OLIVERA, John (1902-1921), Santa Cruz Island Company employee who died on Santa Cruz Island on February 15, 1921 as a result of spinal meningitis. He was 18 years 8 months 24 days old. His mother lived in San Pedro.
In the News~
January 27, 1921 [SBMP]: “Five employees of the Santa Cruz Island Company with two others were brought to the city Tuesday night for medical treatment appear to be have sleeping sickness, Dr. C. B. Nagelman, who examined them, said last night. The men have been in a state of coma for five days, according to Dr. E. J. Boeseke, who also examined the men and confirmed Dr. Nagelman’s diagnosis. A sixth member of the party, Joe Bermudez, is being treated at his home, 719 East Haley Street. The other, Ike Newton of 614 Canal Street, is at Cottage Hospital. According to Dr. High Frisdell, Newton is suffering from food poisoning. Dr. Benjamin Bakewell who also examined Newton, said that the men may have been poisoned from food, but he would not care to say absolutely that was the trouble. The five who were taken to the County Hospital last night were Frank Ricci, Alexander Merlo, John Diana, Emanuel Lamont and Fred Giaconutti. The attending physicians said that they believe the men have sleeping sickness, brought on from existing for three months on meat. All are in a weakened condition. The men were employed on Santa Cruz Island in the construction of a wharf.”
January 30, 1921 [SBMP]: “Only one of 12 Santa Cruz Island victims of a strange sickness brought to this city for treatment is seriously ill at the present time, it was reported last night. Of the nine that were taken to the County Hospital for treatment, one was released yesterday, four more will be able to leave Monday, and the rest, except John Olivera, were reported much improved last night. Joe Bermudez, who has been at his home, 817 East Haley Street, under the care of City Physician Hartwell since Tuesday, was reported much better last night... The condition of John Olivera, one of the four men brought Friday night in the second party to come from the island, was serious last night. Attending physicians said his illness was developing into pneumonia. Olivera was taken from the isolation ward at the County Hospital to the main building for treatment. When Olivera was first stricken with the sickness, he began to see double, it was reported from the island. He was attacked with muscular weakness similar to that which affected other victims, so that he could not walk normally. He soon complained of feeling tired and took to his bed. Olivera was in a state of coma for three days and was aroused with difficulty when he was brought to this city Friday night. He was boisterous and out of his head Friday night, physicians said, and yesterday developed pneumonia.”
February 17, 1921 [SBMP]: “Sick men still come from island. Seven more men arrived from Santa Cruz Island. Four are here on second trip. A party of seven victims of the mysterious malady which broke out on Santa Cruz Island January 22, causing the death Tuesday of John Olivera, was brought to the city last night for medical treatment. Alex Merlo and Nick Morresi were taken to the county hospital. The other five members of the party disappeared before local health authorities could reach the wharf to take them to the hospital... Ike Newton, Joe Bermudez and another Italian whose name could not be learned also returned last night suffering from a relapse of the disease... John Olivera died of meningitis, Dr. G. S. Lovern, who attended him, said.”