ROGERS, Eugene Frederick

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Eugene Frederick Rogers (1854-1941)
Santa Barbara Cemetery

ROGERS, Eugene Frederick (1854-1941) arrived in Santa Barbara at age 19 with his father in 1873 and was joined the following year by his mother and brothers Herbert and Alvah. In 1875 when he was 21 years old, E. F. Rogers became interested in hunting seals and sea otters, and also in hiring Chinese to gather abalone. For these purposes he purchased the schooners Surprise, N.B., and Keturah. His employees included George and Jake Nidever. According to his memoirs:

[Rogers] “had fifteen to twenty Chinamen employed emprying the abalones off the rocks at the islands. The abalone shells were shipped to Baltimore and London to be made into buttons... There were always sea lions to be found on the rocks of Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands, and we knew of a small school of otter near these islands on the other side of San Miguel. We captured the sea lions by lassoing them, but the otter by shooting... with muzzle-loading guns.”

In 1877, E. F. Rogers sailed for Mexico's Guadalupe Island with George and Jake Nidever in search of sea otters. After their return, Rogers began making trips to the Channel Islands. Both Surprise and N.B. were wrecked and lost. In 1889 he sent the schooner Ethel with two hunters and six assistants up the California coast on a two month voyage to hunt otters. A total of 21 animals were shot. By this time, otters were extremely scarce off the Santa Barbara coast.

In 1894 at the Midwinter fair in San Francisco, Rogers and Santa Barbara Mayor Gaty built the Santa Barbara Amphibia, an exhibit of trained sea lions for entertainment.

E. F. Rogers was married twice: first to Clementia Hopkins who died in 1884, and then to Mabel Louise Goss (1862-1940). Eugene Rogers had two children: son, Allen Eugene Rogers (1888-1961); and daughter, Marian Gertrude Rogers (1894-1991) who married Ralph Hereford Daniels (1885-1964).

In 1904 Eugene bought a furniture store owned by Knight & Blood in the 900 block of State Street, and changed the store name to Rogers and Son. Allen Rogers managed the store into the 1940s. Allen Eugene Rogers had a son, Allen Eugene Rogers, Jr. (Llew Goodfield’s uncle) and two daughters, Catherine Mabel Rogers Goodfield (Llew Goodfield’s mother) and Mary Elizabeth Rogers Canby (Llew Goodfield’s aunt). A century later, the building was owned by six great grandchildren of Eugene Rogers: brothers Llew (1/3) and David Goodfield (1/3), and their four cousins (1/3), children of Mary Elizabeth Rogers Canby.

E. F. Rogers died in Santa Barbara at 87 years old and is buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

Note: Llew Goodfield of Carpinteria, CA is the great grandson of Eugene F. Rogers. Allen Eugene Rogers was his grandfather; Llewellyn Goodfield was his father (married to Allen’s daughter, Catherine Rogers).


» Rogers, Eugene Frederick Merchandising Memoirs of Eugene F. Rogers


Excerpt from his memoirs:

“In 1875, I became interested in hunting seals and sea otter, and also in gathering abalone shells on the Channel Islands. For these purposes I purchased first the schooner, “Surprise”, and later two schooners, Keturah and N.B. George and Jake Nidever, Manuel Cordero, Antonio Cavarillo [Cavalleri], Jose Espinosa, and Charles Brown were employed by me on these boats. Some of the seals were shipped east for exhibition purposes. Others were killed, the hides sold to be converted into leather, the oil used for various purposes, and the trimmings going to Chinamen. I had fifteen to twenty Chinamen employed in prying the abalone off the rocks at the islands. The abalone shells were shipped to Baltimore and passengers had to come ashore in lighters. I had two built and named them the Oil King and the Baptist Dugout. About three hundred feet of the end of the wharf was left standing at which the ships tied up and were unloaded. The lighter propelled by a rope attached at one end to a post firmly sunk in the sand and at the other to an anchor not far from the wharf. The freight and passengers were transferred to the lighters and taken as near to the shore as possible, but it was still necessary for the sailors to wade knee-deep in order to carry the women passengers to land.”



In the News~

July 12, 1878 [SBDP]: “E. F. Rogers of this city contemplates purchasing the schooner Surprise.”


July 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “Mr. E. F. Rogers, a young gentleman who made himself so well known by his campaign for the mayoralty as to need no introduction from us, has concluded to enter the race for Councilman from the Third Ward.”


July 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “The schooner Star of Freedom is expected to arrive tomorrow night with E. F. Rogers’s seal oil party.”


July 16, 1878 [SBDP]: “The Star of Freedom arrived from San Miguel Island last evening. She brought over Fred Forbush’s sealing party and the following freight consigned to E. F. Rogers: 1200 gallons of seal oil, 35 barrels and 60 sacks of an excellent quality of abalone shells.”


July 18, 1878 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise, recently purchased by E. F. Rogers, will return in a few days from San Diego. She will be overhauled and fitted up for the seal oil and abalone shell trade between this place and the islands.”


January 17, 1879 [SBWP]: “Councilman Rogers has got a 60 days’ leave of absence. He is going with his schooner to Lower California, hunting and prospecting. He expects to get off next week.”


January 20, 1879 [SBDP]: “Mr. Eugene Rogers sailed with the schooner Surprise last night for Lower California. He goes to hunt otter, seal, shark, etc., and will be gone from three to five months.”


April 15, 1879 [SBDP]: “E. F. Rogers, Esq., who recently returned from a hunting trip down the coast, killed twenty-five large black seals, the skins of which he sold in San Francisco last week for $35 apiece.”


August 15, 1879 [SBDP]: “Councilman Rogers has gone to Santa Cruz Island to be absent a few days.”


March 23, 1883 [SBDP]: “Mr. Eugene F. Rogers, brother of Rogers Brothers, our well known grocers, has returned for a short visit. Mr. Rogers is now located at Bisbee, Arizona, and is doing a large mercantile business there. Mr. Rogers is also agent of the Neptune Mine. He will return about April first. He says that matters are not so lively there as formerly.”


1888 The New Directory of the City of Santa Barbara lists E. F. Rogers, capitalist, with a residence on the north corner of Chapala and Figueroa streets.


July 18, 1891 [SBMP]: “Eugene Rogers left for San Francisco yesterday.”


November 29, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “Eugene Rogers has just returned from a trip East. He attended the opening of the World’s Fair at Chicago and reports an elegant time. Mr. Rogers says the World’s Fair buildings are in an advanced state, and before the appointed time for the opening will be ready to receive the world of visitors sure to be there.”


June 3, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “The case of E. F. Rogers of this city vs. Herman Lieves, the San Francisco furrier, a suit over seal skins, has been taken under advisdement by Judge Cope.”


June 4, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “The case of E. F. Rogers of this city vs. Herman Lieves, the San Francisco furrier, was decided Saturday by Judge Cope in favor of the plaintiff.”


October 2, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “E. F. Rogers has gone to San Francisco in the interest of the proposed sea lion exhibit.”


November 11, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “Messrs. Gaty and Rogers’s sea lion exhibit will be a good advertisement for this county, but it alone will not do…”


December 12, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “Mayor Gaty returned from San Francisco on the Santa Rosa Sunday evening, and reports the handsome building erected by the Santa Barbara Company, which proposed to exhibit amphibia, to be entirely completed. The plans have been slightly changed, and all who have seen the building, agree in saying that it is one of the handsomest small buildings on the grounds. The howling collection of sea lions which were brought over from the islands a few days ago is still anchored a short distance from the wharf. Messrs. Gaty and Rogers are thinking of taking a Spanish band from this place to play string music for the delectation of sightseers. The Spaniards will be dressed in their picturesque national costumes, and will no doubt be an added attraction.”


December 15, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “Messrs. Gaty and Rogers went up on the Santa Rosa Wednesday night to superintend the seals and sea lions which were sent up to the amphibia exhibit on the same boat.”


March 10, 1894 [LAT/SB]: “The fisherman in whose nets the huge backing shark was captured, were induced to exhibit the leviathan at the wharf side, and quickly had an offer for $40, which they refused, followed by another of $50 from Mr. Rogers, with which they closed. The monster, with the aid of blocks, tackle, and the steamship Corona, was, after one or two failures, hoisted into the pier, and handed over to Taxidermist Jess for mounting. This will occupy a couple of weeks, and on its completion, the shark will be sent to the Midwinter Fair.”


March 15, 1894 [LAT/SB]: “The big [basking] shark. Some unhung scoundrel has lopped two or three inches off the extended fluke of the big shark’s tail now undergoing a pickling process preparatory to mounting. One hundred dollars is offered for information leading to the conviction of the wretch; it is even stated that if the perpetrator will himself acknowledge the deed, he will be given the money, and need not fear arrest. As a matter of detail however, he will probably be lynched for we are justly proud of that shark. Three barrels of oil from the liver were shipped Tuesday to San Francisco by Mr. Rogers…”


November 25, 1894 [LAT/SB]: “The steam schooner Rival was in the harbor this morning and took on a cargo of abalone shells, shipped by E. F. Rogers to San Francisco.”


October 15, 1897 [LAT/SB]: “A letter was received yesterday from Captain Ellis of the North American Transportation Company, by his wife, written at Dawson City in August, which has created more excitement yet than anything yet heard from Alaska… Captain Ellis was expected home this fall, but has concluded to stay another year… E. F. Rogers, a brother-in-law of Captain Ellis, intends to leave here for Dawson in February, arriving there before Captain Ellis leaves…”


November 22, 1897 [LAT/SB]: “A number of seals were shipped East yesterday by E. F. Rogers.”


January 16, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “…Eugene F. Rogers, Henry Elizalde and Harry McGuire will shoot a match of fifty ‘blue rocks’ each Sunday morning, for a French dinner and the cost of the birds…”


January 26, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “Eugene F. Rogers and T. J. McCrosky of this city, sailed for Dyea from Seattle on the steamer Corona last Thursday.”


February 2, 1898 [LAT/SC]: “Mrs. Eugene F. Rogers of this city received a telegram from her husband at Lewis Island, which had been sent to Seattle by boat, stating that he would proceed to the upper Yukon by way of Skagway, immediately. Mr. Rogers was one of the recently wrecked Corona passengers.”


February 17, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “Eugene F. Rogers of this city, who remained on Lewis Island after the Corona was wrecked, arrived at Fort Wrangle January 30, by steamer Oregon. He writes that the passenger list was about one thousand, hardly room to turn around. It was expected that the steamer would arrive at Dyea the following day. Mr. Rogers will proceed to Dawson as fast as possible, but may take two months to get there.”


April 22, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “Eugene F. Rogers writes from Five Finger Rapids, under date of March 21. He expected to be in Dawson at the end of thirteen days, a distance of 286 miles. The trial was bad, owing to the melting snow, and dog feed was getting short, but he expected to secure some horseflesh for them at a dollar per pound, which was on sale there. He was standing the trip as well as any one else in the party, and his health was good.”


October 2, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “In the case of More vs. More, Judge Day of the Superior Court rendered a final decision yesterday, reversing the verdict of the jury, rejecting the conspiracy finding as to defendants, E. F. Rogers and H. J. Finger, and disregarding the finding of the jury as to $1700 damages…”

February 28, 1941 [SBNP]: “Eugene F. Rogers, pioneer merchant of the early days of the west and founder in 1903 of the furniture business which he has operated with his son, Allen E. Rogers, as E. F. Rogers and Son, died Friday in his home at 525 East Sola Street. Death came peacefully, marking the end of a long and active career. Eugene F. Rogers was born on January 17, 1854, in Walden Heights, Vt., where his father was a farmer, merchant and hotel proprietor, and heeding the advice of the times, "Go West, young man!" bought passage on an immigrant train to the Middle West. On this adventurous trip, he sold sewing machines in the primitive mining towns of Colorado and through the Middle West, finally returning home. In 1873, he again came west, this time with his father. The two made the trip by steamer, crossing the Isthmus of Panama by rail, coming to Santa Barbara, which was then a small community of 3,000 people, of whom 2,000 were native Californians. Rogers and his father opened a grocery store, and the son again secured a sewing machine agency. He also became interested in sea otter hunting, a dangerous but lucrative occupation in those days. Rogers owned two schooners which engaged in sea otter hunting. He was also a pioneer in the oil business in this section, drilling first on the Jacques ranch, where Summerland was later founded. He ran for mayor of Santa Barbara in 1876, and was defeated by the narrow margin of 35 votes by Mayor Chamberlain. The following year he was appointed as a councilman, to serve in place of Caesar Lattailade, who retired to make a trip to Spain. Later Rogers, temporarily gave up his business activities here for his health, and went to Arizona for a rest cure. His active nature was such, however, that he was soon in business in that state, selling supplies in the isolated mining community of Henshaw. He sold the business to enter another in Bisbee, where he furnished supplies to the Copper Queen Mining Company. Rogers sold this business to enter the jobbing business, and assumed contracts for government freighting for forts through the southwest, a major business endeavor. Deciding that life in Arizona was too dangerous for his bride, he opened branch houses in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The couple had six years of comparatively quiet life, when the news of the gold discovery in Alaska intrigued him, and he made two hazardous trips into the then wild country. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers made a trip abroad in 1901, and on their return, he opened stores in the little Washington lumbering towns of Snohomish, Mt. Vernon and Edison, but after a short time, he decided to return to California. In 1903 he opened the furniture business here in which he was to engage the balance of his life, later taking in his son as a partner. He is survived by his son, Allen E. Rogers, and a daughter, Mrs. R. H. Daniels of West Los Angeles. Also surviving are six grandchildren, Mrs. Llewellyn Goodfield, Mrs. James Canby and Allen Rogers Jr., of Santa Barbara, and Miss Frances Daniels, Miss Louise Daniels and Ralph Daniels, Jr., of West Los Angeles. There are two great grandchildren, Llewellyn Goodfield, Jr. and David Goodfield of Santa Barbara. Mrs. Rogers died last December.”