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Finding Aid for the Thomas Crosby Lancey Papers, 1846-1855
103  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Name and Subject Index

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Thomas Crosby Lancey Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1846-1855
    Collection number: 103
    Creator: Lancey, Thomas Crosby, 1824-1885
    Extent: 8 boxes (4 linear ft.)
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: Thomas Crosby Lancey (1824-1885) joined the U.S. Navy (1846) serving as baggage master on the North Carolina before being transferred to the U.S. Sloop of War Dale as captain's coxswain. He kept a journal of daily occurrences which formed the basis of the three volume manuscript, The Cruise of the Dale, some of which Hubert Howe Bancroft used in preparing his History of California. After his discharge from the U.S. Navy (1849), Lancey kept a store for Hoyt and Smith near Sacramento and ran the first stage to the gold mines while continuing to collect clippings from newspapers and information from his fellow veterans. The collection consists of historical notes, loose papers, clippings and ephemera chiefly concerning the American conquest of California (1846-1849), with particular emphasis on naval operations.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access.

    Additional Physical Form Available

    A copy of the original version of this online finding aid is available at the UCLA Department of Special Collections for in-house consultation and may be obtained for a fee. Please contact:
    • Public Services Division
    • UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections
    • Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
    • Box 951575
    • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
    • Telephone: 310/825-4988 (10:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Pacific Time)
    • Email: spec-coll@library.ucla.edu

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    • Gift of Robert E. Cowan, 1945.
    • The collection was in the possession of the Martel family until purchased by Robert E. Cowan from Adele Martel in 1922. It came to UCLA Special Collections as part of the Robert E. Cowan Collection.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Thomas Crosby Lancey Papers (Collection 103). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    Lancey was born in 1824, and was a native of Dover, Maine; entered merchant service at an early age and served on voyages to Havana, the Netherlands, France and China; entered the U.S. Navy on April 26, 1846 as baggage master on the North Carolina, serving until July 3, when he was transferred to the U.S. Sloop of War Dale as captain's coxswain; the Dale sailed from the Brooklyn Navy Yard on June 6, 1846 to take re-enforcements to Commodore Sloat's Pacific squadron; Lancey served on board while taking in the action of Muleje, Lower California and the bombardment of Guaymas, Mexico; he kept a journal of daily occurrences which formed the basis of the three volume manuscript, The Cruise of the Dale, some of which Hubert Howe Bancroft used in preparing his history of California; after his discharge from the U.S. Navy on March 13, 1849, Lancey kept a store for Hoyt and Smith near Sacramento, and ran the first stage to the gold mines; in 1851 he settled in San Francisco, where he became a painter and mining agent; he continued to collect clippings from newspapers and information from his fellow veterans; he died in 1885.

    Extended Biographical Narrative

    The Thomas Crosby Lancey Papers contain bound volumes, loose papers, notes and clippings pertaining to the American conquest of California during the Mexican War with particular reference to the American naval operations. These papers are the rough notes and journals of Thomas C. Lancey, who served on the U.S. Sloop of War Dale from 1846 to 1849.
    Lancey, a native of Dover, Maine, was born in 1824. At an early age he entered the merchant service and shipped as an able seaman on voyages to Havana, the Netherlands, France and China. He entered the U.S. Navy April 26, 1846 as baggage master on the old North Carolina and served until June 3rd of that year, when he was transferred to the U.S. Sloop of War Dale as captain's coxswain.
    The Dale sailed from Brooklyn Navy Yard on June 6, 1846 to take much needed re-enforcements to Commodore Sloat's Pacific Squadron and remained on the Pacific coast until March 14, 1849. During this time Lancey served on board taking part in the action of Muleje, Lower California and the bombardment of Guaymas, Mexico.
    Lancey kept a journal of daily occurences which it is believed he later supplemented with additional recollections to form the three volume holograph manuscript known as The Cruise of the Dale. This manuscript is the gem of his papers. An earlier version appeared serially in the San Jose Pioneer and the installments were assembled by the historian Hubert Howe Bancroft in scrapbook form. Bancroft used Lancey's narrative as well as other materials from his collection in the preparation of the California History, and spoke of it as the most complete collection extant of data on the conquest of California. Lancey also received praise from Bancroft for his indefatigable zeal and marked ability in his researches. There is no question that Lancey possessed many of the instincts of a true historian. Certainly he did realize keenly his responsibility as a witness and participant in the Mexican War in the Pacific to gather and perserve material conerning it.
    After his discharge from the U.S. Navy at San Francisco on March 13, 1849, he kept a store near Sacramento for Messrs. Hoyt and Smith and ran the first stage to the gold mines. In 1851 he settled in San Francisco permanently taking up employment as a painter and mining agent.
    Lancey did not long lay aside his research, but continued to collect data from newspapers and from fellow veterans who had settled in San Francisco. He was assisted in his work by a number of old shipmates from the Dale, particularly James Louis Martel, who had become a real estate broker in San Francisco. Even during the last years of his life when he was almost constantly bedridden he continued his work with the hope that these rough notes may in after years assist the true historian to give his people a true chronicle of the achievements of Fremont, Sloat, Stockton and their compatriots in arms.
    Upon his death without direct heir, Lancey's notes and papers passed to his close friend and former shipmate in the Dale, James Louis Martel. They remained in the possession of the Martel family until 1922, when they were purchased from Adele Martel by the late Robert E. Cowan and now form a significant unit in the Robert Ernest Cowan Collection of Californiana in the Library of the University of California at Los Angeles.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of historical notes, loose papers, clippings and ephemera of seaman Thomas Lacey, chiefly concerning the American conquest of California, 1846-1849, with particular emphasis on naval operations. Includes his original holograph journal kept while stationed aboard the U.S. Sloop of War Dale, some of his correspondence, personal papers and biographical data. Contains common place books, lists of ship passengers to California, lists of military officers, and biographical information of California pioneers.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Lancey, Thomas Crosby, 1824-1885--Archives.
    Mexican War, 1846-1848.
    Diaries.

    Name and Subject Index

    Apollo (Bark) Box 6, folder 3.
    The Associated Pioneers of the Territorial Days of California, New York Box 6, folder 3
    The Associated Veterans of the Mexican War, San Francisco Box 1, folder 2; Box 6, folder 3
    Bear Flag Revolt Box 6, folder 7
    California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Box 6, folder 3
    California--Governors Box 3, folder 2
    California, Lower Box 8
    California (Steamship) Box 2, folder 4
    Clark, Francis D. Box 1, folder 1
    Columbus (U.S. Ship) Box 8
    Congress (U.S. Frigate) Box 8
    Cortes, Hernando Box 8
    Cyane (U.S. Ship) Box 8
    Dale (U.S. Sloop of War) Box 7 Box 5, folder 3; Box 5, folder 4.
    Erie (U.S. Steamship) Box 8
    Fremont's Battalion of Mounted Rifles (California Battalion) Box 6, folder 2
    Guaymas, Mexico Box 1, folder 3.
    Independence (U.S. Ship) Box 8
    Jesuits In Lower California Box 8
    Lancey, Thomas Crosby (1824-1885) passim
    LANCEY, THOMAS CROSBY Box 1
    Levent (U.S. Sloop of War) Box 8
    Lexington (U.S. Ship) Box 3, folder 1 Box 8
    Martel, James Louis Box 1, folder 1
    Mechanics Institute, San Francisco Box 6, folder 3.
    Mexicans in California Box 5, folder 1, 2.
    Missions--California, Lower Box 8
    Montauk (Clipper Ship) Box 2, folder 1, 2.
    Monterey, California Box 3, folder 1
    New York Infantry, 1st Regiment (1846-1848) Box 5, folder 8, 9.
    Oregon (Steamship) Box 2, folder 5, 6.
    Pacific Mail Steamship Company Box 2, folder 4, 5, 6.
    Panama (Steamship) Box 2, folder 6.
    Pioneers--California, 1814-1849 Box 2, folder 4, 5; Box 6, folder 3.
    Portola, Gaspar De Box 3, folder 2
    Portsmouth (U.S. Sloop of War) Box 2, folder 3.
    Powell, Lawrence Clark Box 1, folder 4
    Preble (U.S. Sloop of War) Box 8
    Riley, Bennett Box 3, folder 2
    Rudd, John Box 1, folder 1
    San Jose Pioneer Box 1, folder 2
    Selfridge, Thomas Oliver Box 6, folder 3
    Shark (U.S. Schooner) Box 1, folder 5
    Ships--Pacific Coast Box 1, folder 5
    Spaniards in California Box 5, folder 1, 2.
    Stevenson, Jonathan Drake Box 5, folder 8, 9.
    Stevenson's Regiment (New York Volunteers) see New York Infantry, 1st Regiment (1846-1848)
    Territorial Pioneers of California Box 1, folder 2; Box 6, folder 3
    U.S. Army. 3rd Artillery, Company F Box 3, folder 1
    Warren (U.S. Ship) Box 8
    Williams, George Box 1, folder 1