From Islapedia
Captain Jim Gardner, Santa Catalina Island
One man, one rod, 200# of fish
Jim Gardner (right), Santa Catalina Island, 1895

GARDNER, James “Jim” Thomas Benedictus Marwood (1864-1939) was born in Chard, Somerset, England. He arrived in the United States in 1885, and twelve years later, on February 18, 1897 he married Helen Hardwick in Los Angeles. She was the daughter of one of the contractors on the island, Thomas Vincent Hardwick.

By the following year, Gardner was an Avalon, Santa Catalina Island captain, operating the vessel Fortuna. In July 1899 he was captain for Col. C. P. Moorhouse when the world-record tuna was caught off White Rock, Santa Catalina Island.

Gardner was a member of the first baseball club organized on the island in 1900, called the Lulus. Team members included: W. Beeson, A. Davis, M. L. Bloom, E. Hunter, George Johnson, Tom Whittley, Captain Lewis, J. Jones and Al Shade.

Gardner and his wife had one child:

  • Charles Hurst Gardner (1897-1992)[SS #561-10-6532] born in a tent in Avalon = [1919] Rachel Dodge (1897-1958)
* William Hardwick Gardner (1921- 2015) born in Los Angeles = [1945] Donnadelle Haynes

Captain James Gardner eventually returned to England where he died on May 9, 1939 at age 75 in the City of Bristol.

In the News~

[1898]: “… ‘Six feet four, a hundred and eighty-three pounds, sir,’ was the verdict of the proud boatman, Jim Gardner, of England, without whose skilled and clever work the contest would have ended long before. Such, in brief, were the incidents in the catch of the fish that became the first record of the Tuna Club, which was founded a few days later… It is a pleasure to be able to cite James Gardner as an idea tuna gaffer, possessing courage and skill…” [Holder, Charles F. The Channel Islands of California 1910:62, 66].

July 5, 1899 [LAT]: “A new tuna record. Moorhouse's fish weighed 250 pounds. Avalon, July 4 — the world's tuna record was broken last evening by Colonel C. P. Moorhouse of Pasadena, who landed a 251 pound tuna with rod and reel after a battle which lasted three hours and twenty minutes. The tuna was hooked off White Rock about sundown and the greater part of the battle was fought in total darkness. The movements of the tuna were exceedingly hard to follow and great care had to be exercised to keep the line from parting. [James Gardner was boat captain.] Frank V. Rider captured a 175-pound tuna this morning off Long Point, after two hours and thirty-one minutes of rare sport. Schenck landed a 150-pound tuna in two hours this morning. This is Mr. Schenck's first tuna and he is now a member of the famous Tuna club.”

February 11, 1900 [LAT]: “Avalon… As there had been no indications of a storm, some of the boatmen were found unprepared for it, and a number of boats dragged their moorings and came ashore… Some of the glass in Jim Gardner’s glass-bottom boat was broken… M. Foster on seeing his glass-bottom boat break loose, jumped into the breakers and swam out to it, boarding it and getting it safely on the beach.”

September 13, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. R. H. Lloyd and G. C. Law were out with Jim Gardner yesterday, and captured two huge black sea bass, weighing 203 and 213 pounds, which were captured in twenty and forty-five minutes respectively.”

May 19, 1902 [LAH]: “Two new launches were launched this week. One of these is Jim Gardner's twenty-four footer with a four horse power Fairbanks-Morse engine. The other is Captain MacDonnell's twenty-five footer, with a five foot eight inchbeam and six horse power Fairbanks-Morse engine.”

October 31, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Jim Gardner, the well-known Catalina boatman, is expected to arrive in port from Avalon tonight with the largest of his fleet of pleasure and fishing boats. He owns seven in all, three power yachts and four glass-bottoms, all of which he expects to bring to Santa Barbara for the winter season.”

January 6, 1903 [SBI]: “The Oregon, the first glass boat of the Gardner fleet, was put into the water yesterday and will in the future be at the service of the general public… The Oregon arrived some time ago from Catalina Island, and Mr. Gardner intends to have his entire fleet of boats of nearly every description follow… The Oregon has a length of twenty-two feet with six foot beam and can safely carry twenty-five passengers.”

August 30, 1903 [SBMP]: “Island excursions are very popular nowadays, and the yacht Frances, Captain Gardner, has been making almost daily trips to Santa Cruz with various parties of sightseers aboard. Captain Gardner reports the fishing on the other side of the channel is very fine.”

1909: “'Do you gentlemen want to shoot a goat while you are on the island?' This surprising query was out to us, just as we entered the Hotel Metropole, by a picturesque individual whose card bore: 'Capt. Jim Gardner. Original Rod & Reel Tuna Boatman and Record Holder of the World.' A few questions developed the fact that there were apparently plenty of the descendants of Cabrillo's stock still left; so, after a brief consultation, we repaired to the company's office, applied for licenses, secured an outfit, and made all necessary arrangements for an early start on the morro...” [Nash, Arthur I. Goats of Catalina Harbor 14:(513-517) May]

1910 Charles Frederick Holder wrote: “ is a pleasure to be able to cite James Gardner as an ideal tuna gaffer, possessing courage and skill.. The Tuna Club Gaffers' Badge, instituted in 1907, was awarded to boatmen having gaffed a one-hundred- pound tuna under Blue Button specifications; or a fifty-pound tuna under Light Tackle specifications. It was won by: Captains Chappelle, A. S. Clover, O. I. Danielson, Harry Doss, C. A. Fisher, Geo. Farnsworth, Jim Gardner, Tad Gray, Geo. Johnson, Felice "Jose" Presiado (Mexican Joe), Geo. Michaelis, Percy Neal, Chris Ringsen, Claude Whitman, Geo. Zimolier . All the above boatmen have gaffed one-hundred-pound tunas...”

May 8, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Three-Six tells of catching four jewfish in one forenoon from the launch Fortuna, Captain Jim Gardner. The four fish weighed 812 pounds.”

[undated clipping]: “Everybody knows Sailor. He is everybody's friend, and he is very particular to impress the fact upon all he meets, for he will in the most insinuating manner jump upon the seat beside you, and placing his head in your lap, look into your face with his great brown eyes, which seem to say "I'm your friend — haven't you a nickel about your clothes?" Sailors friendship, through entirely genuine, may not be entirely disinterested, for he has a sweet tooth, and it requires a lot of sweets to keep it in order. Sailor is a blue-blooded curly-haired water spaniel, as black as a raven's wing, with long silky ears, and a pedigree as long as your arm. He is owned by Jim Gardner, a boatman at Avalon, and has been taught a lot of tricks, which he will perform only under certain conditions. Given a nickel he will immediately trot off to a candy store and buy himself a nickel's worth of candy, which he will bring back to the person giving him the money, expecting the donor to feed it to him, he is going through a lot of tricks in exchange. But unless something good to eat is in sight you command him in vain — he doesn't know a single trick! One day while on is way to the store with a nickel in his mouth he met a coterie of dog friends, and he couldn't resist temptation to have a little visit with them. While doing so he inadvertently swallowed the money, and after a time bethinking himself of the errand he could not buy candy without money. In a few minutes he seemed to have reasoned out the situation, and jumped from his perch, with his head hung and his tail dragging between his legs, he shamefacedly went straight home, ignoring his patron, and did not show himself in his accustomed haunts again that day. Sailor is frequently sent on a "fool's errand," and this has made him somewhat discriminating. A lady gave him five pennies, wrapped in paper. He munched the package with his teeth, and, deciding it was another on him, spat it out. He was reasoned with, cajoled and threatened, but as the nickel was his standard of measurement, and this package did not compare to the standard, he refused to be guyed and turned a deaf ear to all entreaties. Finally, after a very stern command from the gentleman, he accepted the package and deliberately swallowed it, thus putting an end to the controversy.”

Jim Gardner's dog, Sailor,
Santa Catalina Island
Jim Gardner's Headquarters,
Santa Catalina Island