Rosario Andrea Curletti, in whose honor this collection was donated, was a respected Southern California anthropologist, genealogist, historian and book collector. Her main specialties were Santa Barbara history and the Chumash Indians. Miss Curletti began assembling this collection in the 1950s and died in 1986. Arthur Mercein Ebbets was born in New York on 18 January 1830 and came to San Francisco in 1849 at the age of 19, on the ship Pacific (built in 1843). While on board the Pacific, Ebbets published a newspaper that was highly critical of the ship's first captain, Hall J. Tibbits, whom many passengers considered nearly insane. Upon the ship's arrival at Rio de Janeiro, the passengers appealed to the American consul to have Tibbits removed. The consul complied, placing George T. Estabrook (or Easterbrook) in command for the remainder of the voyage. In San Francisco, Ebbets established himself first as a general merchant and land developer. He later also became an agent for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and for Wells Fargo, and a coal merchant (in 1859). He participated in the vigilance committees of 1851 and 1856, and also served in several minor political and organizational offices. Ebbets made several trips back to the East, where he was part of the mercantile company Brown, Ebbets, and Co. (in New York City). In San Francisco, he erected and lived in one of the early city's finest houses, which he sold in 1901. He died on 5 May 1903. Arthur Ebbets' first wife, Charlotte "Lottie" White Penniman Ebbets, came to California in 1853 aboard the Georgia and the Tennessee, crossing the isthmus of Panama by land. She was either already acquainted with Arthur (whom she married in 1854) or met him when she boarded the Georgia in New York. After returning east for a time, she made the journey west again in 1855, this time on the Oregon with her infant son. Charlotte was of delicate health, and died in 1863. Only one of her children with Arthur, Charlotte Penniman Ebbets, survived to adulthood. It was Charlotte Penniman Ebbets who authored the biographical manuscripts in the collection, and supplied Rosario Curletti with several items in the collection. Arthur married his second wife, Elizabeth Ann Stevenson, in 1864; they had four children. Elizabeth died in 1894.
Scope and Content
The collection consists of the 1849 sea voyage diary of Arthur Mercein Ebbets (121 pages) and supplementary material, including six letters by Charlotte White Penniman Ebbets, written during her 1853 voyage on the steamer Tennessee (which ran aground near San Francisco); 14 folders of biographical manuscripts about Arthur written by Charlotte Penniman Ebbets; other family manuscripts; and correspondence of Rosario Curletti regarding the diary and letters. Nineteen pages of pencil drawings by Arthur Ebbets, depicting scenes from his voyage, accompany the diary. Seven other early California and Panama manuscripts supplement the Ebbetts items, including four drafts of short stories or memoirs by K. V. Hastings ("A Visit to Acapulco" "A Day on Shipboard" and "From Panama to Aspinwall"), a copy of a long letter by Elizabeth Whitney Putnam detailing her journey west (she and her child sailed aboard the Tennessee and the Georgia on the same voyage as Lottie Ebbets), and Spanish and English versions of the diary of Pablo de la Portilla, a Mexican captain attached to Santa Barbara Presidio who led an unsuccessful 1824 expedition against a group of Chumash Indians who had rebelled against the San Buenaventura mission. The collection also originally included a photocopy of the Augustin W. Hale diary, the original of which the Huntington holds in the Hale papers. Hale also sailed to California on the Pacific in 1849, and he and Ebbets were apparently friendly. Details and references in the two collections overlap occasionally. The John Goodman papers at the Huntington also overlap with the Curletti papers, specifically in the folders discussing the ships Pacific and Tennessee.
The collection also originally included a photocopy of the Augustin W. Hale diary, the original of which the Huntington holds in the Hale papers. Hale also sailed to California on the Pacific in 1849, and the he and Ebbets were apparently friendly. Details and references in the two collections overlap occasionally. The John Goodman papers at the Huntington also overlap with the Curletti papers, specifically in the folders discussing the ships Pacific and Tennessee. Rare book and print items donated along with the Curletti collection can be accessed by contacting the Rare Books Department.