Voyage of the Toando
This little vessel, 89-feet long and “overloaded and overcrowded,” sailed from Boston to Washington Territory 147 years ago and never touched at any port en route. Land was sighted just once, the Island of San Juan Fernandez (Robinson Crusoe Island), before they reached Cape Flattery on the Northwest Coast. The passengers and crew amused themselves by “fishing” for albatross with salt pork. After 187 days the Toando arrived at Port Townsend, Washington Territory, “in good seaworthy condition” and the crew and the families of the two captains all in good health. It is believed that the Toando ended her days on the West Coast.
The following selections written during the voyage are taken from 26-year-old Josiah Munson’s journal to his brother Ted in East Machias, with selected excerpts from 17-year-old Emily Keller’s journal to her friend Carrie Harmon, also of East Machias. Josiah’s journal was published December 1959 through June 1960 in the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society Newsletter. Emily’s journal writings are from a private collection, courtesy of Robert and Kay Munson.
JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE FROM BOSTON TO PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON TERRITORY,
About setting out on a voyage around Cape Horn, from Boston, towards Oregon, I shall commence a sort of Abstract Log or Journal, giving weekly our position in Latitude and Longitude, our course and distance made, the bearing and distance of the nearest land, noting any and every event and incidence of importance or interest, which may come under my notice, such as a description of any land or sight, of vessels we chance to meet or speak, of birds, whales, sharks, etc.
As it will be written at sea in all kinds of weather, without a chance for correction, and by one not able to do it justice, even with the best of chances, it will contain many imperfections, more especially in writing composition and punctuation, which I hope my friends will kindly overlook and excuse.
In the first place some description of the little craft, so long to be our home, will not be out of place. She is a strong, well built fore and aft schooner of 160 tons burthen, built by Mr. Wm. Cunningham, and owned by Mr. Charles Foster, of the firm of Foster and Keller, and commanded by Capt.’s G.D. and A.W. Keller, all of East Machiasi. The Capt.’s Keller are gentlemen highly esteemed and worthy of the trust imposed in them. The schooner Toando, I wish she had a better name, Lucy would sound much better, is well fitted out, victualed and manned for the voyage, though about the men I can’t say, they count well by numbers, but thin for sailors.
As they are all from about home, you can judge for yourselves when you see their names. Her cargo consists of coal, nails, spikes, pine boards, oak and ash planks, boats and oars on deck. She is very deep, I think much too deep for so long a voyage, this with the name she has already of being a very dull sailer, rather discourages us about a passage being a little ambitious, and serious of making it not uncommon long.
We cherish hopes of making the passage somewhere near the L.P. Foster’s time, about five and one-half months, yet we would be content to do it in six. At any rate we shall do the best we can, improve all slants, and try to have no lost or misspent time to reflect upon. Our company, officers, passengers and crew are 17. Capt. G.D. Keller, wife and family. I will give you their names, Betsey, his wife; Emily; Goddard, Jr.; Betsey; John; and Helen, the youngest, the pet and play thing of all. Little Kittie Clydeii, we all call her, is about 2_ years old and loves everyone best. Capt. A.W. Keller and Laura, his wife [and Josiah Munson’s sister], and your humble servant, myself, make up the complement aft. Mr. Nathaniel Harmon, cook; Thomas Pierce; James Thompson; James Demmons; Martin V.B.Ames; Lewis Smith; and Edward Durgan comprise the list of sailors. In looking around for able seamen the Capt.’s Keller is all I can find though Demmons and Durgan will do, and in fact are all we can depend on at present, but I presume a month or two at sea will make things appear better.
Thursday, September 23, 1858, was our sailing day, consequently all on board were up earlier than usual doing their little errands, looking for hoped for letters and mailing theirs written to relatives and friends never perhaps to be met again, doing a little forgotten or neglected shopping etc.
At 1 o’clock Mr. Foster came with the tow boat Stag, made fast to us and away we went down the harbor, leaving Boston for years and probably some and perhaps all of us for ever. I know not what was passing through the minds of the ladies, whatever it might have been was neither pleasing or cheering, their eyes were filled with tears, and there seemed to rest a feeling of subdued sadness on the minds of all. My own regrets at leaving home would not be many, were it not for the sad reflections that I was leaving my father and mother alone for how long I know not, who now in their declining years, more than ever, need my assistance. It must indeed be lonely to them after having so many of us around, being entirely alone. For their sake I hope soon to return.
At 10 o’clock in the evening we passed Cape Cod. The wind for two or three days before had been out of the South and South East winds which made it very rough, and made our new sailors experience a delicate but not agreeable, sensation about the stomach.
Friday at 3:30 A.M. morning Cape Cod light bore West, distance 14 miles from which our departure is taken and of course shaped across the trackless waters.
Sunday, September 26, 3 days out - Latitude 39:38 N, Longitude 66:13 W course and distance sailed SE_E 270 miles from Boston Lighthouse.
Sunday, October 24, 31 days out, Latitude 21:07 N Longitude 30:00 W course and distance sailed SE_E 630 miles. Bearing and distance of Cape Verde islands SE_E 365 miles. Thursday at 2 A.M. crossed the parallel of 25N in Longitude 34:56. Friday at 9 o’clock A.M. crossed the tropic of Cancer. Another week has passed and we are not farther ahead than at its commencement. In fact according to Maury’s directions our last week’s position was much the best for making a quick run to the Equator. By the directions we ought to be in 35:00 Longitude, but we could not get there. We have had the winds from WSW to SW and very light, except Monday and Tuesday when it blew a strong gale and we could not make but little better than an East course. It is rather discouraging, in this time we hoped to be across the Equator, at least but are only 2/3 of the distance and in a hard position to make the remaining 1/3. However, we must make the best of it. It would not seem so bad if our little craft was a little swifter getting through the water. Wednesday forenoon saw a ship to weather on the same tack as ourselves.
Wednesday afternoon as we were at work on the Flying jibboom repairing some damage done in the gale, it being very rough and the vessel sailing at the rate of 5_ knots (not miles) per hour, she pitched into it and put us two or three feet under water. Albert not having a good hold was washed off. They on deck, hove the wheel down and threw him a line which he caught and we hauled him in aft of the main rigging. We got other duckings before finishing the job, but were more careful and at last got the thing fixed. As the preceding, this week was past without seeing a whale or shark and but little else. An occasional bird or flying fish is all. If this wind continues we shall probably sight the Cape Verdes Tuesday, but I hope that we will be favored with better wind before that time. The general health of the company has been and is at present good.
Emily’s Journal: Wednesday, Nov. 24, 1858. = Lat 32_ 03' = Longitude 36_ 56'
We reckon up everything we had even to a needle. Heavy Westerly gales and passing clouds and heavy sea quite cool, have thought of putting on some extra clothing, saw some birds called the Albatross. Sewing has been our chief occupation for to-day. Laura & I have been figuring this afternoon to see how much our clothes have cost for the last two years. Laura’s cost $135.36. Mine cost $76.97, some difference. I cannot write any more to night, for it is too rough, Josiah has had to hold me up, while I’ve been writing this.
Emily’s Journal: Saturday Dec. 25, 1858. Lat 55° 65' Long 63° 30'
Today we have had a strong breeze from the W.N.W. The weather has been quite pleasant and sea rough. We’ve seen a ship and a bark and a full rigged brig. We think they are the same ones that we saw Wednesday, they are bound the same way we are. The ship came quite near. Wed. the men killed one of the pigs. We had a pot pie made of feet, if it is for supper it was only big enough for two messes. Today is Christmas. I wish you all a “Merry Christmas” and I’ve no doubt but it will be merrier than ours. I suppose there is a tea party in Pope’s Hall and you are all preparing to go about this time. A year ago tonight, Thankful and I took a walk around the square with F. Huntley and sunbeam Whittmore. Bet got a dress skirt, two books, a book mark and a pickle and hard tack bread in her stocking. I got a present (I dare not tell you what) from Josiah, but the best present we received was a fair wind. We doubled Cape St. John, the eastern end of Staten Island, Mother and Laura been sewing. I finished my stocking. I haven’t anything more to say to night so I’ll “turn in.” Good night.
Sunday, December 26, 94 days out, Latitude 56:05S, Longitude 66:39W, course and distance sailed, SSE½E, 295 miles. Bearing and distance of Cape Horn, west 120 miles. My closest hope of last week not yet realized, yet we are now in the broad road to the Pacific, having yesterday “doubled” St. John, the Eastern end of Staten Island. I think I never saw so much disagreeable weather and heavy head winds before. . . . By carrying every inch of canvas we dared show, and sometimes more, and what I considered good management, we kept quite near the land, and though we could not keep a position to go through the Straits (of Magellan), we were in a good place to take a fair wind which came yesterday morning being off the East end of Staten Island. At noon we doubled Cape St. John with a fine, fair wholesail breeze. At 6 PM it died away calm and at 10 it changed, breezed up suddenly SW, directly ahead, with heavy rain. We got her under snug reefs as soon as possible. . . .
Yesterday was Christmas. It passed off quite pleasant but not so pleasant I think if we had been home, or even been favored with a fair wind and pleasant weather where we are. As we must have a “Christmas Dinner” Captain Keller killed the fatted pig which was enjoyed very much after living so long on salt provisions. Some of the children, though so far at sea, did not forget Santa Claus, and accordingly hung up their stockings, and he though not very liberal with his presents showed that he did not forget them. All the company seem to enjoy better health in this cold weather than they did in the warm, and if we could be blessed with the same fair winds and smooth water, we should enjoy ourselves very much, but it is very rough and uncomfortable all the time. No more this week.
Sunday, January 16, 1859, 115 days out, Latitude 55:41 S. Longitude 80:16W. Course and distance sailed N by W 3/4 W, 189 miles. Bearing and distance off Cape Horn East 435 miles. This has been the hardest, roughest and most stormy week of all. It commenced with an awful gale of wind, almost a hurricane, by far the heaviest we have experienced at all, and like the rest directly ahead. Our little craft behaves finely, much better than we could expect, so deep and with this deck-load.
Three or four seas boarded her aft and came near making our number 3 or 4 short. Pierce and Smith were both washed away from the wheel and Pierce came near going overboard, he caught the lee rail with his hand and Capt. Keller, standing in the gangway, caught him by the leg. I saw the sea when it struck him and I thought he was surely gone. Captain Keller got knocked down under the wheel and hurt quite bad. It was the ugliest sea that I ever saw, so short and coming from all points of the compass, foaming as if bound to destroy all that should stand in its way. Split the new mainsail and that three reefed. Set the storm tryssail. It was a horrid gale and I never desire to see another like it. The wind through the week has varied only from NW to WSW and only part of one day did we have the whole lower sail set. When we shall have a slant to get into better weather is more than I can tell, but I hope this week is the last we shall have so stormy. Such weather lengthens our passage awfully. Tuesday evening saw a Bark under short sail trying with us to get out of the bad weather.
Wednesday evening split the flying jib all to pieces, sent it in, bent a new one and set it, also shook out a reef or two. Plenty of Albatross around us as usual and a few penguins. Yesterday afternoon saw a sail to windward. This is awful weather, hard to describe. Blowing a gale most of the time, either steady, stormy or hail, rain and snow squalls. The sun above the horizon two thirds of the time, but seldom seen, have had a poor chance for observations for nearly a month past. We seldom see a star or the moon, much less to think of getting an observation of them. The company are all well as usual with the exception of a few boils among the men, and a breeding sore on Captain Albert’s thumb. They are tired and about discouraged.
Emily’s Journal: Saturday, February 12, 1859. Commenced with light airs from S.E. its fair what there is, but it’s nearly calm, weather pleasant. Saw two whales and a tropic bird. I’ve been embroidering, the rest of the [women] folks sewing. Dear me, I wish we could have a breeze of wind so that we could get along for I’m sick of the sea. I’d like to get ashore and have a good run. There’s nothing to write as usual, so good night, pleasant dreams be thine, is my sincere wish. Lat 28° 25'–Long 95° 29 Feb. 12
Sunday, March 6, 1859, 164 days out, Latitude 8:05 N. Longitude 121:08 W. Course and distance sailed NNW_W 680 miles. Tuesday at 8 P.M. crossed the Equator in 115:55 W. Longitude. Friday at 11:15 A.M. crossed 5N Latitude in Longitude 121:08 W. Monday evening at half past 7 spoke the Mexican bark Ranger, 26 days out from San Francisco bound to Valparaiso. Our Longitudes were alike, within 5 miles. This week we have had calm, light variable winds, squalls and towards the last part heavy breezes, which I hope to be the Southern edge of the NE trades, though far to the Northward. I hope they will soon check to the Southward in our favor and let us finish up this long and tedious passage. Friday morning saw a ship about 10 miles off on our lee bow, so far that we could only see her top gallant sails above the water. Large schools of porpoises, some whales, a few dolphins which made us a very nice fresh fry although very dry. A very few tropic birds have been around, one of which gave us a call. He came on board, stopped an hour or so to get some breakfast and left again. The weather has been very hot, especially the first part of the week, while so calm. We constructed a shower bath, which I think we ought to have done long before. It was very refreshing those warm mornings and evenings to step in and take a cool bath, though not very cold as the temperature of the water is about 80. The girls enjoy it very much. The whole company is in good health and spirits.
Tuesday, March 29, 1859, 187 days out. Latitude and Longitude being Port Townsendiii. Arrived at last all in good health and spirits after so long a voyage. We came to anchor for the first time in more than seven [sic] monthsiv at half past 9 this morning in the fine harbor of Port Townsend where we shall receive orders about discharging. Our passage has been long and rather hard and uncomfortable, owing to the small size of the vessel, and being so deeply laden. Yet we have done very well considering everything and we lived more comfortable than we expected when we left. Though there has been a large family of us there seems to have been room enough for all.
As we have arrived all right I will consider the voyage ended and close up the journal hoping that if any of you take the trouble to follow through the crooked and wild scribbling you will have the kindness to overlook the many imperfections which it contains. I shall try to send it in this mail, as soon as it reaches you all write in return. While here in this country I leave off journalizing and write to all as often as I can. No more at present.
(Signed) Josiah H. Munson
Josiah and Emily were married soon after their arrival and settled in Washington Territory, as did Goddard Sr. and his family. Goddard Jr. became a sea captain and was lost as sea. Laura died of consumption and complications after the birth of twins, who also died. Albert lived a long life, commanding many vessels for the Pope and Talbot Company.
i. The Toando was new, built at East Machias that year and probably at the shipyard of Charles Foster and Capt. Josiah P. Keller. Foster and Keller were each ½-owners in her. In 1852, they had joined with fellow East Machias natives Andrew Pope and William Talbot in forming the Puget Mill Company, a successful lumber manufacturing and marketing enterprise. The mill was located at Port Gamble on Puget Sound with company headquarters in San Francisco. Josiah Keller was partner in residence and mill superintendent at Port Gamble, the Toando’s destination.
Capt. Goddard D. Keller, probably a first cousin of Josiah Keller, was a seasoned master mariner. Machias vessel registration and enrollment records show that from 1841 to 1858 he was master of at least seven vessels: brig Juan J. De Cartegena; schooner Charles L. Vose; schooner George Evans; brig Miranda; brig Eureka; brig Celt; and now the schooner Toando. He had owned shares in the Cartegena and the Vose. All were Machias or East Machias-built.
Albert W. Keller would serve as first mate during the Toando voyage. He had been to Puget Sound in 1853 with his uncle Josiah when the mill equipment was brought out from Boston on the schooner L.P. Foster. Now at 26 and having had his own previous command, he would be his father’s mate and navigator. He was the only one on board to have been around the Horn.
Josiah Munson himself served as second mate.
ii. An apparent allusion to Kitty Clyde, a sentimental song of the period composed by L.H.V. Crosby and published in sheet music in 1853.
iii. Port of Entry for the Customs District of Puget Sound, Washington Territory.
iv. 187 days would be more than six, rather than seven, months.