Richard J. Milward
Francis “Frank” L. Garretson
(George “Tom” Bartlett)In the fall of 1851, Staten Island natives John Morgan and Mark Winant, along with five partners, purchased the three-year-old, 82-foot schooner Robert Bruce. The vessel had been constructed in 1848 at Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York and had, in the previous year, carried trade between San Francisco and the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands.
Morgan and Winant’s new partners included Alexander Hanson, Garrett Tyson, Frank Garretson, Dick Milward, and Joseph K. Terry, who was elected to captain the vessel.
The men had one strong tie: all hailed from the New York and New Jersey oyster lands of Staten Island and Long Island. An eighth man, George (Tom) Bartlett, had been a mate aboard the Sea Serpent, the vessel that had earlier taken oysters to San Francisco from Shoalwater Bay. Barlett was the go-between who had helped get the Staten Island men and Capt. Fieldsted of the Sea Serpent together.
Almost 40 years later, John Morgan recalled how he and his fellow crew mates settled Bruceport and founded their oyster company after losing most of their possessions: “...Garrett Tyson, Frank Garretson, Mark Winant, Alex Hanson, and myself stayed together there for about a year and worked until we got some money ahead and then Garretson and Tyson left. (Garretson went across the bay to Oysterville.) Then myself, Mark Winant and Alex Hanson took in Winant’s brother Sam, and formed a new company. Our work was catching the oysters and bedding them and then selling them out to other parties. We all lived together there and each one would sell his oysters out to the best advantage. In the fall of 1854 we bought a schooner, the Mary Taylor, and Hanson and myself ran her, leaving Mark Winant there and brought down Sam Winant, and put him in the (San Francisco) market and started a business here. Then we made regular trips between there and here. We called ourselves Winant and Company.”
From the John Stillwell Morgan Manuscripts, 1890, Bancroft Library, University of California.