NIDEVER, Jose Ramon Jacobo “Jake”

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NIDEVER, José Ramon Jacobo “Jake” (1849-1913), fifth of six children born to frontiersman George Nidever and his wife, Sinforosa Sanchez. Isaac Sparks was the child’s Godfather; Josefa Boronda his Godmother. Jake Nidever accidentally drowned on New Year’s Day, 1913 at age 63. The Santa Cruz Island Company journal notes: Wednesday January 1st, 1913:

“Jacob Nidever accident in Santa Barbara, on getting aboard the schooner Santa Cruz to light the lantern fell overboard and drowned.”


Jake Nidever was single and lived at 102 East Yanonali Street at the time of his death. His brother George reported finding his body 63 days later. Jake is buried with his parents and brother Marcos in Santa Barbara at Calvary Cemetery (#1252).



In the News~

October 15, 1891 [LAT/SB]: “Rogers Brothers, of this city, have just completed the equipment of the schooner Ruby for their annual sea otter hunt at the islands and along the north coast. The expedition will be under the immediate charge of Captain Hicks, and the shooters are Jake Nidever, José Olivas and Edward Valencia, lately arrived from Bering Sea. The expedition starts today and will visit San Miguel Island first, thence to Flea Island and San Nicolas. The crew will be away about two months, and it is believed that the season will be a good one.”


July 14, 1895 [SFCall]: “…There is little travel between San the mainland and San Miguel, and less between the ranch house, located in the center of the island, and the west end, where the only other habitation on the island, the tiny shelter of Jake Nidever, the son of the original owner of the island, old Captain Nidever, stands close to shore. Jake is a strange character, a gentle soul, not without some education, but so long accustomed to solitary life that he has grown silent and abashed in the presence of men. Antonio Caballero and Jake have just returned from the island after a stay of months at the west end. These men are veritable sea hunters, but the chief game they seek is the sea otter, whose skin when full grown is worth $400, a small fortune to these men. Both are grave, quiet men, whose word can be implicitly trusted, and they bring the story of the violent upheaval on Flea Island, which adds another character to the extraordinary changes taking place about San Miguel, and proves the continued travail of the uncanny submarine powers…”


December 10, 1896 [LAT/SB]: “A pretty wedding took place at 2 P.M. today at the residence of the bride’s parents, Mr. And Mrs. D. Kimpton…the contracting parties being Miss Emma A. Briggs and Dennis L. Smith, wharfinger at Serena… Jacob Nidever acted as best man…”


May 16, 1897 [LAT/SB]: “Three sea otters killed near San Miguel Island… Harvey Jacobs, George and Jacob Nidever, three Santa Barbara boys, returned from a month’s cruise about San Miguel Island last night, bringing with them three magnificent sea otter skins as a result of their month’s hunt... The three boys saw some sixty of these valuable little animals in the kelp off San Miguel…”


July 17, 1897 [SBMP]: “Jacob Nidever and Clarence Mitchell of Summerland, who were under arrest for disturbing the peace of Constable Lidel at Carpinteria on Tuesday night last and whose case was set in the justice court of that place for Friday evening, appeared before the proper tribunal yesterday, plead guilty and paid a fine of $5 each.”


1908: “..."The Captain of the schooner Santa Cruz, his brother, the crew, and the watchman from Prisoners' Harbor have come to serenade you, this being your first night on Santa Cruz Island." [at Willows]. The moon was shining very brightly and I could see four figures coming up the creek. As they rounded the big rock, they pulled out musical instruments and began to play La Paloma. The baby had awakened and began to cry, but then she listened to the music and quieted down... The Captain introduced his brother Jake [Nidever], the crewman Geronimo, and the watchman. They were dressed like the usual fishermen, in blue jeans, heavy shirts, caps and heavy boots, and each had a red bandana handkerchief. Sitting down on the apple boxes they played another tune. The baby was spellbound. When they finished the Captain asked how I had enjoyed the trip across the channel and how long I planned to stay. I told him about Ira's idea to take me to another harbor to camp for the winter, for Ira expected to fish there with a man named Frank Nidever. The Captain nodded and said, "Frank Nidever is my son, and Jake here is my brother." This was Captain Nidever, the son of George Nidever who was a famous sea otter hunter. Ira had spoken so much of him that I felt I knew him already...” [Eaton, Margaret Diary of a Sea Captain's Wife: Tales of Santa Cruz Island, (1980) p. 47]


In January of 1913, Margaret Eaton noted in her diary that Captain George Nidever stopped in their camp at Pelican Bay and “told us the sad news his brother Jake had drowned.”


May 4, 1913 [George E. Nidever to A. J. Caire, Santa Cruz Island Company]: “Dear Sir, …I found my brother 63 days after he got drowned 14 miles up the coast, so I know where he is now…”