MORICICH, Vincente

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Avalon Cemetery, Santa Catalina Island


MORICICH, Vincente (1854-1929), born in Lesna, Austria, went to sea at age 13, going around Cape Horn in 1886 and landing in California. He fished out of Wilmington and around Santa Catalina Island until 1892, when he brought his family to live on the island. Moricich was chairman of the Freeholders Association before Avalon was incorporated on June 26, 1913. Their home burned in the 1915 Avalon fire. He was constable for the Catalina Township for over 20 years. He and his wife, Josephine Gemilere (1863-1916), born in California to French parents, (sister of George Gemilere), owned the fish market in Avalon. Vincent Moricich died on the mainland.


http://www.croatia.org/crown/croatians/www.croatians.com/ISLAND-MARICICH.htm:

Vincenti Moricich was born in 1854 on the Island of Hvar, Dalmatia. His parents were Lucas and Maria Moricich, both members of old and prominent families. As a young boy Vincenti learned fishing with his father. He spent a part of his early days in Venice, Italy, and some in the land of his birth. At the age of thirteen he began his career as a sailor, sailing under many different flags on various ships, his cruises taking him into the waters of the Mediterranean, Black, Red and Baltic Seas, to the East and West Indies, through all of the oceans, twice each around Capes Horn and Good Hope, and into innumerable ports. Arriving in San Francisco in 1872 he stayed their but a short time, then came to San Pedro, where he engaged in fishing, subsequently going to the Columbia River salmon fishing beds and fishing as far north as Victoria. In 1890 Moricich settled in Avalon, Santa Catalina Island. He owned three launches, the Mascot, Wavepress and Sea Bass, and a number of small boats and had the largest fishing business on the island. His marriage in Wilmington united him with Josephine Gemilere, a native of Santa Barbara, and a daughter of Fortunato Gemilere, who came from Marseilles, France, to Santa Barbara, then moved to Wilmington, where the daughter was raised.

In 1915 he was one of the original twelve members of the Santa Catalina Island Twenty-Five Year Club.

The 1910 census says Vincenti and Josephine Gemilere Moricich had 15 children born with ten living: (Died before 1910 = ‘Chappo’, Charlotte, George and two others.)

  • 1. Lucy A. Moricich (1880-1916) = m. (August 4, 1902) John Chris Robarts (1877-1954)
1. John Sylvester Robarts (1911-1963) [SS#551-10-8121]
  • 2. Vincente ‘Chappo’ Moricich (1884-1903) Drowned at 18. Buried in Avalon Cemetery without a marker.
  • 3. Anthony “Tony” Moricich (1888-1952) [SS#546-09-3864]
  • 4. Lucas “Tinch” Moricich (1890-1959) [SS#552-22-7344] = [1915] Margaret Earhart (1886-1954?) Son Jack.
  • 5. Alice Moricich (1892-1964) [SS#550-10-3614]
  • 6. Ruth L. Moricich (1894-1975)[SS#570-80-0244] first born in Avalon = Oscar Griffith (1895-1974)[SS#569-26-3043].
  • 7. Madeline ‘Maggie’ Moricich (1897-1975) born in Avalon = Elmer Reiger; Inglewood Park Cemetery
  • 8. Charlotte Moricich (1899- ) born in Avalon [died before 1910]
  • 9. Irene Ada Moricich (1899-1959) [SS#557-10-1161] born in Avalon
  • 10. Stella Angelina Moricich (1901-1988) [SS#546-05-6006] = Vantreese; born in Avalon; Avalon Cemetery
  • 12. Violet Moricich (1904-1976)[SS#569-09-3346] = Oliver G. Greenbaum; born in Avalon
1. Garth
2. Donald
March 28, 1904 Catherine MacLean Loud diary: A daughter was born to the wife of Vincente Moricich making the 12th child in the household.
  • 13. Harry Vincent Moricich (1906-1973) [SS#566-14-8898] born in Avalon; Avalon Cemetery
  • 14. George E. Moricich (1907-1908) born in Avalon

TWO CHILDREN ARE MISSING FROM THIS LIST. Violet was #12. Son, Vincenti, was drowned in Avalon Bay at the age of nineteen years. Tony and Lucas assisted their father in business; Mary died in July, 1906. Daughter Ruthie (Griffin), first of their children born on the island, was said to be the first white girl born in Avalon. Moricich was for many years the Constable of Catalina.

1900 AVALON CENSUS: his birth January 1854 (46) and his wife’s December 1861 (38).

Islander April 25, 1916; July 9, 1924; May 8, 1929; May 22, 1929; Aug. 30, 1952; Jan. 22, 1959. Windle p. 100, 102, 152,



In the News~

November 30 1894 [LAT]: “On Monday last Mrs. Vincent Moricich gave birth to the first female child ever born in Avalon, Santa Catalina Island. There have been two or three boys born on the island, but no girl until this, of which Mrs. Moricich may be justly proud. All the citizens of Avalon rejoice at its birth.”


October 26, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. It appears that the Republican caucus appointed for Monday evening was called under a misapprehension of the facts in the case. Some of the voters who are interested in the success of the Republican ticket thought it would be well to have a local or township ticket nominated, not knowing that the delegate from this precinct to the county convention had been empowered to present the names of nominees for Justice of the Peace and constable, and had presented the names of Frank P. Whitley and Vincente Moricich for those offices. When the meeting was called to order by Judge Whitney, Ed Stanton, who had been made the delegate to the county convention, made a statement of what he had done, and the meeting immediately approved his action and adjourned. It is thought the Democrats will not have an opposition ticket in the local field. There are about forty voters registered in Catalina precinct, of which about two-thirds are Republicans.”


August 30, 1899 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Vincente Moricich and wife have a new daughter [Irene], their tenth child.”


November 19, 1899 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Vincente Moricich, one of the oldest fishermen on the island, having the contract for furnishing Hotel Metropole with fish daily, found it inconvenient to visit the usual fishing grounds yesterday on account of rough weather, and to procure his usual supply, put out a gill new in a bed of kelp in the bay near the tunnel. On visiting his net in the afternoon about 2 o’clock he was surprised to see a line of shag or hell-divers [cormorants], about 200 feet long apparently right in the line of his net. They were bobbing, splashing, fighting, squawking and making furious attempts to dive and fly. Investigation soon showed that he had trapped a whole regiment of this species of duck, and their long necks and bills presented the appearance of a hundred or more walking sticks with fancy bent handles sticking up out of the water about five or six inches. The fisherman was in a quandary. He was not sure that this species of bird was not protected by law and, not wishing to take the chances of being fined a few hundred times for killing protected birds, he started in to release the hell-divers. He abandoned his humane project in about a minute, however, his hands covered with blood from the blows of the birds’ vicious beaks. There was no way out of the dilemma except to crack the heads of the offenders, and then disentangle them from his net. It took five men an hour and a half to accomplish the job, and when the carnage was over he had a boat loaded with the shiny black bipeds, which were carried out to sea and dumped. There were 103 by actual count. The shag is about the size of a big green-headed mallard duck.”


June 11, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Vincente Moricich electrified this quiet burg Saturday by flashing up a piece of rock shot so full of free gold that one could scarcely be sure whether quartz or gold predominated. He asserts that it was picked up on the island high up on the beach, but where the water washes it at extreme high tide, and thus the ledge from which it came is left in uncertainty, but he is making a search for it. Were it not for the fact that a mining claim cannot be taken up on Santa Catalina the beaches and hills would be alive with prospectors looking for this hidden Golconda. The rock would probably assay $30,000 to the ton. Vincente is not taking the public into his confidence, as to where he picked up the valuable rock, at present.”


June 14, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. More gold found on Santa Catalina, but mother lode undiscovered. Vincente Moricich has not yet succeeded in finding the ledge from which his rich rock came, but he has found another much richer piece. It is really a nugget, there appearing but two bits of gold in the lump. It is valued at $9 or $10. Vincente will have it mounted as a scarfpin. In case the ledge is found, the Banning Company will give him the privilege of working the mine, with all the rights of a government claim,, for 15 percent of the gross output…”


August 28, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “The largest paper nautilus shell ever seen of Catalina came ashore in front of Vincente Moricich’s boat stand this morning. It measured 9-1/2 inches in length by 5-3/4. He was offered $15 for it, but refused the offer. It is on exhibition in the office of Hotel Metropole.”


January 15, 1902 [LAT]: “Sardines and their protection constituted a subject of deep inquiry before the Board of Supervisors yesterday… The occasion was the hearing of a yard-long petition signed by the county’s leading sportsmen, two or three hundred in number, asking the board to pass an ordinance prohibiting purse net fishing in the Pacific Ocean within a mile of the coast line… The Tuna Club, with piscatorial headquarters at Santa Catalina, is heading the protection campaign… Vincente Moricich, who has lived on this coast for thirty years, and fished as a business at Avalon for eleven years, also testified that he was in favor of protection from the purse net. Vincente thinks Avalon Bay a great spawning ground; so does Professor Holder…”


January 22, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The boatmen who have heretofore occupied the beachfront, between the bath house and the steamer wharf, are having troubles of their own. A short time since an edict went forth from the Banning Company that all the space between the two wharves should be vacated, as it was their intention to keep it clear of all obstructions, and the boatmen must find locations for their stands eastward from the steamer wharf. Yesterday the evicted boatmen drew lots for the best location open to them Peter Lubetich won first choice; Clarence Jargstorff second; Chriss Ringson third; Gray brothers fourth; Vincente Moricich fifth; Thomas Washburn sixth; Jim Gardner seventh…”


July 2, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. …Nearly all the boats on the bay are entered for launch racing. In the eight and ten-horse-power class are the Catalina and Mascot, owned by Vincente Moricich…”


August 3, 1902 [LAT]: “The following marriage licenses were issued yesterday at the office of the County Clerk: …John C. Robarts, aged 24, resident of Los Angeles, and Lucy A. Moricich, aged 22, resident of Avalon; natives of California…”


October 3, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. George Seeligson, Jr., a young man of 21, from Galveston, Texas, who, with his father, mother and sister, had been staying at Hotel Metropole since Monday, committed suicide by jumping into the bay from the end of the wharf here at some time during the night or early this morning… Constable Vincente Moricich then took a glass-bottom boat and located the body at the end of the wharf, from whence it was recovered with grappling irons…”


October 5, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Vincente Moricich, the island constable and veteran fisherman, Pete Snyder, Julian Arce and John DeCourt went across the channel this morning to San Juan Capistrano in the launch Mascot. They propose to spend a fortnight at the hot springs of that place.”


November 1, 1902 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The Democrats of Santa Catalina Island are in such a hopeless minority that they have made no nominations for township officers. The Republicans have placed in nomination William Allen to succeed himself as justice of the peace, and Vincente Moricich, the present constable.”


April 4, 1903 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The waters about Catalina are constantly yielding up new and curious forms of marine life. Yesterday Vincente Moricich, while fishing for barracuda with nets several miles out in the channel, discovered an entirely new form of jellyfish, so far as his observation runs, and having spent his entire life on the water engaged in fishing, and being of an observing turn of mind, he is always on the lookout for new things. These specimens were like inflated bladders, measuring ten to twelve inches in length, and from two and one-half to three inches in diameter, and would have been entirely transparent but for being flecked over with brownish spots. Vincent brought three of the queer things home, and laid them out on a board. When he remembered them a few hours later, there remained nothing of them except a bit of brownish flecked skin, as thin as tissue paper, and but for the eyes, cold never have been identified as the jellyfish, which had been placed there.”


June 22, 1903 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The timely arrival of Vincente Moricich at his home last evening prevented the loss of his house and furniture, and perhaps saved a life. A little servant girl accidentally tipped over a lighted lamp, which was broken, and the escaping oil ignited, setting the girl’s clothes on fire and communicating to the inflammable materials in the room. At this opportune moment, contrary to his usual custom, Vincente arrived home and by quick and energetic work soon had the flames extinguished. The young girl was not burned seriously, but fainted from fright.”


August 13, 1903 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. A party of G.A.R. veterans who were out with their wives in a glass-bottom boat yesterday afternoon, at the easterly point of the bay, viewing the marine gardens, were horrified at discovering the corpse of a man lying at the bottom of the sea, its arms extended upward with clenched fists… After a short search with the glass-bottom boats, the body was located and with a grappling iron brought to the surface when it was found to be ‘Chappo,’ the 18-year-old son of Vincente Moricich, a resident of the island for eighteen years past. Chappo was a fat Mexican boy who has long been a familiar figure in Avalon. From childhood he had been subject to epileptic fits, and had a number of close calls for his life by falling into the water when seized with a fit. So frequent were these occurrences that his father gave orders that he should keep off the water and away from the boats. Despite this the young man went out to dump some decaying fish brought in by anglers, and it is supposed that while in the act of dumping the fish he was seized with a fit and fell into the water unobserved by anyone and drowned. Coroner Trout held an inquest this evening.”


September 1, 1903 [LAT/SCat]: “The Meteor went out this morning on what will probably be its final regular trip to San Clemente Island for this season, with the following party: G. B. Smee, Covina; Frank Lambert, Monrovia; E. W. Crowther, Placentia; Mrs. C. Driskell, Clyde N. Driskell and Alfred Hutchings, Pasadena; C. M. Smith, Avalon; and Mrs. Lucy Robarts. Mrs. Lucy Robarts, wife of superintendent of the San Clemente Island Wool Company, who has been visiting her parents here, Mr. and Mrs. Vincente Moricich, for three weeks, returned to her home on San Clemente this morning… Mrs. Lucy Robarts, wife of John Robarts, superintendent of the San Clemente Island wool Company, who has been visiting her parents here, Mr. and Mrs. Vincente Moricich, for three weeks, returned to her home on San Clemente this morning.”


January 30, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The Goddess of Good Fortune certainly haunts the trail of ‘Uncle John’ Nestell. Two years ago he ordered a launch built at a cost of $1000 for George Farnsworth, his boatman, and made him a present of it. Last winter he bought the Idlwyld, a handsome excursion boat, changing the name to Tio Juan — Uncle John, and installed George’s brother, Hawley Farnsworth as its skipper, to make what he could during the busy season, free of rent. Yesterday he purchased from Vincent Moricich the launch Catalina, paying $1000 for it, and presented the boat to ‘Billy’ Jameson, who held a lease on it for the coming season. Uncle John will soon find himself canonized as the ‘Saint John of Catalina’ if he continues his kindness.”


February 2, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The businessmen of Avalon had a gala time yesterday afternoon and evening when they went in a body to make a call on B. F. Latimer, the host of ‘The Barracks’ at the Isthmus. Through the kindness of Ed Stanton, superintendent of the island, the steamer Torqua was placed at the disposal of the party, Captain Vincente Moricich at the wheel and Jack Crow, engineer.”


March 29, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. A daughter [Violet] has been born to the wife of Vincente Moricich, making the twelfth child in the household.”


April 9, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Vincente Moricich, the island fisherman, was the victim of a whale’s curiosity yesterday. He had put out his nets, huge affairs, sixty feet in depth and 600 or 700 feet in length, to catch barracuda, when three whales happened along. One of the big creatures had so much curiosity that it turned aside to investigate the nets and the first it knew it banged its head into the middle one… The part of the net destroyed will cost over $50 to replace.”


May 29, 1904 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. One of the greatest fish ever brought into this port was captured by Vincente Moricich’s fishermen Wednesday night. It was a thrasher shark measuring fifteen feet and six inches, and while there was no means of weighing the monster, it was estimated to weigh from 800 to 1000 pounds.”


August 14, 1905 [LAT]: ”The first drowning in the history of Catalina since it became a resort some fifteen years ago, occurred yesterday at Seal Rocks, when Leroy O. Kuner met his death. Friday last Mr. Kuner, who was assistant cashier at the Imperial Bank at Brawley, California, and C. P. Clifford of Los Angeles, were fishing from a rowboat at Seal Rocks, when they lost their anchor, which was nothing more than a large stone, around which was tied a rope. The stone slipped out and they drifted about so that it was impossible to fish to advantage, and they decided to go ashore and get another anchor stone. They went in famously on the crest of a wave, high and dry, but they made the discovery then that the waves were pounding furiously, and it was impossible for them to launch their boat again. Convinced of this, they pulled their boat up on the beach out of the reach of the surf and climbing the cliff, returned to Avalon on foot over the hills. Clifford was obliged by a business engagement to go over to Los Angeles Friday afternoon, but arranged with Kuner to return with him Sunday, when he would again be in Avalon, and get the boat. Kuner did not wait, but yesterday engaging Johnnie Robarts, skipper of the Tio Juan and one of the best surfmen on the island, went down to recover the boat. After landing, Robarts pushed Kuner off, and he got beyond the breakers in good shape. The surf was running high and Robarts was not so successful in his own attempt to get off, but swamped his boat. While emptying out the water he noticed that Kuner had stopped rowing and while watching him, had drifted back into a dangerous position, and was likely to be caught in the big rollers. He called to Kuner and warned him to keep farther out and then continued his effort to get the water out of his boat. While thus engaged he heard a cry and looking up saw Kuner and his boat lifted high on the crest of a furious breaker, the skiff overturning, and the next instant both were dashed into the white, seething billows. Kuner reappeared and seemed to be swimming toward the shore, but only for an instant. Robarts started to go to his assistance, but had gone but a few steps when he again went down and was seen no more. Robarts disrobed and went into the surf and spent an hour in trying to locate the body, when Captain Clark of the launch Blue Lodge, with Oscar Lawlor and some friends aboard happened along and joined in the search, but without avail. Afterward word was brought uptown and Constable Vincente with grappling irons and half a dozen other boats went down, but all to no purpose. The body was not recovered. The family has telegraphed instructions to spare no means to find the body, and Captain Young, the diver, will go down tomorrow and make as careful a search as possible for the remains.”


July 13, 1906 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Mrs. Pipping’s gasoline stove created a lively scene for a few minutes following the fire in Vincente Moricich’s house today. A pot boiled over and put out the fire in the stove, but when it was relighted the flames filled the house and shot out the windows. Fortunately a big tin ventilator used for carrying off the odors of cooking kept the roof from igniting and thus prevented the destruction of the house. The walls were on fire in several places, but were quickly extinguished. Mrs. Pipping was uninjured, making her escape safely.”


[1910]: “…In the morning, at noon, and at night this pier is the center of attraction, as all the fish taken in the tournaments must come in here to be weighed by Vincente Moriche [sic], and other official weighers of the Tuna Club…” [Holder, Charles F. The Channel Islands of California, 1910:45.]


February 16, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “A novel reception and dinner was given Sunday evening by Mr. A. A. Carraher at his home on Maiden Lane. Invitations were extended to the ‘old timers’ who had resided on the island twenty-five years or more. Covers were laid for twelve guests, and those present were: Captain J. W. Wilson (who wore a crown), Captain G. Farnsworth, P. V. Reyes, Captain V. Moricich, Captain J. Adargo, Captain Hugo Asplund, Captain J. Arcey, ‘Mexican Joe,’ Captain Tom Whittley, Captain Harry Doss, John Brinkley and Captain Al Holbrooke.”


August 31, 1915 [TI/Avalon]: “Vincent Moricich is again restocking the aquarium with many different varieties of fish preparatory to sending them to the San Francisco exposition.”


April 22, 1916 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Mrs. Josephine Moricich, the wife of Captain V. Moricich, passed away this morning. Since the fire that destroyed Avalon and the beautiful hillside home of Captain and Mrs. Moricich, the latter has been gradually failing in health. Mrs. Moricich was 53 years old and the mother of fifteen [13] children. The captain and ten children were at the bedside at the time the death. Thirty years ago ‘Captain Moricich, who was then a market fisherman at Wilmington, brought his family of three children to Avalon as one of the pioneers. Confined to his bed with rheumatism at the time of the fire, four of the daughters succeeded in carrying him almost to the old wireless station, a distance half a mile. Then, assisted by their brother, Toney, who is a member of the S.C.I. Company’s fire department, the four girls carried a piano out of the fire zone. The piano was the only thing saved, for before they could return to their home the entire block was engulfed in a seething mass of flames. A new home has been erected on the old site and the family was to move into it within the next few days. After the foundation work was laid for the new structure, Mrs. Moricich was not able to see the work. The children present at the bedside at the time of the death were Misses Lucy, Irene, Stella, Alice, Ruth, Madeline, Violet, and Lucas, Toney and Harry.”


April 25, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “Mrs. J. Moricich passes away at home on Sumner Avenue Wednesday… Mrs. Moricich had been in poor health since the fire that destroyed their home. She was 53 years of age, a native daughter and twenty-eight year resident of Avalon. Besides Captain V. Moricich she leaves to mourn her departure beyond, the following children: Misses Lucy, Alice, Ruth, Stella, Madaline, Irene and Violet; and Tony, Lucas, and Harry.”


November 14, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “Mr. and Mrs. L. Moricich are visiting for a short time on the mainland. Miss M. Moricich is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. C. MacLean, at their home at Howland’s Cove.”


February 6, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “The pet turtle which has been so long an occupant of the local aquarium, has passed to the turtle beyond. Many years ago (the exact date has been forgotten) Captain V. Moricich, while hauling a seine at Johnson’s, caught the turtle. It was placed in the aquarium, and since the Avalon fire has practically been the only occupant of the building. For many years visitors fed the turtle as it rolled about lazily in the glass tank. Every two weeks the water was drained off, and the keeper gave it a bath—scrubbing off the moss and the parasites that gathered on its huge shell. The chelonian knew its keeper and never molested him while feeding it or cleaning out the tank. Professor C. B. Parker is mounting the big fellow.”


November 20, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Mr. V. Moricich, accompanied by his daughters Ruth, Madeline and Irene, has gone to the mainland for a visit at their leisure.”


November 27, 1917 [TI/Avalon]: “Captain Vincente Moricich returned home yesterday.”


April 13, 1932 [TI/Avalon]: “Stealing a march on their many Avalon friends, Miss Violet Moricich and Oliver Greenbaum left for Yuma, Arizona last Tuesday and were married in that city on Wednesday, with Judge E. A. Freeman officiating at the ceremony. The happy couple arrived home Thursday afternoon, crossing the channel by airplane to elude the attention of the local reception committee. They were located at 369 Sumner Avenue that evening. Despite the fact that the couple barricaded their apartment for several hours after arrival, the bridegroom’s brother ‘Bill’ succeeded in gaining entrance to the home. Then the ‘committee’ appeared, and the reception was soon turned into a celebration. The bride is now very positive in the assertion that she didn’t know there were so many alarm clocks in Avalon! Mrs. Greenbaum, formerly Miss Violet Moricich, was born in Avalon. She is the daughter of the late Captain and Mrs. Vincent Moricich. Mr. Greenbaum is the chief clerk in the transportation department for the Santa Catalina Island Company.”