SANSONI, Tomas (1857-1885), Italian-born laborer who came to work on Santa Cruz Island on December 13, 1884 for the standard salary of $20 a month. On January 7, 1885, less than a month after his arrival, Tomás Sansoni was killed on the island at age 28. Although ranch records do not cite the particulars of his death, Carey Stanton was told that Sansoni had been run over by a run-away cart and killed while he was feeding some hogs at the Main Ranch corrals. A coroner’s inquest reveals otherwise, and states that Sansoni died from the effects of eating castor beans. Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) is not found on the island.
Sansoni was originally buried on a bluff above Prisoners’ Harbor next to Angelo Forno with two white crosses marking the head and foot of the grave. In 1978 under the direction of Carey Stanton, Sansoni’s body was reburied in the chapel cemetery.
In the News~
January 7, 1885 [Coroner’s Inquest]: “Coroner’s Inquest, held this day at P.M. upon the remains of Thomas Sansoni, deceased. We the undersigned residents of Santa Cruz Island, County of Santa Barbara, State of California firmly believe and hereby testify that the deceased died from dysentery, caused by eating castor oil beans. His death occurring at 1:20 P.M. on board schooner Star of Freedom about one half mile from Santa Cruz Island whilst being conveyed to Santa Barbara for medical treatment. James B. Prescott…”
January 19, 1885 [SDU]: “Thomas Sansoni died a few days ago on Santa Cruz Island, near Santa Barbara, from the effects of eating castor beans.”