ERICKSON, Charles

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ERICKSON, Charles (1854-1925), Swedish lobster fisherman who lived at various island camps through the years. The Santa Cruz Island Company officially rented space to him at Yellow Banks at one time. In 1918, Erickson failed to pay his rent and began causing trouble. In court testimony, Erickson said he had occupied Yellow Banks for five years (1913-1917).


In the News~

February 24, 1909 [SBI]: “Fishermen marooned on San Nicolas. Nearly five weeks on lone island far off Santa Barbara. Subsist on fish and suffer severely from exposure. San Pedro. Captain Swansen of the launch Leone arrived this morning after a stormy trip to San Nicolas Island, where he found four men who had been living on crawfish and other such fish as they were able to catch, for nearly five weeks. They are Charles Erickson, Jack Anderson, “French Joe,” “Russian Pete,” crawfishers who state that they had been fishing for Captain Vasquez of Santa Barbara… The launch Gussie M of Santa Barbara, which was nearly wrecked last Sunday, was their supply boat, but she was unable to make the landing at San Nicolas during the period when they were marooned, and had been forced to remain offshore.”


February 24, 1909 [SBI]: “Fishermen marooned on San Nicolas. Nearly five weeks on lone island far off Santa Barbara. Subsist on fish and suffer severely from exposure. San Pedro. Captain Swansen of the launch Leone arrived this morning after a stormy trip to San Nicolas Island, where he found four men who had been living on crawfish and other such fish as they were able to catch, for nearly five weeks. They are Charles Erickson, Jack Anderson, “French Joe,” “Russian Pete,” crawfishers who state that they had been fishing for Captain Vasquez of Santa Barbara...”


September 6, 1917 [SCICo]: “We served notice on Charles Erickson at Yellowbanks to vacate. Notice dated September 5th. We told Mr. Carrigan that he wouldn't leave, and that he would kill the first man that attempted to move him. From what we have seen of him, we believe that he would make his threat good. All the cattle killed this year at Smugglers and the Aguaje have been killed during the stay of this man. If Erickson hasn't personally killed these cattle, he must know who has. He has been living with a Mexican woman who we understand is not his wife. A deposition could be obtained from her if the District Attorney will cooperate, and could be used in obtaining an injunction.”


October 9, 1917 [Superior Court Santa Barbara County Case #10481, Santa Cruz Island Company v. Charles Erickson]: “... the defendant unlawfully entered upon... and particularly took possession of that part known as Yellow Banks... stating that he will kill any one who tries to dispossess him...” Erickson denied the allegations, and stated he “for more than five years prior to the commencement of this action was and still is in the actual and undisturbed possession and occupation of... a portion of the beach below a steep bank known as Yellow Banks.”


February 26, 1918 [SCICo]: “We understand that Erickson has left the island. We do not know what the proposed settlement is, but if it includes back rent, would suggest that you accept, as it looks to us if he has left the island we no longer have a case. The crawfish season ends the 26th inst.”


February 26, 1918 [SCICo]: “We are going to Scorpion tomorrow to tear Erickson's shack down.”


March 6, 1918 [SCICo]: “On Saturday we went to Yellow Banks and tore down Erickson’s shack. Erickson was not there, and his personal belongings we piled on the beach, not knowing at that time what other disposition to make of them. Aside from his crawfish traps which were piled on the beach, he had left practically nothing of value in the house, having probably taken his bedding and cooking utensils to Santa Barbara. There were five witnesses to his possessions, so we do not see how he can possibly have a come-back.”


March 27, 1918 [SBMP]: “With the destruction of Charles Erickson’s fishing cabin on Santa Cruz Island and his forcible ejection from his island home, and dismissal of the Santa Cruz Island Company’s ejection suit, against Erickson in the superior court here Monday, is closed the first chapter in a controversy over Erickson’s right to maintain a home on the island. The second chapter will bring, according to attorney Francis Price, when he files a counter suit for Erickson against the Santa Cruz Island Company, which is controlled by the Caire family of San Francisco, claiming full damages for the loss of Erickson’s home and fishing gear, a vindication of his rights on the island, and attorney Price said yesterday he may also attack the company’s title to the island. Because members of the fishing colony on Santa Cruz Island have been suspected of killing sheep and cattle and carrying out other depredations on the island, the owning company started an ejection suit against Erickson in the local superior court several weeks ago, this case being looked upon as a test action which would also determine the rights of the entire fishing colony to continue their homes there. Erickson retained attorney Price to represent him and fought the action, claiming that his cabin, which was built on stilts over waters of a creek mouth at Yellow Banks, was located on government tidelands not subject to the island company control. This action was to have come to trial this week, but attorney Price consented to a dismissal of the suit when he learned that Erickson’s house had been torn down and his property thrown away, it is alleged, by agents of the island company while Erickson was away for supplies. Price states that with Erickson thus illegally ejected, there was no use of trying the legal ejection suit, hence the dismissal. Now, according to attorney Price, he will bring suit against the island company for damages sustained by Erickson in the loss of his house for ruling regarding Erickson’s rights on what he claims is tide lands, and also attack the company’s title to the island.”


December 2, 1918 [SCICo]: ““We are again in trouble with Erickson. He has supposedly been fishing for Eaton at Pt. San Pedro. On Wednesday evening shortly after 6 o'clock, Mauri and Menegazzo were returning from an inspection of cattle at the Aguaje and when between Smugglers and Scorpion saw a man carrying something on his shoulders. As soon as the man saw them coming he started running down the cañon. As you may perhaps remember it is rather rocky and rough in that particular section and the man who proved to be Erickson, surprised Mauri, who was somewhat ahead of Menegazzo, by suddenly appearing from behind a rock with a cocked rifle and ordering to go back or be shot. Mauri went back, but as soon as he met Menegazzo they started back down and were again stopped by Erickson. I was nearly dark by that time and Mauri gave it up. This man must be permanently removed from the Island and we are taking Mauri to Santa Barbara. We will swear to a warrant of assault with a deadly weapon and any other charges we can make cover the case, but this will not be sufficient, as he will be freed with a small fine and he will have back on the Island any time he feels like coming. We are going to endeavor to get an injunction against him along with the criminal proceedings. Erickson is a crazy Swede and anyone that attempts to move him, unless we shoot Erickson first is going to get himself into considerable trouble.”


December 30, 1918 [SCICo]: “Erickson left the island three weeks ago, taking all his stuff with him when he left.”


December 28, 1920 [SBMP]: “Tragedy followed close upon the festivity with which a little fishing colony on Santa Cruz Island greeted Christmas, according to the story brought to the mainland yesterday by a fishing boa commanded by John Albertson. The little craft also brought the body of Anileta Reyes, 40 years old, whom the story chiefly concerned. It was transferred to the undertaking establishment of L. E. Gagnier, where an inquest has been set for today. According to the report made to A. M. Ruiz, county coroner, by Captain Albertson, Miss Reyes and Captain Carl Erickson, in whose fishing camp the woman was employed as cook, passed Christmas eve at a neighboring camp and returned to Erickson’s camp together in a rowboat. Captain Albertson said Captain Erickson told him he did not observe the movements of the woman after his return to camp, but upon awakening the next morning missed her. The rowboat also was missing from its accustomed place. Later in the day the boat was found jammed against a rock on the shore of the island. The search for the woman continued all Christmas day and yesterday when her body was found in the kelp by Captain Albertson, according to his report to the coroner. The tragedy occurred near what is known as the Middle Ground. It was assumed, the coroner was told, that the woman had put out in the boat after leaving Captain Erickson, but where she intended going or whether she fell out of the boat or was capsized could not be learned. Funeral services have been set for 2 P.M. today at the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows. Interment will be beside the body of a sister of Miss Reyes in Calvary Cemetery.”


December 29, 1920 [SBMP]: “The death of Miss Anileta Reyes, cook at the Erickson crawfish camp, Santa Cruz Island, was caused by ‘accidental drowning by falling out of a boat in the Pacific Ocean, at Santa Cruz Island,’ according to the verdict rendered by a coroner’s jury yesterday afternoon. The inquest was held at L. E. Gagnier’s funeral parlors. The accident came as the aftermath to a Christmas party, in which Captain John [?] Erickson and the woman drank a considerable amount of sweet elder, according to the testimony of the chief witness, Captain Erickson. Captain Erickson said Miss Reyes was last seen alive as she was taking a skiff to row out to Captain Albertson’s sloop. Her absence was not noted until the next morning when a search for her was begun. The skiff, he said, was found battered against the rocks along the shore. After searching along the shore, he said he and a companion rowed through the kelp beds where the body was eventually found entangled in the seaweeds. The face and ankles were bruised and it was clothed only in stockings, shoes and an undergarment. The witness said the shore off which the body was found was rocky and the opinion was expressed that it had been battered by the surf upon the rocks before it became entangled in the kelp. Erickson said there was some wind and a rather heavy sea at the time Miss Reyes attempted to row out to the sloop. William Meyers, who accompanied Erickson at the time the body was found, was the only other witness. His story was in corroboration of that told by Erickson. The testimony indicated Miss Reyes had been a cook in Erickson’s crawfish camp during each season for the past 19 years.”


November 14, 1925 [SBMP]: “The Santa Cruz Island Company owned by the Caire estate, yesterday brought suit in the superior court to eject seven individuals from the island who are alleged to have established fishing camps at Yellow Banks, Blue Banks, and the Willows, without permission of the owners. The company claims to have been damaged to the extent of $1500 by the maintenance of fishing camps by the seven persons who are named in the complaint as Charles Erickson, Criss DeRoed, John Doe Paulsen, Jane Doe and three other individuals named only as Roe and Moe Erickson is alleged to be squatting at Yellow Banks...”


December 9, 1925 In the Superior Court of the County of Santa Barbara, State of California. Santa Cruz Island Company, a corporation, Plaintiff, against Charles Erickson, Criss DeRoed, John Doe Paulsen, Richard Roe, Samuel Moe, Harry Moe and Jane, Defendants… having failed to appear… That on or about, or prior to the 15th day of October 1925, the said defendants and each of them, without leave or license of plaintiff or plaintiff’s co-tenants, wrongfully entered upon portions of said island, and wrongfully and unlawfully withhold possession of same from said plaintiff, to plaintiff’s wrong, injury and damage in the sum of $1500…”