Posted by Maggie MacLean 11.28.2015
First Woman Clipper Ship CommanderMary Ann Brown Patten was the first woman commander of an American Merchant Vessel at the age of nineteen. Her husband, the ship's captain, was severely ill with fever, and the first mate was attempting to incite a mutiny among the crewmen. Her clipper ship Neptune's Car was ten thousand miles away from its starting point at New York when she faced the unforgiving winds of Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America. And then on to San Francisco, where clients were waiting for her cargo.
Image: Mary Ann Brown Patten
Mary Ann Brown married sea captain Joshua Patten in 1853 when she was 16. He was 25, and was ferrying cargo and passengers from New York to Boston. In 1854, Joshua Patten was offered the chance to sail the merchant ship Neptune's Car from New York to San Francisco, through Cape Horn, one of the most dangerous straits in the Western Hemisphere. Reluctant to abandon his young wife, Joshua received permission to bring Mary along on the voyage. With just a matter of hours to prepare, the couple departed on their first trip together.