Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 2/Flotsom and Jetsom of the Pacific: The Owyhee, the Sultana, and the May Dacre

See also this note in Vol. 2, No. 2.

FLOTSAM AND JETSOM OF THE PACIFIC. ~ ~ ~ THE OWYHEE, THE SULTANA, AND THE MAY DACRE.

One July day, a dozen or more years ago, sitting upon the Oregon side of the Columbia, with Mount St. Helens in front of me on the Washington side, a wall of pentagonal columns of basalt garlanded with the vines and flowering shrubs with which Nature in this region adorns even the rocks, at my back, and at my feet the grandest of rivers "making haste slowly" to the sea, I listened to some significant tales of ocean life told by that pioneer of pioneers, Captain Francis A. Lemont.

There are pioneers and pioneers, but when you come to a man who was on this coast in 1829, you listen for something different from the now familiar story of crossing the plains with an ox team. Not but that was a narrative full of interest, but we know it too well to have much curiosity about it, the overlanders having made their history for all time. The tales related by the retired sea captain just named furnish some very interesting links in Oregon history, and have more than an ordinary value. The history of the man himself incident to his connection with that of Oregon has in it a great deal of romance, as will be seen from the brief and simple rendering here given. It goes without saying that a mere land lubber of a scribbler could never put into a narrative of sea life the proper nautical phrases, therefore I must leave out these lingual decorations of the captain's story, and give it in plain ordinary prose.

F. A. Lemont was born in Bath, Maine, that nursery of seamen. The founder of the family in America was John Lemont, who settled in Bath in 1722, and took a tract of land from New Meadows River to the Kennebec, and built a fort on it. The land was subsequently divided into four farms among his children, who enjoyed an unusual longevity, one daughter living to one hundred years, another to ninety-nine, and his sons from seventy-six to ninety-six years. His great-great grandson, Captain F. A. Lemont, at eighty-three was not by any means feeble.

On the wall of the captain's sitting-room hung the family coat-of-arms. It was manifestly French, and indicated high lineage, but its history was lost on a voyage to Oregon, when, in a severe gale, the vessel was swept clean by the overwhelming seas, and the cabin so drenched that the legend of the Lemont coat-of-arms, which was pasted on the back of the frame, became loosened by the moisture and was destroyed by the cabin boy as waste paper. The captain believed that the American family was of Huguenot ancestry, and probably banished from France. They continued to reside in Bath, engaged in ship-building and trading, Frank, as he was called by his associates, at the age of eighteen being a clerk in his father's store. Standing in the doorway one day in the autumn of 1828 the young man watched a party of sailors tramping merrily down the street, singing their sea songs, and a sudden impulse came over him to try a life of adventure.

Learning that the ship Owyhee was to sail from Boston for the Columbia River to trade with the Indians, he went to that place, and in September was articled as an apprentice on board the Owyhee. The vessel belonged to Bryant and Sturges, of Boston, and was commanded by Captain Dominis, a well-known sailing master who had his home in the vicinity of that town. He seems to have been a commander who was cheerfully obeyed, for although several of his crew were, like Lemont, lads from Bath who had never been to sea, before they reached Cape Horn they could all "take their tricks at the wheel, and go aloft and reef like old sailors. In a gale off Rio de la Plata Lemont fell from the mast, but was caught in the rigging and saved. With this exception the voyage to the Straits of Magellan was fair, and after getting through that stormy passage the ship had good weather to the Chilean convict island of San Juan Fernandez, where she took water and provisions, as was the custom in those days.

A continuance of favorable winds brought the Owyhee off the Columbia, in April, 1829, though she could not enter until soundings had been taken, and the channel buoyed out. This survey occupied two weeks, the buoys toeing made of stovewood, anchored with cordage made by ravelling condemned cables and twisting three strands into one, making what was called "spun yarn,' which was wound on a wheel and payed out from small boats. This work being completed, the vessel came safely in by the north channel, and felt her way up the river as far as Deer Island, a few miles below Saint Helens, where she ran aground, being compelled to send a boat to Fort Vancouver, the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company in the Oregon Territory, for aid. Chief factor Dr. John McLoughlin not only sent down a crew of kanakas with a mackinaw boat to help the vessel off, but with them a present of potatoes, and a quarter of fresh beef, as a mark of peculiar favor beef cattle being too few and too precious at that period to be slaughtered except upon rare occasions, and regarded as a luxury even by the gentlemen of the company, who commonly lived upon salmon. Wishing to make some return for Doctor McLoughlin's hospitality, Lemont, with boyish pleasure, presented him soon after three young peach trees which he had brought from San Juan Fernandez, and which being planted at Vancouver, bore the first peaches ever grown on the Columbia River.

The Owyhee remained at Deer Island through the summer trading with the natives and fishing, the young sailors enjoying the wild strawberries which reddened the fir-bordered prairies where they were at liberty to roam occasionally, running away from a black bear, which "beastie" was very plentiful in this neighborhood. The winter of 1829-30 was spent in Scappoose Bay, just above Saint Helens, whence in the spring she returned to her former position and again traded through the summer, leaving in the autumn for the Sandwich Islands.

It was while the Owyhee was lying in the river in 1829 that a devastating epidemic broke out amongst the Oregon Indians, and spread down the coast as far as the bay of San Francisco. It seemed to originate with the Indians about the ship, and it was Captain Lemont's opinion that it was simply at first an intermittent, occasioned by some mischievous Indians getting their canoes filled with water while pulling up the stakes set in the island by the fishermen. The sickness, however, became epidemical and malignant, so that whole villages died, and there were not enough well persons to care for the sick. This state of affairs was, by the superstitious savages, believed to be intentionally brought about by Captain Dominis, who, they said, had emptied a vial of bad "medicine" into the Columbia River with the design to destroy them; and it probably would have gone hard with the Owyhee's crew but for the influence of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the attentions of Doctor McLoughlin, who labored faithfully, but in vain, to arrest the disease. It is stated that this epidemic, extending even to the Bay of San Francisco, carried off about thirty thousand Indians on the Pacific Coast.

During the two fishing seasons passed on the Columbia, Captain Dominis put up fifty hogsheads of salmon, which sold in Boston at ten cents per pound in April, 1831. The home voyage was made by the way of the Sandwich Islands, and among the passengers picked up was Captain Hallowell, master of the first missionary packet to the islands, who returned in the Owyhee to Boston.

I suggested to the narrator of these reminiscences connected with the noble river at our feet, that for a first voyage he must have felt himself a long time and a long way from home. "Yes," said he, raising his head to snuff anew the sea air blowing up the stream, "I didn't know I was homesick; until I happened at the islands to recognize the brig Diana, which was built in Bath. Then my heart jumped up in my mouth and I wanted to get home."

The homeward voyage was without noteworthy incident, except that the vessel was becalmed off Rio Janeiro for forty days. At the end of the thirtieth day Captain Dominis announced to his crew that the winds of heaven were all blown out; but that night it "came on to rain, as in Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, giving them fresh water, of which they were greatly in need, and in another ten days the ship was going before a favorable breeze, arriving at her berth in April.

Captain Dominis, in later years, returned to settle at the Sandwich Islands and purchased the brig Diana. At length he took a voyage in her, from which he never returned; nor was he ever afterward heard of, although the government sent a vessel to search for him upon information being given that white men had been said to be in the mountain districts of one of the South Sea islands. He left a young son at Otaheite, who, on coming to manhood, married Lydia Paarkii, a native princess of Hawaii, who has since enjoyed royal honors, but he died in middle life.[1]

Our young sailor, after a few months at home, joined the brig Sultana, formerly a Smyrna packet, owned by Joseph Baker & Sons, of Boston, but now bound for a voyage to the Columbia River. Her captain was James L. Lambert, and the goods she carried belonged to Nathaniel Wyeth and associates, and were destined for the Indian trade to compete with the Hudson's Bay Company.

In passing through the Straits of Magellan, having on one occasion anchored to speak with the natives, a white man was discovered among them and rescued. He had been abandoned by his captain several months previous, and looked upon his deliverance from life and death in Patagonia as a special providence.

After getting clear of the straits the run to San Juan Fernandez was pleasant. But on arriving Captain Lambert found such a condition of affairs existing as impelled him to get to sea again in haste. The convicts on the island had risen, and seizing the officers of the Chilian government had incarcerated them in the prison cells, and going on board the Annie Warren, of Stonington, Connecticut, which was lying in the offing—for there was no harbor—had compelled the captain to carry them to the Chili Coast. He was then permitted to return to his anchorage at the island, where he ascertained that the wives of the convicts had released the officers, who, in turn, being alarmed at the demeanor of the women, had enticed them into the prison and locked them up.. Such was the state of affairs when the Sultana came to anchor, and having no authority to interfere, Captain Lambert took on some water and fruit and proceeded on his course to Bow Island, where he arrived in little over a month from San Juan Fernandez, intending to land for fresh water and provisions, but was deterred by the threatening appearance of the natives, who were armed and assembled in large numbers upon the beach. Continuing his voyage, at 2 o'clock on the morning of the twenty-ninth of February, the Sultana ran onto the then undiscovered reef which has since borne her name, and being on the weather side rapidly filled with water. Preparations were immediately made for landing and getting provisions ashore before the heavy swells of a few hours later should render it impossible. By noon, after a hard battle with the surf and the suction from the wreck, all were safely landed with such necessary articles as the men could carry ashore by sinking under the great rollers and coming up on the tail end of them. Tents were erected and the ship's company went into camp.

So here, after a long voyage, were the Sultana's crew and Captain Nathaniel Wyeth's Indian goods, with which he expected to enter into a competition with the Hudson's Bay Company and the American Fur Company in the Oregon Territory. Wyeth himself was en route to the Columbia overland, with a company of thirty-two men.

A huge kite of cotton cloth was hoisted for a signal to passing vessels, and for several days the Sultana's men were busied in saving the goods coming ashore from the wreck. Exploration of the reef was next in order. It proved to be a lagoon island about thirty-five miles in circumference, with a reef extending around it from twenty to one hundred feet in width, enclosing the lagoon. There was no fresh water on the island and only one kind of edible fruit, about the size of a walnut and having one seed in the center. Fish were plentiful of several species, the little pools on the reef, which were filled by the nightly high tide, containing so many that the bare toes of the sailors were nibbled by them as they waded about in the. water. One fish in particular, about nine inches long and three in width an excellent pan fish was of a green color. It was very shy and when the sailors tried to catch it it jumped out on the rocks and by repeated saltations reached the sea. The method of the natives in taking these was with the spear, which they threw from a distance of twenty-five or thirty feet. But the sailors impounded them by building around the basins a wall just too high for them to vault over, when enough of them could be taken any morning for the day's supply.

For a table delicacy the castaways had "geography," which is ship biscuit charred and soaked in a pot of water. They had tea also, but its flavor was not very good, having been wet with salt water and dried, and finally steeped in water that was brackish. But these privations were the least of their troubles; and really their predicament did not seem as serious to these young adventure-seeking souls as it did to their captain, who at the end of two weeks started for a four hundred mile voyage to Otaheite in the Sultana's launch, with the supercargo, Mr. Curtis Clapp, and four of his best seamen, leaving the six remaining sailors on the reef in charge of George Sweetland, the mate.

Before Captain Lambert left he allowanced the thirty gallons of fresh water remaining after taking a supply for the launch, in the proportion of one-half pint of water to three quarts of Maderia wine daily. A heavy rainfall occurring soon after, sixty gallons of rain water were caught by spreading the ship's studding sail, and saved in casks. A well which was dug in the sand, but which for two or three weeks furnished only brackish water, finally became fresh, and thus one serious discomfort was done away with.

For some time after the wreck of the Sultana no native inhabitants of the island were discovered, but Lemont one morning reported that he had seen two men down the reef, when four sailors were sent to bring them in. They were detained some time, and named Typee and Bobby Sheely. Bobby had a wife and children quite fifteen miles away, whom he was asked to bring to visit the strangers, and who came. Their unblushing nakedness proving disagreeable to the young New Englanders, they hastily converted some of Wyeth's cotton goods into dresses, in which the women were clothed. (This incident raises the question whether the "Mother Hubbardstyle of dress prevailing in the Pacific islands did not originate in the improvised feminine garment manufactured by untutored masculine hands?) The men were also clothed in a manner becoming their sex, which garments, however, they wore in such fashion as the designers had never contemplated. They had intelligence enough to compare the white men curiously with themselves by feeling of their limbs and examining their beards and hair. But when a box of looking glasses came ashore, and they beheld themselves "as others see us" for the first time, their excitement was very great, and they were disposed some to fight their mirrored selves, while some would have run away. A pet canary, spreading its wings and opening its bill before its reflection in a mirror has as much comprehension of the radiation or reflection of light as the people on this coral island. This family proved to be the only one on the reef, and very inoffensive people they were.

The signal kite by day nor the lantern, by night had brought any vessel to the assistance of the crew of the Sultana, but her floating wreckage had been seen by the natives of a neighboring island soon after Captain Lambert left for Otaheite, and a visit was received from a canoe load of thirty of them, who were not permitted to land until they had sent their spears ashore. Friendly relations were soon established with the visitors, who remained a week on the reef, at the end of which time, to the joy of the castaways, a vessel appeared on the northwest side of the island, and sent a boat ashore.

This vessel proved to be an English bark, commanded by Capt. John Clarke, which had been lying on the opposite side of Bow Island when the Sultana was deterred from landing by the war-like appearance of the natives at that place. She carried at that time fifteen men, was from Valparaiso, and had on board the Danish consul and a linguist, or interpreter. The natives of Bow Island had afterwards looted her, and made prisoners of the captain and all the crew, except the linguist, and four sailors who were left to navigate her. The missionaries at Otaheite fitted out their little brig, Abell, master, and dispatched her to the rescue of Captain Clarke. When two days out on this errand, the brig encountered a gale which so damaged her that she was compelled to return; but it happened very opportunely that she arrived back on the same day that Captain Lambert in his launch came into port. The two captains then entered into an arrangement by which the brig was to go to the relief of Captain Clarke and his crew on Bow Island, and thence to the reef to bring away Lambert's men, and such of the Sultana's cargo as had been saved.

Harbor there was none at the reef, only an entrance about sixty feet in width into the lagoon, and although a small vessel might get in with the trade wind, she could not get out, but would be wind-bound. Communication was, however, established between the brig and the reef by means of a small boat saved from the Sultana, and Captain Clarke made a visit to Camp Castaway with a part of his crew in a whaleboat. It was agreed between Mate Sweetland and Captain Clarke that the crew of the brig should assist in removing the Sultana's cargo to the leeward side of the reef, w r here they, with the goods, could be taken on board the vessel, the removal to be effected by means of a raft. A number of Clarke's men were therefore sent ashore, and a raft constructed of spars, casks, or whatever would float, but being very unweildly and heavily laden, was extremely difficult to move, and a whole week was consumed in making the journey with the first load to the place of embarkation . To add to the hardships of the men, it rained for five days continuously. On arriving at its destination, no vessel was found waiting, and spreading the goods out to dry, the men returned to camp to bring away the remainder of the cargo. Making another raft, they loaded on it all that was of any value, except the tents, and started again for the leeward landing; but their unusual hardships and the discomforts of the rainy season had rendered them nearly helpless, and after proceeding a few miles, they tied up the raft and returned in the small boat to camp, resolved to secure a night's rest under the cover of tents. To their surprise and disappointment, every vestige of their late home had disappeared, and they were compelled to shelter themselves under tents made of their blankets stretched over oars for ridge poles. By the light of the next morning a bottle was discovered tied to a shrub, containing a letter from Captain Abell, stating that he had been to the designated landing, and finding no one there, had loaded the goods left there onto the brig and sailed around the island, discovering the camp, which was also deserted, from which he inferred that the men had found some means of getting away from the island.

Nothing was now left to do but to wait for Captain Lambert to send another vessel for them, and again erecting some tents the castaways submitted with such patience as they could command to the inevitable. Bread began to run low, but one day a cask was seen floating around outside the reef which on being brought to shore was found to contain bread in good condition, and soon after a cask of wine was picked up. This fortunate flotsom added to their fish diet the variety necessary to health. Although the menu was limited, a certain amount of ceremony was observed on Saturdays when they dined in state, and drank, standing, the regular toast of the sailor, "To sweethearts and wives."

To amuse themselves the younger men searched the reef for corals of fanciful shapes and various colors, finding many beautiful forms, among which were some that resembled young fir trees in their manner of growth, and were red, blue, black and white. But excepting these ocean curios there was little to admire upon this unfinished scrap of earth, and when at length, after four months residence on the reef, the schooner Pomare from Otaheite arrived at the island to take them off, the feeling of relief was truly unutterable. The remainder of the Sultana's cargo, with her boats, were taken on board, the natives assisting in getting the Sultana's heavy chain cable to the Pomare. Her whaleboat was taken in tow, but was lost in a squall the second night out.

It was about the last of June when Captains Lambert and Clarke were rejoined by their men. To fittingly celebrate their reunion Captain Lambert gave a Fourth of July dinner; and to be made presentable for the occasion it became necessary to laundry certain articles of clothing, the "doing-up' ' of a white shirt being accomplished with arrow-root for starch, and a bottle of hot water for a smoothing iron. At the dinner some of the guests, including one of the missionaries and the native queen, indiscreetly took too much wine and furnished much amusement to the young sailors by their hilarity. The following day the queen sent some glassware to replace that which had been fractured in the social skirmish of "the day we celebrate" by her own dusky hand. The missionary, poor man, was being conducted home, when on attempting to walk a foot-log across a slough he fell into the morass, together with his guide, and on reaching home created, by his unusual appearance, the greatest consternation.

At Otaheite Lemont learned that the English bark of which Clarke had been master was taken in charge by the Danish consul, as part owner, who had departed in her, leaving Captain Clarke without a vessel. The departure of the bark also left Captain Lambert without the means to continue his voyage to the Columbia as he had hoped to do, and with no resort except to sell the goods in his charge at auction where he was, and return to the United States. An opportunity soon offered, passage being secured for himself, his mate and the supercargo in the whaling vessel Meridian, Captain Benjamin Worth, of New Bedford. But neither patriotism nor pecuniary considerations could induce the whaler to take any more passengers, and Captain Clarke as well as the sailors remained captives of fortune, living in a native house and employing a native cook, while they discussed their chances of escape.

The first plan attempted was to get to sea in some sort of a boat, with a possibility of being picked up by a passing vessel. Accordingly a native boat, sloop-rigged,twenty-two feet long and six feet wide was purchased, hauled up and examined, but finally rejected by Captain Clarke as too hazardous. After this failure Lemont and one of his companions determined to settle on the island, and purchased a piece of land with an orange grove on it, commencing to build a house. They had the sides wattled with willows, the thatched roof partly on, and were having the walls plastered with a mortar made with lime from burnt coral and cocoanut oil, when they were seized with an incurable homesickness, sitting one night on the beach and talking of Bath. The next morning the house and land were sold, and the two lads were reviewing the discarded boat.

The mortar made with the coral lime and oil was discovered to be impervious to water. With this they decided to plaster the boat, after renailing it and before sheathing it with a soft wood. This it was decided would make it safe; and so it did, for when it was launched it was found to be perfectly tight. The next care was for rigging and provisions. Wild pork bought from the natives in the mountains, boned and salted down, cocoanuts, plantains, bananas and arrow-root constituted their prospective bill of fare, to which several barrels of water were added. All was now ready for a 4 start, but the day before that appointed for sailing a ship hove in sight, which proved to be the United States frigate Portsmouth, Captain Downs, which had been on the coast of Sumatra chasing the natives for outrages perpetrated on the crew of a pepper ship. Captain Downs, on learning from the harbor master that some American boys and an English captain designed going to sea in so small a boat, intended to have stopped them. However, they knew nothing of this, and being eager to be off, were several miles on their voyage before they were observed from the frigate and a whaleboat sent to overtake them. Mistaking it for a native fruit boat, and having a fair wind, the adventurers sailed away from the only opportunity which had yet offered of a comfortable voyage home.

It was not a too happy voyage on which a company of seven had set out—four boys, two men, and Captain Clarke. For two weeks they were scudding under a bob jib with the roughest of weather, after which the wind moderated, and at the end of forty days they made the Island of Massafurp, about thirty degrees west of Valparaiso, their destined port, but were unable to land. The whole distance to Valparaiso was four thousand nine hundred miles, and was overcome in sixty-eight days. But what days! What suffering and weariness were compressed into a voyage of that length in a small boat! The most fertile imagination fails to adequately picture it.

"Our cutter," says my interlocutor, "rounded the head at sunrise, going in. The lookout on the mole reported a strange craft. As soon as the signal was seen on the Portsmouth, which was lying there, the commodore ordered his gig and pulled off alongside of us. His first words were, 'You young devils, you ought to be thrashed, every one of you, for risking your lives in that tub.' He knew our story down to the time we left Otaheite, and had brought off the rest of the men. He said he had crossed the Atlantic many times without encountering so much bad weather as in the forty-seven days between Otaheite and Valparaiso."

The little cutter which had performed so wonderful a voyage was the object of much interest at the mole, where many curious people came to view her. She was eventually sold and her crew separated. No more was seen of Captain Clarke for many years, when Lemont, then a captain himself, put into Valparaiso, and on walking up the mole met and recognized him by a peculiar way he had of wiping his nose by an upward move of his forefinger.

It might well be supposed that Lemont had now exhausted adventure for one year, yet it was not so. A vessel having come in which needed recalking, having been damaged off Cape Horn, the ship chandler employed him to make some purchase-block straps, which could not be had in Valparaiso, to strap the vessel, offering $10 per day and board for his services. On the third day, while sitting at dinner with the chandler, the captain of the vessel, whose name was Paddock, entered and was invited to partake of the meal, but declined, and went to the desk of the American Consul, where he exchanged a few words, then advanced to the desk of his deputy and stabbed him to the heart. Quickly turning to Captain Brown of the coasting vessel Fourth of July, he stabbed him also fatally, and before he was finally knocked down by a stone hurled at him by a native, had killed three other persons and wounded seven, all of which tragedy was witnessed by Lemont.

Paddock being an American, the murders created a strong feeling against the nation, making it dangerous for United States citizens to be upon the streets at any time, but especially at night. Paddock was undoubtedly insane, but he was tried and convicted of murder. The American Consul refusing to sign the decree, his execution did not take place immediately, although after a month or so he was publicly shot on the mole. These events did not tend to make a residence in the country seem desirable.

Three months had passed without offering any opportunity of leaving it, except to go to China, which country the young sailors did not desire to visit at that time, when there arrived in port the Baltimore-built clipper Central America, Louis Chastro, master, a privateer, bound for Cadiz in Spain, and carrying a cargo of indigo, cochineal, silver and gold, the latter chiefly in gold plate robbed from the lower coast of Chili. Captain Chastro was prevailed upon to permit Lemont to work his passage to Cadiz, where the clipper arrived in quick time without accident. Her crew, however, were not permitted to land, this being a cholera season, and vessels being ordered into quarantine at Mahone. Meantime the board of health examined the Central America's crew every morning by counting them from a boat alongside!

To avoid this fresh trial of his patience, our adventurer, before the vessel left for quarantine, deserted to the American brig Andes, Captain Lorenson, loaded with salt, and by keeping in hiding a couple of days was able to escape and return to Boston, where he arrived with scurvy in his feet in the spring of 1833, and, going to Bath, experienced that blow to his self-love, and check to the love of others, which all young souls receive on their home-comings after long absences, when they find to their discomfeiture that the world has moved on without them and they have not been greatly missed.

Captain Lambert, on his arrival in Boston, was placed in charge of the brig May Dacre, with a second cargo of goods for the Columbia River trade, making a successful voyage to the Hawaiian Islands, wintering there in 18331834, and entering the Columbia safely April 16, 1834, where he met Wyeth, who had arrived overland in the month of September preceding. The venture did not prove profitable, and in 1836 Wyeth sold out to the Hudson's Bay Company. Before this time the May Dacre had left the river. Captain Lambert commanded at different times the Talma from Boston, the Girard, Diadem, Glasgow, Elizabeth and Huntress. His last voyage was from the Sandwich Islands to New Bedford. He ended his days in the Sailors' Snug Harbor on Staten Island.

Lemont, in September, 1833, obtained a berth as mate of the ship Ceylon, from Boston to Liverpool, but was taken ill and sent home. He was next mate of the Henry Tolman, running between New York and Apalachicola, and subsequently sailing master of the steamer Marmora, owned by Rufus K. Page of Hollo well, the first steamer into Liverpool. Afterwards he went to the Mediterranean, and had many adventures in various ports, besides finding a wife in London.

About 1849 he took an interest in a brig, the John Davis, loaded with goods, lumber and house frames for the Pacific Coast. While lying waiting at Parker's Flat, fifteen miles below Bath, for the Captain, who was ill, the crew went ashore and took a cannon from Cox Head Fort, which act was unknown to Captain Lemont until the vessel was past Cape de Verde Islands. It came to Oregon and was finally landed on the strand at Saint Helens, but was burst in firing on the Fourth of July some years after arriving.

The John Davis brought seventy-five passengers from San Francisco to Portland in 1849, and returned to California with a load of piles, where they were discharged and the vessel sold. Captain Lemont then returned to Oregon with his wife, landing at Saint Helens, and erecting a residence on the bluff just below the town a rarely beautiful location and abjured sea-going forever, content to dwell in the presence of those majestic beauties of river and mountain which twenty years before had captured his boyish fancy. It was here I found him, and here, in the July sun and breeze, I listened to the narrative of his adventures, of which the discovery of Sultana Reef is but a fragment.

FRANCES FULLER VICTOR.


  1. Some explanation is due here as to names used by nautical men seventy years ago, and those in use at a later date. Otaheite is the Fiji of ihe present, and must be so read in this article. Which of the South Pacific or Society Islands was called Bow Island, I do not know, and can only conjecture from the latitude and longitude given me by Lemont. From this information I am led to think that it was one of the group now known as Borim Island, 26 30' S. E. from Japan, distant five hundred miles.

    The following information concerning Captain Dominis was furnished me by a resident of Honolulu, and a member of the new government. Dominis was a native of Massachusetts, but of Italian descent. He married a Miss Holt of Massachusetts. The princess his son married, Lydia Paarkii, was a low chief in Kamehameha's train, whose name was Kapakaa. The ex-queen of Hawaii, or Mrs. John O. Dominis, better known as Queen Liliuokalani, came to the queenly rank through factional politics as other sovereigns have done, and has lost her rank in the same manner, but by foreign politicians.