New Research Indicates Legendary Lone Woman Of San Nicolas Island May Not Have Been Alone

Apr 17, 2018

She’s a  legendary figure in South Coast history, whose story has been retold in a popular book, a movie, and documentaries. A Native American woman lived by herself on one of the Channel Islands for nearly two decades. She was known as “The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island."  But, some new research says she may not have actually been alone the whole time.

Historical researcher Susan Morris says there is new evidence she actually had contact with hunters, and traders who stopped on the island during her time there in the in the mid-1800’s. Morris says they think the Lone Woman may have intentionally avoided contact with many island visitors. Still, the researcher thinks it’s likely the Lone Woman actually did interact with some people.

Morris has been a part of field studies on seven of the eight Channel Islands during the last three decades. She says they’ve found some never before published historical documents about visits to San Nicolas Island. Morris says the complete findings will be revealed in May.

The researcher says it was some of those visitors who eventually convinced the Lone Woman to leave San Nicolas Island, but it turned out to be an ill-fated decision. She became ill, and died just weeks after she was taken to Santa Barbara. She was buried in Santa Barbara, in the Santa Barbara Mission’s cemetery, although her grave site was later obscured. A plaque there celebrates her legacy.

Will the new research change the legend of the Lone Woman? It's possible, but we’ll have to wait until the new study’s results are revealed next month to see what impacts they have on the legendary story.