A guide to the John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the Vanderbilt (built 1867; schooner, 2m), 1887
Processed by: Historic Documents Department Staff (Brogden).
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park2012
Building E, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
A Guide to the John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the Vanderbilt (built 1867; schooner, 2m)
HDC1653San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, National Park Service
2012, National Park Service
Title: John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the Vanderbilt (built 1867; schooner, 2m)
Identifier/Call Number: HDC1653 (SAFR 23809)
Author: Brethauer, John C.
Physical Description: 1 item
Repository: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Historic Documents Department
Building E, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
Abstract: The John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the schooner Vanderbilt consists of a handwritten journal of an able seaman engaged in an illegal seal hunting expedition, and 14 pressed botanical specimens removed from the pages of the journal.
Physical Location: San Francisco Maritime NHP, Historic Documents Department
Language(s): In English.
This collection is open for use unless otherwise noted.
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Note on Description: The descriptions in this collection guide were compiled using the best available sources of information. Such sources include the creator's annotations or descriptions, collection accession files, primary and secondary source material and subject matter experts. While every effort was made to provide accurate information, in the event that you find any errors in this guide please contact the reference staff in order for us to evaulate and make corrections to this guide. P lease cite the title and collection number in any correspondence with our staff.
[Item description], [Location within collection organization identified by Collection Number/Series Number/File Unit Number/Item Number], HDC1653 (SAFR 23809), John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the Vanderbilt (built 1867; schooner, 2m), San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
The Journal was kept in the possession of the family of until its donation by the creator's grand niece in 2012.
The John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the VANDERBILT is a semi-daily account of the life and work of the captain and crew of a schooner in the Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean and Bering Strait, engaged in an illegal seal hunting expedition in the spring and summer of 1887.
John C. Brethauer's personal journal of his nine month illegal seal hunting expedition aboard the American schooner VANDERBILT, sailing from San Francisco in the spring and summer of 1887, is an extremely interesting and valuable look into the day to day operations of American seal hunters at the turn of the nineteenth-century. It includes graphic descriptions of the killing of seals, and sea-lions, and the methods of the hunt. It also includes the ship's efforts to avoid detection, and personal reflections of Brethauer on his shipmates, two of whom lose their life, when their small hunting boat is lost in the fog and storms of the Bering Sea. The journal also describes a near mutiny of the crew, and the cruelty of the Captain who at one point holds a gun to Brethauer's head when he imagines a slight. The journal also describe a hand to hand knife fight between the Captain and the cook at the end of the voyage when the ship is nearly out of provisions and the crew is starving. It is not all gloom however, as Brethauer describes the beauty of Victoria, British Columbia where the seal skins were sold, and the daily life at sea for a sailor with a weather eye. He also records the chanteys that the men sing, describes the operations of a sailing ship, and captures the essence of life aboard a hard working schooner in the North Pacific in the 1880s. Born in 1862, Brethauer was a native New Yorker. He had done some whaling and fishing in the Northern Atlantic, but came to California as a teenager in order to experience the Bering Sea. After this voyage, he returned to New York, got his Harbor Pilot's license and eventually retired to Tampa Florida, where he lived until 1956.
The John C. Brethauer journal of the 1887 voyage of the schooner Vanderbilt consists of a handwritten journal of an able seaman engaged in an illegal seal hunting expedition, and 14 pressed botanical specimens removed from the pages of the journal.
The Journal is in poor condition, and is contained in an envelope, its 101 individual pages, including the cover, and each of the botanical specimens have been digitally photographed. The photographs are stored on a CD-Rom available for review.
Housed in one box containing the journal in one envelope, 14 botanical specimens in another envelope and one CD-Rom, available for review, in a four flap envelope.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Fur Trade--Bering Strait Region--History--19th century
Seal hunting ships
Brethauer, John C.
Vanderbilt (built 1867; schooner, 2m)
Diaries Journals (accounts)