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Alvah Carlton Rogers
Herbert Augustine Rogers

The first of the ROGERS BROTHERS to arrive in Santa Barbara was Eugene Frederick Rogers, (1854-1941), who arrived in Santa Barbara in 1873 at age 19 with his father, Augustine B. Rogers (1821-1909). He was joined the following year by his mother, Hannah E. Perkins Rogers (1825-1916) and younger brothers, Alvah Carlton Rogers (1856-1892), and Herbert Augustine Rogers (1858-1918).

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 the News~

January 28, 1878 [SBDP]: “Messrs. Rogers & Son launched a lighter this afternoon.”

May 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “The Star of Freedom having left Rogers & Co. sealing party on San Miguel Island, returned here last night.”

June 3, 1878 [SBDP]: “The Rogers Brothers & Company seal-hunting expedition to San Miguel Island has but just commenced operations. Seals are reported as numerous, but not heretofore in condition to kill. During otherwise idle moments the party has been gathering abalone shells, of which they have found in goodly quantity.”

June 22, 1878 [SBDP]: “The little schooner H. W. Almy arrived in port this morning, having made since the 14th instant a complete tour of all the islands lying off Santa Barbara… Among other places Captain Mullett stopped at San Miguel and interviewed Fred Forbush, who has charge of the Rogers Brothers sealing expedition, which was fitted out here some time ago. Fred, it is said, takes off his hat and sits on it every time he tells of the San Diego expedition getting ahead of him, and taking up quarters on Flea Island, where the seals most do congregate. He has done better than they have, however, for besides fifteen barrels of oil, he has gathered a quantity of abalone shells, while the San Diego party has only fifty barrels of oil…”

August 14, 1878 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise from San Miguel Island arrived in port this afternoon with five tons of abalone shells for Rogers Brothers & Company.”

1879: “Seal hunting is a remunerative business on some of the islands. During the summer of 1879, Rogers & Company of Santa Barbara, had fifteen to twenty men engaged in hunting seals on San Miguel and Flea Island. The hunters follow along the beach, shooting those they find on the rocks; other parties flay off the blubber and carry it to the trying place where it is slowly cooked to extract the oil, by an experienced person.” [Thompson & West 1883: p. 258.]

April 17, 1879 [SBDP]: “The enterprising Rogers Brothers have sent a crew of men to occupy Flea Island and other seal rookeries near San Miguel Island to take seal during June. In the meantime they will gather shells and hunt the valuable sea otter.”

May 14, 1879 [SBWP]: “The Rogers Brothers are preparing for seal hunting on the islands. A large number of empty barrels were taken on board of their schooner Surprise yesterday, which are to be filled with seal oil.”

June 12, 1879 [SBDP]: “Messrs. Rogers Brothers & Co. of this city have 19 men on San Miguel and Flea islands engaged in killing seal for oil...”

June 12, 1879 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise arrived from the San Miguel Island last evening. The captain reports that Rogers & Brothers seal hunting party have already commenced to kill seal for oil.”

June 13, 1879 [SBDP]: “The schooner N. B., Captain Johnson, arrived from the islands yesterday with ten tons of abalone shells for Rogers Brothers & Co.”

June 18, 1879 [SBDP]: “The schooner N. B. was chartered by Captain Mullett and E. F. Rogers yesterday, and sailed for Anacapa Island for the purpose of capturing thirty large sea lions, which are to be shipped to parties in the eastern States.”

July 13, 1879 [SBDP]: “The largest sea lion ever seen in these waters was killed by Rogers Brothers & Co.'s sealing party on San Miguel Island last week. The parties who killed the animal have been engaged in the seal killing business for a score of years on this coast, and all who saw him agree that it was the largest they had ever heard of. The animal was 14 feet long, and its weight, estimated by competent judges, was fixed at from 3,500 to 4,000 pounds. There were 25 gallons of oil secured from the blubber of this animal, and the parties who skinned him compare the largest lion ever seen at Woodward’s Garden in San Francisco, as a puppy alongside this monster. The skin was carefully taken off and salted, and will be shipped to Woodward’s Garden on the next steamer.”

September 29, 1879 [SBDP]: “Rogers Brothers have purchased the schooner N.B. and have sent her to the islands after sea lions to fill an order for 37 of the animals from eastern parties.”

October 4, 1879 [SBDP]: “The schooner N.B., belonging to Rogers Brothers, arrived from the islands this afternoon with a number of sea lions to fill orders from the east.”

October 10, 1879 [SBDP]: “Rogers Brothers sea lions make the night hideous with their bellowings down at the wharf.”

October 24, 1879 [SBDP]: “...The otter skins received this week by Rogers Brothers from the Surprise party are unusually large and fine, many of them measuring over 5 feet in length...”

November 8, 1879 [SBWP]: “The Surprise returned from Santa Rosa Island Saturday night with a lot of abalones and a few otter skins for Rogers Brothers.”

November 26, 1879 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise has returned from the islands with forty sacks of abalones and some otter skins for Rogers Brothers.”

December 30, 1879 [SBDP]: “Wrecked. The schooner N. B. which sailed from this port on the 19th inst., on an otter-hunting expedition, was wrecked on San Miguel Island on the morning of the 23rd... The N. B. was owned by Messrs. Ledbetter and Jackman, Rogers Bros. and Company having sold their interest only a few weeks ago, and was not insured.”

February 18, 1880 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise came in from San Miguel Island on Monday evening, bringing the rigging of the wrecked schooner N. B. The sea was rough about the island, and she had difficulty in landing the party of seal hunters which she took over for Rogers. She got out right quick. She left for San Nicolas Island this morning on a shell hunting trip.”

March 16, 1880 [SBDP]: “The schooner Star of Freedom weighed anchor and gracefully sailed away for the island of Anacapa Sunday afternoon, having on board Mr. Rogers and a party of Californians who are employed to capture alive twenty sea lions...”

April 9, 1880 [SBDP]: “More seals wanted. The seal business of Santa Barbara is looking up. Rogers Brothers received a day or two ago a dispatch from Captain Weber of San Francisco, who, it will be remembered, was here a few weeks ago for the purpose of taking seals, but returned unsuccessful, stating that he wanted fifty seals, and also a letter from the manager of Woodward’s Gardens, San Francisco, inquiring as to the probable cost of the capture of six seals for that pleasure resort. The schooner Surprise, which is owned by the Rogers Brothers, is expected back today from Catalina Island where she has been undergoing repairs, when she will be fitted up and started with a party for the San Miguel Island or Anacapa, and make another attempt to fill the orders.”

June 14, 1880 [SBMP]: “The schooner Ethel has returned from two months on an otter hunting voyage up the coast. The hunters, two shooters and six assistants, had unusually good luck and brought back 21 fine otter skins of the total value of $1,800. The hunters were sent out by Hosmer, Metcalf and Rogers, who will share in a neat return above the cost of the voyage. The skins were placed on display at the Metcalf and Hosmer grocery store, where they have attracted much interest. One skin is a fine silver-tip valued at $150.”

October 14, 1880 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise, Rogers Brothers owners, from San Miguel Island lies in the harbor today.”

November 12, 1880 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise, Rogers Bros., is lying in the harbor. She has been freshly painted and put into order.”

March 22, 1881 [SBDP]: “The schooner Surprise was anchored at San Miguel Island on the 13th inst. and during the wind storm, parted both cables and went ashore. The Captain, Charles Brown, together with John Haskell and Ramon Mesa, and Mr. Muller who had the vessel chartered, arrived here last night and gave the particulars. The schooner is now lying high and dry, and it is as yet uncertain whether she can be got off, or whether she is a total loss. The schooner belongs to Rogers Brothers & Co. of this city.”

November 19, 1881 [SBDP]: “Rogers Brothers fitted out a schooner which sailed for the Islands yesterday morning, on a cruise for otter, and for abalone shells.”

January 18, 1882 [SBDP]: “A fine lot of otter skins have lately been received by Rogers Brothers, from their hunters on San Miguel Island.”

September 21, 1882 [SBDP]: “The schooner Keturah, Captain Higgins, owned by Rogers Brothers of this city, has arrived from a six weeks cruise on the lower coast. She brings twelve extra fine otter skins.”

September 21, 1882 [SBDP]: “The schooner Keturah, thanks to the enterprise of Rogers Brothers, leaves tomorrow night for San Pedro, laden with a full cargo of Santa Barbara canned fruit, put up by Dimmick Sheffield + Knight, expressly for the Arizona trade.”

May 21, 1883 [SBDI]: “Rogers Brothers sent an expedition to the islands this morning otter hunting.”

June 1, 1883 [SBDI]: “Rogers Brothers sent a schooner to San Miguel today for a cargo of live seals.”

June 11, 1883 [SBDI]: “Larco brought eight seals over from the islands for Rogers Brothers Saturday.”

June 14, 1883 [SBDI]: “The seals recently brought over from the islands by Larco for Rogers Brothers, will be sent to San Francisco this evening on the steamer.”

June 25, 1883 [SBDI]: “Larco has gone to the Islands with his sloop to bring a number of sea lions over for Rogers Bros.”

July 3, 1883 [SBDI]: “The cargo of oil which Larco brought from the islands several days ago, consisted of 21 barrels. It belonged to Rogers Brothers.”

July 7, 1883 [LAT]: “Island curiosities. The Santa Barbara Press says that the sloop Ocean King, Captain A. Larco, returned to that port last Sunday after a week’s trip to the northern islands. The vessel had on a cargo of twenty-one barrels of seal oil and two tons of seal skins consigned to the Rogers Brothers by the fishers on the islands...”

July 9, 1883 [SBDI]: “Larco started for Flea Island today to bring back the Dally crew who are stationed there for Rogers Brothers.”

July 10, 1883 [SBDI]: “Rogers Brothers have purchased the schooner Convoy from Mr. Mills. She came over from the islands this morning, and will make numerous trips from this on, back and forth.”

July 10, 1883 [SBDI]: “Larco came back from Flea Island this morning with Rogers Brothers’ crew and brought a cargo of oil, otter skins, fur seal skins, the finest ever seen here for some time, and a number of hides, etc.”

July 17, 1883 [SBDI]: “The schooner Convoy has again been fitted out for an otter hunting expedition by Rogers Brothers, and she started for the Islands today.”

September 6, 1883 [SBDI]: “The sloop Convoy has gone over to San Miguel Island for the purpose of bringing over a party of otter hunters employed by the Rogers Brothers. The present season has been a very successful and profitable one for the hunters.”

October 2, 1883 [SBDI]: “The schooner Convoy of Rogers Brothers, arrived yesterday evening from San Miguel Island with a crew of otter hunters bringing six otters.”

October 23, 1883 [SBDI]: “Rogers Brothers send another company of otter hunters out Monday next. They go to San Nicolas. This firm has out two companies at this time.”

October 27, 1883 [SBDI]: “Parties of Chinese fishermen were on the various Channel Islands most of the year. Messrs.. Rogers and Bros. of this city sent out today for San Miguel, a party of five men for abalone, seal skins and oil. The number of abalone to be obtained by such a party is impossible to estimate. Low tide being the only time when they can be gathered and the lower the tide, the more are exposed to view.”

November 11, 1883 [LAT]: “Otter hunting. The sharp-shooters of the Santa Barbara Channel… Rifles of the very finest make are required, and some of the weapons brought into requisition are beautiful specimens of the gun maker’s art. The firm of Rogers Brothers of this city, have now three parties upon the islands of San Miguel, San Nicolas and others. They are taken over and left upon these islands on the schooner Convoy, belonging to this energetic firm, who keep a vessel employed attending to their abalone, seal and otter operations… The fact that Rogers Brothers have such a number of employees in this business, and have kept them at it for several years, proves that it is remunerative.”

November 21, 1883 [SBDI]: “Captain Larco left on the Ocean King this morning for San Miguel Island to bring over a load of otter skins for Rogers Bros.”

November 27, 1883 [SBDI]: “Captain Andreas Larco came over from San Miguel Island in the Ocean King, arriving last evening, and brought a cargo of otter skins for Rogers Bros. Four of these beautiful treasures of the sea are on exhibition at the headquarters of that firm, and excite much admiration.”

November 27, 1883 [SBDI]: “Don Miguel Carrillo, with Rogers Bros., while attending to his duties in the back end of the store, fell from a ladder and lit upon his head. The floor didn’t give any, and a conspicuous abrasion resulted to the hidalgo’s head. Not serious otherwise.”

November 28, 1883 [SBDI]: “The schooner Convoy, of Rogers Brothers, sailed for Anacapa Island today on a fishing cruise.”

December 29, 1883 [SBDI]: “The schooner Convoy sails today for Anacapa Island with a sealing party sent out by Rogers Brothers.”

March 10, 1884 [SBDI]: “Semi-occasionally the Islands across the channel are called upon to supply sea lions for some of the many menageries about the country. The last order comes from Woodward’s Gardens, San Francisco, to Rogers Brothers, for several live sea lions, and this morning the Ocean King started out to bring over strange islanders. This business of supplying live animals for menageries is in keeping with the other queer industries for which Santa Barbara is famous. As the seals will be on the wharf in cages, awaiting transfer by steamer, visitors will have a chance to see the awkward, yet musical amphibian monsters and listen to their plaintiff wail.”

March 12, 1889 [SBMP]: “Probably fifty men have started from Santa Barbara to Lower California since the rumors of the gold field were first circulated. Sunday H. A. and E. F. Rogers packed up their grips and started... Several young fellows are planning to sail down in a sloop and join the Rogers brothers at Ensenada.”

June 12, 1889 [SBMP]: “The schooner Ethel returned late yesterday from a two-month otter hunting voyage up the coast. The expedition was sent out by Messrs. Hosmer, Metcalf and Rogers.”

February 18, 1891 [SBMP]: “The sloop Liberty, belonging to Rogers Brothers, left yesterday for San Miguel Island on an otter hunting trip and to try out a whale which is ashore there.”

April 12, 1891 [SBMP]: “Live seals captured at Santa Cruz Island for Rogers Brothers. José Espinosa and party returned yesterday in the sloop Liberty with six live seals captured by them at Santa Cruz Island for Rogers Brothers. The seals were shipped yesterday afternoon on the steamer Santa Cruz for San Francisco, from which port they will be expressed to New York for exhibition in the parks, etc. They are valued at $100 each. The mode of capturing seals is quite novel. The hunters succeeded in getting between the seals and the water when they are lassoed and caged.”

May 23, 1891 [SBMP]: “An interview with the pioneer of the seal business. Captain James P. Mullett, a former resident of Santa Barbara was in town yesterday, looking after the shipment of thirty sea lions caught for him on the Santa Barbara islands by Rogers Brothers…”

May 23, 1891 [LAT]: “Santa Barbara Press. The thirty seals captured at San Miguel Island a few days ago for Rogers Brothers will probably be shipped to eastern points by rail tomorrow. A freight car is now on the wharf, and the seals, which are in cages, will be put on the car today.”

October 6, 1891 [LAT/SB]: “Rogers Brothers of this city shipped a carload of 100,000 pampas plumes to London, England...”

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.”

November 6, 1891 [LAT/SB]: “The otter hunting expedition recently sent out from this city by Rogers Brothers, has been heard from but once since it left here, and then only to the effect that everything was all right. The expedition promises to be a successful one.”

November 20, 1891 [LAT/SB]: “Rogers Brothers have just heard from their recently equipped otter boat. It had been cruising along the lower coast and the party had killed four fine otters worth several hundred dollars. The boat expects soon to go to San Miguel and Flea islands. Hunting is said to have been very indifferent owing to unfavorable weather.”

May 1, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “The schooner Ruby, fitted out some time ago for a three or four months cruise otter hunting among the islands be the Rogers Brothers, returned Friday evening after being out just two months. The hunt was unsuccessful, the weather being bad an no otter to be found. They killed one otter and claim to have only seen two during the entire cruise.”

July 18, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “The sloop Liberty, Captain Waters’ boat, came in from San Miguel Island late Saturday night, bringing Rogers Brothers seal outfit together with the rest of their catch. She had on board several barrels of oil, about two tons of abalone shells. They had been over on the island for about two months.”

November 2, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “Rogers Bros. Were ready to start for the islands on the seal hunting expedition when they received word that the Liberty lost her rudder, and sent her to San Pedro to have it fixed, delaying the expedition several days.”

April 10, 1896 [SBDN]: “Recently an order from New York for five seals was received by Mr. Rogers. The schooner Big Loafer went over to the islands yesterday and caught three, but owing to the rough weather no more could be captured.”

December 13, 1898 [LAT/SB]: “The schooner Santa Rosa came into port late last night bring with her six shipwrecked men from the schooner Helene… The six men on the vessel were Ramon Vasquez, Joseph Leva, Colice Vasquez, Joe Cota and Charles Shout… The Helene was a comparatively new boat, having been in the channel about four years… She has been employed catching live seals for the Rogers Brothers…”

January 29, 1899 [LAT]: “Since the spring of 1892 there has been going quietly on an industry in Santa Barbara that few people are aware of and which has brought in considerable revenue to those interested. E. F. and H. A. Rogers have been engaged in catching live seals from the neighboring islands…”

February 9, 1899 [LAT/SB]: “The schooner Pearl came in from the Channel Islands late yesterday afternoon with seven large live seals for Rogers Brothers of this city. Captain Vasquez states that he encountered the roughest weather in all his experiences the latter part of last week, and it was with the greatest difficulty that his vessel was saved. The seals which he caught were brought over in crates, and the most of them will go to Washington, D. C. to go on exhibition in the National Museum of that city. This class of seal is of very little value except that of interest, but they yield some oil.”

February 19, 1899 [LAT/SB]: “Captain Vasquez of the schooner Pearl left this morning for Santa Cruz Island in search of live seals for Rogers Brothers.”

February 28, 1899 [LAT/SB]: The sloop Pearl came in today bringing seven live seals, five of which go to Rogers Brothers of this city, and two go to E. W. Winson of Pacific Grove, who will train them for the museums. “

August 16, 1899 [SBDI]: “Captain Ellis returned last night from Klondike where he had been since last spring. He stated that the Rogers brothers are in San Francisco and will return here soon.”

March 30, 1900 [SBMP]: “The yacht Defender, Jr. left for the islands yesterday on a sea lion hunt for the Rogers Company.”