John Brannan. The late Captain John Brannan was a California pioneer who was a fine example of the old-time New England seafaring man, and he was one of the sterling, well known and highly honored citizens of California at the time of his death, which occurred in the year 1862.
Captain Brannan was born in Saco, Maine, on the 19th of July, 1812, a son of Capt. Thomas Brannan, who was another of the sturdy men who "went down to the sea in ships" and who became captain of old-time sailing vessels that went forth from the New England Coast. The subject of this memoir was the second in a family of six children, and all of the others likewise are deceased, namely: Mary Ann, Samuel, Daniel K., Thomas, Jr., and Nancy.
Capt. John Brannan gained very limited educational discipline of regular order, but his alert mind and abounding self-reliance enabled him to profit fully from the lessons gained in connection with the practical duties and responsibilities of life, and he became a man of broad outlook and mature judgment. When he was but thirteen years of age he ran away from home and shipped as cabin boy on a sailing vessel, and with the passing years he became an authority in connection with practical navigation affairs. Within his career he visited leading seaports in all sections of the world, and became captain of vessels. It was in the '40s that Captain Brannan came to San Francisco and established a permanent residence in California. His family later came from Maine and joined him in the home which he established in San Francisco, the family having made the journey by the way of the Isthmus of Panama and having landed in San Francisco at the point where the present Bush and Sansom streets cross. Captain Brannan was in command of the first steamboat to be placed in commission between San Francisco and Sacramento, and he continued his active association with navigation interests here until the '50s when he became manager of the business interests of his brother Samuel R., who was at that time one of the leading capitalists and most influential citizens of San Francisco. This alliance continued until 1862, when Captain Brannan set forth on a voyage to China, for the benefit of his health, which had become much enfeebled. Three days prior to the arrival of the vessel in its Chinese port Captain Brannan died on shipboard, and the steamer "Washington" thereafter brought his mortal remains back to San Francisco for burial. Before coming to this state the captain had become affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, and in San Francisco he became one of the early members of California Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar. His widow, whose maiden name was Mary French Pike and who was a native of Massachusetts, survived him a number of years and was a resident of San Francisco at the time of her death. They became the parents of two children: John Elias is deceased; and Sophia Pike Brannan became the wife of Robert Haight and still maintains her home in San Francisco, her two children being Robert Fletcher and Elizabeth, the latter of whom is the wife of Waldemar Young, a scenario writer for Laskey and they reside in Hollywood. Robert Fletcher is in the paper manufacturing business in San Francisco. he married Miss May Roberts, of Oakland, a daughter of one of the old pioneer family of Roberts of Oakland. Mr. and Mrs. Haight are the parents of two children, Stanton Roberts Haight and Dorothy.
Robert Haight was a brother of Henry Huntington Haight, who was governor of California from 1868 to 1872. Sophia P. Haight was a native of Maine and came to California in 1851. She is a member of Ivy Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, and of Crescent Court, Order of the Eastern Star.
Transcribed by Marilyn R. Pankey.
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard Vol. 3 page 180-181. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Marilyn R. Pankey