Nellie

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Nellie (#209731) (1879-1912), California coastal schooner of 14 gross tons, which foundered at Santa Cruz Island on Christmas Day, 1912. Nellie is the vessel on which C. W. Smith arrived at Santa Catalina Island in 1890. In 1897, the Nellie visited several islands, including San Clemente, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, going ashore at each. A photograph album of this voyage survives and is on file at the Santa Cruz Island Foundation.

For more than a decade, Nellie was owned and operated by Frank “Poncho” Whittley (1848-1902) of Santa Catalina Island. Frank was married to Manuela “Nellie” Adargo, sister of Joe Adargo. After Whittley's death, W. J. McGimpsey, became owner of the schooner Nellie.



In the News~

May 22, 1887 [SBMP]: “Yesterday afternoon the yacht Nellie left for Santa Cruz Island. The following persons were aboard: Charles McCarin, Jim Hope, John Hope, C. Eppenetter, B. Gally, John Bell, Neil Murphy, L. F. Kullak, E. R. Den, F. L. Arata, and Jim Wickenden. They expect to return on Monday.”


May 24, 1887 [SBMP]: “The party to the islands that went out on the yacht Nellie on Saturday, returned yesterday morning.”


July 14, 1890 [LAT/SCI]: “There were several yachts in the [Avalon] bay yesterday. Among them were the San Diego, the Nellie, La Paloma and the sloop Hattie. The Hattie took a party from Los Angeles around the island yesterday.”


August 9, 1892 [LAT/SCat]: “The beautiful yacht Nellie entered the harbor Friday and left for San Clemente Island in the afternoon. Captain Whittley was in command and the following party his guests: Hon. S. C. Hubbell, Albert F. Crank, Charles Hubbell, Max Lowenthal, Oscar Macy, F. P. Whittley and Mrs. Whittley, P. A. Howard and John Aiken. They go for business and pleasure, Messrs. Hubbell, Macy and Whittley owning the sheep that cover its many hills. They are to be gone ten days when they leave for the Catalina Isthmus.”


September 9, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “The yacht Nellie of San Pedro, captain and owner F. F. Whittley, arrived on Wednesday evening with a party of pleasure seekers. They are stopping on board and will remain for several days.”


September 11, 1892 [SBMP]: “The yacht Nellie sailed for the south yesterday afternoon.”


August 26, 1896 [LAT/SCat]: “Captain Whittley and wife, of the yacht Nellie, gave a moonlight cruise Sunday evening to Seal Rocks and half way to San Clemente Island…”


September 24, 1896 [LAH]: “Avalon, Sept. 23,— The yacht Nellie, of fifty tons, has returned from a cruise of San Clemente Island with the following party: Mr. Swanfeldt and family, Charles Parker and Mr. A. B. Chappell. Captain Frank Whittley, the owner, was in command. Fishing and hunting was enjoyed.”


October 4, 1896 [LAT/SCat]: “The Nellie, Captain Frank Whittley’s yacht, has gone on a cruise to San Nicolas Island, with the following named party: A. B. Chappell, Joe Gautzer, J. C. Meyers, Mr. Faulkner and Captain Whittley who is in command. They go for the purpose of collecting Indian relics. The party will remain about two months, when Captain Whittley will call for them with the schooner Keywee, taking several pack animals along to convey from the interior of the island the relics obtained.”


November 11, 1896 [LAT/Red]: “The schooner Nellie of San Pedro is at this port, having recently come from San Clemente and Santa Catalina islands… She will proceed to San Nicolas Island, at which place a search will be made for skulls and other relics. Frank P. Whittley is captain of the little vessel…”


November 29, 1896 [LAT/SCat]: “The yacht Nellie leaves for the isthmus at daybreak, and from there will sail for San Nicolas Island with a party in search of Indian relics. Captain Frank Whittley has charge of the party.”


May 2, 1897 [LAT/SCat]: “Captain Whittley’s yacht, Nellie, arrived from San Nicolas Island Thursday.”


May 4, 1897 [LAT/SP]: “Bendix M. Baker returned from San Nicolas Island yesterday in the sloop Nellie. He brought with him a large number of curios, such as stone mortars and pestles, bone needles, bone knives, abalone shell trinkets and fishhooks, and human skulls. These curios are relics of the aborigines of the island, now for many years extinct. Mr. Baker has a large collection of these interesting relics.”


July 1, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “The yacht Nellie arrived from San Pedro yesterday afternoon in charge of its owner, Captain Frank Whittley. On board were five men, who come here for the purpose of killing off the wild goats. Captain Whittley owns the sheep at large on the island, and while here will shear them.”


August 25, 1898 [LAT/LB]: “Dr. C. W. Craven of Riverside left here today on the yacht Nellie for a tour about San Nicolas Island.”


September 29, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “The yacht Nellie, which left San Pedro last Sunday for San Clemente Island, anchored in Avalon Bay yesterday evening about 8 o’clock… The yacht was two hours making the trip from San Clemente to Pebble Beach, two miles up the coast east of Avalon…”


October 14, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “A party consisting of Mrs. Lydia Emerson Fancher of Mansfield, Ohio, Mrs. Martha Dickinson-Hammond and Hon. George C. Thaxter of Redlands… left Avalon today on the yacht Nellie, Captain Widing in Command, with Will Garnish and the well-known boatman Chappie as guides, for the island of San Nicolas. The party are equipped with supplies for a month, and the Nellie will land them on the island… The object of the party is to search for relics of the ancient tribes of Indians which once peopled that island.”


November 20, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “The Nellie on her return trip from San Nicolas touched at San Clemente and took one of the owners of the big flocks of sheep on that island. Mr. Hubbell has been there continuously since last April and will surely enjoy getting into civilization again…”


November 20, 1898 [LAT/SCat]: “The yacht Nellie, which has been anxiously expected for some days, arrived in the bay last night about 10 o’clock, having on board the party of curio-hunters which left here for San Nicolas early in October, consisting of Chappie, the boatman who was guide to the expedition…”


March 7, 1899 [LAT/SB]: “The yacht Nellie, which came up from San Diego early Sunday morning in command of Captain Noles, having been engaged to take the L. S. Thompson party for a cruise about the Channel Islands, was robbed last evening of her riding light, an expensive silver sugar bowl and several other small articles.”


September 1, 1899 [LAT/SCat]: “The schooner Nellie, Captain Knowles, left last night on a five days’ cruise, which will embrace stops at Santa Barbara, and at three or four of the Channel Islands…”


September 4, 1899 [SBDI]: ““The yacht Nellie arrived on port at 12 o’clock Saturday night from Catalina Island with fourteen passengers for this city. She sailed at 1 o’clock this afternoon for Avalon where she will be used in transporting pleasure parties.”


September 4, 1899 [LAT/SB]: “The yacht Nellie, Captain Knowles, arrived here early this morning from Avalon with a number of pleasure seekers from various Southern California points.”


September 8, 1899 [LAT/SCat]: “The schooner Nellie returned from her cruise about the Channel Islands yesterday. Much of the time there was no wind and the vessel was two days longer in making the trip than had been expected.”


July 4, 1900 [SBMP]: “The Nellie, Captain Chase, arrived yesterday from San Pedro.”


October 4, 1900 [LAT/SCat]: “The schooner Nellie, Captain Frank Whittley, left this morning for San Clemente Island, chartered by Chappie, who goes over for a four months’ hunting expedition for Indian relics. The Nellie will leave him there, and at the end of the four months will return and take him off with his treasures…”


January 7, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Several gentlemen who had drifted into Avalon got together last week and arranged a trip to San Clemente, lying about twenty-five miles southward from Santa Catalina. The island is government property, and is uninhabited, save by two young men, John and Robert Robarts, who have charge of some five or six thousand sheep belonging to S. C. Hubbell of Los Angeles, and Alec O’Leary, who has led a hermit life down near the east end for ten years past. The gentlemen were seeking adventure… These adventurous spirits chartered the Mascot, George M. Connell, skipper, who brought his launch down from Monterey last spring in one of the worst storms of the season. The party started from Avalon at 4 A.M. Thursday morning, and about 8 A.M. cast anchor at Gallagher’s Landing, near the west end of San Clemente, where the Robarts brothers have their headquarters. Here they found W. A. Chappel, otherwise known as ‘Chappie,’ a character among Avalon boatsmen, who has been there for nearly four months engaged in hunting Indian relics with which to enlarge his already magnificent collection. He has been quite successful in his search and has a ton or more of curios and things piled on the beach waiting for the schooner Nellie, which is under contract to go for him and bring him back to Avalon January 10.”


August 2, 1901 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. The Banning Wool Company has recently contracted to deliver 3000 head of fat Catalina Island sheep to Los Angeles butchers, and they are now being transported across to San Pedro on the schooner Nellie. It is stated that mutton grown on the islands is far superior to that of the mainland, having less of the strong flavor. This is accounted for by the difference of the grasses on which the sheep feed. The wool also brings a higher price than that from the mainland, because of being so much cleaner and free from burs.”


January 29, 1902 [LAT]: “Captain F. P. Whittley, owner of the yacht Nellie, which plied about the waters between San Pedro and Santa Catalina Island, and one of the best known men on the coast, died at his residence in this city yesterday. Forty-eight years ago, when he was but 6 years old, Captain Whittley came from Ensenada with his parents, and landed on the island, which ever since has been his home...”


January 11, 1903 [LAT]: The schooner Nellie has been sold and will be fitted with a seventy-five horse-power engine.”


July 30, 1903 [LAH]: “San Pedro, July 30. The schooner Nellie, which has recently been equipped with a forty-five horse-power Standard Gas engine, will engage in the passenger traffic between this city and Long Beach.”


August 13, 1903 [LAH]: “The Nellie will take a party to San Nicolas Island on Friday.”


August 23, 1903 [LAH]: “San Pedro, August 22. Captain J. E. Swensen (sic) of the yawl Leone arrived in port this morning from San Nicholas (sic) Island, with a large cargo of crawfish. Swensen reports that all the fishermen have been warned to leave the island and adjacent waters. W. J. McGimpsey, owner of the schooner Nellie, claims to have obtained from the United States government a lease for the entire island for a period of three years. Last year McGimpsey drove all the fishermen away from their camps on the island, and this year he claims a three-mile strip all around the island and avers that he will not allow any fishing within those limits. San Nicholas [sic] is a barren, cheerless island, one of the Channel group. The greater part of the island is covered with sand and is worthless. A small portion is covered with coarse grass and a few sheep have been kept there, but at present there are no inhabitants whatever and aside from the few fishermen who have been going there the place is deserted. The local fishermen are very much excited over the situation and say they will fight for what they conceive to be their rights. They do not believe McGimpsey has any title to control the waters adjacent to the island, though they concede that he may have a lease of the island. The Catalina Island Company owns the island of Catalina, but has never attempted to control the waters around it. It is probably that if McGimpsey persists in his attempt to drive the fishermen away that there will be bloodshed over the matter. The fishermen maintain that they will fight for their rights and it looks as if there is trouble ahead. To the casual observer it seems like a case of dog in the manger, as McGimpsey is himself deriving no revenue from the island or the fishing grounds adjacent.”


March 4, 1904 [LAT/SP]: “Movement of ‘Mosquito’ Fleet. Arrived — Thursday, March 3. Yacht Nellie from San Nicolas Island.”


January 2, 1908 [LAH]: “Long Beach, Jan. 1. — Forty prominent business men and officials of this county will start about January 18 for a two weeks' hunting trip in the vicinity of San Quintin Bay, Mexico. The trip has been arranged by the Nelson Navigation Company of this city. The schooner Nellie, Captain Thomas Keeney, and the Fashion, Captain Byron Halsteal, will carry the party of sportsmen, some of whom intend to investigate mining properties while on the trip. The Nellie returned today from the south coast and went on the ways at San Pedro to be put in shape for the trip. Several of the county supervisors will take the junket, as will some of the superior court judges.”


February 18, 1908 [LAH]: “The Schooner Nellie, recently rebuilt at the plant of the Western Boat and Engine Company, is now being repainted at West Long Beach. The Nelson Navigation Company, owners of the vessel, are considering running the boat regularly between here and San Diego, as numerous requests for the establishment of such a service have been received.”


January 3, 1913 [OT]: “Santa Barbara. Telling a story of great suffering and danger, Captain Dan Bethune and Mate Fisher of the power vessel Nellie, of San Pedro, which was dashed to pieces on the rocks on the east end of Santa Cruz Island, were brought here yesterday by a party of fishermen who rescued them. Captain Bethune told of having encountered a southeast gale on New Year’s Eve, which drove their small craft upon the rocks. When the vessel struck, they jumped overboard and battled with heavy seas until they reached shore. Exhausted, they fell upon the sands, which where they remained all night. They passed New Year’s Day in watching and signaling for help. The fishermen who rescued them put out from Santa Barbara yesterday morning and passed near enough to Santa Cruz Island, twenty miles across the channel, to send signals of distress.”