louisa Harker sailed last evening for Guadalupe Island. Mr. Wm. M. Landrum took passage down on the schooner, taking with him 152 head of Angora goats. Mr. Landrum expects to be absent two or three weeks and will prepare a report to the Company on his return. This Guadalupe Island enterprise is, as we have before remarked, one of very great importance to San Diego.”

August 20, 1874 [SDU]: “From Guadalupe Island—Landrum's Aventures. San Diego, August 19th. The schooner Esther, Captain Wilson, arrived at 11 o'clock last night frdom Guadalupe Island, bringing up William M. Landrum, of Watsonville, who went down on the Louisa Harker a few weeks ago, with a cargo of Angora goats. She landed him, and then, according to the commander's account, a sudden gale sprang up and drove her out to sea. She was compelled to return to this port with the goats. Landrum gives another statement of how he was left in the lurch by the Harker. He says the schooner was not brought to her proper anchorage, and so drifted away; that there was no wind at all, it being perfectly calm. This turn of affairs interfered with the object of his trip, but he made the best of the circumstances, and explored the island thoroughly while there. He says he was agreeably surprised with the island, pasturage being exceedingly abundant, even to the tops of the mountains, and the grass was three feet high.”

September 5, 1874 [Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel]: “A Modern Crusoe. Mr. Landrum, of Landrum and Rodgers, returned a few days ago from a trip to Guadalupe Island, where he was compelled to enact the role of Robinson Crusoe for a few days. The schooner that he embarked from concluded not to land any more goats after seeing the proprietor safely ashore but dropped off, leaving Mr. Landrum to explore the recesses of his island. Mr. L. says he enjoyed his visit very much. His principle trouble and one that distracted him more than anything else, was being deprived of the news of the day, he could not keep up with the Beecher narrative.”

March 30, 1877 [SBDP]: “The schooner Louisa Harker, Captain Anderson, from San Clemente Island, arrived at Wilmington on the 25th inst., bringing one hundred sacks of wool consigned to the Southern Pacific Railroad for shipment to San Francisco.”

February 9, 1878 [SBDP]: “It is feared that the schooner Louisa Harker, commanded by Captain Anderson and manned by two sailors, has been lost at sea. She sailed from the port of Wilmington in August last for the island of Locoru [Socorro], which lies some 300 miles south of Cape St. Lucas [Mexico]. She was loaded with sheep to stock that island, and expected to be back in Wilmington in two months. The schooner Surprise has been chartered to sail in search of the missing vessel, carrying relief.”

March 26, 1878 [LAH]: “The Missing Louisa Harker. This schooner left Wilmington on the 15th of August last with a cargo of lumber and sheep for Socorro Island, off the coast of Lower California. She was fitted out for a three months voyage. It is now more than seven months since she left, and no tidings have been received except such as lead to fear that both the vessel and crew have been lost. Last January a letter was received at Wilmington from a person in Lower California, who reported seeing a small American vessel sink off Cape St. Lucas some time in November. Fears for the safety of the Louisa Harker led to the dispatch of a vessel in search of her. The Surprise, navigated by Captain Howard, D. Parsons and James Moey, was sent from Wilmington on the 7th of February; and she returned to San Diego yesterday. Captain Parsons and Mr. Macy report that they reached Socorro Island on the 21st of February, and stayed there for four days, and then sailed for Clarion Island, about 1,400 miles south, on north latitude 18º 21'. They ascertained that the Louisa Harker had landed her cargo safely on Socorro Island, but had left no record, and had sailed away with the expressed intention of going to the Gulf of California for seal. They have been able to learn nothing of her since, and have no doubt she has been lost. She sailed with three men, George Dayton, Wm. Anderson, and one other whose name could not be learned.—San Diego Union.”

March 30, 1878 [SBWP]: “The fate of the Louisa Harker is almost definitely determined by the Surprise, which vessel, in command of Captain Howard, went to Socorro island on the 21st ultimo, and found the former vessel had sailed from there with the avowed intention of going to the Gulf of California for seal. No trace of her has been found since.”

February 22, 1883 [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]: “...Port Wilmington owns the schooners Louisa Harker, of 21.80, and the San Mateo, of 15.20 tons respectively...”