Shot by Bay Pirates

The Scow Schooner Mountain View

Captain Kirby of Schooner Mountain View Wounded in the Foot

That was the headline in 1903 which recounted the peril to which the captain and his vessel, the scow schooner Mountain View, a frequent carrier of goods to and from Rengstorff’s Landing, were subjected. It wasn’t piracy on the high seas or even the rough swells near the Golden Gate. Rather it was the calm backwater of the hay wharf on Mission Creek at the foot of San Francisco’s Third Street, where the Mountain View had made countless visits delivering bales of hay and sacks of grain grown by Henry Rengstorff and many of his neighbors in the South Bay. It was three o’clock in the morning when Captain John R. Kirby was awakened while sleeping in his cabin by a loud banging on his cabin door. He pulled himself out of his bunk, grabbed a revolver, opened the hatch and found three men, at least one armed, demanding his money, $60 (worth $1,580 today), which was kept in his cabin.

Kirby fired at them and one shot was returned, but the maritime mobsters were driven off, only to return a half hour later, again demanding money. In the ensuing melee one of the freebooters fired a shotgun, hitting Kirby below the ankle, then fled the scene without booty. With foul play afoot and unable to make a stand, Kirby called for help and was taken to Central Emergency Hospital where he was treated and interviewed by two detectives assigned to the case.

That was the end of the report. A search for follow-up news articles over the next four weeks was unproductive.

Readers may know that several years ago a scale model of the 61-foot Mountain View was erected on the shore of the sailing lake a short distance from the Rengstorff House, mainly for children to play on but also to learn some history. Might we expect kids to reenact “The Pirates of the Peninsula”? You be Captain Kirby, I’ll be Blackbeard. Yo, ho, ho!

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