Chinese on Santa Catalina Island

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Chinese on Santa Catalina Island in 1880


1880 United States Census, Santa Catalina Island listed the following Chinese:

  • 1. Sing Lung, 21, single, fisherman
  • 2. Sam, 26, single, fisherman
  • 3. Hep Wo, 42, single, fisherman
  • 4. Chow, 20, single, fisherman
  • 5. Sin Sum, 39, single, fisherman

August 1, 1883 [LAT]: “Catalina in flames. A wretched Sunday for thousands of people. The beautiful island city lying in ashes. Immense losses, but well-insured. Factories, churches, courthouse and many residences burned. On Sunday afternoon, on the arrival of the Wilmington train, the painful particulars of a terrible fire at Catalina Island were first learned. According to General Roley, who was first on the scene, it commenced in the Chinese fish oil manufactory of Ah Lie, who was smoking opium, and carelessly knocked over his lamp, the flames being immediately conveyed to a lot of open barrels containing refined oil. Ah Lie was burned to death while lying in a state of insensibility from opium…”

July 28, 1882 [LAH]: “Catalina Fishing Camps. Temporary Depression in This Interest—The Cause. We are indebted to Messrs. Bryant & Dunn, who own the oldest fishing camp on the eastern end of Santa Catalina Island, for the following list of fishermen, with the location of their camps, at present on the Island: At Timm's Landing there are three camps—Bryant & Dunn, Wm. Brohan and Robie & Langworthy. Owing to the low price of dried baracouta (sic) the principal fish caught, which has fallen from 4 cents to 2-1/2 cents per pound, no regular fishing is being done. In addition to the regular camps mentioned, Italian fishermen come over from Wilmington to procure fresh fish for the Los Angeles Market. Going towards the western end, the next camp is that of a Mr. Romero, at Swain's Valley, at which Jose Feliz has a camp. The next fishing point is the Isthmus, on which there are three camps, one owned by a Spaniard named Ortego (sic) and two Chinese camps. Jose Sylva has a fishery at Howland's valley and Frank Sylva one at Johnston's Beach, the oldest fishing station, we believe, on the Island. The last camp, following in regular order, is the West End. It is worked by James Brown. Very little work is now being done at any of the landings for the reason, as before stated, of the extraordinary decline in the price of baracouta (sic). This sudden fall, Messrs. Bryant & Dunn informed us, was caused by the shipment from San Diego, at one time, during the present season, of about eighty tons of dried baracouta (sic), to San Francisco; and, as the consumption of this fish is confined principally to persons of Italian and Portuguese nativity, the effect was to overstock the market and run the price down. They hope, however, that as the superior quality of this fish as food becomes better known, it will grow into general favor and thus increase the demand. Of course there are numberless other fish caught off the Island, among which we may enumerate yellow tail, white fish, rock bass and occasionally cod, all of which are excellent table fish, the bass being esteemed the best pan fish to be found on the Coast.”

November 5, 1899 [LAST/SCat]: “The schooner Mephisto, Captain E. S. Teall of San Diego, dropped into Avalon Bay Thursday to make some repairs to her sails. She had on board a crew of Chinese abalone hunters.”