Vail & Vickers

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Barging cattle from Santa Rosa Island, 1943

Vail & Vickers, Santa Rosa Island began purchasing fractional undivided interests in Santa Rosa Island from the heirs of Alexander P. More in 1901. Within 17 months, Vail & Vickers owned 21/24ths of the interest shares. The last remaining interest, 3/24ths, was purchased two decades later, in 1922. In all, Vail & Vickers purchased a total of 24 shares of interest in Santa Rosa Island owned by the heirs of Alexander P. More.

On December 30, 1986 Santa Rosa Island was purchased by the National Park Service for inclusion within Channel Islands National Park. Pdficon small 2.gif

In the News~

1901 [Charles A. Storke unpublished ms.]: “Some years later, I think 1901, Mrs. Miller and other heirs of Alexander P. More favorable to her sold their five-eighths of Santa Rosa Island to Vail & Vickers, Los Angeles stockmen, and the estate of the partners still owns it. My clients received $200,000. This was in 1903. Vail & Vickers also bought the one-eighth left him by his sister, from John More. My clients, Mrs. Miller and her sister, Mrs. Camelia Baldwin, got $40,000 apiece for themselves and I felt, under the circumstances, that I had done very well for them. They could not have managed the island successfully, and would probably have lost a great deal had they attempted to do so. They were women of a mature age and a good, steady income was worth more than a larger income that was not dependable. When Mrs. Miller died she left an estate of $150,000 so her income had been $9000 a year. Mrs. Baldwin’s estate was $50,000.”

April 27, 1902 [LAT/SB]: “Messrs Vail and Vickers, cattle kings of Los Angeles, are here for the purpose of visiting Santa Rosa Island which they purchased several months ago.”

November 14, 1902 [LAT/SB]: “The schooner Mildred E sailed this afternoon for San Pedro, where she will be given a general overhauling and then offered for sale. She was purchased several months ago by Vail and Vickers, of the Santa Rosa Island Company, but her capacity has proved too small for the freight business.”

June 2, 1903 [SBMP]: “The Brothers, a freight schooner, brought over a load of 549 sheep Sunday from Santa Rosa Island for the local markets. She will go to San Pedro today, when her captain, Fred Widing, will take command of the new schooner recently completed for Vickers and Vail, owners of Santa Rosa, to ply between this port and the island. The new vessel will be the largest of the local fleet, equipped with a 92-horse-power gasoline engine. She was recently launched at the Banning ship yards.”

June 27, 1903 [SBMP]: “Yesterday morning the schooner Santa Rosa, belonging to Santa Rosa Island, arrived at the wharf with a load of horses and mules which have been raised at the island. Forty-two head were brought over and most of these will be shipped this morning to Los Angeles for sale…The stock belongs to Vail and Vickers, the leasees of the island, and the work of unloading the band was under the superintendence of Jim Cox of Los Alamos.”

July 16, 1903 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Rosa came in yesterday from Santa Rosa Island with a cargo of 404 sheep and 54 head of cattle for the local market. Messrs. Vail and Vickers, owners of the island, were passengers. They left last night for L.A.”

September 10, 1903 [SFCall]: “Santa Barbara, September 8. All the sheep shearers and laborers in the employ of Vail & Vickers, the owners of Santa Rosa Island, went on strike this morning for higher wages and better food. The latter demand is said to be the gound for the greatest complaint. The men took possession of the company’s boat and came to Santa Barbara when the superintendent refused to accede to their demands.”

January 25, 1904 [SBI]: “Today Vail & Vickers shipped 150 head of cattle to Santa Rosa Island on the gasoline schooner owned by the concern. The cattle are transferred to the island range because the grass there is much better than that of the mainland.”

December 22, 1904 [SBMP]: “The Santa Rosa schooner left port yesterday with a cargo of 140 head of cattle for Santa Rosa Island. This is the last of 600 head of high grade cattle Vail & Vickers, the owners, have shipped to the island for breeding purposes.”

January 24, 1904 [SBMP]: “There will be a shipment of 150 head of cattle to Santa Rosa Island Monday on the gasoline schooner Santa Rosa. These cattle are taken from the vicinity of Los Olivos by Vail & Vickers, owners of the island, and are shipped there on account of feed being better than on the mainland.”

January 25, 1904 [SBI]: “Today Vail & Vickers shipped 150 head of cattle to Santa Rosa Island on the gasoline schooner owned by the concern. The cattle are transferred to the island range because the grass there is much better than that of the mainland.”

December 15, 1905 [SBMP]: “Two trainloads of cattle have been shipped to this city from Arizona for Vail & Vickers, the Los Angeles stockmen. They will be taken to Santa Rosa Island and fattened on the native grasses of that fertile piece of land.”

December 17, 1905 [SBMP]: “The steam schooner Santa Rosa Island was in port yesterday for the purpose of taking a load of cattle from this city to Santa Rosa Island. Two trainloads of stock were shipped from Arizona by Vail & Vickers of Los Angeles, and the stock will be fattened on the native grasses of that island.”

December 22, 1905 [SBMP]: “The steam schooner Santa Rosa Island returned from its home port yesterday afternoon in order to take another load of cattle which are waiting in the stock yards adjoining Stearn’s Wharf. She has taken over to Santa Rosa Island several boatloads already and has many more to transfer before the large shipments being made by Vail & Vickers from Deming, New Mexico, are all landed on the island.”

January 2, 1906 [SBMP]: “The steam schooner Santa Rosa Island sailed for Santa Rosa Island yesterday morning with another load of cattle. Many cattle are being taken to the grazing grounds on this island to be fattened for Vail and Vickers, Los Angeles stock men.”

August 3, 1906 [SBMP]: “It is reported that forty head of valuable Hereford cattle drowned while being unloaded from a steam schooner at Santa Rosa Island, The cattle were being taken by Vail Brothers and Vickers, and when the ocean was too rough to get close to the shore, about 100 in number, were thrown off, many of them drowning. It is said that Vail Brothers and Vickers will stock Santa Rosa Island with 3000 head of pure Hereford stock which will be fattened up on the island.”

November 10, 1906 [SBMP]: “A number of the Vail and Vickers vaqueros are here from Arizona for the purpose of handling the cattle expected soon for transhipment to Santa Rosa Island. Three train loads of cattle are to be brought in from the Arizona ranches to be fattened on the island.”

November 22, 1906 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Rosa Island arrived last evening from across the channel. The schooner has been at San Pedro for some time, but was brought up to the island last week and will be engaged for some time in carrying cattle across from the mainland. Three trainloads of cattle are due from Vail & Vickers Arizona ranches, for the island range.”

November 23, 1906 [SBMP]: “Island trade in full swing. Trade with the islands is in full swing at the present time, notwithstanding the rough weather. This morning, unless there is a turn for the worse in the condition of the channel, will begin the shipment of cattle to Santa Rosa Island, the first consignment of Arizona stock for Vail and Vickers’ island ranges having arrived. The cattle were taken on the wharf last evening, and will be loaded on the Santa Rosa schooner early this morning, about 200 head being carried each trip…”

December 6, 1906 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Santa Rosa is lying at anchor in the harbor awaiting the arrival of a trainload of cattle from Deming, Arizona, for the Vail & Vickers company, for shipment to Santa Rosa Island, where they will be fattened for market. It has been expected that the cattle, about 750 head, would be in Santa Barbara some time yesterday, but word was received from the south that they would not be here for a day or two. The island schooner will remain in port until the cattle arrive.”

December 15, 1906 [SBMP]: “The schooner Santa Rosa took on her second load of cattle yesterday and sailed for Santa Rosa Island, which is to be stocked with young stock from Deming, Arizona by Vail and Vickers for the purpose of having them fattened for the market. A couple of more trips will be necessary before nearly 800 head will have been taken from the corral near the foot of the commercial wharf. Other shipments are expected to be made within a few days and they will be continued until at least 2500 head will have been brought north and sent to the island.”

May 24, 1907 [SBMP]: “Manager Frank Pepper of Santa Rosa Island was in town yesterday arranging for the spring shipments of cattle from the island ranges. About 2500 fat steers will be marketed in Los Angeles this season, being shipped by the owners, Vail & Vickers, by way of San Pedro. These steers are in unusually good condition, and at present prices for beef will average better than $50 per head. This means $125,000 for this spring's output from the island. Shipments will begin to move in a few days.”

November 19, 1907 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Santa Rosa Island, Captain Whiting, is lying at anchor off the commercial wharf awaiting the arrival of a shipment of 2,000 head of cattle from Vail & Vickers’ ranch at Tucson, Arizona, consigned to grazing lands in Santa Rosa Island where they will be fattened for the market on the luscious grass.”

November 19, 1908 [SBMP]: “The final load of cattle was shipped to Santa Rosa Island yesterday. About 20 trips have been made, and some 2700 head have been sent over from the big ranches in Arizona belonging to Vickers and Vail, who are also the owners of the island. The cattle are put on the island to fatten.”

April 10, 1909 [SBMP]: “The Vails of Santa Rosa Island are entertaining a house party who sailed over on the schooner Santa Rosa on Wednesday, after waiting several days for the weather to calm down. They took saddle horses with them and a jolly outing was anticipated. The schooner returned for a supply of vegetables and other provisions and left for the island yesterday.”

April 22, 1909 [SBI]: “Frank Pepper, superintendent of Vail & Vickers cattle range on Santa Rosa Island, arrived from the island yesterday. Mr. Pepper expects the arrival of the gasoline launch Santa Rosa late this afternoon with 100 head of beef cattle for the State Street market. A cargo of 300 sheep will arrive early next week for the same market. Mr. Pepper expects to ship 2500 head about May 10 to the Los Angeles markets. The cattle are reported in the finest of condition.”

September 2, 1909 [SBI]: “Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island… have just made a big shipment of beef cattle to the Los Angeles market, and among the many head shipped were two steers which weighed 2246 and 2230 pounds each, and netted to the owners of the island more than $100 each. These steers were six years old and were raised on the island. They were the heaviest beef that has gone into the Los Angeles market for many years, and aroused much interest among the southern butchers. They were shipped over the San Pedro wharf. For some years the principal shipment and trading point for the island has been San Pedro, but Frank Pepper, superintendent of the island, left this afternoon for Los Angeles and will return with a new 30-foot gasoline launch, which will be used to carry him back and forth from his island home to this city, and in all probability the marketing point will be in Santa Barbara hereafter. Some years ago the owners sold all the sheep on the island and since then have used the great range solely for cattle. Young stock from the Arizona and New Mexican ranges are taken to the island where they are fed for two years and marketed direct from there. The island has the reputation of growing the greatest beef in the state. Over 5000 head are now being fed on the island, while double that amount may be carried.”

October 30, 1909 [SBMP]: “L. E. Carrillo arrived here from Benson, Arizona yesterday with a carload of cattle for Vail & Vickers of Santa Rosa Island. The cattle will be taken to the island in the Santa Rosa Island schooner and pastured there during the winter and spring.”

October 30, 1909 [SBI]: “A carload of cattle belonging to Vickers and Vail of Santa Rosa Island will be taken to the island on the schooner Santa Rosa and pastured there during the winter. The stock was brought from Benson, Arizona by L. E. Carrillo, who arrived in Santa Barbara yesterday.”

December 4, 1909 [PRP]: “The last load of Arizona cattle was shipped over to Santa Rosa Island to fatten. Vail & Vickers, the owners of the island, have had great success fattening cattle from the Southwest on this island.”

April 15, 1910 [LAH]: “Two barges of livestock arrived today. The power schooner Edith brought 260 head of sheep from San Clemente Island for the San Clemente Wool Company, and the power schooner Santa Rosa Island brought three cars of horses from Santa Rosa Island for Vail & Vickers. The Edith sailed for another cargo today.”

June 11, 1910 [LAH]: “The power schooner Santa Rosa Island arrived today from the island for which she is named, with 78 head of cattle, and will sail tomorrow for another consignment. The cattle are now in prime condition and Vail & Vickers are rushing them to market as fast as possible.”

October 27, 1910 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Santa Rosa Island is engaged in the transportation of cattle from the mainland to the island. Two voyages have already been completed, and the vessel will be in today for another cargo of 200 head of stock. The cattle area brought from Arizona ranges of Vail & Vickers Company owning Santa Rosa.”

April 26, 1911 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Santa Rosa of Santa Rosa Island will soon be engaged in the annual movement of fat cattle from the island ranges of Vail & Vickers to the California markets. This takes place in the spring months, and in the fall, the ranges are stocked with cattle from the Arizona ranches of the firm. The schooner left for the island Sunday.”

June 29, 1911 [SBMP]: “In preparation for the opening of the abalone season July lst, large camps of Chinamen are being established on the Channel Islands. These enterprises are being organized in the local Chinatown. The Gussie M, Captain Vasquez, has already landed one large party on the south side of Santa Cruz Island, and will sail tomorrow with another party, having concessions from Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island. They will also be located on the ocean side of the island. Both camps are provisioned for an extended stay.”

October 4, 1911 [SBMP]: “Three thousand Arizona yearlings from the Vail & Vickers cattle ranges are to be the first to be transported to Santa Rosa Island the latter of this month, the first shipments from Arizona being due here about October 20th.”

April 5, 1912 [SBMP]: “The Santa Rosa Island schooner this week brought Vail & Vickers ranch 18 bulls and one stallion, for shipment to the Alisal Ranch between Gaviota and Santa Ynez, the stock having been purchased by Mr. Murphy, owner of the ranch.”

June 12, 1912 [SBMP]: “J. V. Vickers and S. P. Vickers of Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island, were here yesterday at the Neal [Hotel] in route to the island with W. E. Dygart, a cattle buyer. A half-shipment of cattle from Santa Rosa Island to Los Angeles via Santa Barbara will be made soon.”

August 9, 1913 [SBMP]: “On her first voyage to Santa Barbara the gasoline schooner Vaquero owned by the Vail & Vickers Company, whose properties include Santa Rosa Island, was in port yesterday with a cargo of cement for local consignees. Last night the Vaquero sailed for Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands, having as passengers two of the Vail brothers who will spend a few days at Santa Rosa. Captain W. G. Waters also sailed with the Vaquero for San Miguel.”

August 9, 1913 [SBMP]: “Captain W. G. Waters, lessee of San Miguel Island, is moving about 1500 sheep from the island to market. Several cargoes have already been shipped to Los Angeles by way of San Pedro, and the Vaquero, the Santa Rosa Island Company’s new vessel, is at Cuyler’s Harbor, San Miguel Island today, for a further depletion of flocks.”

August 14, 1913 [SBMP]: “Captain W. G. Waters returned last evening from San Miguel island where he has been for the past few days attending to the herding of a number of sheep on the island for the market. Captain Waters made the trip in the new boat Vaquero, owned by Messrs. Vail & Vickers, owners of Santa Rosa Island. The cargo went to San Pedro, and the sheep were sold to Cudahy and Company. Captain Waters has been spending the greater part of the past month on the island.”

May 10, 1914 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Vaquero, Captain Johnson, belonging to Vail & Vickers, arrived here from San Pedro yesterday morning, and later put out for Santa Rosa Island to get a load of fat cattle for the Los Angeles market. The vessel’s capacity is for 260 head of cattle and she will take a full load on this trip. This is Captain Johnson’s first voyage on this schooner, but he has been here often before when in command of the Dollar boats.”

July 27, 1914 [SBDNI]: “W. B. Coberly of Los Angeles, who has been at Santa Rosa Island for the past few weeks as guests of the Vails, owners of the island, returned last night to the Mascarel. Mr. Coberly left for his home today.”

June 1, 1915 [SBMP]: “Vail & Vickers power schooner Vaquero is at Cuyler's Harbor, San Miguel Island, loading wool for Captain Waters.”

June 1, 1915 [SBDNI]: “Taking on a cargo of wool after Captain Waters at Cuyler’s Harbor, San Miguel Island, the Vail and Vickers’ power schooner Vaquero is at the island loading this year’s wool crop from the several thousand sheep there.”

June 9, 1915 [SBMP]: “Yesterday morning Superintendent Smith of Santa Rosa Island, came over in the Vail & Vickers powerboat Tortuga for mail and supplies.”

August 20, 1915 [SBMP]: “The Vail & Vickers powerboat Tortuga came over from Santa Rosa Island yesterday morning for mail and supplies for the various camps on the big island.”

November 14, 1915 [SBMP]: “A crew of men is at work driving piles at the dock at Beecher’s Bay, Santa Rosa Island, the location of Vail & Vickers’ principal station on the island.”

December 23, 1915 [SBMP]: “Vail & Vickers’ power schooner, the Vaquero, came over from Santa Rosa Island yesterday morning with seven of the pile driving crew at work there, and returned to her island port in the evening.”

January 9, 1916 [SBMP]: “Frank Nidever, who came over from Santa Rosa Island... says that the island ranges show more luxurious grass growth than for years past, and that the grass is in many places knee-deep. Vail & Vickers, owners of the island, are said to have 20,000 cattle feeding there at present. They are brought here mostly from Mexico and Arizona, and a season on the island ranges makes the gaunt and scrawny feeders sleek and fat, the rich island grasses converting their flesh into a fine quality of beef.”

March 1, 1916 [LAT]: “Built within the city limits of Los Angeles out of California lumber, equipped with a California-made Union gas engine, using as fuel California petroleum gas oil, in command of Captain Gust Johnson, Los Angeles resident and property owner, and representing an investment of $60,000 of Los Angeles money, the steamship Vaquero will sail from Los Angeles harbor Monday on its initial trip to Mazatlan. Moreover, on both the stern and bow of this vessel, which is owned by Vail & Vickers, pioneers in the cattle business of the Southwest, will be blazoned ‘Vaquero of Los Angeles.’ Further, the business for which the boat was originally constructed was that of carrying California-fattened beef from Santa Rosa Island to Los Angeles harbor to feed this city. Speaking of the West Coast business, an attaché of the cocern stated yesterday that the inauguration of the service is in response to a demand for better shipping facilities in Mazatlan. ‘However,’ he said, ‘to make the venture a success we must have the cooperation of Los Angeles merchants. This we bespeak, as the Vail & Vickers have boosted and supported every jobber, merchant and wholesaler of this city.”

July 12, 1916 [SBMP]: “Last evening Vail & Vickers power schooner, the Vaquero, came over from San Miguel Island with 90 bags of wool from Captain W. G. Waters’ ranch.”

June 10, 1919 [LAT]: “The Los Angeles Harbor Commission has authorized J. W. Ludlow, assistant harbor engineer, and C. H. Matson, traffic manager of the harbor department, to have plans prepared for the construction of stock yards and dipping tanks to take care of the increasing shipments of cattle and sheep through this port. A number of communications have been received from the livestock companies, including the San Clemente Sheep Company, the Vail & Vickers Company and the Catalina Island Company, stating that the cattle and sheep-raising industry in the group of islands off the coast is increasing so rapidly that the facilities here are inadequate, and suggesting that the Harbor Department make provisions for handling these shipments. In view of this condition, and the increasing amount of imports of cattle from Mexico, the Harbor Commission is preparing to construct a stock yard capable of handling from fifty to one hundred cars of stock, with provisions for unlimited expansions, as the growth of the industry warrants, Mr. Ludlow announced this morning.”

June 25, 1922 [LAT]: “The two largest undivided ranches in Santa Barbara county are situated on the islands twenty-five miles from the mainland. Santa Rosa Island, embracing 51,609 acres, is owned by Vail & Vickers. Santa Cruz Island, comprising 58,422 acres, is owned by the ustinian Caire estate.”

January 15, 1943 [Memorandum]: “Mr. N. R. Vail today advised that on January 1, 1943 the Vaquero Ships Papers were renewed. On January 14, 1943 the Vaquero was requisitioned by the U.S. Government; and the Ships Papers were turned in to the Customs House at San Pedro.”

December 30, 1986 [Warranty Deed]: “Known all men by these presents that:

  • I. The Vickers Company, Ltd., a California corporation, as to an undivided fifty percent (50%) interest [$14,790,125];
  • II. James Vail Wilkinson, a married man, as his separate property, as to an undivided fifteen percent (15%) interest [$4,437,037.50];
  • III. Nathan Russell Vail, a married man, as his separate property, as to an undivided seven and one-half percent (7-1.2%) interest [$2,218,518.75];
  • IV. Margaret Vail Woolley, a married woman, as her separate property, as to an undivided seven and one-half percent (7-1.2%) interest [$2,218,518.75]; and
  • V. Alexander Lennox Vail, a married man, as his separate property, as to an undivided twenty percent (20%) interest [$5,916,050].

Hereinafter called Grantors, in consideration of Twenty Nine Million, Five Hundred Eighty Thousand Two Hundred Fifty and no 100ths ($29,580,250) DOLLARS, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, do hereby grant and convery to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and its assigns, the following described property located in the County of Santa Barbara, State of California containing 53,364.00 acres, more or less; to wit: All of Santa Rosa Island as per U. S. Government Survey of 1862, being the same land and premises patented by the United States of America, October 3, 1871, to M. C. de Jones, et al., which patent was recorded July 20, 1874, in the office of the recorder of said county in Book A, page 202 of Patents…”