THOMPSON, Dixey Wildes
THOMPSON, Dixey Wildes (1826-1903), born in Topsham, Maine, the son of John and Mary Thompson, and nephew of Alpheus Basil Thompson who came California in 1849. Thompson was a sailor and landowner, and later the manager of the Arlington Hotel. Dixey had reportedly taken 3000 sheep off Santa Rosa Island in 1853 aboard Sophia, and spent six months transporting livestock to and from the island between March and October of 1852. On May 17, 1853, Dixey was hired by his uncle, Alpheus B. Thompson, as mayordomo or caretaker of Santa Rosa Island for $100 a month. He held the job for almost two years, until April 1855. He left the island to pursue bean farming on land he owned near Ventura at Rancho San Miguel, after which he purchased the Ontare Ranch in Santa Barbara.
In 1858, Thompson was the plaintiff in a lawsuit against island owners John C. Jones, Alpheus B. Thompson [his uncle], Francis A. Thompson, Isabel Thompson, Caroline Thompson, Helen Thompson, Charles Thompson, Albert Thompson, Charles E. Huse, Guardian, & T. Wallace More, and Abel Stearns, Defendants. Action brought in the District Court of the 1st Judicial District, State of California, Los Angeles County... The said action is brought to recover of John C. Jones, one of the defendants herein, the sum of $9374.14, with interest thereon at the rate of two per cent per month, from the 11th day of September, 1855 until paid; and of the said John C. Jones and Alpheus Basil Thompson, the further sum of $340; and that the said several amounts be decreed to be paid out of the partnership property of the said Jones and Thompson, consisting of cattle, sheep and horses on the Island of Santa Rosa, and to enjoin and restrain the said John C. Jones, Alpheus B. Thompson, and other named defendants... from selling, alienating, assigning, transferring, or in any manner disposing of, or attempting to dispose of... certain personal property... 13th day of July A.D. 1858. [July 31, 1858 Los Angeles Star]
Thompson married Nancy Parker Swett of Brunswick, Maine on October 22, 1873 in Maine. He died at his home on the corner of Valerio and Chapala streets at age 77, and is buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery next to his wife, Nancy (1843-1926).
In the News~
1852 [Thompson & West:107]: “In 1852 Dixey W. Thompson bought the schooner Sophia, and took 3000 sheep off the island of Santa Rosa. He made Santa Rosa [Island], then, as now the property of the More brothers, his headquarters from 1853 to 1857, hunting and shipping stock. The cattle had grown to be nearly as wild as buffalo, and were far more dangerous. The males were caught, castrated, and disarmed, that is, their horns chopped off, so as to render them harmless. He was also connected with Captain Greenwell in the coast survey.”
June 12, 1856 [SBG]: “The schooner Ann G. Doyle, Captain Phillips, sailed from this port last Friday for the adjacent islands. She took over Dr. J. B. Shaw and Captain D. W. Thompson as passengers, the former for Santa Cruz and latter for the island of Santa Rosa.”
July 31, 1858 [Los Angeles Star]: “State of California, COunty of Los Angeles. In the District Court of the 1st Judicial District. Dixey W. Thompson, Plaintiff vs.
- John C. Jones
- Alpheus B. Thompson
- Francis A. Thompson
- Isabel Thompson
- Caroline Thompson
- Helen Thompson
- Charles Thompson
- Albert Thompson
- Charles E. Huse, Guardian
- T. Wallace More and
- Abel Stearns, Defendants.
Action brought in the District Court of the 1st Judicial District, and the complaint filed in the city and county of Los Angeles, in the office of the clerk of said District Court. The People of the State of California send Greeting: to [as named above]. You are hereby required to appear in an action brought against you by the above named plaintiff, in our District Court of the First Judicial District to answer the complaint filed therein, a certified copy of which you are herewith served, within ten days after the service on you of this summons — if served within this county; or if served out of this county but within the First Judicial District, within twenty days after the service thereof; or if served out of the First Judicial District but in the State of California, within forty days after the service thereof; always exclusive of the day of service; — or judgment by default will be taken against you.
The said action is brought to recover of John C. Jones, one of the defendants herein, the sum of nine thousand three hundred and seventy-four and 14-100 dollars [$9374.14], with interest thereon at the rate of two percent, per month, from the 11th day of September, 1885, until paid; and of the said John C. Jones and Alpheus B. Thompson, the further sum of three hundred and forty dollars [$340]; and that the said several amounts be decreed to be paid out of the partnership property of the said Johns and Thompson, consisting of cattle, sheep and horses on the island of Santa Rosa, and to enjoin and restrain the said John C. Jones, Alpheus B. Thompson, and other named defendants...alleged heirs of Francisca Carrillo de Thompson, deceased; Charles E. Huse, guardian of Caroline, Helen, Charles and Albert Thompson, minor heirs of said deceased; T. Wallace More, the alleged purchaser of the interest of the said minor heirs in and to the said property on the island of Santa Rosa, and Abel Stearns, REceiver of said property by appointment of the District Court of the Third Judicial District in and for the county of Monterey, their attorneys, agents and servants, and each and every of them, from selling, alienating, assigning, transferring, or in any manner disposing of, or attempting to dispose of or causing to be disposed of that certain personal property, consisting of meat cattle, sheep and horses in and upon the island of Santa Rosa, in the county of Santa Barbara, in said State, or any part thereof, being the property claimed, owned and belonging to the said John C. Jones and Alpheus B. Thompson, or claimed owned by them, and belonging to any of the said named defendants, until the final determination of the rights and demand of said plaintiff in respect to said property, as prayed for in the complaint filed herein, shall be had by said court. And if you fail to appear and answer the said complaint as above required, the said plaintiff will apply to the court for the relief demand therein.
Witness the Hon. Benj. Hayes, Judge of our District Court aforesaid, the 13th day of July A.D. 1858.”
July 1858: Dixey W. Thompson, Plaintiff vs. John C. Jones, Alpheus B. Thompson, Francis A. Thompson, Isabel Thompson, Caroline Thompson, Albert Thompson; Charles E. Huse, Guardian, &e; T. Wallace More, and Abel Stearns, Defendants. In the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of California, Los Angeles County. Dixey W. Thompson, the Plaintiff… alleges… in or about the year 1844, defendant Alpheus B. Thompson became located upon Santa Rosa Island in the County of Santa Barbara and engaged in the business of raising stock, to wit, meat cattle, sheep and horses… on the 30th day of March 1852, by the order and request of said defendant, Alpheus B. Thompson, the said plaintiff was engaged and employed by the said defendant, to take charge of, control and master a certain schooner called Sophia, claimed by the said defendant to be owned by him… engaged in the importation of stock to and from the Island of Santa Rosa from the said 30th day of March in the year 1852, to the 1st day of October in the same year, a period of six months, for which said service.. to pay the said plaintiff the sum of $100 per month… the said defendant is now indebted to the said plaintiff… in the sum of $600…”
October 21, 1859: “An account of the time and pay [$2861.32] of men employed by Abel Stearns received in the case of John C. Coffin vs. A. B. Thompson, et al. At the Island of Santa Rosa, commencing May 18th, 1859 and ending October 17, 1859, being five months: Francisco Guerrero, Jose Espinosa, Jose Rafael, Benjamin Sherman, Francisco Guevarro, Francisco Lopez, Francisco Lugo, Jose Ignacio, Gabriel Pollorerro, Pico Moreno, Jose Antonio Villa, Luis Arellanes, Francisco Blas, Primo, Jesus Coco, Jacobo, Jose Antonio, Francisco Bermudez, Milquerez, Jose Duvan, Inocente Cota, Robert Teare (cook), Clemente Espinosa, Felipe Abila, Luis Cota, Reyez Lorenzana, Jose Maria Valenzuela, Demesio Romero, Francisco Cota, Ilarion Ruiz, Antonio Maria Rodriguez, Guadalupe Robles, Juan Romero, Anastacio Romero, Jose Maria, Marcelo Arias, Dixey W. Thompson, services as agent for reveiver. Dixey W. Thompson, being duly sworn, says that the foregoing is a true and correct statement of the time of service and wages of men employed at the Island of Santa Rosa by Abel Stearns, reveiver in the case of John C. Jones and A. B. Thompson et al… Dixey W. Thompson.” [Huntington Library, Stearns Collection, Box 87, Folder 12]
November 10, 1873 [SBDP]: “Matrimonial. A Brunswick, Maine paper, received this morning, contains the marriage notice of Mr. D. W. Thompson, of Santa Barbara, and Miss N. P. Sweet, of Brunswick…”
April 13, 1878 [SBDP]: “Mr. Dixey Thompson, in view of Judge Fawcett’s decision, has accepted the $540 offered him by the Board of Supervisors as damages for ground taken for the new road through his farm.”
March 17, 1881 [SBDP]: “At the time of the wreck of the Yankee Blade, I was living on the island of Santa Rosa, in the employ of my uncle, A. B. Thompson. One day while riding on the northwest end of the island, I found a number of pieces of cabin furniture, also cases of lard, and saw many pieces far out in the kelp. The next day, very early, I took a whale boat from the west harbor and a man with me, and went up to the head of the island. On the way up to the kelp, we picked up a chest of medical books, and a trunk or two with nothing in them of value. This was, I think, in 1854. Supposing a steamer to be wrecked somewhere near, the next day we went up to the head of San Miguel Island to see if we could make any discoveries of a wreck, but of course found nothing… The most valuable woodwork of the Yankee Blade that we picked up was a carved eagle which came off of the paddle-box. This relic is now an ornament in the [Lobero] theatre here [Santa Barbara]. D. W. Thompson.”
May 13, 1881 [SBDP]: “Captain Goodall, of Goodall, Perkins & Co., has promised to allow the magnificent steamer State of California to bring an excursion party to Santa Barbara from San Francisco, at an early day. Dixey Thompson of the Arlington has the matter in hand, and should receive substantial encouragement.”
January 10, 1882 [SBDP]: “Richard H. Dana, author of Two Years Before the Mast, died in Rome, Italy, last Saturday. Mr. Dana was in Santa Barbara in 1834 when he was a sailor, ‘before the mast,’ on a brig which Dixey Thompson’s uncle was captain. He returned about twelve years ago and spent some time in Santa Barbara.”
April 24, 1882 [SBDP]: “Dixey W. Thompson, Esq. Has just received seven head of thoroughbred stock from the farm of A. K. P. Harmon, of Oakland. There are three cows, three heifers, and the bull ‘Neptune,’ all imported direct from the Queen’s farm in England. They are registered in the Jersey Herd Book, and for pure blood and beauty cannot be surpassed in the United States.”
February 7, 1889 [SBDI]: “Captain D. W. Thompson’s magnificent sorrel gelding, caparisoned with his still more magnificent silver mounted saddle, with solid silver headstall and reins, was to be seen this morning in all his glory at the Arlington, where the guests of the hotel were admiring both horse and mountings. The rider, Don Antonio María Guiterrez, walked him up and down the court of the hotel…”
July 4, 1889 [LAT]: “Everybody at Santa Barbara up and down the coast… knows Captain Dixey W. Thompson. He had followed the sea for ten years, when, drawn to this coast by the argonautic floodtide of 1849, he bade adieu to his seafaring life to follow the fortunes of the golden coast. He settled in Santa Barbara in 1852, and has lived in the county ever since… following the occupation of ranchero much of the time, residing four years on Santa Rosa Island…”
April 1, 1890 [SBMP]: “Captain Thompson’s Club. Everybody who lives in Santa Barbara and almost everybody who visits it, knows Captain Dixey Thompson. He is one of the oldest residents; he came to the coast somewhere in the early forties as a little boy with his uncle Perkins, who was a ship master, and had previously commanded the Pilgrim on the voyage in which Dana experienced his Two Years Before the Mast. He has been here ever since; he has the shrewd Yankee wit to keep hold of his early acquired property, and has, in the course of years, become a man of large means. When an old friend asked him the other day how he managed to keep all his property in spite of the boom, he replied, ‘You know we old timers always consider that when land gets above a dollar and a quarter an acre we had better keep our hands off. It’s too risky for us old fellows. That is a sound policy, without doubt, for men who have anything to lose. Neither the increase of years nor increase of wealth has changed Captain Dixey; he is the same genial, kindly, and charming Dixey who won the affections long ago of the early comers; a good citizen, a helpful friend, and a delightful companion, full of the peculiar humor of the early Californians. He is not only an admirable man, but after living many years in seemingly contented bachelorhood, he one day went home to his mother state of Maine and brought back with him a wife, who is a stately and beautiful woman, and a charming addition to the society of Santa Barbara...”
December 22, 1891 [LAT/SB]: “The Chinese junk which broke from its moorings and drifted out into the channel Saturday night, went ashore down on Dixey Thompson’s ranch below Ventura.”
May 9, 1892 [LAT/SB]: “Captain Dixey W. Thompson, the heavy bean farmer of Ventura County, has just finished planting his large ranch before the rains…”
May 4, 1896 [LAT/SB]: “Captain D. W. Thompson, with his famous horse and saddle, left on the steamer Santa Rosa for San José, where he will take part in their floral parade.”
April 17, 1903 [LAT/SB]: “Captain Dixey Thompson passes away. Captain Dixey W. Thompson, one of the most noted firty-niners on the Pacific Coast, died at his home in this city shortly after 6 o’clock this evening. He had been suffering from dropsy and a complication of diseases for four months and for the past three weeks his death was almost hourly expected. Thompson was born at Topsham, Maine seventy-seven years ago. He entered a sea-faring life when a boy and was promoted to the captaincy of important vessels plying the coast of Maine. When gold discovery was made in California in 1849, he came to the Pacific Coast, crossing the isthmus and reaching San Francisco after great hardships. He immediately went to the mines at Marysville, but failing to strike a ‘pay streak,’ returned to San Francisco comparatively penniless and engaged once more in the vocation of a sea-faring man. In this fortune again smiled upon him, and Thompson soon acquired considerable wealth. For awhile he engaged in the shipping business between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands, near this city. Subsequently he purchased large tracts of land in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and established what is now said to be the largest lima bean ranch in the world. He also acquired property in this city, now among the most valuable individual holdings in Santa Barbara. He held extensive interests in the Arlington, one of the leading hotels of this city, of which he was for a long time manager. Dixey Thompson was what might be justly termed a decidedly picturesque character. He was known by all as a man of great generosity, supporting his family in a quiet, unostentatious way. He became quite noted in the Pacific Coast cities as the owner of a famous silver saddle made from Mexican coins, which has been on exhibition at Los Angeles fiestas and important occasions in San Francisco and other northern cities for several years past. Arrangements for the funeral have not yet been made.”