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Dobbs Dispatches from Valparaiso

September 10th, 2011

In a previous post, I describe how I obtained on microfilm the dispatches that my great grandfather, J. M. Dobbs, Sr. sent from Chile while he was posted there as consul general to Valparaiso from 1893 to 1897. Below are links to images of only a few of the 200 pages I found on the microfilm.

5 July 1893 – JMD’s first dispatch to the State Department announcing his arrival in Valparaiso after first reporting in to the embassy in Santiago. The man whom my great-grandfather reported to, Ambassador Patrick Egan, was a controversial figure who was accused on occasion of attempting to incite a war with Chile over the control of the Panama isthmus and the west coast of South America.

6 July 1893 – JMD’s second dispatch to the State Department, where he and previous consul general sign over the office.

1893 – JMD’s drawing of floor plan of second floor of building on Calle Blanco where the US consulate is located. When he arrived in 1893 the consul office was located on the second floor of a dilapidated building at 140 Calle Blanco (behind the janitor’s closet). The annual rent was $58 and my great grandfather complains in one dispatch that the cramped office was “unclean” and that the furniture in the office is 25 to 35 years old. By July of 1894 he had gotten permission from Washington to re-locate to a two room office on the 2nd floor of 430 Calle Blanco, purchase new furniture, and hire a clerk. He reports that his offices are next door to the offices of the German consulate and that his residence is in an apartment on the third floor of that same building. His clerk was paid $400 a year and the rent for the new offices was $90 a year.

16 September 1895 – JMD files a report regarding the disappearance of Alfred E. Sutro, nephew of then mayor of San Francisco, Adolph Sutro. A search of the internet for Alfred E. Sutro comes up dry, so it is unknown whatever became of the missing Sutro.

2 September 1895 – Another report regarding the disappearance of Alfred E. Sutro.

10 November 1895 – JMD’s report regarding the wreck of SS Parthia, an American vessel which caught fire off the coast of Chile near the Juan Fernández Islands.

19 November 1895 – JMD was responsible for hiring “consul agents” residing in other locations on the Chilean coast who reported to him. In one dispatch he reports to Washington that he could not find an American citizen to act as “consul agent” in Punta Arenas (at the straits of Magellan) and that he had hired a Russian to act as the American representative in that town.

28 August 1897 – JMD files a three-page report regarding the shipwreck of an American vessel, the SS Nonatum, whose crew was stranded on Easter Island for 43 days before being rescued by a Chilean schooner.

23 October 1897 – JMD’s last dispatch from Chile as he signs over the office the new incoming Consul General.

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