PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR
Taylor's letter of 12 August 1849 was started just after he and his companions had finally made their passage through the Straits of Magellan. By this time, Taylor had joined a partnership with fourteen others under the leadership of T. B. Cunningham, a ship-master. Each member of Cunningham & Co. invested $1,000 to outfit their expedition to California.
Shortly after entering the Straits, Taylor writes, Cunningham & Co. had met a like-minded group of New Englanders on an aptly named vessel: "the Schooner 'J. A. Sutter' of Warren R. I. came to anchor beside us, owned by a company of 26 young men, bound like ourselves for 'El Dorado.' Of course, an intimacy was soon constructed between us; so that the two vessels left in company. …" But, Taylor continues, "Unfortunately the Capt of the 'Sutter' had neither the prudence or judgment of ours" and shortly after she was discovered "hard & fast on a rock—a complete wreck!"
The men of Cunningham & Co. helped rescue the men and their stores and tried to assist them in finding a place aboard another California-bound ship. But the other forty-niners were more competitive than the company from Maine, and Sutter castaways ended up going aboard the Arcadian.
The passage through the Straits of Magellan seemed interminable: "The Straits are 375 miles in length, but to gain that distance, we have sailed at least 1500. Have lain at anchor 44 days—been under sail 29 days & 6 whole nights."
The Arcadian reached San Francisco on 29 October 1849; from there she sailed to Sacramento, where the Cunningham men established their claims. Taylor passed the next three years in California, mining, surveying, and trading. He then returned east, and traveled through South America and Panama; for a time he assisted in the coastal survey of Chile.
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