Alcatraz Historic Guide Needs Help
I'm looking for information concerning the day-to-day life of a sailing vessel in 1873 so I can better understand a strange story about a mummified head that ended up on Alcatraz Island.
These are the details from the 1873 San Francisco newspapers. The bark Matthais Mayer (I think about 175 ft.) left England with coal, dropped it off in Ancon, Peru where it was to pick up sugar. But there was some dispute, and it didn't.
It needed ballast. Picked up sand. Offloaded the sand on the wharf in San Francisco, and bones and skulls poured out. This caused a big stir on shore! A mummified head with long black hair was collected to bring to the doctor on Alcatraz for his collection.
Further research showed me that in Ancon, Peru in 1873, there was almost a party atmosphere. A 4000 year old burial ground, complete with full mummies, jewelry, textiles etc was uncovered because of the new railroad line cut from Lima. Everyone was out there digging up buried treasure. In 1874 it was all collected by German scientists in a formal dig so it wouldn't be lost forever.
What I need to know is how the ballast would have been collected. Remember: the ship didn't expect to have to collect ballast. I forget the numbers: it was tons and tons however.
Strangely, I have been told two completely different scenerios by two experts who work at the Maritime Museum here.
One said the sailors would have hand dug and wheelbarrowed the sand and dumped it loose into the hold. In that case, they would have been well aware what they were collecting. They probably would have picked up "booty" of value (jewelry) and some bones and mummy parts considered of no value would have been dumped in with the mix. He said it would have been repeated on shore in SF. Obviously, in this case, they knew bones would show up on shore.
The other said the captain would have brokered a ballast company to dig it with a steam shovel, and it would have been bagged (he said in jute or paper (!) bags). On the SF wharf, the bags would have been offloaded for resale, and some bags may have broken to reveal skulls. In that case, the sailors would have been just as surprised as the bystanders. They are two very different scenerios, and tell two very different stories!
Can anyone venture a guess at the likely scenerio? How would this ballast business have been most likely carried out?
I would be most appreciative of your expertise!