BERMUDEZ, José (Joe) Milton

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BERMUDEZ, José (Joe) Milton (1892-1971), native Santa Barbaran and long time Santa Cruz Island employee from at least 1913 to 1921 with time off to serve in World War I. Bermudez was engineer aboard the schooner Santa Cruz when she struck rocks in a heavy fog off Rincon Point on September 19, 1913 en route back to the island from San Pedro. The schooner was saved and repaired. Bermudez did a variety of jobs that also included carpentry and wharf repairs, barn repairs, roof repairs and tractor work.

Bermudez was one of sixteen children

Bermudez retired from fishing at age 60 in 1952. He died in Santa Barbara at age 79 and is buried in Santa Barbara at Calvary Cemetery.

In the News~


December 13, 1906 [SBMP]: “The one single sacrifice that was claimed by the heavy wind and rain storm on Tuesday night, seems to have been the schooner yacht Ellen, which is now stranded on the beach a short distance from Port Harford. Captain Colice Vasquez, who has been in charge of the vessel in the removal of lumber from the hold of the wrecked vessel Colman, had sent the vessel back to San Miguel for another cargo of lumber, deciding to remain ashore for a trip. When Captain Vasquez received the report of the stranding of the vessel yesterday forenoon, he expressed himself in doubt as to the truth of the rumor. He stated that his first mate, Joe Bermudas, has been sent in charge of the Ellen for San Miguel Island in plenty of time to reach the island before the storm set in, and that she was a long distance out of her course in the neighborhood of Port Harford. Yesterday afternoon, however, Captain Vasquez received definite information to the effect that the Ellen had been washed ashore, the first mate stating that he would be in Santa Barbara on the morning train. The only other person on board was Andrew Broadstone, who with the first mate swam ashore. The Ellen is a sailing vessel of about 19 tons burden. She is about forty feet in length and has a twelve foot beam. She has made several trips between Santa Barbara and San Miguel Island to save the cargo of lumber that had remained on the steam schooner Colman that dashed upon the reefs on the western end of the island during a storm about a year ago.”

December 14, 1906 [SBMP]: “Wreck of Schooner Ellen a Mystery. Non-arrival of mate Bermudas leaves owners in doubt — hope damage small. In spite of the efforts that have been made by Captain Colise Vasquez and George M. Macguire, owners of the schooner Ellen that is reported to have gone ashore near Port Harford during the recent storm, to ascertain the true condition of affairs, they have yet been unable to learn the extent of damage that has been caused to the vessel. On the morning following the day of the stranding of the schooner, the first mate, Joe Bermudas, who was in charge of the vessel, sent a telegram from Surf to Captain Vasquez, asking that he send him enough money to return to Santa Barbara. He said that the Ellen had gone on the beach but gave no details. He was supposed to have arrived from Port Harford yesterday morning. Captain Vasquez and Captain Maguire having gone to the depot to meet him, but he failed to put in an appearance and the owners of the vessel are just as much in the dark as to what actually occurred to the Ellen as they were when the first report of the accident was turned in. It is not believed, however, that the Ellen has been badly damaged as the point at which she is reported to have gone ashore has a long stretch of sandy beach and there is little danger of her being dashed to pieces on the rocks. ”

September 20, 1913 [SBDN]: “Schooner Santa Cruz on rocks near Rincon; Captain and crew safe. The schooner Santa Cruz, 100-foot beam, owned by the Santa Cruz Island Company of San Francisco, went on the rocks off the mouth of Rincon Creek at 10 o’clock last night, and it is believed she will be a total loss. Captain George Nidever, Engineer Angelo and Joe Bermudez were bringing the schooner from the drydock at San Pedro, where the owners had just expended over $1000 in repairs, which included recoppering the keel, repainting and general overhauling. Forced to abandon the schooner, Captain Nidever and his two companions rowed all night, unable to get their bearings until daylight, when they pulled for this port, reaching here at 5 o’clock this morning, exhausted from their night’s experience...”

September 21, 1913 [SBMP]: “Channel boat ashore at Rincon. Santa Cruz Island power schooner strikes rocks in fog. Returning from San Pedro where she has been in drydock, the island schooner Santa Cruz ran on the rocks at the Rincon during the fog of Friday night. Captain George Nidever and the crew escaped in an open boat, although in the fog they rowed all the way to Santa Barbara, when the shore was but a few yards away… Beside Captain Nidever, Engineer Angelo and Joe Bermudes were the acting crew. The three embarked in a small boat as soon as it was realized the vessel was fast. Still without their bearings in a fog that sight could penetrate only a few feet, the men kept rowing until after daylight and their efforts of the night brought them to Santa Barbara. They then had no exact idea of where they had abandoned the Santa Cruz, and it was reports from the south later that told of the wreck...”

October 11, 1914 [SBMP]: “Yesterday Captain Frank Nidever came to the mainland from Santa Rosa Island in the launch Tortuga, bringing Joe Bermudez, one of the island workmen who had fallen from the roof of a barn and dislocated an ankle in striking the ground. Superintendent Miller accompanied the victim of the accident, who was taken to his home at 625 East Haley Street, where a surgeon was called to attend to his injury.”

October 12, 1914 [SBDNI]: “Joe Bermudez, employed on the Santa Rosa Island, has been brought to his home at 625 Haley Street, suffering with a dislocated ankle, the injury having been sustained in a fall from the roof of a barn on the island.”

October 26, 1916 [SCICo]: “Is it possible to get a sailor in San Francisco? The schooner [Santa Cruz] is being manned principally by a lot of drunken loafers, and the captain states that there is nothing else to be had in Santa Barbara. We are using Bermudez and Olivari to fall back on, but neither one of them like it, and it interferes considerably with what we are trying to do on shore. Bermudez complaint is that the men they get in Santa Barbara are incompetent and half drunk most of the time, and he has to do the work of two men.”

November 14, 1916 [SCICo]: “Julio Valdez who is now on the schooner is going to leave, so if we are going to keep Bermudez and Olivari on shore, we will need two sailors... On the trip of November 7th, we put Bermudez on the schooner and had him stay aboard until the 14th. Sunday afternoon and evening the Captain and Julius got drunk with some fishermen at Prisoners Harbor. At about 10:30 that night a northeaster came up, and at midnight the schooner had to leave for China Harbor. The Captain and Julius were reeling drunk when Bermudez, with some difficulty, finally got them roused up. They got to China Harbor all right and returned Tuesday morning. We didn’t learn the particulars until after the schooner left for Santa Barbara, although we knew there was something amiss as Bermudez refused to stay aboard and would take his check before he would make another trip with the Captain but wouldn’t say what the trouble was. We finally got the particulars from Cortella and Bermudez confirmed them... Bermudez undoubtedly kept the schooner off the rocks and we believe some credit is due him for taking hold in an emergency and assuming someone else's responsibility. Bermudez was talking some while back about taking an I.C.S. course in navigation, but do not know whether he has done so or not.”

November 29, 1916 [SCICo]: “At Scorpion, Bermudez will be finished there this week. The other work during the past week has consisted of baling hay and fence repairs.”

December 28, 1919 [SCICo]: “Murray, one of the sailors, quit on December 24 and Joe Bermudez took his place.”

February, 1920 [SCICo]: “[Captain Nigro] should be allowed to drink his own wine, that of Clarence Libbey who does not drink, and also that of Joe Bermudez who is sick with influenza...”

October 12, 1920 [SCICo]: “Joe Bermudez, who worked on the wharf last time it was repaired, came over by last trip. He is now doing some odd jobs of carpentry at the different ranches. When he gets through with those, he will go to cutting piles. I am at present paying him two dollars a day, but told him we would do better for him if we put him in charge of the wharf work... Bermudez will stay at Scorpion and repair the barn in Campo Los Toros while awaiting word about the wharf.”

November 8, 1920 [SCICo]: “Bermudez is coming in from Scorpion where he has been repairing the barn and roofing the reservoir, and we will make a start on the wharf using horse power. I have been reluctant to really start with horsepower because I am afraid we are going to have labor troubles as some of the men are seemingly awed by the size of the job. However, we will make a start.”

November 15, 1920 [SCICo]: “Pietro Olivari is suffering from a boil on his face which may make it necessary for him to lay off for a few days in which case Joe Bermudez will take his place. Lopez and Bermudez are at present working to get the tractor out of the canyon where it fell.”

November 22, 1920 [SCICo]: “Sailed for Santa Barbara Friday at 10:15 A.M. and returned at 9:40 A.M. with superintendent, Newton, Bermudez, Lewelling, F. Espinoza, Guevara and Benton, and 30 sacks of barley.”

January 27, 1921 [SBMP]: “Five employees of the Santa Cruz Island Company with two others were brought to the city Tuesday night for medical treatment appear to be have sleeping sickness, Dr. C. B. Nagelman, who examined them, said last night. The men have been in a state of coma for five days, according to Dr. E. J. Boeseke, who also examined the men and confirmed Dr. Nagelman’s diagnosis. A sixth member of the party, Joe Bermudez, is being treated at his home, 719 East Haley Street. The other, Ike Newton of 614 Canal Street, is at Cottage Hospital. According to Dr. High Frisdell, Newton is suffering from food poisoning. Dr. Benjamin Bakewell who also examined Newton, said that the men may have been poisoned from food, but he would not care to say absolutely that was the trouble. The five who were taken to the County Hospital last night were Frank Ricci, Alexander Merlo, John Diana, Emanuel Lamont and Fred Giaconutti. The attending physicians said that they believe the men have sleeping sickness, brought on from existing for three months on meat. All are in a weakened condition. The men were employed on Santa Cruz Island in the construction of a wharf.”

January 30, 1921 [SBMP]: “Only one of 12 Santa Cruz Island victims of a strange sickness brought to this city for treatment is seriously ill at the present time, it was reported last night. Of the nine that were taken to the County Hospital for treatment, one was released yesterday, four more will be able to leave Monday, and the rest, except John Olivera, were reported much improved last night. Joe Bermudez, who has been at his home, 817 East Haley Street, under the care of City Physician Hartwell since Tuesday, was reported much better last night...”

February 17, 1921 [SBMP]: “Sick men still come from island. Seven more men arrived from Santa Cruz Island. Four are here on second trip. A party of seven victims of the mysterious malady that broke out on Santa Cruz Island January 22, causing the death Tuesday of John Olivera, was brought to the city last night for medical treatment. Alex Merlo and Nick Morresi were taken to the county hospital. The other five members of the party disappeared before local health authorities could reach the wharf to take them to the hospital... Ike Newton, Joe Bermudez and another Italian whose name could not be learned also returned last night suffering from a relapse of the disease... John Olivera died of meningitis...”

January 7, 1925 [SBMP]: “Captain Valdez to take bridge of Lippman’s boat. Captain Julius Valdez, who for many years has skippered the Santa Cruz Island schooner, Santa Cruz, has left the bridge of that vessel to go on as sailing master of L. R. Lippman’s new boat, formerly the Athene. Lippman, although of San Pedro, is now a member of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, and has already entered his ship in the Honolulu race. Valdez will leave San Pedro with his boat for a month’s cruise along the Mexican coast with a party of Los Angeles men. Joe Bermudez succeeds Valdez as skipper of the Santa Cruz.”

November 18, 1928 [SBMP]: “Captain Ira Eaton has been in charge of the Santa Cruz Island boat, Santa Cruz, for the past week due to illness of Captain Joe Bermudez.”

October 4, 1971 [SBNP]: “Rosary for José Bermudez, 79, of 416 N. Voluntario Street, a fishing boat captain and private skipper who died Saturday at a local hospital following a long illness, will be tomorrow... Mr. Bermudez was a veteran sailor and a familiar figure in the local harbor. Retiring in 1952, he lived here all his life. He was born in Santa Barbara August 14, 1892, grew up here and attended local schools. During World War I he served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. Following the was he returned to Santa Barbara and resumed his interest and activity in boating and commercial fishing... Surviving are four sisters... and many nieces and nephews.”