MORE, Thomas Wallace

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Thomas Wallace More (1826-1877)
Santa Barbara Cemetery


MORE, Thomas Wallace (1826-1877), third of twelve children born to Peter and Martha More on April 18, 1826. He came to California in 1849, and married Susanna Antonia Hill (1830-1879) on June 1, 1853. They had four sons and one daughter:

Thomas Wallace More, along with brothers Alexander P. and Henry H. comprised the ranching and cattle firm of More Brothers. As early as 1858, T. Wallace purchased an interest in Santa Rosa Island. T. Wallace later exchanged his island interest with his brother Alexander P. for his interest in Rancho Sespe in Ventura County. On March 24, 1877 T. Wallace More was murdered at Rancho Sespe in a highly publicized event. Several squatters on Rancho Sespe were arrested, including J. S. Churchill, M. Cook, John Curlee, Jesse M. Jones, Ivory D. Lord, Charles McCart, F. A. Sprague and J. A. Swanson. Jesse Jones turned State’s evidence, and as a result Cook and Swanson were exonerated, William H. Hunt was also arrested, and it was learned that F. A. Sprague intentionally fired the fatal shot that killed More. Sprague, tried and found guilty of being the leader of the planned assassination of T. W. More, was sentenced to death by hanging on Friday, September 27, 1878. Thomas Wallace More is buried in the More family plot of the Santa Barbara Cemetery


  • 1857 State of California. Thomas Wallace More vs. M. J. Box District Court 2nd Judicial District. County of Santa Barbara. Plaintiff More seeks damages from defendant Box for a loan pertaining to a herd of swine released on Santa Cruz Island in July of 1853.
[original in SCIF archives]


  • 1857 State of California. Thomas Wallace More vs. M. J. Box (as above, transcribed)


» Outland, Charles Sespe Gunsmoke


T. W. More papers: S. B. Historical Society



In the News~

June 19, 1858: “On the matter of the guardianship of the minor children of Francisca Carrillo de Thompson, deceased, to the Hon. Probate Judge of the County of Santa Barbara… [C. E. Huse] has sold to T. Wallace More, all the undivided interest of said minor children in the livestock upon the Island of Santa Rosa, for the sum of $8756.00 payable one third in cash, one third in one year, and the remainder in two years; that the purchaser is to pay an additional sum provided other interests in the same livestock are purchased by him at a higher rate than $30,000; that the interest sold constitutes of one sixth part of the stock undivided; that this undivided interest is of comparatively trifling value except to one who can control the remaining interests, or a majority of them; and who likewise has ready money to a large amount, to enable him to reduce the animals from their present wild state; and your petitioner is informed and believes that a majority of the persons who give legal advice in the County of Santa Barbara, have stated as their opinion, that the interest of these minor children in the livestock is liable to be sold for the satisfaction of judgments amounting to about $40,000 recorded against their father, who was formerly their guardian; that in consequence of the cloud which has been thrown over their title to this stock from persons who have the boldness to purchase it, and your petitioner does not know of any person who would give, for the interest sold, one fourth part of the price paid, and to be paid by T. Wallace More, the purchaser. Wherefore your petitioner prays that the sale of the interest of his wards in the livestock on the Island of Santa Rosa, made to T. Wallace More, may be approved. Charles E. Huse.” [Filed June 22, 1858]. [Huntington Library, Stearns Collection, Box 87, Folder 12]


July 23, 1858: “This indenture this day made by and between John C. Jones of the County of Norfolk, State of Massachusetts, by his lawful attorney Alfred Robinson, of the city and county of Santa Barbara, State of California party of the first part and T. Wallace More, of the city and county of Santa Barbara, State of California, party of the second part, witnesseth: That the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the covenant and agreement hereinafter contained to be kept all and singular, by the said party of the second part, and in consideration of the sum of money hereinafter mentioned to be paid by the said party of the second part, has sold, transferred and assigned unto the said party of the second part all of the right, title and interest of the said party of the first part, of, in and to all of the horned cattle, sheep, horses and mares, or livestock of whatsoever there may be, more or less, now on the Island of Santa Rosa, in the channel of Santa Barbara, County of Santa Barbara; and the said party of the second part in consideration of the promised covenant and agreed to and with the said party of the first part to pay him therefore, the full sum of $35,000 lawful currency of the United States of America, in payments as follows… The said party of the first part hereby gives and grants into the said party of the second part, the right to enter upon said Island of Santa Rosa for all necessary and lawful purposes connected with the rights hereby sold and transferred for the term of two years thereafter, in consideration of the sum of $250 per annum to be paid by the party of the first part in two equal payments in the months of July in each of the last two years… J. C. Jones per A. Robinson, Attorney in fact. T. Wallace More.” [Huntington Library, Stearns Collection, Box 87, Folder 12]


August, 1859 [?]: “At the General Election to be held on Wednesday, 7th of September next, the following District, County and Township officers will be elected... Precinct of the Islands. At the Island of Santa Rosa, Camp of Thomas W. More. Inspector, Thomas W. More; Judges, Clemente Espinosa and Francisco Lugo... Charles E. Cook, Clerk.”


May 3, 1864 [DAC]: “…The five thousand sheep of T. W. More are on Santa Rosa Island; Shaw’s herds are on Santa Cruz Island…”


July 23, 1870 [SBT]: “The following named gentlemen have been elected trustees of the Santa Barbara College for the ensuing year… W. W. Hollister, T. W. More, J. W. Cooper, J. P. Stearns, C. E. Huse.”


February 18, 1871 [SBWP]: “On Thursday last a schooner belonging to T. W. More went ashore at Carpinteria. She had discharged her cargo of lumber, and on shipping her cable, a heavy sea coming in at the time, she was driven ashore and lies high and dry. She will probably prove a total loss, amounting to $7000 or $8000.”


February 18, 1871 [SBT]: “Ashore — We have just learned that the schooner Falmouth, owned by Mr. More, went ashore at Carpinteria on Thursday evening, during a heavy blow from the southeast. The schooner Active, Captain Mills, left port yesterday morning to render what assistance possible to the beached vessel.”


February 25, 1871 [SBT]: “Afloat — We are glad to be able to announce the fact that the schooner Falmouth, owned by Mr. More of this place, was saved from being wrecked at Carpinteria, mention of which was made in our last. On Sunday morning last, at high tide, by the continued exertions of the schooner Active, Captain Mills, and others, the Falmouth was floated into deep water. The damage done was slight, breaking a portion of the rudder and the false bottom of the schooner.”


March 23, 1872 [SBT]: “District Court. Honorable Pablo De La Guerra, Judge. March 19, 1872. In the case of T. W. More vs. the San Francisco Bulletin Co., being a libel suit for $100,000 damages. Messrs. Fernald, Richards, Huse and Campbell appeared as the attorneys for plaintiff; and Messrs. Barnes and J. Franklin Williams appeared for defendant… The case was submitted to the jury as we go to press.”


January 2, 1875 [SBDP]: “Sheep. Mr. T. W. More left his ranch at La Patera last Wednesday with 9000 head of young ewes, bound for San Francisco, overland. The sheep are of good breed and he expects to realize five dollars apiece for them.”


July 21, 1875 [SBMP]: “Stage Arrivals.—The following persons arrived by stage last evening from below: G. A. Goodell, E. A. Benshaw, J. W. Arthur, T. W. More, Ung Wa.”


March 24, 1877 [SBDP]: “A horrible crime — bloody ending of a long-standing feud. This community was shocked to its center this morning by the dread intelligence telegraphed from San Buenaventura that a murder most fowl—an assassination—had been committed on the person of one of our citizens, Thomas Wallace More, on his Sespe Rancho, in the Santa Clara Valley, Ventura County, last night. When later in the day it was learned through other dispatches that the murder was committed not by a single enemy, but by a band of conspirators, the public horror of the dark deed was intensified… the murder was done in the nighttime, by masked assassins, accompanied by incendiaries… It is notorious in all this southern country that Mr. More has been bitterly at variance with squatters or settlers on the original Sespe grant which he bought many years ago [1854], and the boundaries of which have long been in hot dispute… T. Wallace More, the murdered man, leaves a family consisting of a wife and four children, one of whom is the wife of C. A. Storke…”


March 25, 1877 [SBDP]: “A telegram was received here this morning from San Buenaventura for Mr. H. H. More, brother of the murdered man, informing him of the deed. Mr. H. H. More is now at Santa Rosa Island, but there is no vessel in the harbor to take the message to him.”


March 26, 1877 [SBDP]: “Yesterday about noon the body of the murdered man, T. Wallace More, was brought into town from Ventura… We are informed by parties from the scene of the murder — the Sespe — that, as was to be anticipated, strong suspicions rest upon some of the squatters… After the murder had been committed, Mr. Lawrence More, who was at the sheep camp about two and a half miles from the ranch house, was summoned, and after searching for some time, discovered the body of his brother…”


March 28, 1877 [SBDP]: “T. Wallace More. A sketch of his life and character… Three of the brothers, T. W., A. P. and H. H. More, were in partnership for many years, and at one time owned Santa Rosa Island…”


November 14, 1877 [SBDP]: “Captain T. W. More’s $8,500 residence near the Mission creek on the stage road is finished.”


June 7, 1879 [SBI]: “Died. More—In this city, Juned 1st, 1879, Mrs. Susanna A. Hill de More, wife of the late T. Wallace More, aged 47. years.”


July 14, 1881 [SBDP]: “In the matter of the estate of Susanna A. Hill de More, deceased, the petition of J. L. Heffner for an order requiring C. A. Storke, the administrator of the estate of said deceased, to render a final account, etc. was denied.”


May 25, 1883 [SBDP]: “One of the schooners now in port will go over to the islands and take on a cargo of wool there waiting shipment. There is about seven hundred bales ready for market on the More estate.”


November 24, 1884 [SBDP]: “A runaway occurred on the wharf and State Street last Saturday afternoon fortunately resulting in no damage. Mr. Thomas More was on the wharf with a team of spirited carriage horses belonging to O. M. Covarrubias at the time the steamer arrived…”


June 18, 1891 [SBMP]: “The suit of the estate of Wallace More vs. J. W. Calkins is set for trial this morning in the Superior Court of Ventura County. Several of the parties interested went down on the train yesterday afternoon.”


July 1, 1896 [SBDN]: “Mrs. Miller, administratrix of the More estate, and C. A. Storke, her attorney, are at the island of Santa Rosa for business pertaining to the estate. Mr. Thomas More is also on the island.”