The Valley of Heart's Delight

Master Mariner of the Pacific Coast


Among the old master mariners of the Pacific coast is Captain Ferdinand Stolte, who first came to San Francisco in 1868. He was born in Bremen, Germany, November 13, 1847, a son of August Stolte, a cigar manufacturer, and his wife, Charlotte Meyer, both now deceased. Captain Stolte is the oldest of their nine children, six of whom reached maturity, and three are still living. When fourteen he went to sea on an East India square-rigged barque "Betty", rounded Cape of Good Hope and back, then with the same company on the barque "Mary" to the West Indies, trading with the Islands, having St. Thomas as their headquarters on a two-year voyage. Then he shipped as able seaman on the barque "Cedar" on a long and active trip to the West Indies and Less Antilles. He made a trip to the Rio de La Plata River for salt, then took a cargo of dried beef to Santiago de cuba, which was peddled to planters, then on to Manzanilla for a cargo of mahogany and cedar logs form there taking coal to St. Vicent Island, and then on to Ilo de la Sal, where three was an American vessel wrecked and they were drafted to take the passengers to Africa, making a trip and return. Then they took the cargo of salt to Santos, Brazil, and there loaded with tobacco and coffee for Bremen. Mr. Stolte was desirous of making a trip to Greenland and obtained a berth on the "Beehive", and had some very interesting and hazardous experiences. Next he made a trip to Sweden; then to Australia, where he left the vessel and took the American ship "Black Eagle" around the world to San Francisco arriving in 1868. Later he was on the "Ocean Spray" in the coasting trade, next on the barque "Callas" and then fell in with his former ship "North Star" and was persuaded to go back to Bremen. He studied navigation in the Bremen School of Navigation and meanwhile was drafted into the German Navy in 1870 and served a year.

Shipping as mate to Rangoon, during the voyage he was ship-wrecked on Goodwins Sands at the mouth of the English Channel, the graveyard of the sea for Europe. They were taken off by a life-boat from Ramsgate. He then made a voyage in an American barque around Cape Horn to San Francisco and return in 1871; again shipping, he made a voyage from Liverpool around Cape Horn to San Francisco, thence back to Havre, France, when he returned to Bremen to see his family. After this he shipped to New York, then around Cape Horn to Panama and on to San Francisco. There he followed the coasting trade and in 1877 had his own schooner "Express" in Coos Bay, continuing as master of her for some years. Returning to San Francisco, he was on different coast crafts until 1880, when he quit the sea.

He had married in San Francisco Anna Peters, a native of Neckermunde, Pomerania, Germany. In 1881 he purchased a ranch of 160 acres on the Summit, now on the Twenty-seven Mile Scenic Drive in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He did not know anything about farming, but set to work and cleared and improved the place, set out orchard and vineyard, built a residence and in time had a nice place from which he derived a good income. Captain Stolte's wife died April 23, 1898, leaving him three children; Charlotte is Mrs. Henry Frahm of San Mateo; Emma is the wife of R. V. Garrod of Saratoga; Josephine is the wife of W. J. Beatty, Jr. of Alma. In 1916 Captain Stote sold his ranch and now makes his home at Alma. He has been a member of the Odd Fellows since 1876, joining San Francisco Lodge No. 3, but is now a member of Ridgely Lodge No. 294, I.O.O.F., of Los Gatos; and is also a member of the Rebekahs. He was a charter member of Lakeside local No. 61, Farmers' Educational and Cooperative Union of America. Captain Stolte is an interesting talker and it is a great pleasure to enjoy his hospitality. He has been a Republican since obtaining his citizenship papers in 1876.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1684


SANTA CLARA COUNTY HISTORY- The Valley of Heart's Delight