EASTMAN, Cyrus Alvah

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EASTMAN, Cyrus Alvah (1827-1902), New Hampshire-born master mariner and veteran of the Mexican War who crossed the Santa Ynez mountains in 1846 with Colonel John C. Fremont and the California Batallion. In 1849 Eastman married his first cousin, Lucinda Rebecca Eastman (1832-1901), daughter of his paternal uncle John, and they had two children: daughter Augusta Ruth (1852-1917); married Daniel Blaine Burt) and son Willis Whitney (1866-1881; killed in a mining accident). By 1858 the Eastmans lived in San Francisco at 2 Ewer Place.

Cyrus Eastman claimed to be the first person to capture a sea lion alive. By 1892 the Eastmans had moved to Sonoma. Cyrus predeceased [?] his wife who died in Oakland in 1901. Their daughter died from being struck and hurled to the ground by a horse.


SBNP March 16, 1969 get

SBWHerald 1889

Used Sloop Challenge

Peter Howarth; 3rd symposium p. 580

San Miguel Island E. [sic] A. Eastman YPM 1870 YPM-006926 Zalophus californianus Mammals
San Miguel Island E. [sic] A. Eastman YPM 1870 YPM-006927 Zalophus californianus Mammals
San Miguel Island E. [sic] A. Eastman YPM 1871 YPM-006925 Zalophus californianus Mammals

In the News~

July 17, 1856 [SBG]: “Sloop Marine, [Captain] Eastman, arrived on Monday last, from Santa Cruz Island.”

September 30, 1856 [SDU]: “At 7:30 P.M., September 28th, below Monterey, during a thick fog, [a steamer] ran down the schooner Frances Skiddy, of 17-1/2 tons. The Captain, Hugh Robertson, was drowned. The schooner was bound to Santa Cruz Island with a cargo of provisions for the Chinese fishery, and had on board four Chinese passengers, who were all saved. One Chinaman had his shoulder broken, but is doing well. The steamer was on her usual course, with her lights burning. The crew of the schooner report that they heard the steamer for some minutes before striking, but became bewildered, and the Captain ordered the helm put down, which kept the schooner directly in the steamer’s track, without showing a light until nearly under her bows, when it was too late to prevent the catastrophe. The names of the persons saved are Captain Eastman of the sloop Marin; James Wilson, James Hardy, John Bathgate, and four Chinamen.”

May 12, 1871 [SDU]: “A family of four sea lions are sojourning in San Francisco. They are intended for Barnum’s Museum. They were captured by Captain Eastman, with great difficulty.”

June 17, 1871 [SBT]: “Rare. Yesterday Captain B. Brown exhibited, on the wharf, some monsters of the deep, consisting of a sea lion, fur seal and spotted seal. These amphibious birds were captured expressly for Barnum’s traveling menagerie, by Captain Eastman, who has been three months chasing them.”

June 20, 1871 [SDU]: “The last steamer from Santa Barbara brought a sea lion, a fur seal, a sea dog, a barking seal and a young sea lion — all captured on the lower coast of California by Captain Eastman. The sea lion is of remarkable size, weighing nearly 1200 pounds. The fur seal is one of the largest ever caught.”

June 21, 1871 [SDU]: “Woodward’s Gardens. Immense attractions! More wonders! On exhibition for a few days, monster sea lion and young, also one fur seal and sea dog! These sea monsters were captures by Capt. C. A. Eastman, expressly for P. T. Barnum, for his Great Traveling Show, and will go East in a few days. They are, without doubt, the largest ever captured.” [The ad ran for a week]

July 6, 1872 [Weekly Colusa Sun]: “Sea Lion Hunting.—Two expeditions have lately been sent out from this city to capture the largest sea lion that can be found, for Woodward's Gardens—one to the Farallones, under Captain Eastman, for whom Mr. Woodward has engaged the assistance of the Farallone Egg Company's men, some twenty in number; and the other to Santa Barbara county seacoast, where those animals also abound. This party is under the direction of a Spaniard named Basque, who has already been successful in sea lion hunting for the same employer. Some time ago Capt. Eastman and his men lassoed and partly secured one on the Farallones, thought to weigh at least twenty-five hundred pounds; but the monster in his struggles broke all the ropes which had been got around him and escaped. It is expected that a capture will now be made, as the arrangements for securing the prize are on a much larger scale. The largest one now at the Gardens weighs about a thousand pounds.“

January 22, 1873 [SDU]: “A mermaid. The Los Angeles Express describes the ‘mermaid’ now on exhibition in that place. It was caught by Captain Eastman of the schooner Roscoe, embalmed by Dr. Lyford, and has been exhibited at San Diego. The body is about three feet in length. The eyes, in large sockets, were pricked to let out water in the embalming process. The mouth is very broad, with twenty-eight curved and singularly shaped teeth. The nose is a combination of the Romans and the snub. The brow is deeply indented with heavy brain lobes; long and broad ears adorn the queer-looking head, and short woolly hair covers the head and sides of the face. The cerebellum and Adam’s apple are very prominent. The arms are long and terminate in long claws, consisting of four fingers and a thumb, with the sharpest of nails. There are eleven ribs extending around the body and meeting at the breast. Here the fishy portion of the thing begins. It is covered with scales, the spine having the dorsal fin, and the fish continuing in the usual development to the tip of the tail.”

January 21, 1878 [SBMP]: “Storm News. The scow schooner Osceola, Cyrus A. Eastman, captain, was lost at Round Island, off the coast of Santa Maria, near San Quentin, some days since. All on board were saved, and captain and men were at the ranch of Barry Hyde, at or near San Quentin, awaiting passage for San Diego. She belonged to A. Crawford & Co., of San Francisco. Her cargo consisted of 45 tons of guano and 5 sea lions.”

February 6, 1878 [SBMP]: “The schooner Osceola, Capt. Eastman, was wrecked some nights since, in the vicinity of Round Island, twenty-five miles off shore, by being driven upon a rock in a gale. The crew got ashore in boats, and the cargo was saved. Captain and crew have returned to San Diego.”

April 22, 1885 [SBDP]: “The Rosita, Captain Burtis, last night arrived from Anacapa with nine live seals for Captain Eastman, who is now in Santa Barbara and will take the animals to San Francisco in a couple of days.”

April 22, 1885 [SBDI]: “Captain Eastman, who has a number of acquaintances in Santa Barbara, is in the city. His mission is to buy live seals and sea lions for the San Francisco market.”

July 30, 1885 [RSM]: “Hunting Sea Lions. Captain Cyrus A. Eastman, of San Francisco, a bearded, rugged-looking old sea lion himself, gave to a reporter the following account of his late capture of two families of California sea lions at the Island of Anacapa , about 300 miles south of San Francisco Bay. The order came from Mr. Robert Garrett, the railroad president, to secure, if possible, a first class lot, nearly as full-grown as possible, and stipulating particularly that they should be taken so far south as to make acclimation easy. The catch was made in April last, three weeks being spent mainly in watching and waiting for an opportunity to lasso the whole party at once. Captain Eastman, with fifteen trained fishermen after watching the animals for several days and nights, at the opportune moment and at a signal from the men on the rocks above, rushed upon the lions, dividing it into two parties, so as to head them off from the sea. As the animals made for the water, their heads stretched upward, the lassos were thrown, two over each. As the lions felt the touch of the rope they raised a flipper to throw it off. This sealed their doom, for as the rope passed over the flipper the lassos drew the rope taught, making a turn about the nearest rock and escaping to a safe distance, until the animals should wear out their strength in vain endeavors to break away from the strong whale lines bound about them. They were then at once secured in cages, strong boxes, by watching the proper moment and tipping it over them and running planks underneath the cages, thus forming a floor, and afterwards turning them back over again, until the planks were secured with nails, ropes, etc. To attempt to even deal very gently with them is attended with danger, but Captain Eastman does not seem to fear them, although he shows many scars, the results of a too close intimacy with these ferocious animals. The captain proposes to put them within the enclosure of Athletic Park this summer, and will probably afterwards dispose of them to the Central Park Commission, New York. There are four of them belonging to Capt. Eastman. The other three were for Robert Garrett, who gives them to Druid Hill Park.”

September 12, 1885 [SBDP]: “There are eight sea lions on board the Rosita, the property of Captain Cyrus Eastman, awaiting shipment on the steamer Santa Maria. They are destined for Australia.”

July 14, 1887 [SFDEB]: “’The best sea lion contract I ever made was with P. T. Barnum in 1871,’ said Captain Cyrus Eastman to a San Francisco Examiner reporter yesterday. ‘His agent entered into a contract with me to deliver a pair alive to him in New York City, and paid me $1000 upon my signing the papers, and the final output was something like $10,000. I took two men and went to Santa Barbara, where I chartered a schooner and took on board six of the best lassoers (vaqueros) that I could get. San Miguel Island at that time was alive with sea lions. There was no trouble in lassoing a sea lion, but the difficulty was to make the lasso hold, as a sea lion’s neck is larger than his head. It was all right as long as he was headed from you, but as soon as he turned the riata would slip off and you lost him. My only capture on the first trip was three small ones, but as they did not come up to the required weight for Barnum I sold them to John Robinson at Omaha, where they were an immense attraction. On my second trip I added to my force and took a hunting crew of eight men, and profiting by my former experience I had my riatas fixed with fish hooks, and also well plastered with resin, but I could not hold the beasts, and so I shot one, and throwing the lasso over a flipper I found that it would hold. All that a seal has to do is to give me his flipper and I have got him. My men were all Indians. I took one of them and showed him the trick, and the next morning we went into the sea lions’ rookery and caught four. I went to San Francisco immediately and placed my captives in a saltwater tank, and kept them there until the departure of the next steamer for Panama. I got them safely over the isthmus and landed them alive and well in New York, and got my pay.’”

July 3, 1889 [SBDI]: “Captain C. A. Eastman left for Anacapa Island today on a sea lion hunt. When captured the sea animals will go to Lincoln Park, Chicago.”

July 13, 1889 [SBDI]: “A car can be seen just now at the S.P.R.R. depot, on a side track, which contains twenty three sea lions recently captures on the islands in the channel. There are 19 full-grown ones, weighing about eight hundred pounds each. The others are little fellows of a weight of perhaps fifty pounds apiece. They are in charge of Captain Eastman, and will leave tomorrow for Chicago where they will remain on exhibition for about one month, and will then go to France and become a fixture at the Paris Exposition until it closes. There is a large tank with water in the car, and the animals take their daily bath.”

July 7, 1893 [SN]: “The fishing schooner Jennie Griffin has been heard from at San Diego. Dan Slinkey and S. Heymans are making good catches under Captain Mullett and Captain Eastman, and expect to return to Sausalito with plenty of coin.”

1901 [www.findagrave.com]: “The funeral of Mrs. C. A. [Lucinda R.] Eastman, wife of the late Captain Eastman, took place yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock from her late residence, 460 Thirteenth Street. Rev. Father Parish of the Church of the Advent officiated. The remains were interred in Mountain View Cemetery [Oakland, CA].”