My two cousins, Donna Fry and Vicky Forbush, put me up to the task of finding out what had happened to a great-great uncle, John Fry, who'd gone west in 1856 to mine for gold. He was actually one of three brothers who were in California in the 1850s -- Josiah died there in 1869 and George Washington Fry went on to be a pioneer in Lassen County, CA.
John had gone to California from Ashland, Ohio before the Civil War and was reportedly lost on board the sinking of the S.S. Golden Gate in 1862. A biography written about founding families of Ashland County during the 1870s notes, "While returning home on the Golden Gate, the vessel was burned. He buckled his money about his waist and clung to a rope until it was burned off, when he jumped into the water with two children he was bringing to New York." The identities and fate of the two children is unknown at this writing.
The Internet had some incorrect leads on the date that the ship had sunk, putting it as early as July 15, 1862. But I was determined to get the actual accounts from the newspapers of the time, so obtained microfilms of the New York Herald Tribune from July and August of that year. After slogging through three weeks of newspaper accounts of the Civil War, I was about to give up. Was it so unimportant that the New York newspapers didn't care?
Suddenly on August 8, 1862 the news is splashed across the top of the New York newspapers. It had been delayed by the break in the telegraph lines!
The news shocked New York City, even with the country at war and Grant about to besiege Vicksburg. New York financial news tracked shipments of gold from California closely, so it was immediately known that $1.1 million bound for New York and $270,000 bound for England had been lost.
It was Aug. 6 before the St. Louis carried the survivors and the news back to San Francisco. The telegraph line break delayed its arrival in New York by two more days.
The names of those killed or missing were published on Aug. 10; a more complete list several days later. The San Francisco Bulletin published a more complete list several days later, though there are indications that some of those lost may not be on the lists. In particular, Raphael Myers, who apparently went to California from England with his wife Mathilda (nee Cohen) was lost and none of the names on this list resemble his. Mathilda Myers and granddaughters were not lost in the sinking; they'd preceded him back to England.
The three lists from August, 1862 have been reconciled to the extent possible here.
It appears that any of the bodies found were buried in Manzanillo; at least one victim (Edward Josephi) was taken back to the U.S. two years later.
NAMES OF THE LOST.
Dr. Henry W. Jones, surgeon of the ship
Mrs. G.O. McMullen, two infants and servant
The servant of J. Whitney, Jr.
E. Flint (of Holladay & Flint, New York)
B.J. Denchla and niece
Mrs. A.T. Greene and infant
Rev. C. Keith, returning missionary from China
Mrs. Cyrus Adams and infant
E. Levine and servant
Capt. J.W. Rickards, wife and two children
Mrs. Wright and child
Mrs. C.A. Morrison
Mrs. Harriet Horton
Dr. J.N. Bodinier (French)
Miss C.E. Cogswell
Charles J. Theis, German merchant (Theis and Knibbe)
Mrs. B. Darsh and two children
David A. Nurse
Edward Josephi (his brother would go to Manzanillo in 1864 to disinter his brother and take the body home)
J. Cramer, wife and infant
Henry Gerstung, wife and child (German merchant)
Son of A.J. Nichols
John E. Given and wife Ella Thompson Given (originally from Baltimore; two children survived)
Mrs. Leavenworth and child
Mrs. J.L. Hulse and child (J.L. Hulse survived)
George Henry Fulton and three nephews (Julian, 9; Walter; and Edward) -- 1 child saved
Mrs. S. Babcock and infant
Mrs. A. Stone
Mrs. I.W. Geer and infant
Miss L.C. Brier
Miss G. Barker
R. Voener and wife
Mrs. E. Scott
John Fry, Ashland, OH
A. Smith, sister, wife and four children
Mrs. Mary Clark
Miss A. Chambers
H.W. Bracey (colored)
Timothy O'Brien, 3rd assistant engineer
Sam Jones, water tender fireman
John Cunningham, fireman
Wm. Denny, fireman
George Ogden, coal passer
Henry Baden, coal passer
William Low, sailor
Sam Dowling, sailor
Robert Pino, cabin waiter
Charles Miller, cabin waiter
P.H. Sullivan, cabin waiter
Thomas Bolster, cabin waiter
George Smith, coal passer
William McKenzie, fireman
Thomas Smith, fireman
Frank Marlay, coal passer
Mike Keegan, coal passer
A. Hennessey. sailor
Antonio Ferris, cabin waiter
William Carey, cabin waiter
Martin Owen, steerage waiter
Henry Johnson, mess boy for engineers
Henry Johnson, carpenter
S.K. Valentine, second steward
Charles Cobb, carpenter
Benjamin Strobel, pantry man
Bernard McKune, second pantry man
Henry R. Schaeffer, second porter
John Brown Zeni, 1st cook, afer galley
John Peterson, colored second cook, forward galley
George Rose, colored second cook, forward galley
Sam Burris, colored third cook, forward galley
Charles A. Belford (working passage)
John Johnson, cabin waiter