HYDER, Alvin

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Alvin Hyder (R) working the sled lines, c. 1918
Hyder House, Santa Barbara Island
Photo by Lowell Sumner
Alvin Hyder outside the barn, Santa Barbara Island, c. 1918

HYDER, Alvin (1881-1938), born in Missouri on January 26, 1881, lived in San Pedro and became a well-known local sea captain, Santa Barbara Island homesteader and run-runner who hauled stock and supplies to all the California Channel Islands. Hyder and his family homesteaded on Santa Barbara Island between 1914 and 1929 where they farmed potatoes, corn, oats and barley, and ran up to 300 hundred head of sheep. Hyder hauled drinking and irrigation water from the mainland.

Of the east end of Santa Cruz Island, Pier Gherini wrote [1966]: “Shipping of livestock posed an even greater problem. During the early years we relied upon Alvin Hyder, a little man with remarkable skill. Hyder owned a 65-foot work boat called the Nora. He transported animals for us for several years. He also hauled livestock from San Clemente, San Nicolas and San Miguel islands. While no doubt he was a skilled operator, Hyder’s time schedules left something to be desired. Either through other commitments or a general disdain for time and schedules, the Nora would often arrive days late. Upon arrival, he always expected everything to be ready, and loading to commence without delay. All of this pointed to the very obvious fact that sooner or later we had to have our own boat.”

Al Hyder and his New Mexico-born wife, Annie Garvin, had two children:

  • Nora (1904-1995)
  • Denton Ozias “Buster” (1906-1994)

Al Hyder was drowned at San Nicolas Island on March 24, 1938 when his boat, Nora II, capsized during a sheep-hauling run. His son, Buster, made it safely to shore. Al Hyder's body was never found.

Buster Hyder describes his father:

“My dad was always on the water. He come from Missouri and landed down in Bolsa Chica Bay in Newport. He went on to sailing ships. He was deck hand, and finally he was skipper… My dad was nuts to be interested in Santa Barbara Island. He was just a hard workin’ guy… My dad built the house before I got here [on the island]. He came over and built the thing—him and his two brothers, Cleve and Clarence. Then I came over later. They built a long house with a section in it. Clarence and his family lived on the opposite end of the house. The material for the house came from San Pedro—the ol’ fish markets in San Pedro…”

In the News~

March 22, 1901 [LAT/SP]: “The powerboat Clemente, which was burned to the water’s edge in the inner harbor several months ago, has been rebuilt, and will enter the fishing trade. Her owners are Alvin Hyder and P. Elliott.”

May 8, 1901 [LAT/SP]: “Harry Olsen left San Pedro two weeks ago with the gasoline boat May, intending to bring a lot of sheep from Clemente Island. His wife became alarmed at his long absence, and Charles Foss and Al Hyder started Sunday to go in search of him, but before they had put out to sea they learned that on account of stress of weather, Olsen had been staying all the while at Avalon.”

November 22, 1901 [SN]: “Los Angeles. Tale of terrible suffering endured on San Nicolas Island. Lived on coffee and salt. Subsisted for a time on raw gulls and were about to eat a cat—relief effected after thrilling adventure. A San Pedro special says that Captain Alvin Hyder, of the power craft Western, and E. S. Stout of San Pedro succeeded in making their way to San Nicolas Island and rescuing three young fishermen left there to starve, while the settlement of difficulties between Captain Frank Manha of the schooner May, and the W. J. McGimpsey Fish Company of Los Angeles, is pending in the courts. The Western brought the rescued men to San Pedro Sunday morning. The fishermen, who give the names of J. Logan, E. M. Richards and William Junker, tell harrowing stories of their experiences while marooned. For more than a week they had lived on dry coffee and coarse salt, as their provisions had lasted only five days after they left San Pedro in the latter part of October. A storm prevented their catching fish, and for six days the only food they had was the raw meat of sea gulls they succeeded in killing with rocks. When rescued they were preparing to kill their pet cat, having saved her as a last resort. Captain Hyder says the men attempted to row out to his boat in a small skiff, but were so weak from privation and the waves were so high they were swamped completely. Their skiff was capsized and the oars lost. The men were almost drowned before they were dragged out. They collapsed after their rescue, and could barely move a muscle. The captain says the men would have died if left on the island a week longer. The Western had a stormy passage to San Nicolas, and many times disaster seemed imminent. The occupants had to lash themselves to the rigging and the hatches had to be nailed…”

January 5, 1902 [LAT]: “San Pedro. Lobster schooner missing. The power schooner Bell, Captain Harry Olsen, engaged in the lobster trade, sailed from this port last week Friday, and since then no tidings have been received of her. While she is not entirely given up, there are grave fears for her safety. One other man, whose name is not stated, was with Captain Olsen on the Bell. It was expected that the Bell would touch at Point Dume and visit Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands. If there had been no disablement of her engine she could have returned within three days. Captain Al Hyder of the powerboat Clemente will put out this evening and make further search for the Bell. It is possible that the missing boat has had an accident such as has made it necessary for her to put in to some of the Channel Islands for repairs.”

January 19, 1902 [LAH]: “Captain Hyder will leave here tomorrow in his schooner, the Clemente, for Santa Barbara, to bring back the little schooner Belle, which belongs to Captain Harry Olsen. The vessel is not very badly damaged, and will be put into shape for a small amount of money.”

March 14, 1902 [LAT]: “The power sloop Clemente, Captain Al Hyder, came into port Wednesday, with one of the biggest specimens of ocean game caught in these waters for a long time. It was a big black fish, somewhat like a porpoise, about ten feet in length, and was taken after a battle that threatened to send the good little craft and her gallant crew down to Davey Jones’s locker. The Clemente was out on a fishing trip between Catalina and Clemente islands Wednesday forenoon. The monster was seen at the surface, not far from the boat, and a shot was taken at it with a rifle. The bullet struck the sea, and glanced so as to hit the fish. Maddened, but not seriously crippled, the big fellow made an angry leap out of the water and at the boat, but its aim was poor, and it did not strike the craft amidship. If it had, the story probably wouldn’t be told till the toot of Gabriel’s horn. As it was, the fish struck the fore rigging, and became entangled. Then, as it hung above the sea, there was a struggle such as it is the fortune of few people to witness. Madly trying to free itself, the monster shot its mighty tail right and left, smashing off the bowsprit, tearing the rigging to bits, and threatening to send the craft and men in her to the bottom. After considerable difficulty in getting good aim, a bullet was sent true and the monster was dead. It was brought to port and turned over to W. H. Wickersham, agent for the Morgan Oyster Company, who forwarded it to the company’s office in Los Angeles.”

November 16, 1902 [LAT]: “W. J. McGimpsey, proprietor of the McGimpsey Fish Company of Los Angeles, called at the Times office yesterday and gave his version of the treatment and rescue of the three men who were left on San Nicolas. He said that the men, Ed Richards, William Yunker and J. Logan, were not starving on the island, and that they made no statements to such effect. He also said that he, himself, was responsible for their rescue, a fact omitted in the report. ‘I left the men there,’ he said, on November 1, and promised to return on the 12th. When that time arrived and I had completed preparations to make the trip with a load of provisions, Captain Manha refused to take out the schooner May, and so I was left in the lurch. ‘I knew that the men could hold out for a few days longer on the provisions they had, but I made every effort, despite this uncertainty, to reach them with a fresh store. Thursday afternoon I secured the Western, owned by the Western Fish Company, and sent Captain Hyder out with all possible haste. When he reached the men they had plenty of fish, potatoes and some coffee. They returned to San Pedro Saturday evening, seemingly none the worse for their experience. One of the men told me that he would like to return.’”

November 17, 1902 [LAT/SP]: “Saved from horrid fate. Marooned starving fishermen rescued. Week without food on bleak San Nicolas Island. Dauntless San Pedro mariners brave the storm to carry succor. After a daring adventure in a small boat, Captain Alvin Hyder, master of the power craft Western, and E. S. Stout of this city, succeeded in making their way to San Nicolas Island and rescuing the three young fishermen who had been left there to starve, while a civil difficulty pended settlement in the courts between Captain Frank Manha of the schooner May, and the W. J. McGimpsey Fish Company of Los Angeles. The Western returned to San Pedro with the men this morning…”

March 29, 1903 [LAH]: “Departed. Launch Ruby, Captain Hyder, for Redondo.”

April 10, 1903 [LAH]: “Arrived. Power boat Western, Captain Hyder, from Santa Barbara Island.“

April 25, 1903 [LAH]: “Arrived. Power boat Western, Captain Hyder, from Anacapa Island.“

June 18, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “Launch Hyder, Captain Hyder, sailed for Alamitos Bay.”

August 4, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “Launch Samoa, Captain Hyder, sailed for Alamitos Bay with a raft of logs.”

December 6, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “Movement of ‘Mosquito’ Fleet. Arrived—Monday, December 5. Launch Seminole, Captain Hyder, for Santa Cruz Island.”

December 9, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “On the waterfront. Port San Pedro, Los Angeles. Arrived. Thursday, December 8. Launch Seminole, Captain Hyder, from Santa Cruz Island, with 3190 pounds of lobsters.”

December 23, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “Captain Al Hyder of the launch Seminole has closed a contract with the Alamitos Beach Company to tow 150,000 feet of lumber from the wharf of the Southern California Lumber Company to Alamitos Bay.”

December 24, 1904 [LAT]: “Captain Al Hyder of the launch Seminole has closed a contract with the Alamitos Beach Company to tow 150,000 feet of lumber from the wharf of the Southern California Lumber Company to Alamitos Bay.”

August 24, 1912 [LAT/SM]: “The gasoline launch Flyer of Long Beach, a sixty-foot vessel, came near foundering in the channel opposite this city this afternoon, after her air-pressure whistle tank had exploded, tearing a great hole in her side, deck and ribs… Captain Al Hyder of the launch Nora, and Captain King of the launch McKinley, hastened to the spot… As soon as the Nora and McKinley arrived, the men began to pump the Flyer out. Captains King and Hyder worked hard, and had reduced the water sufficiently to repair the break in three hours. At 9 o’clock tonight the boat, still upheld between the Nora and McKinley, was awaiting a tug from San Pedro to tow her back to Long Beach.”

August 27, 1912 [LAT]: “Captain Al Hyder, owner and master of the launch Nora, which was instrumental in saving C. B. Linton’s launch Flyer from going to the bottom after an air tank explosion, says that the State boiler and hull inspectors have paid no attention to air tanks for whistles and other purposes aboard gasoline vessels, although these are the most dangerous of any machinery aboard. No rules regarding air tanks for whistles are contained in the regulations given masters, he says, and he thinks that the recent explosion on the Flyer will prove a good thing for public safety in that it will direct the attention of inspectors to the necessity for a more rigid inspection of vessels in this regard. Hyder took his vessel to San Pedro today, where she will go on the ways and be given a thorough overhauling, when he will test her whistle gauge and tanks.”

September 1, 1912 [LAT]: “Goodwin’s acting days may be over… The danger centers around a crushed pelvis which was not discovered during the hurried examination following his recent injury by the capsizing of a dory in the surf… Goodwin was injured August 15 while cruising with Miss Moreland and Captain Al Hyder…”

September 20, 1912 [LAT]: “Nat C. Goodwin, the comedian, now a helpless cripple… His pelvis bone broken… Goodwin, his secretary, Miss Moreland, and the captain, Al Hyder, started in the actor’s yacht to look at some property on a sand strip beyond Yerba Buena canyon on the Malibu coast, on August 15, during the brief period of excessively high tides which prevail at that time. On arriving at that place the entire party was going to land, but owing to the heavy surf running at the time, Captain Hyder refused to allow Miss Moreland to get into the small boat. He and Goodwin went alone. As the boat neared the shore a high sea overturned it… Captain Hyder fought for twenty minutes before he could rescue Goodwin, who was almost hopeless, having been dashed against the rocks before Hyder could reach him…”

June 29, 1935 [San Miguel Island guest book]: “Captain Al Hyder, boat Nora II, San Pedro, California arrived in [Cuyler’s] harbor and we shipped first load of lambs — 1935 season.”

March 24, 1938 [unk.]: “Captain Al Hyder, veteran pleasure and fishing craft owner and operator of 637 W. Twenty-third St., was drowned early this morning when his boat, the Nora II, capsized off San Nicolas Island. Captain Hyder’s son, Buster, and his brother-in-law, George Garvin, the only other persons aboard the boat, were reported safe on the island. Coast Guard officials, first to receive word of the tragedy, dispatched a plane from San Diego to the scene at 9:10 A.M. According to officials of the Coast Guard Air Base at San Diego, the Nora II capsized in heavy breakers off San Nicolas Island. The plane was unable to land because of rough water. It is understood, however, that the Nora II had been beached at the island. The craft with Captain Hyder in command left her berth at Twenty-Second Street at 10 o’clock last night and was due at San Nicolas Island at 6 A.M. today where she was to pick up a load of wool and a half dozen sheep shearers to be returned here. Members of other fishing craft at the dock are of the opinion that last night’s heavy fog caused Hyder to hit the island sandspit off the island, resulting in the boat being capsized. Captain Hyder was well known along the waterfront. Years ago he operated the Nora I in San Pedro-Long Beach ferry service and later operated the Wilmington airport, being a licensed aviator. He also was the inventor of the idler used on the Fairbanks Diesel engine, for which he received cash and royalties said to have been upwards of $100,000. The Nora II was a 65 foot boat.”

March 26, 1938 [LAT]: “Boat Tragedy Survivors Land. Pair Returned to Port by Coast Guard. Survivors of a boating tragedy at San Nicolas Island, George Garvin, 40 years of age, and Denton Heider [Hyder], 31, last night were returned to San Pedro by Coast Guard Cutter No. 254. They escaped from the fishing boat Nora II when it capsized in the heavy swells off San Nicolas Island Thursday, as they sought to take off Mr. and Mrs. Roy Agee to return them to Los Angeles. Alvin Heider [Hyder], of 623 Twenty-third street, San Pedro, owner of the vessel, is believed to have drowned. Coast Guard planes searched the area for his body.”