BECKMAN, Elias

From Islapedia

BECKMAN, Elias (1833-1915) New York-born of German parents, he was a Ventura financier when a promissory note for San Miguel Islands fell into his hands. In 1887, Pacific Wool Growing president, Warren Mills, sold half-interest in San Miguel Island to William G. Waters for $10,000, and in 1888 the other half to W. I. Nichols for $4000. Nichols, in turn sold to William Schilling for $10,000 who in turn transferred his interests to Elias Beckman in 1892. Thus Beckman acquired what he thought was a half-interest in the ownership of San Miguel Island. He sued Captain Waters, but lost, when it was revealed that the island was public land; that it had never been surveyed, homesteaded or sold by the United States government.

  • 1888 the Beckman residence was in Santa Barbara on Anacapa Street between Yananoli and Montecito streets;
  • 1890 he was listed as a capitalist living in Hope Ranch;
  • 1893 he and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in Arlington Heights;
  • 1896 Beckmans are listed as living in Los Angeles;
  • 1903 he is a resident of Los Angeles;
  • 1910 census he was 76, living in Los Angeles and investor in a gold company;
  • 1911 his San Miguel Island court case goes to the Supreme Court and he loses.


Elias Beckman = Elizabeth M.

  • 1. Alice Louisa Beckman [Logie] (1864-1950) = John Harold Logie
1. Helen Logie [Hammett] (1895-1966) = Harry Rice Hammett

Beckman died on May 19, 1915. He is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery.


» Reports of cases determined in the Supreme Court of the state of California. 161(581-588) December 1911.

» Elias Beckman, Appellant, v. William G. Waters and San Miguel Island Company, Respondents. [L. A. No. 2724. Department One. December 15, 1911].



In the News~

1890 [source?] “who, with Elias Beckman, entered into an adventure in the purchase of a certain promissory note of Wm. G. Waters, dated December 29, 1890, for $7000, drawn payable to the order of Wm. Schilling of Long Beach... and by said Schilling endorsed to E. Beckman, said note being secured by a pledge of San Miguel Island.”


February 1, 1892 Deed Book 57 of the Santa Barbara County Recorders Office, pages 332-337: Elias Beckman to E. W. Gaty and E. W. Gaty to Santa Barbara County National Bank


March 18, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “E. Beckman took the southbound train for Newhall, from which place he will go to his oil well in the Soledad Canyon. Mr. Beckman is president of the Occidental Mining and Petroleum Company of this county.”


November 21, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “E. Beckman returned yesterday from Los Angeles where he had been on business.”


1904: “Action by Elias Beckman against William G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company… The controversy between the parties turns principally upon the effect of an instrument, in form a deed absolute, executed by the defendant Waters to plaintiff Beckman, and purporting to convey certain real estate, to wit, the island of San Miguel, containing about 14,000 acres of land… On the part of the plaintiff, the claim was and is that this instrument was in fact what it purported to be, while the defendants contend below, as they contend here, that the deed was intended to be and was a mortgage. The transaction included the execution and deliverance by Waters to Beckman of a bill of sale of livestock and other personal property on the island… Plaintiff, it is alleged, held possession of the real and personal property so transferred to him from the 1st day of February, 1892 to the 11th day of May, 1896, said island being in charge and control of a manager employed by plaintiff; said manager died on the 11th day of May, 1896, whereupon Waters assumed charge and control of said island…” [The Pacific Reporter 119:923-4 (1911-1912)]


March 14, 1904 [SBMP]: “A suit was commenced in the superior court yesterday by E. Beckman, formerly of this city, Against W. G. Waters as president and principal stockholder of the San Miguel Island Company. The complaint is a voluminous affair and alleges that San Miguel Island was sold by the plaintiff to Waters in 1892 for $7000, only $1000 of which has been paid. It further alleges that the island is now the property of the plaintiff and is held illegally by the corporation, and asks for an injunction, restraining the company from selling or disposing of the property, and for an accounting. J. F. Conroy is attorney for plaintiff.”


March 17, 1904 [SBI]: “Demands an accounting. E. Beckman, formerly of this city, has brought an action in the superior court against W. G. Waters, as president of the San Miguel Island Company, in which he asks that the defendant be prevented from selling the property and that he be compelled to give an accounting of the business transacted by the company. The plaintiff alleges that, in 1892, he sold the island to Captain Waters for $7000 and received $1000 of this sum in part payment. He declares that he has received no more payments and brings the action to protect his unsatisfied interests.”


June 17, 1906 [SBMP]: “In the district court of appeal a decision has been rendered in the case of Beckman vs. Waters, a case appealed from the superior court of Santa Barbara county, and involving an alleged balance due for the purchase of San Miguel Island from Beckman by Waters. The judgment of the lower court is reversed, and the case remanded with instructions to over rule defendant’s demurrer. The judgment was in favor of the defendant on demurrer, but as the copy of the decision of the appellate court has not been received as yet, it is not known on what grounds the reversal is ordered.”


June 18, 1904 [LAT/SB]: “Island Company wins suit. Judge Taggart this afternoon rendered a decision in the action brought by E. Beckman of Los Angeles against the San Miguel Island Company to establish the ownership of San Miguel Island, in the Santa Barbara Channel, and to collect $20,000 to cover the value of the stock when the defendants took possession nine years ago. The decision is based on the statue of limitations, and, while not declaring the company to be in lawful possession, it is held that Beckman clearly has no further right or interest. While the island is leased to the company by the United States, it has been established that it belongs to the Kingdom of Spain, as San Miguel is, through an oversight, not mentioned in documents ceding the Santa Barbara Channel Islands to the United States.”


August 25, 1906 [SBI]: “From the district court of appeals there has been received by the county clerk a copy of the certified opinion of the case of Elias Beckman against William G. Waters and others connected with the San Miguel Island Company. The case was tried in the superior court of this county several months ago. The court sustained a demurrer to the complaint and upon this point an appeal was taken. The case is sent back with instructions that the demurrer to the complaint be overruled. Beckman gave to Waters in the year 1892, an option on San Miguel Island, situated in the Santa Barbara channel, Waters agreeing to pay the sum of $8000. Of this sum, it has been alleged in the complaint, only $2500 has been paid. Beckman contended that the terms of the agreement had not been complied with and asked that all interests claimed by the defendant be declared void and that an accounting be given.”


December 16, 1906 [SBMP]: “A new phase of the apparently indeterminable San Miguel Island litigation was brought out in the superior court by by the filing of an answer to a complaint that had been filed about three months ago by Elias Beckman against William G. Waters and the stockholders of the San Miguel Island Company. The case has been in court in one way or another for several years past, Beckman claiming ownership to the island and that he is entitled to $24,000 as the amount of the profits derived from that advantage that had been enjoyed from the benefits of the arrangement that had been made with Captain Waters. Beckman alleges that Waters organized a company and actually took full possession of the island, denying that Beckman possessed any interest in it. In the original proceedings a demurrer to the complaint that had been filed by Beckman was sustained and Beckman took an appeal to the supreme court, where the ruling of the lower court was reversed and the case was sent back to the lower court for a new trial. About three months ago Beckman filed a new complaint and no proceedings have since taken place in connection with the case until the filing was made yesterday, making answer to the new complaint.”


November 17, 1908 [SBI]: “Tomorrow the long contested suit of Elias Beckman against Captain W. G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company, which has been before the courts for the last four years, will be reopened in the Superior court, with Judge Monroe of Los Angeles presiding. The suit concerns the personal property on San Miguel Island, the island belonging to the government. The suit was brought in March 1894, by Elias Beckman, to secure possession of the island and prevent it from being transferred to the San Miguel Island Company. The plaintiff claimed in his complaint that the defendant held the property only by a deed of trust and had no right to dispose of it. The original complaint was demurred to and the demurrer sustained. A demurrer to amend the amended complaint was also sustained, and taken to the Appellate court. Here the decision of the Superior court was reversed and the case sent back to the Superior court of Santa Barbara county, to be tried. This trial was to have begun today, but owing to the absence of some of the interested parties, it was continued until tomorrow, when the fight will be taken up again in earnest. As the case is somewhat involved, it will probably require several days to hear. Beckman claims that when he transferred the property to Captain Waters, about February 1, 1892, he did so through a deed of trust. The provisions of this deed have never been carried out, plaintiff claims, and he asks that the defendant be enjoined from transferring the property to the San Miguel Island Company and that an accounting be given as to receipts and expenditures for all of the time the defendant has held the property. The defendants claim that the property was entirely conveyed to them and that the plaintiff has no right to it. J. F. Conroy, of Los Angeles, represents Beckman. Judge Day appears for Captain Waters, with Henry C. Booth as attorney for the San Miguel Island Company. As Judge Crow is a witness for the plaintiff, he is disqualified to sit in the case, which accounts for the fact that a Los Angeles judge will preside.”


November 18, 1908 [SFCall]: “Santa Barbara, November 17. Title to the whole of San Miguel Island, comprising 14,000 acres, is at stake in a suit to be reopened in this city tomorrow before Judge Monroe of Los Angeles. The case has been pending for the last four years. It was tried in a local court, carried to the appellate court on demurrer; overruled, and sent back to this court for retrial. The island was transferred from Elias Beckman to W. G. Waters in 1892. Beckman claims the transfer was made only by deed of trust, and he sues to prevent the transfer to the San Miguel Island Company. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company claim a complete transfer, and a hard fight is expected. San Miguel is the smallest of the Santa Barbara islands. Aside from the claims of the contestants, the state also is said to have a claim on the property.”


November 19, 1908 [SBI]: “San Miguel Island remains in possession of Captain Waters and the San Miguel Island Company. At the close of the presentation of the case, shortly before noon yesterday, Judge Monroe decided in favor of the defendants, and gave judgment accordingly. His main reason for so doing was that Elias Beckman waited too long before bringing action. The case opened this morning with a denial by the court of a motion for non-suit, made yesterday afternoon by Attorney Henley C. Booth, representing the San Miguel Island Company. The defense then took the stand, Captain Waters being the only witness. His testimony was to the effect that the whole transaction was in the shape of a mortgage and not a conveyance. Of the amount of the mortgage he claimed, only $1500 had ever been paid. Attorneys J. F. Conroy and E. W. Squier for the plaintiff argued their side of the case. The court did not ask for argument from the defendants, but decided in their favor on the showing of the testimony. In passing on the case, Judge Monroe stated that his reasons for deciding in favor of the defendants were based on the facts that Beckman did not appear in the case; that he had waited too long before attempting to recover the property and that it appeared that the San Miguel Island Company had been in open possession of the island and its improvements for several years.”


November 20, 1908 [SBMP]: “Judge Monroe of Los Angeles who has been in this city [Santa Barbara] two days hearing the case of Elias Beckman vs. Captain William G. Waters, known as the San Miguel Island case, yesterday decided the matter in favor of the defendant.”


December 9, 1911 [SBMP]: “The Supreme Court has affirmed the Santa Barbara Superior Court in denying a new trial in the case of Elias Beckman vs. W. G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company. The suit is of long standing, and involved the ownership of the company. Waters is left in possession.” This litigation resulted in the U.S. Government exercising its right of ownership to San Miguel Island.


December 19, 1911 [SBMP]: “The Supreme Court has affirmed the Santa Barbara Superior Court in the denying a new trial in the case of Elias Beckman v. W. G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company. The suit is of long standing and involved the ownership of the island and the accounts of the company. Waters is left in possession.”


December 19, 1911 [LAT]: “Supreme Court ends a long fight for island. In the matter of an island, Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday never had anything on the litigants involved in the much-disputed possession of San Miguel Island off the coast, which was finally brought to an end by the State Supreme Court yesterday. As the climax to a seven-year fight, the highest tribunal has decided against the claims of Elias Beckman in favor of William G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company. The dispute over the 14,000 acres included by the island turned upon the point as to whether $7000 to have been paid by Beckman to Waters was in return for an actual deed to the territory or merely a mortgage lien upon it. An instrument cast in the form of a bill of sale was executed by Waters to Beckman at the time part of the money was paid. Beckman held that the document was a mortgage. The decision of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court, was that the property was never delivered to Beckman, that he never had possession of the land, that Waters in no sense acted as Beckman’s trustee, that the consideration constituted only a mortgage and that, finally, the claim of Beckman was barred by the statute of limitations anyway. The action was begun March 11, 1904 and the amended complaint, filed July 2, 1904, alleged that on February 1, 1892, Waters executed to Beckman a deed conveying the island. On February 1, 1892, Beckman gave Waters an instrument providing that Waters, his heirs or assigns might within three years pay $7000 for the property, and agreed to reconvey the island to such payers. On March 25, 1892, Waters paid $1000 on the purchase price, and prior to January 1, 1896, had paid $1500, when Beckman gave Waters further time to complete the payment. Beckman held possession of the island from February 1, 1892 to May 1, 1896. The property was in control of a manager who died May 11, 1896, when Waters assumed charge and has ever since held possession of the island. On March 8, 1897, Waters sold the land to the San Miguel Island Company, Waters remaining in charge as manager.”