DANIELSON, Oliver Isaac

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February 13, 1924, Santa Catalina Island

DANIELSON, Oliver Isaac (1862-1931), born in Illinois, in 1889 he married Mileta “Leta” L. Mangrum (1862-1952). The Danielsons moved to Avalon, Santa Catalina Island in 1904, where they lived on Vieudelou Avenue.

O. I. Danielson operated a fishing launch Rival before building his own, the Leta D, which at the time was said to “set the standard for modern improvements in Catalina game fishing.” In 1903 Danielson was President of the Sophia Yacht Club, formed by boatmen and fishing enthusiasts in Avalon.

Captain Danielson served as boatman and gaffer for many Tuna Club members, including Zane Grey, James W. Jump, Gifford Pinchot, Charles Frederick Holder and others. In 1912 he built the Leta D No. 2.


Captain Danielson died at 66; his wife died at 90. He is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery.



In the News~

January 14, 1925 [TI/Avalon]: “Captain and Mrs. O. I. Danielson were among the cross-channel passengers Sunday, and are occupying their Marilla Avenue cottage.“


January 28, 1931 [TI/Avalon]: “Death recalls items in life of boatman Capt. O. I. Danielson. Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon for the late Captain Oliver I. Danielson, aged 66, who passed away Sunday at his home, 134 East Sixty-ninth Street, Los Angeles, after a brief illness. The deceased is survived by his wife, Leta D., two sisters and a brother, the latter being Chas. S. Danielson of Lynwood, California. The sisters are Mrs. O. W. Grover and Miss I. J. Danielson. a number of Avalonites attended the funeral services, held from the chapel of W. A. Brown, 1815 South Flower Street, Los Angeles. As master of the fishing launch Leta D, Captain and Mrs. Danielson resided at Avalon for many years. Their home was then "Dan's Harbor", located on Vieudelou Avenue. With Mrs. Danielson he came to Avalon in 1904 to operate a small fishing launch, and later he built the Leta D No. 1, which at that time set the standard for modern improvements in Catalina game fishing. Captain Danielson was boatman and gaffer for many prominent anglers in the early days of the Tuna Club. Such names as Zane Grey, the noted author; Lee A. Phillips, A. C. Parsons, Dr. F. Newcomb, James W. Jump, W. L. Richmond, Col. Dorsey, Col. A. J. Eddy, Gifford Pinchot, Dr. Charles F. Holder, William and Dustin Farnum, F. B. Sharp, have all found a place in the "log of the Leta D. In 1912 Captain Danielson built a new boat, Leta D No. 2, and it was so well equipped for game fishing with rod and reel that a number of eastern sportsmen visited the Island to pattern their own fishing cruisers after the Danielson designs. Although he did not originate the "kite flying", "sledding", etc., for tuna and marlin swordfish angling, Captain Danielson was one of the first of Catalina's famous boatmen to experiment with and accept these devices for luring game fish. Captain Danielson had a keen sense of sportsmanship. The story is told of a young man who once chartered his boat for a two-day fishing trip to San Clemente Island. On their second day out Captain Danielson learned that the young man was "fishing to win a bet — a bride." The Captain worked hard to aid the angler to capture the required specimen. In the excitement of the contest the young angler repeatedly broke his line, allowing fish to escape. The time was almost up. Another fish grabbed the bait and the "light tackle" bent dangerously under the strain. With his fish almost at the gaff the young angler broke his rod, disqualifying his catch. Danielson said nothing. The long journey from San Clemente to Catalina was made almost in silence. At the Avalon pier the disappointed young man left the fishing boat and rushed to the hotel to get his baggage and start for the mainland. Very gloomily he boarded the steamer. The departing whistle had sounded. It was an excited young lady that rushed through the gateway at the entrance to the steamer landing. Hatless and with her blonde hair disarranged, she called loudly for "someone to stop the boat." Captain Danielson, following her,smiled. A young man dashed from the upper down to the lower deck of the departing steamer, and succeeded in scrambling back to the pier. Arm in arm the young couple walked back to the hotel, while the Captain busily engaged "inspecting" a school of sardines on the opposite side of the dock, was unnoticed. Later in the day the launch Leta D left Avalon for the mainland, where the young couple obtained their marriage license. In 1924 Captain Danielson retired from the fishing business, sold his fishing launch and purchased a ranch on the mainland. As a boatman to Zane Grey, the author, the captain received considerable publicity in the Zane Grey Fishing Stories. Quite a number of record catches of past years were made from the famous Leta D, with Captain Danielson at the wheel and the gaff. It was in 1911 that the writer of this article landed his first marlin swordfish while fishing from the Leta D, at Mosquito Harbor, San Clemente.”