Michael White on Building the Santa Barbara

Now it ain't all that surprising that Michael White's take on things is somewhat different than from how those same events are recorded by "history" – which is what we call it now. We have access to information he might not have been aware of, and he was there on the spot. And then there's personality.

Now I would'a figured that he and Joseph Chapman must've been good friends. They came from similar backgrounds, became Mexican citizens and married a couple of lovely senoritas, and worked on the same projects together.

And yet, Michael White, who never forgot a name, never once mentioned Joseph Chapman in his interview with Thomas Savage. Even H.D. Barrows wrote about Chapman in conjunction with White – but not White. White even mentioned the folks he didn't like (and named names) but not Chapman. So what happened? Raven Jake has got to conclude that their relationship went beyond dislike to the area of "dead to me," which is a complete surprise, but then ol' Michael White was full of surprises. This is his very brief take on building the Santa Barbara (at San Pedro): 

The building of the schooner was discontinued. An American Brig called the Danube was wrecked at San Pedro on Christmas Eve and Captain de la Guerra bought her.

I had a cousin named Henry Paine whom I had seen once in La Paz and met in Santa Barbara when I got there in 1828. He was my chief carpenter in constructing the schooner. The Captain, prior to buying the Danube, had sent him to San Pedro to survey the wreck, get her off, and put such repairs on her as might be necessary. He went to San Pedro and she proved to be a splendid vessel, but could not be got off. I went afterward to San Pedro; started on 30 December and got there on New Year's Eve.

We had everything ready to get her off, and were waiting for the tide to rise, when a gale came on and brought her high and dry. She got on the top of the bank so that I could walk off her bowsprit on the shore. She was knocked all to pieces, and we saved all the materials and built a schooner out of them. She was named the Santa Barbara, and was the first vessel ever built in California. She was placed under command of a man called Thomas Robinson, a Nantucket man [Thomas M. Robbins came to California in 1823. In 1846 he was granted Santa Catalina Island.]


Read and post comments | Send to a friend


~ by ravenjake on January 1, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: