Early photo of COMPADRE (courtesy Haggin Museum).
Part of the fun of owning a classic boat is researching her history. We are fortunate to have a nearly complete list of COMPADRE'S early owners from the vessel-documentation records maintained by the US Coast Guard. We've learned much about her early owners from census data and other public records available online. We are also fortunate to have a copy of the original purchase agreement between Stephens Brothers and COMPADRE'S first owner, Mr. Leland Adams. Here's what we've learned so far:
In a contract dated December 4, 1928, Stephens Brothers "agrees to build, finish and sell to Purchaser one 43ft cruiser equipped with 2 Mystic Model Lathrop marine engines" for the sum of $12,000. "Delivery of said cruiser shall be on or about April 1st, 1929". The contract was signed by L.D. Adams and R.R. Stephens.
Leland D. Adams
On April 11 COMPADRE is launched at the Stephens Brothers yard in Stockton, California. The following day she sailed for San Franciso at 10:00 A.M. with "Stuart Ross, Howard Fisher, and R.R. Stephens aboard."
On July 11, 1929, transfer of title was officially recorded by the U.S. Coast Guard, passing from Theodore Stephens to Leland D. Adams of San Francisco. Earlier in the decade, at the time of the US federal census of 1920, Mr. Adams was living across the Bay in Oakland. According to the census record his occupation was "mining engineer". He was 34 years old at the time and clearly was a man of means, as his household included a maid, a gardener, and a cook. We know from a passport application that he had mining interests in Mexico. In 1921 he was preparing to travel to Sonora, Mexico to inspect a mine he intended to purchase.
We cannot find a record of Mr. Adams in the 1930 census, but this is not surprising as the online records for that year are incompete. However we know from other public records that by the early 1930s he was living in San Francisco and was a vice president of Leslie Salt Company. Mr. Adams owned COMPADRE for less than a year, and we don't know the circumstances of her sale in 1930, except to note that by then the stock market had crashed. His cirmumstances apparently were not too dire, however, as Mr. Adams and his wife appear on a passenger list for a steamship cruise from New York to "Mediterranian ports" in April 1934.
Title passes to Sven J. Nordstrom of Piedmont California. Born in Sweden in 1882, Mr. Nordstrom was a mechanical engineer and founder of Nordstrom Valve Company in Oakland, California. His company continues in business today as Nordstrom Audco, a subsidiary of Flowserve Corp. Mr. Nordstrom began his business in 1919 to manufacture lubricated plug valves, which he invented and patented in 1916 while working at the Reale de Monte gold mine in Mexico.
Joseph T. Dawson
Title passes to Joe Dawson. The sale was recorded in Los Angeles, indicating that COMPADRE had by then sailed to Southern California. She would remain there for at least the next 20 years. Although we cannot be sure, we believe this third owner was Joseph T. Dawson of Los Angeles, who was born in Butte, Montana in 1897. When he applied for a passport in 1918 at age 21, he was preparing for a trip to Sonora, Mexico to work for the La Cobriza Mining Company as a mechanic. His father, W.J.Dawson, was the superintendant of the mine. By the time of the 1920 census, Joseph and his father were residing again in Los Angeles. Mr. Dawson apparently later became a salesman and lived for a time in Sonoma, California before aquiring COMPADRE in 1934.
The mining connection -- 3 compadres?
COMPADRE's first two owners, and quite possibly her third, had connections to the mining industry in northern Mexico in the early years of the 20th century. It seems likely that Mr. Adams and Mr. Nordstrom were aquainted, if not directly through business, then at least socially, as they lived only a few blocks from each other in the Oakland hills in the 1920s. Their connection with Mr. Dawson is more tenuous, the apparent link being Mr. Dawson's involvement in mining in Mexico at roughly the same time as the others. The details are, of course, lost to time, but it is fun to speculate that these were indeed three compadres, and perhaps this is the origin of the name.
Title passes to John A. Amundson of Los Angeles, According to the 1930 census records, Mr. Amundson was the "proprietor" of a "retail drug store".
June 1944Title passes to Dr. R.A. Newbold of Los Angeles. Roland Newbold was a dentist.
October 1945 to February 1952
Title passes first to Ed and Margaret Rapp. We don't know Mr. Rapp's occupation. Title then passed to Edward and Dorothy Nay of Los Angeles. Voter registration records indicate Mr. Nay was a plumbing contractor. COMPADRE went out of Coast Guard documentation in Southern California on February 2, 1952.
1952 to 1971
These 19 years largely are a mystery. We assume COMPADRE was registered with the State of California during this time, but we have not found any ownership records. We know she returned to the Bay Area sometime before 1966, however, as she is listed in the Pacific Inter-Club Yachting Association 1966 yearbook under the ownership of Fred T. Detreich at the Marin Yacht Club in San Rafael.
COMPADRE returns to documentation on September 1, 1971, in San Francisco, under the ownership of Mr. Gerald Jones. We have been told that during Mr.Jone's ownership COMPADRE was berthed in Vallejo.
November 1979 to June 2007
Compadre passes through 6 more owners while still in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was berthed in the Sausalito area during much of this period, but also spent time in Petaluma and Napa.
Compadre is acquired by her present owners and is transported by truck to Seattle.