CLIFT, Amos

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Elm Grove Cemetery, Mystic, CT.


CLIFT, Amos, Jr. (1830-1887), was born in Connecticut and came to California in 1850. He joined with Robert M. Folger as commission merchants in Sacramento, but he left the partnership in April 1851; Folger sued Clift in 1852. After this, Clift made at least one trip to Tahiti, then settled in San Francisco.

Clift became the second Farallones lighthouse keeper 1859-1860, following Nerva N. Wines. Like other keepers, Clift had hopes of enhancing his meager earnings by moonlighting as an island egg picker. This only added to the struggle over the eggs and the subsequent "egg wars.". Keeper Amos Clift penned the following to his brother in October 1859:

“The egg season is in the months of May and June, and the profits of the Company after all expenses are paid, is every year from five to six thousand dollars. Quite an item. And if this Island is Government property, I have a right to these eggs and I am bound to try and gain it... If I could have the privilege of this egg business for one season, it is all I would ask... the government might then kiss my foot.”

In June, 1860, Clift wrote:

“We are now in the midst of the egg season, and the Egg Company and the Light Keepers are at war.”

An armed group of eggers soon tried to force the keepers from the island, assaulting an assistant keeper in the process. Keeper Clift was removed shortly thereafter by the Lighthouse Service for trying to monopolize “the valuable privilege of collecting eggs.” Clift probably didn’t miss the island too much, as the previous year he had written:

“I’m getting awful tired of this loneliness; it is almost as bad as the state prison.”

In 1881, the government declared sole-ownership of the island, evicted the egg company, and made egg collecting illegal.

After his term as lighthouse keeper on the Farallon Islands, Amos Clift, Jr. returned to Connecticut. He served in the Union army in the Civil War, married Hannah Morse in 1861, and died in Washington, DC in 1887 at age 57. He was buried in Mystic, CT.


Amos Clift = [1861] = Hannah Morse (1834-1917)

  • 1. William Morse Clift (1864-1950)
  • 2. Adah Byron Clift (1866-1874)
  • 3. Katherine Norton Clift [Perkins] (1868-1937)
  • 4. Annie Lynne Clift [Newbury] (1869-1952)
  • 5. Leonard A. Clift (1873-1956)


Amos Clift's Letters To His Brother Written From Southern Farrallon Island
Date of Letter Click on Icon
March 8, 1857 Amos Clift March 8,1857 Pdficon small 2.gif
July 14, 1858 Amos Clift July 14,1858 Pdficon small 2.gif
August 15, 1858 Amos Clift August 15,1858 Pdficon small 2.gif
December 16, 1858 Amos Clift December 16,1858 Pdficon small 2.gif
December 28, 1858 Amos Clift December 28,1858 Pdficon small 2.gif
March 7, 1859 Amos Clift March 7,1859 Pdficon small 2.gif
March 29, 1859 Amos Clift March 29 1859 Pdficon small 2.gif
June 28, 1859 Amos Clift June 28,1859 Pdficon small 2.gif
November 30, 1859 Amos Clift November 30,1859 Pdficon small 2.gif
December 20, 1859 Amos Clift Dec 20,1859 Pdficon small 2.gif
February 27, 1860 Amos Clift February 27,1860 Pdficon small 2.gif
June 14, 1860 Amos Clift June 14,1860 Pdficon small 2.gif