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 Bio- Pen Pictures

was born in Searsport, Waldo County, Maine, December 6, 1822. His father, Jeremiah, and his mother, Jane (Cluely) Merithew, were natives of Maine. Jeremiah was an old sea captain, and followed the sea about twenty-five years. Joseph C., the subject, lived in his native town until twelve years old, when he went to sea with his father; was with him about a year, and then went with another captain, an old neighbor of the family. About six or seven years after he first shipped with his father he joined the same vessel again as mate (the vessel at that time being commanded by another captain), making coast voyages between Bangor and New York and Philadelphia. He also made several voyages to the West Indies.

When twenty years of age he became master of this vessel, the Rambler, and had command of her about two years. When twenty-three years old he became commander of a bark called S. Piper, and commanded her about four years in the New Orleans and West India trade, and with her made several voyages to Europe. He then sold the bark and purchased the schooner Arno, a ninety-five-ton vessel, and sailed in her from Searsport, Maine, to San Francisco, by way of Cape Horn. It was a small vessel for such a journey. He made the trip in 1849, and arrived in San Francisco in May, 1850. He ran her from San Francisco to Sacramento for one year, and then made one voyage to the Sandwich Islands, going there for a cargo of potatoes for the San Francisco market.  He then ran her between San Francisco and Humboldt Bay for a while. In 1852 he bought the brig Sarah McFarland, and took command of her, still owning an interest in the Arno. He run the Sarah McFarland about a year, and came ashore, still retaining his interests in the vessels, which he disposed of in 1855. He then went to Trinidad, Klamath County, California, a seaport on the northern California coast. There he went into the general merchandise business, and was also interested in a mine at Gold Bluff; was there about three years, when he sold out and returned to San Francisco and bought a small schooner, and went on a trading voyage to Oregon, making two voyages.

 He then went into the mercantile business in Solano County, also dealing in grain and lumber. Here he remained about eight years (at Maine Prairie), when he leased his business and went on a voyage to Johnson's Island, about 1,500 miles southwest of the Sandwich Islands, his main object in going being to explore the island for guano, a fertilizer, he being connected at the time with the San Francisco Pacific Guano Company. The captain explored the island and made his report, and the guano was shipped to England. Afterward he made another trading voyage in the schooner John Bright, an American-built vessel sailing under the Sandwich Islands flag. This voyage was made to the Society and the Ellis group of islands, and occupied ten months. He brought his return cargo to San Francisco, which was his last trip at sea. Before taking this last voyage he purchased, in 1887, his present property in Santa Clara County. Soon after he left his family came on the place. When he lived in Solano County he built three sailing vessels and a steamer, and some of them are now running on this coast. He has fifty acres, of which forty acres, containing 36,000 vines, are fourteen years old. The remainder is in orchard, mostly walnuts, almonds, and prunes. Captain Merithew makes about 6,000 gallons of wine annually.

        He was married, in 1845, to Sarah A. Black, a native of Prospect, Maine. She has made many sea voyages with her husband, but did not make the last trip with him around Cape Horn. She came to California in 1851, by way of Panama. They have three children, viz.: Charles H., who is bookkeeper in the Union Iron Works, San Francisco ; Sarah J., wife of Norman Dunbar, master of the ship William McGilvrey, engaged in the foreign trade, and Frederick W., who resides with his parents.


Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.

Pg. 633-634


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight