Monday, November 25, 2019



Someone writing for a newspaper in 1849 called Guam the "El Dorado" of recruiters.

He meant whaling recruiters, looking for young men to replace dead, sick or deserted crew members on the whaling ships that crossed the Pacific and beyond.

Working on a whaling ship was miserable. One whaler said, "We have to work like dogs and live like pigs."

So, it's no surprise that many crew members left the ship, unauthorized, when they pulled into a new port. Whaling captains were always looking for replacements, and Guam had a reputation for being an easy place to find them.

Thus the remark El Dorado, the mythical city of gold which was later applied to any place of fabulous wealth or opportunity. The Marianas did not have gold or silver, but it did have young men dying to leave island and join the whaling ships. And not just whaling ships. Even merchant ships recruited men from Guam.

Just take a look at these Guam maritime recruits from one single year, in 1868. There is one man with an unfamiliar surname, Gioto. Either he was not Chamorro and just happened to be on Guam in 1868, or someone spelled his name wrong. There is also a man surnamed Pelayo. He could also have been non-Chamorro but was on Guam at the time.


Vicente de la Cruz, Manuel de la Cruz, Isidoro Pelayo, Vicente de Salas, Juan de la Concepción, Bernardo Blas and Pedro Gioto were recruited on the Hawaiian schooner JH Roscoe under the command of Captain N.T. Jones. 

Luís de Guzmán and Antonio Pereda were recruited by Captain J.R. Spencer for the Hawaiian schooner William H. Allen.

Martín Dueñas and Juan de la Cruz were recruited to go to Asención (Ponape) by Captain Bell of the American merchant ship Aguila.

Leocadio Gogue and José del Rosario were recruited on the Anglo-American whaler Acorn Barnes under Captain Jeffries. "Anglo-American" means the ship was owned by a joint British and American company.

José Camacho, José de San Nicolás, Rufino Tenorio, Raimundo Tenorio and Juan Taijito. were taken by Captain Henry F. Worth of the Anglo-American whaler John Carver.

José Taitano, Pedro Luján and Ignacio Guerrero joined the crew of the Anglo-American whaler Eugenia under Captain W. Barnes.

Ramón de los Santos, Cecilio Materne, Pedro Namauleg, Mariano de la Cruz and Mariano Camacho were taken as crew members in the pesca de ballena (fishing of whales) by J.M. Soule,  captain of the American whaling ship Adeline.

José Mendiola, Isidro Mendiola, José de la Rosa and Mariano Baza were recruited by Captain Phillips of the American ship Monticello.

The majority of these men, from the looks of their surnames, would have been Hagåtña residents. Materne might have come from Aniguak. Taijito from Asan. Namauleg could have come from Hagåtña, Aniguak or Asan. Perhaps some from Sumay. But there are no Babautas from Hågat, Afaisens from Inalåhan, Quinatas from Humåtak, or Nangautas from Malesso' on this list, for example. I don't see any Luta names either, although a few men from Luta did get recruited in the 1800s.

A whaling captain of days gone by

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