Voyage to California (19) and (20) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlop (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.


The sea smooth to day and the weather very pleasant. The only curiosity to day, worthy of notice, was the fin of a shark, projecting above the water. A more extended view, his honor would not vouchsafe us. At the noon observation we were said to be very nearly in the latitude of old Guatemala. Distance 239 miles.

The weather pleasant, and sea smooth to day. Some high peaks visible among the mountains on the coast this morning. Distance 202 miles.



During these two days the weather has been very pleasant and the ocean smooth. We have generally been in the sight of the high peaks on the coast, but at such a distance that to an inexperienced eye they look more like clouds then land. On one of these days I suppose I saw the fin of a shark above the water – like some of the other sites, however, which one sees in traveling, there was very little sight about it. Something very like a flat stick, sticking out of the water for a brief space of time, was about the amount of it. The distance accomplished on these two days respectively was 239 and 202 miles.

Tomorrow, I’ll be continuing the story of the Rev. Elijah Guion and his wife Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion.

On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1944. Lad and Marian have been married for about six months and have just spent some time in Trumbull and Orinda, California, vising families during their furlough. Dan is in London but will be going to Normandy very soon. Ced remains in Alaska, Dick is not quite sure where he will be going next but expects to be traveling soon. Dave was able to come home for a visit which coincided with his High School Class Graduation and received a Diploma, making Grandpa very happy.

Judy Guion


3 thoughts on “Voyage to California (19) and (20) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

  1. Reblogged this on Musings of a Penpusher and commented:
    This blog makes fascinating reading as well as making real history come vividly to life.

  2. Imagine such a journey today – and all those selfies whizzing away on Facebook. Your ancestor’s calm recital of his momentous travels conjure up images of calm seas, billowing winds and a seasoned traveller; so different from the seasick veteran of a previous post who nonetheless, stuck-it-out.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Maureen – I actually believe it is the same with travel these days also. One bad day of travel is forgotten with a different, exciting day. A picture may be worth a thousand words but you cannot capture all of the experiences and the feelings they evoke without the written words in John Jackson Lewis’s Diary and Journal.

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