Nelson Hanson Wulff, one of the best known and most popular citizens of Napa and this section of the state of California, is likewise one of the oldest of the living pioneers to the Pacific coast country. From the year 1850 until the present he has seen and experienced from actual participation almost every phase of activity of the state. He had several experiences in mining the precious metal which gained the first fame for the Pacific coast Eldorado, and was also concerned in some ventures in connection with that industry, but the line of enterprise in which he has been most successful and to which he was reared is the operation of water craft, both sail and steam boats, and he is best known in many sections of the state for the boats of which he was master or owner. He is now partially retired from the more active duties of his career, and in the last years of a life which has extended its period of usefulness past the threescore and ten mark, he enjoys the respect and wholesome regard of all with whom he has had dealings in business or a social way, and can look back on years filled with honorable effort and strict integrity of action.

Mr. Wulff was born in Denmark, December 11, 1830, a son of Nelson E. and Margaret Wulff, both natives of Denmark, and the former of whom died at the age of sixty-eight years and the latter at the age of fifty-three. Mr. Wulff was educated in the excellent public schools of Denmark, attending during the compulsory time limit from six to fourteen years of age, and after that time his training was mainly of a practical character. He early became acquainted with a seafaring life, and made his arrival in California in November, 1850, as a sailor aboard the brig Courier, which made harbor at San Francisco. For some months he followed the sea, doing service on the vessels Henry Tuck, Montgomery and others. In June, 1851, he went to the mines of Shasta county, but had little success during the summer he spent there, and returned to San Francisco and the sea. he shipped for Mexican ports on the brig Josephine, but after one round trip he went to the Mormon Island placer mines. He built some extensive flumes, but the spring floods washed everything away, and he then quit mining ventures in disgust. From 1853 to 1856 he was in the ship-ballasting business in San Francisco, in partnership with some men who had come with him from Denmark and been partners in all his enterprises. From 1856 to 1859 he ran the sloop Ceylon from San Francisco to Sacramento and Stockton, and then ran in succession the steamers Master Mariner, Silver Cloud, Cinderella and Zinfandel, from San Francisco to Napa, carrying both passengers and freight. He still runs the last-named vessel, which he built in San Francisco fifteen years ago. He went back to Denmark on a visit about 1889, and his been engaged in the steamboat business ever since, in which he has amassed considerable wealth. He has always made his home at the Napa end of his route, where he owns a splendid home. He employs a captain to navigate his vessel.

Mr. Wulff was married in San Francisco, December 11, 1859, to Miss Margaret O'Brien who was born in Ireland and came to the United States in 1856. Two children were born to them, a son and a daughter, but the latter died when two years old, and the son, Nelson, now thirty-nine years old, has for the past eighteen years been associatd with his father in steam-boating, and most of that time has acted as purser. Mr. Wulff is a charter member of the Master Mariners of San Francisco, and has always been a Republican in politics, although he has never sought or held public office.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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