This suggested to me that the vessel Jim Allen and WSA had excavated was one of those five ships, as they were digging in the heart of Hare’s old yard. The wreck found in 2005, not completely broken up, would have been the last ship to be torn apart in the shipbreaker’s yard.
From old records, I knew the site had been filled over by 1859-1860. The vessel was exposed in open water for some time, because there was damage to the wood from teredo worms that had stopped with the burial of the vessel. That would make sense for a ship broken up and abandoned in February 1857 and left in tidal waters for two to three years. Jim’s team documentation of the vessel showed that it was an American-built vessel built around 1820-1830, perhaps slightly earlier, but not before the War of 1812, and was approximately 100 by 25 feet. Working from their measurements and 19th century insurance company specifications for shipbuilding, I determined that it was a vessel with a registered tonnage of approximately 300 tons.
If it was one of the final five ships broken up by Hare, it could not be the 212-ton Fortune, the 387-ton Regulus, or the 508-ton Panama. It therefore had to be either the Massachusetts built, 1826 barque Harvest, an 1849 arrival later used as a storeship off Long Wharf (Commercial Street), hauled to Rincon Point by 1852 and broken up in 1857, or Candace, a 309-ton ship built in Massachusetts in 1818 which arrived in San Francisco in 1855 after a long career as a whaler. Damaged and condemned, the vessel was sold at auction and broken up off Rincon Point in 1857.
This ca. 300 ton barque is a close match for either Candace or Harvest. It is moored at what today would be near the intersection of Spear and Folsom streets. The barque lies off the Folsom Street alignment; the line of capped pilings visible behind its stern is the property line of the waterlot. They outline the southern boundary of Folsom while the vessel lies across the Spear street alignment, as does the steamboat and the housed-over storeship behind (north) of the vessel. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, J. Porter Shaw Library, A11.4528-c.
As for which of the two, I believe the vessel excavated in 2005 is most probably Candace. Built in Boston, Massachusetts in 1818, Candace was sold to Connecticut owners in 1836 and turned from a South American trader into a whaler. She made many voyages to the South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, the Pacific, including the North Pacific Coast, and the Arctic between1838-1855. Most of her logs are at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, whose library staff, along with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, was the key to learning more about her and identifying the wreck.
Am I sure that the 300 Spear Street wreck is Candace? Without a name carved into the side, no archaeologist could ever say yes with 100 percent certainty. But is certainly appears to be Candace. To summarize, as I did in an email to Jim Allan, the identification is based on:
* Candace is listed as one of the last five ships broken up at the site;
* the stern fit a vessel with an estimated 100 foot length and an approximate 25 foot beam. Candace was registered at 99 ft. 8 inches with a 26 foot, 6 inch beam;
* the timbers of the stern’s construction, compared to contemporary construction specifications, fit a vessel of 250-300 tons registry, with a trend to the 300 ton range. Candace was registered at 309 tons;
* the timbers reflect an origin in the eastern United States;
* the method of construction indicated to us an early nineteenth century date, i.e., before 1820;
* the stern indicated a had-used, worn-out and damaged and poorly repaired vessel. This fits with records of Candace’s long career (1818-1855) and the fact that the barque put into San Francisco after an Arctic whaling voyage in July 1855, leaking and “condemned” (i.e. sold for scrapping or rebuilding). Archaeological documentation of the stern found repaired damage to Candace’s rudder and rudder post that suggests a lifting force strained them, which could come from the movement of ice on a frozen-in vessel;
* something Jim Allan said at the very end – a critical piece of evidence he held back to not prejudice my detective work – was that excavation of the stern found two sperm whale teeth in the bilge, suggesting its use as a whaler.
News of the identification of Candace made headlines in San Francisco and amazingly has spread throughout the country, especially in her old ports of call in New England, a reminder of how powerful the stories of lost ships are when they reappear from the depths – or from beneath the streets, as was the case here. It’s finding the forgotten stories of ships like Candace, and sharing them with the public, that bring me joy as an archaeologist.