PICO, Daniel

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Al Newton (left) & Danny Pico (right)
grabbing a bite to eat on their boat.

PICO, Daniel (1884-1943), native Santa Barbaran born on April 12, 1884, and direct descendant of Pio Pico, (last governor of Alta California for Mexico), and local fisherman most of his life. When Danny Pico was in his early 20s, he was hired by Ira Eaton as his helper during Eaton’s early island business days. Pico made lunches for charter parties and gathered driftwood at island coves for beach bonfires. Santa Cruz Island Company records indicate Pico worked as a sailor for the Company for the month of July-August, 1906 at a salary of $30. December 27, 1938 the Los Angeles Times reported Danny Pico, age 54, along with Al Newton were seal catchers for Captain McGuire, and their picture was in the paper.


“1939 Santa Cruz Island Danny Pico &
Al Newton catching a seal”
“1939 Santa Cruz Island Danny Pico &
Al Newton catching a seal”
“ Al Newton (left) is bitten by his catch, as Danny Pico rows.
Santa Cruz Island, 1939”
“1939 Santa Cruz Island Danny Pico &
Al Newton catching seals”
Danny Pico and Al Newton hoisting a trapped sea lion into skiff


1939 “A close call! Had this 100-pound sea lion succeeded in getting into the small skiff, the men would have had to jump out. At least these expert seal catchers have learned by past experience that that is the best policy! A wild seal is a powerful and dangerous animal when caught, and it takes plenty of cunning and a good strong three mesh net, to hold him. The men in this photo are Albert Newton and Danny Pico, employed by Captain George M. McGuire of Santa Barbara, the world's only seal merchant, who has supplied practically every seal used by zoos and circuses for the past thirty-six years. The Captain is now eighty-five years old and is content to let the younger men go on the periodical expeditions to Santa Cruz Island, 28 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara. He doesn't send the boys over unless he has orders for at least three seals. His average yearly catch is 100, and he ships to all parts of the world.”
“Seal hunters at work, stretching a 150-foot net from the rocky shores of a cove at Santa Cruz Island to a large growth of kelp at the first step is one of the most complicated and difficult, not to mention dangerous, forms of wild animal capture. From such coves as this have come more than thousand seals, or more accurately called Zalophus californianus, sea lions, the only member of the seal family that lends himself to training and exhibition purposes. Captain George McGuire of Santa Barbara has had a virtual monopoly on this business for the past thirty-six years and has supplied the animals to every zoo and circus in the world. He sends a [ ] with specifications for the catch desired only on order from an accredited trainer, zoo or circus. His method of capture leaves the seals unharmed, in contrast to the brutal clubbing method used prior to his coming to Santa Barbara in 1902. When the ends of the net are securely tied to rock and kelp the catchers maneuver a likely captive into the three mesh nets from which he is removed by means of a lariat looped around his neck, and is pulled into a crate, floating alongside the skiff, from which the catchers work.”


“Seal Bites Man! This remarkable photograph shows Albert Newton, veteran seal catcher of Santa Barbara, California, just at the second a one-hundred pound sea lion nipped the tip of his fingers on his left hand, narrowly severing two of them. This is a common occurrence in the difficult business of catching seals for exhibition purposes on Santa Cruz Island, twenty-eight miles off the coast of Santa Barbara. Note the net in which Mr. Seal has got himself enmeshed. A few seconds after this picture was taken, Newton succeeded in placing a lariat loop around the seal's neck, and shortly after he was pulled into a large crate, kept floating convenient near the skiff. The layering of the net, one-hundred and fifty feet in length and twenty-five feet deep, and the capturing and crating of the above specimen took more than two hours. Newton and Danny Pico, the oarsman in this photo are employed by Capt. Geo. M. McGuire, eighty-five year old seal merchant of Santa Barbara, who has a world monopoly on this unique business for the past thirty-six years.”
“Seal hunters at work stretching a 150 ft. net from the rocky shores of a cove at Santa Cruz Island to a large growth of kelp as the first step in one of the most complicated and difficult, not to mention dangerous, forms of wild animal capture. From such coves as this have come more than five thousand seals, or more accurately called Zalophus californianus — sea lions, the only member of the seal family that lends himself to training and exhibition purposes. Captain George M. McGuire of Santa Barbara has had a virtual monopoly on this business for the past thirty-six years and has supplied the animals to every zoo and circus in the world. He sends a [_] with specifications for the catch desired only on order from an accredited trainer, zoo, or circus. His method of capture leaves the seal unharmed, in contrast to the brutal clubbing method used prior to his coming to Santa Barbara in 1902. When the ends of the net are securely tied to rock and kelp the catchers maneuver a likely captive into the three mesh from which he is removed by means of a lariat looped around neck, and is pulled into a crate, floating along side the skiff, from which the catchers work.”


Daniel Pico was the youngest of nine children born to Jose Rafael de Alta Gracia Pico (1827-1897) and Maria Petranila del Carmen Ruiz (1838-1900):

  • Rafael Pico (1863-1898)
  • Maria Presentacion Pico (1867-1880)
  • Francisco Pico (1870-1880)
  • Perfidio Pico (twin) (1871-1909)
  • Pio Pico (twin) 1871-1900)
  • Ysabel Pico (1874-1880)
  • Marguerite Maggie Pico (1877-1880)
  • Alexander Dumas Pico (1882-1925)
  • Daniel Pico (1884-1943)

Daniel Pico never married. He died in Santa Barbara on January 20, 1943 at age 59 of heart failure. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Santa Barbara.



In the News~

September 24, 1908 [SBI]: “The launch Baltic came over from the south side of Santa Cruz Island with 20 sacks of crawfish for the Larco fish market. The fishermen report improvement of fishing around the islands. Captain Dan Pico was in charge of the boat.”


October 26, 1917 [SBDN]: “Jack Carrillo put to sea this morning in another fishing smack, Marguerite, to pick up the crawfish traps which he had to abandon off Anacapa Island, when his first fishing smack foundered in a storm a week ago, drowning his companion, Bryan Schafer. Captain Nidever, a neighbor, having an extra boat, and having faith in the seamanship of young Carrillo, and the youth is again off to sea. He will spend some time cruising to recover the body of his friend, if possible. He has already devoted days to his search with other fishermen. Little hope is entertained for the recovery of the body, as there is a heavy current at the point where the accident occurred, which heads out to sea, and it may be that even the boat that sunk has been carried out to mid ocean. In a search for the body just concluded, young Carrillo found his skiff, which was bottom up, but in the bottom of it held fast between the boards, was found a costly hunting knife. Accompanying Carrillo on this trip is Danny Pico, a youth very familiar with the sea. The sinking of the Marguerite was the third disaster young Carrillo has had since last April. In the bay at San Francisco he had one boat wrecked and a third was burned.”


September 17, 1924 [SBMP]: “The fishing boat Roncador, chartered by Captain Danny Pico on September 5 to take a party to San Miguel Island, was reported seven days overdue yesterday by the owner, Bob Ord. Captain Ord said yesterday that unless the boat returns to port today, he will organize a searching party and leave for San Miguel Island tomorrow morning. When the Roncador left for San Miguel Island with Captain Pico in charge, a woman and two children were taken on as passengers to the islands, Captain Ord said yesterday. Two other men, Johnson and Garcia, were taken on as crew by Captain Pico. Captain Ord said yesterday that he was not greatly worried at the failure of the boat to return to port. The worst that might happen to a veteran skipper like Pico would be to run out of fuel, he said. Another theory advanced by Captain Ord for the failure of the boat to return is that the weather around San Miguel Island may be so that the party has sought refuge in one of the coves or possibly has run down to Santa Cruz.”


December 27, 1938 [LAT]: “…Circus men and zoo men all over the world know Captain McGuire as the seal-cather. The slogan on his stationery reads: ‘I supply the world with sea lions.’ And that is no idle boast… when he gets an order McGuire calls on Al Newman and Danny Pico, fishermen who used to be cowboys. Danny says he is a direct descendant of Governor Pio Pico… When the seals find they are fenced in and try to leap the fence the ex-cowboys get busy with lariats. They rope the seals they want!…”


December 27, 1938 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Island seals sent by train to New York. Shipment of six males will undergo training before exhibition debut. Six husky male sea lions from the rookeries of Santa Cruz Island of the Channel Islands chain are headed out of this port, with the New York World’s Fair as their ultimate destination. Captured by Captain George McGuire, who has been hunting seals, sea lions, otters and other sea-going animals out of this port for 36 of his 85 years, the noisy cargo made the voyage from the island aboard Pelican, formerly owned by the late Captain Ira Eaton… These were taken at Fry’s Harbor on Santa Cruz… Nine were taken on McGuire’s last voyage, the actual captures being effected by Al Newton, great-grandson of one of General Fremont’s soldiers, and Danny Pico, direct descendant of Pio Pico, Governor of California when this area belonged to Mexico…”