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Eighteen Years Alone

" In the year 1835, Isaac Sparks and Lewis L.Burton, Americans, chartered a schooner of twenty tons burthen, for otter-hunting on the lower California coast. The vessel was owned by a rich Spaniard of Monterey and was commanded by Captain Charley Hubbard. The schooner bore the name "Peor es Nada", and she started out of Santa Barbara harbor, on a fine April morning, followed by the eyes of the whole population. "

" After a successful cruise, the "Peor es Nada" came three months later into the southerly harbor of San Pedro, unloaded her pelts, and immediately, under direction of Captain Williams, collector of the port, set sail for San Nicholas to bring the islanders to the mainland, in accordance with the will of the church fathers. Before they reached their destination a sudden gale came up, rising to the severity of a tempest. The landing was effected with difficulty. The weather became so boisterous as to endanger the safety of the vessel. No time was wasted. The islanders, some twenty in number, were hurried into the boats and all speed was made to reach the schooner."

"In the excitement and the confusion of the final abandonment of their home, it was not known until they were onboard that a child had been left behind. The mother supposed it to have been carried abroad in the arms of a sailor. She frantically implored the men to return. The young mother became desperate and, despite all efforts to detain her, jumped overboard, and struck out through the kelpy waters for the shore. She was a widow, between twenty and thirty years of age, of medium height and fine form; her complexion was light, and her hair of a dark rich brown. No attempt was made to rescue her, and in a moment she was lost in the seething waves. " The ship struggled across the Channel to land in San Pedro, from where the islanders were divided and sent to live in the Los Angeles area and to the neighboring mission of San Gabriel.

It was the intention of Captain Hubbard to return to San Nicholas immediately to see if the woman or child were living. But the ship was called into service for other business transactions, and was eventually lost at sea off San Franciso. " After the loss of the Monterey schooner, there was no craft of any kind larger than the canoes and fishing boats on the lower coast. No one cared to attempt a passage of seventy miles to San Nicholas in an open boat, and interest faded out.

More Lone Woman of San Nicholas stories - The Search -