Catalina Island News

Farnsworth Family Artifacts Donated

Catalina Island Museum

The Catalina Island Museum recently received a significant donation of artifacts from the Jim Van Vorhis Family. Jim is the great grandson of Samuel Farnsworth (who engineered and built the stagecoach road to the Island's interior in the late 1800's) and the grandson of George Chase Farnsworth, a famous Catalina boatman and fisherman.

Jim Van Vorhis was introduced to the Catalina Island Museum last summer by Mike Rivkin, Tuna Club President and a current member of the Museum's Board of Directors.  Jim had an extensive variety of historic material from his grandfather and wished to send it home to Catalina. 

In November, Curator Jeannine Pedersen traveled to Monterey, California to meet Jim and evaluate the collection.  Pedersen was quickly convinced that the assortment of photographs, correspondence, fishing tackle, charts, navigational tools and other items was very special and included important documentation of the Island's history.  Jeannine and Jim worked together to inventory the materials, which were later brought down to Orange County so Jim's son Mike Van Vorhis could do a thorough photo documentation.  And most recently, the collection was delivered home to Catalina.

The Catalina Island Museum and the Tuna Club were both recipients of many wonderful artifacts.  The Museum has updated its Tuna Club history display with several new artifacts from this important collection and wishes to sincerely thank Jim and Mike Van Vorhis for their generosity, hard work and friendship!     

George C. Farnsworth 1883 - 1959 - George C. "Tuna George" Farnsworth was one of the most innovative pioneers of big game angling off Catalina Island in the early days of sport fishing. Farnsworth is particularly noted for his development of the tuna kite-trolling technique and for his collaboration with William Boschen to develop the internal star drag reel.

Farnsworth was born in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. His father was an engineer who moved the family to California while George was very young. In 1900, the senior Farnsworth went to work on Catalina Island surveying the road from Avalon to the Isthmus and moved the family to Avalon. That's where George became interested in fishing. Farnsworth became a boat captain and charter man.

He was known for his incredible navigational skills and his ability to catch fish when everyone else was coming up empty-handed. He was involved with the Tuna Club and helped many of its members achieve record catches.

George C. Farnsworth was inducted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame in 1998.

By: Jeannine Pedersen