New Orleans to San Francisco in
To Sea Again
The vessels were anchored at a long distance out in the bay, and all freight and
passengers had to be carried out to them in small boats. When on the 10th of May, the day
for the sailing of the Callao, we walked to the landing, we found that we should have to
wait two hours for a boat to carry us to the bark. I shall never forget what a long two
hours that was. We were too exhausted to go back to the town, so we stayed on the beach. I
stood as long as I could, and then lay down on the ground. I did not know when I was
carried aboard the vessel; nor, indeed, was I conscious of anything for a week, with the
exception that at intervals I experienced a sensation as of burning, and a dreadful
thirst. I then got better, and was able to see where I was, and found that my brothers and
sisters were very sick.
As the Callao was a whaler, there was only cabin-room for the officers and four or five
passengers; and the space between decks that had been used for storing oil-casks was now
fitted out to carry passengers. There were two rows of rough berths all around the sides,
and another row in the middle. There were also some hammocks hung in different places.
There was no place for the entrance of light or air except through the hatchway. I do not
know how many passengers there were on board, but I do know that every berth and hammock
was filled, and that some had beds on the floor. It was a filthy-looking place, and the
atmosphere was almost stifling Everything was swarming with cockroaches; they were in our
beds and in our food. There was no dining table, and the passengers were divided into
companies, or messes, as they were called. At meal time the steward would call the roll,
and one person from each mess would receive the rations for his company. They would then
form into groups anywhere they chose, and eat the food if they could. But the food was not
of the best quality, and those in poor health suffered for want of proper nourishment. The
water was bad also.
There were four American women, one Mexican woman, and one negro woman on board, and
two little American children, besides the children of our family. These two children were
both little girls under two years of age. There was also one negro child, and a large
number of male passengers. The children were all sick, and suffering for proper food.
One of the babies was the child of Doctor Hurslener and wife, of Tennessee; the other
was the child of Mr. and Mrs. Angar, of the same State. The other American woman was Mrs.
Steinbach; she and her husband were young people from Florida. The negroes were the
property of a Mr. Cassidy, who was taking them from Mississippi to California, in order
that they might be free. The Mexican woman and her husband were to stop at Mazatlan.
We had not been on board long before the measles broke out among the children. The
negro boy died with the disease on the seventh day out from Panama. Mr. Frank Lemon, the
supercargo of the vessel, read the beautiful and impressive sea-burial service at all the
burials between Panama and San Francisco. The night after the burial of the little negro,
Doctor Mott, the ship's doctor, died from the effects of hard drinking; he had been under
the influence of liquor ever since leaving Panama.
Our poor little baby sister was the next to go. It seemed a terrible thing to us
children to see her little body sewed up in canvas, weighted with lead, and consigned to
the mighty deep. In the course of three days the other two babies were buried. They, like
my sister, died more from want of proper food than from any other cause. Another old
drunken doctor, whose name I have forgotten, died next. One of the mates, a Frenchman,
became insane, and had to be confined in irons until we reached Mazatlan, where he was
By this time the supply of water ran low, and we were put on an allowance, but it was
so impure that we never drank more than we were obliged to for the purpose of sustaining
My brothers and sisters now began to feel well enough to go on deck, but I did not seem
to gain any strength. Doctor Hurslener, who was now employed as ship's doctor, said that I
never would be any better, if I was not put where I could breathe pure air. Therefore, the
captain ordered a little awning to be fixed up on deck, and every day I was carried up and
laid under it.