Biography of Joseph Almy
Marin County, CA Biographies





Joseph Almy. On turning over the pages of this work, the reader will find a striking portrait of Judge Almy, no more fitting representative of a county can be found. We are not disposed to enter into any loud pan in regard to the learned Judge-" Deeds not Words" has been his motto through life; let his, therefore, be a pure and unvarnished record, nevertheless telling of an "ow' er true tale." The subject of this biographical sketch was born in Tiverton, Rhode Island, in the year 1822. After attending the common schools he sailed, at the age of sixteen years, from New Bedford in the ship "Fenelon," Captain Smith, on a whaling voyage to what was then called the Main Banks, near the Falkland islands, and at the expiration of eleven months returned with twenty seven hundred barrels of oil, this being considered one of the most successful voyages on record. Mr. Almy again started from the same place on another whaling cruise in the ship "Selma," Captain Arlington Wilcox, and after being at sea about ten months was so badly crippled by being jammed between two large casks of oil which had broken their lashings in a gale, that in order to save his life it was deemed necessary to put him on shore. This was done at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, where he remained about two months with the American consul. He was then placed on board the ship "Joseph Maxwell" bound for Fairhaven, where he arrived after a passage of about six months. From Fairhaven he returned to Tiverton; attended school about one year, and having somewhat recovered his health, sailed from Bristol, Rhode Island, as ship keeper in the brig "Governor Hopkins," Alley Wilcox, master. This was also a whaling expedition, and is called by sailors a "plum pudding" voyage, from the fact that the vessel is only provisioned for a few months, and is not expected to go far from home. On this voyage he was in sight of the peak of Tenerilfe, a burning volcano, for several weeks. Landed at Fayal and Floras, visited the Cape de Verde and Canary islands, and returned to Bristol after an absence of seven months, the catch being twenty barrels of black fish oil. Mr. Almy next sailed from New Bedford April 27, 1842, as boat steerer in the ship " Jeannette," Mathew Mayhew, master. This vessel was fitted to cruise three years in the Pacific ocean for sperm whales. During this voyage he passed the 17th and 18th days of March, 1843, on Juan Fernandez or Robinson Crusoe's island; stayed two days on Chatham island among the terrapins, and was honorably discharged from the ship at Tahiti. There the French were about to take forcible possession, and with the feeling that it was not a safe place for a residence, he again shipped as boat steerer on the ship "Ceres," of Wilmington, Delaware, Edward Ayers, master, and sailed from the island October 7, 1843. Proceeded to Wallace island, and to Lahaina, Maui, one of the Hawaiian group, where he kept a hotel for three years. This place he left in the latter part of the year 1847 as a passenger on board the ship "Abraham Barker," John Breyton, master, bound for New Bedford; touched at Penrhyn island on November 26, 1847, and at Roratonga, where he found some missionaries exerting themselves to convert the cannibals. Stayed three days in Pernambuco, and arrived in New Bedford in May, 1848, whence he returned to the home of his youth from which he had been absent more than six years. The letters of Colonel Fremont, which were being published in the Eastern papers at that period giving glowing accounts of the discovery of gold in California, led him with others, to form a joint stock company of eighty members to proceed to the new Dorado. This association was known as the "Fall River Mining and Trading Company." Purchasing the bark "Mallory" she was provisioned for two years, and loaded with the lumber and frames for several large buildings. The company, including the subject of this sketch, embarked and sailed from New York in March, 1849; touched at St. Catharines, sighted Terra del Fuego and arrived in San Francisco September 13, 1849. There the vessel was sold, while the lumber brought two hundred and fifty dollars per M feet. Mr Almy had been in San Francisco only a few days when he opened a public house On Jackson street and called it the "New England Home," but the fire of that Fall destroyed the building He then went to Bolinas, and in the Spring of 1850 proceeded to the mines where he dug gold for two 'years. He then returned to Bolinas and was elected Justice of the Peace of that township November 2, 1852, an office he held for eight years, being a School Trustee for one year of that time. Ran the Mill Company's vessel "Julia" for seven months transporting lumber to San Francisco; built the schooner "H. C. Almy" and launched her in the Fall of 1855, and made regular trips with her until 1864 when he disposed of his interest; went East by way of Panama, and, returning to Bolinas was appointed Judge of Margin county February 18, 1867, which office he continued to hold until January, 1880. What was thought of Judge Almy's ability as the possessor of that high legal office, we would beg to refer the reader to page 122 of this volume. Judge Almy has sailed once around the world, and rounded Cape Horn no less than four times. He married, May 10, 1857, Lucinda Miller, who was born in In liana December 13, 1834. By this union they have had nine children, six of whom are now living; namely, Thomas, Henry, Hattie, Amanda, Nellie, and Charles.

From:
History of Marin County, California
Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, California 1880


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