Mauer Cattle Company

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Mauer Cattle Company leased grazing rights from 1917-1924 from the Santa Catalina Island Company (formed in 1894). Eloi J. Amar was manager of the cattle company. When their lease expired, the Santa Catalina Island Company took over ranching operations, maintaining several thousand head of cattle until the 1950s when ranching became unprofitable. Today no sheep or cattle remain in the island.

According to Edward Norris Wentworth in America’s Sheep Trails, about 1910, the Banning brothers leased Santa Catalina Island’s flock of sheep for ten years to John A. Maurer. Maurer was the last sheep operator on the island, and in 1919 the Bannings sold the island to William Wrigley.

“About 1912 Maurer decided to clear the island of the wild stock and install Merinos. The sheep were sold at $1.50 per head to the Degan brothers, livestock traders operating on the San Francisco and eastern markets. The Degans’ contract included the responsibility of collecting and re-selling them. As assistants they secured the services of David and Ed Staunton of the Union Sheep Company. The animals were very wild many of the fleeces were ten to twelve inches long, due to irregular shearing. Some of these unusual fleeces were preserved for many years by J. G. Taylor of Lovelock, Nevada. The Degans purchased a half mile of cheese cloth a yard wide and used it to construct a fence with wings through which to collect the sheep. A large number of bucks were so wild that they would break for the hills when pressed too closely and they had to be killed in order to control the flocks. Ed Staunton, an expert marksman, spent his entire time picking off the unruly ones. Finally they were all in the corral. Part of them were shorn, the pelts of the dead sheep were collected, and the poorer lambs marketed as canners. Most flockmasters feared to purchase the remainder for they knew that when the sheep got into the sagebrush they would evade the herders. The flock was untimately sold, however, but the wild sheep proved so disruptive of the bands to which they were introduced that they finally had to be slaughtered in San Francisco. Maurer developed a good commercial flock, crossing Hampshire rams on the Merino ewes and arranging the breeding so that the lamb crop of some twenty thousand head arrived in November and early December. About April first his lambs reached weights of approximately seventy-five pounds, and were shipped by barge (about fifteen hundred head to the load) to the mainland. The lamb crop of 1919 was reported to be 100 percent, the average weight at Los Angeles seventy-six pounds, and the average price seventeen dollars per hundredweight.”

In the News~

June 23, 1915 [SCICo]: “Mr. J. E. Maurer, Pacific Coast Beef & Provision Co., Los Angeles, Cal. Dear Sir: Both from the writer’s observation and from reports just received, it will appear that the stock in marketable sheep on Santa Cruz Island is very limited, and is just sufficient to supply the Santa Barbara trade. We regret very much that we have no opportunity of doing business with your good house. With hopes, that in future, we will have a different kind of report to make, we remain Very truly yours, The Santa Cruz Island Co., AJC (Arthur J. Caire)”

January 1, 1918 [TI/Avalon]: “John E. Maurer of the Maurer Cattle Company was a Middle Ranch visitor last week.”

April 2, [TI/Avalon]: “J. R. Maurer and wife of the Maurer Cattle Company, were at Middle Ranch for a few days last week.”