John Owen Dominis, Sea Capt.

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John Owen Dominis, Sea Capt.

Birthdate: (50)
Birthplace: Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Death: circa 1846 (42-58)
At Sea
Immediate Family:

Son of Vincenco Dominis and Agnes Dominis
Husband of Mary Lambert Dominis
Father of Mary Elizabeth Dominis; Frances Ann Dominis and Prince Consort John Owen Dominis

Managed by: Private User
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About John Owen Dominis, Sea Capt.

Lost at sea on voyage on the "William Neilson" which departed Honolulu 15 August 1846 for China.

The following is NOT PROVEN.

See:, For an investigation by Dr Ante Kovacevic, which describes John Dominis in a Seaman's Protection Certificate issued 28 October 1825 in the District of Boston and Charleston. John is 28 years of age, 5 feet 9 and 3/4 inches tall, of dark complexion. It also states he is from Trieste, Italy, and acquired US citizenship by naturalisation. His initial application for naturalisation of 1 February 1823, states he was born in Trieste AD 1796, and his petition for citizenship of 19 May 1825 was signed.

DOMINIS-GOSPODNETICH, JOHN Sea Captain-Salmon Trade-First Peaches One of the most interesting Croatian sailors in America was John Dominis, who became master of an American ship plying between Boston and the Pacific and who brought to Massachusetts the first cargo of salmon from the Columbia River. Very little is known of his early life or first connections. According to Professor Samuel Eliot Morison, Dominis worked his way up from the forecastle of Josiah Marshall's ships to a master's commission. Captain Dominis' adventurous life had really begun after his settlement in Boston, Massachusetts. It is there that he started his maritime career on the brig "Owyhyee" (this is the old spelling of the word Hawaii), owned by the firm of Josiah Marshall. He married Mary Jones, a "'pretty girl" from Boston, on October 9, 1824, with the blessing of Josiah Marshall. According to the information supplied by an article published in Schenectady Gazette On August 27, 1832, the couple first moved to Schenectady, New York, Where John Owen Dominis was born on March 10, 1831 at 26 Front Street. His middle name Owen was for his maternal granddfather, Owen Jones, a distinguished Boston citizen. The fact that the bark on which the captain and his family arrived in Honolulu on April 23, 1837 was named "Jones" could further indicate his close ties with his father-in-law, who probably financed the long, costly journey to Hawaii from the Eastern United States. John Dominis decided to move his trade operations to Honolulu, already well-known to him from numerous previous visits. As a definite sign of his intentions to stay in the dynamic mid-Pacific kingdom, he came with his wife, Mary Jones, and their six-year old son, John Owen - the future husband of the tragic and colorful Queen Liliuokalani. During the period of 1842 to 1846 the captain built in the heart of Honolulu a beautiful, stately-looking mansion, later called Washington Place in honor of George Washington, which subsequently became the residence of Hawaii's governors. His wife resided in Honolulu with his son, John 0. Dominis, who later became governor of one of the islands and married Princess Lydia, who in 1891 became Queen Liliuokalani. One of the early records we have of Dominis is that he was second mate and sail mate on the "Paragon" which sailed from Boston to Honolulu in 1823. On January 21, 1827, Dominis was again at Honolulu, as captain of the brig "Owhyhee" and ready to sail for the Northwest Coast by way of Alaska where he was to collect all the skins he could find. Those skins Dominis later sold in China where he bought goods for the Boston market. On February 10, 1827, Dominis was at Hanegas Harbor, not very far from the present Juneau, and on June 4, 1827, he entered the mouth of the Columbia River. Sixteen days later he was at San Francisco and in November at the port of Canton, China. On May 12, 1828, he was back at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. In July, 1828, Dominis was off again for the Northwest Coast where he arrived seven months later and where he spent about a year, with the exception of a brief visit to the Straits of Juan de Fuca for the purpose of obtaining 300 beavers. It was in the spring of 1830 that Dominis hit upon an idea which was to bring fortunes to Massachusetts merchants. Why not cure fresh Columbia salmon, after the Boston style, and sell it in the New England market? Dominis asked himself. The fish cost practically nothing, transportation was no additional expense, and the experiment was worth trying. And try he did. After a side trip to Honolulu to visit his wife and chiland after trading in other Pacific islands, Captain Dominis returned to Boston with a cargo of sixty-three barrels of Columbia River salmon on April 15,1831. The experiment at first did not seem successful, for the United States Government taxed it as a foreign importation, the fish was not of the best quality and the sale at retail was not easy to work out. Yet, as Prof. Morison points out, "that very autumn the brig Sultana left Boston for the Columbia with 1000 empty salmon barrels and in 1834 Nathaniel J. Wyeth made salmon fishing one of the principal objects of his Oregon expedition. "We may then conclude," adds Prof. Morison, "that the Owhyhee's cargo was not an isolated and insignificant venture, but the beginning of a trade in salted salmon between the Columbia River and the Eastern United States; and we may safely name Captain John Dominis the pioneer in a business that under changing methods and means of transportation has grown steady in volume and in value." Dominis we learn from Bancroft, was the first man to plant peach trees in Oregon which he brought from the Island of Juan Fernandez. From California he brought to the Northwest a fine lot of sheep for breeding purposes. Dominis in later years was master of other ships, like the "Joseph Peabody" which traded in Alaska in 1836 and the "Bolivar Liberator" which in 1834 was engaged in hunting sea-otters along the coast of southern Oregon and Northern California. In 1835, Bancroft tells us, Dominis "placing at defiance both English and Russians opened up the trade along the coast, exchanging rum for furs." Captain Dominis thus was one of the pioneers who by drawing other American traders and settlers to the Northwest coast helped to create the "Oregon Question." Captain Dominis had left Honolulu on August 15, 1846, aboard the brig "William Neilson" for China to assist the new United States Commissioner in Honolulu, George Brown, to establish closer relations between the United States and China; both men perished in the sea withour any trace. Captain Dominis unexpected death provoked some speculation about his allegedly violent death; and Queen Liliuokalani, many decades after his death, maintained that he had been strangled in his bed and thrown overboard."

NOTES The Dominis-Gospodnetich Clan moved to Venice from Pucisce, island of Brac, Croatia at the fall of Venice in 1797. Dominis is the clan name of Gospodnetich. Church birth records on Brac of Dominis confirm this.

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John Owen Dominis, Sea Capt.'s Timeline

Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
August 5, 1825
Age 29
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
February 9, 1829
Age 33
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
March 10, 1832
Age 36
Shenectady, New York, United States
Age 50
At Sea