PHELPS, William Dane

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William Dane Phelps

PHELPS, William Dane (1802-1875), captain of the Alert, a ship engaged in the hide and tallow trade off the California coast from 1840-1842.

Monday, September 28th 1840, Captain Phelps recorded in his log:

"Stopped at the island of Santa Rosa and landed one of a gang of otter hunters from Santa Barbara with a lot of provisions for the party."

Friday February 11, 1842 he wrote:

"10 A.M. ship becalmed near the Island of Santa Cruz. Lowered the boat and went on shore to take a look at it. Found nothing worth noting. The island is very mountainous and barren, but might afford pasturage for some thousands of cattle. It is 25 miles in length and three wide. Tried along the shores for fish but caught none."


» Phelps, William Dane Alta California 1840-1842. The Journal and Observations of William Dane Phelps, Master of the Ship Alert. Introduced and edited by Briton Cooper Busch. Glendale: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1983.


unpublished manuscript in the Bancroft Library, Berkeley, 1870s.
The manuscript describes the experiences of Boston ships on the Northwest Coast from 1787 to about 1812, but is principally an account of the Winship brothers and their ventures in the fur trade, 1803-1811. The authorship of this manuscript has been suggested by Miss Adele Ogden, from internal evidence and letter from Samuel Hooper to William D. Phelps, November 29, 1868, in the Phelps Collection, Widener Library, Harvard University.