Vessel Ann Parry (often miscalled Ann Perry) arrives in Bellingham Bay with bricks for the T. G. Richards Building on July 16, 1858.

  • By Patrick Sodt, Sehome High School
  • Posted 6/28/2007
  • Essay 8197
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On July 16, 1858, the bark Ann Parry arrives in Bellingham Bay from San Francisco after 24 days at sea. She is carrying 200 hopeful miners as well as bricks for the T.G. Richards building to be erected entirely of bricks. Made in San Francisco, these bricks will still be present at the building's 150 year anniversary in 2008. (Note: The registered vessel name Ann Parry was usually misspelled Ann Perry after her arrival in San Francisco in 1849.)

A Famous Ship's Beginning

In 1825, the Ann Parry was built at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the banks of the Piscataqua river. The 328-ton ship was manufactured by William Badger for two local merchants. On December 5, 1825, the Ann Perry took her maiden voyage into the cotton trade, sailing to Savanah and Liverpool.

After seven years and countless voyages in the freighting business, the Ann Parry was purchased by the Portsmouth Pier Company in 1832 for conversion into a whaler. She sailed for the Pacific in 1833. Correspondence reported that she made a 140-day voyage to Talcohuano, Chile, but her crew did not kill any whales. A year later, she was in Oahu, Hawaii, with 500 barrels of whale, and later in Maui with 2,200 barrels. When she returned in 1836 to Portsmouth, her success made it easy to recruit a crew for future cruises. She made large profits in the whaling industry, traveling to the Pacific and Madagascar many times.

New Life for an Aging Whaler

On August 10, 1848, the Ann Parry was auctioned off to Salem owners for $3,600, ending her long tenure as a whaler. The new owners, Benjamin West and John Hodges, departed Salem on June 21, 1849, for the Gold Rush in San Francisco. On December 29, 184 days later, she completed the trip around the horn. She was the last ship to arrive in San Francisco for the California Gold Rush. Some time early in 1850 she was sold to new owners on the West Coast.

In November of 1850, the Ann Parry arrived again in San Francisco with lumber from Port Madison, Washington. She had a connection with Apple Tree Point, where a pre-territorial Washington sawmill was located. She ran aground there in 1860.

Ann Parry Departs for Bellingham Bay

In the spring of 1858, gold was discovered on the Fraser River in present-day British Columbia. The little settlements on Bellingham Bay become the jumping off place for Americans to travel on to the Fraser River.

A notice appeared in the Alta California Weekly on June 11, 1858, that the "Ann Perry" would make a trip to Bellingham Bay. A June 19 notice in the Pioneer Line Weekly showed an intended departure on June 21st. On June 25, Shipping Intelligence shows that the Ann Parry was cleared by customs. On July 14, she arrived in Bellingham Bay with bricks and building materials for the T. G. Richards building. This was the only time she carried something other than logs.

Life After the Bricks

After the Ann Parry delivered the bricks for the T. G. Richards building, she continued her life in the Pacific. She returned to San Francisco on September 11, 1858, to once again enter the lumber trade, making regular voyages between the Puget Sound and San Francisco, even surviving a stranding in Washington in 1860.

On January 3, 1865, the Ann Parry fatefully anchored outside the Golden Gate Bridge due to fog and wind conditions. During the evening, a storm dragged the vessel onto the beach, and Captain Trask and three of his crew were drowned. The hull splintered to pieces and masts snapped while the full cargo of potatoes and lumber washed up on shore. This incident marked the end for the Ann Parry, a long lived, rugged, and dependable vessel. 

Sources: Kenneth R. Martin, Heavy Weather and Hard Luck: Portsmouth Goes Whaling (Portsmouth: Portsmouth Marine Society, 1998); Ray Brighton, Port of Portsmouth Ships and the Cotton Trade (Portsmouth: Portsmouth Marine Society, 2002); Robert P. Delgado, Shipwrecks at the Golden Gate (San Francisco: National Maritime Museum, 1984), 28-29; E. W. Wright, Louis & Dryden's Maritime History of the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon: Lewis & Dryden Printing Co., 1895)144; John Fitzgerald (Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society) to Patrick Sodt, March 20, 2007; The Maritime Heritage Project website accessed March 2007 ( 
This essay was corrected on January 7, 2009, to correct the name of the vessel to Ann Parry

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